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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • rvsamrvsam Posts: 4
    Please read post 661. You have a passlock failure and I bet it is the same as mine. If you research early in this thread you will find someone recommending "cutting the white wire". I am not sure but this might fix it also.
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,251
    I apologize for your frustrations however you are correct I am following our standard operating procedures unfortunately it is required to have the vehicle diagnosed at a GM dealer since they are the eye and ears of GM to physically assess your vehicle and look into your concerns. Unfortunately there is a diagnostic fee that I am unable to waive. Unfortunately to proceed with a case with customer assistance you will have to have the vehicle diagnosed. We would be happy to look into your situation and evaluate it after the diagnosis. If you do have the vehicle diagnosed please feel free to contact your agent directly.

    Just for the record I am a real person and not a robot.

    Thank you,
    Caron, GM Customer Service
  • I have had my 2003 Saturn sitting for 3 months because of this. I researched it last year and the problem is the ignition switch solonoid. They are easy to swap out and cheap ($25). I don't have the tools to do it and had bought another car and I am lazy; so it isn't fixed yet. It is the lubricant (grease) in the switch that is the failpoint and causes the relay to the passlock security to fail. Yes, you can cut the white wire (via youtube video) and you will never have the problem again but you will have a check engine light on permanently. I am now ordering the part today and will be putting it in with the help of a friend. There is a process you have to do to reset the passlock system. You can find it here:

    If you buy the switch just have a local mechanic do it. Print the instructions from the above site and take them to him. It will run about $100-150. That beats paying GM though right... and will have a warranty?

    Here is where I bought my switch and is the same for all ions 2003-2007/ =UTF8&qid=1313695084&sr=8-1

    I know people that have had to replace this every few years. The way I see it, it's a part of maintenance. I'll let you know how the install goes this weekend.
  • not sure what you mean by relearn the pass lock sensor. remember, i am just a person, not a mechanic! I looked on amazon and found some, none for saturns, but a link took me to Autoparts warehouse and found one for $24.99.

    have you heard of this problem before? Why would the mechanic say i needed a new battery (which worked fine before I had my car towed to him and then say i also need a starter? well over $500 as compared to the $25 + labor.

    why would saturn not make this a recall if so many people have the same problem?
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,251
    I apologize for your frustrations. Can you please send me your VIN? I will look into recall information for you. Have you spoke with an Authorized Saturn Service Center? I look forward to your response. Have a great weekend!
    GM Customer Service
  • I have replaced a lot of the ignition switches on those cars for not starting especially when outside temp bellow 40 degrees there is even a bulletine on it.They have redesigned the switch 3 or 4 times.If you have the body control module scanned for codes right after a no start you would look for a B2960 andor B3033 in the body control module.But you need a scan tool that can read codes on your body control module.So when the car doesnt start is the security light on solid or flashing?The pass lock relearn is what you have to do when you replace the switch.What you do is replace the switch then turn the key to the start postion then let the key sit in the run position for ten minutes till the security light goes out then you turn the key off for 30 seconds and repeat that for 2 two more cycles.Not every repair shop especially the mom and pop shops know about the ignition switch issue you could have had a bad battery and they figured from your symptoms that is what your problem was.Then you say its still happening then they guess you have a starter going bad.So what year is your car?Gm doesnt just have a recall just because a lot of people have a certain problem with a certain car.Most of the time they will extended certain parts warranties for a longer period of time on different year makes and models and will have within a certain vin numbers included.A good example they did that with ion electric steering motors and the saturn vue vti transmissions never recalled just a longer warranty on certain ones.So let me i can help you out with one i know caron is doing her best too but if you dont have the diagnoses fee to pay the gm dealer for a chance they may cover the switch then i understand that times are tough right now.
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,251
    My advice is to take it to a GM dealer. Anytime you are experiencing concerns you should take it to a GM dealer. I also always advise to call Customer Assistance, or you can contact myself, if your dealer is having difficulties. The dealer has GM options such as Technical Assistance to help get the vehicle fixed. GM has a working relationship with our dealers. This keeps GM in the loop of whats going on. As well as if there was a recall to come out for that concern in the future, we could look into reimbursement. This is not possible with an independent dealer. I hope this helps.
    GM Customer Service
  • i have had this problem for years i have been kinda avoiding replacing the switch myself
    don't want to be disappointed
    called GM multiple times and they say that a diag is 90 and then whatever it is to replace the part so ball park was like 450 and the diag doesn't come off the top of the total. soooo i just kept doing this
    turn key forward and let sit in run position until light stops flashing usually ten min
    then turn the key back to off and pull key out then start her up! works first try every time
    now if its the grease how does this technique work every time what does this do to stop the grease from causing it to malfunction.

