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:
13 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
79,882 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2004 Saturn Ion Owner Comments (Page 10 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #122

Aug 202010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 67,330 miles


While driving for less than 5 minutes, the car dinged and the pwr str light came on. I was unable to turn the wheel without considerable effort. Drove home at about 30 miles per hour and had extreme difficulty turning the wheel. This is very dangerous! I could barely turn the wheel at all and was concerned for my safety!

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #121

Mar 052008


  • 60,000 miles
Power steering went out in 2004 Saturn Ion after the warranty had expired (2008). Took it to dealership and they said it would be $1000. Could not afford it and began looking online for other alternative. Found many others with the same problem. Contacted Saturn by phone, mail, signed petitions. Nothing was ever done. Recently found out GM recalled the same part for the Chevy cobalt, but not Saturn. Finally seen where you could take the Saturn in and they would fix it for free. I found out online, Saturn never sent me notification. When I took it in they said I had 2,000 miles over what the "special warranty" would cover. Contacted they Saturn customer service, they opened an investigation and called me back to say there was nothing they could do due to the 2,000 miles and when I asked for someone higher I was told there was nowhere higher this was GM's final decision but I should pay for the repairs because this was a hazard. I asked again for a supervisor or anyone else higher than her she again said there was no one higher and this was GM's final decision and remained on the line silent then finally disconnected the call. I do not understand how they can refuse to let me talk to someone higher and furthermore refuse to cover a manufacturers defective part.

- Pearl, MS, USA

problem #120

Aug 092010


  • 0 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. While driving 60 mph the power steering chime sound alerted her that the power steering malfunctioned. The contact stated that it was very difficult to turn the steering wheel. The vehicle was taken to a garage in order to have the failure diagnosed. The vehicle was repaired with a used steering column. The contact stated that her son was driving at 20 mph when the chime alerted him and the steering wheel was very difficult to steer causing him to crash into a pole. There were front end damages and no injuries. The dealer stated that there were no recalls. The failure mileage was unknown. The current mileage was 67000.

- Pacoima, CA, USA

problem #119

Aug 152009

Ion 4-cyl

  • 100,000 miles


The power steering randomly stops while driving. Intermittently, sometimes it'll stop 5 seconds after driving, sometimes it'll work for a full hour drive. I almost got into a couple bad incidents because of this supposedly known issue.

- Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #118

Jul 272010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 98,980 miles
Power steering failure renders vehicle inoperable and just plain dangerous. My power steering went out while driving on 3 occasions this week and would be back to normal after coming to complete stop and restarting the vehicle. Had the power steering motor replaced to correct the problem.

- Humble, TX, USA

problem #117

Jun 132010


  • miles
While driving, anywhere from two minutes to twenty minutes later, the power steering fails and does not correct until the engine is restarted. This happens every day, up to 5 times a day.

- Reno, NV, USA

problem #116

Jul 152010


  • 69,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. While driving approximately 40 mph the power steering service light illuminated on the instrument panel and the steering wheel became very stiff. The contact drove the vehicle onto the emergency lane, turned it off and restarted it; however, the vehicle began to function normally and then the failure recurred. The contact stated that the failure had recurred numerous times. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who was unable to diagnose the failure. The contact replaced the power steering fuses but the failure continued to occur. The failure and current mileages were 69,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Windsor, PA, USA

problem #115

Jul 182010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 69,000 miles
My 2004 Saturn Ion 3 power steering keeps on failing. All I have to do is shut off the car and turn it back on it again and it works again. It appears from the internet this is a common issue with these cars and that the cobalt with the exact same steering column and electric motor was recalled but the Ion was not. This is scary when driving and your power steering just goes out. It is happening more and more on me and is going to cause an accident one day.

- Enfiled, CT, USA

problem #114

Jul 132010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 28,000 miles
Saturn Ion 2004 2.2ltr L4 with 28K miles. After drving 3 or 4 blocks only, "pwr str" indicator lighted up on the dashboard, and the steering got really hard, almost impossible to steer the car. This had happened like 1 or 2 years before while driving in my parking, but it was gone the next time I started the car.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #113

Dec 052009


  • 104,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. While driving at 35 mph, the power steering locked and became extremely difficult to steer. The contact then depressed the brakes and was able to coast to the side of the road. The vehicle was then towed to a local repair facility. The dealer advised there were no reported failures of power steering loss in his year, make and model. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing or repairs. The failure mileage was 104,000 and the current mileage was 130,000.

- Lynchburg, VA, USA

problem #112

Jul 131999


  • 52,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated while driving at 70 mph the power steering light flashed and the power steering malfunctioned. The contact called the manufacturer and they stated to the contact to take the vehicle into the dealer to have a diagnostic test and also have a district specialist look at the vehicle. The contact has not taken the vehicle to the dealer at this time. The contact stated the vehicle will cause someone's death. The failure mileage was 52,000.

