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.

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NHTSA — Electrical System: Ignition: Anti-Theft Controller Problems

CarComplaints.com Seal Of This Might Hurt

CarComplaints.com 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.

4.3

definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
26,720 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

problem #14

Jan 012005

Ion

  • 2,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. When the pass lock/ anti-theft warning light illuminates on the instrument control panel, he cannot start the vehicle. Usually he has to wait 12 minutes to start the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and the technician replaced the cd player and adjusted the cruise control switch. The repairs did not remedy the failure. The manufacturer was notified, and he was referred back to the dealer. The failure mileage was 2,000. The current mileage was 136,000.

- Emerson, IA, USA

problem #13

Jan 012005

Ion

  • 2,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. When the pass lock of the anti-theft system warning light illuminates on the instrument control panel, the vehicle will not start. He usually has to wait for 12 minutes to start the vehicle. A technician from the dealer replaced the cd player and adjusted the cruise control switch. The repairs did not remedy the failure. The manufacturer was notified, and he was referred back to the dealer. The failure mileage was 2,000. The current mileage was 136,000.

- Emerson, IA, USA

problem #12

Oct 282009

Ion

  • miles
I couldn't start my car. I had it jumped and the problem went away. I got a new battery thinking this would fix everything, which it did not. I came to learn it was not the battery, but the passlock system. It is a safety issue for the following reason: When this happens I'm required to sit for ten minutes to wait for it to clear out the passlock system. This happened the other night at midnight, which is a very dangerous situation to be in a parking lot with no one else around. After a little research I find that many people have experienced this. Seems unfair that Saturn is aware of this costly issue and is not being held responsible for the cost of fixing it. Especially since I've read that some people have the same issue after they've spent $300+ to get it fixed.

- Niagara Falls, NY, USA

problem #11

Sep 102008

Ion

  • 58,000 miles

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

I purchased my vehicle in March of 2004 and have had numerous problems since. I have had the ignition switch replaced previously and now just paid $630 to have the body module replaced because the anti-theft system locks the whole car down making it impossible to start it. Initially it was thought to be a cold weather problem back when I first had the car ignition switch replaced. This recent incident is still not yet resolved because I have been having difficulty getting the keys out of the ignition once the car is turned off. It appears that the body module is still not registering that the key is in off position because the ignition switch is still faulty. I am at a loss for what to do next because I don't have money for these kind of repairs especially once every week.

- Parma Heights, OH, USA

problem #10

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 #9

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 #8

Feb 222008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

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

Car will not start in cold weather. Must wait between 5 and 10 minutes after each start attempt. Posted bulletins relate the problem to a faulty passlock switch/ignition switch.

- Flint, MI, USA

problem #7

Jan 102008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
On numerous occasions this year, my 2004 Ion would not start despite the fact that the battery was charged. My own mechanic told me to have it serviced by a Saturn dealership because the problem was related to the anti theft controller and could only be worked on by the dealership. He had seen this problem numerous times before. The problem was confirmed and repaired (for $214).the parts were only $40.as your own website(and others)confirm, this is an inherent problem that many Ion owners eventually will encounter. Despite this "defect", General Motors takes no responsibility doesn't seem to be a logical strategy to hold on to an already dwindling number of loyal customers.

- Tonawanda, NY, USA

problem #6

Dec 102007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
I have a 2004 Saturn Ion which was recently purchased. One morning I went to start the car. All the interior lights came on, the electrical system worked fine, but the engine would not turn over (nothing happened at all). When I returned home that evening, the car started immediately, ruling out a dead battery. This failure re-occurs mostly on cold mornings. I discovered on the web that Saturn has a problem with the ignition switch pass lock system when it is cold. Saturn is aware of the problem but refuses to do anything about it. I took the car to a local mechanic and asked him to replace the switch. He made a special trip to the Saturn dealer (30+ miles) to get a new switch, however he discovered that the switch needs to be programmed and only a Saturn dealer can do that. The Saturn dealership failed to mention this to him when he bought the part. Now, I have to pay to have the car towed to the Saturn dealer to have the switch programmed, as well as for nearly a week of wasted time, money, and convenience.

- Biglerville, PA, USA

problem #5

Jan 252008

Ion

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
My 2004 Ion won't start. The problem started in November with cold weather, but has occurred when it was not cold out and has gotten progressively worse until I can't start it at all and its because of the passlock security system. I have read probably more than a hundred complaints from others about this problem. Saturn obviously doesn't care about people's safety. What is the point of a car payment when you can't drive the car or leave in an emergency? I used to be able to wait ten minutes for the passlock to deactivate, although it might take several tries of doing this before I ever got anywhere, but now nothing. The car is ok otherwise. Mechanics don't know what to do.

- Alderson, WV, USA

problem #4

Jan 212007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,550 miles

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

My car will not crank when the key is turned to start. It has complete power. The battery is well within the normal limits. The instances when this occur all seem to be when the car has been outside and not running for at least 2 hours in temperatures in the 20 degrees Fahrenheit range or colder. All the dash lights are on, and all the accessories work when the key is turned to start, but the starter does not even attempt to turn. The "service engine" message flashes. I pulled all the electrical relays in the fuse box and the engine will now start with no problem. It is a recurring problem when the weather is cold. The same fix works each time. There is most likely a fault in the ignition switch or the passlock system. Should be recalled.

- Auburn, AL, USA

problem #3

Dec 042006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 61,530 miles
'04 Saturn Ion fails to start in cold weather. Security system prevents starting. Must warm key/ignition, and after 15 minutes car may start.

- Clare, MI, USA

problem #2

Mar 282007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,000 miles
My 2004 Saturn Ion occasionally will not start (will not crank). The battery is in good condition and a good state of charge. In general the problem is "cured" by waiting 10 minutes or so, and trying to start it again. Then it might be several weeks of months before the problem occurs again.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #1

Jan 092006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
My 2004 Saturn Ion coupe never starts in the cold. It has become such a headache I warm a towel in the morning put it on the engine before I start it. I get such a migraine wondering what is going on with my car. I called Saturn they said it was a theft device and maybe someone tried to steal my car or gas. Crazy!!!!!!!!!!

- Santa Rosa, CA, USA

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