2003 Saturn Ion
Problems & Complaints
CarComplaints.com Notes: The Saturn Ion was a compact bundle of hurt wrapped up in a cheap, plastic shell. With so many defective components and a safety rating that a bicycle would be ashamed of, it’s a blessing this car only lasted five model years.
The 2003 (and 2004) Ion was cursed with GM’s flawed attempt at a continuously variable transmission, known as the VTi. It had such a high failure rate that a class-action lawsuit was filed against GM, eventually prompting a settlement and a warranty extension. GM discontinued the VTi for the 2005 model year – surprise, surprise.
The 2003 Ion was also part of one of the largest and most controversial recalls of all-time. A defective ignition switch in millions of GM vehicles could accidentally turn the car off and disable important safety components like the power steering and airbags. The problem resulted in at least 13 deaths, but what made it worse was that GM knew about the issue for 10 years before doing anything about it.
So was the transmission warranty extended? Yeah. Was the ignition switch recalled? Eventually. Is this car safe to drive? Not really. Honestly, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Worst 2003 Ion Problems by Category
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- engine problems17NHTSA complaints: 105
- electrical problems14NHTSA complaints: 366
- transmission problems7NHTSA complaints: 37
- AC / heater problems3NHTSA complaints: 1
- steering problems3NHTSA complaints: 121
- interior accessories problems2NHTSA complaints: 17
- cooling system problems2NHTSA complaints: 4
- suspension problems2NHTSA complaints: 8
- exterior accessories problems1NHTSA complaints: 17
- brakes problems1NHTSA complaints: 14
- seat belts / air bags problems1NHTSA complaints: 52
- windows / windshield problems1NHTSA complaints: 29
- lights problemsNHTSA: 36
- fuel system problemsNHTSA: 28
- body / paint problemsNHTSA: 19
- drivetrain problemsNHTSA: 18
- miscellaneous problemsNHTSA: 13
- wheels / hubs problemsNHTSA: 7
- exhaust system problemsNHTSA: 5
- clutch problemsNHTSA: 1
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Compare Saturn Ion Model Years
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Check out our Saturn Ion overview to see the most problematic years, worst problems and most recently reported complaints with the Ion.