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Amedee, Saturn Technician
Category: Saturn
Satisfied Customers: 26233
Experience:  ASE certified Technician advanced level specialist. Wisconsin certified emissions state inspector
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I have a 2004 Saturn ION that will not start at random times

Customer Question

I have a 2004 Saturn ION that will not start at random times when cold or wet. I have researched on line and it looks like alot of Saturn Customers have had the same problem with car not starting at random times. Alot of customers stated that saturnn has turned a blind eye to this. It may possible be a pass lock key problem.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Saturn
Expert:  Amedee replied 6 years ago.

When this happens, does the engine crnak over and not start or does it not crank over at all?

Are there any security lights on or flashing when this happens?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
sometimes it turns over, then it wont turn over at all. Sometimes it will start back up with a jump or just after 10 to 30 minutes will just start up. No security lights that I can think of. Happens at random times so hard to recreate problem when at mechanic. Look online alot of people having same problem
Expert:  Amedee replied 6 years ago.

First thing to do is check the battery. A fully charged battery must have enough cranking capacity to provide the starter motor and ignition system with enough power to start the engine over a broad range of ambient temperatures. Even if its charged, it could still be bad causing a no crank condition! I would rec to get it load tested at a shop or at a battery store. A battery load test will verify the actual cranking capability of the battery. This is the best test. Or you can take a voltmeter and put it on the battery and crank the engine over. (Be sure the battery has a full charge on it.) If the volts drop below 9.6, the battery is bad and needs to be replaced! Just be sure all cable connections are clean and tight. Not only at the battery, but on the starter, engine and frame! Positive side as well as the negative side.

If all checks out, make sure that you have battery voltage on both terminals of the starter when cranking. If full battery voltage (12.6 volts) is present and the starter is not working, then the starter is bad and will need to be replaced! Just be sure all fuses small regular and large size fuses are good under the hood, as well as inside the vehicle
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Already did all that and still having problem. When look online with 2004 saturn not starting up at random times alot of people are having the same problem. People say it is the pass lock key possibly.
Expert:  Amedee replied 6 years ago.
This is very possible.

But if this were the case, the security light would be on or flashing on the dash
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

don't know what it could be and it looks like alot of people are having the same problem. Really frustrating since random happens and bring to mechanic and cannot create the problem. Looks like saturn is turning a blind eye to it from what i can see online. Will call them tomorrow

Expert:  Amedee replied 6 years ago.
There is a Technical Service bulletin out about this problem. It sounds like you have a bad ignition switch. You can try to do a relearn procedure and see if that helps. If not, the ignition switch will need ot be replaced.

Turn the ignition off for 1 minute. Turn the ignition switch to the crank position and then back to the run position. Leave the ignition switch in the run position for at least 10 minutes, but not more than 11 minutes. Go by the clock. Turn the ignition off for 10 seconds. Repeat steps c and d two more times. Start the engine.
If the ignition switch input is correct, there are no other inputs disabling cranking and the Body Control Module (BCM) is not commanding cranking, the BCM is defective.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Im lost. Giong to call Saturn tomorrow. Type in online about 2004 saturn ion not starting and you will see all the post with people having the same problem.. It hard to believe no one at saturn knows what the problem is....
Expert:  Amedee replied 6 years ago.

I am trying to tell you what is wrong with your vehicle. This is such a common problem that GM has issued a Technical Service Bulletin out about this problem. They know what is going on.
Expert:  Amedee replied 6 years ago.
Here is the TSB from alldata

ulletin No.: 04-08-45-005D

Date: March 15, 2006


No Crank or No Start, DTC B2960 and/or B3033 Set (Replace Ignition Switch) Models:
2003-2006 Saturn ION

Built Up To and Including VIN Breakpoint 6Z147837


This bulletin is being revised to modify the Correction Information. Please discard Corporate Bulletin Number 04-08-45-005C (Section 08 - Body and Accessories).


Some customers may comment that their vehicle will not start. This comment is referred to as "no crank, no start with complete power."

Additional customer comments may be as follows:

^ A clicking noise may be noticed when the key is first turned to the START position, but no noise is heard after the initial start attempt.
^ The "Security" light may flash immediately after trying to start the car along with the message "Service Vehicle" in the Driver Information Center.
^ The vehicle may not start for at least 10 minutes after the first attempt to start the vehicle. Diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) B2960 and or B3033 may be set in history in the BCM.


When the key is rotated from RUN to START there is a voltage signal sent to the BCM that goes through the PASSLOCK resistor in the ignition switch. This voltage signal may have an early ignition switch bounce (when going from RUN to START that the BCM interprets as a failure in the PASSLOCK system and disables the starting circuit.


Attachments are only available to registered users.

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Using the chart shown, verify that the ignition switch has been replaced at least once using P/N 10392423. After replacement of the ignition switch or replacement and reprogramming of the BCM, perform the 30-Minute Learn Procedure found in Programming Theft Deterrent System Components.

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Parts Information

Warranty Information

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
So do what you just said when the car is not working. If that doesnt work how much is a new ignition swith? Sorry I am just so frustrated
Expert:  Amedee replied 6 years ago.
It will all depend on where you go to get it replaced.

However, it might just be under warranty??
Expert:  Amedee replied 6 years ago.
Did you have any further quesitons?