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What should I do? Take the car to another place or leave it where it is?

My 2005 Saturn ION is in the shop for the 3rd time in 7 weeks for the same problem. I’ve spent $1100 at this independent mechanic, who now says he will fix it - no charge. He has now had the car for 3 weeks and the only time I hear from him is when I call him. I don’t know what is going on. Ive had to drive an unairconditioned beater (son’s car)while my car is being repaired, and I’m in Texas! At this point, I don’t know whether to go get the car from this guy and take it somewhere else, or to be patient and hope he will eventually fix it. Opinions??

3 weeks is plenty of time to fix any problem. Something is fishy here. Go get your car and have a face to face talk with the owner of the shop.

What’s wrong with the car?? Saturn’s have joined the ranks of Edsels, Studebaker, Hudson, Packard, many, many others…An orphan car left to slide quickly into automotive history…Time to move on…

The engines lights will suddenly come on with sluggish acceleration. In the past 7 months he has replaced the catalytic converter, the computer, and the gas pedal linkage.I have already spent $1100 on it for the computer and gas line linkage, but he’s being good by eating the cost on this. Yes, I would just buy another one if…i had credit at all and could get approved (embarrassed here) (ok, I AM working on that one but need about 6-9 months to fix the situation lol). The car runs very well otherwise and I want to keep as long as possible - until I get credit established to buy another car.

Yes, it is an orphaned marque, but there is little that is unique to the Saturn Ion, as compared to other vehicles.

Mechanically, it has a very great similarity to the Chevy Cobalt, the Chevy HHR, and the Pontiac G5. As a result, any good mechanic should be familiar enough with its mechanical aspects to be able to work on it. However, your current mechanic is clearly not one of those good ones.

I can’t make the decision for the OP as to how much more money to sink into this car, but the fact that it is an “orphaned” make should not really be part of that decision.

There is no reason to throw parts at the problem. This “mechanic” is guessing. You should ask for your money back in exchange for giving him the car.

Considering all you have said, I feel you’re being taken advantage of by an individual who is incompetent to fix your car and is not being honest with you about it. It’s your decision as to how long you want to put up with it, he now has your $1100 with no results and he’s throwing darts. This happens when you go to some dishonest independents and given your area, may be one of the few times a dealer may be a better choice for some who are willing to pay the extra…along with their own set of headaches.

I got the car yesterday after the independent took it to the dealer after he determined that he was in over his head. I had decided to take it to the dealer since it was clear that even though this repair was free, it actually wasn’t since I was renting a car. There is still a problem, but I will be dealing with the dealer on this one, and hopefully will be able to buy another car at years end. Thank you all for all your comments :slight_smile:

Without knowing what if any codes are present it will be difficult to make much of a guess.

If for the sake of argument there are no codes present I would guess at an intermittently failing fuel pump. Even more so if the fuel filter has not been changed on a regular basis.

Not everything on modern cars is a black and white issue unfortunately. It’s quite possible to have for instance a crank sensor problem and no codes present.

Tardis, are you f___ing kidding? Give a hack of a mechanic a 2005 Ion for screwing up and giving the money back? That car is worth more the $1100 even in the condition it’s in. I mean, seriously, what the hell? That sounds like advice coming from someone who is on the other side of this situation. There’s no reason why this person should do any favors to this guy, and believe me, that’s a big favor. A quick check of Kelly Blue Book assuming that the inquirer of this query lives in Bemidji (Texas is too vague, and Bemidji wouldn’t have a very high resale value for a car like this), and likely knows Dave, and has 500K on it, and has a barren RPO codes list, shows the private party value of the car being just shy of $3000. Now, this is assuming a lot, like, the car is the absolute entry level, the car lives somewhere that an ION is completely impractical (unless Dave and his gas grill are handy,) and has more miles than it likely will ever see. And you want to GIVE the mechanic the car for $1100? Personally, I would be demanding the car and the money back, and threatening litigation if my demands weren’t met. There is no reason this person should have the car this long, there is no reason they should have started throwing parts at it (There ARE ways to check these things without the use of a big pile of money, you know,) and there’s no reason this person should be getting an extra boat payment next month when the car gets sold for 10 times the amount of money the mechanic has put into it.

Get your car back, demand a refund, and take it to someone else. Before you go elsewhere, find out what the trouble code is that’s triggering the light, and ask your prospective new mechanic what steps they would take to repair it. If they just tell you something along the lines of “Well, it’s most likely _______, so we’ll replace that first and see…” Run away, but if they say something to the effect of testing (not to be confused with pouring money and unneeded parts into it) the likely suspects, or following the diagnostic trouble tree for that code, get the car over there, stock up on brownie mix, and fire up your oven.

“The engines lights will suddenly come on with sluggish acceleration.”

Even if the light is not currently on, this car has history codes, as well as freeze-frame data available to anyone who has access to (and the knowledge to use) a good scan tool. With the knowledge that provides, even a substandard parts replacer should be able to look at the trouble tree for the code and make an educated guess, rather than the completely random lottery number picking this person seems to have done so far.

I agree with everyone else that this shop has proven to be incapable of diagnosing and fixing the problem. They’ve taken enough of your money and time. It’s time to go elsewhere.

Now, let’s focus on the problem:
the warning lights suddenly come on and you lose power. The ECU, the cat converter, and the gas pedal (gas line?) linkage have been replaced.

Since when this happens the engine continues to run, albiet very weakly, I’m going to assume that you haven’t lost voltage entirely, but the anemia and the warning lights suggest that your voltage level is suddently going way down when these symptoms occur. That suggests to me that you have either an intermittant high-resistance short to ground somewhere that’s “dropping” voltage or, more likely, you have an intermittant problem internal to the alternator, specifically the voltage regulator portion. Alternators can be bench tested.

Another possibility is that the coil pack is breaking down under heat and providing a very weak spark, almost killing the engine. That too can be tested.

And, as Catalina suggested, your ECU should have stored data that any good shop can use to help the diagnosis.

A hands-on diagnosis will probably turn up a problem totally different. My point in suggesting this is to illustrate that these problems can be diagnosed and that’s what the shop should be doing. A good shop can, based on the symptoms, come up with alternative possibilities and then test for them. I’m also trying to illustrate that this problem should be solvable and not force this car into retirement. The symptoms do not indicate anything internal to the engine or drivetrain.

Unfortunately, you’ll be hard-pressed to try to recover your $1100.

Sincere best.

Ok…turns out that the computer that was installed to replace the bad one…was a bad one. The car runs great, but the check engine light is still on. This repair was done by the dealership. The original mechanic took it to the dealership when he couldn’t figure it out. Now…I’m being told to drive the car for a few days and see if the new, replacement computer resets itself (shouldn’t this be done with the repair?) and if it doesn’t, then he will replace the replacement computer. All agree (dealership and independent) that the problem is a bad computer.

If the computer doesn’t reset itself, take it back to the dealership he took it to. I wouldn’t go back to the original mechanic, even to ask for directions to the dealership he took it to, ever again.