really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
45,000 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.

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2005 Saturn Relay drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2005 Saturn Relay Owner Comments

problem #1

Feb 062009


  • 45,000 miles


My wife placed our 2005 Saturn Relay minivan in park, and stepped out to get the mail. The van immediately started backwards, with the door pushing her down. Luckily, as it pushed her down, she fell to the inside, and was able to activate the parking brake with her hand, stopping the car. She did receive a very minor knee injury, but it could have been much worse. Our two daughters were both in the car, which would have rolled down a hill and into a neighbors house, had she not stopped it. My first thought was that she'd made a mistake, but after looking at the shifting mechanism, I can see how this happened. As you know, on a steering mounted shifter (like this) you pull the lever toward you, move it to the appropriate gear, and release it, locking the mechanism in the newly selected gear. On this vehicle, there is a large dead space (for lack of a better word) between reverse and park. It's possible to release the lever before the selector is fully in the park detent. When you do this, there is no outward indication of a problem, other than an unusual feel to the lever that's easy to miss if you're in a hurry. Once you do this, the lever (after a few seconds) will either pop into park, or into reverse. Obviously, if you're no longer in the drivers seat, this is going to be a problem. I've checked this on other Saturn Relays and on one Chevrolet (same model, different name) and they all did this. All of the ones I checked were 2005, so I do not know about any other year models. We now always set the parking brake when stopping, just in case. This is more a design defect than a component failure, from what I can see.

- Cumming, GA, USA

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