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 6 of 12)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #125

Feb 232010


  • 55,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start and the key became wedged in the ignition. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for repairs. The manufacturer was contacted and advised that there were no recalls on the vehicle. The approximate failure mileage was 55,000.

- Cicero, NY, USA

problem #124

Jan 222010


  • 110,000 miles
I just brought a 2004 Saturn Ion 2 a couple days ago. Today I got up and ready for work and my car wouldn't start. I tried several times to start the car and still nothing but the lights and radio etc come on. I was lookin for a reliable car to get me and my son back and forth being as though we have no family that lives close by;;; turns out I think I might have made a wrong decision. I have had this car less than 2 weeks now and it already is turning into a nightmare. I am hesitant on putting my son in this car because if I do get it to turn on and this happens again what are we to do? it is freezing outside!

- Paulsboro, NJ, USA

problem #123

Jan 212011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 42,000 miles
My car will not start when the weather turns cold. I am the original owner of this car and keep up on the maintenance. After researching the problem, I have read numerous complaints on line about the same problem from other Saturn Ion owners and have concluded that the passlock system is misinterpreting a theft and locking up the fuel. I read that changing the grease in the ignition switch will correct this problem and that Saturn (GM) has known of this complaint for some time now. They have a new improved part to replace this bad one but I don't feel it is worth $400+ to pay for replacement when it is a quick fix and it is their fault to start with. Please issue a recall for this problem. I have been stranded in the cold waiting and praying for the car to start so that I can get to work on time and back home. It is not too much to ask. The car only has about 42,000 miles on it.

- Norwalk, OH, USA

problem #122

Jan 122011


  • miles


Without notice, the car will not start. The car will start and run like it was designed too, but after the car has been turned off, there have been instants where the car will not start again. The battery is not dead, all the lights, gauges and horn will work, but no power goes to the starter. After a extended period of time, ten minutes or more, the car will start. This is a random condition, there are no warning signs of when it will not start. I have been told that there is either a glitch in the security program or there is a problem with the grease in the started switch.

- Hooper, UT, USA

problem #121

Dec 042010


  • 92,000 miles
My 2004 Saturn Ion 2 will not start on many cold mornings. It started initially, I drove it to the gas station, then it would not start again. The battery was fine, but I replaced it anyway. This issue presents in two different ways: Turn key and get nothing, or turn key and hear an initial crank and then it shuts off. Lights and radio still work. Car will eventually crank and turn over after 10-20 minutes.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #120

Dec 152010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
I own a 2004 Saturn ion2. At first, I only had a problem with my car randomly not starting. If I would wait for any ungiven length of time, it would magically start. Now, my key has been stuck in the ignition for two weeks. (still stuck) I went to a Saturn dealer today and was told that the problem could be the solenoid, the housing unit, or even both. I was told that the key may have worn down, or a part in the housing may have scratched the inner surface of the housing causing the key to be stuck in the ignition. I live in Florida, so the "cold" weather isn't a factor here. I cannot believe that there has not been a recall for this problem. I have two young kids who ride with me everyday, and I fear that we will get stranded in god only knows where. If my car is stolen because the key is always in the ignition, if it gets stolen, will my insurance even pay for my loss"?" I thought Saturn was supposed to be very good with problems involving their automobiles. I guess that idea only applied to their commercials.

- Brandon, FL, USA

problem #119

Oct 122009


  • miles


I own a 2004 Saturn Ion. For the past two years when the temperature is below 36 degrees the vehicle fails to start. The ignition locks me out until the anti theft device resets and I can try again. After reading about many others expensive solutions to this issue without resolve or recall by GM, I have bought a small electrical heater to set on my floor board on the drivers side of the vehicle. This warms up the ignition inside the car and it starts right up. Until I found this solution I was late to work, late for appointments and once stranded in frigid temperatures.

- Goodlettsville, TN, USA

problem #118

Dec 072010


  • 55,600 miles
On mornings when it is cold and has been during the night as well, my 2004 Saturn Ion will not start. It has happened three times now. I have already replaced the battery and now I am going to have to take my car to another shop in order for it to diagnose the reason it is not starting. The first mechanic said it is the tbs that is out on the no crank, no start for the ignition. The old part is still currently in my car.

- La Grange, TX, USA

problem #117

Nov 132010


  • 162,000 miles
The contact owns 2004 Saturn Ion 3. the contact stated that when the weather became extremely cold she was unable to take the key out of the ignition. She started to noticed the failure when she parked the vehicle outside. She also mentioned that the only way she was able to take the key out of the ignition was to place a hot towel around the steering column. The contact will take the vehicle to the dealer. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 162,000.

- Johnson City , TN, USA

problem #116

Feb 152007


  • 40,641 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the security system was re-designed and caused the vehicle to not be able to start. The dealer replaced the ignition switch but the problem continued. The dealer then stated that the body control module needed to be replaced. The contact called the manufacturer who offered no assistance. The vehicle had not been repaired. The failure mileage was 40,641 and the current mileage was approximately 96,000.

