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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    Dozensaturn: well....... had the keys made at Ace. So far no having to diddle that hole under the steering wheel to get the key out. Keeping fingers crossed, but you may have solved my problem. Many thanks any way for the suggestion ! :)
  • krogers2krogers2 Posts: 1
    edited July 2011
    I have had the same problem too!!! Just yesterday I try to turn the key to kill the engine and it wouldn't turn! I wasn't freaking out. I finally had to leave work and drive it to my local mechanic and after looking at it, he told me I have to replace the ignition system in the steering column...something like that. The key was stuck. He opened the steering column up and metal parts started falling out. Wtf. I'm glad to read this isn't uncommon. My Saturn is a 2007 Ion with only 24K miles on the dang thing. It runs really well so I like the car, but this ignition problem is putting me back $800. Ugh.
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,055
    I was reading your post and I would look into this for you. Can you please email me with your VIN, involved dealer, and complete contact information. I look forward to your response.
    GM Customer Service
  • notlkhnotlkh Posts: 6
    I bought my car used around 2006, and started having the starting issue in the fall of that year. When the temperature got below 60 degrees, at least once a day, I would try to start it, and it would fail. Initially, over a half hour period I would try to start it, and it would seem to get slightly better, starting to chug after waiting 5 minutes, until eventually it would start with my flooring the gas. After a week or so, I figured out the magic number was 10 minutes. When it would fail, if I waited 11 minutes {One extra, just to insure the 10 minutes expired} it would more often than not start up immediately.

    It never seemed to happen consistently, so I never brought it in to be fixed. It would seem to stop stopping mostly over the summer, but would start stopping in the Fall. Strangely, when the temperature went below 32 degrees, it seemed to stop stopping less and less, perhaps after every 3 days it would stop starting maybe once.

    I finally googled, and discovered this thread a few years ago, and saw many descriptions of the same issue.

    I worry, when I bring my car in for service for other issues {Currently a bad bearing, a coolent notification and an oil change} that it might happen, frustrating the mechanic, but I forwarn them to wait exactly 11 minutes, and it should then start, or else wait another 11 then retry.
    So far, it has never failed to start for any mechanic, and they've never heard of this issue. Well, within a year or two, I will be getting a new car, and I can live with this until then.

  • Lou,
    The starting problem has nothing to do with the outside temperature, hour during the day etc. as this is a Saturn/GM problem (since day ONE) on the ION's ... You are so correct, wait 10 to 11 minutes, try a 2nd time, even a 3rd and a 4th time. Always wait in between. GM keep on responding take the vehicle to a dealer, have it checked out ... at the consumers expense! This is a major GM problem, a liability actually and they do not take the time and expense to review it and recommend how to fix it. As late as y-day they called us, saying we should take it to the dealer when this problem occurs! Have the car towed to their dealer .... Keep in mind the window is 10 to 11 minutes - not much time to get the tow truck, have the car brought to the dealer and they look at it ... All this at the consumers expense. I don't think so. Consider trade the car, turn your back to it and let someone else keep fighting with GM - their reputation will not improve until this issue is taken care of. So far have sold off 3 ION's and the 4th is due to go in September - and the replacements are non-GM products.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    edited July 2011
    The link to the GM rep's customer service line has worked, they've been good about following up.

    HOWEVER: had the car in and had the ignition switch changed. Got home, first time I shut it off: key stuck again.

    Took it back to the dealer: he had no problem getting it out. Got home again and the fool thing hung on to the key until I diddled the little button underneath the steering wheel.

    Called the dealership from the car itself while the key was stuck. They said bring it back in !!!! By that time I said I would drive it for awhile to see if it got any better as I said I had spent all day on this runaround. OMG: I wound up paying for a repair only to get the same BS problem I went in with.

    Ran the car around town yesterday, all three stops, no problem. Get to the mail box, turn off the car, key stuck again.

    Today I tried it at least 6 times. Four out of those times the key came out. The last time it didn't and had to use the override button.

    I shouldn't have even bothered. May just take the thing to CarMax and sell it outright. The 63 Valiant I have has only had a problem starting when someone stole the battery out of it !!!!!!!!!!!!
    And the only time I have replaced an ignition switch has been when I lost the keys and had to replace it.

    As a matter of fact, in all my years of driving that's the only one I have ever had to replace.

