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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
29,067 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 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #27

May 232008


  • miles


Have to have my ignition cylinder and housing replaced in my Saturn Ion 3. key will not turn to start vehicle. A new key will start the car but only works for 2 weeks. I am on my 5th key in a little over 2 months. Took car to dealership yesterday, hope to get it back tomorrow. Charge was $523, complained to Saturn customer care and they brought it down to $230. So I am paying $230 to turn the key in the ignition of my 4 year old car.

- Greenfield, WI, USA

problem #26

Jan 152008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 84,000 miles
Whenever the temperature is at 30 degrees F or below my 2004 Saturn Ion will not start due to the passlock system. This is a known problem and could lead to a very dangerous stranded situation.

- Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #25

Nov 152004

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,000 miles
Car often will not start. Seems to be ignition switch, and/ or related circuits. Leaves motorist stranded, usually in bad weather. Replaced battery at 18 mos., which was not problem. Required 'rescue' from other family members many times, in lieu of tow service.

- Woodinville, WA, USA

problem #24

Mar 172008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles


On several occassion while it has been cold out, my vehicle would not start. As a matter of fact the vehicle would not even attempt to roll over. The only way I could seem to resolve the situation was by "jump starting" my Saturn with another vehicle. This has happened so many times in the winter that I finally got sick of it and parked the Saturn and drove a different vehicle. I am so sick of my car that I am ready to sell it. I recently found out about this site. After reading the first 20 some results and seen that everyone was having the same issue I was. I can not believe that there is not a recall on this part. I read other complaints too and am glad that I have not ran into their problem yet. If Saturn does not fix this problem really soon, I will sell my car and I will never buy a Saturn again. They are really making a bad product that they will eventually never sell again. After all these complaints, why has nothing been done to recall the problem. To anyone who reads this, never buy a Saturn. It is not just the Ion. I have heard several other issues with other vehicles.

- Eau Claire, WI, USA

problem #23

Feb 212008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
My 2004 Saturn ion2 will not start in very cold weather (sub-zero air temperatures). After several attempts are made - with approx. 10-15 minutes between each attempt - the car starts right up. The ignition will not crank the car, causing it to not roll over. When this happens, the display on the dash reads "service vehicle". after doing some research, I've learned this is an on-going problem with these vehicles. I am told I must replace the ignition switch to remedy the problem, but also that this may not even be a permanent fix. I am appalled by such faulty workmanship in an american-made car.

- Muskegon, MI, USA

problem #22

Feb 122008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
2004 Saturn Ion I'm having starting problems. On cold days the car won't start sometimes, but if you wait a few minutes it will start right up. Sometimes it takes so long that I have to leave it and get a ride.

- Glenolden, PA, USA

problem #21

Jan 162008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,100 miles


Saturn 1on 2004 bad ignition switch...

- Aurora, IL, USA

problem #20

Dec 182007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 52,000 miles
Prior to purchasing my '04 Saturn Ion I read all the reviews and customer complaints. One of the biggest complaints I came across was that the vehicle would not start in cold weather. I assumed that since I lived in Florida and it seemed most of the complaints where from other states where they get freezing temperatures, that I would not have this problem. How wrong I was, I have had this problems several times now when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. I contacted Saturn and asked them if there was anything they could do about it and was told that since there wasn't a recall I'd have to pay for any repairs to fix this problem. I have read several complaints where not even them attempting to fix it has resolved it, I guess I'll just live with the headache of trying to get it started on the mornings where it is too cold, thankfully I do live in Florida and that's not very often.

- Naples, FL, USA

problem #19

Nov 252007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
The Saturn Ion will not start in cold weather. Saturn knows of the problem but will not fix many posts on line of this issue. It is a major problem as I need to move at a moments notice for work.

- Lumberton, NJ, USA

problem #18

Nov 072007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,700 miles
When the weather reaches freezing and car has been left off for about 6 to 8 hours it will not start again. I had the problem two years ago and Saturn replaced the starter on the car and now the problem is back again this winter. I have checked several sites and this appears to be a big problem that should be address. Replacing the starter every other winter is not an acceptable solution.

- Esopus, NY, USA

problem #17

Jan 012005


  • Manual transmission
  • 28,000 miles


I live in Minnesota. I purchased a new 2004 Saturn Ion coupe, with only 84 miles and drove off the show room floor. I had numerous problems with the car starting in cold weather. I took the car to a Saturn dealership once it started, and they said it was the pass lock system in the car. The Saturn has continued to do the same thing over the last couple winters. This past winter it was extremely bad. 2 out of 7 days the car wouldn't start right away, but then I would try again in 20 minutes and it would start. I took the Saturn remote controls off the key chain thinking it was the problem. But it wasn't. also, I had the battery tested and it was fine. There needs to be a recall on this vehicle. Can someone please help. It seemed many were having the same complaints. This almost cost me a pay raise. Too many absences at my job will eliminate me.

