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:
20 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
11 / 3
Average Mileage:
32,251 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2004 Saturn Ion Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #19

Feb 032014


  • miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign id numbers: 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system) and14V171000 (electrical system) but was advised by the dealer that the part needed to complete the repair was not available. The contact received two separate recall notices and had still been waiting for the recall repairs. The manufacturer was also contacted and could not provide a reasonable time frame for when the vehicle would receive the recall repairs.  the contact had not experienced a failure.

- Neilsville, WI, USA

problem #18

Apr 012014

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
2004 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to ignition switch recall notice issues, air bag malfunction and several other vehicle problems. The consumer stated her daughter was involved in 3 accidents. Her daughter lost power and the vehicle stalled. When her daughter hit the other vehicle, the air bags did not deploy. Her daughter was injured. Also, the consumer had difficulty steering the vehicle.

- Rochester, MN, USA

problem #17

Apr 012014


  • miles
2004 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to faulty ignition problems. The consumer stated he experienced numerous problems with the ignition, in the 3 years he has owned the vehicle. On several occasions, the vehicle would not start. The dealer would always claim, there was nothing wrong with the passlock system.

- Clinton Township, MI, USA

problem #16

Dec 042012

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles


2004 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to ignition switch recall notice issues. The consumer stated the vehicle would not start. The problem has been going on for years. According to the latest invoice, the technician found the key binding in the housing. The ignition cylinder was replaced. The battery was replaced 3 times.

- Mahwah, NJ, USA

problem #15

May 142012

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving approximately 40 mph, the vehicle wouldn't stop when the brakes were applied and caused the contact to crash into another vehicle. The air bags did not deploy. There were no injuries and a police report was filed. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 84,000. Updated 5/20/14 updated 06/17/14

- Hudson, NC, USA

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problem #14

Aug 172012

Ion 4-cyl

  • miles
I write on behalf of the estate of [xxx]. [xxx] were killed on August 17, 2012 in a 2004 Saturn Ion after the vehicle was struck by a pickup truck and the air bags failed to deploy. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #13

Jan 082004

Ion 4-cyl

  • 175 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the vehicle had multiple failures. The steering was rough and the transmission was causing the vehicle to make loud noises when the wheels were turned left or right. The contact was included in NHTSA campaign id number:14V047000 (air bags, electrical system) however the dealer stated that the parts would become available mid April. The manufacturer was also contacted and could not provide an estimated date for when the contact's vehicle would receive the recall repairs. An authorized dealer will inspect the transmission and steering failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 175. The mileage of 175 was reaffirmed by the contact. Updated 05/28/14 MA the consumer stated the vehicle began having issues 2 weeks after it was purchased. The vehicle wouldnt start, it had high idling problems, and most recently the steering column failure. The battery and throttle were both replaced. Updated 05/29/2014*

- Dearborne, MI, USA

problem #12

Feb 042014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
Driving 60 mph on the expressway, I was run off the road by a semi truck on the right side of the road. I hit a highway sign head-on. The airbag did not deploy, although the damage to the car was extensive. Thankfully I had my seat belt on, but sustained bruises.

- Tallmadge, OH, USA

problem #11

Aug 122013


  • 51,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while at a complete stop, another vehicle crashed into the contact's rear. The air bags failed to deploy. There were no injuries and a police report was not filed. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 51,000.

- Ypsilanti, MI, USA

problem #10

Jul 292013


  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that when attempting to drive the vehicle, it would not start on multiple occasions. The contact waited for a brief moment and the vehicle was able to restart. The vehicle would not start at random. The battery was replaced due to the ignition problem with the vehicle. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer to diagnose the problem. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The contact was included in NHTSA campaign id number: 14V047000 (air bags and electrical system) after the failures. The approximate failure mileage was 55000.

- Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

problem #9

Mar 092005

Ion 4-cyl

  • 3,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated while driving 65 mph, the steering wheel became difficult to move and the vehicle stalled. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer for diagnostic testing. The dealer advised the contact that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V047000 (air bags, electrical system). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 3,000 and the current mileage was 50,000.

- Lombard, IL, USA

problem #8

Mar 012013


  • 239,512 miles
I was driving at night on a country road when a deer ran out in front of me and the car struck it. The car sustained some front end damage and the cabin filled with smoke. The seat-belts locked up but the airbags never deployed. Now the airbag light is on and the seat-belts are locked up. It concerns me that with everything that happened that the airbag should have when off.

