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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • My wife's 2003 ION was having the same problem. I owned the car for 4 years and then gave it to her. I never had any problems with it and I parked outside through 4 grisly winters. The first winter she had it, she ran into the same starting issues everyone else is having. A guy at work told her to mess around with the fuses and that they sometimes fail to make a proper connection. After doing that (probably for 10 minutes or so) the car started. It happened a few more times before we replaced the fuses and everything seemed kosher. Spring had sprung after all.

    The next year the car went dead and we were told it was the starter. It may well have been, because the car never started after that, but I now suspect it was a "series" of 10 minute freeze ups and bad timing on our part. We never made the connection to what had happened the previous year.

    This year, it started happening again. Same symptoms as everyone else. After a few instances of being stranded in the cold, she took the car to NAPA and got a new battery installed. But then it happened again...and again...and again.

    After doing a search and finding this thread, we came to the conclusion that we probably needed to cut the wire. But before doing so, I wanted to try one last ditch effort suggested by a poster a while back.


    My wife started turning the key until all of the dashboard lights came on, then waiting to start the engine until the lights turned off. It has been almost 3 weeks and (knock on plastic) she has not had a single issue. And we have reached temperatures as low as 10 degrees since.

    So my advice would be to try this method before taking the drastic step of cutting the white wire or investing any money in a new ignition switch, battery, BCM or starter. If it doesn't work for you, then pull out the scissors. I'll be sure to re-post if we run into any more starting issues.

    Now my question is: How do we tell if the replacement battery she bought is "vented"? And if not, what are the consequences? Do we need to re-replace the battery? FYI: She bought it at NAPA for about $85.

    Thanks and good luck to everyone.
  • Look at message 376 and 378.
    It has been 0 degs. F for a couple of days lately and I have had no problem starting my Ion. I am starting to get my confidence back that the car will start in the morrning. I think the reason the starting problem is showing up later in the cars life is the greese is drying up and getting thicker in the Ignition switch. Someone used the wrong greese.
    One of these You tube videos shows how to get the switch off and the other shows the switch out of the car and on a table. note the greese on the curcuit board. Good Luck :)
  • i live in san francisco and have the same problem
    so i dont think its necessarily a cold weather issue
  • if the issue is with the security system, wouldnt getting a new key work just as well?
    that way the car wont think you are using the wrong key
    my key is all scraped up.. so maybe thats why it thinks i am using the wrong key?
  • blucatblucat Posts: 7
    I tried the key and it didn't help. I'm in Virginia, it's cold and didn't notice the problem 'til cold spell. I cut the wire last week and it cranks wonderfully - each and every time! It was just above 20 F. this morning and no problems. Appears to be the contacts and grease on the ignition switch printed circuit board and affects the security system. Cutting the "White Wire" disables the security system. THE VEHICLE MUST BE RUNNING WHEN YOU CUT IT (see video elsewhere herein). And you'll need a 7mm socket (small diamerer) or a 7mm nut driver. When the weather warms up, I intend to replace the ignition switch, incluting the P.C. board, and use some better quality lube so I can re-enable the security system.

    GOOD LUCK TO YOU - and thanks to everyone who helped me solve my problem!
  • yeah, i tried my spare key today
    sure enough.... car didnt start again tonight
    cutting the white wire this weekend
    i live in san francisco so i still am not sure my issue is with the weather
  • I have been reading this thread for probably on and off for over a year. I live in NJ and the starting issues started about 2-3 years ago.

    Just like everyone else, it took 10 mins to sometimes a half and hour to get my car going. I would take it to the shop, which of course, the car would start every time for hits when hooked up to the computer, the mechanic (all three) could never figure out the problem - not the battery, the spark plugs, fuel filter, any and everything.

    After my last mechanic experience, I thought about the amount of time I am spending at the auto shop, the amount of time wasted starting my car and being late for everything....not to mention that the car had newly started to strand me places from not starting. It used to just give me a problem once a day, the first time I would fire her up, recently it was almost every time.

    Well, two nights ago, we decided to cut the wire. I had been thinking about doing it and then I saw the youtube video that someone did and decided to go for it. I figure, what is the worst that could happen? My car is a 2004, which I plan to run until it falls apart! I didn't want to have to get a new car and a car payment (which is what was going to happen, since no one could figure out the problem), nor did I want to go through just replacing things on the car until something worked.

    I cut the wire and my car has been great ever since! No more waiting for a 1/2 hour to get it started, being late to work, getting stranded everywhere and just the frustration of dealing with this car!

    I am so happy I cut the wire! I only wish I had bucked up and done it a year ago. I could have avoided so many cold days waiting for a miracle along with money at the mechanic and time lost at work.

