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:
13 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
79,882 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2004 Saturn Ion Owner Comments (Page 6 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #202

Apr 022013

Ion 4-cyl

  • 131,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving approximately 50 mph, the power steering assist warning light illuminated and the power steering failed. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for a diagnosis. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 131,000.

- Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #201

Apr 022013


  • 112,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph, the power steering assist warning light illuminated as the power steering failed. The vehicle was moved to the shoulder and restarted. The contact also mentioned that the failure recurred frequently. The vehicle was inspected by a private mechanic, who could not diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 112,000. The current mileage was 113,000.

- Tamarac , FL, USA

problem #200

Feb 172013


  • 174,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving 10 mph and attempting a turn, the steering wheel was engaged however, the vehicle would not turn. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for inspection. The vehicle was not diagnosed for the failure or repaired. The manufacturer was notified but provided no assistance. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 174,000.

- Union City, OH, USA

problem #199

Feb 042013


  • miles


I was driving on the interstate at 65 mph and the power steering light came on and the steering wheel clicked and became stiff. There was no prior indication that anything was wrong. I could no longer turn right and left turns were almost impossible. The brakes started having trouble as well. I almost got in accident because the right side was not working. Then when I made it to a spot and turned the car on and off it was working again. Then about 30 min later it did the same thing again. I had some check the fluid and it was fine and so was the belt. Also, my left indicator will not work. I have taken it to the dealer and several mechanics and it keeps melting the socket.

- Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

problem #198

Jul 122012

Ion 4-cyl

  • 152,000 miles
My power assist steering will go out suddenly when driving. At first it only happened occasionally but now it is happening more often. I have been told by the dealer that it will cost over $1500 to replace. I have also been told that this is a common problem with Ions from that year, but that there is not a recall.

- Semmes, AL, USA

problem #197

Oct 222012


  • 139,400 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the vehicle was taken in for inspection to an independent mechanic who stated that the steering column needed to be replaced due to how loose the wheel was when it was coming down from the lift. The contact mentioned that after leaving the shop and driving at low speeds, she noticed that the vehicle would pull to the right, it was difficult to make left turns and would be extremely easy to make a right turns. The vehicle was not repaired for the steering column. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure and current mileage was approximately 139,400.

- Greensburg, PA, USA

problem #196

Oct 102011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 110,000 miles


When I was going South on I-95 in Georgia I heard a warning tone from my Saturn and saw a warning on my dash that was for the power steering. Immediately I could tell I had lost my power steering because changing lanes felt sluggish and a bit difficult. (not physically difficult but more difficult than usual) the light stays on and I have no power steering until I shut off the car and restart it. Then it is like nothing has happened. At slower speeds this could cause an accident due to the amount of force that is required to turn. The biggest problem is not for me but for my wife who cannot physically control the car when this happens. This is definitely a dangerous problem that needs to be taken care of.

- Beaufort, SC, USA

problem #195

Sep 272012

Ion 4-cyl

  • 24,220 miles
Traveling on an interstate at 65 mph we heard a tone indicating something was wrong, steering became difficult and we noticed that the power steering indicator light was on. The power steering was gone and it became very hard to steer and was unable to quickly maneuver. We pulled over, turned off the car and then restarted it and the power steering came back on. Same thing happened again after traveling a few miles. We were able to get home and now the power steering shuts down every few minutes. Car is unsafe on public roads in regards to being able to make quick maneuvers and could lead to accidents and injuries. Clearly a manufacturing problem not normal wear and tear. Chev. & pont. Cars with same equipment and complaints were recalled. Saturns should be also. There is an open action number of EA11014...updated 12/11/12 the consumer stated Saturn volunteered to replace a portion of the steering that controlled the power steering at no charge. Updated 12/12/12

- Salisbury, NC, USA

problem #194

Sep 292012

Ion 4-cyl

  • 106,902 miles
Out of the blue, the console made alert noises and the "pwr str" message appeared. The steering became almost impossible to control, as the power steering went out. Fortunately, I was in a housing development and not the highway, intersection or other dangerous area.