    however i am TIRED of this happening so i WILL buy the part today at Auto Zone for 54.00 and do it myself because i am pretty handy and have all tools req

    also i will post my results and let anyone know if the problem persists or is remedied but it seems that it will only be a temporary remedy anyways.

    i WILL tell ya what though if someone goes on YOUTUBE and posts a fix for something and it gets 40,000 hit and a large amout of feedback something is WRONG and should be recalled but once again it is what it is

    thanks everyone for listening to my rambling...

    also the only reason that i came in here and wrote this was because i was going to head down to auto zone to buy the part when guess what my car didn't start!!
    so i thought id come in and give GM a piece of my mind because i knew i had at least ten min to write this ;)
  • Just wanted to let you know the switch will work i have replaced so many i lost count during all my years as a saturn service tech for the same symptoms your car has.After you have replaced the switch do you know how to relearn the new pass lock in the new switch?It takes three cycles.
  • First of all I live in Southern california so the cold weather is not really an option. although i did notice when it is colder out in the winter it does start no problem. the not starting - there is no rhyme or reason to this. When I took the car to the GM dealer in december I told them about my problem. they had never heard of it. and offered me nothing. if i want them to look at it i have to pay $120 or $125 (can't remember) to get it diagnosed. @ gmcustsvc - my car is at the mechanic's so I will ask him the VIN # and get back to you. he told me he had to replace the battery which blew my mind, cause the battery had never given me a problem. he at first said it was the starter and with the battery (already charged $177 for battery and labor) he wanted another 350 to install the starter. after telling him last week about the ignition switch and starter relay (was that the other part?) he did some internet research and now says I should take it to GM.

    I don't have the kind of money where i can afford the hit and miss. I know there are so many out there with this problem. It is very frustrating that there is not one sure way to fix it. and btw, when i would turn the car on and it wouldn't start. nothing happened. no click no trying to start no messages coming up. there was one constant symbol that came up and when i looked in the saturn book it always said something about emissions.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    Your mechanic is guessing. You've already spent 177 on a battery that had nothing to do with the problem and you're still not wanting to take Gmcustsrv offer and get a file started ?

    You can pay for a new starter too which it doesn't need. And GM is the problem ?

    As for that GM tech: he's lying. They used that frigging switch on Ions, Cobalts, G5s, HHRs and Colrados and Canyon trucks. They have most definitely seen this problem before. Google search "Cobalt Ignition switch problems" or something similar and see what comes up.

    If you go through the proper procedures, the GM service provider hearing from corporate will be wayyy more willing to listen to you and help you with your problem ,even work with you on the diagnostic.

    It's a sure thing you're not going to get it fixed with your current mechanic just throwing parts at it. And charging you for the privilege of guessing.

    Believe me I empathize. I've been fighting this for 6 years already and for the time being it's fixed.

    Click on gmcustsrv and there's the email connection. Send VIN, model year, phone #, all pertinent info. Let them try and help you.

    GM has felt the wrath from this and it's other indiscretions towards it's customers over the years. There's a reason they went bankrupt. Life isn't fair and when the time comes, people move on. Good luck with this. Stop fighting it. Sometimes you simply have to go where yopu don't want to go to get some sort of resolution.

