Saturday, August 02, 2014

Saturn ION Notes

It’s hard to believe but I’m still driving my 2003 Saturn Ion.

Mileage on the 5-speed manual is around 32 mpg.  Not too bad.

It has started to develop it’s own curious issues that will need to be address. Here’s a list for the curious and to help me check them off.

The headliner is still tight as a drum but due to heat and age, when Alvis would brush her fingers against it stretching in the back seat, the fibers would immediately fall out of the backing leaving permanent lawn-mowing marks in it. And when loading large items such as boxes in the car, if a corner or edge hits the headliner, it will tear.  Fortunately, those are pretty small and it doesn’t need to be replaced, yet.

About two years ago I started to think the A/C was going out (needing a charge) but being too busy (and cheap) I just lived with it.  This summer has been pretty warm and somewhere I got a flash of insight and remembered reading the Ion had cabin air-filter.  I found it behind the glove box and when I pulled it out it was black as night. I think it was the OEM filter from 2003. Seriously.  The local auto-parts store had a replacement so I swapped them out and now the A/C is ice-cold again.  I guess the filter needs to breath to get the coldness to me!  (The eureka moment was realizing the air-volume from the registers was dropping…that meant blockage which led me to remember about the cabin filter.)

The A/C does make a click-like noise for a while when I press the air recirculation button on the A/C control panel.  Some times it goes away and other times it doesn’t. That needs more investigation (stuck recirculation door?). Luckily with the cabin filter changed out, the A/C is able to keep up with the heat without needing the recirculation turned on.

Yes…I do hear there is a rumor about the Saturn Ion ignition switch being recalled.  I’ve gotten my notice and now have to schedule an appointment for service. I’m removing all my other keys from the ignition key as recommended. I noticed the key itself is very worn (but still works) compared to the spare that sits unused on the kitchen pass-through “bar”.  My worn key no longer operates the driver/passenger door locks but the “new” key still will.

That leads to the next “major” minor issue…the door locks and driver/passenger windows.

I can lower both the electric windows for the driver/passenger side but about 1/3 of they way down they seem to hit something and make a loud crack that sound like hard plastic. You immediately suspect the glass is about to shatter but it doesn’t (yet). It is a bit disconcerting however.  It first started happening soon after our past winter deep ices and freezes. The rear windows operate with no sounds or issues.

Two other things lead me to think something ( a linkage?) has become disconnected.  Locking/unlocking the passenger/driver door locks with the “good” key don’t do anything. The lock cylinder turns just fine but the door doesn’t actually mechanically lock/unlock.  Fortunately the key fob still electrically locks/unlocks the doors so there is that. But that could eventually cause an access issue. Also, when the driver side window is about 1/2 way lowered, you can’t unlock the door. I dropped an access card one day and when I went to open my door to pick it up from the ground, I couldn’t get the door unlocked to open. The manual latch moved 1/2 way but it wasn’t enough. Putting up the window allowed the door to unlock/lock again.  Hmmm.  It’s too hot to pull the door panels off just yet but I may chicken out and take it to the mechanic.  Unless those door locks get replaced in the recall…then I will let the service dept deal with it.

I’ve not been able to locate any good documentation on the web for the door lock linkage to see where the problem might be at before tearing into the door panels.

What else?

This one is the best!

Every winter, there are times when I get up early in the morning, temperature is around 32-50 degrees Fahrenheit and when I go to turn the ignition to start the car…nothing.  However the lights seem to be bright and strong.  About the third crank attempt after waiting 10-20 minutes it turns right over good as ever.  I thought it was the battery and cold cranking amp rating but the battery shop tested it and said it was just fine.  Hmm. So each morning on cold winters it was a crap-shoot if the car would start or not. It happened frequently enough that I knew it wasn’t a “dead in the water” issue, but with patience, it would work on the third crank after waiting about 5-7 minutes before tries.

Eventually I discovered this site, and this is a known headache to many, many Saturn owners who (like me) thought they were going crazy. It’s the “Passlock” issue.

Now this is something I am too chicken to take on so this will be a mechanic trip for sure, unless the the ignition switch recall/replacement does the trick.

Other things.

The “outer window belt moulding” on all the window trim is shruken up and rippled. That will need to be replaced.

The clear headlight assemblies are starting to get clouded. I’ve done some cheap re-treatment (polish) work on them that helps for a while, but I should be able to replace both of them for about $100 so that’s on the list.

I may need to have the front end rubber bushings replaced (if we can find some). They have shrunken a bit and while not a safety or control issue, have just enough play to clunk a bit over very uneven surfaces at low speed (like railroad tracks).

I think that pretty much covers the list at the moment.

Small list indeed…

--Claus Valca

1 comment:

Attila-Mihaly Balazs said...

Love to hear that the DIY spirit is still alive in some parts of the country :-) Keep up the good work!