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2000-2011 Chevrolet Malibu



  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    Why would you want to coast downhill in neutral???? Not sure shifting into a drive gear at high speed on a regular basis is good for the transmission. But I'm not a mechanic.
  • OK, I went to the Chevy dealership today and I was checking out the Malibu. It was nice. The interior looked well-laid out and the leather was of decent quality. I also drove the car. It was smooth and the engine gained power easily the ride was also relatively smooth. But then as I stepped out of the car, I checked the tires... FIRESTONE! I was a little bit shocked but the model was affinity. Now this wasn't the model that was exploding on the explorers but it is still built by the same company, firestone. Now they rode easily and took twists and turns smoothly but I still feel awkward about driving a car with firestones. My wifes current Prizm had Firestones on it and I managed to switch them for goodyears. Unfortunately, firestone is all Chevy puts on the Malibu. The Saturn L-series also has firestones.
    Now, is this brand of firestone better then the Wilderness and steel-ex firestones that were on the explorers? I still feel stupid buying a car that has this brand of tires on it. I am going to ask the dealer if they could switch them but I probably will end up just going out and buying a new set of michelins or goodyears to stop the worrying that firestone has put in my mind. What should I do??
  • dtown, I heard on several occasions that coasting downhill on Neutral saves fuel, since the engine is not spinning the wheels. I doubt it damages tranny in any way, because in manual people shift from neutral to gears all the time and at any speed, and I don't think automatic is any different in this respect

    Homer61, Affinities are average tires at best, and I found them to be below average on wet asphalt. They are also somewhat noisy. But if you want to save some money, you should be just fine with Affinities for a couple of years. There hasn't been a safety problem with these tires. Firestone had the problem with tires for SUVs, and those tires are different. If you live in a rainy climate, I highly recommend Goodyear Aquatred III. Pricey, but AA traction is definitely worth it
  • larryt22larryt22 Posts: 125
    You should question the affinity tires as they are crap. If you buy the car, go straight to a tire store and have them replaced. Anything is better than these tires.
  • usaf52usaf52 Posts: 70
    I have a 2002 Malibu, and it has the Firestone Affinity tires. I live in a cold, mountainous area with plenty of snow/rain and twisting roads. Have never had a problem with road handling with these tires, and have not found them to be noisy.
  • usaf, you are making me regret I threw Affinities away after just 30K miles!!!

    But they do suck on wet asphalt with B traction, and it rains on average 160 days a year in Vancouver, much as I loved those wonderful, wonderful tires...bye-bye, sweeties!
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    Homer61388, So the tires were fine while you were driving the car but not when you stopped and looked at the brand of tires? Hmmmmmm.

    Bcmalibu99 is right. The tires are average at best but they are not unsafe. They will suit you fine for about 30k miles. Most OEM tires in this class fall into this category. About the only company that puts decent tires on their base models is the Honda.

    Bcmalibu99 - A little secret..going downhill your car naturally gets better gas mileage. It's called gravity. I think it's a potentially dangerous situation by taking an automatic transmission car out of gear at speed. The shifting you are referring to for manual tranmission, the cars are slowing down (ie. approaching a stop sign or red light). Going down hill you could be approaching speeds in excess of 65 mph. It may be fine for the tranny, like I said I'm no mechanic, but I don't see the fuel savings benefit. Driving the speed limit, making sure your car is properly maintained...I understand those fuel savings but shifting into neutral while going downhill... I just don't get it. It doesn't mean it's wrong, I just don't understand it.
  • dtown, if a car has a manual, you are briefly switching into neutral every time you change gears, whether you are upshifting or downshifting. Thus, if you are shifting into the 4th gear, you may be going as fast as 60-65 MPH at the time. Some heavy trucks even require "double clutching," when you have to hit the clutch before you pull the stick into neutral, then release the clutch for about half a second and hit it again before putting the stick into the next gear.