    Stay the course. You will get this sorted out in the end. Just keep hacking away.
  • I have worked for saturn repairing there cars from 1993-2009 in southern california I have replaced the ignition switches for no starts on the 2003-2007 till the last year they made the ions they have redisgned that switch 3 or four times.That switch failing is the number cause for the no starts.I have replaced a few other parts here and there but for the intermintant no starts the switch is number one.Even in the warmer weather i have replaced so many of those its crazy Its easy to replace them yourself there 23-50 depending where you buy the switch.
  • I have had MULTIPLE issues with my 2005 Saturn Ion in the 4 1/2 years I have owned it. It was about three years ago that me or my boyfriend would be driving and the car would shut off unexpectedly. We took it to the Saturn dealership at the time and they stated I had a faulty ignition switch and it was replaced (thankfully under the warranty I had at the time). They have actually fixed numerous issues (again thankfully under warranty).

    Now I have the issue where my key gets stuck in the ignition. I try to turn the car off and the key will turn part way and then lock. I can hear a bunch of clicking noises and after a few minutes there is a specific loud click I know to listen for now. When I hear it I am able to turn my key and take it out of the ignition. About four months ago my car failed to start on my way home. At that time I got a new battery. THIS MORNING when I tried to leave my car would not start at all. I would turn the key and it would tick repeatedly and the lights on the dash would flash but it would not start. I did hang out for a good 30 minutes trying to start it and a neighbor came by and gave me a jump which started it up.
    I no longer have my warranty and I cannot afford to have them fix another factory defect.

    I have read a lot of the posts and it looks like everyone keeps coming back to it being the ignition switch. I just wonder how many times I have to replace something before my car will actually function correctly.
    Has anyone had any issues with the key getting stuck? I haven't come across any posts yet that mention it. I am wondering if the key getting stuck and now my car not starting may be related.
  • eskimomanneskimomann Posts: 3
    edited August 2011
    hey catie


    the start issue IS the switch and even though the dealer replaced it once it WILL need to be done multiple times once every few years actually
    buy the part at auto zone for 60 bucks cuz it has a lifetime warranty the part is by AC delco i do not remember the part number tho google it or re read this thread your find it

    now DIRECTLY AFTER I REPLACED MY SWITCH my ignition stuck permanently in the run position i was pissed it was a coincidence tho

    some people pull the fuel pump fuse when this happens but then you have to disconnect the battery too here is what i do when it gets stuck in the run position

    PULL THE PLUG TO THE IGNITION SWITCH it kills all you need to be killed and to start the car just plug it back in

    but back to the igniton part

    wonderful fantastic glorious all knowing CHEVY wanted 850 of my hard earned dollars and i cried

    they said i needed a new ignition cylinder, a new housing, a new switch (ya i told em i JUST replaced it) the car needed to be rekeyed and the car had to be re programmed.

    after i was done crying i put my game face on!!

    went to my car pulled off the steering covers took off my windsheild wiper switch pushed in the two detents (two holes on top of the key cylinder) google that too or look up chiltons manual at autozone (youd think i work there) or i can tell u

    Push the first hole pull the cylinder a litttle
    push the second hole back hole closest to driver door) pull cyninder out a little

    then push the first one again and pop!! out she comes

    take that little booger to a lock smith and be like hey mate
    is this thing bad?

    mine the trap door for the springs popped open and caused the jam

    also the magnet in there was funking with the key
    dude charged me 12 bucks

    ya 12 BUCKS compared to 850

    i coerced a very sweet key making lady into using a key for an older ion on my 2006 and i THINK that added to some of my problems

    buuut i didnt wanna pay 60 for the proper key

    questions comments concerns ??
    get back to me thanks!


    it could be tat you had a bad battery but i think that the anti theft just timed out

    to do that just turn the key to the start position then let it drop into the run position the anti theft light on the dash will blink for ten min exactly
    then become solid then shut off when it shuts off turn the key to the off positin then pull it out put it back in and start her upp

    if this works then it IS your ignition switch and it should be replaced i know it sounds like a lot bt its all very easy and very worth it for a piece of mind knowing you wont be late to work or school or a family emergency

