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. 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.


pretty bad
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
6,378 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 engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Saturn Ion:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #4

Nov 062004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,000 miles


While applying the accelerator pedal vehicle hesitated for a couple of seconds then surged forward.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #3

Sep 052004


  • 18,500 miles
Vehicle is experienced delayed acceleration. As a result when entering a highway vehicle will not accelerate until twenty seconds after applying the pedal.

- Meriden, CT, USA

problem #2

Oct 052003


  • 10 miles
Consumer found it difficult to depress the horns button when needed due to its location. This made it impossible to warn other motorist in a emergency situation. Also, when accelerating on wet surface tires will spin but vehicle will not accelerate.

- Long Beach, NY, USA

problem #1

Sep 112003


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I bought a Saturn Ion 3 on July 11, 2003. My car's accelerator has basically not worked and my car has essentially died on three occasions -- one of them on the highway. I have taken my car into repairs three times to Saturn pensacola and Saturn has failed to fix it because they cannot "duplicate" my concern. I am mainly concerned with getting this car fixed or if it is not fixable for me to get a replacement car. This car is a danger to me and others around me! they are not fulfilling their terms of my extended warranty. Saturn Corp rep diane wants me to travel to another Saturn facility myself to get this car fixed. That is outrageous because the next nearest facility is over 60 miles away! they refuse to tow the vehicle to mobile or montgomery. And, they refused to loan me a car or tow my car to the pensacola service center when my car died the second time on Sept. 13. the "customer service" and treatment I have been given by Saturn Corp and the dealership is extremely poor. I have reported this issue to the state attorney general's office as a lemon as well as the bettter business bureau, NHTSA, Consumer Affairs, General Motors (who owns Saturn), etc. I feel extremely let down by Saturn because I owned a Saturn previous to this one for 2 years and was extremely loyal to the vehicle. A co-worker at my job is also having the same problems with her 2003 Ion. In fact, I wanted Saturn to compare my Saturn issue to my co-worker's issue (who is bringing her car in today) and Saturn basically threatened me that if I did not pick up my car (which was still in the shop) and return their loaner (which I still had) that they would report the loaner as stolen. Do not buy a Saturn Ion. Saturn "customer service" is a big joke.

- Pensacola, FL, USA

Not what you are looking for?