NHTSA — Engine And Engine Cooling Problems

2003 Saturn Vue (Page 1 of 2)


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
56,051 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Saturn Vue Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #38

Aug 122015

Vue 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Saturn Vue. While driving various speeds, smoke emitted from underneath the hood area. The contact maneuvered to the side of the road and inspected the vehicle. The contact noticed that oil leaked from the engine valve cover onto the exhaust manifold. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, who confirmed the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 90,000. Updated 02/05/16 the consumer stated the vavle cover gasget was replaced. Updated 02/16/16

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #37

Jul 202010


  • miles
This vehicle while going down the road the engine just cuts off, doesn't matter the speed you are traveling. It will start back up automatically but you loose speed.. it even cuts off when pulling away from stoplights and into traffic, then you have to put it in neutral and restart the engine. No mechanic can figure it out.

- Cumberland, VA, USA

problem #36

Jun 022014


  • miles
I just purchased my 2003 Saturn Vue a month ago and a day after I got it the vehicle started shutting off while driving!! sometimes it cranks right back up and then other times I have to just let it slowly roll to the side of the road so that I can crank it back up! I have my two children that ride in my car with me and if this doesn't get fixed it will probably end up killing all three of us! obviously this is a common issue so something needs to be done!!

- Brunswick, GA, USA

problem #35

Apr 022013


  • 139,000 miles


My 2003 Saturn Vue stalls and dies everyday that I drive it. Has almost caused myself and young children to get into many wrecks from this problem occurring often at stop lights and middle of intersections and hills. I have researched this many times has fairly new trans. And new timing belt also put on before I purchased the Saturn. To me this car is dangerous and has few other problems also, like idling high when in park. When the stalling occurs it stalls an the security light comes on and flashes 3 times before it either dies or continues back to normal before it stalls again. I cannot drive it to my next town over without it doing this numerous times. I would not recommend this vehicle to anyone and that's one reason why im afraid to sell it because I would hate to put someone else in this dangerous car and them not know how to control it if this happens.

- Mannsville , KY, USA

problem #34

Mar 192012

Vue 6-cyl

  • 166,000 miles
I was rear ended on March 19th in springdale Arkansas. I was parked at a stop light when a car rear ended me. The driver did not have insurance and his name was [xxx] address on the accident report was[xxx]. the vehicle was a Mitsubishi mirage license plate 551 rkz and drivers license number [xxx]. the officers name was [xxx]. I received the letter from the insurance company progressive stating that he did not have insurance. The following day after the accident on the way home my service engine light, oil light and several other lights flashed. There was a loud popping noise and black smoke came pouring out and everything shut down. I have since noticed there is a recall for this same thing but was told it is not for my specific VIN number. I am arguing with the insurance company because they refuse to repair the engine part which they said was not due to the accident. I think the impact from the wreck knocked the oil filler cap off because when the geico adjusters had the car they could not find it. I found the oil filler cap down in the front between the front of the engine and front of the car. Oil was all over the engine and seized from what the geico adjusters said. I am placing a complaint with the insurance commissioner on geico for not picking me up for road side assistance, taking to long to repair the bumper, not knowing what they are doing taking so long to be able to repair the car. They tried charging me a $500 deductible when I had uninsured and underinsured motorists and several other issues with them. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Fort Smith , AR, USA

problem #33

Apr 232012

Vue 4-cyl

  • 160,002 miles
Timing chain broke on the vehicle while driving it.

- Morrisville, NC, USA

problem #32

Aug 262011

Vue 4-cyl

  • 86,000 miles


Purchased this vehicle in August 2010 with 85000 miles on it, one week after buying the vehicle the body control module went out. Around six months later the coil pack went out, two months after that the front bearings went out. At about eight months the tumbler in the ignition went out. At about nine months the thermostat went out. We now are being told that the rack and pinion and transmission are bad at 116000 miles and less than 18 months since our purchase date. After extensive research I have found that we are not the only ones having these sort of issues. I also have been told that there was a class action lawsuit against the maker of the vehicle in which we were not notified of. I feel that this vehicle is unsafe and it seems quite rare that one would have so many issues with a vehicle in a short amount of time.

- Portland , OR, USA

problem #31

Feb 032012


  • 136,000 miles
The contact owns a owns a 2003 Saturn Vue. The contact stated that while driving 35 mph, the vehicle hesitated and stalled without warning. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 136,000.

- Shawano, WI, USA

problem #30

Dec 152011


  • 98,000 miles
TL- the contact owns a 2003 Saturn view. The contact stated that the vehicle was taken to a local mechanic for routine maintenance when the mechanic discovered that the engine oil housing was cracked. The engine oil housing failed due to defective material and corrosion. The local mechanic replaced the engine oil housing unit. The failure and the current mileage was 98,000. The VIN was not available. Kmj

- Girard , OH, USA

problem #29

Jul 122010


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saturn Vue. The contact stated that there were multiple failures within the vehicle. The vehicle was hesitant to accelerate accompanied with a loud, humming noise. The horn sensor was melted, causing the horn to malfunction and sound continuously. The fuel tank was also fractured, causing a fuel leak and fumes to fill the vehicle cabin. The muffler was abnormally loud and the steering wheel would seize without warning and most frequently when attempting a left turn. In addition, the timing chain failed. The hazard light activation button also fractured therefore; the contact was unable to utilize the hazard lights. The dealer and manufacturer were contacted in regards to all of the failures experienced in the vehicle but neither provided any assistance to the contact. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 40,000 and the current mileage was 64,000.