- Woodstock , VA, USA

problem #115

Nov 222010


  • 90,215 miles


I live in Minnesota when the temp drops below 30 degrees my 2004 Saturn ion2 won"T start. This just started happening last winter, I had no problems before that. I bought a new battery last winter. I took my car to the Saturn dealer they could not find anything wrong. Usually it takes from 15minutes to half a hour for car to start. But today was different went out to start my car because the temp was 28degrees this morning I tried to start my car for over a hour I was almost late for work still no start. Then I tried starting my car when I got off work still no start. I spoke with a coworker she had the same problem she replaced battery, starter, and alternator and her does not start when it rains. Why is there nothing being done to solve this problem. Even though the car was sold by Saturn it has GM parts. Something is seriously wrong and something needs to be done to correct this.

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #114

Nov 162010


  • 66,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving various speeds and when the vehicle was parked that the interior lights would not shut off. None of the warning lights illuminated on the instrumental panel. The contact also stated that the alarm shuts off intermittently at night. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 66,000.

- Mira Loma, CA, USA

problem #113

Oct 102010


  • 40,000 miles
Can't remove key from switch Saturn Ion 04 car will not turn off nor can you remove the key had to pull the fuse under the hood and disconnect the battery in order to shut car off.

- Broonall, PA, USA

problem #112

Sep 182010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
The car will not start when it is cold or moist out. This is with a brand new battery. But, if you wait 15 to 20 minutes it will start without a problem.

- Federal Way, WA, USA

problem #111

Apr 172006

Ion 4-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
After driving through water in the street or a car wash, the next time I try to turn the car on, it won't start. You have to keep trying to start it until there is no noise at all except from the dash board. Let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes and then it will start again, at least until another rain storm or car wash. Have been stranded in parking lots, at home before work, and many other times. I just hope it never happens in an emergency. Have had problems with three of the automatic windows not opening or closing, including the inconvenience of the driver window being stuck for about 2 weeks. Had to get out of the car at the bank, drive thrus, and couldn't roll the windows down to cool the car off. All three windows were not working all at the same time. Then about 2 weeks later, all of a sudden the window's start working again. The power steering which is powered by an electric motor went out and had to be replaced. I would be driving down the road, would hear a "ding, ? the dash board would read ?power steering? and then it would become very difficult to steer the car. Coolant light constantly comes on when you get in the car, even though the tank is full, the temp is right, and float is working. The dealer wanted $350 to replace the whole tank. I said forget it and put up the constant ?ding? from the dash board every time I get in the car. If something should ever really go wrong with it, I wouldn't know. There appears to be a huge number of electronic problems with Saturn Ions. Please investigate. Did they set the computers or electronic pats to malfunction on purpose right after warranties have expired"

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #110

Jun 252010


  • 83,000 miles
I drive a 2004 Saturn Ion-2 and my power steering goes out at random times. This is the first time I have had an issue with my power steering. I feel it is a major safety concern because this issue happens at random and the car becomes incredibly hard to steer. I have done some research on this matter and many other Saturn drivers have the exact same problem as myself and I have also found that the Chevy cobalt has the exact same steering column as the Saturn Ion and there has been a recall on the cobalt but not on the Ion. This baffles me because if the same mechanism is on both cars the both cars should be recalled not just one. I feel extremely unsafe on the road driving my car now because I have no indication if and when my power steering will fail. The are no events leading up to this happening and I replaced the electrical power steering fuses in hopes that the fuses were blown but this did not solve the problem. From some internet research the next step would be having the entire steering column replaced but I do not feel Saturn Ion drivers should be responsible for replacing a defect on a car that should have been recalled years ago.

- Vista, CA, USA

problem #109

Jun 132010


  • miles
There was a error message on the panel that said "power ster", 5 seconds later the steering wheel locked on a bridge.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #108

Jun 132010


  • miles
There was a error message on the panel that said "power ster", 5 seconds later the steering wheel locked on a bridge.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #107

Jan 012010


  • 76,000 miles
Quite often, without warning, the power steering fails on my wife's 2004 Saturn Ion. Surprised at first by this failure, she has learned not to panic and to keep control of the car. Internet research has told us that GM is aware of the problem and issued recalls on other models with the same system. It is apparently an expensive fix.

- Kinston, NC, USA

problem #106

May 282008

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
2004 Saturn ion1 will not start due do passlock theft deterrent problem. The possible components causing this are the ignition switch and/or the BCM. The battery was tested as good. This problem started in January 2008 during a winter storm and has happened dozens and dozens of times since, with the last occurrence today and it is nearly 90 degrees outside. It has previously only done this in cold and wet conditions. The car will crank once or twice when the ignition switch is engaged but then it will do nothing, the service engine light along with the passlock icon illuminates. After waiting 10 minutes the lights go off and it will start. This is an extremely common problem with these cars and the repairs are costly and not always effective according to what others are indicating online. This could easily put somebody in harms way given an unsafe or harsh environment.

- Toledo, OH, USA

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