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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • Hello all,

    I had a few questions:

    1. Is the white wire part of the ignition switch?

    2. I read in earlier posts that a possible problem might be with the type of "lube" in the ignition switch. The coined "northern climate" vs "southern climate" lube. Does that idea relate at all to the cutting of the white wire.

    3. Does anybody know of any remote car starters for manual transmissions that are easy to install? I know from the sounds of it that the remote starter spoken of on this blog seems to be easy to install for automatic transmissions. My wife has a standard, and we were quoted about $250 to have a remote starter for a manual transmission installed.

    4. How long will a new ignition switch last before the starting problems begin again.


    Cold and Frustrated Husband
  • 1. the white wire is connected to the ignition switch. its wrapped in electrical tape. There is a good picture of it a few post earlier. it show right where it is.

    2. As far as the lube thing, I don't really know. One guy tried it, and it worked, but some people have had no luck with it. I would't recomend doing anything with it.

    3.I'm not sure how to install a manual starter. I do have a bypass switch that I tried to figure out, but I needed a remote starter in order for it to work. I thought I could hook up the bypass without a remote starter, but that turned out to not work.

    4. Don't change the ignition switch. everyone on this board that did that ended up buying another one like a year later. Some people have bought several of them. It's just throwing money down the drain.

    Cut the wire while the car is running and be done with it. That seems to work the best for everyone
  • The only thing I can think is that you hooked up the switch improperly. You could check your fuses. it could't hurt to replace them, but I don't know which one to start with.
  • Thanks for the reply. I also had a couple of other questions/ideas about fixing the white wire:

    1. Would it be possible to some how insulate the wire so it doesn't get cold?

    2. As far as I read earlier, it seemed that the wire is a thin wire and as a result doens't transmit a proper signal when cold. Would it be possible to replace that wire with a thicker guaged wire?


    Cold and Frustrated Husband
  • I thought about trying to replace that wire as well, however after looking at it, I had no idea where the wire ran to. It looked much more involved than I wanted to get.
  • I was looking up wiring diagrams and found this: n%20Starter-Crank%20circuit.bmp

    This link shows a wiring diagram for installing a remote starter. It looks like the white wire connects the ignition switch to the BCM. I wonder why it takes a couple of years for this wire to go bad. Why would a new ignition switch initially work and then go out when the wires are the same size to begin with?

    Cold and Frustrated Husband
  • melsarmelsar Posts: 1
    I'm having trouble with my 04 ion starting in the cold.Wait 10-15 min it starts. Please tell me what this wire cutting is all about. I'm going to take it to my mechanic but I want to sound like I know what I'm talking about. i also read about a worn key causing the problem which I also have.
  • read previous posts. start at #82 or so. read what meron says. it works. I did it and now the headache of my car not starting is gone.
  • oblio9oblio9 Posts: 19
    I just cut my white wire two days ago and taped the whole thing. As long as my car starts fine for the next week or so I plan to post it on youtube. I'll post back with a link once it is done.
  • :mad: Hello,

    I bought a Used Saturn ION 2004 with 40,000 miles. It has not started 8 times in the past month of December. Bought a new battery. Not it. Bought a new Alternator. Not it. Paid "so called" mechanic $100 dollars to fix a faulty wire in egintion switch. Called Saturn Recall Department and they said it was a faulty wire that was causing issue but NO recall on it. Got in car again at night and in cold and would not start. Like always All Lights inside car come on but engine does not. Jump started it, it started, turned off then restarted it would not start. Waited a few minutes then is started up again. It happens at night, in the cold weather. Not during day. It is so exhausting to go to your farely new car and it not start.
  • meronmeron Posts: 21
    Good idea. bertbaggins posted some pics on flickr. Putting it on youtube would get to a lot of people.
    It has been over a year now, it's about twenty degrees here and the car is still starting, first time, every time.
    Good luck and post the youtube link here when you're done; I'd like to see it!
  • meronmeron Posts: 21
    Sorry about your luck. Check the posts here at about #82-84. You can do this yourself, if you are patient. It's really pretty easy.
    Good luck,
  • oblio9oblio9 Posts: 19
    I taped the whole thing soup-nuts on my 2004 Ion. It has started fine the last two days but I'd like to give it a few more before I post it. Plus I need to edit it a little. One thing I have noticed but never see mentioned is that humidity is a factor. I live in the Denver area and it is pretty arid here year round (high desert). I can walk out in the morning and just tell if I am going to have a problem. A month or so ago it was -9 degrees out and my car started like a dream. But the first damp morning in the late fall where it dropped into the 30's and I was out of luck. This morning was borderline, a little damp but not one that I know would have been a problem for sure. Hopefully the next couple mornings will be cold and damp so I can be more confident.

