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 4 of 4) 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.


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 4 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #5

Dec 022006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 45,000 miles


I have a 2003 Saturn Ion-3 and it will not start below 40 degrees, this is a ridiculous problem. There is a thread about this problem at : there are many people with this problem and so far nothing has been done, I am just hoping I can sell this car asap because it has been quite a problem.

- Grapevine, TX, USA

problem #4

Nov 262006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 70,000 miles
The vehicle would intermittently not start. This mostly occurred in below freezing temperature conditions but would also occur in above 70 degree temperatures. The vehicle also stalled while being driven and could immediately be restarted. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who replaced the ignition switch.

- Sullivan, MO, USA

problem #3

Nov 292006

Ion 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 54,000 miles
: the contact stated the vehicle would not start right away in cooler weather, for at least 15 minutes. Through internet research, the contact believed the problem was the ignition switch. An appointment had been scheduled with a service dealer and the manufacturer was notified.

- Stillwater, MN, USA

problem #2

Nov 302004

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles
: the contact stated while driving on the freeway between 50-60 mph, the vehicle lost all electrical power. There is no warning when this occurs and the steering wheel also locks up. The vehicle is pulled over and restarted. The dealership replaced the ignition switch and fuel pump. The contact has been out of the country since the repair, last year; the vehicle has not been driven since repairs were made.

- Pico Rivera, CA, USA

problem #1

Jan 122005

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles
Over the past 2 and 1/2 weeks we have had a problem starting our 2003 Saturn Ion. The car would not start leading one to believe there was a problem with the battery. Then a few hours later the car started and the service engine light came and went very quickly. A week later, the same thing happened and the car started up again later with no problem. A few days later the same thing happened. The local Saturn service tech advised us that this problem has been seen with other Ions and that the ignition switch would have to be replaced.

- Long Branch, NJ, USA

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