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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • was yours not starting becasue it was below freezing like mine.
  • also, where is this wire located. is it the set of wires connected to the ignition switch when you take apart the steering colum. Also it says to diconnect the battery and the airbag when working on this part of the car. I'm assuming you must not have since the car has to be running. :) lol I guess you just have to be careful right?
  • meronmeron Posts: 21
    Yeah, the only time was when the weather turned cold. The 'white' wire is like 24 guage, tiny. I think it is a voltage drop that the BCM sees as less than what the key is supposed to engage when put in the ignition switch. The small wire loses conductivity at colder temperatures, like needing a larger diameter extension cord for longer distances, or when it is cold.

    All this is in previous posts # 84. The car starts now and thru all the cold of last winter, since I cut the white wire. I simply put wire nuts on the two severed parts, but you can install a switch. However you must cut the wire while the engine is RUNNING, so to tell the BCM to start from then on.

    (If the voltage to the BCM varies more than 10% or so, it will defeat the fuel pump circuit. Cold weather can decrease the voltage by that amount as it is only a few volts to begin with, and a very small wire.)

    If your cars restarts after about ten minutes, this is probably this problem.

    You should try the cleaner, just to see for yourself. You may have more luck than I did. It took a lot of hours to find the circuits for a remote start that I used to bypass the anti-theft, on the internet, but it was a lot cheaper than the dealer. And many people here have replaced the switch more than once. Some many times. As long as saturn can sell switches, and charge labor, they probably will.

    There are links to the remote start circuit on post #84.

    The white wire is at the end of the ignition switch behind a plastic cover, wrapped in black electrical tape.

    Good luck!

  • meronmeron Posts: 21
    You can check with john2004 or ebiduke, recent posts just before yours, as they have saved over $300 by cutting this wire. It seems to have worked for both of them.
  • so basically I could cut the wire just like you did for free, and deal with the yellow light always being on, or I could buy the 40 dollar bypass, or the 70 dollar bypass. eaither way my car would start no matter what?
  • meronmeron Posts: 21
    Mine has, as well as the two others on this site that I know of. I only read about the switch installation, and the only benefit is the padlock light would go off, as far as I know.

    This was for the 2003/4 Ion. I don't know what year model yours is, or the others for that matter.

    Anyone who has had luck doing this mod with other year model might post a reply here.

  • yeah mine is a 2004. The only thing i'm curious about is that when you cut the wire, does it affect any of the other warning light and singnals that come on when your car is not running correctly, ie: brake lights, oil, check engine. From what you said, it sound like everything else runs and works perfectly. I swear this is my last question. :) hehe
  • meronmeron Posts: 21
    yeah only the little padlock thingy.

    This car has done well for nearly a year, since I cut the white wire. My daughter drives it and puts a bazillion miles on it. I did call several dealerships, and some of them were some help.

    The remote start idea came from my daughter, and then I researched the pass lock.

    Alls well that ends well.

    The voltage on the white wire is only like 6-8 volts. Use insulated cutters if you like. and seal the ends, like with small wire nuts or tape or both, while the car is RUNNING. The BCM thinks there was an accident or something, a failsafe in the system, and allows the circuit to be bypassed.

    That's it.

    Good luck!

  • I bought one of those bypass switches online for 35 bucks. I let you know how it works once I get it and install it. thanks for all your help. Hopefully this saves me a giant headache. :)
  • meronmeron Posts: 21
    Which website did you find it on? Does it come with any instructions for installation?

    You might post some of that info here, as well as the results of installing the switch on your saturn.

    Once I cut the wire I'm pretty sure I just turned the car off and then put wire nuts on th end. Your switch should come with some type of instructions.

    Hope all goes well! Let us all know how it turns out!

  • I ordered it from I'm assuming it comes with instructions. The part I ordered had the same diagram and set up that you posted previously. I will post how it works once I get it installed, and hope fully it will help out more people
  • I own a 03 saturn ion3 and I am having the same problems that everyone else is having with the car not starting only mine happens in Phoenix, AZ. So, my problem is not in cold weather at all.

    This is what happens:
    I drive to the store to get a gallon of milk, come out of the store and the car will not start. All of the lights are on, the radio works fine. Then I try to start it and if acts like it wants to start but then it just dies and the service engine reads across the screen. Then I try to start it again and nothing but all the lights are still on. Then I will go back in the store and mess around for 10-30 min. Go back to the car and all of a sudden it starts.

    I have read everything above and I am definately going to try leaving the key in the ignition and see if that works for now.

    Is anyone else having this problem in high temps? If so what did you do? Does anyone know why Saturn has not put out a recall on this?

    Thanks :(
  • Hello,

    I've been reading these blogs for the last year. My wife has an 03 ion. Her car has been having trouble starting for the last three winters and the ten minute rule seems to work each time. After reading the blogs, I thought maybe heating the ignition switch might work. So, I sat with a hair dryer blowing hot air on the ignition and it starts every time. I'm planning on changing the ignition switch. Is that a full proof cure? I've read many people replace those frequently. I've also read about the wire cutting trick that seems popular. I called Saturn and asked about an ignition switch designed for northern and southern climates, and they didn't seem to know what I was talking about. Although, I didn't specifically ask about a norther "lube" versus southern "lube". Any help would be appreciated.

    frustrated and cold husband
  • We have not had problems with our '03 Ion starting since we had the remote start installed over the summer.

