NHTSA — Engine And Engine Cooling Problems

2006 Saturn Ion (Page 1 of 2)

CarComplaints.com Seal Of Avoid Like The Plague

CarComplaints.com Notes: When it comes to the 2006 Ion, the biggest questions are: what big problem is going to pop up next? And how long until GM chooses to address it?

The 2006 Ion has a defective ignition switch that gave owners fits. Their keys would get stuck in the ignition, the engine wouldn’t shut off or in some cases it would shut off at the most dangerous time. The ignition was eventually recalled as part of one of the largest recalls of all-time , but it took GM 10 years to do it. Then there’s this car’s temperamental power steering which is prone to stop working randomly while driving. It too was eventually recalled, even if GM took their sweet time about it.

Lastly, it turns out a car built with plastic doors, fenders and bumpers – while fun for a game of “shopping cart bocce” – is horrible for safety.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,131 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.

2006 Saturn Ion engine problems

engine problem

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2006 Saturn Ion Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #23

Feb 102014

Ion 4-cyl

  • 106,000 miles


On Friday we got our 2006 Saturn Ion out of the GM service department after having a frozen air compressor and ripped serpentine belt replaced ($1400), along with a transmission line. After driving and stopping throughout the day on the following Monday, I was unable to turn the vehicle engine off after I put the car in park in the driveway of my home. I tried several times to turn the key to the off position, but it was locked. I put the car in reverse and it moved fine, but when I drove back into place and tried to shut it off again, the key wouldn't budge so the engine continued to run. We drove it back to the dealer who wanted to charge us again to have the vehicle serviced. We also noticed the coolant light came on, even though we had all the fluids checked two weeks prior when getting an oil change. The dealer said to disconnect the battery to shut the engine off. This didn't work. Another reliable source instructed us to disconnect the distributor cap to avoid the engine running on the alternator. After several attempts to find a distributor cap, we realized there was none. A neighbor came and disconnected a fuse. The key is still lodged in the ignition. We have had multiple problems with this vehicle, beyond what would be considered normal wear and tear maintenance: Power steering replaced and the gas tank replaced because of a crack in the nipple. I am petitioning that this vehicle be recalled as it was in certain "hot" states. The extreme temperatures experienced in mid-East states, coupled by inadequate service and materials have created circumstances which are no less than those experienced in the initial states where recalls happened. What also should be noted is that consumer report document 491 complaints regarding these issues.

- Manassas, VA, USA

problem #22

Jul 122011


  • 100,000 miles
Each time I kill the engine I have to sit and wait for the string of electronic tics to quit before my car will let go of the key. Each episode seams to differ on the length of time it, takes or decides, to let go of the key.

- Little Rock , AR, USA

problem #21

Jun 072011


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Saturn Ion. The contact was driving 40 mph when the power steering failed and the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was taken to the dealer a total of four times but they were unable to duplicate the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the problem. The VIN was not available. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 120,000 and the current mileage was 135,000.

- Surprise, AZ, USA

problem #20

Apr 232011


  • 75,862 miles


Driving with traffic, the car dies and the steering gets very hard to turn then battery light comes on. Car will restart with no further problems. This will happen at least once a week. Took to the dealer they fixed the gas tank leak and other recall parts. This continues to happen almost caused several accidents. Do not know if it is the steering or electrical. It doesn't matter what speed your going or if your going straight or turning. Please look into this problem. I have had the battery checked the thermostat, checked the fuse box checked. The dealer checked and fixed the other 3 things from recall as stated. The ignition sometimes gets stuck when the steering goes out you can not get the key to do anything until you turn the steering wheel that has no power then you can restart the car. Also the car heat gauge never goes above half way so car is not over heating.

- Metairie, LA, USA

problem #19

Jun 172011

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that while driving approximately 50 mph the front driver's side window dropped down into the door panel, causing the door to swing open. The vehicle was pulled over and shut off. After repeated attempts the door was shut, but would not reopen. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where the contact was informed the window detached from its track. The vehicle was in the process of being repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure, but offered no assistance. The contact also stated that the vehicle was experiencing recurring failures in which the check engine light would constantly illuminate on the instrument panel and the key would intermittently become stuck in the ignition. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where they were unable to diagnose the failure in regards to the check engine light. In regards to the key becoming stuck in the ignition, no repairs were performed. The failure and current mileages were 69,080. Updated 08/31/2011

- Manalapan, NJ, USA

problem #18

Mar 082011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
I have had my 2006 Saturn Ion for 3 years. And also I have 2 children within the past year it has been to the dealership 3times to try and figure out why while driving both the check engine lights come on and the car begins spitting and sputtering.. making all sorts of racket with no power you are forced to try and get off the rd. Safely with no powersteering. They can not find anything wrong with it.. and also I am always told that they don't service Saturn even though they are the ones that sold it. This happens with not warning I have been stranded with my 2 girls multiple times. Once we were traveling 60mph on the interstate and it happened with big rigs all around.. I thank god that we didn't get hurt. Also for the past 2 years they have been trying to figure out why when you turn the car off you hear lots of clicking noises and the car will not completely turn off.. they replaced the starter switch because that was under recall but it has made no difference still can not get the keys out have to sit there and wait for it to stop clicking and turn the key on and off multiple times to get it out.. after doing some research online a lot of people have the same problems I don't think this is a safe car at all. Contacted Saturn company numerous times and have gotten no where... definitely waste of my hard earned money...

