If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

Project Saab - Getting Back on the Horse

Well, after taking two weeks off from my (project) Saab project to pet my pups, clean, work on other projects, and generally pretend I don’t own a 1984 Saab Dumpster Fire, I got back to it this weekend.

You can barely see the flames these days...

The weekend’s project was to get the clutch master correctly bolted to the firewall, which I can’t imagine why it wasn’t in the first place, and get the brake lights working.


As you would expect, I immediately ran into problems.

On the bright side, the Saab took little coaxing to sputter into life. On the unfortunate side, the fuel pressure problem(s) I recently “solved” are back again. Working theory now: all the stabilizers, cleaners, and conditioners I have in the gas are fouling the o-rings in the pressure relief valve. This will be easy to confirm by rebuilding the pressure relief valve…. Again.

But that wasn’t on the list and I could get enough out of the engine to get it out of the garage, so I moved on with my life. First up was pulling out the center storage bin, which proved surprisingly easy. Unfortunately, a large crack was present, so I’m going to need to fix that before it goes back in.


After that was the knee bar/ “lower dashboard padding”, which allegedly is only held in with three bolts. After identifying and removing said bolts, the knee bar refused to budge. After much cursing, fiddling, prying, pleading, and researching I figured it out. Long story short, it is sort of held in by three bolts. More accurately, it is held in by two bolts and a standoff, which also had a bolt in it. Neither repair manual made this clear.

Picture of the little bastard.

After that the lower air diffuser could come out, which has a mystery electrical component attached to it (turns out it’s for the power locks!), and then I have access to the pedal assembly. A quick feel around and I located the brake switch, and confirmed it was bad… If you believe my luck is that good anyway.

Mystery electrical component randomly placed on the air diffuser. Because Saab reasons.

What actually happened is I did remove a switch, but as it turns out it wasn’t the brake light switch. My first indication something was wrong was all of the parts I was finding online didn’t have a vacuum line attached to it. What is going on? Why does my Saab have this weird brake light switch?

Well, because I am an idiot. That isn’t a brake light switch, it is for the cruise control. There is also one on the clutch. If either pedal is pressed the vacuum to the cruise regulator is shunted and the electrical contact turns off the electrical portion of the control. Fun, but not helpful.


Somewhere in all of this, I found the brake light switch and the driver’s side lights started magically working. I suspect ghosts. Or that I forgot to re-check after replacing the fuse. Either or.

Now that I had the driver’s side working, I just needed to get the passenger side working. Since none of the bulbs were working the common ground wire was, of course, suspect. I quickly replaced that and… nothing. Nada. Zip.


Long story short (too late!) turns out the connectors on these “circuit boards” (in this case actually just metal held in plastic, but whatever…. is very prone to burning out. In my case, it was the connector. Also apparently the light housings are prone to warping, which explains how I managed to rip the heads off of several bulbs when I pulled the boards.


So… a lot more than expect to deal with. Oh hey and that May 4th deadline is showing up in like... a week. How am I this bad at this?

I think I’ll have a beer.

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