NHTSA — Electrical System Problems

2004 Saturn Ion (Page 11 of 12)

CarComplaints.com Seal Of This Might Hurt

CarComplaints.com Notes: Ahh, the 2004 Saturn Ion: defective transmission, deadly ignition switch, temperamental power steering and a cheap plastic exterior that won’t protect you in a crash. What more could you want?

The 2004 Ion was part of GM’s massive ignition switch recall where it was revealed they waited 10 years – and let 13 people die – before doing anything about it. It also features GM’s now infamous VTi continuously variable transmission. Let me tell you, the only thing the VTi did continuously was fail on its owners. GM scrapped it after only two model years.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
8 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
53,168 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.

2004 Saturn Ion electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Saturn Ion Owner Comments (Page 11 of 12)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #25

Jul 202008


  • 53,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start in cold weather. The dealer stated that the ignition and start switches were defective. The ignition switch was replaced at the owner's expense. In addition, the temperature coolant switch continued to illuminate on the instrument panel. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 53,000 and current mileage was 69,240.

- Berkley, MI, USA

problem #24

Dec 102005


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. In cold weather conditions, the contact had to make several attempts to start the vehicle. The dealer stated that she needed to replace the ignition module at the cost of $300. The vehicle has not yet been repaired. The manufacturer referred her to NHTSA. The failure mileage was 60,000 and current mileage was 107,000.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #23

Dec 042008


  • miles
Won't start in cold for about ten minutes. It gets worse every winter. It happens about once every day or two from December-February. Common problem. In Saturn

- Whittaker, MI, USA

problem #22

Nov 102008


  • 85,000 miles


My 2004 Saturn Ion has problems starting in the cold after about 10-15 minutes of trying it will start, everything such as starter battery fuel pump has been checked. My security light is on when this is happening.

- Batavia, OH, USA

problem #21

Sep 222008

Ion 4-cyl

  • 25,106 miles
Failure of a wiring harness in a front door that controls windows, mirrors and door lock. A 2004 Saturn Ion with 25, 106 miles had 5 broken wires in the drivers door. The left rear door has no power at the window switch. This failure is due to an inherent design flaw that forces tiny wires to bend 2 times at 90 degrees and be slammed by a door!! think of the safety of unlocking a door in a panic situation or driving with a window down in rain, sleet, cold, etc., and a fuse is not the problem.

- Warminster, PA, USA

problem #20

Sep 042008


  • 60,000 miles
In 2005 a recall was issued for the 2004 Saturn Ion front headlamps. I had the recalled parts replaced. For the past few months my left blinker has gone out about five times. I have replaced bulbs, had the dealer replace the sockets, and am now about to have the wiring harness replaced. The dealer said that no one else has had this problem. However, I have been researching the problem and have found hundreds of the same occurrences online and have seen other Saturn Ions around town with the same blinker out. I believe this problem is not normal wear and tear. I believe it is directly related to the 2005 recall.

- Mableton, GA, USA

problem #19

Nov 012007


  • 3,200 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. During the winter, it takes a half an hour to get the vehicle started. The dealer replaced the starter assembly solenoid in 2007. The manufacturer stated that the failure was a factory defect. The oil that was used at the time of manufacturing prevents the electricity to connect to the starter. The manufacturer would not assist with the repair. The failure mileage was 3,200 and current mileage was 7,200.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #18

Jul 022008


  • miles
I have been having a problem with the anti theft/passlock system on my Saturn Ion. Today is not the first time it has happen and after reading complaints from other consumers I see I am not the only one having the issue. The car will turnover but nothing will happen. All the lights come on the display as well as a service vehicle indicator. At first it would take 5 or 10 minutes to start and has progressively gotten worse. Today for example I waited a half hour for the car to start. I called the Saturn dealership here in my town only to end up in a argument with the person that sold me the piece of crap. I don¿T know how Saturn is still in business. I spent a pretty penny on the vehicle and no one wants to help. To know that a vehicle that you sell is causing so many customers so many problems and do not even want to help them resolve the issue is just pathetic to me. I am at the point of taking the car back to the dealership and taking a voluntary repo. I will never buy a car from Saturn or GM again.

