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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • Gas station incident sounds like the Pass lock anti-theft issue most of us have. Turning once then just indicators sounds about the same issue assuming battery and all battery connections front and back are good.
    unClean / insecure battery cables can cause lots of woes, not always the same on all vehicles. The 30 minute wait agains sounds like pass lock anti-theft issue. Starting then slowly shutting down could be clogged fuel filter,
    as by your gages it looks to have sufficient fuel.

    I made some still shots of your video, noticed that the indicator at 11 o'clock above your speedometer does not come on if the check engine indicator is on, and the reverse happenes if the indicator above the speedometer comes on. This happened twice during your video. Maybe a hint. (Ask someone reputable about this and if it could be the BCM module but have them do the research first before replacing) ( I am suspicious of a lamp controller preventing my vehicle from starting my vehicle. Maybe it does more though. I am no vehicle mechanic, just and Electrical / Electronics tech )

    I had the fortune of resetting my pass lock anti-theft problem (read my replys) others have had to have Key switch cylinders replaced (may have been problem but some seem to have repeat issues with that fix)
    some have been cond on battery replacements and some type of ignition relay (may / maynot be issue ) , BCM modules (controls idiot lights amongst other things I guess )

    Good luck
  • I have to go to Detroit to take my mothers Saturn Ion into the dealer in a few weeks. I am glide to have come across this site. Her car has been doing this turn the key don't start for ten minutes stuff intermittently for two years-worse in the winter.
  • Just wondering why you are going to a dealer to have the starting problem fixed? A large portion of this thread has stated that the dealer will most likely charge you $125-150 for diagnostic test before they even touch your car. I had mine repaired by my own mechanic who , by the way, did replace the switch with a genuine GM part for a total cost parts and labor and re-learn the computer of $120.00. The replace time was only about 25 minutes and the relearn took about 40 minutes (Not a high end GM unit which can relearn in about 5mins) so justify the 1 hr labor charge.
    Hope you reconsider going to the dealers....
    Good Luck
  • jc80jc80 Posts: 2
    My 2004 Saturn Ion has been in & out of my mechanic's garage for a couple of months. My car occasionally does not crank, but after 20 minutes of attempting it will turn over. My mechanic was able to diagnose it as a problem with the anti-theft passlock. My mechanic said only a GM dealership is able to correct the problem; that he can’t yank out the alarm system. I took the car into the dealership this morning and asked if they could just disable the anti-theft system. It’s been five hours and they say they haven’t been able to figure it out yet.

    Has anyone tried to have the anti-theft system disabled? Can they do it? Does it solve the problem?
  • When I took mine to the dealership and told them I only needed a relay ignition switch (which I got off of this blog) they refused to do that. they said they had to do a diagnostic ($129) and then told me I needed a starter which they wanted to put in for $600. A friend who is a mechanic put one in for $180. It worked (2005 Ion) for barely a week and then on the 7th day when I went to turn it on the key got stuck between the on and the off. I still can't get it out.. I have to get it towed and still need to get that ignition relay switch... Supposedly, a $23 part.
  • jc80jc80 Posts: 2
    What a bummer!!! I have a new starter and a new battery. My mechanic tried replacing the relay ignition switch and held onto the car to see if it would solve the problem, but it didn't so he put the original switch back in.
  • My 2005 Saturn Ion is not reliable when it comes to starting. Basically, it's like a 50/50 chance that I'll be able to drive somewhere. I had my battery replaced and my starter replaced a week ago. Since then, it's not started 3 times. I've been told it's a problem particular to the Saturn.... I really don't want to have to buy a new car but I'm not sure what to do at this point. (It seems that it usually doesn't start when it's cold outside...)
  • 05Saturnowner You could have been talking about me and my 2005 saturn ION. except my problem started the summer of 2009. not until may of 2011 did it die and not start at all and that's when I got the starter and battery replaced. worked for a week after the starter was put in and now the key is stuck between on and off. i have probably ruined my battery. i am in southern california and had the problem in the summer as well. weather may be a part of it, but certainly not the cause. the cause is a defective part. everyone says it's the ignition relay switch. My AAA just ran out so I have to renew that, get the car towed and hopefully, this last part which is only $25 will finally make it work. there are u tube videos talking about our problem.... there are close to 50 pages on this blog, you were post #856 and most of this blog is the same problem. so instead of having GM customer service (which wanted to help me (they said) and did not help me b/c my warranty was over even though i started this way before it was over) my point being if so many of us have the same problem.. why isn't GM doing a recall? having a GM rep contact us... doesn't do much. let me know if you get it fixed and how.
  • I am sorry to hear this. When you had your battery and starter replaced, was this done at a dealership? If so, we can follow up with them for you. Please send us an email with more information, including your name, the last 8 of your VIN, and the name of your dealership.
    GM Customer Service
  • brava58brava58 Posts: 27
    edited December 2011
    Ugh, I am seriously thinking of getting rid of my Saturn. It's not worth any of the frustration.

