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 9 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #142

Jan 242011


  • 80,125 miles


This complain has to do with a Saturn 2004 Ion, my steering wheel was not working at all, it was hard to make left and right turns, as driving with a steering wheel that is hard to move is really dangerous. Thank god I was not driving to a far place, but I have been online checking the recalls on the Saturn Ion 2004, and I cannot believe that a company will not recall these cars, I know that is a loss on money but honestly is going to be your fault if someone gets hurts while driving with defects on the Saturn, they will be sued. So don't think about the money, think about the lives of people that are letting you know that this car is defective, so if something does happened to me, I will sued this company.

- Crystal Lake , IL, USA

problem #141

Dec 012010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 145,000 miles
I have a 2004 Saturn Ion. The power steering goes out while driving. This is seriously dangerous. GM claims that the car can still be driven with extra effort. That's bull!!!! I am a 200 pound 6ft tall man. And I cannot steer the car into into a drive way to exit the roadway when this happens. If my wife was driving the vehicle this could cause a serious accident. I purchased this car used with 96000 miles on it. How does the sorry excuse for a recall from GM help me?!!!!! 10 year or 100K mile. My car now has 150K miles on it. Please make GM do a full recall on these very dangerous vehicles.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #140

Dec 242010


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact was driving approximately 35 mph when the steering wheel suddenly became difficult to maneuver when turning in either direction without warning. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer nor was it repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 85,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Norwal , CA, USA

problem #139

Dec 202010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 69,500 miles


I was running errands, stopped to get gas (car was working fine), when I pulled out of the gas station I heard the warning chimes and the dash flashed "pwr str". immediately it was difficult to make any turns, but still possible. I pulled into a parking lot, turned off the car and waited a minute, turned it back on. For about 10 seconds the steering felt fine and I had no warning chimes or lights, then as I pulled out into the street, the chimes and the pwr str warning came back and I was on my own again. I drove the vehicle home and later in the evening tried to see if it was just a fluke, but once the vehicle was started I immediately had the warning. This just happened for the first time yesterday so I have not had it repaired yet.

- Orlado, FL, USA

problem #138

Jun 012010


  • 100,000 miles
When parallel parking or parking in a conventional space, steering becomes difficult. At first it was every couple of months, now it is becoming multiple times within a month. It last happened about a week ago. While this is an intermittent problem, it is a problem none the less. Typically occurs after cranking the steering wheel to pull into a parking spot or out of a parking spot. Its as if there is no power steering when maneuvering the steering wheel. This is not a problem resulting from resistance from a curb, nor is it from lack of the vehicle moving. This has happened while in reverse and backing. This has happened while in drive and moving forward. Typically coincides with a full crank of the steering wheel to the left. This is an issue which I am unable to duplicate on a deliberate attempt of duplication. This leads me to believe it to be an intermittent issue. I was teaching a friend how to drive in my car, and he was saying that the wheel was very difficult to turn. At first I thought he was just going through the trials and tribulations of a person learning to drive. Seeing him labor more over the wheel in order to get it to turn. I had him stop the car and I switched with him. I started the car and attempted to parallel park. I encountered the same issue as him while attempting to park. This was the first time it happened.

- Auburn, WA, USA

problem #137

Oct 182010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 46,754 miles
I have a sudden loss of power steering and my steering wheel gets hard after driving for so long and in the message center pwr str comes on. In the morning due to the cold weather my car will not start and will say service vehicle. I don't know if it's due to the fact that my car has sudden loss of power steering.

- Exeter, CA, USA

problem #136

Nov 282010


  • 77,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the power steering failed intermittently; the power steering light also illuminated. When the light turned off, the power steering returned. The dealer stated that the power steering pump needed to be replaced. The VIN was unavailable. The current and failure mileages were approximately 77,000.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #135

Nov 152010


  • 119,800 miles
I was driving my 2004 Saturn Ion VIN# [xxx]. and the powersteering gave out 2 years ago a couple times but I didn't think it was a big deal cause it didn't happen again until a couple days ago and it is now it does intermittently. I know the power steering for the Ion is all electric so I looked online and noticed there are thousands of complaints for the same problem. The dealer wants to charge 1000 dollars to repair it and in my opinion a defect. If you could please have someone check into this issue. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Rio Rancho , NM, USA

problem #134

Sep 032009


  • 138,000 miles
The contact owns 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated the power steering would fail sporadically without warning. The contact would have to turn the vehicle off to allow the power steering assist to reset independently. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage unknown and the current mileage was 138,000.

