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Saturn ION Maintenance and Repair



  • It started when I was just a tad over 100,000 miles. I was driving down the street going 40 and all of a sudden I went over a bump and the car just shut off. Everything turned off, as if I had turned the key myself. As you can see this is an extremely dangerous problem.

    I took it to a mechanic he said my battery was almost dead and that could have cause it so I got a new battery and a couple months later it did it again.

    Ive searched the internet and have found that a lot of saturn ions have had this problem, yet no fix. There are horror stories of people almost getting killed cause their car just shuts off on the highway. A few people even said that they took it to saturn themselves (when they were still in business) and they had multiple things switched and fixed and blah blah blah and STILL it continues to shut off on its own.

    I also read that someone at saturn said this is a major problems with ions and nobody knows whats wrong with the car.

    ANY HELP IS GREATLY APPRECIATED! Im afraid im gonna have to just get rid of the car even though its only 6 years old, its either that or potentially get killed or in a severe accident. Thanks in advance!
  • Yes, I have a similar problem. I was told by a midas mechanic, that the wipers and controled my the body control module,but mine willstart thenI move it ti drive and as soonas I move the shifter it dies, then at least 5 times it as shut off during driving. Replaced my starter and battery, I want to scream, cannot trust it obtrips..I ahve 191,000miles on my 04 saturn ion 1..It has been as exellemt car, except 2 yrs ago mykey would get stuck on accessory and i was going to replace ignition switch, but it was only fuses. So I am really concerned about my problem.
  • Ok, So, earlier this year my parents bought me a 2003 Ion Quad coupe with the CVT transmission. As of right now, it has around 101,300 miles on it. Runs fine. But I started reading about the CVT system and how it can fail, so I'm kind of starting to worry. Should I try to get my dad to let drive someone else's car? I don't know too much about cars other than what make and model they are. I love my Ion, it's a fun car to drive, but I don't want it to screw up or anything. Any pointers about this car would be greatly appreciated. :)
  • I have an 05 ION that I bought 7 months ago and have encountered several problems but this last one baffles me. the service vehicle light started flashing and the gas gauge went to empty but everything else works. this only follows replacing both links to the anti sway bar and replacing the engine knock sensor when it was a bad wire.
  • If we can look into any open warranty information for you, we'd be happy to do so. Send us an email with the last 8 digits of your VIN and we'll check into our databases here.

    GM Customer Service
  • I am sorry to hear about the difficulty your Ion is having getting started. Are you planning on working with a GM dealership towards addressing this?

    Look forward to hearing from you,
    GM Customer Service
  • jo_jojo_jo Posts: 1
    I recently am having problems with my 06 Saturn Ion, the gas gauge will indicate that I am low when I have gas. The gauge will go from a half a tank to empty back up to quarter and then back to half a tank. Where would I find information on an extended warranty, I have not received no letter with this information.
    Thanks for your help,
    JoAnn :sick:
  • Good afternoon JoAnn,
    The service contracts that GM has available (GM Protection Plans or GMPP) are only available during the vehicle's initial manufacturer's limited warranty, or the bumper-to-bumper limited warranty. However, there may be other third party service contracts that your local dealership would be able to recommend.

    I'm sorry to hear about your gas gauge. Were you planning on having this looked into?

    GM Customer Service
  • If I were you I check out all the other problems to expect with your Ion on the Net, you will have a bunch of problems in the future. Get rid of the car while you can. I spent over $2000 on mine on mysterious problems that GM would not recall.
    Beware and Good Luck
  • There is a recall on Saturn 2006. This happened to my car. Contact GM customer service to set up an appointment with the dealer and the reset it for free. Contact Customer Service...
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,042
    An automotive organization would like to speak with used car buyers who bought cars that they later found out were not up to date on recall repairs. If you are willing to discuss your experience, please email no later than 10 a.m. Pacific /1 p.m. Eastern Friday, April 20, 2012 with your daytime contact information.


