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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • gmcustsvcsarahgmcustsvcsarah Posts: 1,964
    Good morning saturnstuck,
    I understand that you're looking for some further do-it-yourself information from the community, and I hope you're able to get this resolved! If you do end up working with a dealership, please be sure to keep in touch with us and let us know if we can look into anything further. We're happy to help in whatever ways we can.

    All the best,
    GM Customer Service
  • traciejotraciejo Posts: 6
    I suggest you stop spending money on things that will not work. I understand your frustration and the car has to be running to do this, but, CUT THE WHITE WIRE, at least then you will know the region of the problem. We cut the white wire months ago and the car starts every time now with no problem. When it comes time to run it through DEQ we will splice the damn wire back together long enough to pass and then disconnect it in the damn parking lot of the DEQ station. If nothing else show your mechanic the video of the white wire cutting on you-tube and then they have somewhere to start because what ever that white wire does is what is preventing your Saturn from starting.
  • The "white wire" fix is not any part of this equation. Since the car won't run it would not help my situation at all. Furthermore, the problem was never a passlock problem, it was a stuck key problem. I resolved that for free by simply unplugging the green connector from the ignition switch to stop the car and plugging it back in to start the car. If I had know how easy it was to put in a new ignition lock cylinder (it took 15 minutes) I would have done that ages ago. It takes 10 minutes to put in a new ignition switch. In both cases the parts are fairly cheap, under $100.00 for both.

    The problem is that I did the passlock relearn and my car is still a non-starter. Now the lock indicator light does not blink for 10 minutes etc. As far as I can tell, no juice flows to the coils or starter. I pulled the fuse for the BCM and that shut down my electrical system, so the juice gets at least that far. I think it is possible that the brand new ignition switch is bad. Sadly it is not likely. But since I have a couple that I have pulled apart, cleaned and put back together, I will try that when I get home.

    Beyond that I am stumped. I am very cynical about dealership repairs as I believe they just start replacing parts, from the most expensive on down until the car runs. I am anticipating a bill in excess of $1,000 once I bite the bullet and give up. This is money I truly don't have and without a car, my bank heist getaway is going to be somewhat less effective.

    Any helpful suggestions are appreciated.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,320
    Is your battery fully charged? Or has it run down while the car's not been running and you've been working on the problems.

    Can you park a car next to it and put jumper cables on the underhood connections to be sure it's not the battery while you go through the relearning process?

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

  • Well, since you asked what GM could do, I have some comments:

    1. GM has been around since 1908. In all that time they couldn't find a lock cylinder that does not explode inside the housing?

    2. Stuck keys and a poorly designed ignition switch have left countless customers stranded, many in frightening conditions.

    3. I personally have missed 4 work days, thus far, because of this issue. I have spent over 80 hours in research and repair on this problem and I have a 1,800 lb driveway ornament.

    4. Even though GM has known about the problem for many years and knows that it is a design flaw, they expect customers to foot the bill for expensive repairs.

    5. GM should acknowledge responsibility for the design flaws, recall and fix the problems
  • saturnstucksaturnstuck Posts: 7
    edited May 2012
    Yes the battery is fully charged. I put it on a charger overnight and verified 12.2 volts with a voltage meter.

    The car won't let me go through the relearn again, as the lock symbol no longer blinks. It remains steady lit for 3 - 4 seconds after a start attempt, if the key is left in the run position. Someone suggested a 30 second relearn in that case, but no go on that either.

    Thanks for the suggestion.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    This is money I truly don't have and without a car, my bank heist getaway is going to be somewhat less effective.

    I don't wish to mock your situation, but that line did make me giggle. Your only good fortune here is that this discussion is followed by a number of knowledgeable members, so keep reading & responding to their suggestions/questions, and you might be able to get to the bottom of the issue. Imidazol97 is one of those members.


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

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  • mrh562008mrh562008 Posts: 6
    my solution to the non-starting issue was to put a remote start in my car but u have to make sure that when it is installed they MUST bypass the security system, it cost me about 350 to have it done at crutchfield and i havent had the problem since (other than the one time on a relativley chilly morning when i ddnt think to use the remote, i waas already at the car when i thought about it and i tried to use the key) ive had the remote since march and i really enjoy it now, great way to warm up the car b4 i get in it
  • janet1974janet1974 Posts: 2
    yesterday my car out of the blue would not start. when i turn the key there is no clicking or any noise i thought it was the battery but its not my mechanic has had it put on to computers and there are no errors but the car will not start HELP
  • saturntech9saturntech9 Posts: 152
    Did they check for codes in the body control module?Or did they use a basic code scanner that doesnt ready body control module codes?Also is the security light on solid or flashing while trying to start the car?
  • janet1974janet1974 Posts: 2
    the mechanic there says there is no fire from scan port??? does that makes since......
    also the light comes on and goes back off for the security
  • saturntech9saturntech9 Posts: 152
    So there is no power to the obd2 port?If so did he check the 15amp fuse in the inside fuse box labeled lighter?Thats the fuse that supplies power to the obd2 connector.Also make sure they have a advanced scanner that can read body control module codes.
  • gmcustsvcsarahgmcustsvcsarah Posts: 1,964
    Hello janet1974,

    I'm sorry that your Ion wouldn't start for you over the holiday weekend - I hope that you were still able to enjoy it. I see that you're currently working with a mechanic, but am unsure if this is with one of our GM dealerships. If so, we'd be happy to follow up on this with them! Please let us know.

