NHTSA — Electrical System Problems

2004 Saturn Ion (Page 7 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 7 of 12)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #105

Nov 102008

Ion 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles


I bought my 2004 Saturn Ion used with less than 60,000 miles on it, I had it less than a year when one day it wouldn't start, I thought it was the battery or the alternator, but none of that fixed the problem. This problem progressively got worse and started happening very frequently, more often when it got cold out. After about 10-15 minutes the car will start, I have had to wait up to 45 minutes for the car to start sometimes. This problem has made me late for work, left my children waiting for me and left myself after work closing a bar one night at 3:00 in the morning. The more I mentioned this problem to people the more I found out I am not the only one with this problem, it has to do with the security pass lock system and ignition. If this is such a frequent problem for Saturn why hasn't there been a recall ever to had it fixed, and why are dealerships allowed to sell used Saturn without correcting the problem or making buyers aware of this potential problem, it is simply dishonest!

- Marshfield, WI, USA

problem #104

Feb 272010


  • 66,000 miles
I own a 2004 Saturn Ion, that on random occasions does not start. Wait a few minutes and then it does. This has happened to us in both warm and cold days. It's been in for service several times and service tech's can't seem to locate the problem. When this first started, with only about 10 000 kl, the car did nothing, no lights, radio etc., completely dead.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #103

Mar 202009

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
I owe a 2004 Saturn Ion and like many others, I having problems with my ignition switch. The power steering also goes out while driving. I purchased this vehicle in 2006 and started having problems 3 months afterwards. At first I thought it was only my vehicle until I was looking for a part via the internet and ran across other complaints. It's a shame that GM hasn't done a recall. There are several consumers affected by this problem.

- Lagrange, GA, USA

problem #102

Apr 122010


  • 96,000 miles


2004 Saturn Ion will not start randomly no crank no start issue which is from GM's faulty passlock system its not just cold weather related it was 50 degrees this morning when it happened but when I came home it started just fine its done this alot over the years and always at the worst times I know im not the only Saturn/ GM owner with this problem and there are even tsb 's relating to these issues why are we stuck dealing with GM's faulty engineering.

- Kettering, OH, USA

problem #101

Apr 012010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
My 2004 Saturn ion2 randomly won't start. It's generally happens in the morning. I insert my key, the interior/ exterior lights come on, and then I turn the key. The engine will not crank and will not make any noise. I try numerous times to start it, but it won't crank over. Then, between 10-30 minutes later, it will start. Multiple mechanics are unable to diagnose the problem. I suspect that it has something to do with the passlock system and one of the wires malfunctioning.

- Seaside, CA, USA

problem #100

Jan 012007

Ion 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
2004 Saturn Ion this car has problems starting when it is cold outside, I am late for work alot it might take 20 minutes to start or an hour. I called the dealership and they said I I would have to pay for a diagnostic evaluation. This happens in the cooler months I can count on it. The most current being this morning yesterday morning the day before that.

- Puyallup, WA, USA

problem #99

Jan 012008


  • 50,000 miles


Car does not start when below 35 degrees. I have to wait exactly 10 minutes then it will usually start. Power steering would occasionally turn off while driving around 50,000 to 60,000 miles and gradually worsens over time. My power steering is now completely not working and has almost caused me several minor to major accidents when it shuts off while driving either by myself or with my children. I replaced the electric power steering fuses first to see if that solved the problem only to realize its the power steering column will have to be replaced costing me $1100. I can no longer drive my car because I am not strong enough to turn the wheel with the constant failing of the power steering.

