Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

2000-2011 Chevrolet Malibu



  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    It sounds like you have your work, and money, cut out for you. I can sympathize with you, though. Even though I'm an old geezer now, I can still remember a couple of my car experiences in my teen years. I would have recommended a CARFAX search on this car before buying it. However, with a salvage title, and all the troubles you have had with it, it was probably a wreck or flood damaged car that the insurance company totaled out. You are correct in your assumption that you will not get a good trade with a salvage title, so you might as well continue on with your saga of rebuilding it..piece-by-piece.
    A couple of ideas for you...if you experience the starting troubles again, you might want to check out the computer module...and you may even want to see if you can find a good one at a salvage yard. A new one will cost a bunch, and you already have so much invested. I would definitly replace the serpentine belt..if it breaks you are stranded. Re-the grinding noise when cold..does the engine run cool/normal? You might keep an eye on the water pump, and check your anti-freeze to see that its nice and green or clean. If its a nasty brown, start saving up some more money for some cooling system work. As for oil/additives, unless the engine is burning oil, I would stay away from Restore, or any Teflon/Moly/etc., gunk...They may help for a short period of time, but the engine will still roll over and die if it's that bad. I remember once when I was about 18, I put raw hamburger meat in the differential before I traded an old junker. It sure quieted down the gears..the dealer I sold it to had screwed a couple of my biddies, so he deserved it. It is best to stay with whatever oil the original owner was using, if you can find that out. An engine will last twice as long with a diet of the same oil, rather than changing brands. At the minimum, keep a good filter in the engine.
    Good luck with your adventure! Cars can keep a teenager broke, big time! If you have the manual, try to learn how to fix it yourself as much as possible. Dealers and shops will charge you a fortune...example, a new alternator should have cost around $100, and is a fairly easy job. I grew up in north Denver, near 36th and Federal, but I no longer know any contacts there that might be of any help to you (North High-class of '60). Check out the local auto parts stores for the best prices. If you have the O'reilly chain or Autozone there, they are usually fairly reasonable. Good luck!!!
  • spratt1spratt1 Posts: 53
    The raw meat story reminds me of one I have. When I was about 20, I owned a VW van with a manual transmission. When I bought it it already had about 120,000 miles on it. The thing used to pop out of gear frequently. An old after the market VW manual I had said to add saw dust to the gear box, plus a little thicker gear oil. I did that and ran the thing for another 100,000 miles. It never poped out of gear. The vehicle finally ended in the fate of many a VW when it caught fire about 8 years later due to a cracked fuel line.

    Good luck Jtrujillo86. I had plenty of fun/good times working on all my cars until I bought my first new one in 1990.
  • jtrujillo86jtrujillo86 Posts: 300
    Thanks for the info guys. I don't think I'll be trying the restore. I do, however, think I'll try the DuraBlend. I've always used Valvoline, so I don't think this will do too much difference, but it's worth a try. Thanks for the support also! It's really helpful especially when I'm really frustrated with the bu.
  • breetai52breetai52 Posts: 91
    Hey guys,

    I have an '02 bu. I've noticed that my engine idles at around 1400 when in park. When I shift it into drive it drops down to the "normal" 600-800 range. Has anyone else noticed this? Should I be concerned about this? I don't remember ever seeing another car idle in park at such a high rate.


