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2000-2011 Chevrolet Malibu



  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    Saturn L is a new car. I would rather let GM two years to work out problems, if any.

    Malibu and GA are very close. They share platform and a lot of other parts. Must be close in reliability department.

    Concerning costs: the last time I checked it, Malibu was less expensive.

    Fuel economy: With 3.1l engine vs. 3.4l at GA, you probably will spend less on fuel with Malibu. This is not so much a problem of engine itself, though, but of driving style: it is hard to resist to accelerate, very nice feelings.

    You did not asked about other parameters, but I would rather decide on them, not on cost/fuel.

    Malibu is bigger. Larger trunk, more rear legroom, easy to get in/out the rear seats. A very fine family sedan. Good to drive one-two kids daily to/from school and after-school activities, to drive full family to beach / park, to make occasional longer family trips.

    GA lacks somewhat in this department. The rear doors are OK for occasional use, but somewhat less convenient for everyday use. It takes extra half-minute or so to get kid in/out. The same with rear space, with trunk.

    Another problem is with backing-up. With its high trunk lid, the rear visibility with Malibu is less than perfect. But GA is simply awful in this respect. Not only the lid, but also a small rear window, and high head rests, all of this hinder the visibility. Have to learn to back-up using mirrors only.

    On the other hand, the 3.4l engine at GA is wonderful. The 3.1l one at Malibu provides almost the same 170 hp maximal power, but 3.4 have much better torque, and the torque curve is practically flat across the full rpm range. With this engine, GA will cruise smoothly on highway at 1800 rpm, always ready to accelerate.

    So, if you need a family sedan, Malibu would be a better choice. The same if you need backing-up often, e.g. in a cramped parking garage at work, or for parallel parking.

    On the other hand, for a single person, or for childless couple who have no plans to get kids, I would rather suggest buying GA on the technical merits.

    Concerning styling, I would prefer Alero to GA, and would prefer Malibu to both. But this is very personal.
  • aniazianiazi Posts: 39
    Sorry to hear your problems. Its very rear to have one car that has all sorts of problem. Your trouble made me realized I made a good decision by buying 10 year/100K warranty from 1source warranty for $899 bumper to bumper. But if my 2001 have the same problems then I probably wouldn't buy any American car again. Its not worth saving couple of grand. But so far I am happy.
  • I agree with yurakm's comments. I choose the Malibu vs the GA for the space it provides. I sometimes can't even believe they are built on the same platform, the Malibu just feals big compared to the GA. And its cheaper compared to most of the compitition in this size range. Maybe the Hyundai Sonata is the only thing cheaper for this size. The added power/torque that the GA has over the Malibu is little at best (5hp 15lbs), but ya if you like power the GA is ever so slightly better. Engine reliability between the two, should be the same since they really are the same engine. 3.4 ---> VS. 3.1 --->

    I say go for the malibu cause its bigger, but then I am bias'd.

  • hvan3hvan3 Posts: 630
    Today, I was at the dealership. I test drove the 2001 Malibu LS. I have to tell's a piece of junk! As soon as I turned on the ignition, the engine didn't sound "smooth". It was rough. I took it for a spin, and the freaking car constantly pulled to the right! Man, how in the world did the car pass quality assurance at the factory? Amazing!

    Once you own a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, it's very difficult to give American cars a time of day. I thought GM cars were at least as good as Japanese. Unfortunately, I walked away disappointed.

    My rule of thumb is not to buy American cars, but I do like American trucks. I'll go check out the Chevy Tahoe or Chevy Silverado. I know I wont' be disappointed.
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    My wife and I have a Malibu with 3.1l V-6 and we like it much. And we rented a GA SE with 3.4l V-6 for about a month, while our Malibu was in body shop. So I can compare. And I disagree with you.

    The 3.4l have much better torque. The single number for the maximal torque is misleading. Better to compare the whole torque curves:


    As you can see, the 3.4l engine have an amazingly flat curve. It provides the level 200 lb-ft torque from 1800 rpm to 3500 rpm, with only slightly more between 3500 and 4500. In other words, provides more torque just above idle, at 1800, than 3.1l engine provides working hard at 3500-4000.

    By the way, GA cruises at the 1800 rpm at the highway speed, 60-70 mph.

