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Old 11-24-2008, 08:12 PM   #1
russb0214
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2003 ION-2 Sedan
Default New (used) Ion owner


Hello all...

I bought an '03 Ion (4-door, Auto, 2.2L, 70K miles) from CarMax back in June after owning (and, unfortunately, totaling) a 1990 Hyundai Excel about four years ago.
So, in essence, I've been without a car for four years and it's nice to have one again (medical reasons, now resolved...).

The car's been great all summer and into the fall, and then...

Yep - you guessed it: cold weather hits and I get this nasty little surprise one morning. The bugger refuses to start and tosses up a "SERVICE ENGINE SOON" message on the dashboard display, along with the blinking PASSLOCK symbol.
Ten minutes later, with the key in and turned to the "RUN" position, it starts right up as if nothing ever happened.

The next time this happened, about a week later, I took it to the dealer and had them scan it for any residual DIAG codes. They couldn't find anything, and told me to keep the car "on" for at least 24 hours if it happens again so as to ensure that something gets posted in the OBD memory. Ummm, OK...
Probably _not_ that long - maybe 15-30 minutes should do it, methinks...

So last week, we get hit with another cold snap and the car decides it doesn't want to start again. I left the key turned to the "RUN" position for a bit more than 10 minutes, which seemed to clear the PASSLOCK condition, and then it started right up. I was supposed to be at work, but I called my boss and told him that I was taking the car into the shop and having this issue fixed once and for all (hopefully!).
I took it (again) to Saturn of Spartanburg and this time they were able to get some OBD codes back. They replaced my ignition switch and the whole thing wound up costing me about $200. Ouch!

I asked the service tech if this was a _known_ issue with this model (particularly in cold weather), and he said "no".
Now I'm an Engineer by profession and therefore a trained skeptic.
My first instinct was to think to myself: "well, of course he's going to say that it's not a known issue because he damn well knows that just about everyone who walks in the door has internet access of some sort and his job is on the line if he tells me the truth and I go home and post it..."

So, I quietly buy his line, but with some determination to look into this matter a little bit more after I get home from work.
I just _knew_ there was something fishy about the whole thing...
(especially after having it happen to me a couple of times; I _knew_ I couldn't be the only one...)

And folks, it looks like I hit the Motherlode!
I am definitely not alone...

All I can say is that I hope that the batch of ignition switches they had in the shop were the latest and greatest generation, and that all of the conductive-lubricant-issues have been solved by this point.
I don't want to have to go back there with steam coming out of my ears, fuming mad because the car's doing the same thing again the next time it gets below freezing...

Other than that, I _do_ hear that "clunk" in the front end on occasion (sway bar?), but I think I can wait on that one for a little while.
Also, I think the tranny may be suffering from that "surge" problem, which from what I gather here can be tweaked with a firmware update...

If changing out the ignition switch gets rid of the cold-weather-starting problems, then I'm 90% of the way towards "hammering-out" the other minor little things about the car (mostly maintenance stuff...)

- Russ Barnett
Spartanburg, SC

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Old 11-26-2008, 01:53 PM   #2
unit731
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Default Re: New (used) Ion owner

First off - WELCOME !

Thanks for sharing your insights into a used Saturn Ion.

And thanks for sharing the ignition situation. This is a known issue. One would think by now they would replace this for free. There is a TSB on this.

Without new members, this board just like GM will begin to fade away.

Well, welcome and share some more.

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Old 11-27-2008, 04:03 AM   #3
cam
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2007 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Default Re: New (used) Ion owner

Geez. I'm in Toronto and never have had a problem starting the car, even when it is - 20C. We have a 2007 ION but I assume basically the same engine. Lots of Saturns up here because of the high salt utilization.
Cam

Quote:
Originally Posted by russb0214 View Post

Hello all...

I bought an '03 Ion (4-door, Auto, 2.2L, 70K miles) from CarMax back in June after owning (and, unfortunately, totaling) a 1990 Hyundai Excel about four years ago.
So, in essence, I've been without a car for four years and it's nice to have one again (medical reasons, now resolved...).

The car's been great all summer and into the fall, and then...

Yep - you guessed it: cold weather hits and I get this nasty little surprise one morning. The bugger refuses to start and tosses up a "SERVICE ENGINE SOON" message on the dashboard display, along with the blinking PASSLOCK symbol.
Ten minutes later, with the key in and turned to the "RUN" position, it starts right up as if nothing ever happened.

The next time this happened, about a week later, I took it to the dealer and had them scan it for any residual DIAG codes. They couldn't find anything, and told me to keep the car "on" for at least 24 hours if it happens again so as to ensure that something gets posted in the OBD memory. Ummm, OK...
Probably _not_ that long - maybe 15-30 minutes should do it, methinks...