    good luck to all of us saturn owners
  • ya i found that thanks so much i reposted another little blurb on catie11 comment read that one!! lol fun times thanks for the reply good sir!
  • Thanks. So you think I should send gm an email? I will. and my mechanic (not really mine, cause it was the first time i went to him, but he did come highly recommended) he actually ended up telling me to take it to the GM dealer as well, b/c after I talked to him about an ignition switch and whatever else people are saying on here, he did some more research and basically said he does not know what the problem is. I didn't think I needed a new battery. In the few months it sat on the street after the final time of not starting when i would try to turn it on, the radio and lights came on. he told me had I sat in the car for a few minutes the lights and radio would have shut off. he had already put the battery in, so I paid him. I am driving my daughter's car and don't want to. I need mine dealt with. So frustrating.
  • thanks. You think I should go get the ignition switch and have someone put it in? Can I get this at pep boys or somewhere like that? And as the only one I know that used to keep our cars going is no longer around, I am going to have to pay someone to put it in. I have heard the ignition switch from others. I see you recommend amazon. You think that's better than pep boys or auto zone?
  • Ignition switch seems to be the majority of the posts. What do you recommend? Should I buy my own and have a mechanic or pep boys or some place like that put it in? My daughter's boyfriend was a fabulous mechanic and kept our cars going. he did research on this for me when it first started happening in the summer of 2009. I am so frustrated and can not afford the $100 just to diagnose it and then god knows what else they will charge me to fix it. and from what i am reading, they don't usually fix the problem
  • How did it go? I have heard about the disconnecting thing as well. and i heard it was not only the check engine light that came on, but others as well.

    How did your installation go?

    the crazy thing for me is this not starting and then starting 10 minutes later..... this started in the summer of 2009. Intermittently it would not start and would sometimes take as long as 60 minutes, which always sucked and made me late for work. I got to the point where i would go out about 30+ minutes before it was time to leave and start the car. if it did start I would leave it running until it was time for me to leave. Finally, back in May I took the dog up to the fields to run around. when it was time to leave the fields the car wouldn't start. usually, once the car did start i would not have problems for the rest of that day. this time.... the car never started again and i finally had it towed to a mechanic someone recommended. he replaced the battery which I didn't think i needed and then was talking about a starter. the total between the battery and starter and labor was over $500. i don't have that kind of money and it has been there ever since. i did pay for the battery and that labor and he recently told me after doing some more research he thinks I should take it to the GM dealer.
  • VIN # 1G8AG52FX5Z160981.

    The Saturn dealership where I bought the car went out of business and now the local Chevrolet dealership handles Saturns. I bought the car in 12/31/10 for an oil change and mentioned the problem. The man there said he had never heard of this before and told me for $100 they would run a diagnostic.

    This is very frustrating to me, because from everything I have read, spending the $100 is the beginning of a very expensive and frustrating time and many times not accomplishing anything but being out of pocket a lot of money. I don't understand how there are so many people with this problem that it has its own blog, yet they won't recall it?

    any help you can give me is greatly appreciated. My daughter will be back soon and I will be without a car to get to work.
  • I live in California and although it did get below 40 degrees, my car would start in the cold. weather did not seem to be a factor, especially as the problem started in the summer of 2009 and the last time it started was this past May. So am I to get a switch? And where to get that tool? Also, my daughter's boyfriend who was the one who fixed everything from my staturn to her 1995 bemmer is no longer around. the mechanic came highly recommended, but admitted he has never seen this problem before. my warranty is long gone isn't it? I am over 100,000 and the car is a 2005. I truly need to get it running as my daughter will be back soon and her car will no longer be an option for me
  • When the car doesnt start and you had it jumped later was the security light on solid or flashing?If so i would replace the ignition switch.When i bought a duralast lifetime warranty ignition switch from auto zone they told me wells made it not ac delco i guess it depends on who you ask who made on what they tell you.There 50plus tax from there last i saw.I would also say this could be the last time you may have to replace it but that would be going out on a limb as many as i habe changed.I have only changed my nieces 03 ion ignition switch once and that was years ago with a factory one.Now with your car not allowing the key to turn off.Does it only go to start run and acc when his happens?If so its not the cylinder when the tumblar doors come off the cylinders the cylinder sticks in the run position.Really common for what you decribe to happen on the ion and chevy cobolt.There is a micro switch at the base of your gear shift handle rod that fails to let the ket turn off in the park position.That micro switch moves the solenoid in ignition housing allowing the key to turn off when the shifter is in park.When the other person replying to you said to unplug the ignition switch and see if the key tuns off that is removing the power from the solenoid to allow you to remove turn the key off.All that proves is its the solenoid keeping the key from turning off.Its going to be ethier a bad micro switch or a sticking shifter release or the button itself you push to shift sticking.You will have remove the center console to see which it is.If its the micro switch that includes the micro switch the gear indicator light and the solenoid that keeps the gear shift from being moved without your foot on the brake there all wired in the same harness.I have the part number for that and where to buy it online.I just got one for my nieces ion.
  • It doesnt have to be below 40 degrees for it not to start but most of the time being that cold will make it happen a lot more often.When it doesnt start is the security light on solid or flashing?If so i would repalce the switch there is to change anyone handy with tools can do it.What tool are you asking about?I would say your warranty is over unless you want to pay the gm dealer the diagnoses fee and take a chance if there going to repair it for free.But i think you have a better chance of just doing what i was suggesting.Amazon the switch is 23 and auto zone its about 50 plus tax.
  • First I want to say thank you very much eskimomann. I am going to purchase the ignition switch from Auto Zone and go from there to see if it works. At this time my car won't start AT ALL hopefully the next couple of days I get that changed out.

