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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • I am so beyond this.... I just found out last night the symbol that always came on was the check engine light... My problem of not starting/starting started in summer of 2009 and finally stopped turning on in May of this year. at first it was 12 minutes to the minute, not 10, not 11, but 12 and then it would start. as time went on it went as far as 1 hour. i finally had the car towed and I have put a new battery and starter in and finally had it working. One week later the key got stuck between on and off and this is where I am now. SOO FRUSTRATING considering they wanted $600 for the starter and $189 for the battery. I did pay for the battery and got one of my daughter's friend who is a genius when it comes to cars but in the starter. at this point with the key still stuck I pray I have not burnt out the starter, although the car won't do anything; probably killed the brand new battery. anyway, next the $25 ignition relay switch and is this doesn't work. I give up. I CAN NOT STAND GM. their customer service SUCKS (sorry ladies, but it does.. not you 2 on here, but the GM on the phone) and yes, 800+ comments and no recall. I can't wait to get rid of this piece of you know what
  • I would just replace the switch i have replaced a ton of those when i worked at the satun dealer for this very same issue.The reason its not a recall is because they dont shut off while driving so its not a safety issue.
  • Its the ignition switch not the key cylinder its on the other side of the ignition cylinder mounted to the ignition housing.All you have to do replace it is remove the left lower steering column shroud all you need is a 7mm nut driver to remove the shroud.Then a T-20 torx socket if memorey serves correct to remove the switch then you have to relearn the pass lock sensor.The ac delco switch part number is 10392423 if you want a video to replace it look on you tube.Otherwise i can give you info on replacement.Let me know if you need directions.
  • What position is the key stuck in?If the key is stuck in the run position then you will need to replace the ignition housing and the ignition cylinder.Also is it stuck in that position?Or will it move to other positions if so which positions?
  • kikibkikib Posts: 14
    the key getting stuck could be the same problem my son had...turned out to be the gear shift box which made the car think it wasn't in park when it was and that's why it wouldn't release the once the gear shift box was replaced, he hasn't had the problem
  • Yes, I need all the instruction and help I can get. The you tube link and anything else you can dump on this dumb kid and thanks for all the help. If this is the ticket I'll keep this car for 300,000 miles more. :)
  • Ok, I did it I cut that white wire! Ok are you happy now? I know I'm happy, I would have replaced the switch but I spent all the $ on Christmas and now I b broke. But I'm Happy! The real test will be tomarrow morning when it's cold out.
  • Yeah! Went out there this morning and it started right up! I didn't have the hair dryer blowing hot air at the starter and no heater under the oil pan. No I didn't have the engine covered by blankets and the windows were covered with frost cuz it was cold, the car sits in the driveway out in the weather and yeah it started. I can live with a little yellow light on the dashboard. I am so happy. rolling up the extention cords and put the heaters away. Putting the blankets back in the closet. :) :) :) :) sorry bout my emotions running over but I am going to enjoy my 2 hrs of freedom with a cup of coffee. Bye.
  • I have been reading through this forum since my 2007 Saturn Ion started having power steering issues. It suddenly started one day when it shut off all of a sudden while I was driving. From then it has been off and on for no reason. I tried replacing the 60 amp fuse that controls the power steering (though the other one wasn't blown) and that didn't help.

    Then all of a sudden it quit going out, this lasted for about a week until I was backing out of a parking space at a Home Depot and it turned off. I nearly hit the car next to me which was the final straw. I went home that day and took a look at the fuses again. I saw that none were blown, even took the power steering one out and inspected it again. Checked to see if any wires looked loose, or the box/panel itself. Everything checked out.

    Next time I started my car the "pwr str" alert popped up but my power steering was fine. Now my speedometer doesn't work and also my car will not shift gears. It will only run in first and even hitting 4000 rpm it will not change gears. Now I cannot drive it and I have no clue what to do to fix the problem. Has anyone else had these electrical issues with their Saturn?

