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Old 09-18-2018, 07:27 PM   #1
Lithradus
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Default Hard to track down starting\running issue

I've got a 2003 ion 2.2 and it's having some issues.
A couple weeks ago I was out shopping, when I came back out to my car it wouldn't start. Specifically there was no solenoid click. Being a standard I started with the clutch safety switch, bypassing it. When that didn't work I tried tapping the starter, still nothing. A couple passersby tried push starting it but it wouldn't stay running. A little background. It had a new battery and alternator, power steering and ignition recalls had been done. No security lights, new dealer keys, 12.6v on all points from the battery to the starter cable. Being a really hot day I was done messing with it, I had it towed to a shop owned by the Autoparts company I work for for further diagnostics. I was clear to them it wasn't just a no start issue but they insisted 9 of 10 signs pointed to the starter. Since I took it to them I gave them the benefit of the doubt, we got a starter overnight and what do you know, it started. I drove it the 200m (sorry for the metric, I'm Canadian ) from their shop to my work and went about my day. 5 o'clock rolls around and I jump in my car, same exact symptoms. They tow it back a couple days later and go over it again, they say they found a wire worn through on the clutch safety line and it was grounding out my ignition. He now tells me I probably didn't need the starter (I'm questioning their diagnostics, did they bench test it or check the purple 's' wire on the starter? Who knows..) Ok, awesome they patch it and I drive it home. Then to work the next day, works great. I go out for lunch and again.. same problem. Now I'm at a loss, SOMETHING they are doing is temporarily fixing it. Since we're owned by the same company I can't pull the irate customer routine, at least not if I want good intercompany relations. Currently I'm letting it sit overnight with the battery unhooked, hoping some computer issue may reset. It's also been fairly hot here so I'm not ruling out the heat as a contributing factor.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 09-18-2018, 10:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: Hard to track down starting\running issue

Does this Autoparts company have access to service manual info to troubleshoot?

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Old 09-18-2018, 11:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Hard to track down starting\running issue

Unfortunately I can only guess at the resources they have on the repair side of the company, we're by no means small but I've only ever worked on the parts side.

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Old 09-18-2018, 11:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Hard to track down starting\running issue

Are they capable of reading wiring diagrams like your idea of checking the START wire for 12v when the ignition switch is turned to START? Ions are the latest breed of electronic starting where 12v and lower voltage (5v?) are used in the starting circuit. Your ignition switch is part of electronic starting so anyone troubleshooting a starting circuit will need wiring diagrams. The ignition switch sends a low voltage signal to the engine computer and if security allows starting, the ecm sends a 12v signal to power a start relay that switches 12v battery power to the starter. Two circuits, one electronic, the other as conventional (12v). The electronics side works with Passlock security before the ecm sends 12v to power the start relay to power the starter. The smaller start relay is on the engine fuse panel. The larger starter solenoid is on the starter. Most electronic starting systems use a similar wiring configuration - push button starting.

I can post a few wiring diagrams that can be copied, printed and used by anyone familiar with electrical/electronic diagrams.

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Old 09-18-2018, 11:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: Hard to track down starting\running issue

They should be able to, there's some old school guys and younger techs there. I checked the switch myself and got what I believe to be the appropriate voltages on each line, 5 volts when it was turned to start. I had read a possibility that there could be a slight bounce in the switch the the ECM may pick up that could prevent starting, but my simple multimeter isn't accurate enough to see it. I don't want to tell these guys how to do their job if you know what I mean but letting them chase the problem down so far has been money wasted. I wouldn't mind having a look at the diagrams though, I'm no mechanic but I'm fairly handy.

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Old 09-19-2018, 12:14 AM   #6
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Default Re: Hard to track down starting\running issue

If security flashes during starting, the starting circuit is disabled. Click on the thumbnail to open a new full page image. Print it.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg TifToGif.jpg (135.3 KB, 4 views)

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Old 09-19-2018, 12:54 AM   #7
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Default Re: Hard to track down starting\running issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lithradus View Post
They should be able to, there's some old school guys and younger techs there. I checked the switch myself and got what I believe to be the appropriate voltages on each line, 5 volts when it was turned to start. I had read a possibility that there could be a slight bounce in the switch the the ECM may pick up that could prevent starting, but my simple multimeter isn't accurate enough to see it. I don't want to tell these guys how to do their job if you know what I mean but letting them chase the problem down so far has been money wasted. I wouldn't mind having a look at the diagrams though, I'm no mechanic but I'm fairly handy.
I've attached a wiring diagram for the starting system. If the shop found a short to ground in the clutch safety switch, your CRUISE 7.5A fuse in the instrument panel fuse block would have blown. Since you are intermittently able to start the car, I don't think that fuse is blown, but it wouldn't hurt to check.

