2003 Saturn Ion 1 Trunk/Rear Repair?

Hey all,

I just had a couple questions for someone who might be a little more experienced than I am about Saturns or just cars in general.

I have a 2003 Saturn Ion 1. I got into a car accident in December, and it messed up the rear of my car pretty bad. Fortunately, everything is still operational, but it left some damage in the back.

The rear end of my car seems to have shifted to the point where the tail lights don’t sit flush in their places, the trunk seems a little shifted to the left, and my trunk no longer closes correctly. If you slam the trunk lid, it will close, but leaves clear, open gaps into the trunk itself. The trunk can only be opened now if one person holds the trunk release (makes a machine gun noise), and another person lifts up on the trunk. This gap makes it so that when there’s rain, the trunk gets water in it, which is where my battery is and a whole bunch of other stuff.

I’d like to try to fix it myself if I can. I have a pretty comprehensive set of tools (not machinery, though), and am very handy. I have a lot of electrical experience, but little mechanical experience. I can’t afford to have the car repaired, or to just get a new car. I make barely enough to live off of and can’t afford to have my car destroyed by the weather, and need to be able to commute to and from work.

Has anyone disassembled the rear end of a Saturn Ion and/or can provide advice? The trunk release won’t shift far enough to make a solid connection, and I’d like to get the interior back in place if possible. Is this something I might be able to move and fix myself, or is it more likely that the frame is bent and not fixable on my own?

Thanks much for any help or advice. I’m in a real tough spot with this and really need to do all I can to make this happen.

EDIT: to clarify, I am just trying to find a way to make sure my trunk doesn’t flood without having to seal the trunk. I know that I won’t be able to fix the body damage, and that’s ok.

To put it simply?

You need a another car.


Thank you for your reply, Tester. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to get even a very used and cheap car right now. Hopefully I can get something worked out eventually.

Thanks again.

What kind of accident ? Did you back into something or someone hit you? If someone hit you why is their insurance not taking care of this . Also I can assure you this repair is not a do it yourself item.

I hit some ice on the highway during a snowstorm and crashed into the median. Nearly went off of a bridge but fortunately didn’t.

To clarify, if it helps, I’m not really looking to completely repair it. I’m really just looking for some way to make sure water doesn’t get in my trunk without completely sealing it.

Thanks for your reply.

That’s a tough one OP. Since the damage is in the rear, I presume somebody crashed into your car right? Since they are to blame they or their insurance company would normally pay to have this type of damage repaired. So why not in your case?

We can’t see your car, so no way to assess if a diy’er repair is possible or not and if possible, or if the car would be safe to drive after the repair. The only thing I can add is that one time I backed into a post and broke the rear tail light ass’y on my car, cracked most of the plastic lenses, and I was able to diy’er fix that. Used some lens material designed for trailer brakes I bought, cut out the waste w/a dremmel tool, and glued the new in where it was missing. 3 different types of glue were required for this job. Upon completion it created a slight visible mismatch right/left, but still looked pretty good.

Hi George. Unfortunately, it was during a snow storm and the accident is technically my fault soI have nobody to blame but myself.

I didn’t realize that a picture of this particular damage would be useful. I can take pictures and update the thread tomorrow when it’s light again.

Thanks for the reply. Appreciate it.

Pictures will not really help. All that will show is damage and not the stress points that might need extra attention. You need to see if a body shop will do something to the trunk lid but they will not guarantee it will not leak unless they do the whole thing.

Yes, post the pictures, somebody might have some ideas here.

I would just drill drain holes in all the spots where the water would collect and call it a day.


Your car’s unibody has been twisted out of shape, causing the alignment of everything to be changed. You should get an estimate from a competent body shop, but chances are that the car is history.

Body shops do have “body alignment tables”, basically huge extremely-stable tables with measuring equipment, chains, and hydraulic rams attached that can in some cases “straighten” a twisted unibody, but there are no guarantees. Once damaged, their rarely totally right again. And the process isn’t cheap… but the estimate is free.

And keep in mind that those results are from professionals who are experts at body work. For the rest of us shlubs, the outcomes tend to be more dismal.

Your best bet might actually be to seal the thing off and start saving for a replacement car.

lots of duct tape is the path I would take. Possibly you can find a several inch wide rubber strip that you can jam into the crack, then duct tape over that.

Or with more work, a strip of sheet aluminum riveted so you cover the opening.

Maybe some kind of rain proof cover could be attached to the area. Then be a slit in the cover using w/Velcro fasteners to allow access to the trunk.

LOL, Red Green came to mind when I read that. That’s what he’d do! :grin: