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Old 07-24-2013, 10:30 AM   #1
hopethiswrx
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Mad Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

Searched around couldn't find anything that really matched what I'm experiencing sorry if it's a duplicate.

My wifes 2004 Saturn Ion Sedan has been having issues starting. I fixed the passlock problem last year with it not wanting to start in the cold. Been working just fine this whole year without any issues. So the issue....

Put the key in the car and turn the key to the start position, nothing happens, the second you let go of the key (and it returns to the On position) the motor cranks for a second but (at least to me) sounds like it's getting cut off. So now it's in the On position, everything power related works fine, radio, windows, etc. The security light on the dash, flashes a couple times and then turns off.

What I have been reading is that if it's a passlock issue the light would stay on and a service message would come across the screen, but it doesn't. No service lights or warnings come on at all.

If I turn the key from On to Start after 3 or 4 attempts the car will start up. Then as far as I can tell, it will start and stop on the first try all day long without any issues. It seems to only happens in the mornings, if that helps.

I can always get it to start eventually, my wife can't for some reason (insert joke here)

I was wondering if there was a way to force the passlock to reset again (even though I don't think that's the issue) I only seem to come across people who reset the passlock when the light and message are on, but in this case it's not.

The thing that I can't figure out is why it cranks when the key is going from start to on instead of on to start? but then try it a couples times and it starts(for me at least)

Same thing with the spare key as well, thought maybe the key was bad. Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 07-24-2013, 05:11 PM   #2
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

How did you fix Passlock? Unless you replaced the ignition switch, the ignition switch is the problem and needs to be replaced and Passlock relearned.

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Old 07-29-2013, 04:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

I had a very similar issue with my own 04 Ion when I first bought it. It turned out that it was never an issue with my passlock (that had already been cut a while ago) but rather it was an issue with the ignition. For me I replaced the ignition cylinder and it was still having issues, the next step was the ignition coil (I think that's what it was) lucky me that finally fixed the issue because the next step in that chain of events was going to be the computer not like that's not cheep or anything ay? but I would agree with fdryer, I think its your ignition cylinder

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Old 07-29-2013, 05:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

Not the cylinder, the switch.

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Old 07-30-2013, 07:30 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

Ignition switch was replaced a year ago. No issues with it until last week. The coil or ignition cylinder might be a good idea. It does start eventually just not on the first try. She's dealing with it. Are those parts easy to replace?

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Old 07-30-2013, 07:57 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

Unfortunately, it seems to be another ignition switch problem - turning the ignition switch to START with nothing occurring and releasing the ignition key (to return back to ON with the starter suddenly running for a second is an ignition switch fault. It becomes complicated after that as the starter circuit depends on the(a)ignition switch to send a signal to the (b)bcm that sends another signal to the (c)pcm that sends a START signal(d) to the starter. Its all electronics from the ignition switch forward. A wiring diagram will show how complicated electronics becomes.

The ignition coil isn't the problem since the engine never turns over to begin with. The ignition coil supplies spark only when the engine is turned over for starting or while running.

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Old 08-06-2013, 01:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

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Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Unfortunately, it seems to be another ignition switch problem - turning the ignition switch to START with nothing occurring and releasing the ignition key (to return back to ON with the starter suddenly running for a second is an ignition switch fault. It becomes complicated after that as the starter circuit depends on the(a)ignition switch to send a signal to the (b)bcm that sends another signal to the (c)pcm that sends a START signal(d) to the starter. Its all electronics from the ignition switch forward. A wiring diagram will show how complicated electronics becomes.