Other things I would check are all grounds going to the ECM, and the PCM CONT relay in the underhood fuse box. If that relay isn't closing when you turn the key to the START position, the purple wire going to the starter solenoid will not receive power.

2003-2004-Saturn-Ion-starting-circuit.pdf

...
2007 Ion 2 Quad Coupe 5-speed manual 179K miles
2007 Chevy Equinox LT 190K miles

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Old 09-20-2018, 06:39 AM   #8
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Default Re: Hard to track down starting\running issue

I'll start going over those suggestions this weekend, hopefully something simple they missed.

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Old 09-20-2018, 06:18 PM   #9
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Default Re: Hard to track down starting\running issue

I can personally equate with old school and young techs as my previous employment allows for both. Unfortunately I've discovered incompetence in both groups. While I have my share of mistakes and own up to them, I can unequivocally state incompetents are everywhere by example; when you find yourself taking over a problem left by the previous two shifts (24/7 operation) and find time and time again that each shift misdiagnosed a problem while adding new problems to elevate a simple repair into what's described in old school terms as a cluster ****, a person begins to develop a perspective. I can still recall these acts of incompetence because they made remarkable impressions on me and the few I trust to work side by side with on how so called technicians can lack in simple common sense. Another old school term, replacement artists - they can justify their long hours of unnecessary work by taking their time in replacing parts that didn't restore equipment, hiding their lack of diagnostic skills by exhausting their hours until leaving their 'work' unfinished. This allows moving the problem to the next shift that repeats this. Experience counts on having a perspective on who does the work and if they're trusted or not. These experiences are about a very large organization I worked for. Poor management is the main reason for poorly skilled technicians.

As to your theory about contact bounce, unless you can make careful controlled studies to capture switch contact bounce as a reason for failure of a starting circuit, guessing without equipment to prove a theory will remain as theory. Don't guess if you can diagnose and troubleshoot with known tools and equipment that you are familiar with. A multimeter is the basic tool for anyone serious about troubleshooting circuits on a 12v level. Even 5v levels can be worked on as long as a signal isn't fleeting - a pulse that requires digital multimeters with a bar graph to capture a momentary signal that comes and goes instantly. Car circuits may require two people; one person to turn a switch while the other person monitors for a signal elsewhere on the car.

My previous experience is with electrical, mechanical, electronic, hydraulic, high speed optical communications, stand alone computer systems, wide area lan systems, some robotics, etc.. When there's something I clearly am not knowledgeable about, I rely on trusted co-workers for their knowledge so a team effort is used in solving everyday problems including unusual issues that rarely occur. I'm only as smart as the next man smarter than me.

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Old 09-20-2018, 06:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: Hard to track down starting\running issue

Fdryer, I understand where you're coming from. I always make an effort to train new parts people from the ground up. Computers go down, the power goes out but the books never let you down if you know what to do with them. Retraining someone I didn't work with from the start can be just as frustrating as working on a problem someone else made trying to fix something. The theory about the switch bounce is out of my tools ability to check, it is a relatively cheap part to try to replace but that's not the approach I believe in. I see so many parts swappers claiming to be mechanics in my job. The whole poor diagnostic issue has gone up the chain in my company from my wholesale side and back down to the retail/service side. We have 2 service locations in my city and the other one's manager called me (so did his boss, the area manager for both locations) and he will be personally coming to get my car going. It's created a rivalry between the two garages, and the second location is determined to show up the first. Essentially they'll be fixing the original issue and whatever else was done, at no (or little) charge to myself. After all if you can't fix a fellow employees car, how can you fix a customer's car. I'm considering myself lucky here, but I'm still curious what they will ultimately find out which I'll post for anyone who may run into this issue again.

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