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Old 02-25-2007, 11:52 AM   #1
rawevolution
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Default Won't start cold

My Ion seems to suffer from the infamous "won't start when cold out" issue...I cant get it to a dealership for like 2 weeks and was wondering if anybody has figured out a trick to make it start. Something like "turning the key to ACC for 5 minutes" or anything at all. The piece of crap won't start in the morning or late at night but it's fine in the middle of the day...I hate this car.

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Old 02-25-2007, 01:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: Won't start cold

Letting the car sit for 10 minutes should let it start.

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Old 02-25-2007, 01:22 PM   #3
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Default Re: Won't start cold

It may helpyou/us if you put your car info into your personal profile so its displayed automatically and you won't be asked for more car info other than recent mileage, maintenance, and band aids performed to keep the car running.

Welcome newbie and it will be assumed that what you're referring to is the ignition switch problem? Turning the key to START does ZIP, NADA, ZILCH at any time or day during the cold weather? Please be patient as I'm trying out some new highly specific technical terms to streamline my very long winded technospeak explanations (I'm running version 1.0; one cell between my ears) in hopes of improving my response time. Because you didn't state what year I think I've read a few posts complaining about the intermittent ignition switch having to be replaced either in or out of warranty? Apparently cold country tends to aggravate the symptoms like arthritus does to some people when the weather changes. The only solution is confirm its the ignition switch and either replace it on your own if out of warranty or run to Saturn and duck under the warranty line and complain loudly.

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Old 02-25-2007, 02:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Won't start cold

I been messing with that same problem on my daughters 2003 ion2 for all winter...and did a bunch of research using the forums....this forum is awesome to trouble shoot but the starting during cold weather, or lack of starting I should say, came down to 3 potential issues....since i was successful this morning at the reprogramming (wasn't successful yesterday),in the replacement, I felt obligated to share.

The is a GM issue called Passlock reprogramming or Ignition switch replacement

Typical the problem of no start (intermitent start) was when it was cold, here in Alabama it was about 17 degrees or less,which doesn't occur often, but none the less all other times the car started fine and ran like a top. Just no start when cold weather, so i concluded that the battery was ok (had checked at AutoZone (great help), the ignition key lock was OK, (had worn key but checked with other less worn keys, when it did start it ran fine and restarted OK....all indications it was the "ignition switch issue"....Ignition switch is basically a 2 or 3 inch round black plastic electronic device located at the end of the ignition key lock....keys go in on the right side of steering wheel and the ig. switch can be seen on lower left side of ig. key lock......the top bezel? (plastic piece between steering wheel and dash covering the steering column)just pulls up with a little wiggle..the bottom is held by 2 screws and comes apart in 2 peices..no big deal.....

I bought a #15 torx screw set and put it on a 1/4 rachet and the 2 screws holding the black ig. switch came right out....the ig. switch will "not" come off until the ig. key is in the "run" position....then come right off....unplug the electr. wires...install reverse....leave ig. switch in run...put switch in place...add 2 screws....then plug in wires...

now for the reprogramming...after wires are plugged in...if you try to start the security systems kick in and after a 2 second turnover the engine won't start.....so here is the sequence i used.....

1. keys out of ig. switch (I said there were ig. off, ig. accessories., ig.run., and ig. crank positions)
2. put keys in and turn to crank (2 seconds) for all lights come on (it might even try the 2 second crank)
3. back off one notch to run and all lights remain on (to include the security lock symbol-looks like a pad lock)....leave all lights on for 10 minutes (as most posts say..((((""important--leave on until security light symbol goes out---mine went out right at 10 minutes)))))
4.WHEN THE LIGHT WENT OUT-----I turned ig. off and took the key out and put it right back it and turned to crank, lights lit up, and back to run postion..leave 10 mintues--unti security light went out.....then repeated...one more time... (must do three 10 minute cycles)
5. When the light went out for the 3rd time and I took the keys all the way out...i waited about one minute.....put the key in...put the clutch in....turned to crank..and i'll be darn if it didn't start...
6. Runs like a top...(I did let it run a bit to insure all systems, ie fuel , were operating ...drove it around and turned off and started but at locations that help was convient...still doing fine...

