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Chevrolet Malibu Climate Control/AC Issues

Here's something that isn't explained well in the owner's manual:

It states that when you're in defog or defrost mode, the AC compressor will run automatically. When I set the mode selector knob to one of those positions, I seem to hear the compressor kick on -- but isn't the indicator light near the AC button supposed to light up?

When I turn the temp knob to the cold range the air from the defroster outlets definitely feels cold so I presume the compressor is running as it should, but I'm just wondering.


  • If I didn't have GMPP, I swear I'd sink this P.O.S.

    Anyway, last month it was brakes, now it's A/C.

    '00 LS, 61K miles. Have had control head replaced (switching back and forth between norm and recirc); it's not that. Have had fan speed control replaced (didn't work on speeds 1 and 2); not that. Am On 3rd alternator; not that. All of this has been done in the past.

    Put approx. 500 miles on the car between yesterday and today. This afternoon, the A/C started making a noise (inside the car, not outside) which sounds like, well, not a bucket of bolts, but more like a bucket of nails. Very weak on Speed 1 and 2, sound gets louder as I increase fan speed. Not nearly as cool as it'd been. Also, car deposits HUGE amounts of water on the road at rest. That's it.

    Compressor, possibly?

    Guess I'm headed to take my rightful spot in the dealer's waiting room Monday morning.

    I really am at the dealer once a month for something. This has been going on for the last year or more......
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Posts: 2,554
    I don't know if the indicator light observation is an actual problem with your Malibu. I will have to check ours. I do think the same situation exists with one of our other vehicles, a 2002 Kia Sedona.

    This is undesirable. If the AC is running, the light should be on.
  • In my Malibu, with the windshield defroster on, the a/c compressor runs & the a/c light is on.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I know that implementation of the A/C Compressor LED isn't done consistently across vehicles.

    Some vehicles have LED turn ON whenever A/C compressor is ON.

    With other vehicles it only turn ON when the customer has requested A/C to be ON. It doesn't turn ON if the vehicle itself decides A/C needs to be ON.

    Believe it or not this is sometimes a marketing call.

    I will post back on subject when I get some more details.
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 156
    On my Maxx LS (manual A/C) the A/C LED turns on whenever the compressor is on. It does not matter if you manually turn on A/C (when in floor and/or dash mode) or if it automatically turns on when you select defog/defrost mode.

    When in floor and/or dash, the body control module remembers your last A/C request forever, until you change it. There were several times when I thought the A/C was not working and I then realized I had to turn on the compressor. Now I always check the LED to make sure it is lit when I want the A/C on.
  • Srry that post b4 I hit enter on accident! New Keyboard! I noticed today when I was fixing to drive my 2002 Chevrolet Malibu home from work that when I pushed the AC button on, and pushed the Recirculation button on that the AC was cutting itself on and off... I noticed when I looked on the RPM gauge on the left it was going up and down abnormally like it was skipping! Well I know it wasn't because I just got the car 2 weeks ago on monday 3rd week having it. I looked down and told my passenger to look, and sure enough the little green light was not exactly flashing but was comming on and off and I noticed that the RPM guage went down when light came on and when it went off it went up... I guess im screwed for this car, its financed till '09 and wondering becuase I already have a radio problem like I said from earlier posting and this cars not got but 32 thousand on it. Does anyone know why the AC was going on and off like that?! Then after I tried it a 3rd time it stayed on and then I eventually just turned it off a minute later because I was scared something maybe shorting out or whatnot! E2helper or ANYONE whos ever experienced this please let me know!!! Also if anyone knows why my back speaker was going in and out erratically while driving let me know too, I took it in on saturday and had the radio repair guy look at it, since he looked at it the radio speaker hasn't acted up but my right front door speaker is not working period!


    if anyone out there who knows anything on these two subjects let me know I am worried this car maybe falling apart on me!

  • I'm with chrpai on this. My '97 did the same thing, and it only got worse with time. It never caused an issue as far as worries over shorting or other electrical problems. We did find that it actually does cut the A/C completely off when it goes out though. I'd be driving down the road on a 95+ F day with the A/C going and suddenly stop feeling cool air. When we looked down, sure enough the light had gone out.


    As far as the cost to fix it goes, I have no idea, because I traded the car off in 2003 without ever having fixed the issue. The problem had been happening for about a year, and I had already decided it was cheaper to just keep turning the thing back on when it cut off than replacing the control head, especially after discussing it with my local Chevy dealer's service department. :P
  • chrpaichrpai Posts: 32
    My system had the blinking A/C light again after the unit was replaced. The second time around it also got the fan speeds 1 and 2 stop working problem. There was also something with my system that when the A/C cut out the air smelled stale. So I knew immeadiatly when the system kicked out. I'd then cycle the fan off and on then hit the button to turn the A/C back on.


    I drove 45 minutes to work and sometimes I'd have to do this several times in a row and sometimes i wouldn't have to do it at all.


