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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • I was reading in the forum about other people having the same problem and there were a few things mentioned like shift solenoid, BTSI switch or ignition the micro switch something different?
  • I have also noticed that the light on the dashboard comes on when it happens....the light with a padlock and car, trying to find my owners manual to see what that light means.
  • Its ac delco part number 15793413 eBay has one for 45 buy it now.That will fix the not being able to turn the key off till you play with the shifter.That goes in the base of the shifter.When you see the lock will the car start?
  • yes the car starts when I see the lock....funny I never noticed it before, I did find my manual and see that it is a passlock security light, wonder why it is coming on now. I know now it doesn't have anything to do with my key not turning. thanks for all your help
  • The most common reason for the security right coming on when it's not supposed to is a bad ignition switch.most of the time it comes with a no start.if you have the body control module scanned for codes and have a B2960 and or B3033 bad ignition switch.did you find the parts for the key not turning off on eBay? They had one on there for a really great deal.
  • i have a saturn ion 2006..i took out the lock cylinder because the did not i stuck a screwdriver in it so i can turn on and i broke the inside plastic piece that turns inside...anybody knows what its called? and how i take that piece off?
  • You broke the plastic piece inside the ignition housing where the cylinder slides in?If so they don't sell pieces to repair the housings.You will have to replace the whole housing.
  • So I have been experiencing the bipolar starting issues on my Saturn Ion 2004 2.2l, for about 5 years and just about 100,000 miles. It is more prominent in the cold, but can happen at any time. I have had friends who would pull out the switch for me and re-grease it which would work for about 6-12 weeks. Then I moved up into the mountains and regretted not learning this trick from them. Last spring, I decided to go for a drive on the nearby Blue Ridge parkway, about 20 minutes in, my saturn kicked into limp mode with a blinking engine light and I aptly pulled off at a lookout point and hung out for awhile. The car started up fine after an hour or so, so I turned around and drove probably another 20 or 30 miles home where the problem did not occur. The next morning driving to work at about mile 40 it jumped into limp mode and I pulled off, the car would not start until later that day when some friends came and we reset the battery. I went directly to my mechanic, who had been insisting (due to the starting issue) that we change out the ignition lock and switch. We had to get the part from the dealership, which was 30 miles away. After the dealership sold me the ignition lock and switch unassembled and uncoded, which I had to drive 60 miles for before turning around and having to go back as I had to have it coded by the dealership, which again they had me drive another 60 miles to go back and get the title to prove I owned the car, which they didnt have me do to purchase the darn thing. The entire thing ended up costing me about 400 hundred dollars, time not included. My mechanic installed the part and I drove off, glad it was all over with, this feeling lasted about 10 minutes. I did not even make it home before it went into limp mode, I decided to take it to a different mechanic who was unable to pull any codes from the blinking check engine light, and where it sat for a week receiving no answers. So I signed up for AAA, waited the three day period before I could get a tow, then towed it to the dealership, where they decided it was the ignition housing. They repaired this for $250. I got home, I went to work, it did not go into limp mode up the check engine light came back on, pulling codes for engine misfire and catalyst systems. We were advised by another mechanic to switch out the spark plugs, which we did and reset the battery, but the light came back on so we switched out the coil as well for safe measure. So at this point, I have a check engine light on and a car that only starts between 10 minutes and an hour after I initiate the starting process. I have read a few horror stories on the white wire answer and feel I am at my wits end with this car. I have put soo much money into this car, I have nothing left for a new car. Is there anything else I can do and is it conceivable that these two issues are related?
  • First of all the ignition lock cylinder and housing has nothing to do with it starting or not starting. If the ignition cylinder wasn't binding all that was replaced for nothing. Also the anti theft willnot cause the ddrivability issues you have. It will only stop the car from intailly starting that's it.So if the car is going into reduced performance mode there is going to be more codes then miss fire codes I can tell you that much.So do you still have the random no starts not counting it went into limp mode died and won't start. Because if you go into limp mode and you [non-permissible content removed] it off it may not start until the problem goes away.So are they using a professional scan tool to read codes or a diyer a can tool they use to read codes at the auto parts store for free.
  • The car has not gone into limp mode since the housing was replaced and no codes were being pulled whatsoever from mechanic shops or from autozone machines when it was going into limp mode, but perhaps the code was pulled at the dealership, that I am not sure. The recent codes were pulled from both an autozone and then again (after we replaced the spark plugs, which one did look a little rough) at an advanced autoparts. As of right now I have the random starting issue, usually occurring once every other day but sometimes as many as three times a day, the car is the sole transportation for myself and another person and we typically have to drive about 300 miles per week...
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,252
    Hello sadsaturnion,

