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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions

Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,024
Discuss any Malibu problems and possible solutions here.

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Comments

  • Mom always said it never heart to ask. We'll try to put Problems & Solutions to good work. Dave

    Now: any suggestions why my 02 Malibu handles so badly. Hard to hold a straight line, terrible in cross winds, twitchy. Alignment good, tires are OEM Firestone Firehawks(26K and look new) at door frame recommended pressure. Pretty much been like this from day one. No history of curb climbing, off roading, or road killing. Suggestions:
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    About the only thing I can recommend is to try boosting your tire pressure 2 or 3 pounds. We have the Firestone Affinity's on our "03", and they handle good. I run 32lbs. in the front, and 30lbs in the rear. We ran across Kansas a few months ago in high crosswinds..40+MPH, and the Malibu tracked straight. You may be getting some sidewall flex, and if so, a little extra air pressure should help. Another thing you might try is to jack up each wheel, and give the tire a good push/pull, left to right, top to bottom, looking for any looseness that might indicate a wheel bearing going bad, etc. One more thing, but I wouldn't expect it with only 26K, might be a bad strut. You might try the old "bounce" test on all 4 corners, and see if the car rebounds and stops on the first try. If it seems to rebound a couple of times, a weak strut could be the culprit, and that will cause the car to move around quite a bit. Thats about all I can think of for now..I'll add more if anything comes to mind...good luck.
  • Thanks for the info. I too am starting to think struts also. I've played with the tire pressure to no avail. Still under warranty so I'll let GM work on the problem.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    From your description, I'd say the squirrel cage fan blades have come loose from your blowermotor. Lack of cooling, lots of interior noise, and puddles of water, probably from your evaporator freezing up due to lack of airflow, would point me in that direction. If you are lucky, opening the ductwork, and tightening up a couple of setscrews might fix your A/C. But, then, I'm kind of an optimist. Let us know the outcome..real world experiences and tips are always good to know.
  • Will do.

    I might be going in on Tuesday, rather than Monday. We're in for a cooler snap, so I doubt I'll need the A/C on Monday. Sounds like it best not to use the A/C until it's fixed.
  • When I tried to start my new (used)2001 Malibu, I turned the key past the "on" position and all I heard was a rapid clicking noise. Lights and radio worked so I assume my battery is not dead. I think I turned the steering wheel and "locked" it, then the car started right up. Later the same day this same thing happened again (after I had stopped and started several times). I never could get the car to start, and turning the steering wheel I could never get it to "lock". Now I get no interior lights, headlights, or radio, absolutely nothing, even when trying jumper cables. I'm guessing I have confused the security system and it's locked up tight, but I have no if this is correct or WHAT I did. The car was towed to my gm dealer, but I haven't heard the diagnosis yet. Does anyone have any ideas or similar experience?????
  • Had a defective lock cylinder on the old '98 several times, and once on the '00. I don't think that's your problem. When that happened, the car would turn over and not start for about 15 mins. with the "Security System" light flashing on the dash.

    Your problem sounds eerily familiar to a shot battery. If that proves to be the case, they will try to sell you a GM/Delco "Professional" battery, which isn't worth dirt. That one lasted 6 mos. Go to Sears and buy a "Gold" battery.
  • I have a wierd problem on my 2001 Malibu LS (60K miles). I drove the car back from Albuquerque(200 miles) parked it and a half hour later it wouldn't start. Cranked fine and caught like it was going to start but didn't. Check engine light didn't come on. Had it towed to my mechanic . Started right up when it got there. I drove it for another couple of days and it wouldn't start again. Towed it back to the mechanic. He drove it for a couple of days and it didn't start once . He diagnosed it as a fuel pump. I replaced the fuel pump ($450). Drove fine for a few days and this afternoon wouldn't start again. It has been towed back to the mechanic. Has this happened to anyone else? The morning after he replaced the fuel pump, it made a loud explosive noise when it started. Did this the next time, too and after that it was fine until, of course, it wouldn't start for the third time today. Thanks for any help!
  • Jeez, sounds like I'm a mechanic, which is the LAST thing I aspire to be in my next life.

    Mine doesn't always start willingly lately, either. I mentioned it to the dealer last month when I was in for a major brake re-do and they "couldn't duplicate the problem".

    My neighborhood Chevron station switched to Sunoco recently, and I've come to the conclusion that that's the problem. Have driven the extra mile lately to get Amoco, and it seems better.

