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: Ahh, the 2004 Saturn Ion: defective transmission, deadly ignition switch, temperamental power steering and a cheap plastic exterior that won’t protect you in a crash. What more could you want?

The 2004 Ion was part of GM’s massive ignition switch recall where it was revealed they waited 10 years – and let 13 people die – before doing anything about it. It also features GM’s now infamous VTi continuously variable transmission. Let me tell you, the only thing the VTi did continuously was fail on its owners. GM scrapped it after only two model years.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
8 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
53,168 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.

2004 Saturn Ion electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Saturn Ion Owner Comments (Page 4 of 12)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #165

Apr 012014

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles


2004 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to ignition switch recall notice. The consumer stated after several years of experiencing problems with the vehicle. She was forced to figure out and pay for the problem on her own.

- Somerset, OH, USA

problem #164

Jan 062014


  • 110,000 miles
Shortly after starting on a very cold winter day, at low speed and with the battery likely low from starting the car the power steering warning chimed and the car became very difficult to control. The problem has not recurred since then (even a few hours later with the car warmed up and battery fully charged), but the temperature has been significantly higher and I replaced the battery with a better one. The battery had tested good at the last oil change/service/inspection, but was near the end of its life expectancy.

- Verona, WI, USA

problem #163

Oct 162013

Ion 4-cyl

  • 87,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while entering a parking lot at 3 mph, the vehicle suddenly stalled and the contact crashed into a cement pillar. There were no injuries. The vehicle was to be repaired under NHTSA campaign number 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system) but was informed that the part was not yet available. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was 87,000. Updated 06/10/14 MA the consumer stated he lost power steering, and the vehicle surged forward into a concrete pillar. The ar bags did not deploy. The consumer stated the bumper absorbed the hit, and there was no real damage. Updated 07/24/14

- Friendswood, TX, USA

problem #162

Jan 122009


  • 65,000 miles


I was driving on dry roads during the daytime below the speed limit, when the power steering light came on. The wheel locked, and I was unable to steer the car. I pulled to the side of the road and turned the car off and back on. It restarted without incident. 3 years later, the same event occurred without causing an accident.

- St. Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #161

Feb 032014


  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign id numbers: 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system) and14V171000 (electrical system) but was advised by the dealer that the part needed to complete the repair was not available. The contact received two separate recall notices and had still been waiting for the recall repairs. The manufacturer was also contacted and could not provide a reasonable time frame for when the vehicle would receive the recall repairs.  the contact had not experienced a failure.

- Neilsville, WI, USA

problem #160

Apr 012014

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
2004 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to ignition switch recall notice issues, air bag malfunction and several other vehicle problems. The consumer stated her daughter was involved in 3 accidents. Her daughter lost power and the vehicle stalled. When her daughter hit the other vehicle, the air bags did not deploy. Her daughter was injured. Also, the consumer had difficulty steering the vehicle.

- Rochester, MN, USA

problem #159

Apr 012014


  • miles


2004 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to faulty ignition problems. The consumer stated he experienced numerous problems with the ignition, in the 3 years he has owned the vehicle. On several occasions, the vehicle would not start. The dealer would always claim, there was nothing wrong with the passlock system.

- Clinton Township, MI, USA

problem #158

Dec 042012

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
2004 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to ignition switch recall notice issues. The consumer stated the vehicle would not start. The problem has been going on for years. According to the latest invoice, the technician found the key binding in the housing. The ignition cylinder was replaced. The battery was replaced 3 times.

- Mahwah, NJ, USA

problem #157

Dec 272011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 103,328 miles
In Dec. 2011, the car would not turn on and I paid $280 for a replacement ignition switch. I have no idea if they used another faulty switch that is now the subject of the current recall. In concern for my safety, I am using a single key, as GM instructed, and waiting for the dealer to get the part to replace the ignition switch. Supposedly, it will happen this month - April. Also in 2011 (or maybe the beginning of 2012) I experienced the intermittent loss of the power steering. That was paid for by GM but, again, now I have no idea if they put in another faulty power steering column that is the subject of today's recall. When I called GM today, they said that last power steering replacement was not a recall, it was a special safety issue #10187. I asked if the incentive to trade in the car would be extended due to another recall and they could not answer the question because that is a sales issue, not a repair issue. I think it's time to replace this car, maybe with a Ford!

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #156

Nov 182009

Ion 4-cyl

  • 48,000 miles
My car started not starting up at all. It would take about 20 minutes to start my car and the ignition would be hard to turn, and a jump would not work. I would have to go out and start my car 30 minutes before I had to leave for work and let it run. I took my car to a mechanic to change my oil and it would not start. They tried to give me a jump and I told them that do not work and explain what it does all the time and the owner check his computer under the safety recalls and he told me that it was a recall on my ignition, so I took my car to a Saturn dealer "this was in 2010" and I told them what was told to me and they told me that there was not any recalls for my car. I wrote a letter about this issue and never got a response. Now in 2013 my car cut off while driving down the street for no reason. I was just going to get my ignition fixed when I got this letter about the recall. This car was given to my son for a graduation present and I would like it to be fixed soon.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #155

Mar 062014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 182,560 miles


They key gets stuck in the ignition and sometimes I cant put the key in the ignition. Many times if I can get the key in and try to start it then it does nothing. I had the car towed home and that is where it is still sitting in my driveway unable to start?? I would like to know where to take my car for the recall repairs, is towing also included I don't have the money to keep paying to have the car towed.