    I can go out to my car at 6:30am, 32 degrees and no start. But I can go out to my car on another day, at noon, with the sun hitting the car for a couple of hrs. at the same temp. , 32 degrees (obviously it would be lower than 32 at 6:30a) and it starts right up.

    Is the sun loosening the grease? Beats me. But I'm so over it.
  • So when it wont start is the security light on solid or flashing?If so you probably have a bad ignition switch i have replaced tons of them for that reason.
  • Seriously, no one knows how to fix this problem? I have the same issue and Saturn needs to fix the problem. I cant go through many more winters with out a reliable car.
  • Seriously ... Don't think saturn or gm knows how to fix the problem - if so how come they have not issued a bulletin to the dealers long time ago (this was a problem when saturn was still 'in business') in order to put an end to this issue. And, by the way the winter season in not any worse than the summers ... South East and Florida, we have it year around!!! Our best help is self help, sell off the saturn vehicle, and go for any brand other than gm. Our other non gm vehicles don't have this problem - I wonder why?
  • Sadly, GM doesn't care. I have had the "GM" girls on here, who do seem to care, but they have no power. they take your name set a file up and for the most part for most of us it ends there. My problem started way before my warranty ran out. I had a file set up for me and the man assured me GM would do everything they could. then I get a call from his supervisor saying he is off my file and they will not be helping me as i am over warranty... one would think that with close to 50 pages and and 861 postings that GM would actually do something. so many people with the same problem and this is only one blog... One would think GM would do a recall, but of course not. they'd rather monitor these blogs and do next to nothing. they have helped a few people, but from what I can see on this blog there are more people like us.... i live in southern california. i have had this problem in all seasons
  • If you find a solution, please let me know. i have had a new battery installed, new starter and as i said previously, it worked for 1 week. then i got in the car and they key is now stuck in the ignition between on and off, so probably ruined a brand new battery. I am going to try the ignition relay switch which many have said is the problem we all have. a $25 part. Unfortunately, bringing it to the dealer they insist on running a diagnostic (another $129)....
  • oblio9oblio9 Posts: 19
    Cut the white wire. It's free.
  • I won't cut the wire. I'd rather get rid of the piece of crap and get an actual reliable car.

    How do you resell the car after cutting the wire?
  • rb52rb52 Posts: 3
    I know I posted this awhile back but I thought I would post this one more time and hope it helps atleast one person. I to had the winter "no starts" and had to numerous times go out and bring family members home when they used my car. I did research this on other Ion sites and discussed this with a former saturn mechanic. There is a bulletin that GM sent out, I no longer have the number for the bulletin - sorry! The bulletin does point out the ignition switch problem and calls for a replacement, but is not a recall - you will have to pay for the replacement. Also, when I took it in and told them that there is a bulletin regarding the ignition switch the GM mechanic kept on repeating "so you want us to replace the ignition switch". I kept on repeating "check your bulletins for this problem". He found it. Yes it cost me $350 but I have yet to have a starting problem since or any other. Good Luck!

