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Saturn Ion Starting Problems



  • meronmeron Posts: 21
    I doubt if manual or automatic has anything to do with the issue; ours is a manual. I really would hate to say anything about the viper alarm; I have no experience with those. I would say that once the wire were cut you could revert back but rejoining them with one of the wire nuts or crimp them together. bertbaggins has some good photos on flicker; it shows the plastic cover removed and the white wire cut and wire nuts attached. He has had no issues for a week; ours has been over a year.

    The "padlock" light on the dash stays lit, tho. You can put a switch in and flip it back when the weather warms up.

    Good luck!

  • I have an 04 saturn ion that is doing all of what u people are saying!!!! oh luck me! NOW WHAT DO I DO! my wife is due with our second child in january and she works 3rd shift and this is her car! and I need it to start If her water breaks! u know! I am from the madison wi area and could use the help!
    my email is [email protected]
    thank you
  • I have just got done replacing the ignition switch!!!! it is -10 degrees out side got to love wisconsin!!

    I talk to a saturn tech. today and told him @ what was going on with my 04 ion! and he said that he would change the ignition switch. he said that he does at least one a week and more than that some times when it gets cold out!

    Im having trouble re teaching the ignition! i have seen that in other posting that u guys have to turn it to start then to the on, but what is the start position? when the key rotates to engage the starter or the acc. part on the switch! my ignition has the off-on- the acc. and the rotary part!
    Could some one please help me! thank u Tim

    :confuse: :confuse: :confuse: :confuse:
  • 96WS696WS6 Posts: 2
    When teaching the ignition, all you need to do is attempt to start the car by turning the key as in a normal start. Let go of the key when it does not start. It is spring loaded to the postion you need to leave it in for the 10 minute cycles. It takes exactly 10 minutes for the padlock light on the dash to go out. When that light goes out. Turn the key to off for 5 seconds. Then go through another 10 minute cycle. Perform 3 of these cycles. Mine started on the 4th attempt to start the car.
  • should have saved your money. The ignition switch replacement, does not fix the problem. read previous posts. start at #82.
  • Why is that some people change the ignition switch and u never hear if it really worked just wondering? I did replace mine today and yesterday and so far so good!
    I really hope that it works! I was told that most Gm cars with the pass lock system have to be re taught very often! so looks like i will be cutting a wire soon and installing a toggle switch!

    Who is right
  • Hey everybody!

    I just got done reading every post in this thread. image

    Over the summer I purchased a slightly used 2006 Ion from a Saturn Dealership here in New England and now that winter is here I'm having problems with the PassLock.

    I'm pretty pissed off that this is all happening but I've got to get it fixed one way or the other because I can't keep getting stranded for 10 minutes every time it's cold outside. image

    After stopping in at three service stations today, I found one that understands the problem and will install a bypass.

    I found a guy that sells them on Ebay for $39.00 + s&h.

    If I buy the By-Pass, the service station will install it. They said it will probably take an hour or so to do the job.

    Once I receive the by-pass in the mail, I'm gonna look over the directions. I all ready took the cover off of my steering column and I can see the wires everyone is talking about and I can see the ignition switch. If the directions seem simple and straight forward I'll try it myself.

    I will let everybody know how I make out.

    I'm also going to call the numbers to Saturn that were posted earlier.
    1-866-790-5700 & 1-888-327-4236

    Other than this huge problem, I like my ION. image

  • Hey Bert, how'd you make out with your bypass switch?

    I'm thinking of going with this company:

  • I'm having a hard time figuring out how to intall the switch. It all is pretty straight forward, however the directions given with the kit of for hooking it up with a remote start. the ignition wire is supposed to hook up somewhere, and I also can't figure out what to do with the pink wire on the bypass kit, because there is no pink wire to splice it to on the saturn. the diagram I'm talking about is posted earlier by Meron post 85 or a little after that. does anyone else know what to do?
  • Hey Bert:

    I just wrote to link title about any installation issues. Hopefully this guy "Carlos" will get back to me.

    I have no intention of hooking up a remote starter either. My mechanic suggested a remote car starter store might also be able to install the bypass as well.

    A large corporation might not do it because of legalities but a small mom & pop car stereo / remote starter shop might do it.