- Clayton, NC, USA

problem #7

Dec 072009


  • 60,000 miles
1) my son drove our 2004 Saturn ion3 off the road wherein the front of the car hit a tree at approximately 45 mph (according to the diagnostics from the on board computer). 2) the airbags failed to deploy. 3) GM was queried as to why they did not deploy. GM provided the computer diagnostics of the incident but did not provide an answer/explanation despite multiple attempts.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #6

Feb 282007

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,900 miles
- the contact stated that while driving the 2004 Saturn Ion at about 30 mph, another vehicle turned in front of the contact's vehicle and was unable to avoid hitting the other vehicle. She S hit the passenger rear side of the other vehicle with the front of the her vehicle. She stated that the passenger side airbag deployed, but no one was sitting on the passenger side of the bag. The driver side airbag deployed, but didn't deploy fully. The air bag never came in contact with her. There was smoke coming from the steering column with the airbag. The contact removed herself from the vehicle afraid there could have been a fire. She called 911 and the police reported the crash. The contact felt that the driver's side airbag didn't deploy properly. The contact sustained minor injuries. The failure mileage was 25900, and the current mileage was 26000.

- South Bend, IN, USA

problem #5

Oct 212006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 63,793 miles
Driving car in front stops fast. I turn to miss but not enough, so we crashed. No air bag come on, no motor kill, no fuel kill. And we where going 35 at the max.

- Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #4

Jun 102005

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The vehicle was involved in a front end collision on June 10 2005 the vehicle moved across the other side of the road and was hit by two others trucks. These were more of a side impact. It was hit head on by a semi truck the driver was ejected from the vehicle and her husband was killed. He has filed a complaint with the manufacturer. Both occupants were wearing there seat belts. Daughter flew out from under the seat belt of the vehicle, she was the driving. They were going the speed limit, and the roadway was wet. On the police report they listed it as hydroplane. None of the air bags deployed. There was no warning light on prior to the crash. The vehicle was just in the shop for an oil change. There are pictures, police report and repair invoices available for the ODI office. The police report stated that she had done nothing wrong.

- Oklahoma City, OK, USA

problem #3

Nov 202004

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,600 miles
Problems: A. air bags didn't deploy. B. driver's seat collapse and dent rear-ended while stopped at a railroad crossing. Upon impact seat flew back, hit back seat and dented. Our stopped car was then pushed into the stopped vehicle in front. Our car was smashed at front and back and neither front nor side airbags deployed. No skid marks reported and no brakes applied by offending car so our 2004 Saturn Ion took the full impact and was sandwiched between a Camry from behind and a GMC jimmy in front. Woman in jimmy taken by ambulance to hospital since she was pregnant. My son driving the Saturn had his wife pick him up and proceeded to E/R where he was diagnosed with cervical strain. Driver of Camry had her husband pick her up. All 3 vehicles were towed. Our Saturn will most likely be totaled. We took pictures as did the police in spokane, wa..

- Everett, WA, USA

problem #2

Aug 032004

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 816 miles
On July 21, 2004, I purchased a new 2004 Saturn Ion quad coupe and on August 3, 2004, I experienced tread and belt separation on the driver's side front tire. I was traveling approximately 40-45 mph, heard a loud noise and suddenly lost control of the car and discovered I had no brakes either, (the tire had ripped the brake lines). I was only able to stop the vehicle after hitting a road sign. The tire in question, came standard on the vehicle (which had 816 miles on it) and was a Firestone firehawk gta 03, (P205/55R16). I suffered a fracture to my right forearm, multiple contusions, approximately $6000 worth of vehicle damage, (not including the immediate depreciation of a brand new vehicle), and ultimately loss of my employment related to no transportation. I called the Saturn customer svc. Center and they towed the vehicle to the dealership. They kept the vehicle there for more than 30 days, when they had a Saturn representative fly down from tn to tell me they have no responsibility, even though not one of the 6 airbags deployed, and that I should contact Firestone, however in the meantime I must immediately removed the vehicle from their premises!! I filed an incident report and shipped the tire to Firestone, per their request, only to be told 28 days later that they do not have any responsibility since the damage was a result of a "360 degree spin cut through the tread". my insurance told me that if I filed the claim through them that I would be "heavily penalized" since it was obvious that I was not at fault. So, I lost my job, spent all of my savings, got behind on all of my bills and all I have to show for it is a new car that is not drivable!

- Gastonia, NC, USA

problem #1

May 102004


  • miles
Vehicle involved in a crash and air bags did not deploy. The consumers daughter was involved in 2 incidents with this vehicle. The daughter was hit by a harley davidson F150 truck in the first incident where she turned and the harley hit her in the front passenger side and the second incident occurred when the daughter drove 4 miles, and parked, then fifteen minutes later the gas pedal stuck and she was unable to release it. The brakes had become inoperative. The vehicle was placed in park along with the emergency brake and shut off. (duplicate report - see ODI ref. No. 10074368)

- Naples, FL, USA

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