Replacing the Saab 9000 front brake pads and discs


The Saab 9000 front brakes consist, on each side, of a ventilated brake disc (rotor) and a floating, single-piston caliper. The caliper is manufactured by Girling for Turbos up to 1987 and non-turbos up to 1989, and by ATE for later cars. This procedure lists step-by-step instructions on how to replace the front brake pads and, optionally, the discs. My car has ATE calipers front and back. I previously owned a 1987 9000 turbo that had Girling calipers on the front. The differences are minor, but please bear in mind that I might have forgotten some details of the Girling caliper. Changing the front pads on the 1987 9000 was the easiest pad change I have ever done on any car. I was impressed!

Saab 9000 brake pads are available here.

Time required

Naturally, this will vary with both the individual and what they find when they get there. However, this took about 20 minutes per side, including replacing the disc. Subtract perhaps 5 minutes if you aren't changing the disc.

As usual, double this for the first side if you haven't done it before. Of course, I was making notes and taking photographs as well.

Tools required

These are for replacing the pads only. For tools required to replace the discs as well, see here. I assume some basic tools, such as a jack, axle stands, socket set, etc. However I do not assume you will already have all the necessary metric socket and spanner sizes, especially if you are in the USA. Here is a list so you can make sure you have all the necessary sizes before you start.

  • 7mm hexagon (Allen) bit to fit a socket set. An Allen key may not be enough to undo the screws as they may be quite tight.
  • Copper (anti-sieze) grease - My local parts shop keeps it on a shelf next to brake pads and shoes.


  1. Jack up the front of the car and place it on axle stands. If you are not sure where you can safely place the jack and axle stands on a 9000, go here for more information.

  2. Remove the roadwheel.

  3. Move the pads free of the disc by levering or clamping the inboard brake pad to press the piston fully into the caliper, and by sliding the caliper outwards on its sliding pins. Watch the brake fluid level here, as it will rise when you press in the pistons. When I got to the second wheel, I noticed brake fluid dripping onto the subframe.

  4. Remove the plastic plugs at the rear of the caliper and slacken off the two 7mm hexagon (Allen) screws underneath the plugs (pin seen from within wheel well).

  5. If replacing the pads only and the caliper is Girling, remove the bottom screw only. Then swing the caliper up on the top pin to access the pads.

  6. Otherwise, remove both screws. On the ATE caliper, unclip the retaining spring while supporting the caliper. Do not let the caliper hang from the brake hose, as this may damage the hose. The spring clip looks like this:

  7. Remove the pads. Girling pads simply slide out, as does the outboard ATE pad. The inboard ATE pad clips into the piston. Pull it directly out of the piston to remove.

  8. If you wish to remove and replace the brake disc (rotor), this is the time to do it. Click here for the procedure.

  9. Fit the new pads as a straightforward reversal of removal. My ATE pads came with a spring clip for the inboard pad and a self-adhesive pad on the outboard pad. If you have a self-adhesive pad backing, remove the backing paper before installation. If not, smear the backing plate of the outboard pad (and inboard pad for Girling calipers) with copper grease to help suppress any brake squeal.

  10. Reposition the caliper and, for ATE calipers, refit the spring clip.

  11. Smear the sliding pin(s) with copper grease and refit. Tighten them snugly.

  12. Refit the plastic plugs.

  13. Refit the roadwheel.

  14. Lower the car.

  15. Torque the roadwheel bolts to 120Nm (90lbft).

  16. Press the brake pedal repeatedly to move the pads back onto the discs. If you don't do this, the brakes won't work the first time you use them (and there may never be a second time!)

  17. Check the fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir. Top it up to MAX if necessary.

  18. The brakes will not perform well for the first hundred miles or so until the pads bed in. This seems to take longer if the discs are new as well. With new discs and pads, be especially careful for the first few miles. The performance of mine after doing all four wheels was pathetic for a few miles. I have since adopted the practice of doing the front discs and pads, driving for a few miles to get them working, then doing the rear pads and discs and going for another test drive. This is a bit safer and less harrowing.