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Saturn S-Series Starting Problems



  • Now the latest. I found that with the key held to start, slamming the clutch pedal against the floorboards seem to jar the solenoid into action. This worked for about a week. Then it died on her again. Out of frustration, we took it to a garage near my work. They confirmed that it was a starter, and although I knew that $302.00 installed for troubleshooting and replacement was high, I went for it. Worked for about a week, now it started with the old tricks again. Except, now, sometimes you have to wiggle the steering column or pull back on the bright switch to get the engine and panel gage lights on. And in a seemingly unrelated matter, it appears that the drivers side wiper shaft doesn't work and turn with little or no resistance (loose or broken linkage) and the domelight fuse blew. A new fuse seems to be okay.
    The sad part is that I really want to like this car but it is making it very difficult.
    Any ideas - multifunction switch, ignition switch?
  • sdsunsdsun Posts: 13
    edited February 2010
    You didnt indicate what year Saturn you have. I have a 2001 Saturn SL (manual tranny) with 177,000 miles on it. :)

    This is just what I did with my car as an example. It may be time to replace the ignition solenoid. I had problems starting my saturn and replaced the solenoid and (just because) put in a new starter, my car now starts! You might also want to check your crankcase position sensor, those go bad with use. Once you get these things fixed you will enjoy a wonderful car with great gas mileage and cheap on insurance.
  • I have ultimate solution but you would not like it. Try adding fuel injector cleaner and then cleaning EGR then throttle body of carbon -new pvc valve
  • tim_wvtim_wv Posts: 2
  • sdsunsdsun Posts: 13
    I had the same problem a few months ago. I have 2001 SL1. My crankshaft sensor went bad. It might be worth to check on that. Good luck.
  • tim_wvtim_wv Posts: 2
    I AM A SHADE TREE GUY, SO WHERE IS THE crankshaft sensor LOCATED ?
  • davidwyszdavidwysz Posts: 1
    i have been having much the same problem with my girlfriend's saturn as you are having. i finally traced it down to a bad window relay located on the center console fuse panel. when i changed it with a new relay the alarm started to work, the horn started going off..... it was as if the car had come back to life. the alarm on her car hadn't been working for ages but it didn't seem to affect anything so i ignored it. it does seem very unrelated but when we did try to start the car with the bad relay in it the same symptoms were there. certain things worked in the car but certain ones did not. when i turned the key to try and start it i got nothing but a soft noise. tracing the noise to the relay i started to remove it and the clock came on, this told me i was on the right track. i know its been a while since your post but this just has just happened to us. hope you got the problem fixed.
  • Mech told me to try to put 2 cans in even if on red on guage tried it and heard pow noise and started working put both in-fixed obstruction. this was done with fan on and ac and rewcycling sw. on and put new wheel bearing in -chewed up. :lemon:
  • Did you ever have any luck with this? I have what sounds like the same problem. 2001 SC1 ran fine, then the battery died from sitting unused in the summer heat for a month. Replaced the battery, everything cranks but it's like the fuel pump is shut off. Tried the passlock reset 10 minute procedure - no luck. Btw, how do you know if Passlock is engaged - does the engine even crank? Trying to discount that. It's odd that the car drove fine but now won't start. Don't want to tow it...and for that matter don't know where to even tow it to anymore!! Any suggestions for fuse pulls, etc. are appreciated!!
  • Turn key to on position wait-should hear click if fuel pump comes on then try start with no gas on if starts then stalls hit gas pedal once then try again my car does this in hot weather :lemon: bring to Firestone otherwise
  • knowit2knowit2 Posts: 7
    edited September 2010
    One other thing to check on a manual. When you push the clutch down, there is a switch that gets pushed that insures the clutch is engaged to turn the starter (between the clutch and the firewall). There could be a bad connection there. I'd check that. You can hard-wire the switch and see if that cures the issue.