    All the best,
    GM Customer Service
  • tlc16tlc16 Posts: 1
    Saturntech9 - can you send me the instructions to install the ignition switch and how to relearn the security? Thank you.
  • pamela519pamela519 Posts: 62
    There is a video on utube that tells and shows you step by step... I finally got rid of my saturn... I was shocked when someone gave me $1,000 for it.... No matter what we did and how much I spent it always came back to the same thing. Not running.. although the 2 saturn "techs" on here are very nice, unfortunately they don't have any power (sorry but you don't) If they haven't already they will ask you to tell your story, give them your telephone number, etc. Someone will call you up, tell you they hope to be able to help you and from my experience and much of what i've read on here over the last 18+ months, they don't....I find it hard to understand how there are so many people with the same problems... over 1000 messages about it... yet, Saturn, GM, whomever never and still refuse to do a recall. better to constantly get us in there so they can charge ridiculous sums of money. Mine was a 2005 Saturn Ion. it worked great for about 4 years. and then it didn't. you can go back and read my story.. it's all over these pages... as i said, I was finally able to sell it and I now am a happy owner of a Jetta..... I will NEVER buy a saturn or a GM product again... I got the worst treatment, spent way too much money and the car was never the same again... Try the U Tube video... once I sold the car back at the end of March, I deleted all the videos... also, another way I have been told is to cut a wire... again, look on u tube... good luck to you
  • Cannot more than agree with what you say to "tlc16" ....
    Total spill of money taking the ION to a GM dealer, they have no clue to what is going on.
    Cut the wire, a 'dirty' trick but the vehicle will start at all times. There are too many on this site that have described how to do it and that it works ...
    The switch is not the remedy!
    The ultimate is of course to sell the failing Saturn, and whatever you do, stay away from GM - they have not helped us Saturn owners with this problem. We have weeded out the Saturn's and replacing with non-gm vehicles ...
    Good luck to you.
  • saturntech9saturntech9 Posts: 152
    Just to clarify something here someone mentioned two saturn techs on here collecting phone numbers trying to help.Those are gm customer service reps just to get that straight.Iam a saturn service tech was one for over 16yrs.Would i own a saturn ion yes i would.My niece has 2003 saturn ion has owned it since new.I replaced her igniton switch with a factory one atleast 4 years ago that was the first one i had replaced in that car.Yes there problems with the switches.Yes i have replaced a lot of them.They redesigned the switch like 3 or 4 times.The problem ran up to the 2006-2007 model year the 2007 was the last year of the saturn ion.I replaced a friends 2006 saturn ion ignition switch about 2 years ago for no starts with a auto zone one that i think is made by wells.It still starts perfect as well as my nices 03.I wouldnt cut any wires especially knowing the fix is a simple one like replacing the ignition switch.There super cheap on amazon you can get a acdelco one for cheap.Tlc16 whats your email address?I will email you instructions and how to relearn the pass lock.
  • dozensaturndozensaturn Posts: 41
    edited July 2012
    I am with you in regard to the switch. Redesigned 3 or 4 times? Did they change part number, or how can the most recent design be identified?
    I have changed a total of 3 over the years, 2 bought at a GM dealer and 1 at Rockauto. One of the GM dealer sourced switches was 'bad' right out of the box, the other two are still functioning ...
    Total ION miles driven well over 1,000,000.
    With the exception of the starting problem, the only other problem was keys stuck in ignition on most of ours. Saturn was no help there. Changed 8 or 9 ION's at our expense.
    Biggest problem has been lack of support by GM (including Saturn when they were still there) to solve these irritating problems.
    Other than that, the Saturn brand was a good brand, from day one to the end. We were indeed sorry to see them go!
  • mrh562008mrh562008 Posts: 6
    I still say go with the remote start, it cost me about $350 but it was well worth it being as i havent had to scramble around to switch vehicles last minute on the way to work or a drs appt or something of that sort, i had it installed in march and used the remote alot when it was a little chilly, i havent really been using it lately tho being as it has been pretty warm and since the remote doesnt go thru the alarm it doesnt mess w the passlock at all which ive come to believe is the true problem. when i do use the remote the car is already started at the point when i put the key n the ignition ill keep updating as the year goes on but i think ive only had the no start problem once since i got the remote (and that was my fault for not pushing the button instead of using the key to begin w) so one no start in 4 months i cn live w that, thats for sure
  • daniekadanieka Posts: 1
    Can you please contact me regarding this problem as soon as possible. I do not want to throw money away on unecessary fixes that do not work. Please email me at
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,251
    Please email your VIN, current mileage, involved dealer, and complete contact information to me. I look forward to your email.
    GM Customer Service
  • ohio85ohio85 Posts: 2
    i have a 2003 ion. ive had it for 4 years now. up until this present summer i only had starting problems in cold weather. but now its doing it in warm weather also. i have to wait 14 minutes before i can attempt to start my vehicle again. if i only wait 13 minutes the vehicle will not start and then i have to wait another 14 minutes. my mechanic has no idea of how to fix this problem. ive read on here people suggesting cutting a white wire, replacing the ignition or buying a remote start. can anyone tell me what the best option is from their experience?
  • saturntech9saturntech9 Posts: 152
    Iam very familar with this problem saturn has a bulletin for it in fact.When the ignition switches fail they usually fail and cause a no start when outside temp reaches 40 degrees or lower.What happens is the grease in the switch starts to become a solid and then skews the pass lock sensor readings causing a no start.Then as it gets worse it can happen at warmer temps.So when it doesnt start is the security light on solid or flashing?Also what i can tell is have the guy scan your body control module for codes if he has a more advanced scanner he cando this.If there is a B2960 and or B3033 then you would replace the ignition switch.Also i have seen the no starts with bad ignition switches without any codes.It just all depends how long its been happening etc.
  • ohio85ohio85 Posts: 2
    thank you so much for your quick response. as for my security light- i never turn the ignition all the way until the security light goes out. ive found in the past if i try to start the car too quickly it will surely not start. the only thing that i see different is the "service vehicle" light flashes when the no-start problem occurs. its so frustrating. this is my 3rd saturn. the other two were older and didnt have any alarm system at all. i loved those cars. thats why i bought another saturn this time around. i'll definitely have to take my car elsewhere, as my mechanic has equipment circa 1950. haha. im pretty sure this is why he's so cheap.
  • ionownerionowner Posts: 1

