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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
120,359 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 lights problems

lights problem

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2004 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #7

Aug 122014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 111,500 miles


While driving in pre-dawn hours (headlights & defrosters on), started smelling something melting or burning. Then instrument panel lights went out for a few seconds. Instrument panel lights then came back on & started flashing on & off really fast. At that same time, door locks started locking & unlocking repeatedly on their own. Burning & melting smell was getting stronger. As I was pulling over, I entered a more well-lit area and saw smoke accumulating inside car near roof & top of windshield. Shut car off immediately.

- Taylor, MI, USA

problem #6

Apr 152014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 165,000 miles
When I start my car I get a message that days power steering service vehicle. That I loose all dash lights occasionally radio and air I do not regain power steering or lights for about 5-10 minutes. I can hear a change in the engine when it is regained. Once it's done I can drive perfectly normal. My check engine light is on and off. When I turn my car off the lights are there during the fit and off when the car is on. All the codes thrown are electrical. Help!

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #5

Mar 012013


  • 239,512 miles
I was driving at night on a country road when a deer ran out in front of me and the car struck it. The car sustained some front end damage and the cabin filled with smoke. The seat-belts locked up but the airbags never deployed. Now the airbag light is on and the seat-belts are locked up. It concerns me that with everything that happened that the airbag should have when off.

- Clayton, NC, USA

problem #4

May 012012

Ion 4-cyl

  • 145,000 miles


When I turn my car on the parking lights and front turn signals starting blinking really quick like strobing. I can turn my left turn signal on and it will blink inside hearing the normal ticking. If I turn my right turn signal on it the arrow on the inside blinks slower and makes no ticking sound.if I push on my brake the light work probably and the ticking sound on the right turn signal inside starts. If I put my emergency brake on it works properly. The strobing of the front outside parking lights stop. If I turn my parking light on and drive with them on everything works properly. I know this has something to do with the recall. It is effecting my car so bad that my radio display light blinks also. So it is getting feedback from this problem before I have a wreck. I am a single mother with 2 children.

- Saint Joseph, MO, USA

problem #3

Nov 082008


  • 118,000 miles
Passenger side front turn signal stops working for a week, then works, then quits again for a few days and then works again. Saturn dealer says this vehicle is not included on the recall - it appears to be the same problem as recall campaign 04V657000 - NHTSA action number PE04061. They said any review/repair would be at my expense.

- Chilton, WI, USA

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problem #2

Sep 042008


  • 60,000 miles
In 2005 a recall was issued for the 2004 Saturn Ion front headlamps. I had the recalled parts replaced. For the past few months my left blinker has gone out about five times. I have replaced bulbs, had the dealer replace the sockets, and am now about to have the wiring harness replaced. The dealer said that no one else has had this problem. However, I have been researching the problem and have found hundreds of the same occurrences online and have seen other Saturn Ions around town with the same blinker out. I believe this problem is not normal wear and tear. I believe it is directly related to the 2005 recall.

- Mableton, GA, USA

problem #1

Mar 292004

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,500 miles
By 3500 miles (after 1500mi when we could have returned it), the front passenger turn signal burnt out. The car was also sputtering when we started the engine. The mechanic found a cracked head, that we were told was probably present when we purchased the car; had we known we would've returned the car. We were given a rental car, but had to drive 45 min one way to get to Saturn of green bay. Within a month, the front driver turn signal had burnt out. The wiring was replaced while we waited 2 hrs with our 3 year old. We had to drive 1 hr 1way to Saturn of appleton for repairs. In Aug 2004, the car was making a noise when we turned onto a steep grade. In mi for vacation, we had to drive over 1 hr 1way to Saturn of troy; the swaybar and mounting brackets had to be fixed. We waited for over 2 hrs with our son while it was fixed. In Sept 2004, the front passenger side turn signal had to replace the resistor. We drove 1 hr 1 way for the repair, and had to wait 2 hrs with our son. We had asked about the cruise making a funny noise, but it was checked and we were told it was fine. In April 2005, the cruise stopped working and had to be fixed. It took over a week for the part to come in, and almost 2 weeks for it to be repaired at Saturn of green bay. I had to go to the dealer 30 minutes early, be driven over to my school where I teach, walk to my second school I teach at, and wait for a driver to pick me up (20-40 min past when I was done for the day). Despite everything we've been through with a new car that should need minimal care at this point, we've been basically told that we should take the $2600 hit to buy a new car while the dealer breaks even. This is poor salesmanship, and we will not be purchasing Saturn products any longer.

- Two Rivers, WI, USA

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