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Old 10-18-2003, 12:21 PM   #1
Zaph
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Default What's new with the ION 5 speed Automatic Transmission problem [shifting, surge, etc]

Hi folks,

This is a thread intended for people having transmission problems with their 5 speed automatic IONs. Please do not post here if you love your ION and have had no problems with it.

Summary:

I have a 2003 ION 2 with the 5 speed auto transmission. Like many others, This car has exibited the problem of a delay and engine rev between gears. This is more than just an annoyance, it's a safety problem. This is particularly scary when merging into traffic.

My Saturn has 13,000 miles on it and shows no sign of improvement on it's own. The unfortunate thing is that this problem did not show up before the 30 day return period was up, or I would have dropped the car like a hot potato.

My experience in trying to resolve this intermittant problem is similar to everyone else's. The dealer takes it for a drive, sees no problem, declares everything fine, and does nothing. (Of course, then then it does it 3 times on the way home) From my reading on this forum, for those dealers that actually did observe the shifting problems, they declare it "normal" and do nothing.

IMHO, it's only a matter of time before this problem causes an accident and someone dies from it. Is that what it would take for Saturn to acknowledge to problem and fix it?

So, let's talk about options, ideas and solutions.

1) If there's anyone here who actively solved the problem, on their own or with the help of a dealer, let's hear about it. This doesn't mean a disappearing problem, we need someone who DID something and found it to work. Anyone, just one person, pleeaaase.

2) I live in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a Lemon Law. Other states have them too. Is there anyone who, beyond the 30 day return policy, has made use of the lemon law to get a refund from a dealer?

3) For Saturn techs to answer: Does the 2004 ION have different computer software than the 2003? Can we get a list of the changes? Can it be loaded into a 2003 ION computer?

4) Are there any performance chips available for the ION? There has been speculation that the problem is entirely software related, as the Aisin 50-5 tranny works well in other cars it's used in.

5) Any words at all from Saturn techs regarding Saturn's stance on this problem are welcome. A tech's opinion and experience on the issue is welcome, even if it's to tell us that Saturn will not authorize any action for this problem. We're certainly not going to blame the techs for a problem that was caused further up the chain of command.

6) And finally, How many Saturn ION owners would be willing to go on record that they have transmission problems? When I say "go on record", it would mean to give your name, address, phone number, email address, to a trusted organization who would use that information only to contact you with resolutions or progress, and/or to hand over to Saturn with the agreement that it be used only for them to contact you for the same reasons.

I believe many of you are reaching the same point that I am: I am ready to take steps to force a response and resolution out of Saturn. I don't know yet if that will be through legal means or just some other way to make a voice be loud enough to be heard from someone high up the Saturn chain of command.
 
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Old 10-18-2003, 04:21 PM   #2
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Interesting... my account was deleted shortly after I posted this message. I guess this place is for happy Saturn owners only.

Probably the reason they didn't call it www.saturnhaters.com.
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Old 10-18-2003, 04:24 PM   #3
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There is a software flash that is available to reprogram the auto trans. If your dealer knows about it or not is another thing, but from most of the posts here, the dealers are aware. Try a search...
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Old 10-18-2003, 09:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Interesting... my account was deleted shortly after I posted this message. I guess this place is for happy Saturn owners only.
Nope - not a chance!

Send Charlie an e-mail and ask what happened.

Charlie doesn't censor negative posts about Saturns, however he does try to run a clean place here suitable for "family" viewing and a place where flame wars don't get ot of hand.

I have seen some user names, posts and avatars disappear though, probably due to violating the terms of use.

Kudos to Charlie! and thanks!
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Old 10-18-2003, 09:18 PM   #5
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Believe me. The admin here would never delete your account due to complaining about Saturn or the cars. Some of the biggest complainers are the long time posters here.

Only if you are abusive or a troll will your account be deleted.

golftango answered your question already. Welcome to the boards and let us know if you have other quetions.
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Old 10-18-2003, 09:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by golftango
There is a software flash that is available to reprogram the auto trans. If your dealer knows about it or not is another thing, but from most of the posts here, the dealers are aware. Try a search...
If this is true, then this is good news. I didn't see it in the forums, but I only searched for obvious search phrases like "ION transmission problems", etc. I'll try more searching for some relevant threads, but if you know of any please post a link.

My dealer is completely unaware. I need some ammo next time I go in, such as a technical bulletin number, or a part number of a new program or a version number of the flash update. Can anyone provide something like this?