    I apologize for the inconvenience this situation has caused, and understand how important it is to have a properly working vehicle. If you would like for us to look into any recalls or Special Coverage Bulletins listed for your Saturn related to this matter please send us your VIN and current mileage. We can be reached by email at [email protected] [attn Amber]. Please also reference your screen name.


    Amber N.
    GM Customer Care
  • I replaced my ignition switch on my 2004 Saturn Ion, and tried the relearn process to no avail

    1. I atempted to start ignition...left in run position...the tell/tale signs never went I just waited ten minutes
    2. turned igntion off for 5 seconds
    3. repeated 1&2 2 more times
    4. left it off for 30 sec after the last time
    5. then attempted to start again...nothing

    Am I missing something? Need to do something else?

  • Did it start at all with the old switch?Do you still have the old switch?
  • It wouldn't start in cold I replaced the old switch.....yes I do still have the old switch
  • Will it start with the old switch?
  • It did start with old switch, when it wasn't too cold. or are you saying I should re-install old switch to see if it will start...of course we have alot of snow outside right now :(
  • debv2debv2 Posts: 1

    I have had problems with my 2003 Ion Starting.I guess after reading your forum,I've been lucky until now-after almost 11 years my car has always started even in sub zero weather here in MN. I have been reading many of the comments and have found many helpful. I recently bought a new battery which I needed,and my problem has been that the battery has been draining( not starting with the recent cold snap)or even after driving the car it won't start even a half hour later.Now that it has been warmer I haven't had a problem so I haven't been able to to see if the engine lock light stays on. I had the battery tested and it is fine. It starts easily with a jump, the battery cables are clean and no corrosion(my husband tightened the bolts just in case)I should add that I had 2 keys made at Lowe's and somehow my drivers side lock was broken. I have been reading a lot about the ignition switch and cutting a white wire. I know not to take it into a garage/dealer for something as vague as this.I look forward to any insight you may have.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482

    If your car starts easily with a jump in cold weather, then the battery is still too weak for the job. If the battery is mysteriously going dead on you then you may indeed have a parasitic drain. Check out this tutorial on how to track that down:

  • censocenso Posts: 3

    Hey guys,

    Just want to chime in and let everyone know that I too have been plagued with this issue for 5+ years and I'm thankful for the information provided here and on YouTube (my only regret is not having searched the Internet for this problem sooner).

    I own__**** a 2003 Saturn Ion and I replaced my ignition switch today (Dec 22, 2013). To my surprise, when I went to commence the relearn procedure, my car started right up. I let the engine run for a minute, turned it off, and tried it again - fired right up (and every other time since then).

    I'd be curious to know if other 2003 Ion owners have experienced the same thing (not having to perform the relearn procedure). Granted, I live in northeast Florida and the temperature was 86' today, but when the temperature dips down to anything below 50' (despite what other posts say about this issue not being about temperature), the darn thing never starts.

    There's a cold front moving in and it's supposed to dip down to 43' on Christmas eve. I'll try starting up the Saturn again Christmas morning and will post my results - but I'm hopeful and confident this will do the trick. Oh, and I did not cut the white wire.

    Also, I purchased the part from my local AutoZone for $29.99 (I asked for an "ignition switch"), lucky for me they had one in stock. Total install time was 20 minutes from start to finish. Make sure you get the proper tools for the job!