- Lehigh Acres, FL, USA

problem #193

Jul 202012


  • 106,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. While driving approximately 60 mph, the steering wheel became difficult to maneuver. The power steering warning light illuminated on the instrument panel and the warning chime began to sound. After shutting the engine off and restarting the vehicle, the steering functioned normally. The failure recurred one month later. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing or repairs. The approximate failure mileage was 106,000.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #192

Sep 202012


  • 75,755 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion-3. the contact stated that while driving 50 mph, the power steering assist failed and the steering wheel became inoperable. The contact managed to exit the roadway without incident however, experienced extreme difficulty in turning the steering wheel. The dealer was notified of the failure who advised that the repair was not under recall and offered no additional assistance. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 75,755. And the current mileage was 75,756.

- Spring, TX, USA

problem #191

Jun 012010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
Power steering message came up. Very hard to steer no power assist. Turned off car, restarted and power steering is back. This has been an on going event since 6/2010.

- Ellwood City, PA, USA

problem #190

Aug 082012


  • 148,158 miles
Today 8/8/12, I jumped into my 2004 Saturn Ion at 5pm after work & immediately noticed that I could not turn my wheel as I exited the parking lot, I had to swerve hard to my right to by avoid a collision with two cars from the opposite direction. I was terrified! my display showed "pwr str" I had never seen that before, I left my car diagonally parked, since it would not move went for assistance, a passerby looked under my hood for a while then turned my car on and the display was back to mileage and my wheel was working fine!! I drove my car home and immediately started to do some research to find out what it could be and how I could fix it, I find out that their is a known problem with the power steering! I have not received any letters at all. My car has been reliable up until now. It has close to 150K mil (mileage is an estimate on this form) since this appears to be a GM problem, what are my options? thank you

- Altadena, CA, USA

problem #189

May 172012

Ion 4-cyl

  • 82,000 miles
I was driving in an alley at approximately 10 mph when I suddenly lost my power steering (I was alerted with a message). Upon restarting the car, the power steering returned. Since this initial incident, my car has lost the power steering on multiple occasions, in multiple scenarios and at multiple different speeds. It has failed on the freeway multiple times, forcing me to pull over on the shoulder and compromise my safety. I would estimate the power steering has failed no less than 20 times since May 17th (it is now August 7th). This defect is not only unacceptable, it is extremely unsafe.

- Ferndale, MI, USA

problem #188

May 052010


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving 60 mph, the power steering warning lamp illuminated and the steering wheel seized. The contact mentioned that she had to stop and restart the vehicle in order for it to operate as normal. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who was unable to duplicate the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 90,000 and the current mileage was 126,623.

- Manchaca, TX, USA

problem #187

Sep 022011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
Driver was turning right after stopping at a traffic light. Vehicle failed to turn immediately and rammed into the median. Driver was diagnosed with a concussion at medical facility. In 2008, power steering went out on vehicle - a warning would sound and the pwr str message would flash. Dealer replaced steering column. Vehicle was repaired and is currently in use. Power steering again went out, same symptoms, on July 20, 2012. Currently the power steering is not working.

- Crawfordville, FL, USA

problem #186

Jun 012009


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the steering failed and the steering wheel was difficult to turn. In addition, the steering wheel pulled the vehicle to the right. The power steering light illuminated while the failure occurred. The failure was experienced numerous times. The dealer replaced the power steering motor three times, but the failure was not corrected. The steering continued to fail and pulled to the right. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer and the dealer stated that the steering column needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 70,000 and the current mileage was 110,000.

- North Ridgeville, OH, USA

problem #185

Apr 282012

Ion 4-cyl

  • 113,000 miles
The power steering went out while I was driving, making the car very, very difficult to steer. Problem now recurs whenever I drive the car, beginning shortly after I start driving.

- Evanston, IL, USA

problem #184

Jun 062012

Ion 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Power steering went out and "pwr str" notice was displayed. Changed fuse but that didn't fix it. I found the NHTSA RQ10004 investigation in an internet search. I am the original owner of this Saturn Ion redline. I did not receive the letter from Saturn about this issue as reported in various internet articles/ blogs.

- Derby, KS, USA

problem #183

Oct 292011


  • 138,000 miles
Shortly after buying this vehicle, I have had numerous failures of the power assist steering system. At any speed, at any time, "pwr str" dis displayed on the obd display, simultaneously as the motor stopped functioning, forcing me to unexpectedly manually steer the car until the ignition was cycled and the system reset. Sometimes this happens 1-7 times a day. I have personally came close to having a single car accident due to power assist failure while curving. There are no other previous failures of the steering equipment leading up to this issue.

- Ringgold, GA, USA

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