2003 Saturn Vue problems

2003 Saturn Vue problems: How To Fix Them?

Though Saturn Vue vehicles can be reliable, there are a few problematic years. Among all the problematic years, the 2003 Saturn Vue model year is also one. Thus, before buying this model year, you must know the potential troubles you may encounter.

So, what are the 2003 Saturn Vue problems? The flashing of the check engine light and engine oil leak are the two most common issues. Besides, you may also encounter rolling away of your vehicle due to faulty ignition. Sometimes, vibration, and stalling down due to engine misfiring issues are also common.

In this article, we will discuss the common problems of this car model year. You will also learn the respective causes and solutions of those issues. Hence, keep reading.

Table: Several Common Problems Of Saturn Vue 2003 With Solutions 

Let’s see some most common troubles in this vehicle year model and the ways to address them:

Daytime Running Light(DRL) Doesn’t Come OnReplace the DRL module
Check engine light illuminatesReplace the transmission

Using sealant products around the gas cap

Repair or replace the gas cap
Malfunctioning ACFlush the coolant system and refill the coolant tank
Engine oil leakFix or replace the ignition lock cylinder
Faulty ignitionKeeping the vehicle in “park” in automotive or ” reverse” position on manual transmission models.
Engine misfiresRepair or replace the damaged ignition lock cylinder

Cleaning the spark plug

Changing the damaged spark plug

2003 Saturn Vue Problems And Their Solutions 

This 2003 year model is one of the Saturn Vue years to avoid. But, we won’t discourage you to buy this car model; instead, we will enlighten you about the potential problems of this vehicle. Those car problems can worsen with time if you don’t address them shortly.

Let’s know more about those problems and ways to address them:

Daytime Running Light(DRL) Doesn’t Come On

Sometimes, the DRL may not appear in your Saturn Vue 2003 in lowlights. As the DRL module controls and provides power to the DRL, if the module fails, the DRL will also fail.


To solve this issue, you may need to replace the DRL module. For this, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Let the engine cool down before you open the hood and locate the position of the module. You will generally find the module in the engine compartment or below the dash.
  • Step 2:  Now, pull out the cables from the battery’s negative terminal.
  • Step 3: Remove the bolts and electrical connectors that are attached to the module and take out the module.
  • Step 4: Now, install a new DRL module and mount all the connectors appropriately in their positions.
  • Step 5: Next, tighten all the bolts that were connected to the module and also reconnect the cable with the battery’s negative terminal.

Check Engine Light Illuminating 

This issue mainly arises in this vehicle year model due to the faulty gas cap. Generally, a flashing check engine light is common if your car reaches around 100,000 miles. 

Generally, this light may come on with codes P0716, P0776, P0717, P0777, P2714, P2715, and P02723, codes.  Due to these issues, you may encounter transmission issues like failing reverse gear and harsh gear shifting. Also, the gas cap may keep coming off and getting loose even if you try to seal them.


To address this illuminating check engine light issue, follow these methods:

  • To address the transmission issues, you may need to remove and replace the transmission.
  • Step 1: Disconnect the cable from the battery’s negative terminal and lift your car.
  • Step 2: Now, go underneath your vehicle and start removing all the pipes and hoses around the transmission.
  • Step 3: Drain out the transmission fluid.
  • Step 4: Take out all the drive shafts, axle, and transfer case.
  • Step 5: Now, remove all the bolts that connect the transmission to the engine bell housing.
  • Step 6: Before removing the last several bolts and engine mounts, support the weight of the transmission and engine using a jack.
  • Step 7: After removing the mountings, slide out the transmission carefully.
  • Step 8: Now, install the new transmission following the same but reverse procedure of taking it out.
  • Step 9: As it is a time-consuming, troublesome, and risky procedure, you better ask for help from a professional mechanic.
  • You can add sealant products around the gas cap as a temporary solution.
  • But you must repair or replace the faulty gas cap for a permanent solution. Here are the steps:
  • Step 1: Locate the gas cap door and open it.
  • Step 2: Now unscrew the gas cap and detach the retainer. Then, pull out the gas cap.
  • Step 3: Take a new gas cap and connect the leash to the interior part of the gas cap door.
  • Step 4: Now, take the cap and place it in its position and keep rotating it clockwise until 3 clicking noises.
  • Step 5: After the installation, ensure the connection isn’t loose. 

Malfunctioning AC

Sometimes, the AC may not work on your vehicle, or the engine can overheat. Generally, the main reason for this issue in a Saturn Vue 2003 is coolant. Inappropriate type, low level, or contaminated coolant can cause this issue. 


