NHTSA — Service Brakes, Hydraulic Problems

CarComplaints.com Seal Of This Might Hurt

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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
11,967 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #3

Mar 102010


  • miles


2003 Saturn Ion coupe will not start in cold humid weather.

- The Villages, FL, USA

problem #2

May 152008


  • miles
Brakes installed on my 2003 Saturn Ion by Firestone service center failed a week after installation resulting in a auto accident. I had to take my car to 4 Firestone could fix the problem.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #1

Jan 082006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,900 miles
I own a Saturn Ion 3. on 1/8/06, I heard a screaching, rubbing sound from front brakes. Took the vehicle to dealer on 1/9/06. Brake pads and rotors were damaged. The car only had 35,925 miles on it and the brakes had been checked by the dealer at 28,900 miles. At that time, it was documented that the pads had 40% left. The services rep. Stated that there was nothing I could have done to prevent this from happening, that the Ion was too heavy for the style of brakes used. Since brakes are not covered under my extended warranty, this cost me $484. I did not take the vehicle somewhere else for the repair as I was afraid to drive it with the faulty brakes. I am not hard on brakes, this is my 3rd Saturn vehicle, among other vehicles that I have owned and I have not had this happen at all, much less at such a low mileage. Saturn dealer replaced pads and rotors with genuine Saturn parts at my expense, which I assume will not hold up any longer than the last ones.

- Lakewood, OH, USA

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