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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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?
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    I keep a bottle of this stuff and add it whenever I change anti-freeze. The label says it is compatible with all types of anti-freeze. I would certainly give it a try before spending several hundred dollars on a new gasket. Knock wood, I've never had any problems with cooling systems using Bars Leaks. Whenever I use it, I add it when I can immediately drive somewhere for about 30 it a chance to spread thru the system completely and bond to good hot surfaces.
  • A while back I mentioned that once in a while my 2001 Malibu wouldn't start. By the time the car was towed to the mechanic it started just fine and would run for three or four days and then wouldn't start again. After the installation of a fuel pump by a mechanic which it didn't need I discovered that I had a faulty ignition switch. This morning when it didn't start (it cranked just fine and the security light was blinking) I left the key in the "on"position for 10 minutes, then turned it off and then to start. It started just fine. If someone else has this problem, try this before you call the tow truck.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    This problem sounds very similiar to one my daughter had on a Corsica she owned a few years ago. Once in awhile, she would have to turn the key on for several minutes to get the car to start. She took it back to the dealer a couple of times, but naturally, it wouldn't fail. Finally, our son-in-law got to playing around with it, and he reseated the control module/on-board computer plugs a couple of times, and it quit failing. Looks like they had a bad or corroded connection. There were no further troubles in the remaining two years they kept the car. I think the module was tucked up behind the glove box in the Corsica. It might be worth a try.
  • That is interesting. The car is already at the dealers and I guess Monday they will order the ignition switch. Back in the good old days if they didn't start it was usually the battery. Unfortunately the dealer can't deactivate the security system. If the ignition switch can't read the key for some reason (the chip is in the ignition switch now - not on the key), the fuel pump won't operate and the car won't start. All this electronic stuff does is cost money. It is nice, however, to not have to fiddle with a carb and keep adjusting the idle.
  • The results have been posted on the web for mid sized family sedans, and the Malibu has come out at the bottom. Only the Acura TSX scored worse. The 4 low speed crash tests produced just short of $4K damage. GM has responded by saying that they will redesign the bumpers for added protection. Where does that leave those of us who have already plunked down our hard earned money..... out in the cold! How about a retrofit for current owners??? For details go to
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    I noted the bumper crash data. This is why it is probably not the best idea to get a completely redesigned car as soon as it comes out. I wonder though, if GM did any bumper tests of their own, knowing that someone else would as soon as the car was offered for sale. If not, it was pretty shortsighted.
  • rwisemrwisem Posts: 96
    Don't be too alarmed. I've been involved in the insurance industry on auto insurance matters for over 35 years. Crashes are individually unique events, and no single arranged crash will tell you what to expect in a myriad of real world crashes.

    This is NOT a safety issue. it is a damage/cost issue and besides the fact that this test does not predict real world crash damage, a consumer is only going to be responsible for the deductible amount, so the issue of $1,500 damage or $5,000 damage is moot.
  • I fell in love with the versatility and functionality of the Maxx and I had to have one. I still love the car, but I'm very annoyed with GM... this is exactly why I haven't bought a GM car since my '92 Saturn SL2, and at that time Saturn wasn't really a part of the GM cookie cutter factory mentality. The Maxx has all the makings of a really good car, dare I say a great car, but this obvious refusal of GM engineering to take care of the basic elements of good design is very frustrating. And now, after the horse has left the barn, they say they'll close the doors by doing a redesign of the bumpers - where does that leave those of us who already spent our cash on the new guy in town??? Hey GM - how about a response!
  • oldmedicoldmedic Posts: 78
    For GM talk is cheap, but silence is golden. Your voice is but a small cry in the wilderness and you don't matter.
  • tim04lttim04lt Posts: 2
    Hey, folks.
    Maybe I'm just venting... but I got a brand new Chevy Malibu LT back at the end of December and already it's been in the shop three times, and I'm about to take it back for a fourth.
       First time: During the bitter cold we get here in Toronto, I had problems closing the door and trunk; the little plastic latches froze and the doors just bounced back open. My wife had to sit in the back seat holding the door closed as we drove home. Also, the cables in the trunk that power the lights in the trunk lid were binding against the weatherstripping around the trunk, and would have eventually split it.
       Second time: The "1-6" button on the steering wheel radio controls did not work for switching between the CDs in the 6 CD changer. A new radio had to be ordered and changed out.
       Third time: I noticed that the steering was a bit off centre and the car was pulling to the left a little bit, so that had to be adjusted. The car only had 2800km (1750mi) on it, so it was just about halfway to its first oil change.
       AND NOW... as I was driving home, the "check engine" light came on, and the message, "POWER STEERING" came on my D.I.C. -- that's right, my power steering system failed. I turned the car off and on again, and it worked for a bit, and then failed again! I thought this was supposed to be a brand new electrical power steering system that was going to be so much better than the old hydraulic type.
       In conclusion, I've always had GM vehcles, and this time I almost waited for the '05 Nissan Altima. People generally bash GM, saying that their cars are unreliable, and of poor quality, fit and finish. The new Malibu was supposed to be the car that lured Camry/Accord drivers back to GM... and I know the first run of any new generation of car is bound to have its problems, but you never want it to happen to you. All I can say is that the service at my dealer is excellent, and they've kept me happy by supplying a free rental car without me even having to ask, for as long as I need it. When everything is working on my Malibu, it's great. But I would suggest that anyone who is looking at the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu wait until they work some of the bugs out for 2005.
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