DIY - Saab Knowledge Base

Automatic Gear Shift Won’t Release – Unlock Gearbox Selector On SAAB Cars

How to get your Saab out of gear when it's stuck in park

In modern Saab cars, Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5 models, you will most often come across AF40-6 automatic transmissions (aka AWTF-80 SC produced by Aisin Warner). The AF40-6 automatic transmission is an electronic 6-speed automatic gearbox with lock-up. The gearbox is mounted directly against the engine and has a final drive with integrated differential. The power unit is transverse mounted with front-wheel drive.

Saab AF40-6 Gearbox Selector

This gearbox is electronically controlled by a Transmission Control Module (TCM). The TCM is mounted directly on top of the gearbox and has one connector to the car’s electrical system and one to the gearbox. The gear position sensor is Hall type and integrated in the control module. The TCM is mounted so that the selector lever shaft goes through the control module. The gear lever sensor position is calibrated in position N with Tech 2, there is no mechanical adjustment. TCM controls the solenoids to maintain or change gear.

AF40-6 automatic transmission
The factory says this gearbox is “maintenance-free”

Gear positions P-R-N-D-M are selected with the selector lever mounted in the centre console. The gear selector is used to select the desired gear (P, R. N, D or M). The movement of the gear selector is conveyed by a wire to the gearbox. The gear position sensor is integrated in the control module, which is mounted directly on the gearbox.

The gear selector lever acts not only on the gear position sensor but also the manual shift valve in the valve housing. The selector lever housing contains the following blocking functions: Park Brake Shift-lock and gear position detent.

The Gear Position INTERLOCK Function

The Park Brake Shift-lock function means the brake pedal must be depressed and the ignition key must be tumed to OFF or further before the gear selector can be moved away from the P and N positions.

This function is controlled by the Shift leyer modyle, which acts on a solenoid. The solenoid blocks the mechanical gear selector segment if it is not activated. REC sends the status of the brake light and SLM uses the value to activate the solenoid to release the block on the gear selec tor segment.

The gear position interlock function prevents the lever from being moved from P to R, D or M without first pressing the release button on the front of the lever. The interlock also prevents the lever from being moved from N to R and from R to P.

How to manually release & unlock Gearbox Selector on SAAB cars

All of you who have automatic transmissions are likely to have already had this problem, or are just about to have it, and there is a simple solution to this problem. The situation happens when you press the brake pedal and the gear shift is locked in place and won’t move out of Park.

The most common causes of this situation are, for example, a low battery or a damaged (defective ) fuse, this is what you have to do to realease or unlock the gearbox selector lever, you only need to do these three steps:

  1. As before, press the brake pedal all the way in, and then turn the key to the OFF position
  2. Find a suitable tool, the best is a flat head screwdriver or blunt knife and press the little button next to Gerbox selector
  3. … and while holding the brake pedal and the little button pressed, simultaneously move the gerbox selector to Neutral (N) position

Briefly: To release the Park Brake Shift-lock in case of an electrical fault:. proceed as follows: Press a screwdriver or similar into the hole in front of the lever housing and move the lever.

If this seems complicated to you, Also check out this video tutorial for you:

Switching gear box for 2003- Saab 9-3 without key fob

There is also an option to unlock Gearbox Selector keyless. You need to remove the cover surrounding Gerbox selector. And then, you will see a yellow ( clearly marker leaver ), push it down and HOLD and move the gerbox selector to neutral (N) position.

Reminder – Towing a car with automatic transmission

If you are unable to solve the problem with the Gearbox selector and you have to tow the car to the service it is good to know a few little things. First of all, there are differences with automatic gearboxes compared to manual transmission cars.

Saab automatic transmission

The car may only be towed with the front pointing in the direction of travel. The selector lever must be in position N (if blocked, follow the procedure above). The Most National regulations conceming towing speeds must be adhered to. If legislation allows, the highest permitted towing speed is 50 km/h (30mph). The longest permitted towing distance is 50 km. If the car should require towing for longer distances, the front wheels must be raised from the ground.

Also, The engine cannot be started by pushing or towing the car!

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