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Ivan, ASE Certified Master Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 4871
Experience:  ASE Master Tech w/ 20+ years in the field. Self employed for 9 years. Member of AUTOLAB radio show.
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I have a 2003 Saab 9-3. The hand brake is in the up position

Customer Question

I have a 2003 Saab 9-3. The hand brake is in the up position and it will not release. I've tried yanking up on it and it will not move. What can I do to make the car operational?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Ivan replied 8 years ago.

HelloCustomer Have tried pulling up and pushing the button on the end of the handle in? Many times I've had customers that don't have the strength to pull up that last little bit to allow the button to release the locking mechanism. Every time, I would just pull up a little more and with the button the brake would release. Keep the button depressed and try to lift it a little more, use both hands if necesssary. As soon as it raises a pinch more and the button is depressed, it should release.


Your JA Expert,


Customer: replied 8 years ago.

HI Ivan,


I've already tried that to no avail. The handle, literally, cannot go up any higher - even when the button (which I'm not sure is still working) is fully depressed.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Hi Ivan,


What do you think?

Expert:  Ivan replied 8 years ago.

Ok, there is a Technical service bulletin for this. Apparently the lever twists, jamming the mechanism. Replacement of the handle is the fix. I am going to attach the bulletin. There are illustrations that cover the repair, I will send them if you need them, but this is a notch up on the difficulty scale and I don't know if you want to get involved with the procedure. Use the Bulletin information when contacted either your Saab dealer or your repair facilty. Here is the info:


Bulletin Number:(NNN) NNN-NNNNutg.2

Date: March, 2004


Handbrake lever jamming/cannot be lowered

Cars affected:
9-3 (9440) within the following Vehicle Identification Number ranges:


4D: M03-04 31000001 - 41011608
CV: M04 46000001 - 46003610



The handbrake lever adjusting housing can twist after a while or when major force is applied to the handbrake release button. Similarly, the gear segment can twist forward. In both cases this leads to the working travel decreasing and the play increasing. At this point it becomes almost impossible to release a handbrake which has been too firmly applied, especially if it is not possible to lift the handbrake lever before pressing the button.

In the case of customer complaint the following procedure must be undertaken.

Symptom description

Handbrake lever jamming/cannot be lowered.

Parts required

79 63 937 Screw (X1)

79 75 535 Screw (X1)

If the handbrake lever assembly must be replaced:

12 788 215 Handbrake lever assembly LHD

12 788 216 Handbrake lever assembly RHD

Note Estimated defective production issue for handbrake lever assembly is 1%.


If the height of the handbrake lever must be adjusted when replacing the lever assembly:

12 788 227 Spacer 4 mm

12 788 228 Spacer 5 mm

12 786 769 Spacer 6 mm

12 788 229 Spacer 7 mm

If the handbrake handle needs replacing:

12 802 419 Handle, handbrake lever


Is the handbrake lever in its lowest position?

YES: Continue with step 1 of the procedure.

NO: Continue in accordance with the following to move the lever to its lowest position:

^Start the engine.


^Press hard on the footbrake.


^Try to release the handbrake.


If this does not work:

^Open the armrest cover.


^Remove the coin holder.


^Undo the adjustment nut until the handbrake releases.


If this does not work:

^remove the centre console rear side panel.


A.Raise the handbrake lever as far as possible.



B.Press the white plastic catch on the underside forwards using a screwdriver.


C.Lower the handbrake lever.


If this does not work the following alternative can be used which means that the handle must be replaced:

^Remove the handbrake lever handle in accordance with WIS "Brakes - Handbrake - Adjustment/Replacement - Handle for handbrake".


^Grip the cable for the release button using pliers and pull the cable at the same time as the lever is lifted slightly. At this point release the catch and the lever can be lowered to its lowest position.


^Fit a new handle in accordance with WIS "Brakes - Handbrake - Adjustment/Replacement - Handle for handbrake".


Continue with the procedure in accordance with the following:

1.Remove the drivers seat in accordance with WIS "Body - Seats - Adjustment/Replacement - Front seat".


2.Remove the floor console rear cover and side panel on the same side as the handbrake lever.


3.Undo the cable from the floor console. Start at the cable sheath and then detach the cable from the lever.



4.Raise the handbrake lever until it reaches the centre console.


5.Press the white adjusting housing forwards inside the handbrake lever using a screwdriver or a drill bit, 7 mm, inserted from below. The small illustration shows the adjusting housing seen from below (best seen with a mirror).



6.Using a punch, mark the position of the hole 22 mm down on the arm in accordance with the illustration.



