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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • I will probably also try this fix, but I may put a switch in line with the wire. The fact that you need to cut the wire with the engine running tells me the "system" may store information and be held for future starts. If you ever replace the battery that info may get lost? And then maybe it will be like the wire is cut before the car is started. Wonder if this has been a problem after replacing a battery or even the control module???
  • brava58brava58 Posts: 27
    edited December 2010
    You are right, it didn't start the other morning, quite frustrating. What does cutting the white wire have to do with clumping grease?
  • The grease keeps the passlock module from getting a clean signal at startup and thus the car thinks the ignition has been tampered with and refuses to start for security. If you cut the white wire (the wire that carries the passlock voltage at startup) with the car running, the module enters a failsafe mode and ignores that input going forward. With the white wire cut your car will always ignore passlock until you re-connect the wire if ever. From what I can tell it is a reversible procedure.
  • OK, I see. Thanks for the explanation.
  • I have a 2006 Saturn Ion-2 2.2L Ecotec with the same Passlock problem, it kept getting worse and worse. My roommate stumbled across this forum. I just cut the white wire (I didn't remove the airbag fuse -- with no ill effects) last Saturday (1/8/11) and I have had no problems since. Whoever figured that one out, I owe you a beer!
  • So I did the white wire cut on my son's 2004 ion. Everything was great for 10 days or so.

    Then his key was left on and killed the battery.

    We jumped (charged) the battery but now it is completely locked up. Won't start, can't even shift out of park.

    I found an ex-saturn tech who came over and reconnected the white wire and replaced the ignition switch. Then he did the reprogram process. It seemed like at least the key is recognized as the yellow lock doesn't show up but still nothing.

    He said maybe we now need to replace the BCM. I just can't see how a battery going dead can damage a BCM.

    Do you think maybe a BCM reprogram? Is the BCM program different then the relearn process or is that the same thing?
  • we have a 2004 saturn ion with the passlock starting problem. I have seen posts about "cutting the white wire" and wiping grease out of the switch but i also saw a reference to using the remote to turn off or deprogram the passlock feature. Something about pressing the hazard light button five times. I could not find this procedure in the owners manual. Is there such a procedure and is it documented somewhere?
  • hi....did you ever receive an answer on the hazard light button procedure? I ask because my daughter's 2007 Ion just had this issue. My son was in the car listening to the radio and then the padlock came on and the car shut down. How do we get it started again? Thanks for your help!
  • rb52rb52 Posts: 3
    My 2004 Saturn Ion had the same cold start problem - temperatures below 30 degrees and it would not start. After reading several boards regarding this problem I decided to listen to the Master Mechanic that posted a message about having the ignition switch replaced for 2004's and for 2005 and 2006's to have the ignition switch replaced along with the module. Yes, the new switch cost me just over $400.00 but my Saturn Ion now starts even in the negative temps. If the dealer or mechanic gives you a hard time tell them to look up the bulletin regarding cold starts. It will tell them what to do. I hope this helps someone. Good luck!

  • Glad that worked for you. I did the "White Wire Fix" for my granddaughter's ION a year-and-a-half ago and have had zero problems. It cause me 14-cents for two wire connectors.
  • wes34wes34 Posts: 1
    I ask anyone having a start problem with the saturn ion, to first try checking all fuses under the hood ( especially 10 amp fuses) before you spend hundreds of bucks.

    My battery went dead, i tried boosting it off. it would not even turn over. i put a new battery in. still nothing. i changed ignition. still nothing. i checked the starter, the clutch switch, and all the fuses that i thought had to do with the starting and running of my vehicle. so to make a long story short, at last resort i began checking all fuses under the hood one by one. I found a 10 amp fuse that was blown. the fuse i found was not even labled on my fuse panel cover. but figuring it wouldnt work, i tried any way. AND IT STARTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO PLEASE CHECK ALL YOUR FUSES!!!!!!!!!

