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2000-2011 Chevrolet Malibu



  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    I am sure that any GM dealer, and any competent mechanic would put nothing but Dexcool in the modern GM cars. However, the intake manifold gaskets are developing leaks even with Dexcool in several GM engines sharing a common basic design. There is even a special topic on the Edmunds board, where the problem is discussed:

    rbenton "Common General Motor's 2.8, 3.1, 3.4 V6's engine problems" Feb 4, 2001 12:15pm
  • I also had this problem on another GM vehicle. Turned out that the fuel pump relay was bad ($10 part).

    I was told that the fuel pump will activate under two conditions:

    1: Turn the key in the ignition which sends a signal to the fuel pump relay which in turn activates the pump.

    2: If the engine registers a certain oil pressure, it will engage the fuel pump. If you crank long enough with a bad relay, the oil pressure will build and cause the fuel pump to activate.

    The above may all be dealer BS but it sounded pretty believable to me.
  • I am just naive on the car and as I mentioned
    this malibu is my first brand new car.
    After I read all the posts on the common problems on GM specific engines, it turned out to be that
    the coolant is not the culpit but the contamination of the coolant in specific GM cooling systems like malibu. I would believe following action would make my engine happy.
    but welcome to any comments.

    1. pressure test the engine to see if there is
    a leak. I dont trust that the dealer has done it when replacing the leaking lower intake gasket.
    and also there is upper intake gasket
    and head gasket ... worth doing it. yurakm,

    2. replace all suspect radiator caps, especially those with a Drop-Center design, with a Stant Model 10230 or 11230 (Spring-Center type).

    3. Check and keep the coolant pressure cap clean and functioning.

    4. Keep the cooling system filled.

    5. Keep an eye on the contamination of the coolant and engine oil by checking the engine
    oil dipstick and pressure cap. Also I know that
    the rust may be similar color to the coolant.

    6. anyone out there know that GM gasket itself
    had problems????

    7. flush and refill the cooling system with
    the DEX-COOL (50-50) every 2 years. this may be recommended even the manual says 100,000 and 5 years free maintenance of the coolant.

    8. welcome to add more.

  • I am still testing with the key turned first
    on acc and listen to the buz of fuel pump finished
    and then start. If this failed, I would let
    dealer know the relay problems and hopefully
    they will fix it. This sounds believeable to me too. mine is hard to reproduce
    and how about yours? if hard, How did you get the dealer fix it?
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    Well, what you wrote looks reasonable.

    GM recommends yearly pressure test. They must know. This is in addition to testing before warranty will expire.

    I also replaced radiator cap. It costs only about $5 at Pep Boys. In reality it is coolant tank cap, not radiator one, but it is displayed in radiator caps aisle, and named radiator cap on the package.

    By the way, to the best of my understanding, there is less problems with Malibu radiator and radiator cap, than with some other cars using the same engine. The cap and tank are well above radiator, and even with when the coolant level is low, the radiator is still filed to the top. Less prone to contamination, rust, etc.

    Flushing coolant every two years looks as overkill for me. I believe that this would be like changing oil every 1000 miles, while 3000 miles are recommended for severe service conditions. I flushed it after 4 years. I mean 4 years after the car was build, not after I bought it.

    Disclaimer: do not pay too much attention to my opinion. I have less experience than you. Six years ago I did not know the gas pedal from the brakes.

    You told that your Malibu is your first new car. Well, we bought our Malibu used. It was built in July 97, we bought it in September 98, with 15k miles.

    We thought then that this was a bargain: almost new car, priced at 15% discount to a new one. And even at this price, it cost more than we could afford comfortably.

    Later we learned that the car was put in service in 6/12/98. So the initial owner had it for less than 3 months. And put 15k miles. Looks strange.

    The salesman at dealership told us that the previous owner was GM, and a GM employee drove it for business... These time we were proud to understand so complicated things in English. We bought the explanation.

    Currently we have strong suspicions that the car could have a bad repair history. A buy-back or something of this kind. Many small problems developed, and several not so small problems.

    By the way, the car is in dealership from the last Friday, waiting for tranny replacement. It failed. Even while GM transmissions have a very good reputation concerning reliability. Fortunately, we bought an extended warranty.
  • '97 LS ABS light started coming on intermittently and now it is solid. Chevy says ABS unit needs replacing because battery acid dripped on it...however that was 40K miles ago and it was cleaned off and there are no leaks so I don't think they really know. Any ideas? Car now has 90K miles. Bought the treated rotors and new ceramic pads from Pep Boys. Work great and wear great. Coolant has been leaking since 40K miles but it's so slow it's not worth fixing. My son put the cruise control on at 100mph+ (ticket too!)
    and left it there for two hours (desert at night).
    Absolutely disintegrated the transmission and differential. Found out they make hardened differentials for police cars.
  • When I had my problem with a bad fuel pump relay, the problem was all the time. Every time when I went to start the car, it took a good 3 seconds of cranking to get it going.