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  • Very frustrated with GM. I bought a 2004 Saturn ION brand new and it is now the 6th time the transmission has gone out of it. It has been a nightmare ever since I got this car. As soon as the extended warranty I purchased ran out I've had to fight GM every time to fix this car. When I was seven months pregnant I could tell the transmission was slipping and took it into Saturn (when they were still in business) and they charged me $200 to tell me it was fine when a month later I'm stranded on the side of a semi busy country road with the transmission out. They had it a whole month before they finally relented and fixed it. The last time it went out was a year and a half ago and it has gone out again. Customer Service tells us they will no longer fix these vehicles because they want them off the road and would only offer $5000 towards a trade-in (basically trying to get a profit out of me). When I told them I didn't want another GM vehicle I wanted the car fixed or if they wanted it off the road then buy it off me for the KBB value of what it would be worth with a working transmission since I can't even trade it in now and they refused that. We finally called their corporate in Detroit and their answer was to take away the $5000 offer?? Seriously? and they wonder why they need bailed out. They suggested looking into the class action lawsuit~ even though they knew very well that they are now protected under bankruptcy protection from the old GM. I've never dealt with such a horrible company and not sure where to go from here. I still don't have my car and have never been reimbursed for any of the hassle I've had from GM for every time this thing has broke. Any suggestions???
  • Mine does this as well. Most of the time it is while I'm driving at low speeds (25mph). I called a mechanic about it and he suggested using a fuel injector cleaner such as Sea Foam and then fill your gas tank with it and your regular gas in order to clean it out. Since doing that (about a week ago), my car has not done it...
  • icjpadgetticjpadgett Posts: 1
    edited September 2012
    I own a 03 Saturn Ion and all my power windows plus my power mirrors stopped working. They had been working intermittantly. I checked the fuses and relays but couldn't find anything wrong. I also checked the wiring in the door and everything looked fine. Any help would be appreciated.
  • So, car was fine until yesterday. we changed front brakes & rotors on my 2006 saturn ion. since that, the battery light is on, the ac is blowing hot and if you drive it, the brakes start smoking when you park. i am stumped.
  • Good morning weatherdiva,

    Was your brake work performed with one of our dealerships? If so, and if you would like for us to follow up on this with them, please contact us via email at with further details (including your name and Edmunds username, phone and address, the last 8 of your VIN and current mileage, and the name of your involved dealership).

    Sarah, GM Customer Service
  • I purchased my 05 Saturn Ion 3 almost two years ago and i looove it. But all of a sudden my alarm started going off on its own a few months ago. I recv'd lots of noise complaints and cops coming to my house until i finally was forced to stop using my clicker(passlock..?) to lock my car, since it activates the alarm. Instead, I have had to lock it manually while getting out. I've still been using my clicker to unlock my vehicle though. I've observed when I used to lock my car with the clicker, when you push it twice, the second time it usually honks to lock the alarm in place. It will not do that anymore, it does not honk when I push "lock" twice. The SAME time the alarm issues began, issues with lights coming on inside the car started. I've had the overhead dome light inside the car come on, on its own, when i'm stopped at a stop light. Then i start driving again and it fades. When I get out of the veh and lock it, the lights inside stay on!! But the car never dies and has never died. Sometimes when I walk to my car I notice the lights inside are STILL on, but once i start driving it goes off. I've taken it to body shops many times and they can't figure out what is going on. This has been going on for months so i thought nothing of it since i've had no problems starting my Saturn OR battery problems. Yesterday my car wouldnt start, no sputter at all. We tried to charge the battery with jumper cables. The lights inside my car are still on, very dimly, but NOW my key is stuck in the ignition. This has been a downhill of problems. What should i do? I want to take it to a dealership but i don't want to get the run around and spend a lot of extra money obviously on a bunch of parts since no one knows what the problem is. If it is just the ignition switch since now my key is locked in the ignition, then where do the alarm problems and the light inside my car staying on problems come in?
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,251

    If you need help finding a Saturn-friendly dealership in your area to get this checked out (I know that you may not be fully ready to do this given the last bit of your post), please contact us at with your name and ZIP code.