- Oak Lawn, IL, USA

problem #111

Jun 052010


  • 122,000 miles
I have a 2004 Saturn Ion (red line). In July of last year, my power steering went out while driving. You have to turn the car off and restart it in order to reset the power steering. The problem occurred twice that month and did not happen again until June of this year. It has happened 5 times since. I have noticed that the problem usually occurs when the weather is hot (over 90 degrees). Other than that, there is no set circumstance. It can just go out at any time. I contacted Saturn and they said there was a problem with some part of the steering column that was causing the problem, but the way the car is made, they just can't replace the part, but the entire steering column has to be replaced. This would cost between $700 and $800 before labor. I have been researching this on the internet and have found dozens of other people who have had the same problem. I feel this is a safety problem on Saturn part and the steering column needs to be recalled. I understand you have had similar complaints about this problem. I hope you take these complaints into consideration.

- Sheffield Lake, OH, USA

problem #110

Jul 122010


  • 130,000 miles
I have a 2004 Saturn Ion level 2. my vehicle's 'check engine' light appears quite frequently. I brought it to a dealership to be check out over a year ago. I was told that nothing was wrong with my vehicle. For a year, I have been driving with a 'check engine' light randomly lighting up. Last night, midway around a bend, my vehicle's electric power steering went out, and straightened my wheel- putting me into oncoming traffic. I could have died and killed another driver. This morning, after calling around to dealerships and mechanics and doing my own research, I have found out that my vehicle's make and model is under evaluation for a recall concerning the power steering. This "evaluation" was only recently started this past year. There have been no public warnings and GM is refusing to acknowledge the problem even after the diagnostic tests have been performed. Many drivers are driving without the problem being fixed because of the price tag of the repair and the state of the economy. What is it going to take for a recall regarding Saturn Ions"! the death of a Saturn driver" this is becoming absurd and I believe worse than the Toyota ordeal. They are sweeping the issue under a rug, along with our money and most importantly, the safety of Saturn drivers' lives. I have been conversing with other Saturn drivers who have had the same problems, we are furious and paranoid that at any point in time we may die.

- Lynchburg, VA, USA

problem #109

Apr 262010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 102,000 miles
Power steering just started to go out on my Saturn Ion 04. This problem started about 2mos ago, April, 2010. It appears after the car has been running for a while. When turned off and restarted, power steering works, but then may go out after driving a while more. When car was first bought, within 24 hrs we had an ignition problem that the dealership ended up fixing free of charge. Very disturbed that the cobalt was recalled for this problem and not the Saturn. Makes no sense since the power steering is the same in both vehicles.

- Milford, MI, USA

problem #108

Jul 012010


  • 130,000 miles
The power steering on my 2004 Saturn Ion went out while driving.

- Hoboken, NJ, USA

problem #107

Jul 072010


  • 40,700 miles
Power steering on 2004 Saturn Ion is defective and GM won't pay for it.

- Cambridge, MA, USA

problem #106

Jul 052010


  • 73,200 miles
Escondido, ca. -- I am a longtime owner of Saturn -- I own a 2009 vue now and have owned four other sedans -- and have always thought they were reliable and safe cars. My daughter drove an sl for years. Now I am not so sure. I just purchased (July 5) a 2004 Saturn Ion redline, 73,000 miles on the odometer, for my son, the first day he drove it, the power steering went out while he was making a turn. He nearly had an accident. There was a chime, the letters pwr str appeared on the dashboard readout, and the power steering went out immediately, making the vehicle extremely difficult to steer. Turning off the car and starting it again restored the power steering. But within 24 hours, the same thing happened twice more without any warning, once while I was driving the car. I have since done a web search and found hundreds of complaints about the Ion for this exact problem. This is not just a simple issue of a part wearing out. It is a widespread and extraordinarily dangerous situation that is going to result in injuries or death, if it hasn't already. I am also outraged that GM has issued a recall for the Chevy cobalt ss, which has the same steering system as the Ion redline, but not for the Ion. I have contacted GM, and a spokewoman (merissa) acknowledged the cobalt recall, but said it did not apply to the Ion for reasons she could not explain. Are the safety and lives of Saturn Ion owners somehow less valuable than owners of Chevy cobalts? GM has directed me to a Chevy dealer (now that Saturn is gone) to have the problem assessed. It says it cannot promise anything because the car is out of warranty. But this is clearly a problem due to a defective steering system. I implore NHTSA to require a recall for Saturn Ions with electric steering. Just do a google search for "Saturn Ion power steering fails" to see all the identical complaints and harrowing reports of accidents and near accidents. Do your job, please, before someone is seriously injured or killed.

- Escondido, CA, USA

problem #105

Jul 042010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 51,603 miles
Intermittent power steering failure on 2004 Saturn Ion. Restarting engine "resets" power steering. May occur multiple times in one week. Same problematic power steering units used in other GM vehicles that were recalled (cobalts and G5) but no recall for Saturn Ions having same problem with same parts.

- York, PA, USA

problem #104

Jul 012010


  • 63,918 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving 35 mph the power steering light came on and the steering failed. The steering wheel became difficult to control. The contact was able to drive safely to his residence. The following day, the power steering began to function normally. The vehicle had not been inspected when the complaint was filed. The failure mileage and current mileages were 63918.

- Philadephia, PA, USA

problem #103

Jun 192010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 97,027 miles
Electric power steering system failure in my 2004 Saturn Ion. Power steering system stops working and steering becomes very hard and heavy. It occurs daily since 6-19-10. Called dealer who informed me that no recall has been made by Saturn even though same problem has caused a recall of Chevy cobalt, which uses the same electric part (motor) and has experienced same problems.

- Wellington, FL, USA

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