FYI..I got an estimate from Saturn dealer for 45 for part and 135 in install...I really wanted to do this myself...not money but for the challenge....
I got the part on ebay from Saturn dealer but difference in price wasn't much....best to go with new part though..
++there is also a part of the security systems thats short term, i think they call it that is for when possible break in occurs...wait 10 minutes and it resets...the above is the long term...

Hope this helps...."wait for the light to go out" and the key positions are Crank then back to "run"....NOT run and accessories as some posts say

Last edited by redstoneal; 02-25-2007 at 03:00 PM.. Reason: spelling

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Old 02-25-2007, 03:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: Won't start cold

Hey red, for a newbie (great to have you from the instructions you've given) you provided the "Reprogramming/relearn cycle of the anti-theft system" when some components are replaced such as the ignition switch, BCM, etc.. We still haven't heard from the original poster yet

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Old 02-25-2007, 07:45 PM   #6
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Default Re: Won't start cold

Quote:
Originally Posted by rawevolution View Post
I hate this car.
i hope this problem isnt why you hate your car, its been known to happen, my mom had an ion and it had happened before, and with a little bit of research i decided it wasnt that big of a deal

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Old 02-25-2007, 11:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: Won't start cold

Make sure you turn the key all the way off before you retry. And if it's a manual, make sure you are pushing the clutch in before turning the key. It's never failed to start for me on the second try and I never wait either.

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Old 03-08-2007, 08:40 AM   #8
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Default Re: Won't start cold

So what you did was replace and reprogram the passkey with a switch change. Or did you just reprogram it?

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Old 03-08-2007, 10:16 AM   #9
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Default Re: Won't start cold

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
So what you did was replace and reprogram the passkey with a switch change. Or did you just reprogram it?
replace the ignition switch then do 3 reprograming cycles.. then ur done

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Old 03-20-2007, 05:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: Won't start cold

My '03 did that one time. Do you park in a garage? do you face the wind when you park? I stopped facing my car into the wind and haven't had that problem since. Maybe you could find a bush or some trees to face your car at so less fridgid wind gets to your car. Now saying all that, we only had a few days of -20F this winter. Saturn told me it may happen a lot, or it may never happen again. but for the $180.00 to replace the ignition switch, I'll wait to see how often it occurs. Good Luck

Quote:
Originally Posted by rawevolution View Post
My Ion seems to suffer from the infamous "won't start when cold out" issue...I cant get it to a dealership for like 2 weeks and was wondering if anybody has figured out a trick to make it start. Something like "turning the key to ACC for 5 minutes" or anything at all. The piece of crap won't start in the morning or late at night but it's fine in the middle of the day...I hate this car.

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Old 03-20-2007, 05:32 PM   #11
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Default Re: Won't start cold

Red, That was a GREAT discription on how to do the ignition switch replacement. When I get to that I'll surely use your instructions.

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Old 03-20-2007, 08:56 PM   #12
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Default Re: Won't start cold

I've had the same problem of non-starts except it hasn't been only in cold weather (once in Jan, once in Feb, and once in May). I live in CA were it really doesn't get that cold in the winter. Dealer changed the ignition switch again last May and it has been o.k., so far.
However in October the key was sticking in the ignition so I took it to the dealer. They said the couldn't find anything wrong. The next day the key got stuck in the ignition while the car was on and would not release. I had to take it to the dealer, of course after service hours, and a group of sales guys came out and had to unplug the fuses and the battery to get the car to turn off. They had to replace the whole housing, under warranty thankfully. This last week the key has been sticking again. I took it to the dealer today and they said they can't find anything wrong with it. I have read a lot of problems with the ignition switch not starting but has anyone had any problems with the key getting stuck or the car not turning off?

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Old 03-21-2007, 01:41 AM   #13
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Default Re: Won't start cold

I had the same problem with my 2003 Ion 3 - I purchased the ignition switch online (approximately $30 including shipping) - followed the instructions on this site for replacement and reprogramming - it took 5 minutes to install and 30 minutes to reprogram - I have not had any further starting problems since replacing the ignition switch...One thing to note - you need a right angle driver to easily get the screws out and to put them back in....

I purchased the ignition switch (ACDELCO Part #D1461F) from www.rockauto.com - I had 2 wait about 2 weeks for the part since it was a special order item - the part was $20.79 and the S&H was $9.68 for a grand total of $30.47....

I saved a ton of money thanks to the great people here at saturnfans.com - THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP!

