NHTSA — Electrical System Problems

2003 Saturn Ion (Page 4 of 11)

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:
8 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
56,368 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Saturn Ion:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments (Page 4 of 11)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #157

Nov 112013


  • 123,000 miles


The contact owns 2003 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving approximately 20 mph, the vehicle stalled as the key was slightly touched by the contact. The vehicle was able to be restarted and the contact later discovered that the key could not be removed from the ignition.the contact referenced NHTSA campaign id number 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system) and stated that the ignition switch and lock cylinder was replaced under the recall however, the failure was recurring even after the recall repairs. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 123,000. Updated 6/17/14

- Eldridge, IA, USA

problem #156

Apr 252014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
I purchased my Saturn and a day later, I was having trouble with the ignition. The key wouldn't roll over. After a few days, I found that if I rock the key back & forth or up & down, sometimes it would start or if I would rock the steering wheel it would let me start the car; by doing this, the key broke off, I still have enough of the key to get it to start. Also, when I go to turn it off, sometimes it won't! or it will, but I can't get the key out. So I restart the car, put it in gear and then into park again, until it will allow me to take the key out. A year ago I had to have one portion of the ignition replaced, because when I'd go to start it, , it would make a noise, but would not start. I do not know why they did not fix the entire ignition at the time. I have had no trouble with the engine. But, something is keeping the A/C heater fans from working. I was living in another state at the time, and apparently their service practices could use some upgrading. I am now living in another state and in hopes that I get better service here. Thank you for listening.

- Gray Court, SC, USA

problem #155

Jun 112013


  • miles
2003 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to recall repairs completed and seeks reimbursement.

- Caledonia, MI, USA

problem #154

Feb 032014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


I received my recall notice in late January, early February. I immediately called christenson Chevrolet 9700 indianapolis blvd highland, in 46322 I was told the parts would be in late March early April. I then called the last week of March and I was told the parts would be in April 5th or 6th. I called on the 8th to set up a time for getting me vehicle fixed. I have been having problems with my ignition all winter. On the 8th I was told they needed my VIN number, make of car and phone number so they could order my part. They could have got that the first time I called. I called again on April 18th to inquire about my recall. I was rudely told that I was on the list and they would call me when they were ready for me. This is a safety recall and I am having problems with my ignition. I have never heard of recall that worked in this way. My part should have been fed exed to their location so it could be repaired the next day. Why am I still waiting to get my car fixed when it is having problems during a safety recall?

- Gary, IN, USA

problem #153

Dec 222008

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
2003 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to faulty ignition switch recall and seeks reimbursement for repairs.

- Indian Orchard, MA, USA

problem #152

Apr 012014

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
2003 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to ignition switch recall problems. The consumer began having problems with the ignition from the time, the vehicle was purchased. She took the vehicle to several dealers, but no was able to find a problem. Since, the recall was issued, the consumer is seeking reimbursement for the diagnostic fees.

- Daly City, CA, USA

problem #151

Apr 072014


  • 125,000 miles


Was driving on wet road approaching an intersection. Before entering the intersection the light turned green and traffic started moving. I slowed down to let the tuck in front of me pick up speed. As I approached a black pickup backed into traffic causing multiple cars to stop in front of me. I pushed on my breaks but could not stop causing me to strike the truck in front O me with the front of my car. Upon impact my air bag did not deploy and my head struck the steering wheel. I recently received the ignition recall notice, but the letter said parts were not available.

- Hanover, PA, USA

problem #150

Jul 302012

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
We no longer own this vehicle. It was involved in an accident that rendered it a complete total loss in 2012.

- Honolulu, HI, USA

problem #149

Oct 182003

Ion 4-cyl

  • 60 miles
When I bought my car it wouldn't start, the dealer said it was because it sat for a long time. This problemhas been constantly been an issue since in extreme weather. I was told during one shop inspection it was electrical and they have seen a lot of this but don't know what causes it. With this case it has shut my radio on and off and a big issue that I have is when I am stopped with my foot on my brake the engine will rev up and jerk forward. This happens in the city when I'm driving at slower speeds. I've had to run off the road to avoid hitting people, the only thing that saves me from hitting anyone at lights or signs is my safety gap between me and a front car. I've been late for work, ruined vacations, been stranded with an infant in 100 degree weather, and wasted a lot of money trying to find the problems. I bought it new and have heard every excuse for the problems...you guys have finally stepped in on one of the problems we have been having now GM needs to answer the rest. I'm not the only one with these problems. If you do a search online you can pull up 100S of issues exactly the same. I have all my receipts when I took it onto Saturn dealers. Now I have doors that don't seal but I'm sure this is because it's old or other excuses. I had to buy another car because my kids aren't safe in it. I can't even have a clean conscious trading it in so I still am stuck with it. I have complained about this issue before but no one listens.

- North Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #148

Apr 012014


  • miles
2003 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to vehicle recall information. The consumer wanted to know what is the proper procedure for getting the recall taken care of.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #147

Mar 022009

Ion 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


While driving at highway speeds steering would suddenly stop working display a power steering system failure on dashboard and enter manual steering mode. I would put car in neutral turn vehicle off and on to reset computer and steering to bring it back to a normal condition. As time progressed the fault would appear more frequently before getting it repaired at local Saturn authorized repair GM facility. Paid close to $1,000 for the repair and parts. Now that vehicle has lifetime warranty all pervious repairs should be refunded to consumers.