    The fuel savings are there because your engine's role is to spin the wheels, and if you disconnect the engine from the wheels (when you shift to neutral), the engine does not have to spin the wheels, and thus it requires less fuel to operate. Is it making any sense?
  • norbsnorbs Posts: 10
    One problem using neutral on hills is lack of cooling for the transmission. All automatics have an extra cooler or at least piping from the radiator to keep the transmission fluid from getting too hot. In neutral the engine is probably at idle and the water pump is less efficient. Idle on my 99 is 450 rpm. Ofcourse you are not in neutral for long but it also could use more brakes if you were to come to a stop without being in gear. Malibu's have enough trouble getting long mileage out of the rotors supplied by chevy. Many automatics are warned against towing the car with the drive wheels on the ground and in neutral. Oil not circulating well enough in the torque converter. Needs to be warm and spinning up in gear to be effective. The fuel savings by using this technique would not be measurable over a months time. Just not a recommended procedure.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    bcmalibu99ls. I understand the theory with switching to neutral but for you to get any type of fuel savigns, that hill would have to be 30-40 miles long.

    I've been in cars with the computers that show the instantaneous gas mileage. As you go down hill, the computed instantaneous gas mileage jumps up to 50 mpg or more. So there is a natural fuel saving from just going downhill.

    I think norbs gave a very good technical reason for not shifting into neutral on the hills. He obviously knows more about cars then I do.

  • I have already asked it to forgive me for being so mean to its transmission. I indeed think it's not worth some minor fuel savings. Thanks everyone for your input!
  • Guys,

    Took the Bu into the dealer to figure out what was going on with this thing in neutral. Needless to say they didn't want to take the transmission apart. Brutal job. Anyway, so we test drove a couple brand new Malibu's sitting on the lot. Both of them did the same thing. Nice big clunk in neutral just before the car stops. The techs were amazed. So, apparently they all do it. Give it a try sometime with your when you're on a clear road with no one around.
  • well if you hadn't noticed I am not a big fan of Firestones. In a way I was surprised by the ride of the car since I know that firestone is a crap tire company. And mind you this was a spin around the block. I dont own the car! I have had past experiences with firestone, namely on my 1993 Saturn. The tires crapped out at 23,000 miles. It was a brand new car when i bought it and it seemed like the tires had been run around for a while. So I will definitely replace the tires if I buy the Malibu. I won't take any chances.
  • Does any one every have problems with there gear selector? If so, I'd like to hear some info about it. Mine does in only when its really cold, maybe near freazing and below. I can't use just my thumb to push the button to move it, if i can move it, i have to use both hands and squezy really hard. It feels like i am not applying the brake and trying to shift like that. Again, it only does this on really cold days, but if i let the car warm up it does't do. I live in Oklahoma, have 115500 miles on my car.
  • Hey, Chevymalibu19, have you ever changed your tranny fluid? It's a good idea to do so every 50K miles, unless you are always driving on absolutely flat surfaces. Besides, if you are living in a climate with hot summers and cold winters, extreme outside temperatures sometimes make it necessary to change fluids even sooner than in mild climates. Maybe that's why you are having this problem, and it could be a sign that worse things are just around the corner
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    Yes, I know you don't own it (Remember I'm the one who gave you the long dissertation about the Saturn, Sebring, Taurus and Sonata). My point was you test drove the vehicle and you liked the ride of the car and you did not object to tires until after you saw the brand name.

    If you don't like firestone, no big deal. i'm not a fan of Chrysler cars. I think they are crap but that is another discussion. Like I said earlier, I consider the tires one of the weak points of the car. You liked the ride of the Malibu with the "crap" Firestone tires on them so the ride should be even better with Michelins or Bridgestone (which is the parent company of Firestone and I am not a fan of Goodyear). But why buy a new car and then spend $400 right away on new tires. Run on them for 30k miles esp. since they are covered by warranty anyway. Then you can do research on tires in the meantime.

    Good luck car shopping. You picked a good time of year to buy a car.
  • Yeah, i've changed my trans fluid, actually pretty recently. I changed it at 100000 miles, but not before. So, it could possible be a transmission problem? What other signs should i look for to detect a trans problem. For now, the trans literally drives like it did when when i got it a 20,000 miles.
  • that there could be some small part responsible for trouble-free operating of the tranny knob, and that part is worn out which shows when it's cold outside. Maybe give a chevy dealer service dept a call and describe the problem. Who knows, maybe it's common and takes 20 minutes and 50 bucks to fix
  • Yeah I was thinking about that. Keeping the firestone tires and running them for a while. I didn't think that the tires were under warranty. It makes sense but it just never occurred to me. But yet, I am worried about putting my kids into a car with Firestones because I had a close friend who had an explorer and he was involved in a big accident, almost losing his life. And I just couldn't imagine that happening to me. But then these are a different brand of Firestones. I don't know. But it will be something that I will definitely think about for a while. That does seem stupid though to buy a car then go and buy a new set of tires! oh well.

