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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • Hey Folks!

    Agawamguy just checkin in. The last time my car didn't start was December 31, 2008. :mad:

    On January 1, 2009 (post #176) I cut the white wire while the car was running and it's started every time since. :D

    Passlock is disabled!
  • I did two fixes at the same time, so I don't know which actually fixed the cold start problem but it is fixed. the first fix is to remove the electronic guts of the ignition switch, a plastic module located at the rear of the ignition switch. then open it up by depressing 4 locking tabs. Carefully open it up. I used a q-tip with alcohol to wipe clean the defective grease. I then wiped a very thin layer of technical grease, rated to -45F to +185F. The second solution is to install the PLXR passlock module. it was very ease. If i had to choose one solution, i would choose to clean the grease from the ignition switch because it cost zero.
  • I have to give credit to somone else, but I read a post about waiting for the sensorlock light to go out first before trying to start and it has worked-- so far.
    Remember it is a 24 gauge wire, which is very fine, so the electric pulse could be slow in cold/damp weather, which make sense (becomes lazy)
    Put the key in the ignition and turn the key so all the warning lights in the dash come on, when the sensorlock light goes out (orange/yellow), then continue to turn the key and the car has started every time. I live just outsde of Toronto Canada and it gets cold. So far it has worked when the temp was down to -17 Celisus with a wind chill of -30 (that is really cold). Give this a try before cutting of wires. Tommorrow is another test -22 plus wind chill (extremely cold) :confuse:
  • Hi All I am new to this board. I have a 2004 Ion (which will be paid off soon). I love my car especially the gas mileage however I cuss at her a lot more lately. When I first got her brand new I had that problem with the blinker, then it seemed like I went through headlights every month. Last year I started having a hard time starting her in the morning when I got up early once a week to go to school in NH. A few times last winter this happened but not a big deal since I was in Grad School and not working more than part time. This winter has been HELL for me!!! I have to be at work at 545 am and guess what....SHE DOESNT START MOST OF THE TIME!! Remember last week when it was 5 below in CT? Guess where I was at 5am. Yep first sitting in a freezing cold car praying she would start then standing outside while my boyfriend tried to start her up and finally at 545 breaking every speed limit between here and work praying I wouldnt hit ice because I couldnt feel the steering wheel on my boyfriends Escape. Last week I drove his car 3 times to work (he doesnt have to be at work until 8a....big temp difference). After reading this forum it seems the best thing to do is cut the friggin wire. God knows we dont have the money or time to drive to Hartford or Wallingford or RI to have them check it out and then tell us we have to pay for a problem that came with the car. This is such CRAP! Okay time to breathe....
    Ive thought about writing Saturn and the BBB and anyone else who may listen and I most likely will. The one other person who I will write is whichever congressman helps decide whether or not GM gets the bailout money. Why should our taxpayer dollars be spent bailing out a company that sold us subpar cars? After what we on this board have been through who are seriously thinking about buying another Saturn? If they were willing to fix these problems for free it would be one thing but it sounds like they wont.
    Anyway thanks for letting me vent my stomach doesnt hurt as bad anymore. Oh and if anyone hears cussing and screaming tommorrow morning about 515am well then you know whats happening.
  • has anyone that has cut this white wire used both keys to start the car or does only the one work. My wife uses the car also and has her own keys?? :confuse:
  • I posted some time ago (168 ,169) reporting I thought it was the key. I used my old extra key and it worked for about a month. Then 1 day it would not start, I waited the 10 min delay and it started normally. knowledge is a good thing.

    I have now cut the white wire while running. The passlock indicator is on but my car always starts now. I live near Montreal Canada it was really cold last week 25C below or about -15F. No problems. (about 3 weeks now)

    1. If your car won't start, wait 10 min try again.

    Do not call towing, jump start it, or do anything else.
    Mine is a standard and I even tried to push start it.
    I learned the hard way changed battery, changed starter.
    It acted like a dead battery or poor starter connection, or high draw starter.
    What I learned was by the time you got a boost or did anything usually 10 min. had passed and the car would have started anyway if you had tried.

    2. Disabble the passlock system by cutting the white wire while the car is running.

    (see other posts here for details) This took me about 10 min. total and is very easy to do. (I am a aircraft mechanic by trade.)

    3. Ignore the light on the dash and enjoy a car that will start every morning in the cold.
  • meronmeron Posts: 21
    We've used any of three keys; they all work
  • I am just wondering if this fix is still continuing to work. I have had many different fixes that have cost a lot of money for this intermittent problem, but it always seems to not work once again. The car for me this past week, has not started on a daily basis and happens 2 to 3 times daily. I am wasting so much time waiting on the car to decide to start at various places... ie. grocery store, my work, the gym, etc. I am also embarrassed at work to have to continually leave early to go out and try to start it prior to actually being relieved from work. Please tell me that the inexpensive fix is still working and I will immediately make an appt.

