2004 Saturn Ion

Dear Tom and Ray,

My 2004 Saturn Ion has been nothing but disappointment. In the last 3 months I have replaced the starter, ignition switch, front brakes, and now I have a window that won’t go up. I do not mind the brakes so much because that is a regular maintainence item. The power steering goes out every time I drive it and has been an ongoing problem for the past 2 years. I have learned to live with it though.

I have been dealing with the car not starting frequently for the past 2 years and think that the problem is fixed. I fixed the brakes too.

However, the power window really has me upset. Last week it went down ALL BY ITS SELF. I presed the button to raise it but it wouldn’t work. I tried the button on the back door and it didn’t work either.

My question is this: Is this car really worth the trouble of fixing? I am driving around with plastic sheeting and duct tape over my window to keep the rain out and it seems to be working fine, not to mention the fact that it is cheap. I am a social worker for the state and am concerned about the confidence mmy clients will place in me if they see me drivearound like this. I do have another vehicle availible if I need to transport children, but it is still nice and the nature on my job necesitates the ability to “decontaminate” my vehicle if I have to transport children exposed to methamphetamine or other gross substances.

I would not be to upset if mt Saturn wound up stolen. The only problem is nobody seems to want to steal it. I parked in front of a refional welfare office in a high crime part of the city and left it unattended for an hour. Nobody touched it. I believe that the only chance I have of breaking even with this car is to get robbed. Unfortunately, nobody seems to be to eager to steal it. Is this a hopeless cause?

I’d argue that the starter has served you well also.

The ignition switch could be from a cause not inherant to the car, such as driving around with a keyring full of souveneirs. Can you elaborate on why it was replaced?

The window regulator can be replaced by removing the inner door panel. Perhaps a friend can help you. You might even be able to get a door assembly from the boneyard to cannibalize it off of.

In short, there’s nothing on your post that suggests that the car is headed for serious problems.

You’ll have a hard time getting it stolen. Too many of these cars did not last, so theres no great market for used parts. Sorry.

Do I need any special tools to remove the panel? I popped out two plastic connectors, but the pannel did not budge. All I really care about is getting the window closed and keeping it closed. I don’t care if it ever goes down again. I do want to be able to put the panel back on though.

My key ring does not carry a bunch of souviners. I only cary a house key, office key and 2 car keys.

The starter was replaced on a hunch that it was the cause of the car not starting. Though it wasn’t the cause, it does work better than the old one. Funny thing though, when I took delevery of the car from the dealer’s garage after the starter was replaced, it didn’t start again. I say it was funny, but I wasn’t laughing. They drove it in, shut it off, I got in, turned the key and NOTHING. The ignition switch was replaced, and there have been no problems with it for 2 months now; starting wise that is.

I’m not satisfied with the quality of Saturn ignition switches. Every now and then the key doesn’t catch right. I am using a hardware store replacement key. My wife’s factory key does the same thing. Posts on websites catering to Saturn owners pointed to replacing the ignition switch as a possible fix to the starting problem.

The big issue affecting the car is the power steering. Everytime I drive it, which is everyday, I hear a click in the steering column, a warning chime goes off, and a PWR STR message comes on the display. It isn’t so bad that I can’t control the car, the problem comes when trying to steer into tight parking spaces. I took it to a Saturn dealer 2 years ago and they said the entire steering column would need to be replaced. They quoted approxamately $1500 to fix it because the module is an “integrated component”. I decided to live with it.

The door panel is often held in place by a couple of bolts in the arm rest. See if there is a place for bolts to hold the arm rest on the door. If the hand pull on the armrest is solid, the bolts are often under a plastic cap at the bottom of the hand well. GM probably used torx head bolts. You need to get those bolts out and pop the rest of the plastic connectors. Then you can pull the door panel off. There is likely a plastic sheet stuck to the door with a gooey black glue. Just pull the sheet down enough to get at the regulator - you will need to put it back in place when you are finished working on the window.

As for the steering, get a second opinion from an independent garage. If you don’t know of one, talk to friends and neighbors to see who they use. Someone will eventually come highly recommended.

I was able to remove the interior panel without a problem using a phillips screwdriver. When I got it off the door, I discovered that there is a steel pallel integrated into the door frame and I can not get to the window from the interior side of the door.

I used a Torx head screw driver and was able to remove the Torx screws that hold the exterior panel on and discovered an x brace across the door and a big steel rod that goes accross horizinally. I think I have to remove BOTH pannels in order to get to the screws that hold the glass to the up and down mechinism. It is my intention of cutting some scrap 1x4’s to fit and wedge the window glass in an up position. I don’t care if the window goes down again. Does this sound like a viable plan?

I’m sure the plan would work, but the car is only six years old…are you sure you want to disable the window? You might be able to find a regulator assembly (an up and down mechanism) at a boneyard for an affordable price.

“I don’t care if the window goes down again. Does this sound like a viable plan?”

Sure. I did that temporarily until I took delivery on a new regulator/motor for one of my windows. As mountainbike suggested, you could get a GM unit at a junk yard. They are also available new at eBay, but not all of them are worth the $70 or so it will cost. I finally found one vendor that puts together a quality unit, though. I’ll get the vendor information for you if you want it.

Well, I did it. I took both panels off the door after work last friday and found that I could not access the mechinisms in the door because they were between the glass and the steel panel on the other side. In order to get the window up, I cut the cable and pushed the window up by hand. Once up, I took a measurement from the bottom of the inside of the door and the bottom of the window glass. I then went to the shed and cut a piece of scrap 1/2 lumber to the appropriate length, wedged it in and presto, it was up! It is staying up too. In my job, I sometimes have to transport children into protective custody. Having a window permanently fixed in the up position will be a good safety benefit.

The best part of this “repair” asside from sealing out the weather is that it was free!