  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Personally I found the firestone tires to be adequate for everyday driving in terms of noise, ride, and handling. Who goes all out in their Malibus anyway? The different road surfaces make a much bigger difference in road noise level, so the tires themselves are almost irrelevant. As far as safety, there're so many Malibus on the road and you don't hear about tire-related accidents. I really don't think you need to be overly concerned with these particular firestones.

    Of all the cars you mentioned, if budget is 1st priority, as in our case, the Malibu is definately the one to go. It's like a faithful servant that doesn't have the glamor but does the job well. We have almost 5000 miles on ours and not a single problem. If money is tight, there's no way for me personaly to justify spending $5000 more on an import.
  • Those Fire stone tires are very bad. If i were you, i'd keep them for a while, and replace them some something different. When it rains, those tires are really no good.

    Thanks for the info, i guess i'll call the dealer, i'll let you know how it turns out.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    Most new cars don't come with great tires--so I usually trash the OEM tires after 2 yrs. and get what I want--Tirerack has so many bargains I may not wait that long.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    I understand your concern over Firestone the company, esp. after the Explorer debacle. That was a sad situation. But these are different type of tires and Firestone has been in business for a long, long time and they actually have a good reputation. As you noticed, most GM cars in this class have Firestone tires on them. If you like the ride and handling of the Malibu, go for it. It a nice car. Most of my complaints about the car are minor. I thought i might regret purchasing this car after a year. But I can honestly say I'm happy that we chose this car. Now my next purchase will be a minivvan in about a year.

    Do some research here on Edmunds but also check out sites like They give the malibu very nice reviews.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    I would agree that Firestone makes some good tires but their reputation was stained before by the infamous Firestone 500 tire and apparently they did not learn too much from that experience.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    I did our Malibu's 2nd oil change last night at 5104 miles. Boy, did I have a hard time removing the oil filter! Since I didn't change the filter at the 1st oil change, it was still the factory filter. My arms and neck are still soring. Once the filter was off the rest was a breeze cause everything was located at the front of the car.

    A scary incident did happen though. My oil filter wrench, which is made of metal, touched some part nearby the filter and sent off sparks! I immediately crawled out to check on the car. The key wasn't in the ignition when it happened, and I saw the parking lamps blinked a couple of times. I started the car and everything looked normal. Now maybe I'm a little paranoid and I think I'm hearing more engine noise. Let's hope it's just my imagination. Does anyone of you experts know what part I touched? Thanks!
  • I know the manual says the fuel tank on my '02 Malibu holds 14 US Gallons, but my fuel light went on a couple of days ago, and I got to a station w/in 10 miles. When I filled the tank, it only took about 11.5 gallons....does the tank really hold 14? or is it closer to 12 ?. seems that I should be able to go about 300 miles (250 at least) before worrying about re-filling, and I'm getting a good 24-28 MPG on my '02 'Bu... (actually got 30 this weekend, driving about 300 miles @ between 70-75MPH...)Anyone got any info ?
  • wilfj1wilfj1 Posts: 52
    local GM ad: 2003 Malibu 3.4 sfc 180 hp. Did they change the motor in 2003??, I bought a 2002 with a 3.1 . I could have waited till the 03 was available but the Salesman said there was no major changes in 2003 model so I went ahead. You just have to do your homework as I would have preferred the 3.4 over the 3.1 .I would think the 3.4 is a far superior engine and is the base of the Impala.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    3.4 liter engine in Impala was not too impressive in my opinion. 3.1 liter engine in Lumina is not as noisy and there isn't much difference in horsepower. Haven't seen the Malibu advertised in U.S. with 3.4 liter engine, either.
  • wilfj1wilfj1 Posts: 52
    Thanks for the come back pluto5, I'm going to call GM Canada after holidays, it could well be a misprint. Knowing GM they will refer it to their legal dept. before answering. have a Merry Christmas.
  • Just a quick post regarding OE Firestone Affinity
    tires. I recently replaced mine with Michelin
    Harmony tires and the result was a smoother,quieter more responsive handling Malibu.
    (mine is a base 99 model) I would advise anyone still running on those lousy Firestones to spend the extra money and go with a a set of these Michelins. I live in Toronto Ont. and the recent snow we've had convinced me these are the best all season tires i could have for my driving needs.Love this forum and have learned alot abot my car from it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All.
This discussion has been closed.