    Also, the starter is pretty easy to replace. Mine went out. First disconnect the battery. Then pull out three bolts (plus the connectors to the wires) and pull the starter out. Replace with new starter. I believe I paid $105 for a new starter, lifetime warranty. You will need some pretty long ratchet extensions though.
  • I remember when cars first came out with that switch--got in a truck and would not start till depresses clutch and in neutral. Before that you could start in gear with clutch out jackrabbit start used to do on purpose when battery down. Careful if hot wiring do not stand in front of it. I did that and jumped out of way. it started quick
  • 97 SL1 DOHC when start no mater cold or hot idleruns up to 25 to 3000 he comes down. Have tryed everthing any one have clues.Replaced temp. senser,idle air control,intake air temp senser,new plugs,wires,cleaned throtle body,replaced fuel pres. reg. cked injectors,Im lost now...
  • Try cleaning EGR valve spray pintle with carb cleaner probably carboned up spray till pintle can be moved freely or have replaced. Try putting injector cleaner in. check antifreeze level -can surge if low. P0404 code is clogged EGR and will turn on check engine light Bob B :lemon:
  • Did you ever resolve the shut off while driving problem for your 95 SL Saturn? I have the same problem. Thanks
  • Not sure if this will help you, but I have a '96 SL-1 with the 5 speed. A little over a week ago I couldn't start the car after shoving the clutch in like you have to do. Shoved on it again and it started and had no further issues till last Monday(the 13th) when I had a problem here at home, same issue had to shove the clutch in and out several times to start it. The battery is only about 2 years old and I changed the starter 2 years ago(it was used one and has always worked well.) I finally got going Monday and had to make a stop at our son's home and when it was time to leave, the car would not start no matter HOW many times I worked the clutch. My boy had to push me and I started the car on compression. The problem is the Clutch swith/ignition interlock. This switch is located at the top of the clutch pedal and has a two wire plug going into it. If you pull this plug out and put a jumper wire into it, bypassing the switch, your car should start. Keep in mind that it will start while in gear or in neutral without the need to shove in the clutch. You don't want to attempt to start the car in gear because the bucking can cause the flywheel to break. I initially thought this switch was the Neutral Safety Switch which is clearly shown in my Hayne's manual. But this is for an AUTOMATIC tranny, not the manual. When I called Auto Zone for the part and price, at first it was 40 bucks because they were talking about the wrong part, not what I needed. They then found it and said it was a clutch switch/ign, interlock which is just about the same thing since it is designed to prevent you from starting the car unless you first push in the clutch.

    And this part was only 7 bucks, much to the delight of someone currently unemployed. I just put the new switch in on Saturday the 18th and there are 2 10mm nuts to remove. Take out the mounting bracked and you may need to pry the old switch out and then slide the new one all the way down, replace the unit and plug in the wire and you are good to go.
  • I have a 1997 saturn sl1 1.9 sohc i am a single parent with two kids and i have no way of getting to where i need to ... i bought the car about 2 weeks ago and the day i got it i tried starting it and it would crank but no start .. i pulled the plugs out to check for spark.. nothing so i thought maybe ignition problems so i went out and bought a new coilpack and ignition module and plugs no luck cranks but no start ... and no spark so i called autozone they said put a new crack position sensor in i did still no spark... called them back the guy asked if i was getting fuel i checked nothing no fuel was getting to fuel rail... so i checked to see if the fuel pump was in working order by running 12V positive wire from battery to fuel pump positive it primed the fuel lines but still no start check to see if any fuses were blown prior to that and there was a 10 amp fuse blown and the relay i unpluged and wired it up the fuse holder and the fuel pumped kicked on so i was wondering if i was missing something or if its a fuel pump relay that needs to be replaced or what i should i do cause autozone said that if it ain't getting fuel than it wont get any spark because its got a sensor that determines if there is fuel to give spark and if there ain't it wont spark i really need some help... im lost and i dont know what else to do thank you
  • Dont keep cranking engine---have someone check the timing belt first you will get no spark if blown and engine will freeze up if it has not already If froze up -piece of junk not worth fixing. I would not try to do myself-get mech Bob B
  • First try installing a crankshaft position sensor--ask autozone for help for info how to do Bob B
  • i did that was the second thing i replaced first thing was the coil packs and plugs then the ignition module 3rd still the POS wont run lol
  • Take cover off timing belt on left side of engine to see if blown Bob B :lemon:
  • maxxerkmaxxerk Posts: 1
    Just hit the top of the shifter with your shoe-or fist(reasonably hard)- it should come out of park-kind of hillbilly, but it works.. :-)
  • scbatemanscbateman Posts: 1
    Newbie here. 2002 Saturn SL1, 72K miles. Hasn't been driven in a year. Thought battery was dead so jumped off and was successful getting battery changed. Drove a bit then car wouldn't start. This has happened twice now. Did some investigating on-line via AutoMD and found that it was most likely the starter. Bought remanufactured one from Advance. Current starter just made a loud click when attempting to start. New one was successfully installed but when attempting to start new starter, starter spins continuously. Viewed You Tube video about how to fix Saturn starter. So took apart old starter and cleaned per video. Reinstalled with same single click occuring. HELP!!!!
  • Hey guys, I need serious help! I've had this ongoing issue for a few months now and I need my car :(

