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2000-2011 Chevrolet Malibu



  • It took 3 weeks to get my car back. The parts came in at different times. I've got 3,000 on it since repair with no problems yet. Mine occurred at 12,000 so they agreed to bump the warranty up by that much. Ticking in the 3.1 is not normal.
  • aniazianiazi Posts: 39
    Could you guys please tell me how loud was the ticking noise?
  • Mine was not very loud. It sounded just like a valve ticking sound. I thought it was the valve making a little noise. When I took the car in at 3,000 I told them about it and they said it was normal. When I took the car in for 6,000 I told them about it again and they said it was completely normal. So, I mentioned it again at 9,000 and when they told me it was normal I told them to write on my service record that I had complained about the noise. Then, at 12,000 I told them to fix the noise and not call until they had. They called a few hours later and explained that the pistons would need replacing. The noise would only occur at start up and last only a few minutes. It was noticeable but not very loud. I have been told by the GM rep in my area that ticking sounds in the 3.1 are not normal.
  • florinflorin Posts: 11
    still doesnt mention the piston problem
    for the Malibu (although it does for Buick
    Century 2001 with the 3.1L engine).

    Is it possible to tell from the VIN of the car
    whether it is from this bad piston lot?
  • aniazianiazi Posts: 39
    Thanks dhflying1. I saw there is a TSB for ticking noise for Malibu at nhta site. But its for 1998 model. Just go to 1998 model and look under engine. I guess all Malibus have same V6 engine!
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    All 97-98 Malibu, and most of the 99 ones, have either a 2.4l 4-cylinder 150 hp engine, or a 3.1l V-6 one, also providing 150 hp (155 hp according to other sources, including my 98 car manual). All 2000-2001 Malibu, and some of the 99 ones, built very late in the model year, have a 170 hp version of the 3.1l V-6.

    In other words, GM changed something with the 3.1l engine in summer 1999, and the power went up from 150-155 hp to 170 hp. It also stopped building the 4-cylinder modification.
  • philbeauphilbeau Posts: 19
    Well, I had lots of problems with my Malibu. So much so I traded it in before the warranty "ran out". I had 2 brake adjustments and 1 brake job in 21K. Was advised that since mfgr's. don't use asbestos in pads anymore, the ones they use don't absorb the heat and hence the problems occur...vibration mostly. Was told the fix was ceramic brake pads but, the dealers won't install because they cost too much. So, Bye bye to my Malibu. Wanted to keep it but, couldn't afford to take the risk with 2 little ones.
  • njdevilsrnnjdevilsrn Posts: 185
    Just some of my experiences from dealing with my dealer and Chevrolet "Customer Assistance" the past few days. My 2000 Malibu is due to have the pistons and seals replaced as a result of the "piston slap" problem. It was explained to me that Chevy is fixing this problem because it makes noise, not because the noise is symptomatic of something being mechanically damaging to the engine.

    One thing I learned is I must speak Greek when I ask questions about my car. I asked both the dealer and the Chevy "Customer Assistance" operator why Chevy would authorize what I estimate to be at least a 4-figure repair to be done as warranty work when there is nothing wrong. My questions were quickly met with silence and a skillful change of the subject.

    Both the dealer and "Customer Assistance" sing the virtues of having an engine with new parts. I wondered aloud why a one year old car with 9000 miles on it should need to have its engine rebuilt. Again I was met with silence.

    The bottom line is that in a week or so, my one year old car will be out of service for 3 days so its engine can be rebuilt. Granted, Chevy is footing the bill for this one, but it has been made clear to me that the warranty will not be extended. In turn, it is also clear to me that I will no longer own this vehicle to have to worry about the warranty expiring. BEWARE!
  • theicemantheiceman Posts: 736
    3 days? Good luck. Your story - and others in this forum (and from colleagues at work) - have convinced me to look elsewhere for a new vehicle.