- Corpus Christi, TX, USA

problem #146

Aug 232010

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,131 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saturn Ion. The contact attempted to start the vehicle and they key snapped and was broken inside the ignition. The failure occurred on August 23, 2010. She was told to get a locksmith because the key broke in the ignition lock. The contact currently has a rental vehicle and was advised that the parts were due in on April 1, 2010; however, to call on next Monday since they are not available. When the recent failure occurred the contact had to continue moving the key around in order to start the vehicle prior to receiving the recall notice. The dealer advised her that it would cost her $125 in order for them to diagnose the failure. The vehicle was in the dealers possession for two weeks and the failure was related to NHTSA recall campaign number: 14V047000, air bags, electrical system. She is paying $7 per day for the rental vehicle. She was concerned about the cost adding up and getting reimbursed. She called the manufacturer and they stated that only 12 to 13 people have been killed due to the recall. Her vehicle has been in the dealers possession for two weeks. She was told the letter wouldn't come until April or June but she received it on March 14, 2014. The approximate failure mileage was 49,131. Updated 6/26/14 updated 07/09/2014

- Philadelphia , PA, USA

problem #145

Sep 032003

Ion 4-cyl

  • 3,000 miles
It don't happen all the time but it won't start you turn the key and nothing happen and you have to wait 15 minutes and try to start it most the time it will start but there were afew that it took a half hour sitting and waiting for it to reset had my car in the dealer want time and told them about they said nothing can been done about it intil it happen to them even whose the dashboard computer say service engines and it could happen everyday for a week than it could be months before it dose it again.

- Hazel Park, MI, USA

problem #144

Nov 012012

Ion 4-cyl

  • 96,000 miles
While driving, complete electrical failure. All dash lights out. Gauges zero. Steering difficult. This continues to happen.

- Howell, MI, USA

problem #143

Mar 252014


  • 139,293 miles
I received a letter from GM about the ignition switch recall either last week or the week before. It stated to drive my vehicle with the ignition key only, not even with the key fob. I was also told that the part is no longer made for my vehicle. The letter also stated that there is no risk of ignition failure as long as the driver uses the key only. I have faithfully followed that since receiving my letter. I am telling you that information is false. As I was driving home tonight, I noticed the engine sounded different. The steering became difficult to control, the battery light illuminated on the dash, and my brakes only responded to very heavy pressure. Basically I had little control of my vehicle. I was less than a mile away from home. I turned into a parking lot with great difficulty, turned off my vehicle and then back on. It was as if nothing happened. I am panicked now. Thank goodness this happened after I exited the highway and it was after rush hour. I'm not sure I would have been able to turn into that parking lot without incident if there was heavier traffic. I immediately called GM when I returned home and told them the car wasn't safe to drive, even with the ignition key only. Customer service didn't seem to understand the danger. We'll see if they follow up. I hope you follow up as well.

- Aberdeen, MD, USA

problem #142

Mar 032014


  • miles
Letter from senator toomey on behalf of a constituent re GM recall ( attn: Aubrey yanzito can be reached by email: Aubrey_yanzito@toomey.senator.gov, fax at 717-782-4920 or phone: 717-782-3951 or mail). The dealer informed the consumer, they wouldn't be able to replace the defective part until April 2014. The consumer wanted to know if GM was responsible for paying for a rental vehicle, until the vehicle could be fixed.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #141

Dec 292013

Ion 4-cyl

  • 160,000 miles
I have been struggling for years with my car not wanting to start. I had this to many garages and even the Saturn dealer and no one could find a problem. Finally the car just stopped starting, and then I replaced the ignition switch. This seemed to work for 2 days and then my car just died electrically on February 21st and on the 26th the garage repaired this which cost me $309. The very next day the recall for this problem was announced. Will you reimburse me for the cost of the repair? this seems appropriate since this was ultimately the fault of the faulty ignition switch and I am just fortunate that an accident was not involved since I have had this vehicle since 2005.

- Milton, PA, USA

problem #140

Dec 182013

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
We do not feel safe driving our 2003 Saturn Ion we purchased the car through right way located in livonia, mi in April 2013. Since December 2013 the ignition turns off while we are driving and it has stopped on us five or six times. We have taken it to the mechanic unique auto repair located in detroit, mi to find out what the problem is...the mechanic could not find what the problem was. Also, a light keeps coming on the panel; don't know if this is the cause of the ignition. In order to start the car, my fiance would have to lift the hood of the car to start it and we don't know what this item is called. This is taking up our time and time off of work when the car does not start. It has also sparked several times on us; this is a safety hazard. Me and my fiance has made plans to travel to atlanta, ga in April of this year. We were going to use our car for transportation; but we do not trust the car at all. We need a loaner (vehicle) to travel as soon as possible.

- Redford, MI, USA

problem #139

Dec 192013


  • 148,497 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving approximately 40 mph, the vehicle stalled with the illumination of the ABS warning indicator. The vehicle did restart after thirty minutes of waiting. The failure recurred six times over a period of three months. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign id number 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system). The vehicle was taken to independent mechanic, who could not duplicate the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 148,497.

- Redford , MI, USA

problem #138

Feb 012008


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that on multiple occasions she experienced difficulty in removing the key from the ignition switch. The contact also stated that while attempting to shut the engine off, she was unable to remove the key from the ignition switch. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the ignition switch was replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the defect. The failure mileage was 60,000.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?