    I just bought a 2007 Saturn Ion and I have been having two issues. The alarm goes off every five to twenty minutes without anyone touching the car (and without fail!). I have been locking the car with my key so as to not set the alarm...but does anyone know what might be wrong?

    On what seems to be a related note, when I am driving the car continuously tries to lock itself.

    Any help would be appreciated!
  • jendsks77jendsks77 Posts: 2
    I have a 2007 Saturn Ion my ignition switch sticks & it's currently locked up. My situation is different bc the key isn't stuck in the ignition, I can get the key in but can't get out outta lock mode, very very frustrating. It's currently @ the mechanic now he's charging 200+ includes fee for the locksmith to code the key CAN SOMEONE PLZ TELL ME THE CODE TO SAVE ME SOME MONEY THAT I DON'T HAVE!!!! It's hard as hell to find someone to work on a saturn without going to dealer & them fools wanna charge 90-100 just to diagnosis even when we know the issue!!! HELP ME PLZ & thank u!!!
  • jendsks77jendsks77 Posts: 2
    I have a 2007 Saturn Ion & the ignition cylinder unit has locked up & needs replaced. Very expensive to take to a mechanic. I need the code to reset after the cylinder has been changed, can anyone help me?
  • saturntech9saturntech9 Posts: 152
    The key code has to come from the dealer data base from your vin number.If you can turn the cylinder i can tell you how to remove it.That way you can remove the cylinder and pop the tumblar door off to see what the tumblar numbers are.Have you tried taping on the key hole with a hammer to get the cylinder to turn?It that doesnt work insert the key and lightly tap on the key to see if it turns that way.Those methods usually work for me.
  • saturntech9saturntech9 Posts: 152
    With the two symptoms together its going to be ethier a bad door jamb switch or a bad body control module.
  • katanyakatanya Posts: 1
    edited August 2012
    I understand you are a Saturn tech. I have a 2003 Saturn Ion and I am having so many problems with it. The main thing though is have it in right now because both my turn signals no longer work on it. It is not bulbs, the dealer is saying Body Control Module. They tell me it could cost upwards of $600 to start. I am unemployed right now so I do not have a lot of money, and I need my car for interviews. I am really worried. I could not find any recalls except for one, but dealer says won't help. I have never had so many problems with one car!! I just had the ignition problem you mentioned and the key still is sticking all the time. I have an oil change light that will never seem to go off, they have tried. I have a remote start that does not work except the one time it went off out of nowhere. I have had the alarm go off by itself too. Is there anything Saturn can do to help? I am a little concerned about the one safety recall with the BCM, because we are going to be having a child leaving with us soon as well.

    Thanking you in advance for your help.
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