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:
92,500 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 #2

Nov 092015


  • 185,000 miles


I was driving in the highway at 65mph when the left rear tire blew out and the car swerved violently to the left. Thankfully there were no other cars around, and I was able to handle the steering wheel and break slowly, taking the car to the shoulder. The 4 tires were Michelin defender 205/55R16 and were bought at costco on 01/2015. Supposedly they have 90,000 mile warranty. The car was not overloaded, I was the only passenger and the weather was cool.

- Mission Viejo, CA, USA

problem #1

Aug 252003


  • miles
While driving 30 mph front right wheel locked up for unknown reason. Dealer notified, and made repairs. However, problem reoccurred.

- Edgerton, KS, USA

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