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: When it comes to the 2006 Ion, the biggest questions are: what big problem is going to pop up next? And how long until GM chooses to address it?

The 2006 Ion has a defective ignition switch that gave owners fits. Their keys would get stuck in the ignition, the engine wouldn’t shut off or in some cases it would shut off at the most dangerous time. The ignition was eventually recalled as part of one of the largest recalls of all-time , but it took GM 10 years to do it. Then there’s this car’s temperamental power steering which is prone to stop working randomly while driving. It too was eventually recalled, even if GM took their sweet time about it.

Lastly, it turns out a car built with plastic doors, fenders and bumpers – while fun for a game of “shopping cart bocce” – is horrible for safety.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
59,079 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.

2006 Saturn Ion drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2006 Saturn Ion Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #22

Dec 262014


  • 86,000 miles


The contact owns a 2006 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the gear shifter was accidentally struck and the vehicle reversed independently without a key in the ignition. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 86,000.

- Mansfield, OH, USA

problem #21

Sep 022013


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Saturn Ion. While driving approximately 35 mph, the accelerator pedal was depressed, but the vehicle failed to accelerate. The dealer was unable to diagnose the cause of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 50,000.

- Laguna Beach , CA, USA

problem #20

Sep 252014


  • 108,000 miles
Manual transmission vehicle. Was accelerating onto the highway and merging into fast moving traffic (approximately 60-70 mph traffic). I shifted into 5th gear and then depressed the accelerator pedal all the way to gain enough speed to safely merge leftward. When I lifted my foot away from the pedal it stayed fully depressed (fully accelerating). I hit the brakes moderately, and it was still accelerating, then I hit the brakes harder to decrease my speed (from 70+ down to 60) as I shifted into neutral. I kicked down hard on the accelerator and it released back to the default position.

- University Place, WA, USA

problem #19

Sep 032014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 80,343 miles


The gear shift button that must be depressed in order to put the car into any gear has come off. The button can be replaced, but must be properly lined up and can immediately fall off again. This could cause a real safety issue if it occurred in traffic.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #18

Aug 072014


  • 59,502 miles
This car has a manual transmission. I tried to put it in gear to back out of the drive way and it wouldn't budge. So I let it roll backwards in neutral to the street. I pumped the clutch to see if that would work. It wouldn't go into first gear when I would try to get it in gear it would slowly move forward even though it wasn't in gear. I checked the fluid levels and they were fine. I turned off the car and tried to put it in first it went into first gear just fine and when I turned the ignition on, it lunged me forward. I drove about 25 feet while trying to change into second gear, it wouldn't budge. So I had to turn off the car again so it would go into first gear then I started it up and it lunged me forward again. I needed to turn around to get back to the house because something was clearly wrong. I tried once again to put it in second, same problem I had to turn it off then throw it in first and start it up real quick. I finally got it in second gear and drove it home. I stayed idling in second gear in front of my house for about 5-7 min. Then I tried to go and it worked, it went into gear with ease, and changed into all the other gears with ease as I dove through the neighborhood just like it was a brand new car again & all day like nothing had ever happened. Now every morning since the same thing has happened so I take the same steps, I pump the clutch and let it sit about 5 min. And end up applying pressure to get it into gear and it will work all day until this morning. It will still go into gear when its off and starts the same way as I explained but now after waiting the 5-7 min before I take off it still wont go into gear or "fix itself" like it did before. Have many people complained about this? I've been the only owner of this car and reported it to my local dealer, it will cost $115 just for them to diagnose it and im on a limited income.

- Beaumont, TX, USA

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problem #17

Jul 152014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 31,000 miles
I had my vehicle repaired under the ignition recall and ever since that my key gets stuck in the ignition half way.

- Stuart, FL, USA

problem #16

May 272014


  • 96,000 miles


The contact owns a 2006 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while attempting to remove the key from the ignition switch, the key was stuck. The contact restarted the vehicle and shifted into drive then back to park where the key could be removed from the ignition switch. The failure occurred on seven occasions. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 96,000 and the current mileage was unknown. The VIN was not available.

