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* Keeping the car (Put more miles to see if the suspension mellows a bit more due to normal use)
* Selling or trading the car
* Learn your lesson (Check the goods before accepting them)
Most people believe that the "Lemon Law" is there to provide relief to "Buyer's Remorse" cases where the consumer simply did not take the time to make sure that the product they bought meet or exceeded their immediate expectations. When you buy a House or a piece of real estate you take all the precautions not to get taken. Same goes for cars, but people often fall for a new car too quickly without making sure that is exactly what they want in the long run.
The main goal of Lemon law is to provide replacement or refund on a vehicle that has proven safety defects and that it is deemed unrepairable by law.
Sorry for the "Harshness" of my post, but before you hire an attorney and get milked out of big $$$ for nothing I would suggest for you to get the facts straight regarding the ride quality of your Malibu. Compare the ride to the same new models in the lot....do they feel the same?...better?...worse??
Good luck and let us know what you decide.
For your information, I had test driven another Malibu 2000 LS (at another dealership) and the ride was excellent (mileage was also low in the 300-500 range). Otherwise, I would never have considered the purchase.
In hindsight, what I should have done is to test drive the ACTUAL car that I was about to purchase before I signed on the dotted line. Then, obviously, I never would have accepted the car. (About I drove it out of the showroom, I could have sworn I had a flat or soft tire because of the way it was handling).
I agree with you Teo that "Caveat Emptor" or "Let the buyer beware" may be the result of my actions. However, I was 1 of 5 customers who have also complained about the suspension (i.e., a possible pattern or defect might be emerging) and my recourse is simply to have Chevrolet [somehow] soften the suspension (I am not looking for a refund). As I had mentioned, if they 'fix' the suspension, the Malibu is actually a pretty decent car to drive.
Good luck again!
With a good weather it was fine for several days: my wife and I like the rigid suspension. We were happy.
But then I drove, with my family, to a concert at one of suburbs of Hartford, CT. It was about hour drive by highway, door to door.
November evening, absolutely dark. A strong rain, mixed with snow. The rush traffic, with tired and hungry men returning home from work, many of them demonstrating the capabilities of their SUVs in this road conditions.
My tires did not hold well the very wet, slushy road. Not too bad - the car did not slip - but driving, or rather holding the car in the lane, was a hard work, not a pleasure. It need constant attention, and I felt to have little tolerance to errors. Even while this time I drove substantially slowly than a lot of people around.
So, I agree with you: this is a safety problem.
Next morning I checked the car. It turned to be, the technician overinflated the tires, when changing oil. Do not remember the exact numbers, but he inflated the tires to the maximum, as stated on the tires sidewalls. Something like 40 psi, instead of 29/26 front/rear specified by GM.
Funny thing, I changed oil at the Chevrolet dealership, so the technician had to know better all peculiarities of Malibu.
My advice is don't wait, don't think it's your fault, and don't think that the warping is from normal wear and tear. Go to the dealer and get the rotors replaced.
My car rides great now. I have no other problems. It's quiet, has great acceleration and good gas mileage.
I rented the 2000 Malibu in March for 2 weeks. What a great car. I want to buy one for my personal use, about 15k a year. Everyone tells me the 3.1 motor is no good, the heads warp at 50k and the brakes have problems. I know 2 weeks isn't a long time. I liked the way the car drove, parked and how I could enter and exit with ease. I am spoiled with my current car, an 87 Dodge Omni. 174k with no extraordinary services. Any info to clear up this decision would be appreciated. Thanks
The 3.1l is a well-proved design, in use for years, currently not only with Malibu, but with Buick Century and Pontiac Grand Prix SE.
The engine itself is a modification of the 2.8l V-6 used with many GM cars of 80-th. The problems with engine, if any, were "debugged" a lot of years ago. Never heard about any problems with warping engine head.
The only problem I am aware with the engine, it is a bit noisy, especially when cold.
Probably, you sources mean the 3.4l overhead engine used with some Lumina LTZ in early 90-th? The engine really was not considered reliable enough. No relation, though, to the pushrod 3.1l engine (nor to another GM 3.4l, a pushrod one, used currently in the Pontiac Grand Am, Olds Alero and base Chevy Impala).
The early Malibu, 97-98, had problems with warping brake rotors. According to the Consumer Research survey, about 10-15% of the owners of the 97 Malibu, and about 2-5% of the 98 ones, complained about this. Later, GM made improvements.
On the flip side, with my 98 Malibu, there was a lot of nuisance problems, like a dead right rear speaker, a noisy right door speaker, a broken fuel cap cord, the fan/air condition not working on speed 1&2, etc. Everything was fixed fast and easy, though.