- Gillett, PA, USA

problem #17

Feb 012011

Ion 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles


The contact owns a 2006 Saturn Ion. The contact stated that initially the vehicle would not start. But, after approximately ten minutes of repeated attempts, the contact was able to get the vehicle started. The failure occurred intermittently. The contact also stated the vehicle would intermittently stall while driving at any speed. After stalling, the contact was able to successfully restart the vehicle and continue driving. The vehicle was not taken to have the failure diagnosed and was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were unknown. Updated 03/22/11 updated 11/16/11.

- Pearl River, NY, USA

problem #16

Feb 042011

Ion 4-cyl

  • 31,000 miles
2006 Saturn Ion redline 32,000 miles had a loud rattling noise coming from the front passenger side of car at idle. Took the car into a mechanic which informed me that the timing belt and gears were shot and that he was surprised that it didn't fly apart on my way into the shop. The repairs will cost approx $1100. This should not happen at only 32K miles and could have resulted in an accident had it not been caught in time.

- Shoreview, MN, USA

problem #15

Oct 152010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 67 miles
When I first got my 2006 Saturn Ion, I was the first and only owner bought it from the Saturn dealership with less than a 50 miles on the car. Before 30 days of owning the automobile it quit on me in the middle of busy intersection endangering myself and my children. I took it to the dealership where they have claimed to fix the ignition switch on the automobile, several weeks later the same problem occurred they then replaced the key. Then months later my alarm started going off spontaneously, the battery went dead on the automobile which I have replaced 3 times, the ignition switch went out again I had to replace that myself out of pocket in March of 2009. Still after replacing the battery, getting the ignition switch fixed twice, and having the electrical parts looked at the car still continues to have the same problems. If I get gas why the car is not cranked it will not crank back up for hours!!! it will go dead while I'm driving on a freeway does this all the time! this Saturn Ion has caused me nothing but money and problems since I've had it I purchased a additional warranty on the automobile when I bought it and they refuse to replace or fix any of the work on the automobile when I only have gotten my car serviced with Saturn they do all of my oil changes, and maintenance and charge me a arm and leg to maintain the maintenance on the automobile. I have had to pay so much money on this automobile for maintenance that should not even be a issue at this time my car doesn't even have 84K on it yet. The engine seems to shake when the car sits still, the car quits if the engine is not running when you get fuel, the car quits at red lights, the car power steering gets real hard to turn when you try to turn the steering wheel, the Saturn Ion is definitely a dud! you can smell gas sometimes coming from this automobile, and the battery is in the trunk of the car...so when it drains my battery goes go dead. The defects on this automobile will kill someone one day.

- Arlingotn, TX, USA

problem #14

Oct 182010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Timing chain bracket fails causing damage to the timing chain. Saturn knows of this problem and is stocking parts in anticipation of the occurance. I was told this by the service repairman.

- Wichita, KS, USA

problem #13

Jul 212010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 77,805 miles


On July 21, 2010, we were operating a 2006 Saturn Ion driving on a busy highway when the engine simply died as we were stopped at a stop light and angled down toward railroad tracks. Luckily, I was able to get into the turn lane and restart the car and avoided any incident. We went to dinner and, after dinner, stopped to fill the gas tank. Upon returning home, we pulled into the garage and scarily, the key would not turn so that we could kill the engine! after various maneuvers and reading online about over 400 other instances of this occurring, I finally removed fuse #16 and removed the negative cable off the batttery.after reading further, I noted that the engine dying at random could easily be related to the ignition switch. I contacted a locksmith this morning who worked and worked on trying to remove the lock cylinder and he could not. Now I am waiting on a tow truck to come get the car and replace the lock cylinder and possibly the ignition switch. Had this been my mother or anyone else's mother for that fact, they would have had to have sat in the garage or driveway until the car ran out of gas. This is utterly ridiculous that there are over 400 complaints on the internet and GM is doing nothing about recalling cars for this issue. I was very lucky that I was able to get into the turn lane and get stopped and restarted without causing serious injury to myself or anyone else and very lucky to have the internet to be able to stop the car's engine. Please do something about this as it is a serious problem.