    I think by boosting the car off I may have blew the fuse not sure tho, because the car wouldnt turn over any way.. so please check fuses. My dash was also reading something when i would turn the key. I cant remrmber if it was pass lock but it was something to that affect. hope i have helped someone.

  • vjosephvjoseph Posts: 2
    i thank you all for tricks you have posted!! i called the dealership i bought it from and they acted like they never heard of this before! Seriously. i am looking into law suit. GM knows this vehicle is faulty yet they continue selling them to un-beknownst people and refusing to help them once they've taken our money. i have been caught in the cold and heat on too many occassions. i hate my car.
  • vjosephvjoseph Posts: 2
    i have always and only driven GM cars,... mostly trucks,.. i have to say,..will be no longer, money will go to a company that values their customers,..not just their customers money
  • lnquachlnquach Posts: 3
    I had the cold start problems and cut the white wire, which helped for a while. Then it came back again. I decided to replace the battery, except I replaced it with one that had high cold cranking amps and better quality than the one that comes with the vehicle. Haven't had any issues since. It's okay if the battery isn't the same size because it's in the trunk, the space will accomodate a bigger battery, which is apparently what it needs.
    Hope this helps someone.
  • Hi my name is kenitra and I have a saturn ion 2004, 2.2 my car wont start and on the dash it reads power start it seems like the same problem you had but we checked all the fues I dont know what it is....
  • In 2005, I purchased a 2005 Saturn Ion for my daughter to drive. It was a sexy, gorgeous car. Now that it is 6 years old, it has been having electrical problems. In December 2009, she was living in CT and going to college. She called to tell me that her car wouldn't start. It was a cold morning. I drove from NJ to CT that evening and boosted her. We took the car to PEP boys and they diagnosed it as needing a new battery. I bought a new battery and went on my merry way. In January 2010, 3 weeks later, she called again and complained that her car wouldin't start. Yes, it was a cold day. I told her to call AAA for a boost and take the car back to PEP boys. They gave her another battery. In December 2010, she was living in NJ and the car was garaged. The car did not start, could not be boosted, had to be towed by AAA to a Cheverlet dealership since there are no more Saturn dealerships. They diagnosed the problem has needing a new battery. I paid Cheverolet twice the amount I paid PEP boys for, yet, another battery. I am dumbfounded that one car could need 3 batteries in 13 months. In January 2011, 3 weeks later, the car wouldn't start in the morning, and it was cold, but responded to a boost. I took the car to my mechanic who suggested that the starting problems was related to the security system, but otherwise he could not find anything wrong.
    Last night, we experienced torential rainfall, and the security system set off for no reason. It was silenced by the remote, but the cabin lights would not go off. I got into the car and drove it around the block. When I put it into first gear, the cabin lights shut off. I returned home and turned off the car and again the cabin lights would not shut off. The cabin lights remained "on" for several hours, and we noticed they were off. I assumed that the battery died again. But, the car started this morning. It was 40 degrees this morning. However, my daughter said the interior of the right side of the car was soaking wet: the carpet and the seat were drenched. The windows were closed tight and so was the door. Obviously, there is a seal problem somewhere, but the rainwater has short circuited somewhere. I do not even know where to begin to have it assessed and resolved. This is so bizzarre. I am extremely frustrated that a car that I just finished paying for is now giving me all this grief. I have started to read a lot of blogs and am stunned to find that many people are having electrical problems. I don't know what the solution is. I am so upset, I want to get rid of the car, but how?
  • jtarr24jtarr24 Posts: 1
    Hi all,

    I just wanted to let you all know that I've had the white wire cut and it's done wonders for my starting problems. I have a 2004 Ion and read in this forum (and followed this video: on how to cut the wire. Unfortunately, it does leave a "check engine" light on. I'm installing the toggle switch tomorrow and will try to get a video of it. Cutting the wire works and is pretty easy to do.

