Engine just stops running while driving 2006 Saturn Ion

Recently my wife took her car to work. While driving on the highway the car all of a sudden quit responding to pushing on the gas. As if the pedal had no affect at all. The electrical was still in tact as my wife pulled off to the side of the road and turned the car off. Before I could reach her to pick her up she had started it again and it started right up no hesitation at all. Upon dropping her off at work I came back and it started right away and I drove it to her work and she then drove it home at the end of the day with not problems. It sat in our garage for a few days and I decided to take it out to see what happens for myself. I drove it for a full day stated right up every time and it wasn’t until the second day I drove it around that it did the same thing to me. Gas pedal had not response. All electrical seemed operational, still had power steering and the dash was lit. I pulled over then waited a few minutes and it fired right up and I was on my way. Wondered if anyone has had this issue before or knows if its the fuel pump and how I could test that out. As I said is starts right up every time with no hesitation. Also I have fuel pressure tested it and it shows a 60 the during idle.

This sounds like a pedal position sensor problem to me. The reason it acts this way may be that once the computer looses the input from the pedal position sensor, it doesn’t recognize it when it gets it back.

The problem with issues like this is that they are intermittent so unless it fails in the presence of the mechanic when he has his scanners hooked up, it is nearly impossible to find the problem. Good news is that this system is used on nearly all GM cars of that era, still used today so it is not Saturn specific. A GM mechanic may have seen this issue before and knows what usually fixes it.

There are a bunch of guys here that are very knowledgeable about the ION. do a search for this issue or sign up and ask them. One of them may have experience with this issue.


I actually had the exact thing happen to me a month after I bought the car (3 years old). I took it to the dealer and they said that it was faulty wiring. Looking back now I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the passive alarm because everything but the stopping part happens because of the alarm. I would take it to a Chevy dealer since there are no more Saturn dealerships so they can run a diagnostic test and see what it says. It may come back claiming faulty wiring so I would just have them “fix” it. Ever since I did that the car hasn’t stopped on me. The only problem I still have is the not starting problem.
Hope that helps!!

Different problem entirely

GM’s passlock system will not shut down an engine if it’s already running

It might prevent if from starting in the first place . . .

I’ve had this symptom on a VW Rabbit caused by a faulty fuel pump relay. Are you able to determine if the fuel pump is running when this happens?

I have a code scanner coming to the house today. The check engine light is not on so I am crossing my fingers maybe a backlogged code or something shows up. I will post if so. I am not sure about the fuel pump put it does start up again with no hesitation.

If the scanner you bought will read live data, after checking for codes go to live data and find the Throttle Position line and monitor it. When the throttle is unresponsive and the data line indicates no change when depressing the accelerator it indicates a faulty throttle position sensor or a disconect in the system.

Also, the throttle actuator could be at fault. But if it fails a code would set that is somewhat self explanatory.

Ok, the scan code tool said it was code P0601.This is the TCM according to the book. Any idea if that could shut the car down or how much to fix?

I don’t think the Saturn has a separate TCM (Transmission) - but rather trans control is integrated with engine control to a make it a PCM (Poowertrain).

In any case, the P0601 is indeed about an error detected internal to the PCM so this usually requires PCM replacement. Unfortunately they are not just plug n play as they need to be programmed by people with the equipment needed to reprogram it. That usually means a dealer. Saturn is dead, but you’d be looking for a GM dealer - probably.

What I would do is first is what keith suggested - search Saturn specific forums (here’s another: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/ ) to find out what people have actually done.

I would also probably pull the PCM and clean up all of its wiring and connections - …even though that probably won’t do a thing. It’s just what I do first in response to such things.

It was the PCM. It needed to be replaced and then reprogrammed. It was about $800.00