To solve this issue, you need to refill the coolant tank with appropriate coolant. Here is the process:

  • Step 1: Cool down your vehicle’s engine before you start the process. Then, open the car’s hood and find the radiator.
  • Step 2: Now, clean around the radiator cap before you open it. After opening, check the coolant level.
  • Step 3: Then, find the drainage valve of the radiator and place a discharge pan beneath that.
  • Step 4: Open the bolts of the valve and let the coolant drain from the radiator on the pan. Then, close the drain valve.
  • Step 5: Generally, this vehicle model requires a coolant system flush every 60,000-70,000 miles. For that, fill the radiator with debris-free water and close the radiator cap.
  • Step 6: Now, let the engine run for 15-20 minutes.
  • Step 7: After the cooling down of the engine, again drain the water from the cooling system with a similar process.
  • Step 8: Close the drain valve and refill the radiator with the appropriate coolant. 
  • Step 9: Lastly, close the radiator cap and the car’s hood.

Engine Oil leak

Generally, you may encounter the 2003 Saturn Vue engine oil leak issue once your vehicle reaches 132,000 miles. In this case, You may notice a burning smell and sometimes excessive smoke coming from the engine.

Typically, worn-out, damaged, or faulty valve cover engine gaskets can cause this oil leak issue. In severe cases, defective oil filter housing may also cause these leaks.


You may need to replace the valve cover gasket to solve the oil leak issue. Here are the steps regarding this:

  • Step 1: Let the engine cool first, then detach the vacuum hoses and wires from the top of the valve cover.
  • Step 2: Now, you need to unscrew the screw from the cover and lift the cover.
  • Step 3: Remove the damaged gasket from the cover.
  • Step 4: Now clean the valve cover before placing the new gasket on the groove.
  • Step 5: Wait 5-10 minutes so the gasket can sit appropriately on the cover groove.
  • Step 6: Now, place the cover in its position and connect the bolts, wires, and vacuum harnesses again.

Faulty Ignition 

This is a severe issue as it can even result in serious car crashes. Generally, it occurs when the ignition switch isn’t in the off position, and you pull out the ignition key from the ignition. After that, the car may start to roll away. 

Engine Oil leak


You can solve this issue temporarily by following these ways:

  • If your car has automatic transmission, keep the vehicle in the “park” position before exiting the car. 
  • When your vehicle has a manual transmission, keep it in the “reverse” position and make sure the parking brake is also engaged.

For a permanent solution, you need to replace the ignition cylinder. For this, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: First, disconnect cables from the battery terminals.
  • Step 2: Now, use a flat-blade screwdriver to remove the bolts of the column cover of the steering.
  • Step 3: You must remove the covers to access the ignition lock cylinder. 
  • Step 4: Now, undo the bolts on the cylinder cover to detach the cover from the cylinder.
  • Step 5: You must open the steering wheel lock by inserting the key. Then, push the metal pin located below the cylinder.
  • Step 6: Now, carefully pull the cylinder from the lock body. 
  • Step 7: Unscrew the bolts holding the lock assembly with the cylinder.
  • Step 8: Now, install the new ignition cylinder and follow all the previous steps in reverse sequence.
  • Step 9: Ensure the ignition cylinder is moving in properly before connecting the battery connections.

Engine Misfires

Engine misfire issues can cause disbalance, vibration, and a drop in your vehicle’s power. This issue may arise for many reasons like faulty ignition cylinder, clogged or damaged spark plug and fuel injector, etc.


To solve this issue, you need to:

  • Replace the faulty ignition cylinder.
  • Clean or replace the spark plug. For this, follow these steps:
  • Step 1: First, disconnect the negative terminal of your vehicle’s battery.
  • Step 2: Now, locate the spark plug and clean the area so that dirt can’t enter the cylinder when you remove the plugs.
  • Step 3: Detach all the spark plug wires and then pull out the spark plug.
  • Step 4: Use sandpaper and a wire brush to clean the electrode and threads of the spark plug.
  • Step 5: If the old spark plug is damaged, install a new one.
  • Step 6: With the help of a spark plug socket, install the plug and keep rotating the socket clockwise.
  • Step 7: Use a socket wrench to tighten the spark plug appropriately.
  • Step 8: Now, connect the plug wires with the spark plugs and reconnect the negative battery terminal.


In this FAQs section, we will answer a few most common questions about the 2003 Saturn Vue.

Is There Any Recall Of the 2003 Saturn Vue?

Yes. There have been two recalls of this model year till now. One recall was for the steering knuckles issue, and another was for the potential rollway of the vehicle due to faulty ignition.

What Is The 2003 Saturn Vue Life Expectancy?

This car model can last over 100,000 miles without causing any significant issues. With proper maintenance, servicing, and repairs, it can even last up to 250,000 miles.

Is There Any Value Of A Used 2003 Saturn Vue?

Indeed, the value of the used ones won’t be $16500 like the new ones. Depending on the vehicle’s mileage and conditions, the value of your used car model may vary between $610-$3500.


2003 Saturn Vue’s reliability depends on how greatly and efficiently it can perform over time. Though it’s long-lasting, users may encounter several issues. For your convenience, we have already mentioned the 2003 Saturn Vue problems.

According to the 2003 Saturn Vue reviews, you may encounter issues like flashing check engine lights, engine oil leaks, and misfiring. Alongside, the most severe problem in this year’s model is the defective ignition, which can cause rolling away of vehicles resulting in car crashes.

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