    my saturn is having seal problems as well. The seal is visibly coming off from the door behind the drivers seat. Honestly, I solve it by using some duct tape. It looks tacky, but it works.
  • otis19otis19 Posts: 1
    i have 2000 saturn ls the car start when it wants to.i can start the car and drive it when i park it for a hour or so it will not start? and sometimes in the morining it will start and some times it will not start?i put it two new coil packs plus gas filter. when it does not start i have to use starting fluid to start?can anyone hepl?
  • dozensaturndozensaturn Posts: 41
    edited March 2011
    You are experiencing two of the most common problems with the ION's ...
    First of all you have no doubt been advised to change batteries when that was NOT the problem.
    All of my Saturn's are in Florida ... yet have the starting problem.
    Second: The starting problem is not just when it is COLD. Now down to 7 ION's (after total of 17 Saturn's ... 9 of them ION's). Changed several ignition switches - and it has cleared the problem except on one '04 earlier this week. Installed a new GM (OEM) switch - and everything was 'dead' so the 'old' switch was reinstalled - and so far the car has started on first try. Typically one have to wait for 5 to 10 minutes after the first 'dead' click, and maybe even a third try until it starts. Then it will re-start most of the time throughout the day. The switch is available at the GM dealer for $40 plus but the identical part can be sourced for less than $20!
    This is frustrating to say the least.
    One of our ION's experienced the same problem with water on the floor board, passenger side - now on the fifth (5th) motor ... first on warranty and dealer had no answer/excuse etc. My mechanic have now solved the problem, including a much quicker repair technique, reducing labor to a minimum. This vehicle has been dry now for one year! Wow. Our neighbor had an ION, leased and had the very same problem! It is more common than what has been admitted by dealer.
    The ION's have been good, but we are 'moving' them out and replacing with non-GM products.
    I will lock back at this forum in a week or so, and update about the start problem - but also what you should do with the motor/leakage - eventually you will burn the motor.
    Happy driving.
  • sbosleysbosley Posts: 1
    I also found temporary fix to the issue until you have time to fix the problem. I found disconnecting the battery and connecting it back up make it reset the security feature on the car and allows you to start the car again.
  • Just be careful, the connecters easily strip when you disconnect frequently.
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,251
    Have you spoke with a dealer about diagnosing the electrical issues?
    GM Customer Service
  • dozensaturndozensaturn Posts: 41
    edited March 2011
  • I bought my daughter a new 2004 Saturn Ion and it worked great until about two years ago. She started having problems with the car hesitating and then not accelerating. She would bring the car to a stop and start accelerating and it would be fine. It started to get more frequent. We tried four different Saturn/GM dealerships and nobody found anything wrong nor could they duplicate the issue so they say. She continued to have problems and the frequency of the power problem got worse until the car wouldn't start about a week ago. She lives in Independence, MO and I found a shop called Susquehanna Auto Clinic. We had it towed and within a few hours they noted the cooling system sensor and the O2 sensors were bad. The cooling system sensor showed the coolant to be -20 degrees even tho it's 70 degrees outside which caused the system to get too much gas (may have this backwards). The O2 sensor was bad as well(This was origianl thought a while ago). The sensors have been fixed and the car is working great. Stay away from the dealerships and just find a good mechanic.
  • Yes, I have. They said I only needed a new battery which I authorized them to put in, and problem still exists.
    I also took it to independent mechanic and he couldn't find anything either.
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,251
    Can you please email me with your complete contact information including a good number to reach you, VIN, current mileage, and involved dealer?
    GM Customer Service
  • ion2004ion2004 Posts: 1
    ... look up how to disable the pass lock, there is even a video on how to do it, its effective and it works. takes no parts and 5 minutes
  • Do you have a link to the pass lock video?
    Still struggling with the starting problem ...
  • tony165tony165 Posts: 1
    Have 06' Ion quad coupe,same issue.Has not started the past 2 mornings.Often starts after the 10 minute wait.Not 4/11 and 4/12/11.
    The whole thing is b.s., and is going to cost about $700 to fix proper at the dealer with the $140 to diagnose. Dropping off today at f.h. daily san leandro.
    Bent out of shape about the whole thing already.
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