  • censocenso Posts: 3

    Hey Scott,

    Did you ever get this issue resolved? On your first attempt I noticed you said you left the key in the 'run' position. I saw various videos on YouTube that state you should return the key to the ACC position and then wait the 10 minutes (... and so on and so forth). Just worth a shot to try again if in fact you did leave the key in the run position versus clicking the key back to the ACC position.

    Complete relearn procedures may be found here and the video series on YouTube depicting the entire process including the relearn procedure may be found here (6 part video series).

    Hope this helps.

    @undmyskn58 said:
    I replaced my ignition switch on my 2004 Saturn Ion, and tried the relearn process to no avail

    1. I atempted to start ignition...left in run position...the tell/tale signs never went I just waited ten minutes
  • censocenso Posts: 3
    Well, after two cold mornings in temperatures I know my Ion would not have previously started in, I'm happy to report that since replacing the ignition switch, my car has fired up every time without fail. I never had a problem with the car not starting during the day, it was always that initial start first thing in the morning after a cold night and now it appears this problem has finally been put to rest.

    Thanks again to everyone's contributions and for those who are new and wondering if this really works, trust me it does - I am living proof. Just do it!

  • Hello all,
    Well I have had the same issue as everyone else for about 8 years with my 2003 ION 180,000 miles...the no start thing. ( I have just dealt with it all along)I purchased the ignition switch today and will be installing in the next couple days.
    I do have another issue I need some help with.
    I was on vacation for 2 weeks and after week 1 I tried to start the car and got a click with no start or turn of engine, I Jump started the car and it ran fine. I parked it for about 10 hours and would not start again, jumped it and got it back home. Replaced 5 year old battery, still won't start.
    Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

  • Hi there, have just put in a new ignition switch to stop r
    The starting issues. Have to program it but the pass code light went off. How do I go about doing so now since I can't follow the pass lock light. The switch is in place but since its not programmed the car won't fire up. My email [email protected] if u can email me some steps or anything to help reset it thanks

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 25,231
    edited January 2014

    Is the bulb burned out? Can you replace it?

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • OK still no light on. Its almost like we would have to try and reactivate the pass lock to setup the ignition switch when we tried the first time, we probably did it wrong and now we can't properly program it. Thanks for the suggestion but do u have other ideas

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 25,231

    @minnie_min said:
    OK still no light on. Its almost like we would have to try and reactivate the pass lock to setup the ignition switch when we tried the first time, we probably did it wrong and now we can't properly program it. Thanks for the suggestion but do u have other ideas

    You are saying that the light does not come on at all even just turning the key to "On."

    I'd disconnect the battery for 30 minutes or more.

    Then reconnect and see if you get the indicator light back. Then try the reprogramming cycle suggested by Saturntech9 in earlier posts here.

    Saturntech9 has not logged on since the forum transferred.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • Hey everyone, I recently purchased an 2006 Saturn ion, Now when i drove it home, It started fine, nothing was wrong with it. Now sometimes when i go to start my car the dash will just go out and nothing will happen.. It doesn't even attempt to start.. It just.. Well does nothing.
    Any info would be much appreciated, I've been reading this thread for a while. And while everyone is suggestion the white wire trick, i just want to know if you guys had similar things happen to your car

  • luvmyionluvmyion Posts: 1

    Hi, Everyone,

    I bought a 2003 Ion, standard shift last May and the next day it wouldn't start for me. Just dead. I was bordering on tears over whether I'd bought a big problem. I got the battery replaced but same thing next day, no starting, just dead. So, next they thought it might be the ignition switch. Well, I came on this forum and started reading some of the posts until I came upon one that said to press on the button on the clutch to release the security feature that locks the starter!! I checked the clutch pad with my hands and yes, there is a little button there and when I pressed it down and tried to start the engine, lo and behold it started right up. Wow! And the technician apparently didn't know about this button. I saved myself a lot of trial and error repair efforts that were not necessary. Now it starts right up no matter what the weather conditions are. It might take several taps on the clutch to get it just right, but what a relief to know that's the reason. So if you're stumped about intermittent refusals to start, this might solve the problem for you. And you don't have to use your hand of course, just hit the clutch a time or two until you get that security lock to release.

