NHTSA — Power Train Problems

2003 Saturn Vue (Page 3 of 4)


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
66,397 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.

2003 Saturn Vue drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Saturn Vue Owner Comments (Page 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #39

Dec 032011

Vue 4-cyl

  • 121,848 miles


My Saturn Vue 2003 experiences serious hesitation in power when traveling over 45 mph. The dangerous sputtering gets harder when I need to drive more than 45 mph such as when I have to travel on parkways or expressways. On December 3, 2011, I entered exit 36 of the grand central parkway and maintained a steady speed of 55 mph in light traffic. As the traffic increased to exit 17, the car began to hesitate and appear to want to come to a stop. It was difficult to maintain a decreased speed of 45 mph to avoid the sputtering and halting. I got into the right lane and exited the parkway as my car jolted then came to a sudden halt. I turned the car off, waited 15 minutes, put my car in drive and it would not drive forward. I put it in reverse and maneuvered it into an open space along the curb on 78th avenue. I tried again and only with heavy pressure on the gas pedal was the car able to move forward enough to allow me to straighten into a position to be towed. I called aaa and was towed to a Saturn authorized service provider, northshore Chevrolet of smithtown, where it sits to this day. The brand new 2010 VT1 transmission needs to be replaced.

- Plainview, NY, USA

problem #38

Dec 012011


  • 95,477 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saturn Vue. The contact stated that at engine startup, a knocking noise was emitted from the transmission. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the dealer confirmed that the transmission failed and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not contacted and the vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was 95,477 and the current mileage was 96,105.

- Potter Valley, CA, USA

problem #37

Aug 272011

Vue 4-cyl

  • 61,421 miles
On the 27th of August 2011 the power train (vti transmission) quit working. I was at a traffic light and had applied my brakes, when the light turned green the vti transmission would not engage. I was left stranded with only reverse. Saturn had issued a vti transmission letter several years before that stated they knew their was a defect with the vti transmission and all transmission work would be 100% covered. Now the new owner of GM states he doesn't have to honor that vti transmission letter. Since that incident the vti transmission has gone out three more times.

- Wichita, KS, USA

problem #36

Aug 202011

Vue 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,700 miles


This vehicle was 6 cylinder model with AWD. It has a standard 5 speed automatic transmission. The transmission went out (slipped) completely going up a low rise. After stopping and starting up again, it worked again for another few hundred yards and then went out again just as we went into an intersection. We were able to pull over and call for a tow. A total replacement of the transmission was required at considerable expense.

- Mclean, VA, USA

problem #35

Oct 222011

Vue 4-cyl

  • 114,000 miles
I purchased this car brand new in 2003 and am the only driver. Other than the now defunct transmission, the car is in excellent shape, both inside and out. While driving appx. 70mph on the freeway, my Vue lost power down to 30mph and rpms increased to over 5000. The "check engine" and "reduced power" warning lights illuminated. I managed to drive the car to the recommended GM service center and was told that the vti transmission had failed. Service advisor contacted GM and was told they wouldn't provide any assistance. Car is still at GM service center as there is no way to repair the transmission and assure me that the $5000 it will cost me will last since they can not get a new transmission, only rebuild another one that has failed. This car is only 8 years old with 114K miles and based on my history with Saturn vehicles, my expectation was that it should have lasted at least another 3 years and 50K miles. Also, based on the information I have read online from other Vue owners with this same problem, it appears that GM is not consistent with the level of response or assistance to us. How can it be that someone with 120K miles gets their repair/replacement at no charge and others with less mileage can not? there is no consistency, it is a crap shoot as to the response you will receive. I still have the letters I received from Saturn notifying me that this is a known issue and the transmission was destined to fail. GM should be held responsible for providing relief to all of us, equally, since they knew that eventually we would all be affected. I am included in the class-action lawsuit with lakin chapman.

- Plano, TX, USA

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problem #34

Oct 012011


  • miles
2003 Saturn Vue. Consumer states problem with vehicle transmission

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #33

Jul 262011


  • 103,000 miles


My car has 103,000 on it and has been very well maintained. It suddenly died with no warning while I was driving up a hill. I had it towed to the shop, where they ran a diagnostic. I have a transmission leak, a bad intake manifold that causes the engine to run incredibly lean, and a sensor problem. This car is babied, and with such low mileage should not be experiencing any issues with the intake manifold and the transmission. The sensor I can understand failing, but the amount of issues that this vehicle has had, and the amount of complaints I have seen from other owners of the 2003 Saturn Vue V6 AWD is staggering. These are clearly vehicles with issues and Saturn owners should receive some sort of compensation for the amount of money we are putting out to make repairs for shoddy workmanship.

