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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
40,000 miles
Total Complaints:
1 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

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

electrical problem

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2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #1

Jul 132007

Ion Quad

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles


The short occurred after the ignition was repaired the first time. The dealer disavowed any responsibility, my non-Warranty Company wanted to install a "used" radio to fix the problem. No one has listened to me...the wiring is messed up. I called Saturn Corporate Offices with my complaints, to no avail. They were more concerned about my non-Saturn warranty and told me "it was your choice to get a non-Saturn warranty." Every time someone admires my little car, I give them it's complete long list of complaints and all the work I'vd had done on it. Plus the poor response from Saturn Corporate and dealers.

- , Copperas Cove, TX, US

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