    Thanks to this forum and hugs to the lady who posted that tip somewhere on one of these many pages for educating me on this little button!!

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,103

    A reporter would like to speak with a GM owner whose vehicle has been subject to the recent recalls, and whose vehicle has experienced sudden stalling. If you and your vehicle fit this criteria, please contact us at [email protected] by Friday, March 21, 2014.


    Need help navigating? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,103

    A reporter would like to speak to a GM owner whose car was part of the latest rounds of recalls and had all necessary recall work completed. If this is you, please send your daytime contact information to [email protected] no later than Tuesday, 4/15/14 at noon PT/3 p.m. ET.


    Need help navigating? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

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  • ckmokckmok Posts: 1

    We are looking to purchase a car for our 16-year-old daughter. We are currently looking at a 2004 Saturn Ion 3, one owner, 101,000 miles, in very nice condition. The recall has been completed on it, so it has a brand new ignition switch put in at the dealership. It appears that there is one more recall item that has not been done yet: Recall #2014115
    ELECTRIC POWER STEERING ASSIST. I'm assuming we could take that in anytime after the purchase to have it fixed. Any cautions about making this purchase? All the posts here are leaving me a little nervous about the car. But if the ignition switch replacement truly takes care of the starting problem, then I'm thinking it will be a good little car for her. Thoughts?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482

    It's been my experience that at 100,000 miles, any inherent "defect" in a car has already shown up, and that of more concern are normal wear and tear items associated with any car with over 100,000 miles on it. So a pre-purchase inspection is, in my opinion, a more productive place to put one's money and concern. These are pretty good little cars and if it's been well taken care-of, should give reliable service.

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,103
    A reporter is looking for owners of Cobalts, G5s and Ions who have not yet gotten their ignition-switches replaced. Please email [email protected] before 11/21/14 to share your story.


    Need help navigating? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • 2005 Saturn Ion 1: Absolutely the biggest piece of crap you could buy.

    I, too, have experienced the all too common problem of intermittent starting.The first time the car wouldn't start was a week out of the manufacturers warranty. It happened very rarely at first and never more than once in a row and it did not seem to matter if it was cold outside or not.

    Now, seven years later, the no start problem happens at least half the time I try to start the car. It does not matter at all how hot or cold the car or outside air is. And it happens many times in a row. Sometimes I've tried for HOURS and not been able to get the car started. I've been stranded in negative temps, or in bad neighborhoods, and even lost my job for being late. I tried everything to fix it, but the problem keeps reoccurring.

    I have replaced batteries, starters, ignition switches, you name it. This is an inherent design flaw. Replacing the ignition switch made absolutely no difference for me. The car still only starts about half the time I try.

    Now that the recalls are coming out, I have tried to contact the GM dealer in my area. They will not call me back. I have left FOUR messages. GM doesn't care about this issue, although they are well aware of it. I'm posting this to warn everyone to never buy a GM vehicle and, if you are unlucky enough to own one, DO NOT let the dealer sell you a new ignition switch or any kind of diagnostics. You will be throwing away hundreds of dollars or more as it will not solve the problem... Not for long, at least.

    The reason for this issue is bad design. The entire electrical system in these cars is screwed up. The circuit must complete in order to get the car started. If not, the antitheft system is triggered. You may have success replacing one piece of the puzzle (fuse, starter, battery, ignition switch, etc.) but eventually another of the defective parts will have problems. You are better off not spending any money on this car. Try all the least expensive options first and do the work yourself or have a friend help. If you can, sell this car or drive it into a lake. For all those, like me, stuck with this pile of plastic, good luck. Remember to keep survival items in the car in case you get stranded somewhere, especially if you drive in cold climates.

    Screw you, GM. You'll never see another penny from me. I can't wait until you are bankrupt.
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