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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • As a quick fix, would a shot of WD40 or some other solvent help?
    If the issue is the solidification of grease, this should loosen up that grease and allow the connection. I would think... anyway.
    I had this issue early on with my Saturn and the dealer fixed it. However, about 3 years later the problem emerged again.
    Or at least I think its the same thing. When I turn the key, I usually get the engine to turn over, but before it has a chance to start, it shuts off, and then I can't even get a click out of the ignition. It seems very similar to what happened before, but the fact that it tries to turn over confuses me.
    Also, oddly enough, it seems if I try to jump the car off, it seems to override the problem and I can get it started. Eventually I changed the battery and the problem went away, but after about 5 months, its back, with a vengeance. I am going to try wd40 tonight, and see if that helps with starting tomorrow. Maybe blasting it with a heat gun for 5 min might help as well?
  • Check to see if the Passlock light is on before you start it. The same thing happened to me; engine would turn over, catch, and then shut right down.

    The passlock light was on on the instrument panel.

    I would have to disconnect the battery (positive side) to interrupt power to the passlock system, reconnect the batttery, and it would start normally on my '03 Ion. I've had to do it about 3-4 times over the past 4 years.

    Of course when I called the 800 number for Saturn to talk to a Tech, they kept asking me if I would like to schedule an appointment. I tried to tell them, "No, I can't start the car to get it to the appointment."

    There is an inherent design flaw in this system that they won't address. They just want to get you into the shop, and randomly swap out components and charge you exorbitant amounts of money and not solve the problem.

    Can't wait to dump this thing.
  • I am getting a lot of good info here, and I will try watching for the passlock light. This is my drive to work car, and it has had a beating, but its still a good car in every sense except this. But hey, if I can't drive the danged thing, then whats the point of having it!!!
    Disconnecting the battery is not something I have thought to try,I know that adding electricity (jumping) sometimes seems to help, so disrupting it should also help.
  • I just got a email that you sent me a message to answer your queston th ogh if it is a bad ignition switch you just replace the switch there is no repairing it.There pretty cheap and easy to replace the switch they habe them on amazon for a good price.You just have to relearn the pass lock after replacin it when it doesnt start is the security light on solid or flashing?
  • saturntech9!! I need help! I have an 06 Saturn Ion and my ignition switch needs to be replaced. I am a fairly savvy mechanic when it comes to some things and I think I could do the replacement of I had the right part. Could you give me a link to the right one on amazon and maybe some tips/basic instructions?
    I'm becoming more and more frustrated by the day with this stupid thing.
  • Acdelco D1461f amazon has the best price great neck 51063 iswhat i use to replace the switch itself.Pop the top ignition cover off the ignition housing then only remove the left lower cover there is 7mm screw holding it on.Then unplug the switch and remove the screws to the switch i use the tool i mention to do th at.Then put the new one in then plug it in.Now you relearnthe pass lock sensor try to start it then let the key go back to the run position let it there till the security light stops flashing or turns off.Then turn the switch off for 5 seconds then try to start it again you do this a total of three times and after the third cycle it should start.
  • Hello! I have a 2006 Saturn Ion Redline that is also having an ignition problem. First, the key wouldnt turn off. Then, it got stuck. We finally got it out and tried to replace the cylinder, but now it needs to come out, and it is stuck! It started out not starting when it was cold. Can you give me any advice? No one around here seems to know what they are doing. My email is

    Thank you in advance.
  • I really need some information about how to get my 2006 Saturn Ion Redline fixed. I feel like I have already had to search out and pay for unnecessary parts.

    Thank you,
  • Hi. My Saturn has the same problem. How did you get it fixed and did you ever find the code?

    Thank you
  • While trying to replace the old cylinder lock, the new one that was just put in got stuck and we can't get it out! Does anyone have any pointers on how to get it out please? Is it going to involve removing the steering because that is a whole other mess?!?! Please help!

    Thank you!
  • So you replaced the ignition cylinder already?What positions does the key turn to?
  • Saturntech9 - we are trying to install a new switch, but now that it is in there, it needs to come out and won't! Can you help please?

    Also, can you give me instructions about how to do ithe installation properly and all about the relearn process please.

    Thank you,
  • The key won't turn at all, and now the cylinder lock robert cone back out either. Thank you for your response.
  • brava58brava58 Posts: 27
    edited October 2012
    I am taking my car in to the shop this week... I want to get it straight just what I need to tell my mechanic.