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Old 03-28-2007, 09:17 PM   #14
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Default Re: Won't start cold

I just feel that I had to add to this thread.
I had the same problem, except I live in Canada so it actually gets cold.
Anytime it would hit -30, I would have this problem.
What I would do is what other people were doing, cranking, then letting it sit and eventually it started.

What I realized.
It was the connection on the starter, the extreme cold must have contracted the metal enough to loosen the connection, and trying to start the car repeatedly eventually heated the wires enough to expand and make connection again.

So I went under the car, tightened the bolts, my starter was really rusty so I sprayed it with oil too.

So the next day, -40, starts first crank, haven't had a problem since.
Hope that helps.

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Old 03-28-2007, 09:33 PM   #15
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Default Re: Won't start cold

Quote:
Originally Posted by aerofan View Post
the key was sticking in the ignition so I took it to the dealer. They said the couldn't find anything wrong.
Have you tried using a different key. I'm thinking, it might be a bad key. How much do the dealership charge cutting a key USING Vin#?? If it's cheap, I would try that.

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Old 04-04-2007, 08:41 AM   #16
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Default Re: Won't start cold

It IS the ignition switch!...I had this problem with my 2003 Ion the first cold winter day after I purchased it. It happened one time and never happened again. The next winter, it happened again two different times but only on extremely cold days. I was stupid not to call Saturn then and report it, only because the problem was not consistant. Finally, the following year when it happened again I did some research online and the problem was explained as it being the ignition switch and when it was too cold, oil was coagulating inside it and causing it not to start (not sure if that was really the reason, but that's what it said). My car was just out of warranty with only 19,000 miles on it at the time. I collected all my online info regarding the problem, brought it to the Saturn dealer, and they replaced the ignition switch no charge. I am still wondering why there was not a recall on this!

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Old 04-10-2007, 01:53 PM   #17
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Default Re: Won't start cold

Quote:
Originally Posted by harsha View Post
Have you tried using a different key. I'm thinking, it might be a bad key. How much do the dealership charge cutting a key USING Vin#?? If it's cheap, I would try that.
I have two keys and they both stick, one original and one new from when they replaced the ignition switch the last time.

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Old 04-10-2007, 10:28 PM   #18
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Default Re: Won't start cold

Quote:
Originally Posted by aerofan View Post
I have two keys and they both stick, one original and one new from when they replaced the ignition switch the last time.
I have an 04 ION. Every now and then the key gets stuck in the ignition--engine turned off, transmission in Park. There seems to be no pattern or way to make it happen on demand. My retailer couldn't duplicate the issue but did offer to make me another key, for free. Once in awhile it still happens, even with the new key. My warranty expires the end of July. I just hope if the ignition switch is gonna die, that it does it before then!

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Old 04-11-2007, 02:15 PM   #19
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Default Re: Won't start cold

I had this problem all of last winter on the really cold days up in NY with my O3 ION. It would take 10 - 15 mins of trying to start before it would kick in. I took the car in March to get some engine work done and it was a colder day. When I went to pick up the car it didn't start due to that ignition switch issue. A guy came out took out his lighter and heated up the key. Turned right over after that! Cost to replace it was 200 bucks .

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Old 09-28-2007, 04:45 PM   #20
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Default Re: Won't start cold

Hey Guys.

Just a quick update. Huge thanks to redstoneal for his post.

He explained how to replace the ignition switch perfectly.

My 03 was giving me a similar problem, not starting when cold outside, then not starting at odd random times.

I ordered the switch from rockauto for 19 dollars I think (not sure), and it took me about 30 minutes to install in my driveway.

The hardest part is getting the plastic collar back on the bottom of the steering column.

Two things to add for people to understand...

First of all, I see why my switch failed. I pulled it out, and the entire switch was totally coated in grease. Including the electrical connector. When the grease got cold it wouldn't make the connection, and the car wouldn't start.

A quick tip is to wipe the connector off with some alcohol and a cloth before you plug it into the new switch. You don't want that grease getting into your new switch.

The second thing, is that my car DID NOT require a reprogram. I put the new switch in, and the car started right up. I have no idea why.

Thanks everybody for saving me 140 bucks at the dealer, I did it for under 20.

The main issue is that rockauto back orders this part, so it took nearly a month to get mine.

Justin

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