- Oceanside, NY, USA

problem #28

Oct 142010

Vue 6-cyl

  • miles


The engine light never goes off, the ignition want turn or crank sometimes, you can smell oil when the car stops.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #27

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 #26

Mar 162011


  • 49,765 miles
While driving my son noticed a sound coming from the engine that was not normal. When we stopped I opened the hood and investigated. When idiling it sounded like a chain slapping, at 1000 rpms the sound was like a whir instead of a slap. After listening for a few moments I decided it sounded like the timing chain. The next day my wife brought the vehicle to a Chevrolet dealer and they determined that the tensioner had failed and the chain was indeed slapping around, but it had not damaged a valve. I checked on the internet and found that Saturn engines, such as mine (2.2L engines), did indeed have a problem with the timing chain. A recall was issued for that engine, but only 2000-2002 model year. Total cost to repair was almost $1400

- Glen Ellyn, IL, USA

problem #25

Sep 092006


  • 53,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Saturn Vue. The contact stated she has had the driver side wheel bearing and ignition switch repaired. In addition, the rear differential failed and the engine coolant was leaking into the engine. The windshield wiper sprayer was also defective. The manufacturer would not provide any assistance. The contact stated she did not feel safe driving the vehicle. There were no further repairs. The failure mileage was approximately 53,000 and the current mileage was 100,000.

- Manassas Park , VA, USA

problem #24

May 272010

Vue 4-cyl

  • 53,510 miles
I purchased a used 2003 Saturn Vue 2.2L in 2006. In May 2010 with 95,000 miles on it, it started running rough. I was leaving for work one morning and it died as I left my driveway. Called my auto shop and was able to drive it to the shop for diagnosis. The whole way there the "service engine soon" light was flashing. The diagnosis was that 2 cylinders were misfiring and had failed and that meant the ignition control module needed to be replaced. Along with that the spark plugs needed to be replaced because of the damage done by the misfiring. Total cost: $350. Picked up the car and "service engine soon" light came on again and was steady. It happened to be memorial day weekend so I couldn't take my car back in right away. Took it in on the following Wednesday, mind you I got it back on Friday night. Now it is the downstream O2 sensor, upstream O2 sensor and possibly the catalytic converter. Was advised to definitely replace the downstream O2 sensor, but was told that the upstream O2 sensor and catalytic converter could repair themselves after running a while. After finding a recall on my year, make and model called the Saturn customer service and was told my VIN was not included in the recall and because I had purchased it used they would not replace or help me in any way, shape or fashion. With the same exact issue as the recall, I do not understand why my car would not be included.

- Camas, WA, USA

problem #23

Apr 172010


  • 91,000 miles
-the contact owns a 2003 Saturn Vue. The contact observed when the vehicle was parked, a leakage of fluid underneath the engine area. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the technician informed that the coolant was mixing with the oil which required a replacement of the head gasket. The manufacturer was notified and advised that the defect could not be repaired under the service warranty. The vehicle had not been repaired at the time of the complaint. The failure and current mileages were 91,000.

- Nottingham, MD, USA

problem #22

Apr 122010

Vue 4-cyl

  • 85,047 miles
My 2003 Saturn Vue is shutting down without warning or notice even on the expressway. My check engine light came on one day and went out and since then my car will shut off and not start back up. The car will attempt to turn over but not run as if it is not getting any gas. I had to be pushed into a cvs paking lot because I was in the right turning lane. After waiting 15 to 20 minutes later, the car started up, I put the car in drive and it shuts down again. It took me 30 minutes to go 2.5 miles because the car constantly shut down four times. The total time it took me to go 10 miles from my home, to my destination, and back was 3 hours. I took the car to a repair shop and was originally told it was the fuel pump; test revealed this was not the problem but it could be a bad crankshaft sensor, or an engine control module and the approximate cost would be over $600 depending on the problem. A car shutting down while driving is very dangerous for me and to others. I am literally afraid of driving my own car now due to this problem. While researching this problem online it appears this problem is occurring frequently and a recall should be in order.

- Southfield, MI, USA

problem #21

May 012009

Vue 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Saturn Vue. Consumer states defective transmission. After three months of purchasing the vehicle from a private seller, the consumer notice the vehicle would slip into a weird gear and the engine would sound as if it were running harder. The issue occurred at random intervals with no noticeable pattern. The consumer took the vehicle to the dealer, and was informed that was the way it was supposed to sound, but they would inspected it. When the consumer returned to pick up the vehicle, he noticed the mileage was virtually the same and wondered if they test drove the vehicle. 4-5 weeks later, the consumer received a letter from GM stating the vehicle had a potentially defective vti transmission installed at the factory. The consumer was informed nothing could be done for him based on the mileage. The consumer stated there was a problem before the mileage on the vehicle excluded him. Also, the coolant light illuminated. The dealer found the water pump leaking.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #20

May 262009


  • 89,405 miles
I have a 2003 Saturn Vue and the transmission went on May 5 went to the shop to be repaired on May 20 got vehicle back on the 23 and on May 25 the transmission went again took it back to Saturn of albany N.Y. and they told me it was the catalytic converter picked it up on May 27 got about 5 miles away from Saturn tried to cross a 4 lane intersection and vehicle would barely move due to transmission problems again it is a good thing there was very little traffic.

- Palatine Bridge , NY, USA

problem #19

Apr 152009

Vue 6-cyl

  • 41,500 miles
Serpentine belt was shredded, when the bearing on the idler seized. V6-AWD.

- Saratoga Springs, NY, USA

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