- Liberty Lake , WA, USA

problem #32

Jan 022010

Vue 4-cyl

  • 77,942 miles
Transmission blew out on freeway with my kids in it. It had only less than 80000 miles on it. Saturn covered only half of cost for new transmission, should been recall. They should have covered for full cost of this failed transmission. Should not happen in first place. Very dangerous car. Please investigate.

- Lomita, CA, USA

problem #31

Jan 162011

Vue 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
I am appealing with all due respect for a complete remedy from General Motors. In 2007 I purchased a 2003 from Saturn of marietta in marietta Georgia. Initially I expressed the desire for another vehicle (a Honda SUV) but the sales people at the dealership were adamant about this particular and finally talked me into it. They told me it was better than a Honda SUV, etc. In March 2008 I moved to charlotte N.C. because of a job opportunity. Then in the summer of 2009 the vehicle began making a very peculiar noise. I took it to two transmission shops who refused to work on it. At the time I did not understand why they refused this work. However, I was blessed when the second one told me that he had heard of some issue with these cars and recommended I take it to the Saturn of South boulevard. I did so. It took me the entire summer to scratch and save to get the transmission repaired. When I took it to the dealership they advised me that GM would take care of the bulk of the costs because of the extended warranty to second owners on the vehicle. That's all they told me. In August of 2009 I finally was able to save enough money to pick up the car which they repair the transmission to the tune of approximately $3400. Fast forward to approximately on January 16, 2011 the car began making the same peculiar noises. Now this is only 27,000 miles and 18 months later. So I took it to 3 repair shops including steve moore Chevrolet on South boulevard (because they do all the work for Saturn now I was told). The issue has now recurred. Only two weeks ago I found out that the car was initially put on the street with the wrong transmission which is why it has issues. And I also found out that in 2009 someone should have told me about some $5000 reimbursement so I could have traded it in. Driving is dangerous because it can stop while driving on the highway.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #30

Nov 032010


  • 158,000 miles
With no advance warning as I was getting on to the highway my car would not shift into 3rd gear and immediately started losing power. I had to hurry and pull in to the emergency lane (which is only about 4 feet wide) on the left side of the road. The car was still running but would not drive faster than 10 miles per hour. Eventually I made it off of the highway and to a gas station. It has been at the mechanics for two days now without a diagnosis.

- West Jordan, UT, USA

problem #29

Oct 012010


  • 114,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Saturn Vue. While driving approximately 35 mph, the vehicle stopped accelerating suddenly. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence. The contact allowed the vehicle to cool off and the vehicle operated normally. The failure occurred intermittently. The vehicle had not been inspected or repaired. The current and failure mileages were approximately 114,000.

- Fulton, NY, USA

problem #28

May 122010


  • miles
The transmission was replaced last fall due to a problem that Saturn was already aware of. The vehicle had been rolling back when stopped just like a standard. On 5/6/10, the vehicle started rolling back again, the windshield wipers started acting funny, and the service engine light came on. On 5/12/10, the vehicle was being driven, when the operator noticed a smell like burning plastic and saw smoke coming from the steering column. She pulled into a large parking lot, parked, turned off the vehicle, and called her sister-in-law, who advised her to call the fire department. The engine company responded, and, using a thermal imager, found the signal light / head light switch to be approximately 350 degrees. There was a small bubble of melted plastic and the insulation on some of the wires was melted. The part number found on the component was abd29790608 22679804.

- East Hartford, CT, USA

problem #27

Apr 102010


  • 115,000 miles
The transmission went out.

