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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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
11 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
78,926 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 1 of 15)

problem #292

Feb 052011


  • 20,000 miles


TL-the contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the steering wheel seized without warning. The contact stated that there was also an smell of fuel coming from the vehicle. The contact stated that the steering shaft and fuel lines failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 20,000.

- Clinton Township, MI, USA

problem #291

Jul 232015


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. While pulling out of a gas station at approximately 1-5 mph, the power steering malfunctioned and caused the contact to use significantly more effort to move the vehicle. The vehicle was not taken to an independent dealer or mechanic. The vehicle was repaired according to NHTSA campaign number: 14V153000 (steering) approximately one year prior to this incident. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000.

- Omeha, NE, USA

problem #290

Feb 202015


  • 142,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. While driving at 30 mph, the steering wheel was difficult to turn and the power train warning light illuminated. The failure recurred once. The vehicle was taken to a dealer, but was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 142,000.

- Harrisburg, IL, USA

problem #289

Apr 212015


  • 82,348 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. While driving approximately 20 mph, the ability to steer seized without warning. The contact had to maneuver the vehicle to the side of the road to a complete stop. The vehicle was driven to the contact's residence. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer or independent mechanic. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 82,348.

- Port Huron, MI, USA

problem #288

Dec 122014


  • miles
Talked to service dept of anthony Chevrolet on 12/12/2014 about the recall on my Saturn was told it would be about 7-10 days to get the part and they would call to make apt to repair the steering. Called back after about 1 month and not hearing back was told there was a supply problem. I stopped by the service dept today 2/16/2015 and was told GM would not send them the part for some reason and I would need to go to a dealer in a different town for this recall. Per the letter I received I could take my Ion T O any GM dealer to have the recall work performed. I do not have the time to take the car out of town to have the recall work performed. Please advise what I'm to do.

- Fairmont, WV, USA

problem #287

Feb 112015


  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign numbers: 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system), 14V171000 (electrical system), and 14153000 (steering); however, the parts to do the repairs were unavailable. The contact stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repairs. The manufacturer was made aware of the issue. The contact had not experienced a failure.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #286

Oct 152013

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles


2004 Saturn Ion 2 the ignition switch turned off numerous times on me, and the power steering went out probably 10 times a week. The consumer stated he was able to remove the key from ignition, at any time in any gear. The consumer was involved in two accidents due to the vehicle shutting off, during a turn. The second accident occurred in February 2014. While attempting to make a turn, he soon discovered the vehicle had no power steering and was unable to steer the vehicle. Consequently, he ran off the road and struck the right edge of a driveway. The ignition lock cylinder was replaced on September 12, 2014.

- Wentzville, MO, USA

problem #285

Sep 092014


  • 131,000 miles
I bought this car as a first car for my daughter that is a new driver. I has been off the road more than on the road for recalls. The first ignition recall could have injured or killed my daughter..as we were awaiting parts, we were following directions of no weight on key ring and only key in ignition. The incident still happened causing loss of power steering and loss of speed. As a new driver this incident scarred her and she did not feel comfortable driving the car. I put the car up for sale. Then another recall, the eps which also causes the car to lose power steering and causes speed loss. So, back to garber and we just drove the car back home on January 2, 2015. Seemed to start out fine, then loss of speed and the car only drove at 35 mph with a lot of effort. I paid $3500 for this car for my daughter..still paying on the loan and now I cannot get it to run correctly or sell it..I am stuck with a non-running vehicle that I have to insure as well. This total is costing me over $300 a month while the car sits. I don't know if my dealer did the recall correctly. I have had issues with my Impala as well with recalls being done correctly. One including my airbag recall and a seat belt issue that I paid out of pocket $100 after several issues. I feel GM should reimburse me for this vehicle as I cannot sell it or drive it. It is not fair that I purchased this from a dealer only pay for a non working vehicle.

- Sanford, MI, USA

problem #284

Aug 012014


  • 250,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated when she turned the ignition switch, the vehicle failed to turn on intermittently. In addition, the power steering warning light illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 250,000.

- Marcellus, MI, USA

problem #283

Sep 132014


  • 64,000 miles
Was on way home car started going to the right and when tried to correct it car wouldn't turn left kept going into a tree and car is now damaged. Over two months ago GM sent out somebody to look at car this was around October 15 and have not heard a word back from anybody. Which isn't a surprise because the accident happened September 13 and we were given the run around from the beginning. Appointments made and not kept, phone calls transferred from one person to another all with different answers and responses. My question to you is when is somebody going to contact us and give us some answers" I took the car in for the first call back and had no problems but this is ridiculous, not only has nothing been done or said but the air bags didn't even go off but the car had to be towed away and the adjuster you sent out said he didn't know why as we were told it was because it was between the censors. I wasn't born yesterday but didn't say anything was waiting for the report. Still waiting, I know we live in a rural area but three months is a little long to wait don't you think"

- Mount Shasta, CA, USA

problem #282

Aug 012014


  • 127,371 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. While attempting to park, the power steering failed without warning and the steering wheel became difficult to turn. After the engine cooled down, the power steering operated normally. The vehicle regained power steering when the engine was turned off and restarted. The failure occurred continuously. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and repaired according to NHTSA campaign number: 14V153000 (steering); however, the failure persisted after the remedy was performed. The repair did not remedy the failure. The manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 127,371.