    It's too bad we can't just go to the Saturn dealerships to install the bypass!! :mad:
  • tainataina Posts: 5
    Dear Meron,

    Over the weekend I got my boyfriend to cut the white wire..the passlock light stays on and the "service needed" message comes up but so far so good--the car is starting! No problems with the viper alarm. I tested it today (we are in the northeast and the temp is 13 degrees) and it started immediately!

    Thank you for your post and a special thanks to the person who posted the pics on flicker.com

    I will keep you all posted if things change.
    Happy Holidays,
  • Hi Meron – Let me add my thanks for your help on the board.

    I had the starting problem the past two winters, but very sporadic. This year I’m parking it outdoors and the problem was more frequent since winter hit. I first replaced the battery and then the starter. When that didn’t resolve the problem I decided to check the Internet and found this site.

    I did try installing a new ignition switch. I was very proud of myself last Saturday when I got through the key relearning procedure without setting off the air bag. All seemed well until the car didn’t start on Monday. Monday night I cut the white wire and it has been fine since then. I will soon be placing black tape over the annoying security fault light.

    To anyone else researching this problem: Turning the key and leaving it until the security light goes off – doesn’t work. New ignition switch – Evidently works sometimes, but didn’t for me. Go with Meron’s advice and cut the white wire while the car is running. (To be safe I pulled the air bag fuse while I cut the wire.)
  • My friend and I bought 06 Saturn Ions in September and October 05, and they are both having this exact problem - both are out of warranty. So I called the dealership and set up an appointment and told him what I thought the problem was based on this issue. Then I called Saturn Corporate office and set up a complaint for possible cost assistance and they gave me a reference number for each of our cars. So this morning we both took them in at the same time to show them that they were both having problems, and they fixed them both for free. Even though they were both out of warranty, the dealership put it under a warranty somehow and we had $0 charge! Merry Christmas to us!
  • 4r33l4r33l Posts: 3
    After having the annual winter start-up problem, my 2003 Ion started "acting up" again as the temperature dropped to the 30's a month ago. As a fluke, I started pushing down on the brake before starting the ignition. My car has started every single time....even in last week's zero/teen weather! It's pretty early to tell...hopefully that does the trick for good.
  • Alright everybody

    I bought the bypass switch, but nobody that I have emailed about how to install it has responded to my question. Today I finally just did what Meron has been telling us since post # 82 or somthing like that. I cut the white wire. guess what? It works like a charm. seriously just save yourself money and stress by cutting the white wire attached to the ignition switch. Your problem will be solved and all you have to deal with is the yellow light on your dashboard. Thank you Meron.

    P.S I now have a bypass switch for sale, if anyone still wants to try to install it. :)

    Bert Baggins
  • Hello,

    I'm from Canada and last year I started to have this problem. ION 2003 222,0000 KM now, Works great now. Changed battery, starter, no luck. Thanks for the insight, I have a background as an aircraft mechanic and always looked after my own car. After reading all the information I got an idea. I dug out my original spare key and started to use it. No problems now for a month. This really worked. I think my old regular key has become worn out or worn short. The spare key was never really used. Works great for me . No ignition switch change, no cut wire. Thanks for the insight.
  • Hello,

    Thanks for the idea. I had trouble with this for about a year. Changed, battery, starter, no luck. After reading your post I got out my spare original key and started to use it. No troubles now for over a month. This realy fixed my problem, thanks.

    P.S. I live in Canada.
  • i have a saturn ion that has the same starting issues. my friends dad fixed hers by cutting the wire that everyone is talking about and hers has been running fine for months now. well because i bought mine in the summer and have had no problems until this winter we just assumed this is what the problem was. we took it over there and he cut the wire doing the exact same thing he did to fix his. he turned it off, started back up 2 different times and it worked. he put the plastic back on and walked inside, when we went to leave it wouldnt start. would anybody know why?

    it wont crank the key will turn and go through the cycle but we let it do that several
    times for a long time and it still is dead. we even tried putting the wire back together and that did no good as well. it is pretty much useless it was just sitting there unable to move, we had to pry it into gear just to put it on a trailer to bring home.