I have a 98 3.1L LS. I now have 75,000km on it (Canadian Eh!) and I have to say that I really enjoy the car. The Affinity tires were no good but I now have Michelin Energy Plus'. Like most of us, we were probably over inflating the Affinity's.
Back to Brakes. I have had the rotors turned 4 times and replaced 3 times. Yes this is true and I have never gone through brakes like this on any other car I have driven. I can accept that part of the problem is the way I drive but this is too much. Last time the brakes were done was at 64K kms and they put a different type of pad on. This was to attempt to eliminate heat.
Here is the problem. To date, I have not spent a cent beyond my valuable time. My warranty ran out at 60,000kms. The rotors are starting to warp again. There is no mistaking the feel.
Any advice on approaching the dealership. I know there is a significant history here but I suspect that the dealership will say that this is not their problem.
Currently, at 37k miles (about 60 000 km) no problems with the brakes. Hope, the dealer installed the improved GM rotors: IMHO, they started to appear about this time.
But I decided, that if the rotors would warp once more, I will switch to the aftermarket brakes. Allegely, most aftermarket manufacturers give a long time or even lifetime warranty for their products. And this is less expensive: the dealer's service cost me about U$450.
Do jot know what aftermarket rotors, but, probably the Raybestos ones, drilled and/or slotted. I have no idea if they are really good, but somebody praised them at this board. And they look impressive on the picture:
It was not transparent enough from the very beginning, when I bought the car used in September, 98 (one year old and with 15k miles). But now it is even worse.
Unfortunately, I forgot to ask for replacement, while the car was under warranty. I have an extended warranty, but am not sure, if it cover the tank: after all, it is not broken.
Did anybody have such experience? Have I to replace the tank? How much can it cost?
I am having a problem with the air vents not directing air where the dial is set. It seems that the vacuum assist has lost power.
Has anyone else had this problem or does anyone know what I should be looking for before I take the car to the dealer. I am out of warranty!!
1. Turn the ignition key, only partially: starting engine is not not necessary.
2. Turn the wipers "On", slow mode
3. While the wipers are vertical, turn ignition key off fast.
4. Change the wipers.
5. Turn the wipers off,
6. Again turn the ignition key, without starting engine. The blades will retract.
The Trico wipers are available at Pep Boys. The driver-side wiper for Malibu is 22-1, the passenger-side 19-1; they cost $6.99 and $5.99. 22 and 19 means they are 22 and 19 inch long; the -1 is the code for the attachment type (hooks).
Inserts are also available, at $2.99, but I think it is easier to change the whole wipers. The first time it took about 5-7 minutes per pair, the second time about 2 minutes. Never tried to change inserts, though.
My 1997 LS car had a new Raybestos brakes/rotors installed at my local trustworthy mechanic shop last spring and they work very well so far. The only negative is that the front wheel mags get a full of black dirts - have to clean them frequently. I use the regular brake pads with lifetime warranty, not drilled/cross-slot ones.
But the higher grade, most probably, does not hurt either, just is more expensive. Extra $1000, probably somewhat more, for the life of the car.
Just today explained it on the Regal board:
Malibu (with 3.1L V-6) runs fine on the 87 gas. Somewhat noisy when driven up-hill, with cold engine, but GM say it is OK. See the owner manual.
sickening, with having to change the brakes and get 4 new tires. But since then I have had great reliability and comfort. The interior sqeaks more than it should and I had to put a rubber band around the plastic shoulder harness height adjustment knob that rattles into my ear while driving. Keeping 29/26 psi in the tires is important for the best ride, as well as coating the rubber door seals with armor-all about once a month. The front bumper is impossible to keep clean (ya-it's white) and the bug removal is a tough scrub. The engine is noisy at start and the acceleration is barely adequate, but I am getting about 29 mpg using regular unleaded. Bottom Line:
The car is a great buy on the used market because the depreciation is HUGE the 1st 2 yrs.(ie only buy new at closeout time with rebates and use the GM credit card points if you got em). The brakes will be changed more often than the avg car. Buy some good tapes-cd's to overcome the rattles-squeaks.....
This afternoon when I called about the status of the vent issue they told me the vent control unit was defective - $253 installed BUT they also relaced my rotors free of charge. They used the same rotors that they have been using all along. I now have my fifth set including the ones when the car was new plus four times turning them, all in the span of 75,000km.
1. Air vents directional not working properly. In eight months sinced I owned this car this problem has happened! The shop stated that the A/C control was shorting internally. They replaced the control assembly. This problem has been posted before by other Malibu owners.
2. Bad Rotors. At 7,000 miles brakes started pulsating. Shop replaced rotors per technical bulletin. These rotor replacements are supposed to be an upgraded rotor. Only time will tell.Thsi story has been told before by many owners. Also, all the cars I have ever owned I have never had the rotors replaced before 150,000 miles. Poor design by Chevy.
