NHTSA — Engine And Engine Cooling: Engine: Gasoline: Belts And Associated Pulleys 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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
57,995 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #2

Nov 242007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles


The timing chain broke on the vehicle. All I did was go to start it up and it wouldn't start. I had to have it towed to a Goodyear but they couldn't fix it. So right now it is being looked at by a mechanic. He said that the timing chain is broken and because of the breakage I now have to have the valves replaced as well as the thermostat, the fuel pump and the head gasket. All of these were damaged by the chain. This is now costing me approximately $3000. All of which is caused by a faulty belt that Saturn installed on their vehicles.

- Lenexa, KS, USA

problem #1

Mar 122007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,990 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saturn Ion. The windshield wiper linkage failed while driving 50 mph in the rain. The windshield wiper came off the driver's side window shield and would not return to its normal position. The failure mileage was 42,990. The dealer informed the contact that they were repairing the linkage. The contact was aware that of investigation# PE 07011 on the same year, make and model vehicle for the duplicate failure. Also, the dealer informed the contact that the timing chain should be repaired, it was related to investigation #dp 05008. The current mileage was 43,000.

- New Lenox, IL, USA

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