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2005 Saturn Ion Engine Cuts off randomly

I’ll apologize in advance, this is a long story and I don’t know much about cars, but I am looking for any advice because 2 different mechanics are stuck.

I own a 2005 Saturn Ion, automatic trans, that we have never had any serious issues with in the past.

Saturday April 7th, I was on the highway heading out of town. My engine, oil and battery lights came on and the car stopped responding to the gas pedal, I could no longer accelerate, the car was coasting. The radio was still on, I was able to use my turn signals to get off the highway and turn on my flashers on the side of the road.

Once safely off the highway, I turned the car off and attempted to turn it back on, nothing. It didn’t even sound like it turned over, pretty much dead silent. Approximately 30 minutes after pulling off the tow truck showed up and took me to a Sears automotive, the “closest” mechanic to where I had gotten stuck.

At Sears, approximately an hour now after the incident, they were able to start my car to get it into the garage. I told them the same thing that I had posted above, adding that I may or not have had cruise control on at the time, and that my car clock had been slowly losing time over the past couple of years, I was now 22 minutes slow after resetting the clock about 5 months earlier. The mechanic said neither was information that could help them diagnose it.

They then checked my battery and the computer codes? They took the battery out to charge and told me that the computer had a code “P601” stored in it, something to do with the ICM. This was a computer issue and not something they could fix at Sears Automotive. They charged my battery and then told me it was still bad, and tried to sell me a battery so that they could test my alternator, because they would be “cheaper than a dealership.” I asked them to just put the car back together and called another tow truck.

When taking the car out of the garage, I don’t know if they had to jump it to move or not, but as they were parking it, the power steering went out in my car. They spent 10 minutes looking for a reservoir that doesn’t exist because I learned later that my power steering is electric since I have an electric engine. After that fiasco I was towed to a Buick GMC dealership to deal with the computer issue.

They didn’t look at the car until the following Monday, April 9th. The dealership could find nothing wrong with the car. Sears removing the battery had taken the codes out of the system, although I did give them the information sears had given me, P601- ICM. The power steering fuse was blown, but they suspected that Sears had done that by improperly jumping the car to get it out of the garage, I can’t prove or disprove that.

Other than that the car started fine for them, ran fine, gave no codes, and did not cut off. I picked it up after work and have been driving it to and from work since.

This morning, Monday April 16th, the car did the same thing to me again on my way to work. I was driving on a smaller road this time, doing 45 as opposed to 65. My engine light came on first, and the car shuddered, like if you were riding with someone who’s not good at driving a stick shift. Then my battery light came on. All my electronics, radio, windows, flashers, etc were still working as they were the first time this happened.

I was able to pull off the side of the road and make the necessary phone calls. After 15 minutes the car started normally when I cranked it, this being the first time I cranked it after pulling over and turning it off. I drove straight to the dealership, and they had it all day.

Again, they can find nothing wrong with the car. They got a code that says Cam Shaft, which they said is too vague to narrow down without charging a great deal of labor. The car started up, ran well, and hasn’t acted up for them at all. They said they checked my connections, and added something to reduce resistance in case that was hindering it. They are at a loss what to do next unless the car gives them more specific symptoms.

I’m at a loss what to do. I don’t really want to keep driving this vehicle when it suddenly cuts off on me twice in two weeks. I don’t want to really spend a fortune on a goose chase if they don’t know what they are looking for. I’d appreciate any ideas and input, I’ve tried to be as thorough as possible in what happened each time and what information the mechanics had. Thank you for your help.

Oh yeah, the dealership also said that my battery and alternator were fine, should have mentioned that.

Sounds just like my issue, except my car is quite a bit older. I wonder if we’re both going to be buying engine control computers…