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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
0 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.

2003 Saturn Ion accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #1

Oct 082007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


When it rains or snows, my driver seat and floor gets wet. There are no water stains around the sun roof nor is there any water damage on the drivers' door. In new england, the car is non-functional in the winter and spring because of this problem. I have taken it to the local Saturn dealership and they have refused to fix it. 2) I have had to replace my front turn signals 3 times in 1.5 years. I am almost convinced it is a socket problem and not a lightbulb problem. 3) I have had to replace the brakes and rotors twice within a 12 month period. In that time. I have only driven 17,000 miles. Once is understandable. Twice is expensive and ridiculous.

- Dorchester, MA, USA

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