  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    I agree with you: the 3.1l V-6 GM engine is noisy, especially while cold, and the noise is not pleasant. But it is very reliable nevertheless.

    Old push-rod technology. Have good low-end torque, but no torque above 4500 rpm. Good to excellent acceleration in city traffic, but only so-so on highways.

    Malibu with the V-6 costs about the same as Camry or Accord with 4-cylinder engines, and is very competitive with them. Though, not with much more expensive V-6 cars by the same Japanese manufacturers.

    As to concerning pulling right, something is wrong with the car. Either defect with manufacturing, or more probably the dealer did not prepare it right. E.g. one of tires was over / underinflated.

    I had such a problem with 1988 Ford Taurus. It pulled slight to one side or another, depending on tire rotation. This stopped after I replaced all tires. But it was at about 110-120k miles, not with a new car, and one of its tires was of different type. Replacement after blow-up.
  • Ya might want to look at those curves again....both are for the higher output version of the coresponding engine. Meaning those curves are not for the engines in the GA and Malibu's. And even if they were, its NOT a night and day difference, SLIGHT at best. Night and day would be comparing the 3.1/3.4 to the 3.8. Now really, its not that big when you come right down to it, and I have driven both for the about the same amount of time (had a Grand Am for 3weeks while our tracer was in the shop). Asking for any more power in either car, is just being greedy, lol, but thats just one opinion.
  • Hi:

    Has anyone experienced a lost of reception on the AM portion only? I have a 99 Malibu with 45000 miles and suddenly it will only bring in a local station, and very fuzzy at that.

  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    I test drove a 2001 Malibu LS with 5900 miles on it at the dealership the other day. It was a nice ride and all, but I could not seem to get comfortable in the driver's seat. The back support just was not right, too prominent in the lower region. It had the leather seats, but no lumbar adjustment. Too bad, because I really liked it. Also, the rotors were shot too. I told the dealer he should have them replaced because it was a common defect. He just looked at me in awe. Some people.. :)
  • I'm considering buying a third-party warrant from someone like 1Source. Has anyone had experience with any of them? Thanks for the help.
  • Hi all,
    I'm looking to get a new 2001 Malibu.
    But I have read some review from and sites like that.
    A lot of people complained about the brakes and the reliability of the car.
    Is this true or have they resolve this problem?
  • I test drove the 2001 Malibu Sedan.

    It is quiet. The engine has good torque. The family fits in it well.

    The one I purchased has the Preferred Equipment Group 1SB, the CD player and key less entry... every thing I could want. The best part is, it cost only $16000 after rebates.

    I heard about the brake rotor problem, but also heard that $80 in after market rotors will fix it.

    The intake gasket problem sounds scary. If they really fixed it, that good. If not, I know where I can get a two year extended warranty for $500.

    Thanks four feedback!!!


    P.S. By the way, our Navy Blue metallic paint looks great when clean!
  • aniazianiazi Posts: 39
    I do have extended warranty from 1source so far their customer service is excellent and their ratings on the web sites are great too. But I haven't had any problem with my car yet. I got warranty bumper to bumper for $899 for 10 years/100K miles.
  • hwyhwy Posts: 8
    Hello All,

    I have a '97 Malibu LS bought new around March 1997 with 55k miles on the odometer.

    I have had problems with the rotors warping (replaced).

    Just recently at 54k miles I had the intake manifold gasket replaced for $870 (I had to pay for all of it). This could be a common problem in the 3.1 liter engines. Clear indications are an oil leak with a reddish color (almost looks like a transmission oil leak) due to the orange antifreeze. You should also notice that your antifreeze is getting low. Since the cooling system is closed-cycle you should not be losing any substantial amount of antifreeze except due to leaking somewhere.

    We bought the car primarily due to the GM card rebate. I would rate the car as acceptable for in-town use and for commuting. We have a Toyota Avalon '01 for family trips, and the Avalon is much more comfortable. We might get another GM car to replace the Malibu in about 3 years (our GM card rebate maximum of $3500 is reached in a duration of 7 years).
  • Thanks guys for the info on the extended warranty. I'll pursue both recommendations.

    If anyone else has had experience with the third-party warranty companies or plans, please let me know.

