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:
Average Mileage:
96,500 miles
Total Complaints:
2 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (1 reports)
  2. replace struts and sway bars (1 reports)
2003 Saturn Ion suspension problems

suspension problem

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2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #2

Mar 092015

Ion 3 2.2L Dohc I-4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 183,000 miles


The suspensions on these cars was absolute junk. This car ate 2 sets of struts. Struts lasted no more than 40,000 miles before needing replacing. Wasn't just the struts either, the sway bars and links and wheel hubs would also fail with the struts, making for a very noisy and loose feeling front end and a clunky rear end. One repair estimate to replace both front struts, wheel hubs, sway bar links and rear shocks was $2,100! I only did the struts and wheel hubs, for $900. The very first time I has it done, it was $1,100. Awful suspension on these cars and not made to last. Also be aware that the bolts that attach the struts to the frame tend to fail. Happened to me before I got rid of this car.

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #1

Dec 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles

Other than the nostart problem(which is fixed), the Saturn has been a great little car. Now it only has 24,000 miles on it and the front end rattles and bangs to beat the band. I'm fairly mechanical and can't decide to go with shocks,struts,or both. Due to financial struggles I can just do all, and it's really hard to tell where the noise is coming from. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

- , Framingham, MA, USA

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