DIY - Saab Knowledge Base

DIY: Saab Gear Lever Cover Replacement


Has the (eco)leather cover on the gear lever in your car been damaged? It looks bad aesthetically, so the right solution is to replace it. Since more than ten years have passed since the last new Saab cars were delivered from the factory in Trollhattan, it is most likely that your gear lever cover has worn out. This fact is almost certain when it comes to gear lever covers that were made of eco-leather, and most were like that in Saab 9-3 and 9-5 models.

Replacing a gear lever cover made of eco-leather or genuine leather is very simple and you do not need any expertise or special tools. You need to get a new, replacement gear lever cover yourself and replace it in your Saab in a maximum of ten minutes.

In the following lines, in a few steps, we will explain to you how to do this, so that you will beautify the interior of your Saab and restore it to its original glory.

Old worn Gear Lever Cover on Saab 9-3, same on Saab 9-5
Old worn Gear Lever Cover on Saab 9-3, same on Saab 9-5

Step-by-step Instructions for Replacing the Gear Lever (Eco)Leather Cover in Saab 9-3 and 9-5

First step

The first step, of course, conditions everything else, and that is to get a replacement cover beforehand. You will find the original cover hard to find, but you have a huge number of sources for buying non-OEM versions, which in some variants are much better than the original.

Since most of their Saab had this eco-leather cover, you can also choose one made of genuine leather, and it all depends on how much budget you are willing to spend on this.

Also, here you have two options when purchasing: you have a version of only the skin without a plastic bottom frame, and another version with a plastic frame, and here is an example from Ebay:

As you will see in the searches for shopping, the choice is huge, and the prices range from 2-3 dollars for those purchased through Aliexpress, to 15-20 dollars through Ebay. The choice is yours, but it is certain that any of the chosen ones will regain the old shine of the gear lever in Saab.

Second Step

When the ordered Gear Lever Cover Replacement arrives at your home address, you can start replacing it. We’ll take off the old, worn Gear Lever Cover first, and we can do this in several ways.

An easier way of removing the trim panel (silver plastic, or carbon) is removing the rubber tray and from that oval circle thing push back and up rather than pulling from the key location.

Or even simpler, as in my case, grab the gear lever cover by the middle part, and pull it up.
Saab Gear lever cover up

Third Step

Then, pull the gear lever cover so that it is flipped inside-out over the top of the shifter. At this point you can see the small plastic zip-tie which is holding the shift gaiter at the collar to the plastic reverse protection collar, simply cut this tie and you can now move the gear lever cover and trim panel piece freely from the Saab.

 simply cut this tie and you can now move the boot and trim piece freely from the vehicle

Fourth step

Now, remove the gear lever cover from the attached trim panel, there is a small thin plastic piece which ensures that the boot is held to all sides of the trim panel.

plastic frame with gear lever cover

Fifth step

If you have purchased a replacement cover with a plastic frame then you do not have to separate the leather cover from this frame.

However, if you only have a leather cover as in my case, then you have to remove the leather from the plastic frame by removing all the clamps that hold the cover attached to the frame. It’s not a big problem either, you just need a flat screwdriver. Take all the clamps out of the frame and save them, because you can return them when you put on a new leather cover.

Gear lever cover and plastic frame, after separating from each other
Gear lever cover and plastic frame, after separating from each other

Sixth step

Put on a new gear lever cover, you can’t go wrong because one side is narrower and one is wider, and you have holes in the leather cover on both sides where plastic hooks pass. Fasten with the cover by restoring the old clamps or fasten the cover with the new clamps.

Fastening the cover by restoring the clamps
Fastening the cover by restoring the clamps

Seventh step

The return of the gear lever cover follows, and everything goes in reverse order. Pay attention to this picture and notice the difference in the width of the central hole:
Old and new cover
With the new cover, the hole is wider, which will allow you to easily pull the cover over the wider top of the gear lever. With the original gear lever cover, you would have to remove the upper knob gear lever, because the original cover in this part is narrow.

Therefore, when removing the original cover, you will probably have to cut the upper part in order to pull it over the top of the gear lever.

Where there was a zip-tie, install a new zip-tie that usually comes in a package with a cover. Tighten the zippers and cut off the excess plastic.

Install the plastic frame with cover in the appropriate place in the trim panel. Put the Trim panel back in place by pressing from above, the clips will secure the panel.

That’s it, nothing is complicated, you don’t need any special tools and materials, and the spare part is cheap. The interior of your Saab will now look much better. To make it even clearer, the video below can help you with the replacement:

The video only refers to the replacement of the Trim panel, but it will be useful for you because you can see in real conditions how the parts stand and how they are removed.

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