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: Ignition: Switch Problems

2003 Saturn Ion (Page 3 of 4)

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.

3.6

definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
36,241 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 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #25

Mar 112007

Ion

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

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

I drive a '03 Saturn Ion and have been having problems for the past year where the car wouldn't start, mostly on cold mornings, and would leave me stuck in different areas of town. Most of the time if I waited a couple minutes it would start up with no problem. This past Sunday my wife was driving and pulled into the driveway and she couldn't get the car to turn off or turn the key. So now I'm driving around with my key in my ignition and my steering column off so it looks like I stole my car, the only way I can start and stop the car is by plugging and unplugging the ignition switch. I did some research and from what I've read there have been many others that have had the exact same problem and it has ended up costing them hundreds of dollars for an obvious manufacturer defect. I just paid $200 for the ignition cylinder along with the housing unit and I come to realize that I shouldn't have to pay for this at all.

- Waller, TX, USA

problem #24

Feb 152007

Ion

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
2003 Saturn Ion component: Electrical system:ignition:switch no crank, no start when ambient temperatures is cold - diagnostic trouble codes (dtcs) B2960 and or B3033 are set.. went to start it in cold weather, heard a click and noticed service vehicle on the dashboard. Car would not turn over after turning key in ignition several times. I let it sit for 10 minutes or so and it finally started. I replaced the battery as advised by an auto mechanic and it still did the same thing a couple days later. I also found a message board discussing this issue at: www.carsurvey.org/viewcomments_review_97727.html.

- Jackson, MI, USA

problem #23

Feb 152007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,223 miles
2003 Saturn Ion-3 fails to start in cold weather. This appears to be a known manufacturer defect in the ignition switch. (reference Saturn tsb 040845005 of Nov 2005 or NHTSA 10007431 of March 2006). It appears that Saturn is counting on warm winters to get the cars out of the warranty period (which happened to me) and then hit you with a $40 part and $156 labor charge to fix an item they mis-manufactured.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #22

Feb 152007

Ion

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles

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

My Saturn Ion (2003) has had a lot of problems this winter with intermittent starts. I try to start the car in the morning, and it just won't crank over. I have missed work, and been stranded in the freezing cold. A recall needs to be issued on the starter switch. I have had multiple diagnostic tests done, and had the battery replaced. I cannot afford a $200 repair on something that should be replaced by Saturn. This is a case of negligence.

- Rochester, MI, USA

problem #21

Feb 122007

Ion

  • miles
The ignition switch frequently fails to move into the locked position after the engine is turned off. This requires repetitions of starting and stopping the engine. The dealer failed to correct the problem.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #20

Feb 122007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
Car routinely will not start in cold weather due to faulty ignition switch. A new ignition switch must be installed and is not covered under warranty.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #19

Feb 122007

Ion

  • miles

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

My car was having problems starting in the cold weather, it would almost start then nothing would happen. It would take about 15 minutes of trying before it would start up. Also the service vehicle message would flash and various lights on the dash would flash also. I took it in for servicing at the Saturn dealer where they charged me 200 dollars to diagnose and fix the problem which ended up being the ignition switch.

- Garden City, MI, USA

problem #18

Feb 122007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 56,000 miles
I have a 2003 Saturn Ion 2, and it has had intermittent starting problems since 2004. I always thought it was the battery, but I would change the battery and test the old one, and it always tested fine. Once the weather got cold this winter, it started having more frequent starting problems. Sometimes it would start after waiting 20-30 minutes. Last wkend, I was unable to start it at all and had to have it towed. I was lucky to have it at a friend's house when this happened. The ignition switch is being replaced, since the dealer says this is a very frequent problem. Please recall these ignition switches! so many people have problems with them - check the internet! just type in '2003 Saturn Ion starting problems' in google and you'll see many sites come up with people in the last month alone having the same issues. Costs about 200 bucks to fix, and that's ridiculous if Saturn knows there's an issue.

- Plymouth, MI, USA

problem #17

Feb 052007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,300 miles
In cold temperatures my 2003 Saturn Ion 2 would not start. All of my lights would come on but when I attempted to start the car the security light would come on and I would be locked out of starting my car for the next 8-10 minutes due to a faulty ignition switch. I took my car to the dealership that I purchased it from and codes B2930 B3033 were found in the system. The ignition switch sn 10392423 was replaced. The old part was kept by Saturn.

- Ypsilanti, MI, USA

problem #16

May 152005

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
Frequent inability to start vehicle due to ignition cylinder wear. Saturn claims security system is activated due to internal ignition switch not being able to "read" chip in Saturn vehicle key. Failure of such process results in operator of vehicle having to wait until security system "resets" (10-15 mins.) Saturn will not honor the fact that this may be a design flaw, and holds owner responsible for $200 repair. This owner is just glad the steering wheel hasn't fallen off the dashboard yet. Good car !

- Alton, NY, USA

problem #15

Feb 062007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 63,000 miles

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

Intermittently, car will not start in cold weather. No crank or start. After 10 minutes, car sometimes starts with another key. Car eventually starts, but requires 10 minute pause between each attempt for security lock-out to be bypassed.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #14

Feb 012007

(reported on)

Ion

  • miles
Saturn Ion cold start problem* the consumer stated the ignition switch clicked and the vehicle stalled. The security system will activate, and a security light would blink and the odometer screens would read service engine soon. The vehicle would not re-start for 8-10 minutes as the security system resets. The consumer believed the grease in the ignition switch is freezing and/or hardening so that the ignition switch can not engage. The consumer stated the ignition switch and grease should be recalled.