  • It seems that for most of the problems that people are having with the no crank/no start issue, replacing the ignition relay switch is the answer. Even if it has to be done multiple times. I'm on my second replacement (third overall) so far. Forget the starters, that shouldn't be the problem. The battery too for the most part. Unless you have a tester that says the battery is dead of course. If you don't want to get ripped off with the diagnostic fee at a dealer, try finding a pretty reliable mechanic local to you and ask them to replace the ignition switch. The part where the key gets stuck in the ignition cylinder might be a different issue - and I've had my cylinder replaced too. Still, with 2 replacement switches and 1 cylinder it is still cheaper than a replacement BCM - or a 'new to me' car.
  • Thanks. I think my battery was just dead. it apparently did need replacing. and as far as the starter, the mechanic, the dealership and then my daughter's friend who is very good with cars agreed. but at least with him it was $187 for the part and he put it in. the mechanic wanted $300, the dealer $600! I have told all of them I need the ignition relay switch, that's what I always started with. Maybe, being a woman they think i don't know what I'm talking about. and my key getting stuck.. this is the 1st time this has happened to me. I need to get the car towed to the friend's house and he said he would replace the ignition relay switch (a $25 part). I have to get rid of my car. I hate it and am so over dealing with GM. only problem - I don't have money to be making car payments.
  • saturntech9,
    You mentioned in another post that you had a customer in Indio? What part of CA do you work in? I'm willing to drive to Indio for you to fix my 2004 Saturn that's been having the same problem as everyone else on here.
  • Finally replaced the ignition switch at home, did the anti-theft re-learn process... without any major expense! . Not had a no-start problem since. Hope that's the end of it because I been dealing with the no-start problem the past 3 years... worse in cold weather. Very frustrating! Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for all the input from other owners & techs... NO THANKS TO GM!
  • My fiance's 04' saturn just started having the same problem at 60k miles. Looks like from all these complaints gm doesnt stand behind their product. No recall? Dealerships cant figure it out? I'm not dumping money into this piece of junk so someone can say "im sorry".
  • shack4tomshack4tom Posts: 10
    edited December 2011
    Ok, I just found this website and it is a small comfort to find out there are others with same issue. Starts when the motor is warm but under 60 degrees? No, unless I have the hair dryer blowing hot air on the motor all night long. If it wont start then it fires once then nothing but sometimes it will start then run for 10 seconds and shut off, after turning key back to off I wait for 20 seconds and repeat I go through this procedude every morning.
    Where is this white wire to cut? If this 2004 Ion 2.2L was paid for I would trade it for something different. At times I have went outside to start the car 2 hours early and it wouldnt start for 90 minutes and other times it started at 4:30 am then I let it run until 6 then I went to work. I have a cousin working as plant manager at one of the GM factories but he had zero advice. I am just about to jack up the radiator cap and drive a Honda under it. Please give me feed back everyone.
  • Less than 2hrs at home, a friend & I changed the ignition switch & reset the anti-theft system in y 2005 Saturn Ion2. Part was $50 at autozone. That was a month ago & no more problems since (knock wood). I had been dealing with the no-start problem for the last 3yrs & always worse in colder weather. So far so good. GM dealerships didn't help me either, just took my $$ & I atill had to deal with the problem. I thank Edmonds, the techs & other Saturn owners for their input on this site! No credit to GM!!!
  • I got my Saturn in March 04 and that summer I started having the no start issue. The dealer gave me a new starter and I didn't have any problems until winter of 08/09. Every winter it's the same dingdong mess.

    Why does it start if it's been sitting in the sun for several hrs at the same temp that I try to start it in the darkness of the early morning?
  • sd46916sd46916 Posts: 7
    edited December 2011
    It's an intermitted problem so no way to tell when it will act up for sure. Some days mine would start at 23 degrees, some days not. Usually, cold, early morning all but one time.. One day at 65 degree, sunny day it wouldn't start, but battery tested fine... helped us with how-to change part & reset the anti-theft at home (no dealership bs fees!) which was easy to follow instructions. My 2005 Saturn has 143,000+ miles on it now. I love my Saturn but this has definitely been pain in the a$$ problem.
  • Replace the ignition switch really common issue on those they redisgned that switch three or four times for that issue i lost count on how many time they did.I worked for saturn for many many years and have replaced a ton of those switches.
  • shack4tomshack4tom Posts: 10
    edited December 2011
    Ok, the switch (the very one I put the key into)? what kind of switch? Part#? Should I go with factory? knock off? I only want to do this once. I would rather pay someone to do this cuz I don't want it screwed up. I dont want the steering column in pieces and looking like someone driving with the vicegrips on the column end, I am in Concord Nc, is there someone nearby that has done this before? Should I take it to the dealer? is this a doit myself project? If so what video is available? I am really getting tired of this situation and I am afraid that some mechanic will see my fustration and charge me big$. Could you do this?
    Will I have 2 keys? Door and ignition?
  • I'm so glad I found this discussion forum. I have a 2004 Saturn Ion and am experiencing the same thing. It's doing this hit and miss thing with not starting in the mornings. I can finally get it to start by turning over the engine, letting it rest about 2 minutes, then trying again. Usually about the 8th to 10th time, it will start. This morning, started right up! So you all are saying it's the ignition relay switch?? Looks like I'll give this a go.

    Just to add, I specifically wanted to buy this used Saturn as I previously had a 1995 Saturn SL2 which I loved! I've got to say that I'm disappointed with this Saturn and the GM support. With 879 messages on this one issue, you would think it would be a recall!
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