    On #3 with the ION now and the 7th trip for the same problem with no resolution.....
  • OH M G! My car has the SAME issue, as well as 2 other issues I am reading about! VERY FRUSTRATING. This ignition issue defintely seems to be temperature related because my car has only done this in cold weather, and yes it matter whether you wait 9 minutes or 10 minutes before retrying. 10 IS the magic number! I have argued with my husband over this time and again! He will go out every 5 minutes and I tell him, "You have to wait 10 minutes!" Oh, and if you wait 20, that's too long. I think it has something to do with the connections. Cold=Shrink, Heat=Expand. So, basically, my therory is, the connection is cold and therefore not connecting correctly. Somehow, when you try to crank it the first time it gets it warming up, but it takes 10 minutes, and if you wait too long, it will be cold again. It is VERY annoying. I called the dealership the 1st time it happened, and they wanted to charge an arm and leg to investigate it, not including a repair. UNCOOL! Now, come to find out, a LOT of Saturn owners are experiencing the SAME THING?! That just ticks me off. :lemon: I also am experiencing the power steering and cooling fan problem several others seem have experienced or are experiencing. This is CRAP! I am fixing to raise a BIG stink at my local GM dealer.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    edited July 2011
    All I can say is: do what is described above and email your VIN and # to the GM customer service site listed in previous posts here. I was skeptical as you can see from the posts, but they really came through.

    I am stunned at the way I was treated: car is back and problem is resolved. It was a two part problem.Ignition switch I paid for, the other, a $400.00 repair GM covered.

    The other issue with the ignition was with the connection between the shifter and the key release in the ignition, some sort of sensor where the whole unit had to be replaced.

    Because it had been replaced 20,000 miles before under warranty and the car only has 48,000 miles they replaced it.

    ORielly Chevrolet here in Tucson proved themselves genuine Authorized Saturn Service Providers. And I will be using them for maintenance from here on.

    Let them try to help you as there is also an extended warranty on the electronic power steering. Going in raving won't help, simply make a case for your problem with GM Customer Service and let them try to fix the problem. They'll open a repair ticket & take you through the process.

    Have you had this ignition switch repaired before ? Your car is a 2003 ? How many miles ? Have you given the GM people a chance to look at it ? If you've never had the problem before you've been lucky.

    Mine is finally fixed and I'm grateful. Brilliant customer service on their part. Car was out of warrnaty but had been repaired under warranty twice before and the dealer that repaired it wasn't the one that sold the car.

    They get a 10. And I was NOT expecting any satisfaction. Maybe this IS a new GM
  • Well, you see, my car is an '04 and back in about '06 my car just went over the 36,000 mile mark and the ignition problem started. :sick: So, I have been dealing with this MANUFACTURER'S DEFECT for, what is that, 5 years now. :confuse: If it is cold, I know that I need to go turn the ignition to get the connection warming up and wait 10 minutes to try to start the car. Is this an inconvenience to me? YOU BET! I can't tell you how many times I have been tardy to work, or had to sit in the parking lot somewhere in the freezing cold waiting 10 minutes for the car to get ready to start. Oh, and it took a little bit to figure out that 10 was the magic number. I called Saturn when the problem began, and of course it wasn't covered under warranty anymore, so they were going to charge labor to find out what the problem is plus parts and labor to correct, and I didn't have the money so nothing has been done, I have just been dealing with this problem. Now, I have 2 new, common apparantly, problems. The cooling fan and the power steering. I'm sorry, but if these problems are MANUFACTURER DEFECTS I shouldn't have to pay for squat. As a matter of fact, I remember Saturn mentioning something about the ignition switch being defective and I remember arguing that I shouldn't have to pay for the repair then, and they explained that since the warranty had expired, then the repair was not covered. BULL! :mad: It is a MANUFACTURER DEFECT! :mad: I should not be required to pay for something that was defective when the car was manufactured. So, I'm going to go in and talk nicely about the issue and see if they will take care of me. I will give them an opportunity, but I am pretty sure what will happen and I will end up raising a big stink. They just better hope that I leave my hubby at home, because he'd raise an even bigger stink. We shall see.

    Thanks for the advise! ;)
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    edited July 2011
    I totally get it. I have been fighting mine since 12,000 miles and it is just now fixed. For how long who knows. How many miles are on your car now?

    Maybe the fact that mine was fixed before under warranty and not 20,000 miles ago helped.

    The offer of help from GM Customer Service [see posts from "gmcustsrv", click on that link ] is a effective route to get people higher up involved. They will be in a position to help you better make your case. See post # 580.

    My service diagnostic was only $59.00 and the diagnostic waived when I had the repair done IIRC.

    And the power steering has an extended warranty for replacement.

    Not trying in the least to diminish the aggravation. Been there. But I got some satisfaction where I had no confidence there would be any.

    And in 5 years you haven't had any dealership attempt to repair your car or given them a chance to work with you, just called and asked them ? You haven't given them a real opportunity from the first to fix it ?

    Not to diminish any of the problems. Believe me I have had [and still have] a skeptical view of GM and the cars it builds because of this.

    But take it step by step and start with using the link in this thread and contact GM with your VIN and phone # and description of the problem. It's obvious they read the postings here as that's how I found the link. And at least they're making an offer to help, rather than you going to the dealer and losing it [and your credibility].