Also, if there is a resolution for this, I think it should be pinned at the top of the forum. It would turn a sour ION experience into a happy one for many people.
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Old 10-18-2003, 09:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jaseball
Believe me. The admin here would never delete your account due to complaining about Saturn or the cars. Some of the biggest complainers are the long time posters here.

Only if you are abusive or a troll will your account be deleted.

golftango answered your question already. Welcome to the boards and let us know if you have other quetions.
A month ago I attempted to Unsubscribe from the many emails being sent to me from Saturnfan.com. I never asked for them to be sent, and if there was a checkbox to avoid getting them, I missed it. I sent an email back with the word unsubscribe. Right after I made this post, I get an email saying "This message is to confirm that your account has been removed from the
SaturnFans database. Thank you for helping me keep the database up to date."

I don't know about you guys, but to me unsubscribing from annoying emails is quite a different thing than removing my ability to post on a forum. Unless of course part of the agreement of using this web site is that you have to receive the emails. If so, then I'm fine with it. Things are behaving kinda weird around here. Just now my password was changed and I had to reset it again.

In any case, forget about all this, it's a minor issue. Lets talk about resolving the transmission problems. Today at a stop light, the shift was so far off that the engine screamed and the tires chirped when it finally went into gear. The people in the car next to me looked at me like I was some idiot learning how to drive stick. I can't handle that anymore.
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Old 10-18-2003, 10:04 PM   #8
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Ask for a free BBB auto Line arbitration. It many times motivates Saturn to get cracking on your problem.

Should be explained in your warranty book.

P.S. Charlie is very fair. I've had issues with Saturn and Charlie has not ever objected. As long as criticism is constructive, it's welcomed here. This is a very friendly forum most times, and welcome to the group.
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Old 10-18-2003, 10:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by golftango
There is a software flash that is available to reprogram the auto trans. If your dealer knows about it or not is another thing, but from most of the posts here, the dealers are aware. Try a search...
Searching for "software flash" shows nothing but this thread.

"software upgrade" reveals there is one related TSB for the VUE:
02-07-30-018A MAY 02 A/T - 2nd to 3rd Gear Engine Flare During PDI
02-07-30-018 MAY 02 A/T - Engine Flare on 2nd to 3rd Gear Upshift at PDI

If there is an ION TSB for this, I would be grateful if someone could post it.

The same search reveals a post by zallen777:
Quote:
A Solution to Flare!
I'm reviving this thread because I was in the dealership today looking around and I've sorta become buddies with people at two different dealerships I deal with. Well the service manager came out to look at the new mods I have done to my car and we eventully got into a discussion on known problems with the 2003 ION's. Turns out on his desk he just got a memo that included info about the shift flare problem. (we have 2 IONs and they both do it) turn's out it has do do with the computer programming for the tranny, so I can bring my car in as soon as they recieve the updated software from Saturn and have it reprogrammed. It will be set to default again, so the trans will have to learn how you drive all over again but thats fine with me just to get rid of the annoying and potentially dangerous condition. Unfortunately he couldn't give me a concrete date they would recieve the software update but they think it will be soon.
Then Dan Pressly made a post saying it was installed, and nothing more about if it worked or any details.

So far, no hard evidence that the problem has been resolved. Still searching...
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Old 10-18-2003, 10:19 PM   #10
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You can go to http://calid.gm.com and enter in your vehicle's VIN number, and select the emissions system (National, for US vehicle owners), then select TCM (Transmission Control Module) and Normal programming type. Then select a bunch of stuff like tire size, whether you have ABS, OnStar, etc. and it will show you what updated calibration software is available for your vehicle.

My Ion is a VTi so I can't tell what's available for the 5-speed cars, but one of you should be able to look yours up..
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Old 10-18-2003, 10:39 PM   #11
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first off, when u make a reply, there is a box below thats checked that will send replys to your email so u need to uncheck that when u do make a reply. probably a universal option in the config.

i'd try that site and i got as far as the page with the options but i sure dont know what all that means like the bcm stuff. so i guessed as best as i could and got an error saying there was no info for my vin.

my car is only a month old so maybe that has something to do with it.
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Old 10-18-2003, 11:51 PM   #12
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zaph,

I have driven 1000 miles since the new software was installed and the problem still exists. In matter of fact it is worse.

I now have 26000 miles on my car and reported the problem to customer service at 4000 miles many months ago. I drive mostly on the interstate and reported the problem as infrequent. This is misleading since the problem appears when starting from a stop and accelerating though the gears. I still think it is computer related, however the sudden increase in rpm between shifts has to play a toll on the transmission over a period of time.