    Also, when I checked with Saturn concerning the problem, it was stated to me and my mechanic that the problem was unable to be fixed. It was an issue that Saturn already was aware of and was not willing to do a recall since the problem was not a safety issue.

    Jennifer Keough
  • cut the wire. it works. no more headaches for you.
  • I have had no problems starting the car, since I cut the wire. Seems to have been a permanent fix for me.
  • reba05reba05 Posts: 36
    I have had the issue that others have talked about 1 year into owning my ION, and was replaced and seems fine still.
    New issue - problems keeping car running after starting, as well as, very slow acceleration. Brought it in and repair place diagnosed Ignition Control Module as needing replacement. When driving away from repair shop, "Check Engine Light" came on so we brought it back. They said all is fixed and runs well, but reason it could be on is Catalytic Converter. I am not a car person so don't know exactly what that means, but am bringing it in to Saturn to diagnose before making further repairs. Car is an '06 with 55,000+ miles which is not a lot.....we'll see what they say. I love this car but will be very disappointed if there are further issues, especially when not covered by warranty, will need to read up on that.
    Any advice is appreciated!
  • meronmeron Posts: 21
    I cut the wire in issues. It always starts.
  • cp62cp62 Posts: 1
    I have a 2005 saturn that won't start in cold weather and won't release the key from the ignition when it fails to start. I have read in the threads that this happens in 2003 - 2008 Saturns. Saturn refuses to do anything about it. Therefore, I am starting a class action against them. Email me at for more info.
  • Hi, I also have a 2004 Saturn ION that doesn't seem to want to start in the cold weather. I've had it towed numerous times and to the same mechanic that I trust. He's never sold me anything that I didn't need. and he doesn't seem to know what the problem is. But by searching the internet it seems that I've found the problem but saturn doesn't want to step up to the plate and correct the problem. I called them today after reading all of these posts and was told by a someone in customer service ( 1-866-790-5600) that no one has complained about this problem before. So if this problem is happening to you please call someone at the above number and let them know that you're having the same problem and maybe, just maybe we can all get our cars fixed! Just to add to this, the car only has 22,000 miles on it and I mostly use it for back and forth to work every day. I had to take my Mother in laws 1988 Buick to work yesterday, which started up no problem in the cold. Don't forget to call Saturn!
  • I have had my 2004 Saturn Ion 2 for the past 2 years. It also does not start when it get's cold/ chilly outside. I have been stranded on spring and winter mornings. Recently (the only time it has happened thank heavens my children were not with me) it did not start in the middle of the day after it had started in the am. I have contacted Saturn corporation on several different occasions with no avail. They told me to have diagnostic test run and I did take it to a local dealership and was told that my car needed a tune up. Saturn eventually told me that there were no other problems and i had given them several websites where they could verify that other people are having the same problems. Needless to say noone there wants to admit there are problems with these vehicles. I also would not recommend calling them - email is best because you actually have verification that you have contacted them and reported the problem. Also my windsheild wiper system cam completely apart while driving in a snowstorm the other day. And I am having trouble with staind re-appearing on the seats.
  • choachchoach Posts: 1
    hi mikeey1, could you tell me what you have found with your starting problems seems that my 05 has done the same thing since December.
  • ricirici Posts: 7
    We changed the ignition switch..still have the problem.
    Yes, the passlock light comes on when it wont start. We are willing to cut any wires, do anything to get this darn thing to start on a daily basis. What wires?
    Did the automatic starters on the car keep working for those of you who had them installed.?
  • Hello,

    I was wondering if you were still having success starting your car. Contrary to popular demand, I recently changed the ignition switch on my wife's car. It was really easy and she/we haven't had any problems since. The white wire seems to be working just fine now since I changed the ignition switch ($40 for the switch and $20 for the Haynes manual). I wonder if Saturn just makes bad ignition switches. I realize this hasn't been everyone elses experience though.

    Warm and Happy Husband aka Cold and Frustrated Husband
  • ricirici Posts: 7
    I am worried I might cut the wrong thing. What does it look like? Where does it come from? Does the car have to be running? :confuse:
    I am an older woman with no mechanical skill, but desperate to have a car that starts each day.
  • oblio9oblio9 Posts: 19
    Here is the video I shot of me cutting my wire. This is the first video I have ever uploaded to YouTube and the first video I have ever edited so there are some bad transitions, stuff I had to speed up to get it under 10 minutes, etc but hopefully it is still informative. Let me know if it helps anyone. Thanks to everyone on this forum or I never would have know to try this anyway!! :)
    Video of me cutting the white wire
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