- Mount Vernon, NY, USA

problem #15

Dec 242008

Ion 4-cyl

  • 35,000 miles
L was driving my 2006 Saturn Ion which L bought brand new in 2006 going to pick up my granddaughter in howell mi I was on interstate with my cruise control on as L went on exit interstate, L turned off cruise control when L did that it shut my car down completely, L was merging on another interstate with no engine running no power steering and unable to restart engine. There was no where to pull over off road safely, L was almost killed car had to come to a complete stop to restart. I have had this happen to me 3 different times, L have taken car to Chevy dealership many time complaining about this matter, they said they could not find any problems, L have stopped using my cruise control. L really have a lemon sunroof does not work sun roof leaks, the car starts when it wants to, lam retired 65 years old and take very good care of the Saturn Ion, L would be afraid to sell this 2006 Saturn Ion to the public, L don't want to kill anyone, the car sits, not using it, won't sell it, what can be done? and there is no retail value for this there is a recall on ignition switch I feel so very sorry for the people that lost their lives, L was lucky that L was not one that was killed, as L said earlier, this car went to dealership 3 different times on this matter, last time L took the car in was last summer 2013, mechanic drove Saturn Ion and told me there is nothing wrong. The car sits.

- Brooklyn , MI, USA

problem #14

May 012013


  • 88,000 miles
The car will occasionally start right up or it sometimes take anywhere from 2 minutes to 10 minutes to get started. Have had the alternator looked at and that is fine. Cars lights and everything turns on and tested the battery that is fine. Car simply won't go into the run position. Maybe the new fix will change this with the recall but just another problem that I have seen documented online and have experienced constantly.

- Plattsburgh, NY, USA

problem #13

Feb 102014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
On Friday we got our 2006 Saturn Ion out of the GM service department after having a frozen air compressor and ripped serpentine belt replaced ($1400), along with a transmission line. After driving and stopping throughout the day on the following Monday, I was unable to turn the vehicle engine off after I put the car in park in the driveway of my home. I tried several times to turn the key to the off position, but it was locked. I put the car in reverse and it moved fine, but when I drove back into place and tried to shut it off again, the key wouldn't budge so the engine continued to run. We drove it back to the dealer who wanted to charge us again to have the vehicle serviced. We also noticed the coolant light came on, even though we had all the fluids checked two weeks prior when getting an oil change. The dealer said to disconnect the battery to shut the engine off. This didn't work. Another reliable source instructed us to disconnect the distributor cap to avoid the engine running on the alternator. After several attempts to find a distributor cap, we realized there was none. A neighbor came and disconnected a fuse. The key is still lodged in the ignition. We have had multiple problems with this vehicle, beyond what would be considered normal wear and tear maintenance: Power steering replaced and the gas tank replaced because of a crack in the nipple. I am petitioning that this vehicle be recalled as it was in certain "hot" states. The extreme temperatures experienced in mid-East states, coupled by inadequate service and materials have created circumstances which are no less than those experienced in the initial states where recalls happened. What also should be noted is that consumer report document 491 complaints regarding these issues.

- Manassas, VA, USA

problem #12

Mar 302013

Ion 4-cyl

  • 53,000 miles


2006 Saturn Ion manual trans. Key got stuck in the ignition in the on position. To turn car off, need to stall engine (pop clutch), then disconnect battery since electrical circuits remain on. Repair was ignition lock replacement by dealer (approx $400). Based on comments at NHTSA and other sites, this is a very common problem for this vehicle type.

- Henderson, NV, USA

problem #11

Jul 202012

Ion 4-cyl

  • 112,000 miles
I was going down road, steering because hard, transmission became stuck, pwr str light came up on mileage screen and the engine light came on. I was reading that others have had problem with steering column. Please let me know. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #10

Feb 202012

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
Driving on the freeway, power steering light went on andwas very difficult to steer. Had to put in neutral and turn off and turn on my car on the freeway, just so the steering wheel would unlock. This will be my third time fixing this problem.

- North Las Vegas , NV, USA

problem #9

Nov 012010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
My car is only 5 years old and now has 36,000 miles on it. Whenever it is cold outside my car does not start. All of the lights work and the car will make a click, but the car itself will not turn on. I have been stranded multiple times at night in the freezing cold with no way of getting home. Two times I have been stranded in a dark parking garage. This is constantly re-occurring problem and I see that hundreds of people have had the same issue. When I have taken my car to the shop I have been told it is electrical problems. This problem should be recalled as many people have the same problem. Also, I have had many issues with the fuel system. I have already had the fuel injector replaced, and the fuel tank replaced. It is in the shop again today because there were more issues with the fuel system. The fuel in my car was not heating up the right temperature, and I was getting about 30% less miles per tank than before. Over the few years I have had cords to the fuel system replaced, removed, adjusted, etv. I have spent thousands of dollars on repairs for a 5 year old car with 36,000 miles on it. And it is the same problems happening over and over.