- Sparks, NV, USA

problem #17

Mar 042008


  • 39,000 miles
Ignition switch of all Saturn Ions are bad. It seems that the lubricant used for the internal parts is not well made and sticks to the internal parts in cold weather. When this happens, car will not start and will leave you stranded. It seems like it happens on every Saturn Ion yet Saturn won't do anything about it. In the replacement parts the problem has not been corrected thus making this repair useful only until the next wave of cold temperatures comes along.

- Woodbury, NJ, USA

problem #16

Dec 102007

Ion 4-cyl

  • 49,000 miles
Car does not start when weather is very cold. Changed battery and had alternator checked. Took it in to etna battery to have checked out. Car started when it gets warmer or the sun warms up the car.

- Gahanna, OH, USA

problem #15

Nov 012007

Ion 4-cyl

  • 20,000 miles


Like many others I also had the problem with the ignition and it was repaired this past winter while my car is under warranty. At the same time they attempted to repair a strange grinding noise coming from my heater it has been replaced twice with no success in solving the issue and I was told by the dealer hey would not replace the item again. Also I had recently replace the right head light socket since it was overheating and melting, (which could have caused a fire) while the lights were on. I am also having issues with my power steering turning off and on while driving. Most of these issues I have found on here I hope someone is really looking into them cause Saturn certainly made it clear that they didn't care.

- Derry, NH, USA

problem #14

Dec 072007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,700 miles
My 2004 Saturn Ion 3 will not start at times on cold mornings, the battery was replaced and still no start..it is in the shop right now after reading other complaints on an online forum I see this is a wide spread and yet Saturn does nothing to help, it seems to be in the ignition switch, BCM, and or the passlock system.

- Pontiac, MI, USA

problem #13

Nov 302007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,703 miles
I purchase a 2004 Saturn Ion (6/11/04), brand new. The first sign of cold that year, late November, the car would not start at all. After awhile(10-15 min.) it would start up like nothing was wrong. I brought it in 12/28/04, which they replaced the ignition lock module; saying "that was the problem". I still had issues with the car through the winter, and they didn't know was what wrong. Everytime I brought it in, they would find nothing wrong and send me on my way since they couldn't reproduce the issue. The next winter than same thing happened. I was stuck in the cold a few mornings before work trying to get the car started. Saturn claimed it was too cold outside for my car to start, and told me to wait a bit before bringing it in. (it maybe went below 0 degrees that week twice) fed up I brought it in again on 1/17/05, which they replaced my block assembly, wire harness, starter, battery, and wire connecters. They really weren't sure what was wrong they admitted, but it seems to work now. The car would work for a few weeks, then the same issue arises again. On 4/15/05 Saturn had to replace my radio receiver for faulty issues. That same winter, my car would not start in the cold again. It was brought in on 12/20/05, which they replaced my ignition switch saying the usual "this will fix the problem". now, just under two years later, I am back to having the same issues of my car not starting in the cold. Saturn is now throwing their hands up saying I must purchase another ignition switch, and pay them to put it in for a total of $220. Unacceptable. I may have taken actions sooner, but I wasn't aware there were many more Saturn Ion drivers with the same issues I had.

- Wausau, WI, USA

problem #12

Mar 062007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Saturn 2004 Ion 3 if I have the wipers and heat or A/C on at the same time as the radio the radio led lights go out when the car is moving and I am not able to read the time or radio station on the radio. If I turn the wipers off the led lights come back on. Visibility problem causes driver to take vision off road longer-no specific accident has occurred but numerous close calls have occurred as a result of what apparently is a flaw. I have taken it to the dealership numerous times and the salesman and the general manage both said that is not right but the service manage tried to tell me that is normal operating condition. A Saturn management review team person from Saturn Corp. Said in a letter to me "your retail service team leader has reviewed my concern and determined that the condition is a normal characteristic of the vehicle. Since your vehicle is functioning within design specifications, we ask that you accept the diagnosis given at the time of this review." In other words they either do not want to fix the problem or don't know how to. This problem started happening after the turn signal/drl safety recall when they installed a drl jumper kit.