    theiceman (aka another Ottawa Senators fan)
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    Alternative to trading the car in while under GM warranty would be buying an extended warranty.
  • I am in the middle of preparing my case for arbitration under the WA State Lemon Law. My front rotors on my 2000 Malibu have warped 3 times in 23,800 miles, most recently warping only 2500 miles after the last replacement! I am glad I read this forum because my car "Ticks" on cold starts. My car was also recalled last week for some sort of gas tank fitting or to check for leaks..was anyone else notified. I will never by a GM product again. The dealership is trying to blame my Lemon car on "Excessive braking.." Give me a break!
  • I also have some bad rotors too (99 Malibu)- warped twice in 23,000 miles and I plan to get em fixed (hopefully under warranty) next week. If the dealer won't fix it under warranty, does anyone have any suggestions as to where might be a good place? Midas, Pep Boys, etc...??? Or what's a good aftermarket brand I could get and do it myself?
  • timmyg71timmyg71 Posts: 5
    I have a 99ls with the 3.1L. It does have the ticking noise, but i am out of warranty (42,000mi). I was wondering if anyone has heard if the 97 and 98's have had records of major engine trouble at higher mileage because of the 'ticking' noise. Also, now that I am making payments on a car I am not sure about the long term reliability. I was thinking about selling the car to cut my losses. Geez, if it weren't for this problem hanging over my head, I could say that I love this car, and would drive it until it dies. I guess the next few years will tell me if I ever plan on buying GM again. Thanks for the advice in advance.
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    Even experienced professional mechanic hardly can diagnose problem by noise description on Internet. There is a lot of different noises people would name "ticking", e.g. from temperature contraction after driving.

    Generally, the GM engines are very reliable. But if you have concerns, it is better to show the car to a good mechanic. For peace of mind, if not for other reason. Preferably at a good GM dealership, because they have more experience with the specific engine.

    Personally, my wife and I bought an aftermarket extended warranty - mostly for certainty and peace of mind.
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    The "ticking" you describe is probably the low pitch ticking that comes from teh injectors and not the pistons. In general the 3.1 engine is one of the most reliable engines outthere together withthe 3.4 and the 3.8. Don't worry, enjoy your car. As I had said before all the Chevies I have owned with the 3.1 had that injector "ticking" which is not loud and different from the "piston slap". Good luck.
  • fenndafennda Posts: 4

    I've been away from the discussions for quite a while now and am suprised to read all of the hub-bub about rotors and pistons. I've been plaqued by faulty rotors on my 2000 since I took delivery of the car, but I'm at somewhat at a disadvantage since I'm a military member stationed overseas in Germany. There's an Opel dealer here (authorized to work on American cars) that simply can't believe I've had to return the car 3 times in 12.8K miles for rotor replacement. He cites the usual stuff: excessive braking, operator error, etc. I picked the car up just yesterday for it's 3rd set of rotors and the service advisor finally came clean with me..."the parts are sh**", he said in his best English voice. Apparantly, GM did release 2 new part numbers, 1 for new rotors and 1 for new pads to supercede the faulty ones; however, I'm not sure if that tackled the problem. If anyone needs some "rotor" testimony, please let me know. As for the ticking, my 3.1 makes the same noise, but subsides after warm up. I'd like to take my car back to Opel for inspection, but fear my symptom will be dismissed for normal injector operation or some sort of untraceable anomoly. Where can I find out more about this problem and it's links to the Malibu?
  • fenndafennda Posts: 4
    One other thing: could the "piston slap" be associated with oil loss? I recently checked my oil to find I was a couple quarts low in my 2000. I don't see it burning (through the exhaust pipe) and don't smell it when the car is warmed up. Are the two related?
  • aniazianiazi Posts: 39
    Hi Guys,

    I had 2001 Malibu LS until yesterday. I have traded it in for 01'Honda Accord LX. I realized soon I will have brakes and engine problems. I don't want to visit to dealer every other week and most of the times they don't find anything and keep the car for 1-2 days as they are very busy but they are co-operative. I was getting ticking noise only when its cold last for few seconds as it doesn't get that much cold over here and no noise when temperature is warm. Light noise from the brakes and squeak from the back on left turn but goes away when I take the car to dealer but that doesn't bother me much. But the wiered one was when I put the car on Drive (D) I hear a buzzing sound as of bee or mosquito until I accerelate. Bottom line is, it just have 4200 miles and I had the car for 6 months. I liked the car and I only wish it didn't had the problems but one is sure I am not going to buy US makes (not to offend anybody) unless their reliability ratings start to come out good. I am glad I am done and get a peace of mind....I only wish I had listen to my friends before. By the way I just suffered 3K loss on trade in compared to what I paid for my car which was ($16400 after rebates).
    Good luck to you all!
  • fenndafennda Posts: 4