- Monroe, LA, USA

problem #12

Apr 152010


  • 42,750 miles
I have a 2006 Saturn Ion on with 43,000 miles (a well-maintained vehicle at that). The problem (a common one from everything I've read/heard): Recently, I was unable to shut my vehicle off; that's correct... I could not turn my car off. The key was locked in the ignition with the vehicle running. After several hours, my husband and I were able to determine the best course of action (get it to a dealer, disconnect the fuel pump fuse and battery, and spend $451 to have the ignition cylinder completely replaced; the mechanic said it was defective). Not being able to shut off a vehicle is a major safety concern (for so many reasons); you can't simply leave a vehicle running, and you certainly can't leave a running vehicle unattended (although some people probably have...how dangerous is that?).

- Dover, DE, USA

problem #11

Mar 102010

Ion 4-cyl

  • 74,118 miles
Driving down the road at about 35 mph I hit a bump (frost heave) and the entire vehicle shut down. No engine, no electrical systems. The vehicle became difficult to steer and the brakes did not operate as well as when the vehicle was running. I forced the car to the side of the road, turned the key off and back on again and restarted the car.

- Agawam, MA, USA

problem #10

Jan 272010


  • 40,000 miles
My power steering has gone out about 5 times while driving. It does not start working until the car is turned off and started again. It's extremely scary dangerous. The first time I thought it was a fluke, the second time I decided I needed to take it to get fixed and the power steering went out 3 more times before I could get it in.

- Clarkston, MI, USA

problem #9

Oct 222009


  • 30,000 miles
I got an oil change by my normal repair shop and when I got the car back from them the car failed to start properly. I had to start the car 3 times before it would turn on and stay running. For the following week afterwards, it did the same thing, failing to start and requiring at least 2 attempts to get the car running. After about a week, my girlfriend got her first glimpse of the problem and I started noticing difficulty turning the key to shut the car off. I took the car back to the repair shop. They asked me if knew the key was stuck. I told them I did, but I didn't understand fully what they meant until they finished the work they thought was causing the problem. They thought it was a dirty throttle causing the car not to be able to start and remain running. When I got the car back, I drove it home and found out that I couldn't turn the key at all. So my car was no longer able to shut off. I went to a Saturn dealership and the tech was very familiar with the problem, but advised me the car is out of warranty and would not be covered. I then took it back to the repair shop to have them repair it. I was told everything with the ignition would have to be replaced, totaling $519. Researching shortly online I found a 33 page complaint forum on Consumer Affairs with others having problems with the same car. Car make : Saturn car model: Ion 2.

- Coconut Creek, FL, USA

problem #8

Jul 042009


  • 30,000 miles
Moved car after guests left on the 4th of July. The engine would not turn off. Took the vehicle to the dealer and they seemed to be very familiar with problem. After researching the problem online, I realized I am not the only owner with this problem. I was told a part had to be ordered and the car would be ready tomorrow. I am debating on canceling service tomorrow to have this matter further reviewed. I am interested to find out if owners are reimbursed for expenses once a part is recalled. This is a very inconvenient $500 expense.

- Cypresss, TX, USA

problem #7

Feb 242006


  • miles
The timing chain on my 2006 Saturn Ion is needing replaced. From what I have read this is a problem that Saturn has known about for quite sometime, but has never recalled. I am laid off from my job and cannot afford to get it fixed. Something should be done if problems are known about these cars.

- Thomson, GA, USA

problem #6

Oct 122008


  • 69,456 miles
Saturn Ion 2006 69K miles - ignition key stuck in on position. Cannot turn car off. Internet search reveals hundreds of people affected by this flaw in the ignition lock. Dealership wants 500 to fix.

- Shepherd, TX, USA

problem #5

Oct 062008


  • 30,000 miles
My 2006 Saturn Ion fails to start. Lights, radio, etc come on but will not turnover. This morning after waiting 15 minutes and turning the key off/off multiple times, it finally started. Other times this has happened I have waited anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes before the car will start. This happens weekly and I am a single women and I am afraid I will eventually be stranded. I have taken my car to a local mechanic, he could not get it to fail. I took it home and it happened the next day. When I called him he told me he thought it may be an ignition problem.

- Rome, GA, USA

problem #4

Sep 152008

Ion 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 51,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Saturn Ion. While driving 75 mph, the cruise control stopped working. The power steering, battery, and coolant warning lights illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact also noticed that the vehicle would no longer accelerate. The vehicle has not been diagnosed by the dealer. The contact did not notice any differences beforehand. The current and failure mileages were 51,000. Updated 10/16/08 the consumer also stated the key became stuck in the ignition. Updated 10/21/08.

- Hamptonville, NC, USA

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