    Also, the car often smells like rotten eggs, which suggests, on top of all else, my cat conv is probably shot, or headed there.

    You might have fouled your spark plugs, which would then lead to a full tune-up, which Chevy doesn't require until 100K miles. Uh huh.
  • tgp1810tgp1810 Posts: 112
    My mother has a 02 LS and off and on last summer she had a problem similar to this. However it was just that the car would not start under any circumstances. As it turns out, it was something to do with the PASSkey stuff and she just had to clean off her key and leave it in the ignition "on" position for something like 10 mins and it would start.
  • First and cheapest thing to try is to replace the fuel filter. Silly but different towns different gas stations dirty gas can cause problems like you're discribing. 60K probably needs changing anyway. If no improvement have garage remove converter and install piece of "test pipe". The legal way of running without a converter to see if that's the problem. If you're not getting trouble codes from your car's computer look for physical things fuel lines, filters, exhaust, contaminated fuel will usually eliminate the problem.
  • Well, rack this one up to problems unique to FL (and other parts of the deep south).

    I've now determined that, believe it or not, my A/C problem is lizard-related. I ran a few errands yesterday, A/C was fine. Same today.

    Not to be gross, but I'm thinking that the racket was the fan chewing up a lizard carcass. Thank goodness it didn't spit into the interior of the car. Now THAT would've been GROSS!

    I'll wait for a spell to see if the problem recurs.
  • Thank you to those who replied including Chevyguy657 (sorry I don't see how to reply privately). It WAS a dirty/corroded battery cable! Pure luck that it started the several times it did. They cleaned it up and I'm good to go. I was also pleased with GM Roadside Assistance. I had JUST PURCHASED this car, but they were there to help/tow within an hour. Maybe beginners luck but I'm confident in GM/American cars.

    original post:
    When I tried to start my new (used)2001 Malibu, I turned the key past the "on" position and all I heard was a rapid clicking noise. Lights and radio worked so I assume my battery is not dead. I think I turned the steering wheel and "locked" it, then the car started right up. Later the same day this same thing happened again (after I had stopped and started several times). I never could get the car to start, and turning the steering wheel I could never get it to "lock". Now I get no interior lights, headlights, or radio, absolutely nothing, even when trying jumper cables. I'm guessing I have confused the security system and it's locked up tight, but I have no if this is correct or WHAT I did. The car was towed to my gm dealer, but I haven't heard the diagnosis yet. Does anyone have any ideas or similar experience?????
  • Thanks for all the advice. The mechanic cleaned out the fuel lines and changed the fuel filter when he replaced the fuel pump. The new GM fuel pump may be defective. We are still researching the problem. It would have been better if the check engine light came on. I'm sure that the problem is related to the fuel system in some sort of way.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    Thats a good one!! If I were you, I'd carry a can of Lysol or some good air freshener for awhile. If you have a chunk of salamander floating around in your ductwork, and especially if you have to turn the heater on, you may be in for some rather gruesome odors. You might check under the dash, and see if you can open up your ductwork without any major surgery, and try to remove as much of the "meat" as possible.
  • boogmboogm Posts: 2
    In the 3rd day of ownership, our Malibu developed a warped rotor. After initially agreeing to replace the rotor, GM rescinded its offer. In other words, GM wanted us to accept used parts on a NEW car. Is GM trying to duck a potential recall? Has anyone else had this problem? Brake histories on Malibus hasn't exactly been stellar.
  • Is this a new '04 Malibu? Is this the dealer making the decision or is it a factory rep. I can't believe that a factory rep would refuse to replace a rotor on a 3 day old car. I'd pursue it to the district level, or go right to Detroit. Please let us know how you fare!
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I got my new 04 Malibu 5 days ago. The first thing I did when I got home was to loosen off the wheel lug nuts and then re torque them to factory spec with a good torque wrench. Don't believe that lug nuts are always torqued correctly on a new car. Trust me, I know about that.

    Hopefully my action will prevent warped rotors. I'll keep you posted on this.
  • homerkchomerkc Posts: 113
    My 98 Malibu (now driven by my son) has "consumed" coolant for some time. I occasionally see a small pool on a horizontal engine surface, but for the most part it disappears. I see no exhaust steam cloud, no performance problems, etc. It seems to be a bit worse lately. I know this has been thoroughly discussed, but since I don't know where the discussions are . . . What is the "fix" and how expensive? Can I continue as is?? (By the way, is my wife's new '04 Venture with 3.4 engine still prone, or were the rumored intake manifold improvements included on late 2004s??
  • This is a copy of the message I posted in the other Chevy Malibu forum.