    The dealer picked up on the problem right away when the tech started the car.

    Sorry, no help for ya.
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    You wrote: Coolant has been leaking since 40K miles but it's so slow it's not worth fixing.

    I have read that leaking coolant will eat gradually the metal around the leak. Either the intake manifold, or engine case, or both. Also read, that it can leaks inside engine, and it is even worse.

    You wrote: they make hardened differentials for police cars

    Malibu as a police cruiser?
  • Yea, that's what I said....police cruiser? Evidently the problem happens a lot because the mechanic said he's put several of them in people's cars. Just don't cruise too fast or abuse the car and it should be OK. The leak is about two ounces a month. It puddles below the intake manifold and spills over to on top of the transmission. Never makes it to the ground. I find it hard to believe coolant will "eat" the metal. The whole block would dissolve! It has rust/corrosion inhibitors in it.
  • wwgljywwgljy Posts: 7
    I just did the engine pressure test at local
    firestone with $20. the service guy told
    my wife that there was no "external" leaking. (actually at the very first, they hesitated to
    perform the test with the reason that there is
    no observed leaking. I dont know what they mean.
    if there is observed leaking, why need the test. )
    For the internal leaking test, the guy said it needs to open the engine and will cost $100. I think my original goal is to have the engine checked with coolant leaking such as gasket leaking but looks like this can not be done in this test. Not sure if this is the same kinda test as you did? What kind of outcome did you get?
    I got the impression that this test can reveal the
    engine is leaking coolant. And also the guy said that the test will affect the car cooling system
    and may lead to the potential leaking. Please
    advise. Thanks a lot. Weiguo
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    I do not know. As well as I remember the car manual, it say "pressure test" every year. Not disassembling engine.

    When I had the test, the external leak was found. The mechanic told me that there is no internal leak. I do not know, how he knows this. However, given I stopped adding coolant after replacing the gasket, he must be right.

    I believe that oil analysis shows coolant in the oil, if it leaks into engine. Had read that the analysis costs about $20. Personally, never did it, though.
  • wwgljywwgljy Posts: 7
    I talked to the firestone manager today about the engine pressure test. He explained to me how
    the test works. He mentioned that the test should
    be able to tell if the external cooling system
    including the intake manifold gasket is leaking or
    not. (this implies that intake manifold is in the external cooling system. I guess since I really dont know how the engine cooling system works). Then I asked if the test can tell if the
    head gasket is leaking. He said it was hard to
    tell unless you do the coolant analysis or visually check the coolant. So far, no external
    leaking and no obvious internal leaking as the manager told me. I am happy. I will keep an eye on my cooling system for potential leaking and contamination. i probably need to find a service book to see how the cooling system is integrated with the engine. Thanks for your info. Weiguo
  • teoteo Posts: 2,508
    Any servicing GM dealer can pull up complete repair history records on your Malibu, by means of the VIN number. can provide you with details whether the car was a Lemon, Manufacturer Buyback, etc. This is often a good place to check before commiting to buy ANY kind of used car.

    You could have legal recourse if the selling dealer in fact sold you a Lemon vehicle and this was not disclosed to you at time of purchase.

    Check your legal rights on this area. You could be the victim of an used car scam.
  • Hi, Malibu owners. I bought a Saturn SL2 about three weeks ago. It came with Affinity tires like the Malibu's. Sorry if this has been covered before; but, how do you like them? I am thinking about replacing them because I have read so less-than-flattering reviews of the Affinity--noisy, no rain traction, wearing out too quickly, etc. There is also the lack of goodwill associated with the Firestone name as well. Have any of you replaced yours? With what? Am I being dumb thinking about replacing 3 week old tires? Thanks.
  • tomcat630tomcat630 Posts: 854
    I can't wait for the 2004 Malibu!
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    I replaced OEM Affinity at 37k. Was wrong not replacing them at 30-32k: the last summer they were unsafe in rain, and squealed when turning as slow as 15mph.

    However, if not great, the tires were decent, touring style, while new. Inflate them about 3 psi above the manufacturer recommendations if you prefer more sporty ride. I would not throw away $400 or so they costs.

    As to the Firestone goodwill, well, I replaced the Affinity by other Firestone. Firehawk SH-30. The SH-30 are probably the best tires for Malibu, especially in rain / on wet pavement. Know nothing about Saturn.
  • I have not had the car long enough to know if I'm having problems in the rain or in turns or whatever. I just know I don't read good things about them. I may wait a year or so, though, because I do feel dumb replacing practically new tires. Thanks for your input.
  • I have a 99 LS and I have a situation with my transmission.

