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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
0 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 fuel system problems

fuel system problem

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2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #1

Jun 192003

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


March 22, 2003 I purchased an Saturn Ion 3. within the 1st the week there was problems starting the car. The car was in for service 2 times in 2 weeks. Finally the engine light started flashing (3rd time). Supposedly the car was fixed. 3 days later the dealer's service department called me at Saturn Corp.'s request to immediately return the car as the engine could blow up. The engine had a cracked cylinder which caused coolant to leak into the engine with about 650 miles. Also, another Saturn Ion with 2500 miles was sitting in the dealer's lot with a cracked cylinder in the engine. I was released from the sale on April 17, 2003. I took a 2nd Saturn Ion 3 on April 17, 2003. This car has jerky steering problems coming out of turns and sever transmission problems. The car kicks when turning on the ignition, engine gets racketing when put into reverse, when changing gears - kicks, slides, and will surge, and bounce through gears between 30 mph to above 70 mph. The service manager said, "all the Ions drive this way. There's nothing wrong with the car". this car has been in for service 4 times. Each time the car is returned worse than the time before.

- Davie, FL, USA

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