Friday, September 18, 2009

2005 Saturn ION no crank, no start.

I just finished repairing a 2005 Saturn Ion that broke down (conveniently) in my driveway. My brother drove it in and a couple hours later it would not crank.

The Symptoms
These cars are known for a ignition switch malfunction, but the symptoms were slightly different (the security light did not flash*).

  • Everything seemed to power up but would not crank.
  • PWR STR, SERVICE VEHICLE, and COOLANT errors were displayed on the dash.
  • I was unable to connect to the OBD2 bus.

The Diagnosis
The Battery is located in the truck. There are 2 positive wires running from the battery forward. the big main one to the starter motor and fuse-box and a smaller one with an inline fuse holder several inches from the battery which apparently goes directly to the ECM.

  • The spare tire compartment had about 1" of water setting in the bottom which submerged the connector just after the inline fuse.
  • The wire corroded off both sides of the connector, shorted and blew the fuse.

The Repair

  • Twisting the wires together and replacing the fuse resulted in a running car. The wires were soldered.
  • The Check engine light was on however with a code p0315 Crankshaft Position System Variation Not Learned. According to most websites, solving this requires a "CASE Relearn Procedure"on GM's Tech2 scan tool. Apparently it will never clear itself. However there are several aftermarket scan tools that can do this. I happen to have a TriCAN from I love this tool, it does a huge amount of things many expensive hand held units don't. It has it's downsides though, it requires the use of a laptop, and in this case I could enable the CASE Relearn, but had to figure out what to do next from forums, etc.

The CASE Relearn procedure
  • Bring coolant temp up to 158F+
  • Shut off car
  • Wait 10+ sec
  • Start car
  • Hold foot firmly on brake from now on
  • Enable CASE Relearn
  • Steadily increase RPM until it hit's the (lowered automatically by the test) rev limiter at 4000RPM
  • Remove foot from throttle immediately at the first blip
  • MIL should go off at this point
  • Clear code (stays as historical)
The Moral
Always check the simple stuff, I spent several days hunting for problems up front because the truck was so full of junk I couldn't even look at the battery. I assumed that as long as i had power up front the battery area was fine. How wrong I was...
Oh, wiring diagrams are your friend.

* If your security light is flashing you probably need a new ignition switch, they are a very common problem.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Introduction

This is a brief introduction of Steve's Fix it Shop

I've had a knack for mechanical, electrical, and miscellaneous troubleshooting as far back as I can remember. As a child i really enjoyed tearing things apart and trying to figure out how they work, I never quite outgrew that. So now I build and fix things.

It occurred to me that others may find some of the lessons I've learned useful. Thus I intend to document my adventures whenever possible. This will serve both as a reference for me and anyone with a similar problem. I don't warrant that anything described here is safe or correct, but I will try my best to achieve both. I also have an strong interest in alternative energy, Linux, dogs, organic gardening, and about a million other things. Some of these will undoubtedly end up here as well.