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Chevrolet Malibu Oil Changes/Service Questions

Discuss routine maintenance and special care for the Malibu here.

Karen-Edmunds Community Manager



  • Drain oil every 7500, find filter; change filter. fill with oil of choice, check fluids, check tire pressure, wash & wax frequently, start car and drive. What could be simplier.
  • I dont put on too many miles so I've been changing the oil at 3k. I don't bother rotating the tires though. Its a waste of money/time for the POS OEMs.

    Everything is good, I just need to give the girl a bath. She's looking pretty dirty. It finally rained so its not too bad now.
  • I believe that the oil should be changed every 3 months or 3K miles, whichever comes first. 5K miles if you move up to synthetic oil. I've done this for years on all my cars and have never had an engine problem. I think the small added expense is much better than an engine job down the road! JMHO
  • kpugh2kpugh2 Posts: 20
    The wife's 04 LS last weekend had the first oil change. I put in AMSOIL 5W-30 good for 25K or 12 months. Her last car a 97 Monte Carlo 3.1 had only 8 yearly oil changes. The car had over 85K when traded. This method is cheaper, save time, reduce engine wear, and improves mpg.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    So far, I'm sticking to the 3,000 mile intervals on oil/filter. I use only Pennzoil 10w/30, and after reading a bunch of data on filters, I've switched to Walmart/Champion filters. I used to use exclusively Fram, until I read from several resources how cheaply they are made. It looks like Champion, Mobil 1, and WIX are the good filters. I used Pennzoil Synthetic for years when we lived in the city, as I had to put up with rush hour traffic all the time, but now that we have a more relaxed lifestyle, and almost never see heavy traffic, I've gone back to regular oil. Almost all of our miles are on the open highway, so moisture/sludge in the oil should not be a problem.
    I also rotate the tires regularly, and pay close attention to the brakes while doing so, because of all the complaints about Malibu rotors. Once again, however, since we are putting on mainly highway miles, I will probably see less brake wear in a year than a city driver would see in a month.
    I lube the weatherstripping and door/trunk/hood hinges every Spring/Fall, and pay especial attention to the sunroof seals with silicone grease. I would hate to have to hold up a towel while driving around in a heavy rainstorm.
    Most importantly, I try to do everything myself. I have little faith in some of the people who call themselves mechanics. Its been my experience that if they fix problem A, they usually create problems B and C.
  • I pulled the oil dipstick on my '04 Maxx and was suprised to see that there are only very vague markings. There are no markers for full or low, just some crosshatching with 3 or 4 pinholes at the bottom of the dipstick. This is my 1st GM in many years.... is this normal?
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    Yup, I've noticed this trend towards "holes" on several newer cars. My guess is some beancounter convinced the carmakers that they can save a penny or two by not enscribing lettering on the dipsticks. You almost have to check the owners manual to see what a particular automaker is using as a guage on its dipsticks. I guess they never heard of the old saying that "if its not broke, don't fix it".
  • We all have diffferent intervals we think best and if it works for you.... I've gone from one extreme to the other. Used synthetic in 70s & 80s changing every 60K, filters every 10K and dino oil in the 90s every 3K with filter. Had one tear down (not oil related) on vehicle with 75K on it. Mechanic ask if it was a new short block, no apparent wear whatsoever. Now I change dino at 5000 and synthetic blend at 7500 or close. Mainly I go by how dirty the stick looks. Never had lubrication related problem.
  • I change mine every 3,000 miles, and after, 61K miles on an '00 LS, no engine-related problems, other than the infamous intake manifold gasket issue.

    Other problems, yes, too extensive to even begin to detail. Would take 15 pages of posts, or more.
  • I personally tried to fix one of those in my driveway on a 90 Corsica 3.1. Man what a job, got back together only to find coolant in the oil and rough idle. GM gladly corrected the problem for $300. Changed oil, and set 2 valves I didn't get right. If it cost $600 now I'd try it again and sell the video of the job for enough to have GM fix my mistakes.
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    Just in case some of you missed my note in another Malibu board, my 2001 Malibu LS (62k mileage) occasionally wouldn't start. It would crank fine but the fuel pump wouldn't work and the car would not start. An hour or so later (after it was towed to my mechanic) it started just fine. He installed an unneeded fuel pump for $450. I then discussed it with the dealer which I should have done in the beginning. The top mechanic -a great guy - told me that the next time it happens see if the "theft" light is blinking when it cranks. If it does, turn the key to the "on" position, let it sit 15 minutes, and then turn it off and then to start. It did and it started right up. The dealer said I needed the ignition module ($375 total cost - about 50/50 parts and labor because the dash has to be taken apart). Anyway, the problem went away. This advice may save you a towing bill. The problem is the fact that the "key" wasn't being read. Eventually if you don't replace the module when the car won't start occasionally, the problem will get worse until it won't start at all.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    reading the owners manual, it states the high tech monitoring system will tell you when the oil reaches the end of its service life...Ive been one to change every 3k religiously with no engine related problems ever in a Honda, Ford, Nissan, who is going to trust the machine to tell us when to change the oil?..most of my driving is highway....and I noted the percentage of "oil life" doesnt reduce significantly.....I have 1200 miles on the car with 82% oil life left....when per a 3K change interval I should be less than 66%...comments from the group? stay with your 3K interval change regiment or go with the owners manual!?!
  • I have to agree with pao about the 3K oil changes. I've been doing this religiously since I messed up an engine on a 92 Saturn because I didn't change the oil, and I've had no engine problems with any engines doing so. I've got about 2.2K miles on my Maxx LT and the oil life reads about 62%, but at 3K I'll drop it at the dealer for a change and an engine oil life reset on the onboard computer. I know that GM has been publishing articles on the subject saying that 3K oil changes are not necessary, but for a few extra bucks, I get peace of mind. I invested an extra $2K on the extended 84/84 warranty, and I don't want to hear that I voided it because I didn't change the oil often enough. JMHO!
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    I agree with oldntired. Oil and filters are a lot cheaper than engine overhauls. I change mine around 3000 miles, and so far no bad engines. I'm sure current oil technology is better than it was years ago, and if you drive mostly highway miles, 6 or 7 thousand miles is probably ok. However, The extra insurance of changing oil at 3 or 4 thousand is well worth the small cost. Personally, I wouldn't trust a "monitor" to guage the oil changes.
    Plus, if you are still on the factory oil at 1200 miles, I would recommend you change it. All engines create minute metal filings, etc., as they break in, and I have always found it good policy to change the factory oil somewhere between 750 and 1000 miles, then again at 3,000, and then every 3,000 after.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    I would do the first oil change at 3k miles for reasons that deminin suggested. After that I would follow the oil monitor and use common sense.

