Replacing the headlamp reflector

By Rod Godfrey


This document sets out how to remove the reflector from a Saab 9000 headlight and replace it with a resilvered reflector. If you drive at night, your old headlights are affecting your ability to see and be seen. Resilvering is a cost-effective technique to avoid inspection failures and drive more safely at night. There are no new headlights to be bought at a reasonable cost. Reflectors may be sent for resilvering but to avoid the wait with the car off the road, resilvered reflectors are available here on an exchange basis.


Remove the headlights from the car. The most awkward part of this process may be separating the electrical connectors; They do keep water out but many will have frozen together. Be patient and keep easing them small amounts until they separate.

Take the two inspection / bulb change caps off. Take out all three existing bulbs and note the wire colours / locations. Remove the wires from the spade terminals on the reflectors.

One reason for repairing headlights is the failure of the pivot bush, supporting one of the three mounting points of the reflector. Black plastic debris in the base of the headlight is a tell tale sign - as is the headlight flipping up and down when you go over bumps (an inspection failure).


Another sign of failure is if the rear of the pivot bush looks damaged or is protruding from the headlight.


The next job is to separate the glass from the housing. Number all the clips in a logical fashion and, using a large screwdriver, flip the clips off. The wiper rest may as well come off too. Now separate the glass, its rubber gasket (which may stick to the housing, the glass or both) and the housing. The stickiness is only annoying and doesn’t stop the gasket from being reused.


Using a long screwdriver, detach the white plastic clip from the headlamp levelling motor arm. You can either rotate the levelling motor out of the headlamp housing to withdraw the motor/arm/clip complete from the reflector, or detach the clip from the motor arm.



Next, rotate the plastic collar on the next pivot so that it can be withdrawn forward from the housing when the next step has been completed. The plastic is normally so brittle that it disintegrates. Even if you are lucky enough to have a complete pivot pin that works, it’s worth replacing them while you are dismantling it. SAABits sells an effective replacement kit.



Finally, to get to the last pivot an 8mm hole must be drilled in the housing.


 X marks the spot.


 The location is not too critical. After drilling the hole, unscrew the crosshead screw and ease out the associated rubber bush.



Now withdraw the reflector forward out of the housing. Whichever resilvering service you use, follow their instructions for removal of bulb clips and the black bracing / support bar at the back of the reflector.

Reassembly is straightforward. The rubber bush in the pivot you had to drill to get to needs to be fully relocated before the screw can be reengaged. A little bit of rubber / nylon lubricant will aid the refitting of the pivots. Consider using jewellers rouge on the headlight glass to remove wiper crazing before reassembly. It won’t remove stone chips but it will improve the performance of the glass.

In order to complete the job when the reflector comes back from the resilverer, the access hole in the housing must be sealed. After reassembly of the headlight but before putting it back in the car, tidy the hole in the housing up (remove swarf and debris), fit an 8mm rubber blanking grommet, and seal with a weatherproof compound. I used exterior frame sealant but most sealants for exterior use will do the job.


The reflector in the demonstration headlight looked like this. The majority of the reflecting surface was not shiny any more and night performance was truly rubbish.