I've been reading dozens of reviews (here and other sites) concerning the Saturn Ion, and its trouble starting in cold weather. Mine does the SAME thing. I purchased my 2004 ION Level 2 in 2007 with only 21,000 miles on it. I couldn't figure out why someone would already be trading it in, but soon found out why... it won't start in cold weather.
The security padlock icon lights up, so I thought the car "thought" someone was trying to steal it, then the engine would be disabled for about 15 minutes. It would start up after 11-15 minutes. When I lived in Kansas, it would only give me this problem when it was 20 degrees or under (which was most of the winter). I'm now back in Texas, and it has started this same problem in weather that's in the 50's, and the times it will restart fluctuate. Sometimes it will start after 11 minutes, and other times I have to go out and keep trying every 10-15 minutes, and after an hour or so, it will finally start. I have been late for work several times in the past few weeks after attempting, for two straight hours, to get my car started.
It used to be that I always knew it would at least start if I waited 11-15 minutes, but now the time cannot be predicted, and it's extremely aggravating, especially when Saturn would tell me, "well, it didn't do that for us", or their diagnostic equipment wasn't detecting a problem. Since they've gone under, I have no clue where I can take my car. I purchased an extended warranty, but don't even know if it covers this problem, because no one can pinpoint what the problem actually is.
The other day I decided to try something different. I went outside when I got up and tried to start the car... NOTHING. I hooked up a small electric heater and placed it on the floorboard for about an hour then returned. It started. I wasn't sure if the heat actually helped, or if it just allowed me to start it because the time expired on the engine disablement feature. Last night I hooked the heater up all night. It got down to 29 degrees and at 5 am it started right up, so the heat is the trick, but I shouldn't have to go through this every day. Also, when I leave work, it's going to be freezing, as well. Where am I going to hook up my heater when it won't start this evening? I work in a very seedy area, and the neighborhood is not compatible with a single woman sitting in her disabled car waiting for it to decide when or if it's going to start.
It might be tied to the ignition or starter, because another, separate problem I have (in any kind of weather) is not being able to turn my car off. This happens a couple of times per week. The ignition gets stuck in the forward position and won't allow me to fully put the key in the off position and pull it out. I have to restart the car several times before it will allow me to return the key to the full off position and remove it from the keyhole. Last week I had a problem where I couldn't even turn the key forward to start the car. I wiggled the steering wheel back and forth; stopped; did it again; repeated that for several minutes before the key would turn.
Another problem is the dash light on my speedometer is half out. It's been like this since I bought it. Unfortunately, I purchased it in the daytime, so the problem wasn't obvious until nightfall after the papers were signed. It's lit up from 70mph and up, but at night, I have no way of seeing my speed because it's completely black from 0-65. A Saturn service tech told me, "well, if you want to pay for us to take your entire dashboard apart, we'll be glad to look for the problem, but it will run into some real money".
Both of my 12v outlets went out shortly after purchasing the car, and no one can tell me what to do to make them work again. I can't charge a phone, use a GPS, nothing.
I found a portable heater that will plug into a car's 12v outlet, which would solve my problem of needing a heater if I get stuck at work, but since neither of my outlets work, that idea is out.
I am very disappointed in this car, and even more disappointed in the dishonest person who traded it in without disclosing all of its problems. I am first and foremost disappointed in Saturn, which was made aware of these problems by hundreds of unhappy consumers, yet they've done nothing about it.