    Do you have a hard copy of this TSB? I contacted ALLDATA and they pushed me into Chevy's Customer Service Department. My 2000 (with 12,8K) is having this problem and walking in to my German Opel dealer with a copy of the TSB would be very helpful.
  • Hello..if there is anyone else who has had excessive rotor problems with your newer Malibu's could you email me with your specific problems, dates or mileage,and what, if anything, Chevrolet has done for you. My email is:

    I am meeting with a Chevrolet Rep Monday in Vancouver, WA and I am hoping they will wise up and buy the car back from me before I file under the lemon law on May 2nd. I would love to have some emails with other specific rotor stories as I know this is becoming VERY common with the Malibu. Funny what you said Fennda about the parts being "sh..." My dealership told me the same thing! I appreciate any and all responses before Tuesday at 10:30 AM when I meet with the Rep. Thanks everyone!
  • My 1998 Malibu has been in and out of the shop since day one(Week one). I now have had problems with the steering. I'm going straight but the car goes left then right. No dramatic turns but enough to scare you. Took it in ones and they repair it?? but it is happening again. Has anyone lees had this problem. My thought after being to the dealer several times is they don't know hats wrong with it.
  • njdevilsrnnjdevilsrn Posts: 185
    The Malibu heads off to the dealer Monday for its engine rebuild. New pistons, the whole nine yards.

    I still don't believe that GM would authorize a dealer to rip an engine out of a car, tear it apart, replace the innards, and put it back together all because it's making a ticking sound that is "harmless". The service writer, service manager, and Chevy customer service tell me they are doing this for customer satisfaction. They say they have no knowledge of the piston slapping being a danger to the life of the engine, but they are doing it to make me happy. No way.

    We'll see how it goes after that, have 23 months left on factory warranty.
  • gearhead4gearhead4 Posts: 122
    Re: Rotor Problems

    I purchased my 2001 Malibu in February. I have experienced no problems yet. I had my brother inspect the car yesterday. He is a mechanic with 20 years of experience on Chevys. He says everything looks good so far.

    He has heard of problems with intake manifold gaskets and the rotors.

    He has replaced rotors with the GM supplied parts, because he was working at a GM dealer.

    But I have heard that the best bet is to replace the rotors with after market parts from other suppliers like Bendix. They are less expensive and last much longer. I have replaced rotors on my last two cars. I do the work myself because the job is simple and it takes less time than driving to the dealer and waiting around for them to get to it.

    On the subject of being hard on brakes, the dealer mechanics sometimes are making accurate observations. Every day I see people abusing their automobiles. While the complaints about inferior products may be legitimate, give some consideration to the possibility that the problem may be the way the vehicle is operated.

  • njdevilsrnnjdevilsrn Posts: 185
    I dropped my Malibu at the dealer today. Because I could not get an honest answer out of my dealer or the Chevy Customer (dis)Service 1-800 number, I took note of the TSB on the service desk while the writer took my info.

    It listed the vehicles involved on the bulletin (the Buick Century and 1 or 2 other cars were listed in addition to the Malibu). It states the piston slapping noise is very similar in sound to that of a valve tap. However, if proven on engine diagnostics that it is the pistons, the problem is believed to be caused by "excessive piston bore". The repair involves replacing the pistons and the associated hardware.

    While I am not mechanically inclined, I wish that someone at Dayton Chevrolet from the service writer to the service manager, and the Chevy Customer Service rep would have had the integrity to tell me what exactly was wrong with my car. After all, I paid $16000 for it, didn't I? I'm gonna call my neighborhood mechanic tomorrow to find out exactly how damaging (if at all) this problem is to the structural integrity of the engine.