    ps. love the car.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    Your question made me look. There appears to be no adjustment for the idle speed on my '03, so I have to assume that its idle speed, like most newer cars is controlled by the engine control module. I did notice, however, that there are 2 cables going to a spring loaded bellcrank which operates the valve in the throttle body. You might check to see that the cables are securely clipped into the mounting strap, and that the bellcrank operates freely, and snaps solidly back to its closed position. If this bellcrank is binding, it could hold the throttlebody valve in a slightly open position, thus causing the engine to run faster at idle. Also, there might be some problem with the cooling system that is not telling the engine it has warmed may not be kicking out of the fast idle that is normal for a cold engine. That would be kind of like an older car with a sticking choke on the carberator..idles fast, and wastes fuel. Beyond that, you might be seeing the early symptoms of some engine sensor going bad. Have you noticed the "service engine soon" light going on? I would certainly check this out..could be a minor problem if fixed now, that might save worse troubles later on. Idling at that high an rpm will cause extra strain on the transmission, etc., that could result in costly repairs if ignored.
  • nyseguynyseguy Posts: 1
    Just have to throw this out there, I've owned my Malibu since Dec 31 2001 and couldn't be happier. I'd test drove an Accord Value Ed. and was dead set to buy, but the dealer started playing me and I walked. I was trading in my POS 97 Neon at the time and was looking for "iron clad" reliability which is why I had thought I was walking away w/an Accord that day. I decided that I wanted to drive a 'Bu for compro, but figured it'd be way too much car for what I wanted to spend. I got an awsome deal (I think) and wound up OTD paying $400 more for a fully loaded v6 'bu than I was willing to pay for a stripped down I4 Accord. I've never regretted my decision! It's been a wonderful experince. An added bonus, was my insurance agent told me the Accord is costlier to insure by a significant amount due to it's popularity among car thieves, and replacement parts being very expensive. It's blandness isn't so bad, I've blown by 2 speed traps going 15-20 mph higher than the lmt and was completely ignored. The cops went after the Integra I was keeping up with the 1st time, and the 2nd time it was a BMW that got nabbed. Call it "stealth" styling if you like, I call it an even bigger savings to my insurance bill!!! Anyway, the bu has been out long enough that the bugs either have been worked out or are widely known, so I'm able to keep on top of those potential prob areas. I'd not hesitate to recommend this car to anyone looking for a comfy, roomy, family sedan.
  • fredvhfredvh Posts: 854
    Have you had any trouble with the front brakes? Have you had any trouble with it at all? What kind of mpg do you get(25/75,city/highway)?
  • My theft deterrent light came on the other day. I forget the exact name, but it was the theft system or whatever light. I came on when i turn a corner, and stayed on until i shut the car of and restarted it. It's the first time, it has happened, has anyone else had this happen.

    Also, I've detected a squeak somewhere in my dash. I can't really hear it, unless i have the radio off or down really low. It is very annoying, the sound is similar to a form cup rubbing in the cup holder. Has anyone else experienced this, and what are you suggestions? It's a 98 Bu.
  • breetai52breetai52 Posts: 91
    Good news about my idle speed. When I got to work the car was warmed up completely and the RPMs were down to around 800 in park. It must be the computer trying to warm up the engine. I usually let it warm up to just over 100 and I did notice that this brought the RPMs to between 1200-1300 from 1400.

    Anyone else in a cold climate seeing something similar? I'm in frigid Massachusetts and its been near or below freezing in the morning for about 5 months now.

  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    Yup, you may just be seeing a side effect of the brutal winter some parts of the nation have had. The Malibu computer is probably set to maintain a fast idle until the engine reaches a certain temperature, and the cold temperatures are keeping the engine from reaching that temp. If there's room between the radiator and grill, you might see if you can put a piece of cardboard in there to partially block the airflow thru the radiator. I have a Dodge pickup that has such a big radiator that the heater is of little value unless I block the radiator when the outside temp drops below 10 degrees. Its a small hassle, but I'd rather have a cool running engine than one which overheats in the summer. You said that you let it warm up to just over 100..that is too cool. The guage doesn't really tell you the actual temperature, other than 100, and overheating at 260. Our '03 warms up to mid-scale on the guage, and stays right there fairly steady. Thats probably in the 180 Degree range, depending upon what thermostat the factory put in. You might try the cardboard trick to see if you can get the temperature up. If not, you may have something as simple as a thermostat stuck in the open position. If so, thats a $3 item and a few minutes to replace...on most cars.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    Your malibu sounds normal to me. Mine does go up to about 1400 rpm when I first start it then it comes down to about 700 rpm. I'm assuming it goes up to 1400 rpm right away is to help the engine warm faster.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    Don't be too sure they fixed all the bugs. I have a 2001 Malibu with 25k miles that ijust had to replce the rotors. Luckily it was under warranty but no excuse for vehicle that has been out for five model years. My concern now is the intake manifold leak.