If you look back at my posts, I reported this problem many months ago. It is also documented with Saturn for many months with no solution. I have not pressed the issue with them at this point as to what options I have. I am sure jaseball and benpatient remember the posts. They thought it would work itself out and I felt that way in the beginning. I have it on file with Saturn that I feel it is a safety problem.

I have taken the car to the dealer twice, and they told me even if they experienced the problem they would not know what to do to correct it. With this statement from them, I am not going back unless they offer a definite fix. It is 150 miles roundtrip to the nearest dealer.

Dan
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Old 10-19-2003, 12:27 AM   #13
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Dan-

I would begin to suspect there may be something a little more wrong than the software itself, especially with how you describe the problem.

My shift flare is very rare and I doubt they could reproduce the issue, however I have an extended warranty, don't drive that much, and the Saturn dealer is down the street from me.

Give the mileage on your Ion and how much you appear to drive it I really think you need to get this resolved ASAP. It sounds like something that could last for 36-50K miles without a total break down, but with the extra wear and tear and with the possible safety issues I think you need to contact the dealer and ask for a Saturn engineer to come down and test your car, especially if the dealership is useless in this particular instance.

Another thing is maybe you don't need a software flash as much as a new PCM/ECM module. Let us know how things go and good luck.
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Old 10-19-2003, 05:41 AM   #14
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Does the Ion even need a 5 speed auto trans? It's a pretty small car. I would understand if it was a big vehicle, but it's not. It might come in handy on big hills, though. Another question: Do they still offer the 4 speed in the new Ions?
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Old 10-19-2003, 12:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Zaph
A month ago I attempted to Unsubscribe from the many emails being sent to me from Saturnfan.com. I never asked for them to be sent, and if there was a checkbox to avoid getting them, I missed it. I sent an email back with the word unsubscribe. Right after I made this post, I get an email saying "This message is to confirm that your account has been removed from the
SaturnFans database. Thank you for helping me keep the database up to date."

I don't know about you guys, but to me unsubscribing from annoying emails is quite a different thing than removing my ability to post on a forum. Unless of course part of the agreement of using this web site is that you have to receive the emails. If so, then I'm fine with it. Things are behaving kinda weird around here. Just now my password was changed and I had to reset it again.
Thanks for the support, everyone!

As other members have said, I do not censor or delete accounts or posts as long as they are not in violation of any forum rules. There is a button in the User Control Panel to say whether or not you want to receive the SaturnFans Forums Community Bulletin. I typically ask for clarification when someone says they want to unsubscribe from SaturnFans; in the past virtually everyone writes back saying that they want their account deleted. I guess that I didn't write to you before deleting your account -- I don't know why, but I'm sorry for the inconvenience of having to create another account. Also, I don't know what caused your password to be recently reset. If I reset someone's password, the system will send that member a message letting them know that their password has been changed. I only change passwords when a request has been made.

Hope that clears things up. Welcome to SaturnFans!

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Old 10-19-2003, 02:03 PM   #16
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Quote:
Hope that clears things up. Welcome to SaturnFans!
No worries Charlie, Just hoping to resolve this problem and become a Saturn Fan again.
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Old 10-19-2003, 08:23 PM   #17
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One thing that really sucks these days is the stupid electronic transmissions.

Still remember my 66 Torqueflite (ex CHP interceptor). It lacked for nothing in durability and performance.

Just too much computer crap in today's products.

The hydraulic Torqueflite did its job without a glitch. IMHO, you can take these electronics and hit them with a power spike.

It's 5 speeds for me.
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Old 10-20-2003, 04:53 AM   #18
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And we walked to school - up hill - both ways, with nothing but plastic bags for rubber boots. AND WE LIKED IT!!

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Old 10-20-2003, 07:33 AM   #19
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No, I'm not that much of a crotchety old fart. Just bought a Sharp Aquos LCD TV because it was clearly better.

With all due respect, Wop, my issue is the needless complication of things that should be kept simple. For example, the BCM and its effect on the turn signals. When cars come off warranty, who wants to look at a repair bill of several hundred $ if a turn signal screws up? Years ago, you just changed the plug in flasher.

When there's a true benefit and service personnel can truly handle it, the addition of electronics might be a bonus. Otherwise, what's wrong with the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Remember what happened to Chrysler when they just had to have an electronic tranny in the late 80's? The Ultradrive was one of the biggest bummers out there.

Let the engineers figure out how to make the seats work and the car stay dry before they pull out the transistors.

Just the rantings of an old fart<grin>.
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Old 10-20-2003, 02:51 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by BobL
No, I'm not that much of a crotchety old fart. .
I am!!

I don't understand how all this fuzzy logic that learns how you drive so as to shift the transmission the way you like, will work with multiple drivers?
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