The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2006 Saturn Ion, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: Electric Power Steering Failure

    NHTSA Defect Investigation #RQ10004

    • Status:
    • Date Opened: December 15, 2010
    • Date Closed: October 05, 2011
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Steering
    Steering:Electric Power Assist System

    Summary: ODI has received 846 complaints and GM identified 3,489 reports alleging sudden loss of steering power assist in model year (MY) 2004 through 2007 Saturn Ion vehicles manufactured and sold by General Motors Corporation (GM).Sixteen of these complaints alleged that the EPS warning lamp had illuminated before or during the loss of steering assist and the increased steering effort contributed to a crash. Two of the GM crash claims indicated that the driver was injured in the crash. In a previous Preliminary Evaluation PE10-005, ODI investigated the sudden loss of power steering assist in MY 2005 through 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles. In May 2011, in response to an ODI information request letter for RQ10-004, GM provided ODI with complaint, warranty and EPS system information related to EPS loss of assist for the Saturn ION and Peer vehicles Pontiac G6 and Chevrolet Malibu. In that response, GM indicated that the EPS system used in the subject vehicles was the same as that used in the MY2005 to 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5. In March 2010, GM recalled approximately 1.05 million Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles (NHTSA recall no. 10V-073) to correct a defect with the EPS assist motor. The defect identified was described as a buildup of brush debris mixed with oily material on the EPS electric motor armature which causes the motor to stop functioning; the same problem identified in the current subject vehicles.ODI has duplicated this failure in both a Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion previously tested at the Vehicle Research and Test Center (VRTC). In the defect notification letter for the previously recalled Cobalt and G5 vehicles, GM stated that the vehicles may experience a sudden loss of assist that could occur at any time while driving and that if power steering was lost the vehicle would revert to manual steering mode and would require increased steering effort from the driver.ODI believes that, depending on driving circumstances this increase in steering effort could result in some loss of control and a crash.This investigation has been upgraded to an engineering analysis (EA11-014) to further assess the frequency, scope and safety consequences of a sudden loss of steering assist in the subject vehicles.

  2. INVESTIGATION: Electric Power Steering Failure

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA11014

    Component(s): Steering:Electric Power Assist System

    Summary: On March 31, 2014, General Motors Company (GM) submitted a Defect Information Report (DIR) to NHTSA describing a safety defect that may result in a sudden loss of power steering assist in approximately 1,340,447 model year (MY) 2004 through 2010 vehicles equipped with electric power steering (EPS), including 334,728 MY 2004 through 2007 Saturn ION vehicles that are the subject of EA11-014.GM has assigned the recall number N140115.The NHTSA recall number is 14V-153.According to the DIR, if power steering assist is lost, a message is displayed on the Driver Information Center and a chime sounds to inform the driver.GM indicated that steering control can be maintained in manual (unassisted) steering mode, but would require greater driver effort at low vehicle speeds, which could increase the risk of a crash.Sudden loss of power steering assist can occur in the subject vehicles if the system loses electrical power or whenever the system detects a fault that requires it to enter fail-safe operation mode, removing power from the EPS motor.GM-s DIR identifies three basic conditions that may result in loss of power steering assist in the recalled vehicles:power steering motor faults, torque sensor assembly faults, and power steering motor controller unit faults.GM will issue four service bulletins providing different repair procedures for recalled vehicles.Bulletin 14115 will provide repair instructions for replacing the power steering motor in MY 2004-2007 Saturn ION, 2009-2010 Chevrolet HHR (non-turbo), 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt and vehicles repaired in recall 10V-073 that received repairs prior to May 31, 2010.Bulletin 14116 will provide repair instructions for replacing the torque sensor assembly in MY 2004-2006 Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx, 2005-2006 Pontiac G6 and 2008-2009 Malibu, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura vehicles built from March 1, 2008 through June 27, 2008.Bulletin 14117 will provide repair instructions for replacing the torque sensor assembly and power steering motor controller unit in MY 2008 Malibu, G6 and Aura vehicles built from February 1, 2008 through February 28, 2008.Bulletin 14118 will provide repair instructions for replacing the power steering motor controller unit in MY 2008 Malibu, G6 and Aura vehicles built from October 1, 2007 through January 31, 2008.Analysis of information from all sources identified a total of 4,787 complaints and 30,560 warranty claims related to loss of power steering assist while driving in the MY 2004 through 2007 Saturn ION vehicles, resulting in a complaint rate of 14.3 incidents per thousand vehicles and a warranty claim rate of 9.1 percent.ODI-s analysis of alleged steering related crashes identified 12 with evidence indicating the incident was related to a loss of power steering assist. Two of the crash allegations involved low-speed curb impacts and are excluded from the resume crash count.Three incidents occurred in parking lots, six occurred while turning at street intersections, and one occurred on a highway exit ramp.The crashes in parking lots or intersections all occurred at speeds less than 30 mph.The crash on the highway exit ramp involved impact into a guard rail at approximately 35 mph.Two of the crashes resulted in injuries to the drivers.This investigation is closed.All ODI complaints associated with this closing resume are listed in the attachment pages.