- Brighton, MI, USA

problem #154

Mar 212014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 201,755 miles
The car would not turn over, I called road side in hopes that the battery just needed a jump, but when they arrived I found out that the car was not turning over because of another reason. My friends came over and we popped the clutch and drove it to a car repair shop to have them take a look, I was thinking either the starter or the alternator. He called me last night to tell me to contact GM about the recall on the ignition. The ignition is bad and will not turn the car over.

- Waterford, MI, USA

problem #153

Jan 082004

Ion 4-cyl

  • 175 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the vehicle had multiple failures. The steering was rough and the transmission was causing the vehicle to make loud noises when the wheels were turned left or right. The contact was included in NHTSA campaign id number:14V047000 (air bags, electrical system) however the dealer stated that the parts would become available mid April. The manufacturer was also contacted and could not provide an estimated date for when the contact's vehicle would receive the recall repairs. An authorized dealer will inspect the transmission and steering failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 175. The mileage of 175 was reaffirmed by the contact. Updated 05/28/14 MA the consumer stated the vehicle began having issues 2 weeks after it was purchased. The vehicle wouldnt start, it had high idling problems, and most recently the steering column failure. The battery and throttle were both replaced. Updated 05/29/2014*

- Dearborne, MI, USA

problem #152

Mar 172014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 179,161 miles
Campaign id #14V-047 GM case#[xxx] re: Ignition switch recall I was offered a rental car but GM is not reimbursing the cost of insurance for the rental. I cannot afford nor have the time to argue my case with GM. This is GM's fault, they should be reimbursing all costs incurred by this recall. Please assist me. I do not want to have to retain an attorney for this. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Aliso Viejo, CA, USA

problem #151

Jul 292013


  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that when attempting to drive the vehicle, it would not start on multiple occasions. The contact waited for a brief moment and the vehicle was able to restart. The vehicle would not start at random. The battery was replaced due to the ignition problem with the vehicle. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer to diagnose the problem. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The contact was included in NHTSA campaign id number: 14V047000 (air bags and electrical system) after the failures. The approximate failure mileage was 55000.

- Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

problem #150

Aug 192009

Ion 4-cyl

  • 79,000 miles
This issue has been a long ongoing problem for me, with this car. I do not know the actual dates of the occurrences but it has been frequent enough that I have developed a method for starting my car that if I do not feel rushed, I can get the car to start most every time. If the key is inserted into the ignition and immediately turned to the full on positing in an attempt to start the car, it will, on occasion, turn over once and then go completely dead. If the attempt is repeated, the auxiliary lights will come on but the engine will not turn over. I had my car towed to a garage and replaced the battery, two different times before reading about a potential passlock issue with Saturn. When I do have the problem now, I have found that waiting roughly 8 minutes(10 minutes to be safe), for the car to reset itself, which is an incredibly long wait, will generally allow you to start the car without further ignition difficulty. I have also discovered more recently that if I put the key in the ignition and turn it to the auxiliary mode, pause in this position for about 5 seconds(until the indicator light in the shape of a padlock turns off), then attempt to start the vehicle, it will start without issue every time.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #149

Feb 282014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 137,000 miles
As I was coming up to a traffic circle, my gears locked up and power steering went out, resulting in a crash into the traffic circle median, totaling the front of my vehicle. Vehicle is still in the shop awaiting maintenance.

- Cheverly, MD, USA

problem #148

Mar 092005

Ion 4-cyl

  • 3,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated while driving 65 mph, the steering wheel became difficult to move and the vehicle stalled. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer for diagnostic testing. The dealer advised the contact that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 3,000 and the current mileage was 50,000.

- Lombard, IL, USA

problem #147

Feb 182014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
While driving in heavy traffic on rt 95 car stalled and it took a few minutes to restart. Have a terrible time starting the car in morning and its not the battery as its about year old. I thought it might be the cold weather but sometimes it starts sometimes it doesn't. I never know whether its going to start. When this happens it sounds dead. I think there is a problem with the ignition switch. Have talked to other Saturn owners who have same problem and they said a relay switch cured the problem.

- Cumberland, RI, USA

problem #146

Feb 202013

Ion 4-cyl

  • 139,000 miles
My 2004 Saturn Ion intermittently will not release the key from the acc position as well as when trying to start it the security system will intermittently keep the car from starting, I will go to start the vehicle and then it will start to crank then shut down, I have to wait 10 min then the car will start. It is starting to happen more frequently and I seen the just did a recall on 2/25/2014 on ignition switches for my year and model of Saturn but my VIN was not included and I can see that several complaints have been put in and this in many cases was just a start to what other people have incurred @ some point most other people complain eventually then cannot get the engine to stop running. I am trying to find out why my VIN is not included in this recall as I just took my vehicle to the shop coincidentally for this problem as they told me was the ignition switch but did not have the funds to repair it. This to me is absurd when you see the amount of complaints and now I find out 13 people have died!

- Norfolk, WA, USA

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