The ignition coil isn't the problem since the engine never turns over to begin with. The ignition coil supplies spark only when the engine is turned over for starting or while running.
Just wondering here,....but if the BCM is going bad, could it cause a starting issue? You said "the starter circuit depends on the(a)ignition switch to send a signal to the (b)bcm that sends another signal to the (c)pcm that sends a START signal(d) to the starter". I am having starting issues with my wifes 03 Ion and everything I am reading I am thinking that it is the ignition switch but I know that her BCM is bad/going bad and didn't know if that can cause starting issues if it messes with sending a signal. I didn't think it would but I am no electronics guru. She turns her key to run and nothing happens. Sometimes the key will not turn back to the off position, sometimes it will. Usually after 3 or so attempts, the car will start right up. Battery is new. It doesn't seem to matter if we use her old key or my new one, it will do it with either, but it is very random and I can never duplicate it when I want to. I'm thinking of getting a new ignition switch. Thanks

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Old 08-06-2013, 04:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

More failures of ignition switches occur in Ions than bcm's. Search past threads about Ion ignition switches and bcm's. I don't think you'll find bcm failures in Ions.

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Old 08-06-2013, 06:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

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More failures of ignition switches occur in Ions than bcm's. Search past threads about Ion ignition switches and bcm's. I don't think you'll find bcm failures in Ions.
Ok, well maybe you can help me then. My power door locks only work when unlocking both with the button and the key fob. The power windows sometimes don't work as well as the power mirrors. The auto dim rear view and compass functions have stopped working and the radio stops working once in a great while. Also my coolant light is on so I replaced the coolant jug and the light is still on. The car also has irrattic shifting sometimes but I believe that just needs a reflash or something. Any ideas? Thanks

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Old 08-06-2013, 10:14 PM   #10
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

1-Are you saying the manual door lock switch doesn't work? Lock and unlock? Keyfob(s) won't lock doors?

2-Power mirrors and windows may be switch related and not a bcm problem. Window switches can be swapped around to isolate a wiring or switch problem.

3-If I'm not mistaken, rear view mirrors with auto dim/compass functions are not controlled by the bcm.

4-The stock radio is not controlled by the bcm.

5-Erratic xmission shifts are not a bcm function.

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Old 08-07-2013, 06:41 AM   #11
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

Quote:
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1-Are you saying the manual door lock switch doesn't work? Lock and unlock? Keyfob(s) won't lock doors?

2-Power mirrors and windows may be switch related and not a bcm problem. Window switches can be swapped around to isolate a wiring or switch problem.

3-If I'm not mistaken, rear view mirrors with auto dim/compass functions are not controlled by the bcm.

4-The stock radio is not controlled by the bcm.

5-Erratic xmission shifts are not a bcm function.
1-Power door locks, when you hit the button in the car to unlock all the doors, it only works to unlock them. Locking them nothing happens and sometimes you get a ding when you hit the button that seems like it is coming from under the dash somewhere. The key fob is the same way. The doors can still be locked and unlocked if you manually lock each door.

2-Window issues are very random in occurance. You suggest moving the switch that seems to not work to a different window to see if the problem follows, correct? Mirror issues will happen one minute and the next be fine. I agree, that could be a switch problem. Any ideas other than getting a new switch?

3-So then I just need a new rear view mirror if I want those functions to work? Can I just swap it for a regular mirror to cut down on bulk? That thing is kind of big.

4-That would just be a radio issue then?

5-I talked to a dealer about the transmission shifting and he would need to duplicate it to make sure, but I can never duplicate it. It does it when it wants to.

6-What about my coolant light? New jug and new coolant. Light still on.

I have a scanner from Autel that I use on my cars, and it has stopped linking to the Saturn. The Autel teck tells me that since it works on some of my other cars, then I must have a circuit issue or ECM issue on the Saturn. Sounds kind of far fetched.

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Old 08-07-2013, 10:15 AM   #12
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

when you lock the doors, they don't lock if the doors are open, this is typical chevy lock system behavior. check the door switches for proper switching. you can also check this by pressing the button twice, which overrides this feature.

you could manually jumper the wires if the wiring is simple enough to test mirrors and windows

your rearview mirror issues might be a dirty connector at the mirror, try taking it off and working it a bit (on, off, on, off, so on) and see if this improves the situation, also check the connector for condition.

check the connector that plugs into the tank.

if the scanner only recently stopped connecting to your ion, and actually used to connect, that rules out canbus incompatibility, if it never connected to your ion, it's probably not compatible. either way, check the ecu fuse (fuse #9 rings a bell) in the under hood fuse block for condition.