    I traded the car in and didn't disclose the problem. I figured the dealer ought to be expecting it to be broke anyways as common as this problem was.
  • ge_malibuge_malibu Posts: 1
    My Malibu has a problem where I have to constantly press the AC button intermittantly. It goes off by itself.

    Same thing happens with the recirculate button. Button goes off and switches to the other mode.

    If I stick a coin under the button to hold it in on the on position it stays most of the time.

    I took the climate control unit off and made sure the vacumn hoses were on securely.


  • tarmentarmen Posts: 6
    This is a common problem. Look at the previous older messages in this forum concerning this issue. There was a great deal of chatter concerning it awhile back. I have a 98 Malibu, and experienced the same problem. I was able to obtain a home fix suggestion, but opted to just replace the HVAC dash control unit (I think it was around $130, do a little searching at, for instance, at and you may be able to get it cheaper). It was very easy to do myself, just pop the old out, and put in the replacement. Took about 20 minutes, and I have had no problems for over a year.

    Anyway, the on-line "home fix" is available at:

    Can't tell you how well this fix is, but I hope it helps.

  • rdtaylor1rdtaylor1 Posts: 1
    I own a 2001 Malibu LS and owned a 1998 Malibu LS. Both cars have had AC control head failures approx. every one to two years. I had two replacements from 1998 - 2001 on the 1998 model and now have experienced a third failure within four years on the 2001 model. An Internet search also indicates that the problem is common to this model starting with the 1997 model year.

    I've called to complain to the dealer, who referrred me to the GM consumer hotline. 800-222-1020. If you've experienced this problem also, contact GM and raise hell so that a product recall can be initiated (after Delco fixes the faulty ('dirty') contact problem.
  • I have the same problem with my A/C switching from fresh to recirculating and I replaced the A/C cycling switch and that wasn't it, now they say I need an A/C control switch, is that what you got? :lemon:
  • masteryodamasteryoda Posts: 41
    Hey everybody, on my wife's 2000 Malibu LS, all of a sudden, when we try to turn on AC nothing happens, the same thing for the heat. Is that because of the dead blowing motor or some sort of electrical malfunction? THursday, everything was working just fine....
  • dave1951dave1951 Posts: 4
    Chronic problem with blower resistor, speeds 1 and 2. Another chronic problem with the a/c switch. My mechanic charged $80 to fix both (probably double at a dealer)
  • timmietimmie Posts: 1
    when i turn air conditioner on it starts cooling but quickly blows fuse in engine compartment 10 amp that goes to compressor and gas guage and temp guage. also blower 1-2 doesnt work 3-4-5 works .if blower motor resistor was bad would that blow fuse? please help !!!!!!
  • pcmkrpcmkr Posts: 2
    I am having the same issue as you with my blowers 1-2 not working but 3,4,5 are working and my gas and temp gauges are also not working...Oh yeah, my AC isn't working eiether. I was wondering if you found a slution to the issue.
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    I didn't have any issue with the blower settings on my 1997, but I had the exact issue with the AC working for xx minutes (sometimes a whole trip, sometimes seconds..) before it would blow a fuse that caused not only the AC to quit, but several guages. When I took that car to the dealership to have it checked out they were stumped at first and put in a call to higher level GM support. What they told me when they came back was that this issue was rare (this was in 2003). Supposedly it had been reported on like 6 cars at that time and the fix seemed to be replacement of the compressor. They couldn't explain why this worked (all tests on the compressor seemed within normal specs).

    I was told that I could expect around $1k to fix it (parts and labor? dunno, didn't go for it). When I told the mechanic that I'd just replaced the alternator for the third time and didn't want to spend another small fortune on the car (essentially making repairs add up to more than the car's value at that point), he gave me a box of the fuses (6 amps comes to mind??) and recommended living with it for a while.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,341
    E2helper: like others, when running the car with the recirculated air button set with no fan or A/C turned on, my button will suddenly switch over to fresh air right at the 10 mile mark every time. Is there some kind of built in logic that will "force" drivers to accept fresh air into the cabin if the recirculated air button has been on too long?
    I do not get this same result when the fan is actually blowing air or A/C into the cabin, only when it is off, and I am not refreshing the air.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Not sure but I am checking - however it would be time-based not mileage based so next time you try this maybe see how many minutes it takes ;)

    You have the manual HVAC system, right?
  • globe199globe199 Posts: 6
    What do you mean that it's time-based? Also, what is the manual HVAC system? Sorry, excuse my ignorance! :)

    The other thing is...and maybe this is because of the heat...but the problem appeared suddenly. It wasn't like it would do it once a month, then once a week, then everyday. No, it worked fine Monday, then Tuesday (for example), it was all screwed up, and doing it everytime.

    Again, this points to something electronic, and doesn't really sound like there's just some dust in the buttons. I could be wrong, but logically it just doesn't sound like dust.
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