    I have a 2002 Saturn SL and it has completely stopped on me about 3 times while driving. The first time I was on the freeway. I got it towed back to my house and after about 2 weeks it started up again.

    A few weeks later it stopped on me again while driving down the street. The AAA guy came, banged on the fuel pump and it wanted to start, but then stopped. He also grabbed the TPS and shook it and it tried to start, but then stopped again. I replaced the TPS and nothing. I took it to a mechanic and he "fixed" it. It worked for a few days and then stopped again while driving on the street.

    Finally, I had a friend help me out, free of charge, and he did a test where he placed gasoline into some kind of intake valve by the engine and the car tried to start. He said it was the fuel injectors. Got new fuel injectors and that wasn't the problem. He now says it's the fuel pump.

    Any suggestions before I continue to buy parts I don't need?
  • Turn on iginition wait till you hear click and try to start if it does not then fuel pump also have fuel filter changed :lemon: is service engine light on? if so go to autozone for free ckeck
  • We've been having a problem with our Saturn for the past 6 months or so that is battery related. Last year December my wife left the lights on in the car and the battery died. We replaced it with a new one and it worked fine for a while. Then in the past few months once every few weeks when we go to start the car we find the battery's dead! No explanation. We've been having to trickle charge the battery for 24 hrs to get it back to life as it drains completely when this happens.

    Has anyone experienced this before? Or has any advice?
  • Dont buy a battery you cant open--most batteries you can open-even the freedom ones--check water level should at least cover cells fill with distilled water or regular water if not available.They will tell you not to add water-BS.Take battery to autozone for check -free-dont have to remove for test. Have your cars charging system checked if keeps up I would get rid of battery if it failed Bob B :lemon:
  • It might not be starting in the correct sequence. you could take it in and ask a Trustful mechanic. I know this has happened to me with other cars.
  • Yes, I had the exact same problem.. Next time it dies.. ask them to blow air into the gas tank where you would normally fill it... If the car starts... the issue is NOT the fuel pump... or filter... its a pressure issue !!!! The system has vacumn lines to maintain a back pressure in the system... there is a thing called a pressure check valve that does get stuck... and yes randomly... it will die OR not start... This is NOT the only saturn I have heard this happening too... GOOD LUCK !!
  • Turn the key nothing, the lights come on though.
    I can get it to start if someone cross connects the starter while I turn the key.
    My car was in the shop last week $220. - they put in a new key tumbler and gave me the key free, but they didn't fix the problem. I'm not a mechanic. Appreciate any help. :) Julie
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