- Buffalo, MN, USA

problem #16

May 292007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,700 miles
At the begining of may I took the car into the dealer because I could remove the key from the ignition while the car was still on. They replaced the ignition lock cylnder. I thought all was well. On may,29 2007, I was taking my wife out to dinner for her birthday. When I parked the car I tried to turn the car off and found out that I could not pull the key out nor could I turn the car off. I called Saturn and was told to try to disconnect the battery to turn off the car. This did not work. I instead had to remove the cars fuse for the fuel relay pump. I took the car into the shop the next morning. After sitting at the dealer for over 4 hours I was told the anti theft device and ignition column couldnt be reprogramed because the computer had gone out. I ended up buying a new car.

- Round Rock, TX, USA

problem #15

Jan 012007


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Saturn Ion will not start due to cold issues and is caused by an issue in the starting mechanism. Something about there being a security feature that cuts the car off from starting. Car leaves you pretty much stranded in the bitter cold when it will not start.

- Livonia, MI, USA

problem #14

Feb 112007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles
- the contact stated that the 2004 Saturn Ion did not crank or start when the outside temperature was below 35 degrees. The contact called the dealership, and they stated that the passlock switch would need to be replaced. The failure with the vehiclewas a common problem with the 2004 Saturn Ion. The failure mileage was 36000 and the current mileage was 42000.

- Comstock Park, MI, USA

problem #13

Feb 012007


  • Manual transmission
  • miles
2004 Ion II intermittently won't start - makes a short cranking sound and then - nothing. After waiting for a while (20-30 minutes or S) it will turn over - especially in cold weather - had the same problem last year and was sold a new starter by the dealership. A month later I had a starting problem again, but it did not repeat until today.

- Forest City, IA, USA

problem #12

Dec 152006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 42,000 miles
My 2004 Ion has the intermittent starting issue as well. It first happened when the car had 42000 miles (currently at 80000). The display on the dash reads "service engine" and turning the key results in nothing. Repeat attempts in 10 minute increments usually fixes it right up, after 2 or 3 tries. Saturn should really be held accountable as this seems to be the rule more so than the exception with these Ions.

- Andrews Afb, MD, USA

problem #11

Oct 302006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
I had a problem with my 2004 Saturn Ion not starting a few times last winter I thought it was related to water in the fuel or a battery problem and after taking steps to fix any defects with either I had no further problem with my car until the first cold day this winter. It has in the last month failed to start at least 6 times, all on cold mornings. It will eventually start after trying for about 10 minutes. I am no longer under warranty so I did some research before calling the dealer and found other owners with the exact same problem. I then called the dealership where I purchased the car and although they knew of the problem, they were still going to charge me diagnostic fees if I brought in my car. I contacted the Saturn corporation to find out why that have not issued a recall and did not get an answer to my question. I am presenting this as a safety problem for a few reasons. It is not safe to be sitting in your car in freezing temperatures for as long as it takes to eventually start. You can't plan ahead for emergencies. Most importantly, I have automatic locks that unlock everytime you remove the key and the car will not even turn over if I don't remove the key in between each attempt. I do not feel safe sitting in my car for 10-15 minutes, late at night, after work in a dark parking lot without locked doors, and I don't want anything to happen to my family or anyone else's just because their car wasn't built properly.

- Fife, WA, USA

problem #10

Nov 302006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles
I have had my 04 Ion for one and half years now, and last year when the weather started to get cold, it would not start. I called the dealer and they told me that the grease around the ignition could not tolerate the cold weather here in Nevada. So I had it replaced. Problem solved, until this year. Just today, for the first time this year, it didn't start. Now the weather here has been in the teens for the past week, this tells me that it's not just the temperature, there has to be something else. But no one can tell what. Something needs to be done.

- Reno, NV, USA

problem #9

Feb 202006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,520 miles
Starter failure Saturn Ion in cold weather. Half hour to 45 minutes to crank - backfiring in a closed system with fuel injection occasionally, twice blowing lid off of air-filter compartment - not a joy. "service engine" light goes on - late to work - common problem - lots of online complaints. Replaced batteries believing this to be problem. New batteries with higher cranking amps does not solve. Not a battery problem. Date given is most recent occurrence, with only one event on that date. It also occurred on 2/19/06, many times in 01/06, a few times in 12/05, and several times in 12/04, 01/05, and 02/05. It did not happen when I bought the car in 02/04 - but that was a much milder winter than years that followed. Treatment of gasoline with "heat" does not solve. Car runs like a dream when warmer weather - utterly inconvenient and embarrassing ("what" this is a Saturn? new and won't start? less than 16,000 miles on it"") when cold. Bad advertising for the company too.

- Lenexa, KS, USA

problem #8

Feb 082006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 38,000 miles
2004 Saturn Ion no crank and no start when the outside temperature is cold. Lots of complaints on the web. Lots of Ions have this issue.

- Belen, NM, USA

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