- Katy, TX, USA

problem #8

Sep 012010


  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Saturn Ion level 2. the contact stated that the vehicle would not shift properly between gears. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic who was unable to duplicate the failure since it occurred intermittently however, he believed that the clutch master would need to be replaced. The contact did not inform the dealer or the manufacturer of the failure nor was the vehicle repaired. The current mileage was 49,000 and the failure mileage was 45,000.

- Kailua, HI, USA

problem #7

Feb 042011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 31,000 miles
2006 Saturn Ion redline 32,000 miles had a loud rattling noise coming from the front passenger side of car at idle. Took the car into a mechanic which informed me that the timing belt and gears were shot and that he was surprised that it didn't fly apart on my way into the shop. The repairs will cost approx $1100. This should not happen at only 32K miles and could have resulted in an accident had it not been caught in time.

- Shoreview, MN, USA

problem #6

Sep 142010


  • 50,000 miles
Vehicle was unable to be shut off, key was stuck in the ignition, I unhooked the battery and the vehicle was still running. This same vehicle had a recall on the fuel pump module and was leaking gas, had this occurred at the same time it would have been very unsafe for the car to have been running the entire time with a gas leak. Fortunately I had just repaired the fuel pump module 1 week prior to this issue with the ignition.

- Glendale, AZ, USA

problem #5

May 012010


  • 87,000 miles
I own a 2006 Saturn Ion 3. my problems began in 2006, although I didn't realize it at the time. When I first got the car, while driving to work, I stopped at a service station. When I returned to start the vehicle, the vehicle would not start and I couldn't pull the key out of the ignition. My first thought was that it was something I had done wrong. Fast forward to 2008, now the car just shuts off. The light indicating power steering started coming on and then the vehicle would shut down whenever I would come to a stop or simply turning a corner. The power steering light no longer come on but the vehicle still continue to stop. As I back out of a parking space the vehicle will shut off and has to be turned back on at least 3 to 4 times before leaving the parking space. When I finally get it started and while driving through the parking space or down the road it shuts off again. It shut off when ever I have to slow down behind another vehicle and I am terrified that I am going to be struck and killed. I took it to a local auto dealer who tested it and said it was possible the power steering module or some other part dealing with the steering wheel. I was told to take to another autocare center to have it a diagnostic test done which they quoted me $100 just to check it. Nothing has been done to correct the problem at this time because I'm even more afraid of the repair bill, but from reading all these other complaints that are like my story, I am sure there is a defect with this vehicle and I want to know why haven't there been a recall on this vehicle. My vehicle only has about 87,000 miles and only had 18miles when this problem began.

- Mobile, AL, USA

problem #4

Nov 232009


  • 55,000 miles
A few weeks ago, my 2006 Saturn Ion lost power steering capability while I was on a major highway (doing 65mph)! needless to say, I narrowly avoided a major accident and was dismayed to subsequently find out that I have a defective steering column motor (according to the local Saturn dealership) which will need to be replaced and is not currently under warranty. I bought this car in 2007 somewhat reluctantly since it already had 40,000 miles on it but it was the only one available after a major accident with my first Saturn for immediate delivery. I was at a new job and needed a car desperately. I chose Saturn again because of the brand's reliability, excellent customer service and my own personal satisfaction as a previous Saturn owner. When I called customer service last week to check whether this power steering failure was a recall item, I was told that it wasn't and that I would have to register a complaint to see what options were available for reimbursement for repair. Today I was informed by GM/Saturn customer service that they will not cover the $525 repair of this major defect since the warranty expired and the car had according to them, "excess mileage" (at 50,000 miles, a 3-yr. Old car should not lose a major component such as the power steering to my thinking). I was seriously concerned enough about this defect to contact you to see if you can bring some resolution to this issue. I've done extensive research online and found that thousands of Saturn Ion owners have experienced the same loss of power steering while in precarious driving situations. Is GM waiting for a fatality before they issue a recall, or is it because the company is bankrupt that they decided to play russian roulette with our safety? needless to say, my trust and faith in GM is compromised and I am not willing to pay for a repair that should be covered.

- Manchester, NJ, USA

problem #3

Aug 012009


  • miles
The power steering keeps going out in the car. When this happens it becomes very dangerous to drive. It first started once every couple of days. Now it happens every time I turn it on and drive more then 100 yards. L have contact the dealership and they have told me that there is no recall for it. But I have looked online and numerous people have complained about this issue. The car is a lease and they said I am over my warranty even though I only have 36,000 miles in 5 years.

- Belleville, NJ, USA

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