  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    I am very interested in the symptoms of the intake manifold gasket leak. How to know about the antifreeze in the oil? You said it will leak - but why? And how much?

    Let me tell about my situation. My wife and I have a 98 Malibu. We bought it used in September 1998.

    The car used to lose some antifreeze from the very beginning. Need to top it at every oil change, i.e. every 3 month. But, according to the car manual, it is OK to add coolant 4 times a year, so this was tolerable, while marginally.

    We used to change oil at dealer, 11 miles from our home. Last summer, after the manufacturer warranty expired, switched to local Firestone, 1/4 mile from home. Also switched to synthetic oil, for longer intervals.

    Couple of times I had to do add coolant myself, just before oil change or after it (when the dealer mechanic forgot it). But I do not like it: the dealer mechanic screwed the coolant tank cap very tight for my hands. The Firestone mechanic also was surprised how hard was to open the cap.

    Exactly 3 months after the oil change the chime and "coolant low" light appeared. I added a quart of 50/50 solution. Screw the cap strong, but not very strong. Definitely not so strong as mechanics did. Just tight enough for average person. The idea was that, by design, every car owner have to be capable to open the cap: not only professional mechanics, but older persons, lightly built pregnant women, etc.

    The next time the chime / light appeared after only one month. This time I had to add 1 1/4 quarts. Though, it was a cold winter day, temperature at low teens.

    I also replaced the cap. Bought one at Pep Boys. By the way, the pressurized cap is labeled wrong way here, "a radiator cap". It costs next to nothing, and I would replace it long ago if not the wrong labeling.

    The same day, or probably one-two days before / after, I also replaced oil, at Firestone. It was less than three weeks ago.

    Checked the coolant level and oil yesterday. The coolant was at the same level as when I added it, and I did not saw anything but oil on the dipstick.

    Of course, two weeks is too short to be sure, but if it lose more than a quart in a month... Hope the problem is with cap only, but will monitor the coolant and oil often for the next half year.

    So, as you see, I need to know how to recognize antifreeze in the oil.

    I own a 1997 Malibu LS, and I know it was the first year and your going to have some problems. This car is absolute JUNK!!! The theft system activates about every 4 months or so. When this happens you have to wait 10 to 15 minutes before the car starts. Not a good situation when you are blocking the gas pumps at a busy gas station. 3 times the car did not even start and it had to be towed. The dealer has replaced some module 3 times, but the problem still occur. One of the front speakers burnt out. All the lights that light up the radio are burnt out. Dealer said for $250 he could replace the radio. I don't need a new radio, I need new lights in the radio. Anyway, I have had to replace the brakes 3 times. I might as well buy a BMW because it would probably cost the same amount to replace the brakes! I have had a terrible knocking sound coming from the engine. Dealer said nothing wrong. My advise Don't buy this AM bomb. If you do, invest in an extended warranty!
  • hwyhwy Posts: 8
    You should see a puddle of water or signs of oil leakage under your car. If you do not have any sign of anti-freeze leakage underneath the car, and you still have to add anti-freeze, then you could have a head gasket leak which allows the anti-freeze to leak into the cylinders (a very serious problem).
    First place a new newspaper under the car every night to determine how serious the oil/anti-freeze leak might be.

    I also had problems with my Delco battery with the positive (red) terminal coming off from the battery. Check your battery to determine that acid is not coming out from the positive terminal.
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    Thank you so much!

    There is no visible puddle under the car, except from air condition. This was only natural to expect with small coolant loss. 1 quart in 1 month is about 1 oz per day. 1 quart in 3 months is 1/3 ounce. Barely noticeable.

    I am renting an apartment and the car is parked on a lot. Hardly can use the newspaper except when there is no wind at all. But this is rather unusual. 12 mph gusting to 23 mph tonight.

    There is no oil leak, though. The oil level did not drop a notch in 4 months between oil changes.

    Still hope that my problem was due to evaporation through the bad old coolant tank cap. Though, if the coolant will disappear again, probably it would make sense to pressure-test the coolant system?
  • I own a 2001 ls with 4400 miles on it. It has developed a major valve tap for the 5-10 minutes after it has been started. The dealer has replaced the lifters after 2 days of trying to figure out what the problem was. Problem still exists and car is back in the shop right now. Also, suspension is way to hard in the front end "drops out" during braking over bumps which activates abs, radiator hisses after vehicle is stopped, and the radio has volume consistency issues. Any feedback on these issues would be appreciated.
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    The sound volume increases with speed.