    Anyone with any knowledge, I would appreciate a response. And to all of you who are blissfully ignorant as to your "valve tap" noise, my complaints about this SAME noise to the dealer this past fall was mis-diagnosed as valve tap.
  • malibu52malibu52 Posts: 2
    njdevilsrn, Had my 2000 repaired roughly a month ago. Since then no knock or other problems, still getting 28.9 highway and a little town driving which isn't bad for it's rating. I did not buy from a certified dealer and when I discovered this problem and that there was a way of fixing it I got the run around from that dealer. With help from this site and another club I joined I got the information I needed and they finally admitted it could be fixed but they couldn't fix it. I contacted through the Chevrolet web site and the contact us link a rep. to refer me to a dealer in my area that could fix the engine. I did get help locating a dealer and from that point on received what I consider to be courteous professional service. A rental vehicle is covered by your warranty. After 2 months of aggravation in 4 days the problem was corrected by a good certified dealers service department.
    I totally agree they should be more forth coming about the problem because as someone said the wouldn't tear an engine down for just a noise. Good luck with yours.
  • japdjapd Posts: 1
    I bought my new LS nearly two weeks ago and I'm not a happy camper. The night I drove off the lot (Fri. 4/6/01) I experienced a forceful vibration in the steering and I could smell the brakes burning. I returned the car on Mon 4/9 because the service department was closed during the weekend. The problem: warped rotors and brake pads which were replaced. The same evening the car was returned to me, I had the problem again. I chose to drive the car a few extra days to see if it would occur again. Not to my surprise it did again on Sun 4/15. Also, I have noticed that at times, the car would not move when trying to accelerate from a complete stop-(like the brakes were stuck), but when I lifted the brake pedal with my foot the car would roll. Sometimes the brakes would feel stiff when trying to stop. So off we go again today 4/18 to the dealer.
    As well, can anybody tell me why I'm only getting around 14 to 15 mpg in the city? On the highway, I got great mileage. Could this be related to my rotor/brake problem? Please email me @ with any info.
  • ferraro1ferraro1 Posts: 44
    I am an owner of a 1998 bought the car New in early 1998, I am getting ready to drive the car over 1,000 miles to upstate New York for the summer (I live in Little Rock)and I need to know what to get changed/replaced/checked etc... on the car , ANYTHING no matter the cost I want all problems fixed on the car and ones that may lie in the future to just get fixed now. The car has 41,000 on it. the first noticeable issue occurs when I brake on the highway @ 60-70 mph the car will shake WHAT is that? I might want to get new brakes for this long Trek,I have been looking at all the posts and I see that the rotors are a big problem is that what that is ? Also what is this "Ticking" noise people have been talking about ? I hear a ticking when I am in reverse turning the wheel , what might that be, I have just gotten used to it but I want to know if that is a problem and I want to get it fixed and if not I just want tot know what is the noise. If the braking problem is not the rotors how do I tell that they need replacing ? OK thanks everyone anyone that can help it would be GREATLY Appreciated !!!
    Happy Malibu Owner,
  • skipper8skipper8 Posts: 7
    Sounds like a "brakes" problem to me. The shaking sounds like the rotors could be warped. Have you even changed the front pads and had the rotors "turned" (where the surface is planed to get rid of scratches? If might be over due. There is a "squeaking" sound that occurs in the pad to alert you that the pads are at a "thin" condition. Not sure about the ticking when backing in reverse. Have them check that out when you take the car in for the brake check.
  • ferraro1ferraro1 Posts: 44
    I have had Nothing done to the car in that area (brakes) I bet @ 41,000 miles the car might need new brakes , and i bet i have the roter problem I think i will get new everything (Brakes, Rotors) and if you can think of anything that would need checking/replacing on a 1998 please advise cuz I really dont wanna deal with major problems so far away from home once again thanks .
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    1. It looks as the brake rotors are warped and need to be replaced. Most probably, the pads too.

    Replacing brakes costs about $400 at dealer, but much less with aftermarket parts at independent shops. Some aftermarket rotors and pads (Raybestos?) have better reputation than the genuine GM, and are backed by warranty.

    2. How good are your tires?

    I had to replace the original Affinity at about 37k miles. Bought a set of Firehawk SH-30. About $350 at local Firestone, including installation, alignment, and road hazard warranty.

    Great tires, especially on wet pavement / rain. Head and shoulders better than the original ones.

    3. What engine do you have? 4 cylinder or V-6?

    The 3.1l V-6 engine is prone to coolant leak through the intake manifold gasket. If you are adding the coolant, I'd suggest to pressure-check the coolant system. The test is cheap - about $25-30. The repair is not cheap, though.

    4. Did your car have the 30k mile service? The state of the brakes suggests that possibly not.

    Mechanic checks, cleans, and/or replaces air filter, gas filter, fuel injectors, serpentine belt, hoses, transmission liquid, brakes, etc. May cost up to $300-$500, depending on what needs to be replaced. This is expensive, but useful. Does pay in better reliability, safety, lower gas consumption...

    5. Simple thing: check the brake / signal lights. The Malibu brake lights have two bulbs, and continue to work after one of them burned out. Better to check that the both bulbs work.
This discussion has been closed.