    I know absolutely nothing about cars so I was hoping the video might help people who are as clueless yet cheap as me. :)
  • Just wanted everyone to know I contacted the BBB, GM, DOT, Saturn (of course) to let them know I'm not the only one with this crazy problem with my car. Why isn't it recalled? We all have wasted alot of time, money and stress over something they should've fixed from the start. I'm taking my car to Saturn Dealership to fix the White wire problem. They were going to do a Diagnosis on my car but now they will know exactly what to fix. I'm bringing the picture from here and everything but I'm pretty sure they already know the situation. I better not be charged a crazy fee either. I trust taking it to Saturn instead of a mechanic (i dont know any honest ones). Wish me Lucky.
  • joflozjofloz Posts: 1
    Please go to and file a complaint. This is the only way we are going to get a recall issued on the Saturn strating problem
  • I too have a 2006 Saturn Ion (11,000 mi and out of warranty) and since we went into the deep freeze this last week even keeping the car in the garage was not successful at keeping the shrunken contacts or quantum dot gremlins at bay. I have the "cold start problem" also. tried the different key routine but it might just be the 10 minute time-out that kicked in which fixed the problem. I also tried the "heat the ignition lock up with the hair drier" which also seemed to work, in the garage, but that would be difficult to do in the Sears parking lot at 8:00 at night. I have seen the "Cut the white wire and bypass the passlock system" but why do I have to do that? It's my wife's car and we'll make a trip to the Saturn dealer today and see what they say. My wife is one of those who believes that if the battery dies it's time to get a new car. If GMC can't satisfy us, it looks like we'll be stopping at the 100,000 mile warranty folks.
    I'm also emailing NHTSA.
  • I agree it shouldn't be our problem, but saturn is no help at all. they just rip you off more. cut the wire if you want the problem out of your life. if your warrenty is gone, then whats the difference. Good luck
  • I wish sick before my appointment with Saturn. I was sick because I had to stand out in the cold last week bacause car wouldn't start. I called Saturn and asked then to cut the wire, they said "they would have to do a diagnostic on it or they would be liable for any damages." Our problem will not show up on a Diagnostic. I am not paying $50 bucks so they can say I have a BCM problem and sell me a starter switch. No no no. I have seen it on here to my times. Saturn "Fix" the wire not the Starter (scammers). I email the news websites. My car didn't start again Saturday but this time i sat around 15 minutes and it started right up. Before I'd freak and get it jump started. I really really appreciate all the info I got from this website. I was not going crazy. Thank you everyone.
  • Dear Ms. Buckner,

    Thank you for contacting the Saturn Customer Assistance Center. We appreciate you taking the time to write us in regards to the concerns you are experiencing with your 2004 ION 3.

    I recognize that this situation has caused you a great level of frustration, and I hope that you can accept my sincerest apology on behalf of Saturn.

    Please consider this communication as acknowledgement that we have received your email. In addition, I have added the information you provided to Service Request number , and sent a notification to Rachel Perry on your behalf.

    Recalls are released when the vehicle or an item in the vehicle's equipment does not comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard or when there is a safety-related defect present in the vehicle or equipment. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set minimum performance levels for those parts of the vehicle which may effect its safe operation (brakes, tires, lighting, etc) or those which protect drivers and passengers from death or serious injury in the event of a crash.

    This is applicable to all vehicles and equipment manufactured for sale in the United States that are certified for use on public roads and highways. Through tests, inspection procedures and information gathering systems, General Motors, as a manufacturer, may discover that a safety defect exists or that the requirements of a safety standard have not been met. At that time, a voluntary recall will be released.

    We do have to advise you to work closely with a Saturn Retailer to resolve your issues with your vehicle. If your vehicle has not been to the retailer within the last 30 days, we do advise you to have your vehicle looked at and diagnosed by the Saturn Certified Technicians, so that all your issues can be resolved.

    If you should need to contact us in the future, simply reply to this message or call our Saturn Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-553-6000, prompt 3. Customer Relationship Specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. All times are Eastern.

    For more information regarding the maintenance and care of your vehicle, please visit This free online service offers vehicle and ownership-related information and tools tailored to your specific Saturn.

    Again, thank you for contacting Saturn.


    The Saturn Consumer Support Team
  • Good job Amber because we all on this web site are upset with this situation,and when you or all of us buy a new car or used one is because we need a reliable transportation not a hand full of problems with Saturn products,honestly as soon I fix mine, will be trade and for precautions wont be a Saturn or any GM automobile.Once again for those who gave a temporary solutions to the problem.(Thanks a lot and good luck)...... :mad:
  • Hey Folks!