    I have a 98 Malibu with a little over 146000 miles on it.

    I have a very strange problem with my Malibu. My "brake" warning light in the instrument panel is on, and thinks that the parking brake is engaged. For example, after I fully release the brake and then try to drive, the "brake" warning light is on and it dings for a couple of seconds attempting to remind me to check the park brake. Also, my ALC is inoperable with the "brake" warning light on. Accustomed to five years of using the ALC system, I keep leaving the headlights on at night (I'm afraid that I'll eventually forget to turn them off, and drain my battery.)

    So, I was wondering if this happened to anyone else before? If it has, is there a way that I can fix it myself without having to take in to the dealer. I consider taking it to the dealer the last resort.
  • Sounds like your intake gasket needs to be replaced. You can get this done at a local garage in the $500-600 range and likely much more at the dealership. Your problem is identical to mine - have not fixed mine yet but will shortly. Justed added some coolant the other day on mine and I just need to deal with it. Recommend you call around and get some quotes. It is a common problem in GM cars - when you call people will know exactly what you are talking about. Ask for a price that includes a radiator flush and oil change.
  • Make sure they don't do an ENGINE FLUSH unless they pull the oil pan and clean the oil pump screen. Crap from inside the engine can come loose (which is the point of the engine flush) and then it gets caught in the oil pump, clogging it, and eventually starving the engine of oil. When I had my intake manifold gasket replaced, they offered a "free" engine flush, but when I asked about pulling and cleaning the pump screen, they wanted to charge me $300.00 more for that.

    Jeremy
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    The way "most" cars work, there is a microswitch located near the parking brake lever/handle, and that switch opens when the brake is released. You may have a shorted switch. I looked on our 03 and didn't see it in any obvious location, but the foot pedal dissapears up into the dash, so it may be there, but somewhat hidden. I had the problem years ago, on my 1990 Z28, and I had to remove half the center console to get to the $5 switch. You might go the the library, and see if they have a Chiltons or Motor manual that might give you more info on this. Often times, though, wiring info is only contained in the factory shop manuals, and they are big bucks.
  • Thanks for the information, ever bit helps. I'll goig to check into this and I'll let you all know what I come up with.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Check the fluid level in the brake master cylinder reservoir. If it's low, the float switch in the reservoir will turn the brake warning light on. Also, a low reservoir fluid level usually indicates worn front brake pads.
  • hbund216hbund216 Posts: 162
    We are looking into getting a 04 Malibu LT. Anything to watch out for?
  • I just e-mailed you about your brake problem. If in fact it turns out to be the switch Deminin was talking about, that switch is located on the brake fluid resivor. I was reading the Malibu manual I still have and that switch is mounted on the master cylinder reservoir. Here are the steps to change it if need be:
    1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
    2. Detach the electrical connector from the fluid level switch.
    3. Using needle-nose pliers, compress the switch locking tabs at the inboard side of the master cylinder reservoir and remove the switch.
    To install:
    1. Press the fluid level switch into the master cylinder reservoir until the switch snaps into place.
    2. Connect the negative battery cable.

    Hope that helps!

    Jeremy
  • boogmboogm Posts: 2
    Thanks for the input, oldntired. We wrote to GM's CFO. Guess who responded? The same "front" person that previously said GM rescinded its offer. How's that for customer relations. Anyway, we're still waiting to hear her latest "party line".
  • Thank you for the information! I do have the rear seat audio but I didn't receive any headphones. According to the dealer, the wireless headphones are only included with the DVD system. For the rear audio without DVD, no headphones are included.

    However, looking at my owner’s manual it is not clear. It says "You can use wired headphones (not included) or the wireless headphones." Not a very clear statement and different from the 2004 manual. I would not put it past my "dealer" to snag them and sell them on ebay :).
  • homerkchomerkc Posts: 113
    Prestone Super Radiator Stop Leak, or Bars Leak, or something like that on the intake manifold leak? My 98 Malibu has a small leak, and this stuff has worked on past cars. Is this stuff compatible with the extended life coolant?

    Has anyone tried this?
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