    I think the same way you do, don't mistake it. Just don't want you to blow your case because you've got a short fuse. [Been there too ;) ]
  • kikibkikib Posts: 14
    I'm still waiting for my son to send me his repair paperwork so I can begin a GM Customer Assistance file, but I found a recall for ignition switch letter in my files. We have until August 31, 2011 to file for reimbursement. I imagine since your car is a 2003 and ours is a 2005 is why we can still file, but you might mention the recall when you go talk to someone. Unfortunately, we had to have the body control module and fuse box replaced ($1300)and not the ignition switch so we may be totally out of luck, but you would think with everyone posting problems on this blog that something would get done to reimburse all of us. :lemon: Good luck and I look forward to reading more from you.
  • Probably need new tumblers. Mine did the same but my key wouldn't come out. My mechanic replaced the tumblers, no problems w/the key since.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    It's weird. That was replaced 20,000 miles ago and they claim it was "worn out" this time and replaced the thing as well as cut new keys.

    It's ironic as I chose the car with as few power accessories as possible to avoid things going haywire down the road. The engine and transmission are stout, the polymer helps to keep the body looking nice, should be a fine candidate for long term driving. Theory shot down.

    Only later did I find out that the ION , at the time, had the most sophisticated electronic system in it's category. I had read that the 03s and 04s were the most problematic and the 05s had addressed the ignition problem and had all the improvements shared with it's Cobalt cousin which was new for that year.

    Another of my theories shot down: never buy a car in it's first year of production, wait a couple so all the bugs can be worked out.

    Still it's nice to have the car back. And the service people have been Grade A.
  • Bought this car used in March. within a couple weeks, car alarm would go off every 20 minutes in the middle of the night, and would have to use the remote to reset, but then the inside lights would stay on. Found on another online forum that the moonroof drains were clogged and some switches were bad. Had that fixed and that solved the issue for now. Then shortly after the car wouldn't start. Battery fine, took to my mechanic, who couldn't find anything, but thought it may have been the starter. Replaced that, and now it's happened again. Found this forum tonight and can't believe what I am reading here. From what I see it looks like it's a passcode issue? So sorry I bought this car as we can't afford an unreliable car for work and school commuting. Now I'm reading about power steering problems and keys getting stuck in the ignition. I just am looking for a starting point for who I may contact at GM , and a way to keep my daughter from being stranded every time this happens.
  • aj87aj87 Posts: 2
    trying to find out the cost to get my 04 saturn ion fixed........the car acted like it wanted to turn over but never did.....changed starter battery....and alternator....still makes a cranking noise.....after several times car had shut off....and only the lights come on now.....can someone please give me is
  • saturntech9saturntech9 Posts: 152
    As far as the starting problem goes sounds like a bad ignition switch a pretty common problem on those cars.If you have the body control module scanned for codes and you find a b2960 and or a b3033 then you need a new ignition switch which contains your pass lock sensor.The switch is only like 50 its a pretty easy install you just have to relearn the new pass lock sensor.As far as the other problem goes i would need you to have the computer scanned for codes and you give me the exact code numbers and we could go from there.
  • saturntech9saturntech9 Posts: 152
    As far as the key not turning off is most likely caused by a bad micro switch at the base of the shifter.Its a wired set the mirco switch gear indicator light and the shift lock solenoid really comm on problem on that car.I cant belive they didnt check that out.Its esy to change you just remove the console and its right there.Also 2003 was the first year for the ion it replaced the S model saturn which ended in 2002.
  • aj87aj87 Posts: 2
    so would this cause the car to not start at all.....because once i kept trying to start it....the message board said service engine...and the lock symbol had came the only thing the car does is turn ....and how much does the power sterring chip cost....
  • saturntech9saturntech9 Posts: 152
    A bad ignition switch will cause a no start you will get a brief crank then no crank with a security light on.So are you loosing powering steering while driving?There is a power steering computer but most of the time its the motor that goes bad on those cars.You will have to get the power steering codes read and depending on the code is what your going to test and repair.Most indepent shops dont have a scanner to read the power steering also if you have the body control module scanned and have a B3033 and or B2960 you have a bad ignition switch.I would also have the engine computer scanned as well for codes.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    edited July 2011
    Thanks. They replaced the entire shift thing, had to order from L.A.

    Oh yes, I am aware the ION's first model year was 2003, but the first models for sale were available in fall 2002 as 2003 models. GM has known about the problem since introduction is what I should have said.

    And someone had to sign off with the supplier for this POS piece even earlier than that. The first problems started showing up not long after the first IONs hit the streets and GM just let it go on for years afterward.

    That's what makes the continued problem so far into the run and then using the same garbage in other lines so infuriating.

    Is there any way to simply to keep that key release button under the steering wheel depressed ? It's likely going to happen again and I would rather do that than doing the "cut the white wire" fix. Or even swapping the ignition switch for yet another defective replacement piece.

    Also read here on Edmunds about a Passlock by pass kit that's out there. No one is going to steal this car, and I could do without the Passlock junk.
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