    friends dad said it might be the ignition switch as well but before i have to spend tons of money i was going to see if anyone else experienced anything like this or might have any ideas. it just doesnt make since why it would start 2 times and then suddenly die.
  • I'm not being a wise [non-permissible content removed], but is the battery charged.
  • the battery is charged, we thought that was the problem so it had a brand new battery installed by the dealership about 2 weeks ago so i know thats not bad
  • I, own a 2004 saturn Ion and have the same problems other have with starting problems,so I decide to replace the ignition switch and did the 30 minutes re-learn process but very unluck ,repeated the re-learn like 3 times and the car did tried to start but dies,like fuel pump not working ,but the fuel pump was working fine before this process,some one told me that it could be the computer,is there any one with the same problem that can help me out,because I agree with other people Dealers charge too much and I cant afford it,please give some advice..thanks... :confuse:
  • Hi every, one I just asking my self,if GM knows about this problem why they dont recall all this malfunction on this particular auto (saturn ions).and we all got stock with it,no wonder no ones wants to spends money on GM products.If all of us saturn owners write a letter to them ,I am sure they will some how responds to this matter and do something about it ,because to honest with you I wont spend any more money on GM cars. : :mad:
  • well we finally got someone to look at mine, the reason why it wouldnt start is because when we cut the wire it blew a fuse in the column by the driver seat but now we are having a new ignition switch put in and hopefully it will be forever cured!
  • OK, I just snipped the white wire and it looks like I'm good. image

    I took pictures and later tonight when I get home from work I'll post them and a detailed write-up on the simple procedure.

    I was going to install a bypass but I couldn't find anyone to install it for me. I decided to bite the bullet and snip the white wire like Bert just did.

    Hey Tate88; I could see how you could accidentally pinch a wire when replacing the plastic steering column covers. I made sure I was real careful when I put everything back together.

    I'll be back! image
  • OK, if anyone reads through the 170 some odd posts here like I did, you'll see that cutting the white wire is an inexpensive option that disables the entire Passlock system.

    I have a 2006 ION and here's exactly what I did yesterday while I was at work:

    I removed the three screws underneath the steering wheel column. I then removed the three piece plastic cover which allows access to the ignition key lock cylinder and ignition switch.

    link title

    Attached to the ignition switch is a green harness plug. I pulled the harness plug to get better access to the wires. I then removed the electrical tape and found the solid white wire. I seperated the white wire from the bunch.

    I re-connected the harness plug to the starter switch and started the car.

    I then cut the white wire and attached wire nuts with electrical tape to each wire so as to secur it propperly. When I looked up, the passlock light was illuminated on the dash panel.

    link title

    I shut the car off and re-started it several times. With the car off and the key out of the ignition, I very carefully tucked all the wires back into place and re-assembled the plastic steering wheel column.

    I then parked the car outside in 8 degree New England weather with the windows down for 9 hours and when it was time to go home the car started right up.

    The dash light stays on constantly but unlike some others, I do not have a service display on the dash.

    I called the Saturn complain Dept: 866-790-5700 and I filed a complain @ 888-327-4236 about my troubles with this issue.

    If GM ever makes a recall and if I still own the car maybe I'll get the fix but for now I'm good.

    Thanks everybody!
  • hi,thank you guys for the recomendations on cuting the white wire but I have a question,can I cut the wire while the car is off ,because it wont start after I replaced the ignition switch..does anyone has the same experience?thank you all...
  • hey fbordoy

    You cannot cut the wire when the car is off. Apparently that screws it up. as for starting your car. Did you do the relearn procedure for the car? also, I was using a hair dryer on my ignition to get it started in the cold.
  • NotragNotrag Posts: 1
    My only questions are?

    Cutting the white wire while the car is running, making sure not to short the wires out, is all that needs to be done?

    Yes or No

    Thank you very much.
  • thats all I did. I had no trouble with shorting out wires. just cap the ends of the wire when you are done, and I pulled the airbag fuse before cutting.
  • hi bertbaggins,yes when I changed the switch did the re-learn procedure for aproximately 5 times,car was running except like others ,problems in the cold weather and I am from New England. (CT).and decide to change the switch but no luck to get it start ever again,so is there any fuse that could probably got blown ?,or could be the new switch that is no good.just need need your ideas or recomendations.Thanks very much.(fbordoy). :cry:
  • 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:

    http://bulldogsecurity.com/New%20Wires/New%20Wires/Wires/images/03%20Saturn%20Io- 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 http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/ 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 gmownercenter.com. 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:
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