Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.

NHTSA — Electrical System: Fuses And Circuit Breakers Problems Seal Of This Might Hurt Notes: The Saturn Ion was a compact bundle of hurt wrapped up in a cheap, plastic shell. With so many defective components and a safety rating that a bicycle would be ashamed of, it’s a blessing this car only lasted five model years.

The 2003 (and 2004) Ion was cursed with GM’s flawed attempt at a continuously variable transmission, known as the VTi. It had such a high failure rate that a class-action lawsuit was filed against GM, eventually prompting a settlement and a warranty extension. GM discontinued the VTi for the 2005 model year – surprise, surprise.

The 2003 Ion was also part of one of the largest and most controversial recalls of all-time. A defective ignition switch in millions of GM vehicles could accidentally turn the car off and disable important safety components like the power steering and airbags. The problem resulted in at least 13 deaths, but what made it worse was that GM knew about the issue for 10 years before doing anything about it.

So was the transmission warranty extended? Yeah. Was the ignition switch recalled? Eventually. Is this car safe to drive? Not really. Honestly, you’re better off looking elsewhere.


fairly significant
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
20,000 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Saturn Ion electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #3

Mar 242008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Ignition problem - engine won't start, passlock prevents ignition. I live in Texas and it's rarely that cold in the mornings, every time this has happened to me it has been a cold wet blustery day but not freezing. Car acts like the battery is dead, but frequent manipulation of the passlock remote will eventually clear the problem. This has left me stranded several times, and if Saturn knows about the problem, and hasn't done anything about it in the 5 years that it has been occurring, then they should be held criminally negligent. They should be made to correct the problem with the ignition and the passlock system, and replace or repair the control module at no cost. My door locks no longer work, and in speaking to other owners I can expect a downward spiral of electrical failures in the coming months.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #2

Dec 282004

Ion 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving, the vehicle stalled. The consumer was unable to restart the vehicle. The consumer had the vehicle towed to the dealer. The mechanic informed the driver that the fuses and circuit breakers needed to be replaced. The consumer informed the mechanic this problem has occurred more than once and has not been resolved. Please fill in further information.

- Wichita, KS, USA

problem #1

Jul 132003

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Electrical; door seals loose; car returned up to 3 times since purchase on 7/13/03. Saturn Ion 3 coupe--turn signals burned out w/in one week of each other; requested check of electrical system. July 26, 2003 electrical system checked. Complained about door seal at same time & service dept did not check it out until they replaced the fuse box on July 31. Requested to return vehicle and was told "it would be fixed to my satisfaction". door seal was not installed properly & I have to take the car back for a fourth time to get this repaired approximately one week from today.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

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