    If anyone has this problem and wondering should they or shouldn't they......go for it. It will make you so happy!!

    Thanks to everyone here that has helped me fix my problem! You guys are all awesome! I no longer will get stranded anywhere or freeze to death trying to get my car started!!!
  • somewhere i read something about getting an oil change after cutting the white wire and resetting the oil life or something like that
    does anyone know what i am talking about ( i dont know much about cars so i barely know what i am talking about)
    and what do i do if i need to change the battery after the white wire is cut?
    my cousin is cutting the wire for me this weekend.... i cant wait
    i am sick of this 10 minute wait business
    and like i said before, i live in california where it doesnt get that cold
  • I just replaced my battery last week. Believe it or not it lasted over 5 yrs which amazed the Napa guy. I replaced it only because I was told it was getting low when I took it in for my inspection and to start w/ that to figure out the apparently, oh-so-famous, staring problems. Care to wager if it worked?

    Anyway, "Napa Guy" said they could test the old one to see if it did need replacing. As far as the vents, they should be on the top side edges of the battery. They look like smooshed ovals that the venting tubes attach to. As soon as you look @ the battery you should notice them. And yes the battery needs to be vented, batteries apparently give off some type of exhaust and being enclosed in the car could be dangerous. Not sure of the exact consequences but I sure don't wat to find out. If the battery was under the hood all would be well since there is no floor holding all fumes and exhaust in. I paid the same for my battery.

    Hope this helps. I'm taking my car in to my mechanic fri. and will be taking in a copy of your message and others to help him fix my car. My other option is to leave it on the train tracks in my backyard.

    Wish me luck!
  • thanks for the reply but i was wondering if you had to do anything with the white wire if its been cut when installing a new battery
  • I don't know anything about that. I haven't cut my wire yet. Leaving that to my mechanic. Sorry.
  • esprixesprix Posts: 11

    We tried waiting for all the lights to go off before starting it as well, but it didn't last. We've since cut the white wire and have had absolutely no problems since. It really doesn't affect anything and saves you a ton of headaches.

    Good luck!
  • esprixesprix Posts: 11

    When you take it in for an oil change they reset the "trip" in the computer so it knows when to remind you for the next oil change. We cut the white wire but haven't had it in for an oil change yet so we don't know how it'll affect the odometer warning message and dashboard warning light that come up every time we start the car. I had read somewhere that disconnecting the battery for an hour will prevent the warning message and light until the next oil change, but I haven't tried that myself, so I don't know.

    Good luck!
  • spqr1spqr1 Posts: 2
    As an owner of a 2003 ION2, I have had no problems with starting issues after cutting the white wire. I live in Germany and we have been in the single digits and teens for a month and a half now and the car starts every time. Also, I will jinx myself a bit here by saying I am still on the same battery that came with the car.

    Who cares about the service light coming on when all you have to do is hit the trip meter or wait about 15 minutes and it goes away by itself. There does not seem to be any "grease issue".

    As to problems with the dealerships, the company is going BYE BYE after 2010 anyhow. Notice no 2010 models at the dealership, because GM cut Saturn loose.
  • We didn't have to cut a white wire or do any of that mess. We had a remote starter installed and haven't had any problems since. As long as we use the remote started to start the car all is good :). Good rittens to Saturn I would never buy another one after this mess anyway.

    I do have one question. Anyone have a coolant alert going on? My coolant is fine but that sensor light is really annoying! I'm wondering if it is a reminder to have my coolant tank flushed, I'll have to check next time I get my oil changed.
  • I have the exacet same problem got the module fixed drove away and back came the check engine it is my cat I gotta get that fixed..check to see if they changed your plugs when they did your module they didnt do mine and aftrer a misfire they should have changed them cause they were black..runs better but now its the cat converter to do and saturn is not in canada anymore so I am finally going outside dealer...sick of the dealers rippin me off goo with my own mechince warrenty over on this stuff so you use your judement...
  • I have a 2004 ion and it wont start! I replaced the started, tested the battery, and cut the white wire. It started great after we cut the white wire for a day and now nothing. I try to start it and i get nothing just a click but, the click is not coming from the starter. Any ideas?????? Thank you!
  • that makes me SO NERVOUS
    i cut the white wire today on my 2004 saturn ion
  • I have the same issue with the cooling sensor light. These stupid cars have 2 cooling sensors. Mine is the sensor in the cooling reservoir. the level is fine but if you want your cooling light to go off you have to have the whole reservoir replaced and it cost about $150.00 just for the part. I just ignore mine. Where is this White Wire to cut? I'm ready to wrap my POSS (piece of [non-permissible content removed] Saturn) around a tree. I'm glad I found this site due to I was getting ready to put a starter in. I already replaced the battery with no luck.
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