    Every once in a while as I am shifting from "P" into "D" or from "R" into "D" and I start moving, I notice the transmission slips. It happens mostly if I shift too quickly. A mechanic buddy of mine says the transmission filter needs changed. The car has a little over 63K. If I shut the car off for a few seconds that seems to help. Any ideas?

  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    The following link is in Russian, but picture is picture.

    According to the article:

    - it looks as wagon, with tailgate, but GM is considering it to be "a stretched sedan".

    - GM is planing the new Malibu to appear spring 2003.

    - it will be build on the Epsilon platform, but the wheelbase will be elongated 7" (18 cm),

    - and it looks similar to the Opel Signum concept.
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    Probably, you will get more responses on the following board:

    "Transmission Traumas?" Mar 17, 2002 10:45am
  • teoteo Posts: 2,508

    compare to 2002 Opel Vectra:


    No more rental GM cars!!! Whoooho!

  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    Do you know of any place where they might have a spy photo of the new Cavalier?
  • teoteo Posts: 2,508
    Nope. The upcoming 2003 Saturn ION (Based on the all new GM Delta small car platform) should give you an idea of how the Chevy Cavalier replacement might look like. I believe the ION is to be released within the next few months.

    I believe the Cavalier replacement is still delayed. Right now GM/Chevy are putting a great emphasis in the Malibu's replacement for 2004. The Opel Vectra/Signium (Built on the all new Epsilon platform) will be the basis for the all new 2004 Malibu. This car is getting rave reviews in Europe and as far as interior design and exterior looks, the car is as good or better than the current VW Passat, which is the benchmark in the class. I am looking forward to this truly new World class Chevy car when it becomes available in the Spring of 2003.

    The next generation Opel Astra is the current runner up replacement for the aging Cavalier. However there have been conflicting reports as to what Bob Lutz' next move will be to address the lackluster small car offerings at GM NA. Originally, the Delta platform was slated to be the basis of the next Cavalier/Astra, but later on other reports stated that our Chevy Astra will rather be built off the all new Fiat Stylo platform (Very beautiful car BTW)and the European Vauxhall/Holden/Opel Astra would be built off the Delta platform available in the '03 Saturn ION.

    The Cavalier replacement was scuffled in Consumer Clinics back in 1999 and ever since there have been issues within GM as to how to go about it. To me the Cavalier problem can even be solved by importing the current generation Opel Astra which is a fantastic car, better than the Ford Focus in many respects.

    So, in the end, most entry market level new GM products will either be Opel/Fiat derived. The era of "Americanized, invented here, made here" GM entry level products is officially over.

    The new 2004 Malibu/Vectra will boast Audi/VW like quality interiors and sharp exterior European styling with German driving manners at a Chevy price!
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    while I share (some) of your enthusiasm for the Vectra making it stateside, it hasn't exactly been getting "rave reviews". But it should be, much, much better than the out going malibu. As far as the current Astra being better than the Focus in Europe, I don't believe I've seen anyone (other than you just now) say that. The Peugot 307 and Ford Focus are the leaders of that class. I am hopefull that the next Astra will be very competitive in the class and that it will be available stateside.
  • tomcat630tomcat630 Posts: 854
    From what I read, the OPEL Astra is going to be on a Fiat platform, while the Delta will be used on US comapcts; Ion/Cavalier.

    The Ion is to be shown next week at the NYC Auto Show. Finally, the S series will die!
  • goatmealgoatmeal Posts: 11
    I have a 2000 buick century with the same engine as the malibu. I went to the buick dealer and looked at tsb 010601010a on his computer. It applies to 3.1 engines with the J designation.
    This is the eighth digit in the VIN.
    The tsb said that the ticking starts 15 or 20 seconds after the engine is started when cold.
    It says to replace the pistons on the effected engines. It also states that this is a customer satisfaction issue and will not affect the longevity of the engine.
    The dealer said to leave it overnight and they would listen to it in the morning when it is cold and make a decision. I have the feeling that they will do nothing but say that it is normal. The engine runs good and uses no oil. The ticking can not be heard from inside the car so maybe it is nothing to worry about. Anybody have any ideas on this?
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    You might want to look at the following link related to piston slap problem with GM engines as the worst case senario:

  • teoteo Posts: 2,508
    What a poorly done, distasteful website. It is a cyber rant or shall we say a hate site.

    This dude could have done a much better job of posting relevant information without having to resort to the silly amounts of foul language.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    You got past all the popups to find something to read there? :-)
  • goatmealgoatmeal Posts: 11
    Thanks Pluto. that is a great website concerning piston slap. I learned a lot.
This discussion has been closed.