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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
71,051 miles
Total Complaints:
2 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (2 reports)
2003 Saturn Ion electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #2

Jul 312012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,102 miles


I bought this car in 2003 brand new. it wouldn't start on the showroom floor and they claimed it was sitting too long and jumped it. It ran after they jumped it. since that day I signed the papers it has done this stranding me and my oldest son in freezing and extreme heat locations. I'm in the military and i have had to take leave and been late for work because Saturn has had it in the shop over and over trying to figure out this problem. Not only will it not start and very bad times, if it does run I have to put the brake all the way to the floor and pull the E brake so I don't rear end someone when I am at a stop. the car accelerates by itself almost causing wrecks. I couldn't afford to buy a new care being a single parent but this last year it has gotten too bad. Since Aug 1st my car wont even turn over now..I had all my lights and radio still on but it just wont turn over. But I tried until my battery was dead. When my car was jumped it started the other battery and cables on fire. Saturn has replaced the ignition switch a few times (what they claims was wrong with it) but 9 yrs of this is too much. These problems are going to get someone killed if they keep these cars still on the roads! Then who is reliable. My car could have already made a lawsuit and Im sure many others would be right there too! FIX THESE PROBLEMS AND MAKE THE AUTO COMPANIES RELIABLE! I have many people that will back up these stories and it is documented through the many times I have had it in the shop so dont think this complaint is just that! These are serious issues and the longer we keep these cars the bigger the problem gets! PLEASE GIVE ME AN ANSWER ON HOW TO FIX THESE ISSUES!

- , North Las Vegas, NV, US

problem #1

Aug 042006

(reported on)


  • 42,000 miles

I have already taken in and they do not even see or recognize the problem. I will return the car, but I want to know what it may be.

- , Weslaco, TX, USA

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