    After inspecting the fuse panel, the wiring, and the connections I saw no problems. I'm at a loss.
  • kikibkikib Posts: 14
    yes, my son's 2005 Ion would do the same thing as well as have the key get stuck in the ignition.....first the dealership replaced the BCM (body control module) which fixed the sudden loss of power while driving....then the fuse box was replaced which fixed the nonstarting problem....then the gear shift box was replaced which fixed the key getting stuck in the ignition problem....all at our expense and many months of help from GM, but at least he has a working car now....
  • I'm really hoping to avoid having to replace half of the car engine for something faulty that GM isn't taking care of, but I might have to so I can have my car running again. Thanks for the answer.
  • If you were to email us the last 8 digits of your vehicle's VIN, we could check into any open recall or special coverage information that might be associated to your vehicle.

    GM Customer Service
  • We have had our 2004 Saturn Ion since Oct 2004. We bought it brand new! This car has been a nightmare! It all started with the hosing around the sunroof. It was installed incorrectly. The water leaked into the car for 2 years before they finally found the issue. After that, the car would not start on cold days. The water had leaked into the fuse area! We had multiple complaints with Saturn. If I would have known about the lemon laws, I would have used them to replace the vehicle. After 4 years, the warranty was no good anymore. Then saturn started treating us like we were looking for free repair. They stopped looking at our car and told us we were responsible for future repairs when our car had cont. issues from when under warranty. Now when it is cold out and dark, the car wont start. If its light out and the sun is shining on it, it starts just fine! We have had the battery replaced and the ignition switch. I have run a diagnosis on it multiple times and nothing comes up! This car is a pain in my butt and I don't want to sell it and make it someone elses problem! I also don't want to dump any money into it either! WHY HASNT THIS MAKE AND MODEL OF A VEHICLE BEEN RECALLED? ESPECIALLY THIS ISSUE?
  • I have been having the same issues with my 2003 Saturn Ion 2. I'm a bit upset because I purchased the car less than six months ago from a private dealer. The key has been getting stuck in the ignition a few times each month but tonight, while I'm all comfy in my apartment, that darn car is still on. I was able to pull the key out, and it's not running but the radio (on), and the dash are still lit up, because the key only comes out in the "on" position. I tried to cut it off many times, by starting it again and changing the gears from park to neutral. the thing is, like your Saturn, a few weeks ago, the power steering became really stubborn, and each time I would make a turn, the car struggles to go, even when I'm taking off from a light. I initially thought my transmission was going out, but now I'm thinking it's electrical also. I bought this car just to get to class, and I guess you really do get what you pay for.
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    edited January 2012
    It's unfortunate. Many of us have been living with the problems since the car was new. I've had the switch and related parts replaced five times since I bought mine with 26 miles on the odo in 2005.

    You bought a 9 year old used car. Don't fault yourself for "getting what you paid for". These are known problems and there are solutions. On the whole the rest of the car is okay.

    If this is an automatic, there is a little door under the steering wheel that once removed allows you to press a release that will let you turn the key to the "off" position and remove the key. Not ideal but you can live with it till you get it sorted out. This is explained in the owner's manual. If you don't have one, go on eBay and get one. Something everyone should have and read but seldom do.

    The intermittent electronic steering problem: it's covered by an extended warranty, but your car may now be too old. The steering is still there, it takes more effort on your part. It's not going to lock up on you.

    It's a used car, it's going to have problems. Now you have to sort them out. A good start was coming here. Another is to find an enthusiast group for your brand that can answer more of your questions and you can learn more about your car.

    Read other posts in this thread and contact the people from GM who read these entries and respond here. You may be able to find help for your problems through them.

    Is this the 2 door ? Manual or auto ? How many miles ? The 2 door used a different transmission than the four door if it's an auto. That trans is a constant velocity belt driven trans [like on a snow mobile infinite speeds no shifting ] and is a notorious POS. That might explain your drivability problems more than the steering, but you need to have it checked out. Something isn't right.