3. Car would stutter, not fire properly when driven the first 10-15 miles on the Interstate highway in the morning. Problem even worse during the rian.I took my car in four times to the largest Chevy dealer in Indianapolis. I was told " we felt the car do it, we don't know what it is but it is safe to drive." What a pathetic excuse by Chevy. Finally took my car to the dealership where we bought my Pontiac at. Specifically told them to check the spark plug wires. They had to spray water on the waters before they could consistently reproduce the problem. Two spark plug wires were arcing. Finally the problem has been fixed. People have posted similar complaints about there Malibu's here on Edmunds.
After 8 months and way to many visits to the Chevy dealership I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND this car!
Do yourself a favor if you are thinking of buying a Malibu-spend a few extra bucks and buy a Grand Prix.
The base trim, GP SE, indeed is not much more expensive than Malibu. Possibly, even less expensive sometimes - depending on incentives and options.
Though, it have the same engine as Malibu. I believe, with the same spark plug wiring.
Would the same problem developed as with your Malibu, all depends on the dealer service. Your Pontiac dealer was better than the Chevy one - but in other city the opposite can be true. To say nothing about the Pontaic-Chevrolet dealerships.
The GP is much heavier than Malibu, though. I did not test-drive the GP SE, but my wife and I drove the sister car, a base Chevy Impala, with the 3.4l engine. It is a bit stronger than the 3.1l one in GP SE. About the same maximal power (hp), but substantially better torque through the full curve.
We were disappointed. Our 98 Malibu (base, but with a 3.1l engine) had much better acceleration. Even while the 3.1l engine at this times was less powerful than now: it get additional 15-20hp in the summer of 1999.
Without doubt, the GP GT, and especially GP GTP, are better cars than Malibu in most respects. They have much more powerful 3.8l engine (supercharged in GTP). I can recommend additionally the Buick Regal - the twin of GP with the same 3.8l engine. We own one, and like it very much. And the Impala LS owners like it very much.
But these cars are more expensive than Malibu, and not by "few extra bucks". More like extra five to ten grands, depending on trim and options.
The W-body cars boast better drivetrains, better safety records, better quality, better reliability,etc.
No ofense intended to Malibu and other N car owners, but the N-bodies are not the best GM has to offer, period. I am eagerly awaiting for the upcoming Sigma platform to change the state of affairs with the entry level offferings of the General.
Obviously, the upper body of Malibu is different.
The Malibu, Alero and Grand AM all share the same basic platform and engines, except the 3400 V-6 engine optional on the Grand AM and Alero models. The malibu only gets the 3100 V-6. These cars are code named P-90 bodies or the "N" bodies. The other member of the "N" family is the discontinued malibu clone sold as the Olds Cuttlass from 97-99. The Cuttlass was replaced in favor of the Alero. Same car, different body style.
The Cavalier was nice and the Impala was OK but it's sad to see that Chevy is focusing their attention on trucks while sedan buyers get the short stick. the Impala was nice but the controls are too far and to adjust the temp one has to lean forward to do so, so I still remain un impressed with the Impala. I love Chevy cars and I wish they would put as much effort into the sedans as tehy do in the trucks. Neddless to say I was very disapointed at this years show. Last year they had a top of the line Malibu that really made you admire the car, this year they just didn't care enough :-(.
1) The wipers seemed short. They didn't seem to swipe high enough. Does anyone else feel this way?
2) I didn't notice a Day/Night switch on the rear-view mirror. Does it have one? I meant to look but forgot.
Thanks in advance for any input.
Saw the other day a Navy blue 2001 Malibu. Looks very nice. However, I am still unimpressed by the poor side crash scores on that car. What's up with that?
1. My Malibu have different-size wipers. 22 inches driver-side, and 19 inches passenger size. The driver-side wiper is the same as with larger GM cars: Buick Regal, Olds Intrigue, etc. Big enough, never have problems.
I have impression, that the passenger-side wiper also is better than adequate. By the way, Regal is 3 inches wider, than Malibu - and the total size of wipers are 3 inches larger too.
Any case, the size of passenger wipers is not a safety item.
2. The rear-view mirror of my Malibu have a manual Day/Night switch.
Do not know, if the automatic electrochromic mirrors are available as option in the 2001 LS. If yes, I would suggest to buy it. I have such a mirror with other car, and was impressed. With all the SUV and blue-headlight cars on the roads, often driven with high beams, this is a really useful feature, not a luxury.