7.Press the adjusting housing to its front position while drilling a 3 mm hole straight through the housing and fit screw 79 63 937 (long screw). Blow clean from drilling filings inside the handbrake lever.


Note Fit a piece of metal plate between the handbrake lever and the compartment inside the lever so that the drill bit does not enter the compartment.


8.Lower the lever to its lowest position and then raise it three notches. Press the gear segment backwards as far as possible using a large screwdriver. Tap carefully with a hammer on the screwdriver to ensure that the gear segment reaches its rearmost position.



9.Make a punch mark in the intermediate area, 4-6 mm from the lower edge (the screw head must run freely but must not come up too high).


10.Check that the gear segment is still in its rearmost position and remains there during the drilling.


First drill a 2 mm hole and then drill it up to 2.5 mm and fit screw 79 75 535 (short screw). The drill bit will automatically penetrate the softer aluminium material.

Note The length of the drill bit outside of the chuck should be at least 40 mm. Take care that the chuck does not hit the housing when the drill bit penetrates the material. This can break the drill bit.


11.Vacuum clean the metal filings.


12.Fit the handbrake cable.


13.Adjust the handbrake cable in accordance with WIS "Brakes - Handbrake - Adjustment/Replacement - Adjusting the handbrake cable".


14.Test the release function by


^pulling the handbrake lever to notch 4-6


^pressing the handbrake lever downwards with a force of approximately 100 N (22.5 lbf) which equates to a weight of 10 kg (22 lb) while pressing the release button twice.


15.Following which, check that it is easy to release a firmly applied handbrake lever.


16.Does it operate OK?


YES: Continue with step 17.

NO: Replace the handbrake lever assembly in accordance with WIS "Brakes - Handbrake - Adjustment/Replacement - Handbrake lever". Continue with step 18.

Note Handbrake levers are supplied in different conditions, modified with/without screws. Irrespective of its condition, the handbrake lever is correct and must not be modified in accordance with the above.


17.Fit the floor console rear side panel and cover.


18.Fit the driver's seat in accordance with WIS "Body - Seats - Adjustment/Replacement - Front seat".


Warranty/Time Information

^In the case of customer complaint and if the car is within the warranty period, use the following information to fill out the claim.



^In the case of customer complaint up to and including 2005-12-31 and if the car is not within the warranty period, use the following
information to fill out the claim.


Securing the adjusting housing

Failed Object: 15905 Fault/Reason code: 26 Location code: 09 Warranty type: 55 Repair/Action code: 05 Time: 0.7 hr


Securing the adjusting housing + replacement of handbrake lever

Failed Object:15905


Fault/Reason code:26


Location code:09


Warranty type:55


Repair/Action code:01


Time:1.6 hr






Expert:  Ivan replied 8 years ago.
Follow the preliminary steps in the bulletin, but pressing the brake, see if that helps. Once of my fellow experts mentioned there is a replacement handle that fixes this. It takes about an hour and a $10 part to complete.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Hi Ivan,


I went through Step 1 - turn on engine, depress brake and pull up (no luck), I went through Step 2 (take out coin holder and adjust bolt (no luck), I went through step 3 - take aprt the console and push the white lever forward and try to release the handle (no luck), but when I went through taking apart the brake handle and pulling on the cable with pliers to release the handle - it worked!!


At this point, Is there any danger with the metal handle and cable apart and in the down position? As long as it stays in the down position, can the car still be driven? Could the handle fly up unexpectedly? Could the wheels lock up? Please advise.



Expert:  Ivan replied 8 years ago.
Yes, if you don't reapply the handle, you are fine. If your car is a manual, you should correct this as soon as you can. If it's automatic, You can choose when to correct it, since it is not as important. If you leave the brake off, you are completely safe when driving. The brake cannot apply itself.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Hi Ivan,


Please tell me how I can get the replacement handle part for $10 that will allow me to fix this in about an hour. Once I get that information from you, I will "accept".


Thank you very much for your guidance with this - you were very helpful.

Expert:  Ivan replied 8 years ago.

Contact your local Saab dealer, tell them you need these parts:


Parts required

79 63 937 Screw (X1)

79 75 535 Screw (X1)

If the handbrake lever assembly must be replaced:

12 788 215 Handbrake lever assembly LHD


They are incuded in the TSB that I sent. Use the TSB number if you need to. That should get you the right parts.

Ivan and 3 other Car Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Hi Ivan,


Thank you so much for all your help - make it 690 Car Accepts with 100% positive feedback! You did a great job providing a solution for my problem and it was very much appreciated.


I'll be sure to call on you again in the future should any more problems arise (I hope not)!

Expert:  Ivan replied 8 years ago.
Thank you so much. I'm here for you when you need me. Have a great weekend.