- Wichita , KS, USA

problem #98

Dec 012004


  • 9,000 miles
After only 9 months of owning my Ion I have experienced problems with shifting the car in and out of gear. It is a random occurrence and can happen 8 times in a week then not at all for months. However when it does happen it is a life threatening experience as I am usually driving on a major highway. The car will be "locked" into 4th for example and when I try to shift to 5th I can not get it out of 4th. I have taken the car to the Saturn dealership a minimum of 20 times for this problem, only to be told that they could not do anything. I then took it to a different dealership where the tech took the car home for 1 week, experienced the problem for himself, and told me all he could do was replace a wire and hope it helped because Saturn would not let him investigate any more options. It did absolutely nothing to help my car. And since the last time my car has been at the Saturn dealership my power steering now goes in and out. Apparently they busted a seal and failed to mention that to me, so not only do I have to worry about not being able to shift, but also losing my power steering. They only solution I can come up with is to try my best to get the car to a safe spot and turn it off and let it sit. This car has had more problems than anyone should have to deal with: Reverse switch going out, airconditioning going out, power windows no longer work, power steering, and not being able to shift. I have to drive this everyday with my children in the car with me at most times. This should have all been taken care under the orig. Warranty, as it all happened within the first 6-12 months of owning the car. Lol that's what I get for buying a GM product.

- Barnhart, MO, USA

problem #97

Dec 152009


  • 55,000 miles
My 2004 Saturn Ion wont start in cold temperatures leaving me stranded. If I lived in guam this would be no problem, but I live in calgary alberta Canada and its gets to -40 celsius and only takes minutes for frost bite to settle in.

- Carstairs, 00, USA

problem #96

Jan 072010


  • miles
I drive a 2004 Saturn Ion and last year, the winter of 2008 whenever the temperature dropped below 40, which was once or twice, my car wouldn't start. This year, 2009, the temperature has been below 40 for about 2 weeks now and out of the 5 work days of this week my car started once on the first try. When I try to start it, the engine turns over and shuts off immediately. I have to wait at least 10 minutes to start again. Sometimes it will work the second time, usually I have to wait until the third try.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #95

Dec 122009


  • miles


In cold weather (below 20F), the car refuses to start, or even try to turn over.

- Palatine, IL, USA

problem #94

Dec 232009


  • 76,176 miles
I purchases a 2004 Saturn Ion in 2006. In October of 2007, my vehicle would not start for no apparent reason. After waiting about 15 minutes, my vehicle started and ran normally. This happened again about 3 days later while I was visiting relatives 2 hours from my home which detained me on my trip back home. I took my vehicle to the Saturn dealership in harrisburg, pa to have it checked. I was told that the problem was the ignition switch which needed to be replaced (they replaced it). Two years later in December, 2009 the problem occurred again, this time on my way to work on an extremely cold winter morning. I took the vehicle to the Saturn dealership again and was told that I would need another ignition switch to replace the one they had replaced 2 years earlier. After reading about so many other complaints and dangerous situations that Saturn owners have gotten into because of failing ignition switches, it is clear that there is a defect in these parts. I have read about countless situations where people were unable to turn their cars off! an ignition switch should not go bad every 2 years. This is not a high wear and tear part. A car should be able to turn on and off a large number of times without fail. A car that fails to turn off is an enormous safety issue. If you leave the car unattended and turned on, someone could be hurt or killed. Not being able to start a car is also a dangerous especially when it happens in bitterly cold weather. Saturn/GM is doing nothing to get these unsafe vehicle off the roads to be fixed. They are not taking responsibility for the countless number of ignition switch problems that Saturn owners are experiencing. GM has a history of ignition switch failures and should stand behind their product by offering a recall of the defective part and replacing it.

- Harrisburg, PA, USA

problem #93

Dec 132009


  • 50,000 miles
I purchased a 2004 Saturn Ion. No real problems until winter. My car won't start in the cold. I have been at stores and came out and it won't start. I give it 10 minutes exactly not a minute sooner not a minute later, it then starts. This is a safety issue. If for some reason I am out late and my car won't start and its subzero temp I can die from it. I am afraid that one day it won't start at all. This problem is becoming a big deal to me and other owners. Please fix the issue, put out a recall!!