    I wouldn't go any longer then 7500 miles with out an oil change. Also I wouldn't go too much beyond 3000 miles if I know that all of my driving between that period of time was short trips, stop and go traffic and tons of idle time.

    The oil technology has gotten better and so have oil filters. It's common practice to replace the filter each time you change our oil which better traps the particles that can do damage to your engine. I remember talking to guys that I worked with who used to only change their filter every other oil change.
  • kpugh2kpugh2 Posts: 20
    The wife's 3.5 was changed at 3.5K to a synthetic that is good for 12 months or 25K. I will change oil filter at 15K. The car is 5 months old and will roll over to 10K this next week. She drive about 20~25K per year. This is number 9 car/truck/suv to use this synthetic without any problems. My PSD now has 105K with one oil change in 3 years.
    With a good synthetic you get improve mpg, HP, and less engine heat.
  • gearhead4gearhead4 Posts: 122
    I've seen some good advice in this forum. Maybe some one can help me figure out a problem that has me stumped with my wife's 2001 Malibu.

    Last week, she ran out of gas even though the fuel gage showed 1/8 full. She was able to put in only 13.4 gallons. Since then the fuel gage has been reading full, even after driving 190 miles. When she tried to add fuel yesterday, the pump shut off after adding only 3 gallons.

    I got under the car and looked for a collapsed tank. From what I can see, the tank looks okay. When I thumped on the tank, it sounds like there is only a few gallons in the tank. The fuel filler pipe doesn't seem to be collapsed. It's as if there is a big bubble caught inside the tank, or a liner that is collapsed.

    Has anyone experienced this problem and found a solution?

  • jim_in_ohiojim_in_ohio Posts: 21
    The new Maxx just reached 500 miles, so did the first oil change on it tonight. Not required, but I've done this on all my new vehicles in the past, plus I wanted to get it started on Mobil I synthetic. Some points which may be of interest to other do-it-yourselfers:

    - Car ramps were no use as the air deflector hits them before the tires do. So, this is a good chance to get acquainted with the jack.

    - Take careful note of how the jack fits into the spare tire compartment. It only goes one way; be sure to put it back the way you found it. "Space saver" has been taken to an extreme; the lug wrench has a telescoping extension handle which the wrench section folds into. You have to turn the jack screw a few turns to disengage the wrench from the jack.

    - The drain plug is at the back of the oil pan. Nothing special about it except it's a long way from the filter, so get a large drain pan.

    - The oil filter is in a near ideal location, on the bottom of the engine near the front. No trouble to get a wrench around and remove. Unfortunately, an exhaust pipe runs directly underneath, so clean up your mess unless you like the smell of burning oil.

    - The oil filler is also conveniently located at the front of the engine. A funnel is a good idea to prevent spills.

    - Don't forget to reset the oil life monitor when you're done.

    The monitor showed 94% oil life remaining at 500 miles. At that rate I should get over 8000 miles between changes; not too bad.
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    2K sounds like a lot of money to pay for an 84/84 warranty. Did you shop around at other GM dealers? I get the extended warranty everytime I get a car but on the last go around went to three different GM dealers and got three different "firm" prices, ultimately saving about $300. Hertz had a warranty for the last Malibu I bought from them but it was essentially powertrain only and after having armrest and radio problems with my LeSabre always stick with the GM Protection Plan Bumper to Bumper warranty. A 36/36 bumper to bumper warranty for my Silhouette (which was a year old with 50k on it- owned by an old guy who drove from NM to FL every month for some health treatment - I talked to him before I got the car) cost about $800 and the head gasket problem more than paid for it at 70k miles.
  • My wife has the Maxx this weekend and is visiting her daughter in South Carolina. She called today to let me know one of the rear window shades popped out of the frame. Has anyone else had this problem? Is it easy to get back in place, or do we need to take it in for service?
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