NHTSA — Power Train: Automatic Transmission Problems

CarComplaints.com Notes: The 2005 Ion still had power steering issues and a defective ignition switch leftover from previous model years, but hey – at least Saturn improved some of its safety rating to marginal, right? Baby steps.

If you had to buy a Saturn Ion – and I would question why anyone would even consider it – I suppose the 2005 could be considered the best of a bad bunch? I mean, GM did finally get rid of that awful VTi transmission, and both the power steering problems and ignition switch defect that plagued owners were recalled. The problem is they waited 10 years to recall the ignition and let over 30,000 warranty claims get filed before they bothered to fix the power steering. So you kind of have to wonder, is GM making these fixes to keep owners safe or just to keep government lawyers from taking all their money? You be the judge.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
29,116 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.

2005 Saturn Ion transmission problems

transmission problem

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2005 Saturn Ion Owner Comments

problem #7

Dec 172014


  • 55,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that the key became difficult to remove from the ignition. The vehicle was previously repaired under NHTSA campaign number: 14V17000 (fuel system, gasoline) and the contact stated that after the repairs the failure occurred. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the shifter and the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 55,000.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #6

Jun 082010


  • 61,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Saturn Ion. The contact stated while driving at speeds of 30 mph, the vehicle would begin to abnormally jerk and would independently slip out of gear. The dealer was unable to duplicate the failure and the vehicle was not repaired. The failure persisted and the contact believed the dealer would not repair the vehicle due to a misdiagnosis. The failure mileage was 61,000.

- Forrestville, MD, USA

problem #5

Nov 152009


  • 61,000 miles
My car key gets stuck in my Saturn Ion 2005 after I have shut it off, also when I try to turn the key it will not turn, I have to turn the wheel and jiggle the key to get it to start. Looks like this is a very common problem in the Saturn Ions. Also the power steering goes out in my car, but once I shut the car off and on the power steering problem goes away but after about 10-15 minutes give or take the light comes back on and I lose power steering. Sometimes this problem will go away for a couple of days, but it comes back. This is very dangerous as it is hard for me to make sharp turns. Took the car in to the shop today, luckily still on warranty, but shame on Saturn because after doing research online, these are very very common problems with Saturn. I will never buy another Saturn! oh and my transmission light will come on and I can't drive fast. That happened for a week and then went away for a couple of months now it is back. I was on the interstate when this happened and could only go 35 mph. Thank god it wasn't rush hour. That is being fixed also...

- Kailua, HI, USA

problem #4

Aug 272009


  • miles


I own a 2005 Saturn Ion and the power steering was going. I took the car into the dealership, they said the steering motor had to be replaced, now they replaced it for free, but made me wait a week and sent me back out on the road with a car that had power steering that worked sometimes and not other times. Then two weeks later the entire car started to fail. The speedometer, the transmission would not switch gears, the power steering went again, and the breaks where pretty much gone. So after causing a big scene the car was looked at and found that the transmission module went on the car. So they replaced the part after making me wait two days to get my car back. My concern is why is a car that will be turning 5 years old next month and only has about 27,900 miles on it is having all these big problems. In the matter of one mouth I have has a new brain put into the car. The customer service was awful and rude. They all try to blame each other. When I went to pick the car up the service people would not even talk to me they told me to see the cashier she has my keys. I said I am not leaving here until I test drive it, she said ok, it's park in the lot on the side somewhere. I was like nice, you don't even know where my car is on your lot. So in the matter of one month I have the steering column and the transmission module replaced.

- Bellmawr, NJ, USA

problem #3

Nov 012004

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,000 miles
- the contact has been hearing a noise in the car since the odometer reached 500 miles. After one and a half years a new transmission has been put on the car. The noise still exist. The car is currently 2 years old and has 20,000 miles on it. Contact believes the problem with the car is bad wheel bearings even though he has been told it is the transmission. The contact also said that he had a warped left front wheel and that the car has a bounce. The contact believes the true issue has not been addressed.

- Chester, MA, USA

problem #2

Sep 152006

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,400 miles
: the contact stated while driving various speeds, the vehicle would not shift out of first gear. The service engine light illuminated and the vehicle stalled. It was started after one half hour and moved off the road. The vehicle was towed to the dealer twice where an undetermined part was replaced in the transmission and the ignition switch was also replaced. The problem reoccurred and the vehicle was driven to the dealer and the wring harness was replaced. The problem has not reoccurred.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #1

May 202005

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,413 miles
Consumer has a 2005 Saturn that has been in the shop for the transmission. The transmission dropped out of gear and shifted back into gear while going over 40 mph. This can cause the consumer to be involved in a rear-end collision. Consumer has had the car in 3 times for transmission problems. Sometimes it hangs in gear and shifts hard.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

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