NHTSA — Steering: Column Locking: Anti-Theft Device 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:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
0 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #1

Mar 032008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


I own a 2003 Saturn ion2. I have had nothing but problems with it from the first day I drove it off the lot. Recently (I.e in the last 2 years) when it is particularly cold, the car will not start. I keep trying it then wait 10 minutes and it starts right up. I have spent $1200 to fix the problem only to find out that it is a problem with the passlock system and the steering wheel lubricant leaking on the system. In cold weather this seems to make the security passlock system think someone is trying to steal the car and makes it unable to start. The passlock times out after about 10 minutes and then will start. This is a known problem on all Ion 2's and I have seen hundreds of letters on forums pertaining to this same problem.

- Monson, MA, USA

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