    saturntech9- I would definitely appreciate the part number and where to buy it for the micro switch. This will be the next thing I fix when I get my car running again. Thank you for all the information. When the key gets stuck the engine is actually OFF but I can restart it (however when I turn it off again it just gets stuck). It is in the park position at the time as you described. I will take a look under the console to see if I can determine what is causing the problem.

    I hate that there are so many of us with the same issues but I appreciate everyone sharing their experiences with the rest of us so we know what to do.
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,251
    Having the vehicle is diagnosed is a standard operating procedure required by GM. However, I can set up a case for you with Customer Assistance. They will work with the dealer to get this resolved for you. If you would like me to set up a case for you just send me an email with your contact information, current mileage, VIN, and involved dealer. I apologize for your frustrations, but appreciate the opportunity to work with you. Have a great weekend! I look forward to your response.
    GM Customer Service
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    I've got you right there. Totally understand. I didn't want to take it to a Saturn Authorized Service Provider [GM], but it turned out they really did try to rsolve the problem. ..Yes, frustrating. Made me almost hate my car and I bought mine in SoCal too.
    Make the attempt to let them help you. I can only say the car is working as intended, but it's been "fixed" before. And the people @ GM Customer Service did do the right thing. And via this thread too.
    Much luck. Standing with you in solidarity. :)
  • rgiergie Posts: 3
    Well here's the question - will the GM dealership take care of the cost? this is all about out of pocket cost aside from the nuisance it is if you would and if you could...let us know..will all the GM dealership absorb the cost of repair?
  • I finally got my intermittent non-starting issue fixed! The dealer replaced just about everything - ignition switch, computer modules, this, that, the other and the problem persisted. When they tried the clutch switch, they found the real answer. It was ironic because I mentioned months ago that when it wouldn't start, it behaved as if I was turning the key but the clutch wasn't pushed in all the way. GM was very helpful in cooperating with the dealership - hopefully this suggestion will help someone else, too!
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    Yes: pretty much what they've done to mine. Twice. Hopefully this will solve it for good this time.
    Congratulations ! And yes: GM was amazing in this situation, no question.
  • Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you. My car has been sitting at the mechanics since late June. I had to get it towed there. he said on top of everything else, my battery was dead and had to replace it for $180. it is still there and he is willing to help, but has run out of ideas and suggested I take it to the dealership. The mileage is a bit over 100,000 and the VIN # 1G8AG52FX5Z160981.

    My email is and I would prefer not to put my telephone number on this site. If needed, I can give it to you in a private email I am beyond frustrated and need this car fixed. What can you do? everyone says the dealer won't do anything and when I brought the car in to get the oil changed back in December it was the first time I went to Weseloh Chevrolet in carlsbad, CA. they are now the place that we are supposed to take the Saturns to since the Saturn dealership closed. I was told they had never heard of the problem. anything you can do would be great. and remember, the cold weather has nothing to do with this. I am in southern california and even when it was what we consider cold, the car still started. it has no preference, the not starting was always random. PLEASE HELP!!
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