...
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Old 08-07-2013, 06:42 PM   #13
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

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when you lock the doors, they don't lock if the doors are open, this is typical chevy lock system behavior. check the door switches for proper switching. you can also check this by pressing the button twice, which overrides this feature.

you could manually jumper the wires if the wiring is simple enough to test mirrors and windows

your rearview mirror issues might be a dirty connector at the mirror, try taking it off and working it a bit (on, off, on, off, so on) and see if this improves the situation, also check the connector for condition.

check the connector that plugs into the tank.

if the scanner only recently stopped connecting to your ion, and actually used to connect, that rules out canbus incompatibility, if it never connected to your ion, it's probably not compatible. either way, check the ecu fuse (fuse #9 rings a bell) in the under hood fuse block for condition.
I will have to check some of these things here when I get some time. I did try hitting the door lock button twice and I did manage to get a noise from the door, like the lock mechanism working, but the doors didn't lock. And now it doesn't do anything. It doesn't matter if the door is open or closed.

I will look into some of these other things further sometime this week or this weekend and report back. Thanks for the help.

...
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Old 08-10-2013, 04:00 PM   #14
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

I got some time to check some things out. First off, I checked the plug for the rear view mirror and it was fine. I blew it out on the wire end and the mirror end but it still wont work.

I swapped door lock switches from side to side and I still get the same thing, nothing. Only unlocking capabilities.

Windows and mirrors work for now so I didn't check those.

coolant plug was plugged in correctly.

Checked the fuse for the ECM and it was good. Checked some other fuses for the BCM and they were good. but my scanner still wont work. I think it's a scanner issue but the tech there told me it was not, even though it wont work on 4 other vehicles including a new one.

Last, I replaced my ignition switch because I have been having issues with it not starting. Car started on the first attempt to do the relearn. Car started every time that I tried it. Wife took the car to town and it went dead. Would not start, passlock light on. I went to pick her up and I attempted to try to relearn but I could not get the passlock light to come on doing the procedure. This whole time I had no lights on the dash. I had the key on, put my foot on the brake and all the dash lights came on and the car started. Brought it home and figured I would try to do the relearn but now the car starts every time for me and I can't get it to not start. I can't figure out what it's doing. I even removed the new switch when I got it home to "redo" the whole process but it still fired right up when I put it all back together. Battery is new.

All of these other issues I can live with but the random no starting issue is irritating me.

The car has been good other than these little quirks and some bushings going bad and it still runs great at 140k miles. Is this still something simple or something more like an ECM/BCM issue? What else should I look at for the starting issue?

...
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Old 08-10-2013, 05:24 PM   #15
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

If you want to be overwhelmed with "information overload", pm me an email address for service manual files. You will quickly see the sophistication in electronics many are oblivious to that is far more complicated unless one kept up with electronics and how its evolved in auto electronics. Like our personal computers that went to laptops and now smartphones/tablets, our cars went from old school carburetors/distributor ignition to completely electronic fuel injection including electronic modules to control our HVAC, lighting, ABS/TC/ESC, airbags and, some others I can't recall.

At 140k miles and software controlling the starting circuit using the bcm and ecm, there's more difficulty in determining whether or not the starter is worn out or the starting circuit is faulty. There is still the old school method of getting down and dirty to measure the actual START signal (12v) on the starter solenoid terminal having one small gauge wire (purple), the signal coming from either a conventional ign switch or from the ecm's CONT(rol) relay in the fuse panel - when the ignition switch is held in the START position, Passlock not flashing, the 12v START signal (wherever it comes from) still powers up the starter solenoid to get the starter going. Disconnecting the small gauge (purple) wire for safety and measuring it for 12v (only when the ign switch is held in the START position) will isolate this problem. A lack of 12v or intermittent voltage readings would indicate a starting circuit issue.
Consistently reading 12v every time the ign switch is turned to the START position means the starter is worn out. Another method to troubleshoot a starting problem would be to remove the 30 amp CRANK FUSE.