    There is a 4-position switch. A ring control near the volume knob. Depending on its position, the volume is either constant, or increases a bit at higher speed, or increases strongly, or increases way too much.

    I am driving with the switch on the second position. This is enough for normal use, but better than adjusting volume to road noise every time when entering highways.

    The third position helps when driving with open windows, when there is much more road noise. This happens very seldom with me.

    Do not see any sense in the last position - the strongest amplification. Probably, this is for driving with open windows when there is a lot of 18-wheelers around :-)

    I have a 98 Malibu, but probably the radio did not change much in this respect. It took me more almost whole year to find the amplification control, because this is something I did not expect. Turned to be convenient, after learning how to use it.
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    The "valve taping" noise is normal for the 3.1. It will do this when cold but once warmed up it's very quiet. Mine oes that in the morning when it's freezing cold outside, once warmed up by the time I get to work ( 5 minute drive) if I go outside if it werent for the whining sound the exhaust makes you wouldnt be able to tell the car is ON.
    The ABS in your car should always be activated when you brake, unless you are talking about the ABS light. Good Luck!
  • aniazianiazi Posts: 39
    I also have 2001 LS. For radio there is a "Auto Volume" button just press it and you will see on the display "High" "Medium", "Low" "Off". so you can set it whatever way you like. It seems like people gets noises and stuff when starting in really cold weather, I haven't experience any problem yet, may be bcoz I am in Texas :)
  • All,

    Radio has been set to "manual" from day one. It is almost as if the radio is not getting power to fuel the speakers. Valve tap=immediate engine wear and tear. Unnacceptable for a new automobile. Valve tap (cold or warm engine) should not be an issue for any 2001 vehicle made anywhere. Suspension is so bad in the front you often loose control (abs is activated while driving over minor bumps or suspension completely drops outs while hitting a minor pothole). None of these issues should exist for a vehicle in it's third or fourth year of production. Awful Firestone tires do not help. Just my observations.
  • To Will125

    The valve noise is probably two bad pistons. The two furthest from the water pump. I had the same noise after a few thousand miles. Get your dealer to check on that. My dealer has had several with this condition. They will replace all 6 pistons and the noise will stop. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy after buying a GM product.
  • peg64peg64 Posts: 1
    If you are looking for service bulletin info you can go to "" For the radio reception, this is listed in the service bulletin and the Chevy dealer can fix the problem. My car is a 98 Malibu, the dealer had to fix the cable under the passenger side floor carpet.
  • As I posted on this board the day I bought it in September '99 have a LS which is been a reliable and comfortable car for me. Only problem were warped rotors at 11K, which the dealer replaced. The car now has 16K miles and to date have found this car to be a great buy. Would very much recommend.

  • I have a 98 Malibu with the 2.4L. It supposed to have the transmission fluid seal for life. However, yesterday when looking to check everything under the hood, I noticed there is a red
    cap with white letter "TRANS FLUID" above the transmission. I reached in and unscrewed it. To
    my amazement, it was very loose. THe red cap has an o-ring seal with it too. It is a fill cap but
    there is no dip stick so I do not know how much fluid I have left. There is sign of caked dirty fluid around the cap so I think I might lost some fluid. I looked inside the tranny it is very clean but no sign of fluid. How do I know if I have the proper fluid level in there? Is replacing the fluid the only option? The tranny still shifting fine excep the jerk in the morning in reverse.
  • hwyhwy Posts: 8
    Hi All,
    I own a '97 Malibu with 55k miles on the odometer. The transmission does not have a dip stick. However, if you go underneath the car you will see a small transmission level bolt at the side of the transmission housing above the bottom of the pan. I think you fill the transmission with the bolt open and the level will be correct when the excess drains from the hole.
    Any transmission oil changes requires the pan to be dropped. If you have any suspicions that the level is too low, remove the bolt and slowly fill from the top till you see tranmission oil coming out the level-check hole.
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