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
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
13,625 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 wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2003 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #4

Oct 312007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Recently bought a newer car(O3 Ion coup) was told the tires were new after driving about 5,793 miles I am told by the dealer that the tire have chopp. I as well now see their is a recall on the tire line NHTSA id # 01T006000. They are Firestone tires fire hawk gta-02 205-55R16. The dealer told me their was no hazard but now im very concerned.the car is not riding right. The dealer at this point is only willing to replace one tire. I as well have filed a claim with my warranty road hazard at 1-800346-6469 claim # 21833283 as of 11/07/2007. I have contacted the dealer to try and get them replaced under their warranty. I only have driven 5,793 miles on the tires. I feel that their is a problem with the tire. And am unsure of where to go with this now....

- Hudson, MA, USA

problem #3

Sep 252004

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 43,000 miles
About 1 month ago, I began to notice a thumping noise coming from what I thought was my front passenger tire. I began to try to establish the pattern of the noise and verified that it primarily occurs at low speeds of 20-25mph or high speeds of 50-55 mph when I apply the brakes. I took my car into Saturn dealership 9/18/04 to have it 'checked out'. the mechanic diagnosed that I either had a failing wheel-bearing or I needed to replace my tires. The mechanic assured me that there was not immanent danger of driving the car. Exactly one week later I was driving down a paved road and the wheel comes completely off. Upon personal investigation, I find that all four lugnuts have broken off. I had the car towed back to the dealership where I was told that they "did not know why the tire came off, and there appeared to be no damage, so they offered to place the tire back on and 'send me on my way'. I chose to leave my car unrepaired at the dealership until the regional engineer could look at it, conveniently, the following day. The engineer supplied that there seemed to be no reason for the lugnuts to have broken and the tire to have come off. The engineer offered to further test the tire and 'take a closer look' at the parts that hold the tire on. The engineer told us he had placed the tire on another car and discovered that the noise was coming from a plug that had been placed in the tire over a year ago. He also stated he still did not know what caused the lugnuts to break and the tire to come off. He stated that Saturn was not liable due to me having my tires rotated over a year ago by an outside company. He suggested he could "fix" my car if I were willing to pay for the damages incurred during the accident. He also suggested I file a claim through my vehicle insurance company.

- Springdale, AR, USA

problem #2

Feb 272004

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,500 miles
While driving between 35 to 40 mph front passenger's tire blew out. Two weeks later, the front driver's side blew out at the same speed. Firestone, affinity. Both tires have been replaced.

- Langhorne, PA, USA

problem #1

Jun 302003

(reported on)


  • 2,000 miles
Vehicle tires are blowing out at the side walls and deflating. The aluminum rims and tires were replaced. Replacement tire develop a bubble.

- White Lake, MI, USA

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