So last week, we get hit with another cold snap and the car decides it doesn't want to start again. I left the key turned to the "RUN" position for a bit more than 10 minutes, which seemed to clear the PASSLOCK condition, and then it started right up. I was supposed to be at work, but I called my boss and told him that I was taking the car into the shop and having this issue fixed once and for all (hopefully!).
I took it (again) to Saturn of Spartanburg and this time they were able to get some OBD codes back. They replaced my ignition switch and the whole thing wound up costing me about $200. Ouch!

I asked the service tech if this was a _known_ issue with this model (particularly in cold weather), and he said "no".
Now I'm an Engineer by profession and therefore a trained skeptic.
My first instinct was to think to myself: "well, of course he's going to say that it's not a known issue because he damn well knows that just about everyone who walks in the door has internet access of some sort and his job is on the line if he tells me the truth and I go home and post it..."

So, I quietly buy his line, but with some determination to look into this matter a little bit more after I get home from work.
I just _knew_ there was something fishy about the whole thing...
(especially after having it happen to me a couple of times; I _knew_ I couldn't be the only one...)

And folks, it looks like I hit the Motherlode!
I am definitely not alone...

All I can say is that I hope that the batch of ignition switches they had in the shop were the latest and greatest generation, and that all of the conductive-lubricant-issues have been solved by this point.
I don't want to have to go back there with steam coming out of my ears, fuming mad because the car's doing the same thing again the next time it gets below freezing...

Other than that, I _do_ hear that "clunk" in the front end on occasion (sway bar?), but I think I can wait on that one for a little while.
Also, I think the tranny may be suffering from that "surge" problem, which from what I gather here can be tweaked with a firmware update...

If changing out the ignition switch gets rid of the cold-weather-starting problems, then I'm 90% of the way towards "hammering-out" the other minor little things about the car (mostly maintenance stuff...)

- Russ Barnett
Spartanburg, SC

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Old 11-27-2008, 04:44 AM   #4
love099
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Default Re: New (used) Ion owner

hello there and also welcome to the forum!

better replace your ignition so that you could enjoy your new ride now.

enjoy posting in the forum!

...
Love is like racing across the frozen tundra on a snowmobile which flips over, trapping you underneath. At night, the ice-weasels come. well, whatever... :P

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Old 11-27-2008, 04:56 AM   #5
cam
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2007 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Default Re: New (used) Ion owner

Quote:
Originally Posted by love099 View Post
hello there and also welcome to the forum!

better replace your ignition so that you could enjoy your new ride now.

enjoy posting in the forum!

What happened to your definition of Love? I went to reply and it was gone.
Something about riding across a field of ice.
You must be a Canuck too n'est pas?

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Old 11-27-2008, 10:00 AM   #6
russb0214
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2003 ION-2 Sedan
Default Re: New (used) Ion owner

Quote:
Originally Posted by cam View Post
Geez. I'm in Toronto and never have had a problem starting the car, even when it is - 20C. We have a 2007 ION but I assume basically the same engine. Lots of Saturns up here because of the high salt utilization.
Cam
Based on what I've read up on regarding the ignition switch problems, I'm pretty certain that most of them occur with the 2003-04 models. You are very likely to never experience it because your '07 has one of the newer-generation (read: "fixed") ignition switches.

Hopefully, the one I just had installed in mine is of that same lot and the problem's been fixed...
(It's been about 10 days so far with occasional dips to between 0C and -5C and the car's started up perfectly. It'll be interesting when January rolls around...)

- Russ

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Old 11-27-2008, 11:07 AM   #7
nababbo
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2004 ION-2 Sedan
Default Re: New (used) Ion owner

Quote:
Originally Posted by russb0214 View Post
Based on what I've read up on regarding the ignition switch problems, I'm pretty certain that most of them occur with the 2003-04 models. You are very likely to never experience it because your '07 has one of the newer-generation (read: "fixed") ignition switches.

Hopefully, the one I just had installed in mine is of that same lot and the problem's been fixed...
(It's been about 10 days so far with occasional dips to between 0C and -5C and the car's started up perfectly. It'll be interesting when January rolls around...)

- Russ
Even in the 03/04 was a hit and miss problem. I never had a problem with mine here in NJ and even when I took several trips to Montreal and Quebec in the winter I never had issues.

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Old 11-30-2008, 09:32 PM   #8
Citation84
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2005 ION-1 Sedan
Default Re: New (used) Ion owner

It goes into 05 as well with ignition problems. I've had mine in 5 times for random no start. In CA. Key freezing in lock, no electrical. Such BS.

It finally seems fixed. For now.

Russb: Have you asked your retailer to run your car's service history so you'll know what has and hasn't been done [at Saturn ] ? Doesn't matter at which Saturn dealer it was done or first sold, they have the service records linked.

Besides it's always useful to have as much history on a used car as possible.

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