    My car, like others, is not starting at random times. Is it an ignition switch or ignition cylinder that needs to be replaced on the saturn ions? Or should I just go and get a remote starter?

  • Good morning brava58,

    Is your shop one of our GM dealerships? If so, we're available to follow up on the appointment with them! Let us know - we can be reached via email at

    Sarah, GM Customer Service
  • If you replaced the cylinder and now it wont turn that means the tumblar door came off and jambed up cylinder.So now you need a new ignition housing and cylinder.This time make sure the tumblar door is staked correctly so it wont happen again.
  • If the security light is on when it wont start then its most likely a bad ignition switch.Have your body control module scanned for codes if you have a code B2960 and or B3033 then i would replace the ignition switch.The number one fix is the ignition switch they sell a ac delco switch on amazon for under 30.The switch is easy to change.
  • brava58brava58 Posts: 27
    edited October 2012
    Yes, the security light and all the "service vehicle" lights go on. I believe it is the ignition switch too. This happened months after I got the car, and it was replaced in '04. I will bring the codes to my mechanic.

    Thanks for your reply.
  • brava58brava58 Posts: 27
    edited October 2012
    I went to my mechanic armed with codes and they rolled their eyes and said... "oh yeah, the internet..." I told them I had been living and breathing this problem and had codes, etc... They insisted on a diagnostic test and guess what? It came back with the same codes as as saturntech9 had told me. Thankfully, they decreased the charge for the diagnostic test by 50%.

    So, it is fixed, went out today at 40 degrees and started. Please let it last!!!!
  • Good for you ...
    Just keep in mind, the temperature has nothing to do with the starting problem .... it happens when the morning temperature is 90 as well!
    Let's hope the $30 or less delco part will last you a 'long time', if it fails at least you know how to fix it.
  • brava58brava58 Posts: 27
    Yea, I know a lot of people have had the problem in warm weather as well. Gratefully, I have not and only suffered with it when the temps started to dip. I guess I've been lucky to sail through spring and summer with no problem.
  • It happens more often in the colder weather 40 degrees or less there is even a bulletin that states the colder weather that makes it fail more often.I have a friend that lives in.palm springs California an his worked fine all summer long in the winter no starts.
  • We finally got the cylinder lock back out. The problem now is that there seems something broken in the housing. Is there any way to get in there without pulling the steering? Has anyone else had this much trouble?

  • Saturntech9, my mother in laws 2005 saturn ion has the no start syndrome. She's 89 and dosen't need to be stranded. No turn over has happened several times last six mos. replaced starter and swapped starter relay. No dice still does it intermittantly. Last time it was 80 degrees out. Wait 10 min and it starts.
    Sounds like by the reading here she needs a new ignition switch! Sounds like i can replace the switch but then the code issue to re learn could be an issue.. Want to have my ducks in a row before i attempt the swap. Help!
    Swap whole ign switch?
    Do code technique?
    Should be good to go?
    Thanks for your help on this issue in advance!!!
  • What is broken in the housing?sounds like you may need a new ignition housing.
  • When the car wont start is the security light on solid or flashing? If so most likely a bad ignition switch.Without reading the body control module codes to see if you have a B2960 and or B3033 It would be a guess that it was the ignition switch but that is the number one fix for the no starts
    All you do is replace the ignition switch and relearn the pass lock.
  • Thanks saturn tech9. Will scan for the codes. If the light is flashing do what? If its solid do what? Distinguish difference please.concerning the codes b2960,b3033 suggest ign switch replacement or bcm replacement?. also could you send me the relearn proceedure. Her no crank happens when warm outside. Thank you, chris
  • Digging through this thread I'm not sure if I'm having the exact same problem or not.

    2004 Ion out of the blue this past week refuses to start. Now I'm not sure if it is the infamous ignition switch problem because mine will turn over whereas I think people with that issue get nothing when turning the key (correct me if I'm wrong). Basically I can crank until the battery is dead and then have to charge it. Sometimes it seems like it is close to firing but nothing. Definitely getting fuel to the engine.

    So is this the ignition switch / passlock problem or am I encountering something completely different here?
  • The light in ethier state means the security is keeping it from starting.One or both those codes mean a bad ignition switch.
  • Do you have any codes in the computer?Also have you checked for spark?You should have a nice blue spark?Also is the security light on?
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