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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • Greetings fellow Ion owners! I tend to agree that this is something that GM should have handled better. But as for my personal situation, it is fixed. For how long I don't know (and I'm not holding my breath) but for now I'm up and running again. I DID take my 2003 Ion to the "GM Certified Saturn Service Center" at a dealer. BUT, they have my car running again. They did the $97/hour diagnostic and found nothing and then had to disassemble the ignition assembly. That is where they say the problem was. According to them, when my local mechanic replaced the ignition switch last year he didn't use "genuine GM parts" and the wrong voltage was being passed so the anti-theft system shut the engine down. The total came to a little over $200 so I'm happy to NOT have to shop for another car just yet. I think I'll stay with this thread for a while still and see how everyone else fares. Good luck!
  • Sarah, thanks for your message. So far so good but I am really bothered that the dealership charged me $120 for a diagnostic test that revealed nothing and THEN tested the replacement battery which they said was bad. I just got laid off so $120 isn't pocket money, plus I don't trust a dealership that won't do anything else before charging you $120 for a diagnostic.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    It's the "Genuine GM Parts" that caused the problem in the first place. ;) These guys will say ANYTHING: "They all do that" "Never heard of that before." "Needs a new BCM". "Needs a new starter". "Battery". And the beat goes on.

    At this stage in the ION's time on the road it's all going to be passed off as "normal wear and tear" and GM will be even more forthright in ignoring their problem. Again. Still.

    Mine was replaced at least three times at the dealership and like you I am not holding my breath either. Glad to have it fixed and the place treated me right.

    It still bugs me: in 40 years of driving the only time I ever had to replace an ignition switch was when I lost the keys to my car.

    A shame: the ION was a better car than people gave it credit. It's almost like GM went out of their way to prove that Saturns were unsalable.
  • Great to hear that things have been going well since the replacement. I'm sorry to hear about your job situation, and understand how diagnostic fees can be steep. If we can be of further service on any vehicle concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us via email.

    GM Customer Service
  • For your sake, I hope this is a permanent fix and solves your problems once and for all time! But I do not trust the dealers and mechanics. The first thing they're taught is to lie, sell unnecessary parts, blame someone or something else and steal your money with an outrageous "diagnostics fee". The white wire solution has worked for for about 2-and-a-half years and cost nothing!

    I bought a code reader on sale from Advanced Auto Parts for under $100 and each and every time I've used it, it has shown the same thing as the mechanic's and/or dealer's "diagnostics" . I think the $75 to $100+ fee is just an entrance fee to get in to the garage with the den of thieves who'll rob you blind once you're in there.

    Just bought my oldest granddaughter a 2005 Ford Focus and it's starting to exhibit similar cold weather starting failures. Oh, well . . . here we go again. I hope I'll find a "white wire" fix for the Focus!

    Good luck to you!
  • Thanks for your support dweezil. I think that since I came in with the bulliten information and the fact that the ignition switch and cylinder had both already been replaced that they knew I had done some research and wouldn't buy a huge pile of bs.
    The mechanic who did the original work says he hates seeing Saturns come in for anything other than an oil change. But like I told him, this is the only issue I have with mine. Almost 9 years old and under 70k miles but no 'major' work on it. Here's hoping that it stays that way for at least one more year. That's when our son is done with daycare and we get a nice little break with the household expenses.
  • Thanks blucat. I can't see the video here at work, but I'll check it out at home. I'm not sure I will go for the 'cut the wire' solution, but I'll keep it in mind. For now, I'm still running just fine.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    edited November 2011
    Blucat: You're on to it. I have a 99.00 Car MD that does most of the same stuff and puts it into laymen's terms for me.

    It would generate as much business as they could handle to do as Auto Zone and others do and read your codes for free. All that 99-125 dollar fee does is put people off the dealer service depts and pisses them off enough never to return.

    First brand that gets wise is going to have people lining up to use their service dept and an opportunity to build the groundwork for potential sales. That was the basis of Saturn's popularity in the first place. And it worked.

    It will never happen: the quick buck is always easier to get than the one you have to cultivate.

