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 — Power Train: Automatic Transmission Problems

2003 Saturn Ion (Page 2 of 2)

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.

3.8

definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
32,021 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #11

Jan 022004

(reported on)

Ion

  • miles

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

When tires spin transmission disconnects. Then. Vehicle has to be towed. This normally happens when it is snowing. Also, steering wheel turns from left to right on its own.

- West Glover, VT, USA

problem #10

May 012003

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,000 miles
I purchased my 2003 Saturn Ion in January 2003. It has been a nightmare. The vehicle has been into the dealership a total of 6 times and a grand total of 18 days in service. The transmission downshifts when I try to accerlerate. The service techs at Saturn have been able to duplicate this problem several times. They have recalirberated and replace the transmission; however the vehicle is still down shifting when accerlerating. I am terrified that I will be hit because of this problem. It has now gotten to the point that it will stop for a few seconds when the failure occurs and then take off agian. This is very dangerous. They should not be able to sell vehicles with defects. I have filed a compliant with the BBB and currently have a case pending. I want to be refunded in full for this vehicle.

- Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #9

Dec 022003

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,365 miles
I bought a Ion quad coupe in July of this year. I had a problem with the car not moving when placed into gear. They worked on the transmission and replaced some parts. The newly rebuilt tranmission stil slips and has a hard shifting feeling. I brought it in 3 times before it was actually fixed, and still need to go back. This seems to be a safety issue. What if it was to not drive when pulling out into traffic, or fail when I was driving. It has been over a week since I brought it in and the dealership will not give me paperwork on my car. I dont even know what parts were exactly replaced. Paperwork is missing from over 2 weeks ago from the 2nd visit.

- Bongor, ME, USA

problem #8

Dec 122003

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,000 miles

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

My Saturn Ion quad coupe is experiencing a transmission problem. Without warning and for no apparent reason, the transmission will slip, shake violently, and at times completely disengage, resulting in a complete loss of acceleration. This has manifested itself on several occasions, most notably when turning into traffic last week. I pulled into traffic and the transmission engaged, then subsequently disengaged for about 2 seconds. I was nearly hit by several vehicles, which had to take unsafe evasive actions to avoid plowing into me. I am very concerned that this presents a significant safety hazard to the vehicle occupants. I have noticed that I am not the only individual that has experienced this problem, and that being said, sincerely urge you to open a defect investigation to solve this problem before someone gets hurt or worse. Also, this may not be related, but the transmission makes a grinding noise between 1100 and 1300 RPM during deceleration, a metal grinding noise.

- Dearborn, MI, USA

problem #7

Dec 122003

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,600 miles
The two Saturn 2003 Ions I have driven (including my current vehicle) have a transmission problem where, when engaging in third gear, the transmission will "freewheel" for several seconds before engaging with a lurch. The problem can be created by accelerating around a corner while the transmission is shifting from second to third. The cars were manufactured in March/April, 2003.

- Stevenson Ranch, CA, USA

problem #6

Aug 012003

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
My 2003 Saturn Ion down shifts on me when I try to accelerate. It is getting consistently worse and has gotten to the point that it will stop for a second and then take off again. Saturn has been unable to fix this problem. A tech has test drove the vehicle with me and seen it happen first hand. Still on resolved. My vehicle has been in the shop a total of 4 times since I bought it. I have filed a complaint with the BBB and am currently trying to lemon law it.

- Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #5

Apr 092003

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

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

Purchase Saturn Ion III in March. Transmssion had hard shift then slip problem almost immediately.

- Joliet, IL, USA

problem #4

Jun 122003

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3 miles
I purchased my 2003 Saturn Ion quad 3 on 6-12-2003. I've had nothing but problems with it since the beginning. The transmission slips constantly. A tech from spring hill says this is normal for this type of transmission. Trying to turn left in front of oncoming traffic is a nightmare. This car is in the shop as we speak. The rear quarter panel is cracked and being replaced. The rear bumper is being painted because of scratches from the trunk rubbing. The front bumper is being painted because of runs in the paint. None of the body panels seem to match up. They're attempting to fix a popping noise in the front end. They're replacing the dr side glass because it is severely scratched. It sometimes runs rough at first crank.

- Bartlett, TN, USA

problem #3

Sep 222003

Ion

  • miles
While driving transmission does not engage properly, causing vehicle to stall.

- Weirsdale, FL, USA

problem #2

Apr 292003

Ion

  • miles
My 2003 Saturn Ion, was delivered on December 3,2002. This was my second Saturn. After about a 1000 miles the transmission started to slip. I took it to the dealer and they replaced that transmission. Another 1000 miles and the transmission started to slip again. I have been back and forth 4 times since then and they still have not fixed it.

- Baldwin, NY, USA

problem #1

Jul 092003

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,225 miles
My daughter bought a Saturn Ion III. She has recently had trouble with her automatic transmission. Saturn has acknoweldged a hard shifting problem from 2nd to 3rd, but since a high number of vehicles exhibit this problem, and they don't know what is causing it, it is being considered normal operation. My daughter's car exhibited this problem, but it has now begun to be a way more serious concern because it will completely slip, (lose all power), for what seems to be an ever increasing longer interval and more frequently. She has had this happen while trying to make a left hand turn with oncoming traffic. She now tries to avoid any situation at low speeds that might cause her injury, (she tries to make as many right hand turns to get to and from work as possible). Saturn has had two service employees witness the problem, albeit in a straight line driving situation. They still refuse to repair/replace or admit a problem beyond the hard shifting. My daughter lives in mesa, AZ. Her phone number is 480-577-3113, and name is elysia beckendorf. I mention mesa because of the unusual streets there. The majority of main city streets are six lanes wide with 45mph speed limits. That is a very scary scenario to be making a left hand turn in and lose power.

- Lacey, WA, USA

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