    Agawamguy just checkin in. The last time my car didn't start was December 31, 2008. :mad:

    On January 1, 2009 (post #176) I cut the white wire while the car was running and it's started every time since. :D

    Passlock is disabled!
  • I did two fixes at the same time, so I don't know which actually fixed the cold start problem but it is fixed. the first fix is to remove the electronic guts of the ignition switch, a plastic module located at the rear of the ignition switch. then open it up by depressing 4 locking tabs. Carefully open it up. I used a q-tip with alcohol to wipe clean the defective grease. I then wiped a very thin layer of technical grease, rated to -45F to +185F. The second solution is to install the PLXR passlock module. it was very ease. If i had to choose one solution, i would choose to clean the grease from the ignition switch because it cost zero.
  • I have to give credit to somone else, but I read a post about waiting for the sensorlock light to go out first before trying to start and it has worked-- so far.
    Remember it is a 24 gauge wire, which is very fine, so the electric pulse could be slow in cold/damp weather, which make sense (becomes lazy)
    Put the key in the ignition and turn the key so all the warning lights in the dash come on, when the sensorlock light goes out (orange/yellow), then continue to turn the key and the car has started every time. I live just outsde of Toronto Canada and it gets cold. So far it has worked when the temp was down to -17 Celisus with a wind chill of -30 (that is really cold). Give this a try before cutting of wires. Tommorrow is another test -22 plus wind chill (extremely cold) :confuse:
  • Hi All I am new to this board. I have a 2004 Ion (which will be paid off soon). I love my car especially the gas mileage however I cuss at her a lot more lately. When I first got her brand new I had that problem with the blinker, then it seemed like I went through headlights every month. Last year I started having a hard time starting her in the morning when I got up early once a week to go to school in NH. A few times last winter this happened but not a big deal since I was in Grad School and not working more than part time. This winter has been HELL for me!!! I have to be at work at 545 am and guess what....SHE DOESNT START MOST OF THE TIME!! Remember last week when it was 5 below in CT? Guess where I was at 5am. Yep first sitting in a freezing cold car praying she would start then standing outside while my boyfriend tried to start her up and finally at 545 breaking every speed limit between here and work praying I wouldnt hit ice because I couldnt feel the steering wheel on my boyfriends Escape. Last week I drove his car 3 times to work (he doesnt have to be at work until 8a....big temp difference). After reading this forum it seems the best thing to do is cut the friggin wire. God knows we dont have the money or time to drive to Hartford or Wallingford or RI to have them check it out and then tell us we have to pay for a problem that came with the car. This is such CRAP! Okay time to breathe....
    Ive thought about writing Saturn and the BBB and anyone else who may listen and I most likely will. The one other person who I will write is whichever congressman helps decide whether or not GM gets the bailout money. Why should our taxpayer dollars be spent bailing out a company that sold us subpar cars? After what we on this board have been through who are seriously thinking about buying another Saturn? If they were willing to fix these problems for free it would be one thing but it sounds like they wont.
    Anyway thanks for letting me vent my stomach doesnt hurt as bad anymore. Oh and if anyone hears cussing and screaming tommorrow morning about 515am well then you know whats happening.
  • has anyone that has cut this white wire used both keys to start the car or does only the one work. My wife uses the car also and has her own keys?? :confuse:
  • I posted some time ago (168 ,169) reporting I thought it was the key. I used my old extra key and it worked for about a month. Then 1 day it would not start, I waited the 10 min delay and it started normally. knowledge is a good thing.

    I have now cut the white wire while running. The passlock indicator is on but my car always starts now. I live near Montreal Canada it was really cold last week 25C below or about -15F. No problems. (about 3 weeks now)

    1. If your car won't start, wait 10 min try again.

    Do not call towing, jump start it, or do anything else.
    Mine is a standard and I even tried to push start it.
    I learned the hard way changed battery, changed starter.
    It acted like a dead battery or poor starter connection, or high draw starter.
    What I learned was by the time you got a boost or did anything usually 10 min. had passed and the car would have started anyway if you had tried.

    2. Disabble the passlock system by cutting the white wire while the car is running.

    (see other posts here for details) This took me about 10 min. total and is very easy to do. (I am a aircraft mechanic by trade.)

    3. Ignore the light on the dash and enjoy a car that will start every morning in the cold.
  • meronmeron Posts: 21
    We've used any of three keys; they all work
  • I am just wondering if this fix is still continuing to work. I have had many different fixes that have cost a lot of money for this intermittent problem, but it always seems to not work once again. The car for me this past week, has not started on a daily basis and happens 2 to 3 times daily. I am wasting so much time waiting on the car to decide to start at various places... ie. grocery store, my work, the gym, etc. I am also embarrassed at work to have to continually leave early to go out and try to start it prior to actually being relieved from work. Please tell me that the inexpensive fix is still working and I will immediately make an appt.

    Also, when I checked with Saturn concerning the problem, it was stated to me and my mechanic that the problem was unable to be fixed. It was an issue that Saturn already was aware of and was not willing to do a recall since the problem was not a safety issue.

    Jennifer Keough
  • cut the wire. it works. no more headaches for you.
  • I have had no problems starting the car, since I cut the wire. Seems to have been a permanent fix for me.
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