I just didn't like teh interior of the Impala, nothing to harp on. I just hated the exposed screw heads and the dash was simply boring and difficult to reach. My car's HVAC controls are slightly closer to the driver than the rest of the dash so I don't have to move forward ( not even a bit) to operate them. On the Impala they were flush with the dash board and it was just not ergonomic at all. I belive that Chevy ( and again I am a Chevy fan and I don't like imports) could have taken a lesson from the Taurus ( and maybe teh Accord). When I sat in the Taurus all I could think to myself was,"damn this feels very luxurious", whereas in the Impala I was just unimpressed and I felt like I was in a cheaper car. So anyways just a small peave that I'm sure Chwevy will correct for the freshening of the Impala, so I'm glad I bought my Malibu when I did, just can't wait to see the next one :-).
In all honesty I think the Malibu looks more luxurious than the new Accord (Fake wood, something missing in the Accord). The Impala is a damn good comfortable and ergonomical car. After having owned nothing but Hondas and Acuras (The "Kings" of ergonomics) I think GM did a heck of a job with the Impala. Remember that the Taurus is an Import wanna be car, the Impala is meant to compete with traditional full size American cars, not the Accord and Camry like the Taurus. If you sat inside an Impala with gray trim, yes it looks very stark. Try it with the light neutral or beige color and see the difference leaning to a more warm and luxurious look.
I also didn't mean the dash had exposed screws, I meant the door panels but I guess I wasn't clear enough, sorry. Overall i like the Impala and I feel it's a better car than the Accord or the Taurus, I just wished Chevy would apply it's full devotion to this car. We all know GM can do a lot better and they can become the world standard again but they seem not to care about that anymore :-(.
I agree the Impala is meat to compete in the large car segment but if they give it that little extra touch, invest a few more cents in covering the screws and smoothings things out a bit the Impala could become a best seller. They are doing a good job with the Malibu but I can't wait to see the next generation of GM cars, if they play their cards right they can re capture the market share they lost. The Impala and teh Malibu should have the attention the trucks are getting from Chevy and then you will see how things change. But yea, it's a good car :-)
Concerning comparisions: let first agree on what is compared. Apples to apples, or apples to oranges.
Other equal, Impala is a better car than Malibu, period. Much larger interior and trunk, higher safety, and more powerful engine provides better acceleration. It is also more expensive. Very natural.
Though, the key words here are "other equal". With the price ranges overlapping, there is some confusion in comparing. When shopping for a new car in about 18k-19k range, people would compare a somewhat loaded Malibu LS with a very base Impala. This is what Malibu99 probably did.
The later car is still larger and have better crash rating, but that is all. Barely adequate powertrain, with acceleration worse than for Malibu. Mushy brakes. Soft suspension. And cheap interior.
With the base engine (or rather the base gear ratio - the 3.4l engine itself is not so weak, and have excellent torque curve), the base suspension, and without ABS, Impala is hardly even safe enough. It still have better crash rating, but, I believe, is not as good as Malibu in avoiding the crash. Especially when used in city, or in hilly terrains, or in rainy / snow climate.
By the way, with different trim compositions for the two models, even the bare-bone base Malibu have the same engine, ABS, instruments, air condition, etc, as LS. Personally, I would prefer the base Malibu to the base Impala without ABS.
It is generally a bad idea to buy the bare-bone Malibu - the one with manual side mirrors, and without rear defroster. At least in North-East.
Dealers often have one bare-bone car, and are advertising its low price in local newspapers. Something like $14,995. People drive to the dealer lot to see the car, and, after test-drive, are buying another one, with better options, for about $1,500 extra.
Though, because you asked the owner opinion: I like my 98 Malibu.
According to 2000 Consumer Research handbook, it looks as most problems with Malibu brake rotors were already solved in 98. I received recently the last handbook, for 2001, but misplaced it somewhere. Though, do not remember it saying anything bad.
And, according to the last Kiplinger magazine, Malibu is the "best buy" car in its price range.
Teo suggests you test-drive Impala. I tested both base one and Impala LS. Like the later very much. It is the best car in the next price range, according to the same source. I also would suggest testing it, if you have extra U$ 3-4 thousand to spend.
On the other hand, imho, the base Impala is only a so-so car. I like Malibu much better.
Though, probably I would look for a base Impala with 3.8l engine - the same as in Impala LS. Or Buick Regal LS, or Grand Prix GT with the same engine.
Very good deals are available now for the leftover 2000 GP and Regal. Like 5 year 0% credit with only U$1000 down. At least in USA, do not know about Canada. The deals are not available, though, for Impala.
Currently the 3.1 have almost the same maximum power, but the torque curve of 3.4 is much better. Almost flat in the full everyday rpm range, 1800 to 4500 or so.
This translates in much faster acceleration. It is especially impressive on highways, up-hill. Malibu is crying for this engine.