5 Saturn Models With The Most Recalls (Check Before Buying!)

Saturn was an American automobile manufacturer that came into being in 1985 as a subsidiary of General Motors. It operated independently from its parent company, and the entire brand was marketed as being a different car company.

The Saturn Corporation produced a range of compact cars for well over a decade until it introduced its first crossover SUV in 2001.

It received several awards, including the North American Car of the Year Award for its Aura model. It has also been recognized for offering quality cars at exceptionally affordable prices.

General Motors decided to part ways with the Saturn Corporation in 2009 and had arranged a deal with Penske. Unfortunately, the deal fell through, and General Motors ultimately discontinued the Saturn brand in 2010.

While it was around, no less than 233 recalls were issued for Saturn models globally, according to NHTSA records. This represents a little less than 1.0% of all NHTSA recalls on record and puts the Saturn at #36 on the list of most recalls from auto manufacturers.

Having established these facts, let’s have a look at the Saturn models with the most recalls:

1. Saturn Aura

The Saturn Aura is a four-door mid-size sedan manufactured between 2006 and 2009 by the Saturn Corporation.

It enjoyed commercial success, selling over 150,000 until its discontinuation in 2009. Critics also praised it for its affordability and class-topping qualities, and it won the North American Car of the Year Award in 2007.

Number of Recalls

During its time on the auto market, Saturn issued 31 recalls for the Aura. This represents 13.3% of all Saturn recalls since 1992, making it the most-recalled Saturn model on record.

The 2008 Saturn Aura is the most-recalled model amongst Saturn Aura models, with 9 recalls listed in total. 8 recalls each place the 2007 and 2009 Saturn Aura models at the second spot. While the Saturn Aura was a critically acclaimed model, these figures raise questions on the reliability of these model years.

With 6 recalls, the 2010 Saturn Aura, which was also the last Aura model, is the least-recalled model. While it is the lowest figure, 6 recalls also indicate a number of recurrent issues; hence, we advise caution when going after this model.

Below are some problems listed regularly as reasons for Saturn Aura recalls:

  • Automatic transmission issues (possible fracture and separation of the tab on the transmission shift cable end; incomplete engagement of the transmission shift cable adjustment clip and a resultant mismatch of positions between the shift level and the transmission gear)
  • Brake light faults (resistance in the body control module and resultant fluctuations in the Brake Apply Sensor circuit which could cause the brake lights to illuminate without being pushed and fail to illuminate when it is pushed)
  • Vehicle speed control problems (fluctuations in the brake apply sensor may also lead to difficulty in cruise control disengagement)

Related: 5 Volkswagen Models With The Most Recalls (Check Before Buying!)

2. Saturn Ion

The Saturn Ion was classified by Saturn as a compact car and was in production between the 2003 and 2007 model years. It was introduced to succeed the Saturn S-series and was offered in various trim levels.

GM discontinued the Ion after the 2007 model year and introduced the Astra as its successor.

Number of Recalls

According to NHTSA recall records, Saturn issued no less than 30 recalls for the Saturn Ion, starting in 2004. This represents 12.9% of all Saturn recalls on record, and it earns the Ion the #2 spot on the list of most-recalled Saturn models.

With 9 recalls on record, the 2004 Saturn Ion takes the #1 spot as the most-recalled Saturn Ion model. At the #2 spot, we have the 2003 Saturn Ion, the debut model, and the 2007 model year, the last Ion model, with 6 recalls each.

If you are on the market for a used Saturn Ion, you might want to conduct meticulous checks before copping any of the abovementioned models.

The 2005 Saturn Ion is the least-recalled model with 4 recalls. It is followed closely by the 2006 Saturn Ion with 5 recalls.

Below is a list of common problems with the Saturn Ion that have triggered recalls:

  • Electrical system faults (possible movement of ignition switch out of run position due to weight in the keyring and/or rough road conditions)
  • Fuel system issues (possible crack of the return port on the modular reservoir assembly and resultant fuel leak or visible dripping in extreme cases)
  • Airbag defects (possible movement of ignition switch out of run position and restriction of airbag operations due to weight in the key ring and/or rough road conditions)
  • Steering problems (unintended and sudden loss of electric power steering assist system in the course of driving)

Related: 5 Mercedes Models With The Most Recalls (Check Before Buying!)

