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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
53,094 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2004 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #9

Jan 232015

Ion 4-cyl

  • 135,070 miles


At approximately 3:50 P.M. Friday January 23 2015 I was slowing down from 35 mph to turn into a parking lot. Before I turned the passenger side of the car dropped and at first I thought I blew a tire. After limping the car into the parking lot I got out and the tire was still fully inflated. I noticed the lower control arm was broken into two pieces. The car was towed home and the tow truck driver even mentioned he had never seen that happen on such a new vehicle.

- Freedom, NY, USA

problem #8

Feb 182014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
While driving in heavy traffic on rt 95 car stalled and it took a few minutes to restart. Have a terrible time starting the car in morning and its not the battery as its about year old. I thought it might be the cold weather but sometimes it starts sometimes it doesn't. I never know whether its going to start. When this happens it sounds dead. I think there is a problem with the ignition switch. Have talked to other Saturn owners who have same problem and they said a relay switch cured the problem.

- Cumberland, RI, USA

problem #7

Dec 162013


  • miles
2004 Saturn Ion. Consumer writes in regards to electronic power steering failure. The consumer stated she first started having front suspension problems, which the dealer fixed free of charge. The exhaust was leaking and she paid to have it replaced, along with the catalytic converter. Also, the horn stopped working. The consumer received a letter in July 2012, from GM stating the warranty was being extended because the electric power steering could fail. On December 16, 2013, the power steering failed, as the consumer was leaving a parking lot. She had to use extra force to turn the steering wheel. After a couple of minutes, it was back to normal. A test revealed, there was indeed a failure. When the consumer called GM, she was informed the extended warranty had expired on 11/28/13 the consumer no longer owns the vehicle. Updated 02/5/14

- Monroe, WI, USA

problem #6

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 #5

Mar 292012


  • 80,000 miles
I am not exactly sure on the dates of when we noticed the problems. So far I have had serious problems with my 04 Ion's front suspension, the cheaply made plastic wiper linkages that break easy while driving down the road making it difficult and dangerous while driving in rain, the ignition lock cylinder has been replaced 3 times so far because the part fails and you cannot start your car, and most recently I went to my local dealer to ask about a "clunking" noise it makes when going over any bumps to find out that there is a bulletin for a known steering linkage or steering motor (eps) problem. I was told that on these cars the steering links/motor have tendancy to break! if that is to happen while driving down the road it could result in death! I've also done some searching online and found many forums/articles with others having the same problems with this specific make/model. One comment I read the person said "this car is a death trap!" mine and many other's 04 Saturn Ion's have alot of known yet serious issues but Saturn still has no recalls for this car!! somebody please help fix this problem! -concerned/frusturated Saturn owner.

- Ottawa, IL, USA

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problem #4

Jan 012009


  • 118,000 miles
After 5 years my 2004 Saturn Ion will not start when the temperature is below +10F. There is power ( new battery ) and no fuel issue ( clean fuel system and filter ), but after 10 to 15 minutes and a couple of hesitant engine turns, it starts. No one needs an unreliable vehicle where winter temps last several months. After replacing the anti-sway bar, both headlight assemblies as well as other annoying problems ( instrument lights out, cabin fan noisy ) I will never ever buy another Saturn. I took the problem ( out of warranty of course ) to Saturn of rochester and was told it was a faulty ignition switch, a common problem for this make and model year. Since it is not a safety issue, no recall was issued and I would have to pay at least $275 unless "something else" came up. Being late for work ( public safety and volunteer fireman ) or my wife and children is not an option for me. Please force GM to make the recall on this ignition part for the financially stressed New York consumers. Thank you.

- North Rose, NY, USA

problem #3

May 302005

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 16,272 miles


The contact states that while in reverse the brakes make a loud noise, the brakes are not functioning properly. While driving forward the brakes do not function, but do not make any noise. There was a shimmy at 60- 65 mph and there was noise coming from the front end. The sway bar links and bushings were replaced.

- Balch Spring, TX, USA

problem #2

Mar 292004

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,500 miles
By 3500 miles (after 1500mi when we could have returned it), the front passenger turn signal burnt out. The car was also sputtering when we started the engine. The mechanic found a cracked head, that we were told was probably present when we purchased the car; had we known we would've returned the car. We were given a rental car, but had to drive 45 min one way to get to Saturn of green bay. Within a month, the front driver turn signal had burnt out. The wiring was replaced while we waited 2 hrs with our 3 year old. We had to drive 1 hr 1way to Saturn of appleton for repairs. In Aug 2004, the car was making a noise when we turned onto a steep grade. In mi for vacation, we had to drive over 1 hr 1way to Saturn of troy; the swaybar and mounting brackets had to be fixed. We waited for over 2 hrs with our son while it was fixed. In Sept 2004, the front passenger side turn signal had to replace the resistor. We drove 1 hr 1 way for the repair, and had to wait 2 hrs with our son. We had asked about the cruise making a funny noise, but it was checked and we were told it was fine. In April 2005, the cruise stopped working and had to be fixed. It took over a week for the part to come in, and almost 2 weeks for it to be repaired at Saturn of green bay. I had to go to the dealer 30 minutes early, be driven over to my school where I teach, walk to my second school I teach at, and wait for a driver to pick me up (20-40 min past when I was done for the day). Despite everything we've been through with a new car that should need minimal care at this point, we've been basically told that we should take the $2600 hit to buy a new car while the dealer breaks even. This is poor salesmanship, and we will not be purchasing Saturn products any longer.

- Two Rivers, WI, USA

problem #1

Nov 152004


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The vehicle shook uncontrollably which made the vehicle hard to maneuver. The brakes shook along with the steering wheel.

- Austin, TX, USA

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