Removing the 30 amp CRANK FUSE disables power to the starter solenoid in the starting sequence but allows troubleshooting a starter problem by separating a starting circuit from starter problem. With this fuse removed, simply have someone turn and try starting; either you hear the ECM CONT(rol) relay click (finger touching the relay may help) or not. If you can hear/feel this relay click in synch with the ign switch in START position then this verifies the starting circuit is in good working order and the starter is faulty. Not hearing/feeling this relay click would indicate a starting circuit issue.

Yes, its gets complicated with more electronics.

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Old 08-10-2013, 06:03 PM   #16
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

You sir have some knowledge! I appreciate your advice and I will be investigating further. It is confusing the first time you read it but I learn fast. I will report back when I know more. Thank you!......pm sent

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Old 08-10-2013, 06:11 PM   #17
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

Wait till you see the files and wiring diagrams ...........while the explanation may seem confusing, I made referred to wiring diagrams to ensure as much accuracy in descriptions as possible. Its not knowledge I have but interpreting the service manual for simpletons like me to understand. If I can understand them then its shouldn't be any more difficult for anyone else with a good grasp of engine basics and EFI systems to confuse everyone..................

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Old 08-10-2013, 08:41 PM   #18
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

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Wait till you see the files and wiring diagrams ...........while the explanation may seem confusing, I made referred to wiring diagrams to ensure as much accuracy in descriptions as possible. Its not knowledge I have but interpreting the service manual for simpletons like me to understand. If I can understand them then its shouldn't be any more difficult for anyone else with a good grasp of engine basics and EFI systems to confuse everyone..................
I'm having trouble checking on the purple wire and the run/crank relay because as of right now the car fires up every time you turn the key. However I did remove the 30A run/crank fuse and you could feel the relay click every time but that wouldn't prove anything unless the car was not starting correct? So as of right now the starter is getting power. We put a test light on the purple wire and it light but again the car has started every time we turned the key. So I feel that until the car is acting up I don't know if I'm proving anything.

There is something I forgot to mention. When the instance happens that the car does not start, all power is cut. nothing on the dash, radio, nothing. It's like the battery cables are disconnected. Then after a couple minutes everything comes back on. It's like a major power loss. I tightened up my battery cables and I checked and cleaned the ground from the motor and starter. They were dirty and had some green corrosion on them. So for now I didn't accomplish much yet.

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Old 08-10-2013, 11:12 PM   #19
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

You actually accomplished a lot.

1-You measured for 12v and wired a light to act as an 'idiot' light without need for measuring 12v. That's more than what anyone can expect.

2-You went further by trying and verifying the starter relay in the fuse panel does click to coincide with powering the starter. Well done.

3-Checking on battery and cable connections is the least to be done and sometimes ignored.

With the wiring diagrams, you can correlate what you did to follow how the starting circuit operates. Even though the starter works and you feel like you didn't accomplish anything, you are more than prepared for what will occur before you know it.

This new information about a total power loss may be adding to problems. With a battery in the rear, its important to be absolutely sure the two battery cables are clean and free of any corrosion. You may have to trace the RED positive cable thru the chassis to be sure its isn't damaged anywhere. The same for grounds from battery to chassis and chassis to engine block.

Is this the original battery or a second one? If there's any doubt, have the battery load tested.

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Old 08-11-2013, 06:06 AM   #20
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Default Re: Ion, not starting, passlock not flashing

Battery is only one to two months old. The connections were not as tight as they should have been so I snugged them up good. The negative ground to the battery tray was tight and there was no corrosion. I've checked the volts with the car off key on, and the car running and the battery is good. My dad suggested going over the wires as well since its acting like a power loss.

Also, I can kind of pinpoint when the car acts up. It does it mostly when you make short trips from one store to the next a mile or two. Not when I drive it to work and then home after 8 hours, but run it for 5-10 min then stop for 10. That's when it acts up.

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2003 Ion 3

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