3. Saturn SL

The Saturn SL was a part of the Saturn S-series, a line of compact cars manufactured and marketed between 1990 and 2002. Production spanned three generations, during which hundreds of thousands of units were manufactured, and the SL was visibly the most famous S-series sibling.

The Saturn Ion eventually replaced it for the 2003 model year.

Number of Recalls

Saturn issued the first recall for the Saturn SL in 1992. It then issued a further 21 recalls in the years that followed, making 22 recalls. This figure makes it the third most-recalled Saturn model on record, and according to ARFC.org, it accounts for 9.4% of all Saturn recalls since 1992.

The 2000 Saturn SL has the most recalls amongst SL models, with 7 recalls on record. The 1995 Saturn SL takes the second spot on this list with just 3 recalls.

With 1 recall each, the 1991, 1994, 1996, and 1999 Saturn SL models have the joint-fewest recalls. The #2 spot is also shared by the 1992, 1993, 1997, and 2001 models of the Saturn SL.

Below is a list of recall-worthy issues that have plagued Saturn SL models over the years:

  • Electrical system faults (lack of adequate protection for the generator electrical wiring against excessive current flow, which may be occasioned by a short within the generator; incorrectly formed battery cable terminals and possible contact with starter solenoid housing)
  • Automatic transmission issues (improperly adjusted automatic transaxle park lock cable assembly, which could potentially cause a shift from “park” position after ignition key is removed)
  • Steering problems (possible separation of pinion bearing cage in manual steering gear, especially under high steering load conditions)
  • Seat defects (excessive wear of recliner gear teeth in the front seat back after repeated usage)

4. Saturn Outlook

The Saturn Outlook is one of the few SUV offerings by the compact car-centric Saturn Corporation. Classified as a full-size crossover SUV, the Outlook hit the market in 2006 and notably had a lower price than other GM models in the same class.

It was discontinued in 2010 alongside the entire Saturn lineup after selling over 70,000 units.

Number of Recalls

Recalls for the Saturn Outlook began in 2007 and now total 22 according to data from the NHTSA. This figure represents about 9.0% of all Saturn recalls since 1992, according to ARFC.org, and positions the Outlook at #4 on the list.

The 2009 Saturn Outlook garnered exactly 1/3 of total Outlook recalls with 7 on record. It is followed by the 2007 and 2008 Saturn Outlook models, with 5 recalls each.

With 4 recalls on record, the 2010 Saturn Outlook, which is also the last model year before the discontinuation, is the least-recalled Outlook model.

Below is a list of common problems with the Saturn Outlook that provoked recalls:

  • Electrical system defects (possible short circuit on the printed circuit board for the washer fluid heater and resultant overheating of control-circuit ground wire)
  • Seatbelt issues (restriction in upward rotation of the safety belt buckle, which disrupts and hinders attempts to return seat to a seating position after being folded; potential fracture of flexible steel cable that links seatbelt to the front outdoor seating positions)
  • Airbag faults (increased resistance in the passenger seat side-impact airbag wiring harness and possible non-deployment of pre-tensioners during a crash)
  • Liftgate problems (premature wear of power liftgate gas struts and sudden fall of open liftgate)

Related: 5 Lincoln Models With Most Recalls (Check Before Buying!)

5. Saturn SC

The Saturn SC is one of the famous siblings of the Saturn S-series family. The series was manufactured between 1990 and 2002, after which the earlier mentioned Saturn Ion replaced it for the 2003 model year.

Number of Recalls

A total of 20 recalls have been issued for the Saturn SC, and the very first one was issued in 1992. It closes out our list of most-recalled Saturn models in the 5th position while accounting for approximately 8.6% of all Saturn recalls since 1992.

The 2000 SC has the most recalls amongst all models with 7. Sitting at the 2nd spot on this list is the 1997 Saturn SC with 3 recalls.

On the other hand, the 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1999 models have the joint fewest-recalls among Saturn SC models, with 1 each. The 1992, 1995, and 2001 also have 2 each, which earns them the #2 spot on the list.

Below is a list of common issues that have occasioned recalls for the Saturn SC:

  • Automatic transmission issues (improperly adjusted automatic transaxle park lock cable assembly, which could potentially cause a shift from “park” position after ignition key is removed)
  • Electrical system faults (lack of adequate protection for the generator electrical wiring against excessive current flow, which may be occasioned by a short within the generator; incorrectly formed battery cable terminals and possible contact with starter solenoid housing)
  • Seat defects (excessive wear of recliner gear teeth in the front seat back after repeated usage)
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