    I get what you're going through. Mine was almost traded for an 08 Ford Focus. It was fixed [and fixed again not too long ago] and I am still driving it.

    Other than those problems, which nearly killed my enthusiasm for the car, it's enjoyable to drive, ride and travel long distances in. Great fuel economy. Strong engine. GM auto is reliable as is the 5 speed Aisin auto used in the 03-04 ION sedans.

    Hope that helped a little
  • concerning the last part of your post check the wire going to your vss(vehicle speedsensor) pop the hood passenger side . look down between engine and firewall. follow black wire loom down to transmission. I HAVE SEEN ACOUPLE OF CARS where the wires were broken slice wires back together and try it
  • kvc123kvc123 Posts: 1
    So I own a Saturn Ion 2005 which I bought used and keep in perfect condition. I have about 69,000 miles on it and was super confused when my car wouldn't start for no reason. And then the next day it would start, then a couple weeks later it wouldn't start.. you get the point. I finally found a highly recommended mechanic and took my Saturn in. He checked everything on my car and told me my car is in perfect condition. After he did some research figured out about the white wire and we decided to just go with it. So this is my suggestion to you, find an awesome mechanic and JUST CUT THE WHITE WIRE. The worst case scenario is that it doesn't work out for you and you just splice the wires back together. Or you can spend hundreds of dollars replacing random parts and it still won't fix anything. I cut the white wire and my car has been starting perfectly at all times, rain or shine. Seriously, just cut the wire. If you feel confident to do it yourself, heres a good instructional video.
  • Chelseawi,
    I am sorry that you are having a rough time right now with your Ion 2. Edmunds posters are always very helpful, and I am seeing great feedback for you already.

    If we can help you get set up with a diagnostic appointment at a dealership, please get in touch with us via email and we'll do our best!

    GM Customer Service
  • Thank you very much. I've actually been stuck here in the house since posting this ha ha when I went out to the car yesterday, instead of the dash being lit up,the lights were off and wouldn't start. I know that means the battery died since the ignition has been stuck to the "on" position for a few days. I wish I would've found out about the switch sooner, but I will get the battery charged (I was told I would have to have it taken out first) and I will have to utilize that switch for awhile. I was also advised to disconnect the negative terminal at night. I forgot to mention the car is a 4 door automatic. Thanks again for the advice = )
  • This will be so amazing if it works! I am going to check it out this week. Thank you so much for commenting on my post! I will let you know if it works and if it does, you will never be forgotten! Thanks!
  • bgblondiebgblondie Posts: 1
    edited January 2012
    :cry: Ok, well good to know I'm not the only person having these issues with my 2004 Saturn Ion! I've had it for a little over 3 years now and NEVER had this not starting problem until last winter! (3 times last winter and this winter multiple times!) Of course when you ask over and over for carfax, you never get them! - So I have no clue if the previous owner had these issues with my car. I've had the battery replaced, and everything and anything tested and it all comes out ok. If I try to start it early in the morning...nothing, once the sun hits it for an hour or so, no problem, it starts. Has anyone figure out what is causing this problem!? It's getting VERY annoying and I can't be late for work every time it drops below 35 degrees! :-/
  • So day before yesterday my son watched the youtube video and we went out to the garage and went to work. I have been having coldstart problems off and on for the past year and day before yesterday was the worst, usually it will start after just a few minutes, but this time it went on all day. Every time I tried to start it, it died; so finally after several hours and several attempts it started, so my son CUT THE WHITE WIRE as seen on your youtube video. Thank you so much, this ais the first solution I have got to the problem and it has worked thus far. She starts right up cold warm or otherwise.
  • Does anybody know if I have to also reset the anti-theft system after changing out the ignition relay switch?

    Also, somebody mentioned a website or video which shows how to do both?