- Halethorpe, MD, USA

problem #26

Feb 162010


  • miles
I purchased a 2003 Saturn Vue with a defective vti transmission, Dec. 09. the Saturn dealership in raleigh, nc, did not inform me of the defect, upon the sales transaction. A service bulletin came out 12/09, from GM to appease consumers, by offering an extended warranty to help with the cost to replace this defective part, however, GM needed to fix the problem and replace the defective vti transmission with a part that is not defective. Instead, they leave consumers with an unsafe vehicle that will continue to break down causing safety concerns and huge out of pocket expenses. The car has lost value because of the defective part and worst of all I am afraid to drive it for fear of breakdown, particularly at freeway driving, which has been noted by other consumers. GM loses 100M lawsuit because of early transmission failures in more than 90,000 Saturn carrying the vti transmissions and still their has been no recall. This investigation and recall is long overdue and affecting used vehicles that are still being sold today, with the 2002-2005 Saturn Vue and ions between 2003-2004 and 2000-2003 Saturn L-series, containing the vti transmissions.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #25

Aug 132009


  • 63,300 miles
I have a Saturn Vue 2003, that shut down while driving at speeds of 50 mph. I believe it is a vti transmission problem. I fear the worse when driving with my kids, I do not feel safe. I hate to dump alot of money into this vehicle if the problem will not be permittently fixed. There are alot of complaints regarding this matter on these vehicles.

- Great Falls, VA, USA

problem #24

Jun 252009


  • 104,000 miles
Major transmission problems as well as ignition problems. Recently have smoke coming out of my steering wheel when car is started.

- New Berlin , WI, USA

problem #23

Jul 252009


  • 84,000 miles
I bought a used 2003 Saturn Vue two months ago, and since then it has been nothing but trouble. The major problem with it know is the transmission (automatic vti). When driving on the freeway two days ago, the car was on cruise control at 65 mph, when all of the sudden, the rpms red lined at 7000. After that I disengaged the cruise control and attempted to drive the car onto the shoulder, but it would not accelerate. Also when stopping the car, the engine starts to rumble and shake, then when accelerating again the engine revs up but no movement. After about five to ten seconds the car catches gear and it feels like I've been in a rear end collision when it does. Three days ago the car did this in the middle of an intersection while I was making a left hand turn (it stopped and just revved the engine), I was almost hit by an oncoming car but they managed to swerve out of the way to avoid a collision. The Vue is currently in the shop and I am unable to afford a new transmission so I am stuck with a dead vehicle which I just purchased two months ago.

- Plymouth, MI, USA

problem #22

Jun 182009


  • 82,067 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saturn Vue. While driving approximately 70 mph, the warning indicators illuminated on the instrument panel. Suddenly, the vehicle stalled. The contact made several attempts to restart the vehicle, but was unsuccessful. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic, who stated that the powertrain fuse failed. The vehicle was repaired, but the failure recurred two days later. The vehicle is in the process of being taken to an independent mechanic for inspection. There were no authorized dealers in the area for a second opinion. The VIN was unknown. The failure and current mileages were 82,067.

- Liberty, MO, USA

problem #21

Jun 012005


  • 55,000 miles
Failure of the vti transmission on the 2002 - 2005 Saturn Vue. I was notified by a fellow Vue owner that they are having serious transmission problems with this vehicle. I have had issues with my transmission since purchase and have documentation that I again brought it to my dealers attention at 55,000 miles. Upon research I find that the noise my car is now making is probably not the wheel bearings but the transmission.

- Jackson, MI, USA

problem #20

Apr 072003


  • 10,000 miles
I purchased my new 2003 Saturn Vue from york pa Saturn (sutliff group) and they have patched up my 2003 Vue by replacing valves, sensors etc. On the vti transmission/transaxles 5 or 6 different times, which they well know will not fix the problem. I still experience transmission failure during extended periods of driving or times of traffic stop situations. I have experienced transmission problems from the 10,000 mile point on until this time. Does not shift properly into higher gear, still makes grinding noises while turning and accelerating and otherwise fails to operate properly. Transmission was looked at by dealer 5 times avoiding the issue of transmission replacement. Several close calls have invoked me to start a major campaign against the Saturn Corp. Saturn is now being decided in the court system (cas) the final decision should be in the next few weeks so keep checking back on this and other sites that attract lemon vehicles! all I ask is for GM/Saturn to replace my faulty drive train (engine and transmission) free of all labor and parts with the new type drive train that is in the new 2007-08 Vue or replace with a new vehicle!!! its that simple Saturn! and until this happens this transmittal will continue on to websites, public posts, flyers, in front of Saturn dealers etc. Etc... ps. I have copied just about every person and business that has exposure to intersections shopping malls etc. So tell all your friends, working colleagues, etc. Get the word out about GM/Saturn.

- Littlestown, PA, USA

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