- Bentonville, AR, USA

problem #133

Oct 222010


  • 60,000 miles
I have a 2004 Saturn Ion and the power steering keeps going off in my car. The car will ding and a message will flash then all the sudden you cant turn the wheel. This happens repeatedly.

- New Columbia, PA, USA

problem #132

Mar 012008


  • 70,000 miles


Power steering in 2004 Saturn Ion intermittently goes out unexpectedly and stays off until car is turned off and turned back on. This happens almost every time I drive the car. I am a small person, I cannot drive the car safely when the power steering goes out. This causes me to have to pull over on the side of roads to restart car, or I will even restart the car at a stoplight if I have the opportunity. This is the only transportation I have and I cannot afford the costly repairs I have been researching to fix this problem. In my research I have also found that many many others are having this exact problem with their Saturn Ion power steering.

- Laveen, AZ, USA

problem #131

Apr 082010


  • 108,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated while driving 35 mph, the power steering light flashed on the instrument panel followed by a power steering malfunction which made the vehicle difficult to steer. The contact stated that the failure occurred intermittently. The contact received a letter regarding a special warranty coverage up to 100,000 miles for the power steering but the vehicle's mileage was over 100,000. The vehicle had not been inspected or repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 108,000.

- Brownsville , TX, USA

problem #130

Sep 022010


  • 69,872 miles
Car has 70000 miles, power steering goes on and off, intermittently, sometimes shuts off completely. Fuses were replaced, the motor seems to be bad, as hundreds of other Saturn customers are complaining about the same issue.

- Midwest City, OK, USA

problem #129

Sep 172010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
I was driving with my daughter in my 2004 Saturn Ion and the power steering light came appeared. I lost power steering immediately. It took all my strength to turn my vehicle around and make it home safely. I immediately researched the problem and found numerous complaints online. I contacted customer service and they said that there was a special policy in place for the problem to be repaired but because my vehicle was over 100,000 miles (118,000) it would be an out of pocket expense.

- Kingsland, GA, USA

problem #128

Aug 162010


  • 83,000 miles
My engine light was on for about 2 weeks. It would come on and go off. I was on my way to the lake one day and was driving down a curvy road an my power steering went out! it took all that I had to manually turn the wheel so I would not go off the road and down the hills side! the power steering will go out after a lot of turning. I have found that if you shut the car off that it will reset it's self, but this is still very dangerous and needs something done about it. A week ago I received a letter in the mail saying that if I had this problem that it could be fixed at any GM dealer, but when I made my appointment they said that they couldn't fix it because my car is prior salvaged and this is not a recall! I can not afford to replace this it will cost $600 to $1000 to fix the problem. The economy is bad enough we can't afford to pay or need to be paying for GM's mistakes. This is a very dangerous problem an it needs to be taking care of!

- Ottumwa, IA, USA

problem #127

May 172009


  • 80,000 miles
While driving on a straight road the power steering light came on and heard a chime sound. This was around 80,000 miles on the vehicle. Turned car off and back on. Everything seemed to work fine after that. Now I have about 123,000 miles on my car and there is a service bulletin for my Saturn Ion but no recall. So nothing has been done to fix the problem. Chevy cobalts have the same part, but they have an active recall on that vehicle.

- Palmyra, PA, USA

problem #126

Aug 282010


  • 45,020 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact was driving approximately 15 mph when she began to smell smoke and the vehicle became hard to steer. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that the power steering motor and column would need replacing. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage was 45,020.

- West Des Moine , IA, USA

problem #125

Aug 052010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
Saturn notified me in August of 2010 that they are extending the warranty on my 2004 Saturn Ion for the electric power steering to 10 year or 100,000 miles. My complaint is that the part went out a few years ago and thousands of miles ago. My car is now over 100,000 miles. Had I been informed before the intitial warranty ran out, I would've had it fixed. Now they tell me they will not cover the defective part.

- Rosamond, CA, USA

problem #124

Jul 202010


  • 100,000 miles
Power steering light and sound pops up on dash. Power steering goes out. Very scary. At highway speed not too bad unless you are trying to evade an accident or something in the road. At low speed very, very, very difficult to maneuver turns or around objects in the road including children and pets. Turn car off, turn back on and steering returns for a while and then happen again, and again.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #123

Mar 142010


  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the power steering would fail intermittently when driving at least 10 mph, causing limited ability to maneuver the steering wheel and control the vehicle. When the contact would shut off and restart the vehicle, the power steering assist would reset itself and resume normal operation. The dealer advise that the steering column was defective and would need replacing. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was unknown and the current mileage was 175,000.

- Frazier Park , CA, USA

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