    Thanks again for everybody's help!!
  • brava58brava58 Posts: 27
    edited January 2012
    I went to the youtube video and read the comments. Someone made an excellent point. If you cut the wire and have a constant alert light on your dash WILL you be able to get your car inspected? I live in VA where car inspections are done yearly and emissions every 2 years.

    I'd hate to cute a wire and then not be able to get my inspection done.

    How do you explain the light being on when you are being inspected? What am I missing?
  • I have been reading a lot on these forums and have taken some notes on what might be wrong with my car.
    I also have been having problems with my 2004 Saturn Ion not starting in the cold weather. Seems like I have to go out 30 minutes before work, just to get it started. Its become almost a daily thing now. I have seen people post stuff about the White Wire and other fixes. My dad (who use to work for Saturn, but now retired) has tried helping me find the solution, but he lives 900 miles away and can only help me over the phone. At times, it can get frustrating.
    My car also, sometimes, wont release the key. I have to start the car back up, put it in reverse, then back into park before it'll give the key.
    I haven't taken it to a mechanic (probably should) but I just dont have the money to do so. Figured if its an easy fix, I can do it myself and cheaper too.
    My dad did mention something about a button under the steering column. I replaced it for around $20 but its still not wanting to start in the mornings or when its cold, period. I haven't had anymore problems with the key sticking though. It comes out every time now (that may be some helpful news!).
    I have also noticed, that sometimes, when the car doesn't start, my lights and everything come on IN the car, BUT on the radio, it lights up but no sound comes out and no numbers show up on the little screen (Yes the radio is on!). Is that a related problem or is it just another problem I need to fix? I've tried turning the radio Off, then Back on, still the same issue.
  • kat78kat78 Posts: 1
    edited January 2012
    Ok, so we have come to the conclusion that the 2004 Saturn Ion will not start in extreme cold weather. Now that we agree on that can someone please tell me what in the Hell to do about it! I have to start out an hour early during the winter months in the event my car will not start, children late for school and I am sometimes late for work! What the Hell! Is there a solution to the problem? Please share

    P.S. I am non technical and do not feel comfortable in locating and cutting white wires.
  • The primary problem is the ignition relay switch ( located in the steering wheel housing) which has some temperature sensitive grease in it (apparently?). I had mine replaced by my local mechanic for total of $120.00. You can read my post #852. Just don't go to a dealer!!! I live in upstate NY where it is very 2006 has started normal every day since I had this replaced. Good Luck to you.:)
  • Dear Saturntech

    Can you please send me instuctions on how to replace the ignition switch and the process I need to go through after that. I know I need to reset something and I am not sure of the process I need to go through. I can't tell you how much that would help me. My e-mail is Thank you sooo much.
  • sd46916sd46916 Posts: 7
    edited January 2012
    I used they have details for everything for any vehicle. Yes you have to reprogram antitheft after changing the switch... Turn key to ON/CRANK like you are going to start it, (it won't start) release the key but leave it in RUN. The security light will flash for about 10min, When it goes out, then turn key to OFF for 5 seconds. REPEAT 3 TIMES. It should start on 4th time & no more security lock flashing, the antitheft is now reset. Good luck.
  • I live in Kansas where it gets really cold so trust me when I say I know about this problem. I got my 2005 ion in 2009 and was confused and lived with being late or stuck places while I waited for my alarm system to restart itself and let the car start whenever it was cold. It was awful and mind boggling abt what was causing it. Did tons of research and even thought abt replacing ignition switch or cutting the white wire like in youtube video but didn't want to make a random light come on. After much searching I found something that works: I got a remote start installed that bypassed the manufacturer alarm system (which causes the whole problem). By bypassing alarm and setting remote start it bypasses cold start problem so the car isn't allowed to do its "cold start" problem. I promise it works have had it installed a year now with no more problems even in snow storms. Do an internet search or look in phone book for people in your area that sell/ install remote starts that bypass original security systems, any system you get that bypasses manufacturer system will fix problem. Good luck, I empathize with those who have this problem i t sucks to have.
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