- Frostburg, MD, USA

problem #281

Jul 152014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 73,590 miles
Ignition recall. Took car to keyes GMC woodland hills ca 2 times and they changed ignition but did not fix problem. Now they want $500 to fix "shifter". I think it is still key ignition. Made complaint to GM #[xxx]. called GM twice 866 790-5700 for decision and no response. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Bell Canyon, CA, USA

problem #280

Aug 012014

Ion 4-cyl Diesel

  • miles
2004 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to ignition switch and power steering recalls. The consumer is seeking reimbursement in the amount of $ $730.22 for the replacement of the ignition switch and power steering.

- Haymarket, VA, USA

problem #279

Aug 232014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
While traveling approximately 15 mph to make a turn, the steering suddenly stopped and was unable to complete the turn. The vehicle's driver side front tire struck the curb and went up on the curb. This resulting in serious damage to undercarriage. (axle broke). Had knowledge of the recall and the local dealership has not had the parts to fix the steering/ignition.

- Florence, SC, USA

problem #278

Aug 052009

Ion 4-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
The power steering warning light may or may not have come on the first time. Being a cautious driver, I pulled over on a fairly busy roadway, and began calling my aaa number to getmy car towed. I decided to start the car to see if warning lights went on and slowly proceeded forward to see if the steering resumed operating, which it did. I drove it to my repair shop and they investigated the problem and said I should try and encourage a recall. So you can realize that this problem has been time consuming and has happenned to me about 5 more times. My friends will not ride in my car and I get paranoid to drive in the city and it is very nervewracking to think you may need to stop in heavy traffic and hopefully not get rearended! I feel people that have dealt with this issue deserve some sort of compensation. It is also embarassing to have to be seen in this vehicle because I cannnot afford another presently and refuse to burden someone else with this very unsafe issue because I have a conscience. I feel I should be on a priority list"?"

- Mchenry, IL, USA

problem #277

Aug 112014


  • 80,940 miles
I have a 2004 Ion while driving my car I lost power steering. Thankfully I was able to pull over and restart and only a few miles from home. I always have my daughter with me and suppose I am not as fortunate next time. Something needs to be done to compensate for this and lessen the deaths GM has caused by allowing problems they knew of to remain unfixed. My Ion has a recall for power steering loss which says it can happen at any time or speed. This is very scatter. So here I am with a car I am afraid to put myself.in let alone my child. I had an ignition switch recall which was fixed. I am requesting a loaner car until the part is ready to fix mine.

- South Boston, VA, USA

problem #276

Jul 062014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
07/06/2014 - as I was driving in a parking lot, I, all of a sudden, heard the warning sound and noticed that my steering wheel got stiff making it much more difficult to steer. I looked at my dashboard to see "pwr str" flashing on my dashboard. I pulled up on the side of the lot, parking perpendicular to the lines in the parking lot as it was impossible to turn into a parking space with my steering wheel problem. This power steer issue came up again today (07/26/2014) as I was driving home in a fairly busy street. I was able to pull over onto the shoulder this time. But this problem has happened to me 4-5 times in a span of 20 days.

- Shelby Township, MI, USA

problem #275

Apr 082014

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign number: 14V153000 (steering) however, the part to perform the repairs was unavailable. The manufacturer was made aware of the delay. The contact had not experienced a failure. Updated 09/02/14 updated 09/17/2014

- Meridian, ID, USA

problem #274

Jul 092014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 99,980 miles
Complete power steering failure at low speed. Power steering did not return, and car was manually steered directly to the dealership whereupon the diagnosis was the power steering module.

- Smith's Creek, MI, USA

problem #273

Jan 102014

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
S10 direct reply- to the secretary from constituent re expressing concerns regarding General Motors recalls on 2004 Saturn Ion (recall nos. 14063/14113 and 14115. Date of purchase Dec. 27, 2013). The consumer stated on January 10, 2014, the vehicle would not start. Roadside service was called, and they charged the battery. As the consumer began backing out of her parking space, she noticed the vehicle seemed very stiff; she did not immediately notice the power steering signal and continued to maneuver the vehicle. She drove to the dealer, about a mile away with power steering. When she arrived, she mentioned the power steering issue and they replaced the battery. A fuse was replaced, which corrected the issue, but only temporarily. The consumer stated the power steering and ignition problem were resolved. However, within the past two weeks, she encountered another problem. They key became stuck in the ignition and would not release. When the key finally released, the vehicle would not start, even though the interior lights were on. Updated 11/19/14. Updated 11/24/14. Jb updated 12/04/14

- Willowbrook, IL, USA

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