    Sarah, GM Customer Service
  • MY Saturn 03 ION eats keys....i don't know how else to describe this oddity..Anyone else having this issue, any quick fixes...WHAT TO DO??? Early on i noticed that my keys "points" were rounding the point where, as i attempted to start my car, i had to jingle the keys to get passed the first 1/4 turn in the cylinder when the steering unlocks. Then it got worse and worse, so i got new keys cut...this became a regular occurrence and i was getting new keys more often then changing the oil. Now the car is 9 years old with 100,000 miles/160,000 km and if i turn the key to lock and the steering locks, the key wont work to turn the car over..I now leave the car off, but DO NOT tun the key to the point where the steering would lock..if i accidentally turn the it all the way off...i wont be able to turn the car on..I was hoping to pass this car down to my teenage son, but not with this condition. my local GM dealer says this is a regular occurrence for these cars..changing the cylinder to a used cylinder any have the same issue and a new cylinder and labour is really anyone else having this issue, any quick fixes...WHAT TO DO???
  • Everything turned out perfectly. My insurance was going to pay for a free tow, but the tow truck driver ended up fixing my ION. Who knew? It turns out my battery was dead (embarrassing) which in turn locked my key into the ignition (as a security he said). And this whole time i thought i needed a new battery AND ignition switch. Whew! He used the jumper cables thru my trunk which is something ive never seen before. He then bought me a heavy duty 60 fuse from O'Reilly's and plugged it in on top of my battery. It was FOUR dollars. This fuse helped fix my power steering and other small things connected within the fuse such as lights, etc. The issue with my car alarm going off on its own and the lights inside the veh coming on and off were still proceeding though so I followed the tow truck driver in my ION to one of the best electrical mechanics that he knew in the area. They had my veh diagnosed within an hour. My passenger side door switch was bad which was telling my ION that a door was ajar all of the time, setting off the alarm and the lights coming on. He replaced this door switch and with the diagnostic and a state inspection it was all under $100. Talk about my prayers being answered! God is so faithful!!!
  • Hi I have had nothing but problems with my ION. First MAIN problem was the car not starting during the cold, which turned out to be a faulty passlock wire. Snipped that, haven't had a problem starting since. Thank God I didn't drain my bank account into figuring out the problem like SO MANY OTHERS DID!!

    My main concern is with the shifting linkage. I own an 04' ion, 2.2l , 5-speed manual. There is a small cotter pin/roll pin that goes inside the shifting linkage. I have had this pin break on me 10 times in 5 years. When this pin breaks, you lose ALL ability to shift. The shifter will not go into gear.

    I have had several mechanics work on it, trying things from original roll pins,grade 8 bolts, nails, jb welding it in, and recently the BEST thing that has worked so far AS A LAST RESORT, the mechanic had to TAC WELD in a bolt, and it has worked for 6 months.

    but as of lately the shifting has started to mess up BIG TIME again.

    i'm just so tired of having things replaced and still having my car shift like crap.

    Even with a clutch master cylinder and clutch assembly replaced..which should help the shifting linkage MOVE 110% better, the gear synchronizers are so bad that I can barely shift into 3rd or 4th gear. I definitely cannot downshift into 3rd gear. All i get is the most horrid grinding noise you can imagine. if i have to drop to 3rd gear to pass someone quickly, again I have to fight to put it in 3rd gear. And with the grinding, it is just grinding away at my shift linkage and pin again.

    I hope there is some kind of RECALL or something on this shifting linkage? I am running out of options here, I just want to get to point A to point B without worrying if my car is going to shift or not.

    oh ya, and also the CLUTCH PEDAL itself...the back is made out of PLASTIC. so after all these years of shifting, the piece of metal that attaches to the back of your clutch pedal, the one that gets pushed in and out to open and close your clutch.. well that metal has worn away the plastic grooving in the clutch now my clutch pedal pops out of position everytime i let my foot off. I was told I had to get a new clutch assembly to fix this problem. It's just like .. COMMON!!!?!?!? Why would you use plastic, it gets worn out.

    I have nothing bad to say about the engine. I have not had ONE engine problem other than related to the shifting.

    I guess I just want to know if anyone else has experienced this shifting problem , bad synchronizers and if there is a fix?

    I should of kept my 1993 F150 5-speed manual. I NEVER had one grinding noise from shifting, never had a clutch problem. the only thing that went wrong with that was the gas tank leaked because it rusted out. I think that's what we should expect from a should rust out before mechanical failure.

    thank you for taking the time to read my book :D hopefully someone has a good solid answer on this shifting business. I would love to keep my car, especially considering I finally paid it off after 5 years. LOL .. go figure, finally pay it off and it starts to completely break to the point I can't use it .. AGAIN!
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