- Wadsworth, OH, USA

problem #92

Dec 092009


  • 90,000 miles
On cold days my car will not start. It will roll over a few times and then the service vehicle light will appear. The car takes anywhere from 15-30 minutes to start leaving me stranded with no heat in the middle of no where. This occurs on a daily basis on cold days in the spring, winter and fall..

- East Meadow, NY, USA

problem #91

Dec 052005


  • miles
I have the same issue as many others with the anti-theft/electric system of my 2004 Saturn Ion. The manufacturer has refused to remedy the problem without me paying for their shoddy work. I am about to get a lawyer and see if he can get my car issue resolved with GM. When it is cold/wet the car will not start. It will crank 1 time and then nothing for 10 minutes. After waiting inside the car on a very cold morning I can attempt to try my car yet again. It may or may not work and the cycle may need to be repeated. I am very unsatisfied and have offered to GM an opportunity to correct the situation and was met with utter indifference. They want me to pay to replace their bad work and I will not.

- Onalaska, WI, USA

problem #90

Dec 032009


  • miles
I pulled into a restaurant and the car was fine, when I went to leave the car would not start. I had aaa come out, they told me that I need to have the car looked at. The steering wheel will turn, but the key will not. The battery is not dead as all the lights work for the car but the key is not working. This problem happened once before but after waiting a few minutes the car simply started. Now my car has to be towed to a garage, to be fixed. I looked online and have seen many other 2004 Saturn Ion owners have the same problem turning their car on in the cold.

- Gettysburg, PA, USA

problem #89

Nov 092009


  • miles
I recently purchased a Saturn Ion 2004 car. After 2 months, one day it just didn't turn on when I started it. I thought it was the battery. I had it checked and the battery was fine. I, however, replaced the battery with a new one, since it was the original battery. Since then, the problem of "not starting" has happened 4 times....I went on the Saturn website and to my amazement, there are pages and pages of the same complaint with the same car, Saturn Ion 2004, 2005, 2003. This is a real inconvenience not knowing if when I turn my car off it will start or not. I urge you to consider how many people are complaining about this same thing. Saturn tells us when we call to take it to the service station. We then get a bill for their service, and they can't find anything wrong. We are wasting money. I believe Saturn should step up to the plate and investigate this problem instead of just ignoring it.

- Clarks Summit, PA, USA

problem #88

Dec 022009


  • 70,000 miles
I bought a used 2004 Saturn Ion 6 months ago. I have had no real problems until it started getting cold. Now, most mornings I have the common ignition problem that everybody else has. I turn the key, everything lights up, the engine cranks once, then nothing. I have to keep turning the key all the way off, wait 10 seconds, and try again. Eventually, after 10-30 minutes of doing this repeatedly, the car starts. Every once in a while, the car does start after only a few tries. I have read about this problem on many different forums, and I am angered and dismayed that GM will do nothing about this. Good thing my employer is understanding, and has not fired me yet for being late every time this happens.

- Broomfield, CO, USA

problem #87

Oct 102009


  • 24,000 miles
Car won't start in cold weather. Battery and alternator fine. Had remote starter removed, as suggested by service center ; now have no running lights or keyless entry. Have had the Saturn Ion 2004 since Oct. 5th, 2009. Have had to have the car jump started 5 times since. Since this is under warranty it is going back to the dealers for good. I hope no one else decides to buy it until Saturn owns up and fixes this defect. Unsatisfied customer. 11-21-09.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #86

Nov 012008


  • 40,000 miles
My Saturn Ion 3, 2004 will not start when it is cold. You have to wait 10 minutes and then try again to try to get the car to start. The car eventually starts. I called Saturn to inquire about this and they said that it is an ignition switch problem with their passlock system. They fix about 10 of them every week, B ut Saturn has yet to recall the switch. This problem happens almost everyday in the cold and has been happening to my car for over a year now.

- Chicago, IL, USA

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