    I see no one posted to your reply yet. For what it's worth, I noticed that the trouble in my wife's car seems to be happenning earlier in the fall and later into the spring. So, the ignition switch may be just getting worse as it goes. The hair dryer works every time. It's just time consuming (five minutes each start). I'd check out posts aournd #84. I think those have been helpful.

  • Hey my name is cassie and we are having the same problem! We are going to call corporate but I think we should all join together and file a lawsuit so big they change the make of their vehicles. Good luck to all who are facing the same problems we are! I think the news is going to love this story! We have had a 2003 level 3 saturn ion for less than two years. When we called the Saturn dealership they said we needed to have another diagnostic done. We originally had it towed to Gattos and they would not even charge us because the manager said there was absolutely nothing he could do. Saturn said this NEVER happens so they would have to special order the piece at a charge of $416! I hate being lied to! It seems more than just "1 out of every 4000" have this problem!
  • hey Cassie. I have a feeling no auto industry is going to possibly do a recall now that they are all screwed because greed. I think your best bet is to do what meron says or what I'm trying.
  • I was wondering if the remote starter everybody has been speaking about works with manual/standard transmissions. My wife's 03 ion 3 has a standard transmission. I've seen other remote starters that will work with standard transmissions and wasn't sure if the remote starter eveybody spoke about in this forum would work. Thanks.

    Cold and Frustrated Husband
  • tainataina Posts: 5
    I have the same problem! Was the bypass switch helpful? I was thinking about installing a remote starter..
  • I am not sure about manual transmission but my husband's is a standard and the remote starter works on his. He no longer has the problem starting the car as long as he uses the remote start to initially start his car and then puts his key in. Its nice too because he can just reach out the door and start his car to warm it up in the winter or cool it down in the summer and if anyone tried to take it it would just die on them (the doors remain locked).
  • tainataina Posts: 5
    I am considering getting a remote starter on my car but I have to wait until the end of the holiday season. Would a new key be a temporary solution? I have also "re-taught" my key (waited the 30 minutes for the pass-lock system to reset itself) but its such an inconvenience
  • I still do not have mine hooked up. I'm trying to find a way to hook it up without a remote starter. It seems like it should work, but the directions that come with the switch are for hooking it up with a remote start. I'm emailing some places that sell them to see if they have a solution for me.
  • tainataina Posts: 5
    I found an auto shop that will install the bypass without the remote starter--
    this is their website
    They charge $175-$200..

    Also, I would really like to try the wire idea that Meron suggested but I do not know any mechanic that would do it for me (and I am not comfortable trying it myself).

    So until I can get the money for this--I would like to try getting a new key or valet key to see if it would help. Has anyone else tried this approach and found it successful?
  • Tiffany,

    Do you know where your husband got his remote starter?

    Cold and Frustrated Husband
  • I did the white wire cut yesterday, no problems starting so far. I also left it out for 12 hours in the cold to make sure, and it started right up.

    Did notice that the clutch was a little sluggish when I started it, I doubt there's any connection there, beyond the fact that it's starting when it's out in the cold, and I may need some transmission fluid or something like that.

    One thing that I did notice is that I'm getting the Service Vehicle error, everytime I start the car. Is there a way to have that code cleared, or would doing so cause problems with getting it started.

    I will be posting up a blog post with picture on how to do this modification, anyone should be able to do it. I only had to buy a shopguide to confirm that I was cutting the right wire.
  • 96WS696WS6 Posts: 2
    I found this forum after replacing the starter, battery, and ignition switch on my 04 Ion (5spd manual). I cut the white wire today, and so far so good. I will definitely post again if the car redevelops the starting problem.
    As far as the vehicle error message, I have been just pushing the trip odometer reset button to get rid of it. I don't know how to prevent it altogether.
    My idea to get rid of the padlock light on the dash is to pull the bulb.
    Good luck to everyone.
  • Exactly which white wire did you cut was it coming directly from the bcm. my bcm is the one under the dash a little to the left of the steering column.
  • meronmeron Posts: 21

    The white wire is located at the end of the ignition switch, opposite from where the key is inserted. Check posts around #84 for more in depth instructions. This was for a 03/04 Ion; some models may be different, but most here have cut the white wire as per the diagrams, as bertbaggins used. It has worked for me for over a year now, and again as the weather has gotten colder, this forum has gotten very busy!

    The white wire was wrapped in black electrical tape on our car; it is a very small wire, and needs to be cut while the car is running. See my previous posts to bertbaggins, and others around 84.

    good luck!

  • tainataina Posts: 5

    Does the location of the wire depend on if the car is automatic vs. manual? Also, I have a viper car alarm-(not factory) on my car (Saturn Ion 03)--it wont be affected if I cut the wire while my car is running right?

  • For anyone who is unclear on where the wire is and needs clarification, you can go to my flickr feed and see the wire that needs to be cut. In the pictures, it is the wire that has the orange wire molds on them.

    These photos are going to be use if/when I get around to writing out a blog post describing how it's done. Been making sure all is well with my car before I do it. Over a week into the mod and I haven't had an issue with starting the car yet!
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