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.

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NHTSA — Electrical System: Ignition Problems

2003 Saturn Ion (Page 2 of 3)

CarComplaints.com Seal Of This Might Hurt

CarComplaints.com 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.

10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
49,485 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 (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #31

May 282008

Ion 4-cyl

  • 49,160 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Purchased an 03 Saturn Ion May 17, 2008. May 28 ignition locked up and would not turn past the accessory setting. In researching the problem have seen hundreds of postings for this problem. It appears anti theft system is defective and suddenly locks up preventing the start of the car. Cannot locate any information on how to fix the problem, people seem to just be replacing the ignition lock every couple of months. Saturn has not issued a recall to correct the problem. This is an issue that is well known to anyone associated with Saturn and I feel should have been disclosed on carfax or verbally by the Saturn dealer who sold me the car. I would not have purchased a car with a chronic defect that will leave my child and myself stranded on a regular basis.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #30

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 #29

Mar 102008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
When the outside weather is cold, my 2003 Saturn Ion 2 won't start. This has happened 3 separate occasions over the last 2 months.

- Altoona, PA, USA

problem #28

Mar 012008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

2003 Saturn Ion III disengages in the middle of traffic as if gears have slipped into neutral at speeds from between 20 and 60 mph, so that there is no forward movement suddenly and then re-engages. Almost rear-ended several times also car will not start if turned off for a short time and key locks in ignition. Gears were re-calibrated and ignition replaced, but problems continue.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #27

Feb 032008

Ion

  • miles
My daughter has a 2003 Saturn Ion and won't start when it is cold. I have been on several web sites and other Saturn owners have had this problem. Please help what can I do. Will this car get a recall. Some of the owners are saying that it is the lubricate that Saturn used on the ignition that it can freeze in cold weather. Is this the case. Help in cold weather.

- Niagara Falls, 00, USA

problem #26

Feb 192008

Ion

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I have a 2003 Ion 2 which I bought new in March 2003. Starting in Dec 2007, my car would not start up in the morning when it is cold outside. 10-15 min later I would try to start it again and it would start up like nothing was wrong. I had Saturn look at it, they stated that they "could not replicate" the problem and found nothing wrong. In January 2008, it started to happen on a daily basis, so I took it to my local mechanic who said the battery was charging fine and could not pin point a problem but suggested putting in a new starter which cost me $300. At first I thought that my problem was solved, but now in Feb 2008 ( one month later)it is not starting up in the mornings again on real cold days (0-20 degrees), but 10-15 min later, it starts right up.

- Whiting, IN, USA

problem #25

Jan 102008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

When temperature gets low, my 2003 Saturn Ion won't start. It must sit for 15-20 minutes before it will start up.

- Kent, WA, USA

problem #24

Feb 112008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Vehicle will start some days and not start others. Would have to try over and over again several times to get the vehicle to start. Not the battery!

- Villa Rica, GA, USA

problem #23

Feb 022008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,221 miles
Car won't start on mornings when temp is below 50 degrees. Once temp warms up, car starts fine. I can't wait until the afternoon to go to work! I also don't want to be stranded while working (I do home nursing).

- Douglas, GA, USA

problem #22

Feb 012008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles
On cold mornings (35 and below) my 03 Saturn Ion will not start. I turn the key and the lights come on but the engine won't turn over. The security light flashes and it tells me to "service vehicle". if I wait about 10-20 minutes the car will start. (which causes me to be late for work) I've replace the battery but cannot afford 200+ to change out the starter and/or other parts. I've read numerous complaints online of other Ion owners having the same problem (www.carsurvey.org/viewcomments_review_97727.html).

- Round Rock, TX, USA

problem #21

Jan 202008

Ion

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

When it is cold out, and I go to start my car in the morning, it starts to turn over but then stalls and dies. The lights and radio still work, and the instrument panel blinks "service vehicle". I have to wait at least 10 minutes to even attempt to start my vehicle again because it is something with the security feature of the ignition.

- Freehold, NJ, USA

problem #20

Jan 202008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 79,000 miles
Car will not start when below freezing.....

- Somerset, KY, USA

problem #19

Dec 032007

Ion

  • miles
Saturn Ion 2003 fails to start when cold out. Reference NHTSA #10007431. Saturn does not admit this is a design flaw. But will charge you and arm and a leg to fix the problem. I went to alldata web site and the show numerous problems with the 2003 Saturn Ion but GM fails to recognize this is a problem.

- Coon Rapids, MN, USA

problem #18

Dec 012007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 159,000 miles
Car wouldn't start, battery and electrical system checked ok. Finally checked with other owners of similar make, model and year of car and the cold weather problem with the started is a known issue. Waited an hour or so to try again and the car started.

- Mooresville, IN, USA

problem #17

Nov 182007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Ion when the weather gets cold, my car will not start, I will try it again and again. I will wait about 15 minutes and then all of a sudden it will start like nothing is wrong. The battery has been tested and is completely fine. It will turn on all electronics, tell me to service engine, then it won't turn over. Next I wait about 15 minutes and it starts. And runs fine. This has happened at least 20 times.

- Westville, IN, USA

problem #16

Oct 262007

Ion

  • miles
Car will not start when first attempting to start is in cold weather. After about 10 to 15 minutes it will finally start when attempting again. From research on the internet it sounds similar to numerous other complaints people have about a faulty ignition switch that Saturn has known about for some time.

- Auburn, WA, USA

problem #15

Oct 252007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 35,000 miles
Vehicle won't start - no crank, no start. It is only 3 years old and has low usage and mileage.

- Dartmouth, 00, USA

problem #14

Nov 302006

Ion 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
Car is very difficult to start in cold weather. Must play with ignition switch many times to get it started.

- Halethorpe, MD, USA

problem #13

May 012006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the key becomes stuck in the ignition and causes her to restart the vehicle approximately 3 or 4 times to release the key. She has taken the vehicle to the dealer approximately 3 times and they have kept the vehicle for an entire week. After leaving the dealer, the vehicle will operate normally for a few weeks, but then the failure recurs. The failure mileage was 15,000 and current mileage was 17,000.

- Bointen Beach, FL, USA

problem #12

Mar 222007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 72,000 miles
2003 Saturn Ion. When attempting to start car on cold mornings pass lock system engages and locks car from being able to start for some period of time. Has left me stranded in cold weather several times, latest being date just below. This is not a battery or starter issue. From research I have done, this seems to be a faulty design with the starter switch, and is is apparently known to Saturn Corp.

- Troy, NY, USA

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