A friend of mine had a problem with her car over the weekend. While she was pulling out of a driveway in her Saturn SL, (1.9L 4-cyl DOHC), the engine simply stopped. Her battery was not a problem, nor was the starter. It cranked and gave compression just fine. It just wouldn’t spark, on any cylinder.
She got her roommate (not an auto mechanic) to come out and take a look. They removed and replaced all the spark plug wires, and all of the fuses in the fuse box. This took approximately 45 minutes. The only thing that looked like a problem was that one spark plug wire was loose (they do not report having the expertise to determine whether it was the wire that went to the ignition coil).
Anyway, once everything was put back together, the car started just fine. It has been started twice since then, and there has been no problem. Still, she’s worried that this could happen again with no warning, and possibly on a freeway.
When she told me this story, I thought about problem I had a couple of years ago, with my ignition coil not providing juice to the spark plugs. For me, it only happened on occasions when I was trying to start my car (warm), and SOMETIMES, removing and reconnecting the ignition wires would let me start. Other times, I just had to wait for a while, and the engine would start once it had cooled down some more.
My problem was eventually diagnosed as a cracked ignition coil, and I suspected that hers might be as well. I went up on Google to see if I could find a test that could rule out a cracked coil. While I was doing this, she gave me one more piece of information: while the car was refusing to start, the lights and gauges on her instrument panel ALSO WERE NOT FUNCTIONING.
Right after she told me this, I found a hit on Google that mentioned that Saturns had a potential problem with the ignition coil AND the ignition switch. And now, as I’m typing this, she’s saying that one of the fuses might have been loose, too.
Is the ignition switch the likely cause of what happened to her car?
Thanks for any responses.