- 99999, DC, USA

problem #13

Jan 212007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
My 2003 Saturn Ion fails to start in cold weather because the ignition switch does not properly read the key and the passlock system locks out the ignition. This has been an ongoing problem with the vehicle and in March 2006 GM issued a technical bulletin identifying the ignition switch as the source of the problem. Saturn however refuses to correct this defect with my vehicle. As this failure only occurs in cold weather it is a safety concern of mine as I work late hours and I rely on my vehicle starting so that I can turn on the heat. Sitting in the freezing cold in a vehicle that has an identified defective part that will not start is completely unacceptable. The Saturn dealership told me that they would do nothing for me because a recall has not been ordered. As Saturn will not step up and take care of its customers I ask that a safety recall be issued to correct this problem.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #12

Jan 212007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,900 miles
Car will not start in the cold weather. Then I get a service engine message and the security light flashes. The car will not start for 10 minutes after. However, the car always starts when it is not cold. This has happened several times over the last three weeks.

- Chambersburg, PA, USA

problem #11

Jan 192007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
I have a 2003 Saturn Ion which I purchased new from the dealer. When it gets cold outside (usually at or below 32 degrees) the car intermittently fails to start. The passlock system activates, preventing the car from starting, because the ignition switch fails to recognize that the proper key is in the ignition. GM has issued a technical advisory (# 04-08-45-005D) dated 15 Mar 2006 identifying the ignition switch as the cause of this problem. The Saturn dealership confirmed that the ignition switch was the cause of the passlock malfunction on my car and informed me that it would cost $250 to replace the ignition switch. In performance of my duties as a federal officer I rely on my vehicle to start when I need it to. I am often dispatched to remote areas in inclement weather to assist the public. Having a vehicle that will not start because of a recognized defective ignition switch is unacceptable; being told that I have to pay for repairs because of a manufacturing defect is insulting. The faulty ignition switch is not only a safety concern of mine, it impacts the safety and security of the american public that I have sworn to protect. Finally it is a safety concern for every Saturn Ion owner who depends on their car to start in 30 degree weather when there is no other warm environment available.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #10

Dec 022006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
I have a 2003 Saturn Ion which I purchased new from the dealer. When it gets cold outside (usually at or below 32 degrees) the car intermittently fails to start. The passlock system activates, preventing the car from starting, because the ignition switch fails to recognize that the proper key is in the ignition. GM has issued a technical advisory (# 04-08-45-005D) dated 15 Mar 2006 identifying the ignition switch as the cause of this problem. The Saturn dealership confirmed that the ignition switch was the cause of the passlock malfunction on my car and informed me that it would cost $250 to replace the ignition switch. In performance of my duties as a federal officer I rely on my vehicle to start when I need it to. I am often dispatched to remote areas in inclement weather to assist the public. Waiting 10-30 minutes for the passlock system to time out before I can start the car has made me late for assignments on more than one occasion. Having a vehicle that will not start because of a recognized defective ignition switch is unacceptable; being told that I have to pay for repairs because of a manufacturing defect is insulting. The faulty ignition switch is not only a safety concern of mine, it impacts the safety and security of the american public that I have sworn to protect. Finally it is a safety concern for every Saturn Ion owner who depends on their car to start in 30 degree weather when there is no other warm environment available.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #9

Jan 012007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,500 miles
Will driving down the road the transmission in my Saturn Ion lvl 3 slips and I have to let my foot off the gas and then kick the gas pedal for it to go into gear. It does this all the time when I am driving it. Also when I go to park the car, I put it in park and pull up the emergency brake and I go to remove the key and it will only go as far as acc mode. It will not release. I have to wait 20 to 30 minutes until it releases automatically. I have read online this is a known problem with Saturn and I have been told that they will not fix it. It does this almost every single day.

- Clemmons, NC, USA

problem #8

Jan 082007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 71,000 miles
The first time the ignition switch "passlock" sensor went out on my 2003 Saturn Ion II, it was near zero degrees outside, my 2 month old son was along, and I was stuck on the road for several minutes trying to restart the vehicle. The problem is apparently that a sensor that controls the gas flow stopped working properly and the car died. I was able to pull to the side of the road. When trying to restart the vehicle, it initially did nothing. I waited several minutes, called for my son to be picked up, then tried again. After about 15 minutes it started without a problem. I learned that the ignition switch was faulty and had a faulty "passlock" sensor. Apparently, when the ignition is too cold, the grease begins to harden, causing the switch to be unable to make proper contact. This makes the car think someone is trying to steal it, so the security system kicks in and stops gas flow for up to 15 minutes. After that period of time, the security system resets and you can once again attempt to start the vehicle. However, if the grease has not warmed up enough by the, the whole thing starts over again. I had the switch replaced and everything was fine until today. The switch is again going bad. My husband had to be to court this afternoon and was unable to start the car. This time we had to wait and try again 3 times, wasting 45 minutes. At least this time it was only time that was wasted. Last time it could have been a major safety issue. My baby could've been exposed to the cold for too long with serious consequences. Not only that, but I could have been hit by other cars if I hadn't been able to move it out of the way. Now that it has happened a second time to our vehicle, I did some research online and have seen that this problem happens quite regularly and that Saturn has refused to do anything about it. Please see: www.autoweb.com/content/research/forums/index.cfm/action/posts/fid/5610 for more complaints.

- Baraboo, WI, USA

problem #7

Nov 242006

Ion

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles
2003 Saturn Ion will not start when it is cold. I am seeing alot of people posting on different forums with the same issue. Is anything going to be done about this?

- Tavares, FL, USA

problem #6

Dec 052006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I own a Saturn Ion II 2003 and every morning that it is cold it will not start. After getting a new battery, which is what the dealership advised me to do, it still will not start on cold mornings. There are several complaints out there about this issue in 03 to late 04 models regarding the replacement switch not turning in cold weather. These vehicles need to be recalled.

- Boise, ID, USA

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