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 8 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #162

Oct 152011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 66,606 miles


When pulling out of a parking space, the power steering failed. Before leaving the parking space I inspected the belt- it was intact- and the ground underneath the vehicle- there was no fluid loss. Steering the car out of the parking space required great effort. Proceeding on the road, the power assist seemed to return. I pulled into a parking lot where the power assist seemed to be working fine with a sharp left turn, but not at all on a sharp right turn. Further along the road, when making a right turn, the power assist seemed to operate normally. Also normal power assist was experience on a left turn. I operated the vehicle for several more short trips, stopping and restarting the vehicle- the problem did not repeat itself, but I have read online and in news reports that this has been a problem for other Saturn owners.

- Millersville, PA, USA

problem #161

Sep 152009


  • 101,817 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated while reversing from a driveway, the power steering system malfunctioned causing the steering wheel to become stiff. The contact shut the vehicle off and restarted it and the power steering system was reset to normal. The contact called the dealer and the dealer advised the contact to bring the vehicle in for inspection. The contact did not take the vehicle to the dealer for diagnosis or repairs. The failure mileage was 101,817.

- Oroville, CA, USA

problem #160

Sep 192011


  • 58,383 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated while driving various speeds, a warning bell would sound and the steering wheel seized. He turned the vehicle off, restarted it and the steering wheel began to function normally. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer to have the failure diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 58,383.

- Spring Hill, FL, USA

problem #159

Sep 012011


  • 145,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph, the steering wheel seized. The vehicle was carefully maneuvered to the shoulder and shut off. Upon restart, the vehicle operated as normal. The failure had since recurred on an intermittent basis. The vehicle was not taken to have the failure diagnosed or repaired and the manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The contact also stated that the vehicle would intermittently experience a failure in which it would not start. Whenever the failure occurred, the contact would have to wait approximately ten minutes before the vehicle would successfully start. The failure mileage was 145,000.

- Barstow, CA, USA

problem #158

Aug 152011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 108,400 miles
While driving my Saturn Ion 2004 the power steering light in the dashboard came on while I was engaging in a curve on highway 15, I was barely able to control the vehicle no to crash on the concrete middle divider and had to immobilize the vehicle, stop the engine and restart it in order to get the power steering to work again. This has happen to me few time per year over the last 3 years but now I am afraid for my life and it is happening more and more frequently.

- Cedar City, UT, USA

problem #157

Aug 102011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 31,263 miles
Power steering went out. Steering got hard to turn.

- Covington, LA, USA

problem #156

Jun 112011


  • 103,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the power steering would fail after the warning light illuminated. The steering wheel would then become very difficult to manuever. The vehicle had not been inspected by a dealer, nor had it been repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 103,000.

- Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #155

Apr 062011


  • 108,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated while driving, the power steering light illuminated and it became difficult to turn the steering wheel. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic who diagnosed that the steering module was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and did not offer any assistance since the vehicle was declared salvage. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 108,000.

- Moreno Valley , CA, USA

problem #154

May 012010


  • 90,000 miles
2004 Saturn Ion with 118K miles. The power steering will go out at least a couple of times a week at random times. This began to occur when the vehicle had about 90K miles but GM refused to repair. When it originally happen it would occur about once a month but now has progressed to a constant occurrence. The on board screen next to gauges will show "pwr steer" and beep loudly. This means the power steering has gone out. Can occur at any speed or road type. Car will become difficult to maneuver. The only way to get the power steering back is to restart the car by turning it off and back on. It is unsafe to drive the vehicle without the power steering.

- Norwalk, CA, USA

problem #153

Jul 012011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 87,000 miles
Electronic assist power steering fails without any warning. Steering becomes very difficult if not impossible for some people which could lead to loss of control.

- Hooper, UT, USA

problem #152

Jul 012011


  • 113,900 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated while driving approximately 60 mph the vehicle suddenly stalled. She noticed that the power steering warning illuminated after the failure occurred. The contact was able to restart the vehicle and drive it to the dealer. The dealer advised her that the power steering assist system needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure and current miles were approximately 113,900.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #151

Jun 212011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 61,000 miles
2004 Saturn Ion 2 power steering failure.

- Shelton, WA, USA

problem #150

Apr 112011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 80,112 miles
Driving down the road and power steering quit working. Was very hard to control. I had my two kids in the back and did everything to keep from going into the other lane.

- Lakeland, FL, USA

problem #149

Apr 012011


  • 147,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. While driving approximately 15 mph the vehicle pulled to the left vigorously and the power steering light illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact pulled the steering wheel to the right and it began to function normally. The failure occurred intermittently. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing because it was not covered by a warranty. The manufacturer was contacted and stated they could not assist with repairs. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 147,000.

- Edinburgh, TX, USA

problem #148

Mar 172011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
I lost my power steering and the pwr str warning light came on while driving on the interstate. When I safely exited, I read the owner's manual and it said this requires immediate service. I went directly to a Firestone dealer but they were near closing and could not put it on diagnostics and asked me to return in the morning. However, when they started the car, the warning light was off and the power steering ability returned. I researched this online and it seems this is the same problem that prompted GM to recall other GM vehicles in March 2010, but not the Saturn. While the problem may be temporarily resolved by replacing 2 fuses, the ultimate solution is to replace the steering column motor which is a rather expensive item. I believe the Saturn should have been included in that recall GM issued.

- North Miami Beach, FL, USA

problem #147

Mar 172011


  • 116,000 miles
I own a Saturn Ion 2004 and I am experiencing loss of power steering while driving on the highway. GM recall should include all Saturn Ions regardless of mileage, because of the magnitude of this issue. The Saturn Ions should not be allowed on the highways because of this safety risk.

- Warren, MI, USA

problem #146

Aug 042010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
My 2004 Saturn Ion is having issues with the power steering going out while I drive the vehicle. After turning the car off and back on, it resets it, as it is electric power steering, but the problem persists and keeps getting worse. It will turn off about 10 times in a mile on average. I have done research on the issue and it has caused 14 deaths in other instances. After calling the dealer, they say it is not a recall, and will not help me out. A few GM cars like the cobalt have the same issues all covered under warranty and have the exact same power steering motor and steering column. I am in the process to find the partsand replaced them, but the dealer is not willing to help in this matter. Here is a link on a discussion forum for this topic.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #145

Feb 142011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
While driving the car under normal conditions I suddenly lost power steering nearly causing an accident.

- Ny, NY, USA

problem #144

Feb 032011


  • 41,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact was driving approximately 20 mph when the power steering warning light illuminated and the steering wheel became extremely stiff and difficult to maneuver. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic yet the mechanic was unable to diagnose the failure. The failure recurred and the vehicle was taken back to the mechanic where the contact was advised that the steering and motor module would need replacing. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 41,000.

- Edgewater, FL, USA

problem #143

Jan 312011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 86,479 miles
My wife was driving down the road and her power steering went out on her 2004 Saturn Ion. This made it very difficult to steer. My wife was driving at approx. 65 mph on the highway. It was very dangerous. I have researched this and found a lot of people with the same issue. GM needs to do a recall. Apparently my wife's car has the same steering as the Chevy cobalt which was recalled for the very same thing. What about all the consumers that don't know they are driving this car and that their steering can go out on them at any moment? this is a serious issue!

- Linn Creek, MO, USA

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