    But I have to say: my SSP @ Oreilly's Chevrolet Tucson has been fantastic. Enough so that once again I would possibly consider them for my next car purchase. They might have actually retained me as a customer of GM with the problem resolution and follow up they've given my ION.
  • Hallie,

    I had the same problem but it happened when it was cold out or not. What happened in my case with my 2003 saturn ion 1 was the ignition switch. After it wouldnt initially start, i had to wait 30 mins. till the security passlock
    disabled itself then it would start. Whats happeneing is there is a resistor on the ignition switch. When that goes bad, the anti theft/paslock system thinks the car is being stolen! So i had the gm dealership replace the ignition switch even though they tried to rape me by telling me it was my BCM(Body Control Module) and would cost $500 to replace the computer. Then i came on this site and talked to saturntech on here and said it was the ignition switch so i had it replaced about a month ago and low and behold no more problems!! To replace the switch at the dealer was about $120. Hope this helps, Adam
  • Adam,
    The same switch is less than $20 at - less than half of what gm dealer charge! The install is a matter of minutes ... if handy you should be able do it yourself.

    Have installed a few switches purchased from rockauto ....
    Also have one 'on the shelf', bought at the gm dealer for like $49, with clear conditions, that "it is an "electrical component" and "no warranty" - and sure enough it was a bad one, bought at a gm-dealer! It does not make you turn to the gm-dealer for more parts ...
  • etofmaineetofmaine Posts: 9
    edited December 2011
    My 2005 Saturn Ion, Manual transmission, with Cruise had the Inital startup
    anti-theft problem also, 6 times. I also had to wait 10 to 20 minutes for it to reset. Another woman in my area had the Ignition switch replaced to remedy her issues with this same problem. I while waiting one darn cold morning, remembered how my OIL change indicator kept coming on after an oil change 2 days prior, and was told that to reset that, you turn key to ON position (not start) press gas slowly to floor 3 times. Turn off key for 5 seconds then start. I wondered about that and tried that 4, 5, 6,,,, until I got to 11 times. After each sequence turn to off position for 5 seconds and tried to start vehicle. #11 seemed to have done the trick for me as I have not had a problem in 2 years. Seems there are computer codes for certain things using the gas peddle to reset them like the OIL one.
  • That is the wierdest thing I have heard of! Pumping the gas pedal to re-set the 'change oil' idiot light?!? Do you have the owner's manual? Mine has a much easier (and more understandable) way to reset the indicator - I just hold the odometer/trip meter button for 5 seconds and it resets. Of course, on my wife's 2002 L100 there was a button on the fuse panel in the engine compartment that you had to press to do the same thing and nobody seemed to remember to push it when the changed the oil.
    BTW, still running just fine with the 'genuine GM part' ignition switch from the dealer a few weeks ago. For now...
  • I got that info for the gas peddle reset of Oil indicator from the Used car dealer where I bought the vehicle, she is one smart lady on about all vehicles she sells.
    I just took an educated guess that other codes may reset by trying a different sequence. Like I said not another problem in 2 years, no more -20 degree waits :) Hope this works for others also as it gets expensive at least for me to travel 50 miles to a GM dealer just to get ripped off.
  • Omg! I am having that problem now, I thought it was my battery so I replaced it! But it's still doing exactly what happen to your car! Now this morning my key got stuck it wouldn't turn all the off it stayed on the "Acc" part, which I was mad because I couldn't lock my doors because it was stuck. I'm so made about it because I live in the Lancaster CA we use to have a Saturn dealer in Palmdale CA but GMC just had to buy it out! So I guess I have to go to GMC which I really don't want to. I use to have a Ford Focus and I never had problems with the Ford at all. But my 2003 Saturn Ion is a great car it rides smooth of course with my rims. Also didnt know my battery was located in the truck! That's the first for me now I'm starting to research more about this Saturn Ion because I don't want to get rape at the dealer! Love this Forum/discussion!
  • etofmaineetofmaine Posts: 9
    edited December 2011
    You wrote: "They fixed the key issue by taking apart the cylinder again, but since then the car won't stay on at all. It cranks, but then stalls."
    in a response to pamela519

    I had vehicle once with that problem. Ended up being a fuse for maintaining the running of the vehicle after starting. Hmmmm wonder ???