- Winnipeg, 00, USA

problem #11

Feb 152007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,500 miles
On 4 occasions now, when I leave work at around midnight in frigid weather, I attempt to start my 2004 Saturn Ion (manufactured in late 2003), and the starter will turn over approximately 1 or 2 revolutions, then stop. Immediate subsequent attempts to start simply result in the "click" of the ignition switch. If I wait about 5 to 10 minutes, it will turn over once or twice again, one time, then I must wait another 5-10 minutes before the starter will turn over again. According to a website I was reading, this is a common problem, and is usually due to a defect in the ignition pass lock switch, an antitheft system designed to cut off fuel supply, and some sort of grease that freezes. So far, jump-starts seem to help...but according to that website, simply attempting start, waiting 10 minutes, attempting again, waiting for 10 minutes, and trying again, eventually will start the car. Perhaps the time it takes to connect jumper cables is enough to "reset" this pass-lock system.

- Broken Arrow, OK, USA

problem #10

Jan 042007


  • miles
Car wouldn't start numerous (cold) mornings, no way to get to work. Eventually, later in the day the car would start. Called Saturn dealer they told me to bring it in, I dropped it off; they called later to tell me it was my passlock sensor. In the meantime I check online and find a huge message board with tons of other people who have had the same problem. I talk to the service technician about it and he tells me that they have had this problem with the Ion, but that it was decided that it wasn't serious enough for a recall. Of course it's not life threatening but it's still a defective part!! I also talked to the service manager who explained to me that it was a known problem with the Ion but that I was now way past my warranty anyway. I don't care if I have 6 miles, 6,000 miles, 60,000 miles or 600,000 miles on the car this part should be replaced by Saturn at no charge. It is a known problem, why make the consumer pay for it?! the part was replaced and I paid for it because I didn't have a choice at the time, I need a vehicle for work. If this doesn't get resolved and/or I don't get a refund from Saturn, this will be the last vehicle I buy from them. That is a guarantee!

- Grand Blanc, MI, USA

problem #9

Dec 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
2004 Saturn Ion, refuses to start in cold weather - mainly after an overnight park in sub-freezing temperatures...wait 10 minutes, and it starts.

- Saginaw, MI, USA

problem #8

Jan 162007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Vehicle randomly won't start. More frequently during cold and/or damp weather, but not always. Vehicle will either do absolutely nothing or start to crank and stop or after repetitive tries, start and run very rough then cut out. I have lost count of the number of times this has occurred to me. In most cases I have left the disabled vehicle sitting for a day and tried again the following day to have it either start up like nothing ever happened or start, run rough and eventually smooth out. Many of these incidents have occurred in my driveway and just caused me to be late for work and inconvenienced. Twice it has left me stuck at work scrambling to find someone to pick my children up from day care. And tonight it left me stranded in the cold during the midst of an ice-storm at 11 pm...and again, late for work. These are not old vehicles experiencing this problem and after reading the vast complaints, it is certainly not an isolated problem. Something needs to be done, the consumer should not have to pay for an obvious manufacturer defect. I will be contacting Saturn in the morning to attempt getting it repaired.

- Rome, NY, USA

problem #7

Dec 022006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,250 miles
Car won't start in cold weather. Won't even turn on, then will and shuts right off.

- Kokomo, IN, USA

problem #6

Sep 052004

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles
The contact stated digital clock was losing one minute of time per month. He had to look at his wrist watch to keep accurate time. Contacted the dealer, and they offered no free remedy.

- Barrington, IL, USA

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