    UPDATE: Actually as I now remember I would stay running as long as you never removed your foot from the gas, then it would stall.
  • Saturn out of business??? Hmmm looking at 2013 models with 6speed Auto & Manual Loaded, on Internet.
  • She is wrong use the trip reset to toggle the message to change oil message then hold the trip reset down for a few seconds and you will hear a beeping conformation.So of the saturns used the gas pedal for oil change reset but not all the them.I worked at the saturn dealer for many years working on these cars.As far as your no start its most likely your ignition switch being bad.Have your body control module scanned for codes if you have a B3033 and or B2960 replace the ignition switch its easy to do.You could even do it yourself if you need instructions i will give them to you.
  • Keys stuck in ignition? Although I am not a mechanic or knowledgable as to how ignition switches work these days, since the advent of locking stearing wheels, all vehicles I have owned have had that issue when force on the steering column is applied to it due to residual pressure from the tires applying pressure back to the steering column. Unaware; I have somtimes turned into a parking spot, even into my garage, turned off the ignition, released the steering column then gone back to start my vehicle but to turn the key and either unable to, or have turned it part way before tire tension to the steering column locks my key part way. On one occasion I had to use brute force to turn the steering column to release the key.

    Although I have never heard of, nor could conceive (nor sound logical ) such a Relay that can entrap a key, especially if battery dies leaving such relay with no power.

    A key locked in such a position due to my knowledge of the mechanical pressures from tire back to locking steering column, could in fact leave some vehicle systems active, thus draining battery voltage over a period of time giving the appearence of battery issues. Much like older vehicles where one dome light use to drain a battery overnight.

    Even my 2005 Ion entraped my key once but as I described it was due to pressure from tires back to locking steering column. Once I forcefully turned steering column it Released.

    I hope there is no such relay :mad: in modern vehicles.
  • etofmaineetofmaine Posts: 9
    edited December 2011
    You wrote:
    She is wrong use the trip reset to toggle the message to change oil message then hold the trip reset down for a few seconds and you will hear a beeping conformation. So of the saturns used the gas pedal for oil change reset but not all the them. I worked at the saturn dealer for many years working on these cars. As far as your no start its most likely your ignition switch being bad. Have your body control module scanned for codes if you have a B3033 and or B2960 replace the ignition switch its easy to do. You could even do it yourself if you need instructions i will give them to you.
    I believe dozensaturn or notcrankyion may have written about the trip reset, I was writing about the "She" that informed me about the depressing the gas peddle slowly 3 times to reset OIL change warning indicator, which did work immediately and several times since, on my 2005 Ion. BTW I like my Ion and the 45mpg that it was not suppose to deliver :) 135,000+ winter snow and summer.
  • iatmgiatmg Posts: 1
    edited December 2011
    Backstory: About 2 years ago, my 2003 Burgundy Ion 1 would start randomly not-starting. First time it happened was at a gas station. I pulled over, filled up, then it wouldn't start - Now, like then, it usually just sits there and shows me the lights every time I turn the key with no other effort to start the vehicle. It sometimes turns once and then goes back to just being the lights. I've had the electrical system checked pretty much every time it's happened and it always checks out 100%. I've had the starter checked and the guy said it was ok, albeit it was about 5 months ago. Tonight, the following video happened. It's completely different from the other time aside from that it's been 2 hours now and won't kick over. As you can see from the lights, the power is fine. Usually, when it does this, I'll try for about 30 minutes and it'll eventually kick over. Twice I had a false start where it sounded and acted like it started, but then it just quickly, yet slowly, faded out to 'off'. I'd say in all, it's happened about 10 times in the 2-3 years I've had this problem. And, when I say it's random, it truly is: in hot weather, cold weather, day, night, it just decides to get tired, sometimes. Any ideas?

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