    Otherwise it is a nice car.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    Here's a thought for Malibu owners who are having rotor problems. If you are going to have to resurface or replace the rotors, and the car is out of warranty, check with some of the major auto supply stores for "lifetime warranty" rotors and pads. NAPA, Autozone, O'reilly, etc., all offer these for just a few dollars more than the standard items. If I ever have to do it to my 03, O'reilly has lifetime items that will cost about $125 for the entire job. Just be sure to save your receipt. I drove a '90 Z28 for the last 10 years I worked, and it was great..humbled a lot of local Mustangs, but it ate alternators. I replaced the first one at 60K, then again at about 95K, and when I sold the car at about 120K, I put on a 3rd, as the output had dropped to 13v. Total cost for all 3 was about $95..bought one, got the next 2 free with my receipt. If the chevy rotors are a bit weak, I would not expect the replacements from GM to be any better..therefore, get some from a company that specializes in brakes...Wagner, BrakeBest, Raybestos, etc.
  • beedublubeedublu Posts: 236
    Decisions, decisions...

    Should I grab one of the '03s, the last of the current generation 'Bu? Or is the '04 worth the wait? The '04 offers traction control -- which I'd really like, since I live in the snowy Great Lakes region -- but I could live without it. Other than that, I think the current model looks as good as the future one.

    I'm thinking this way: The price will be higher on the '04 and there will be fewer rebates (if any) initially. Plus dealers will probably not negotiate as much if they still have leftovers to clear out.

    And then there's the reliability question. I've been burned before on brand new models and I'm almost thinking that it would be better to go with the the '03 that's had most of the bugs worked out of it. Yeah, I know, there are some here who will disagree with that idea. ;-)

    Opinions, please! Thanks.
  • breetai52breetai52 Posts: 91
    "I've been burned before on brand new models"

    If you need to purchase the car soon you're probably better off with the 03. I don't think the 04 will be out until the fall which means rebates probably won't be available until around the new year. But don't listen to me, I'm notoriously bad at timing these sorts of things.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    I'd go for the '03..we did. Since GM and all the others are feeling the squeeze from the government to sell lots of economy cars to offset the glut of SUV's hitting the market, and with the current rebates, you can get a loaded '03 LS for a fraction of what an '04 will probably cost. There will be a rush to get the new model, and the dealers will not be dealing on the '04's for months. So unless you just have to have the latest style, I would say that you would be thousands of dollars better off to get one now. The Fairfax plant in Kansas City is shutting down in a few weeks to start the model changeover to start building the '04's, so they will probably hit the market in Sept., or early Oct. The '03's have been built in Lansing Michigan, and that plant has a better reputation than the KC Fairfax plant. I'm not too keen on the idea of a new car being built at a new plant..could be a recipe for some strange troubles for the first few months.
  • pathowpathow Posts: 1
    I bought my 98 Malibu from a rental car sales lot in March 1998 w/ 11k miles. Thank god I bought the extended warranty at my credit union when I financed! I've never bought one before but it sure has been a godsend! Trouble started at 12984 miles (still under dealer warranty).
    Squeaking noise in front end going over bumps. Replaced both front lower control arms. Excessive noise from bushings.
    35646 miles:Intermittent wiper switch shorted, replace switch.
    Extended Warranty kicks in -
    61132: Intake manifold gasket replaced.
    68360: Alternator replaced, Power steering pump replaced.
    72963: Upper strut mount bearings and front struts replaced.
    74675: Rack & Pinion steering replaced.
    77874: Bottom idler pulley & serpentine belt replaced (this one left me stranded on I-10 New Years Eve!)
    86726: Brake ABS Motor pack replaced.
    94310: Top idler pulley & serpentine belt replaced. Intake manifold gasket replaced (again) Transmission mount replaced.
    95884: Front rotors replaced.
    My malibu now has just under 96k on it. Warranty runs out at 100k. You can bet I won't be keeping it after that! The last mechanic I used told me he loves GM cars, especially Malibus. They keep him in business!
  • jtrujillo86jtrujillo86 Posts: 300
    Hey. I have a 97 with 56,000 miles. I have done tons to it in the 8,000 miles I've had it (look @ my comments on message page 75). Anyway I'm hearing squeaks from the left front like a lot of Malibu owners have. You mentioned you had to have your front control arms replaced. How much did that cost you? And by the way, I just got done replacing my intake manifold're not alone.
  • I read Pathow's problems with his car, and I am truly shocked. I don't know if you got a bad one or I got a good one out the bunch, but it's shocking. I will admit, I've had problems with my brakes too, rotors changed and machined/turned because of warping. My power steering pump burst one winter, and I had my gasket replaced, under warranty thank god. I've had to have my belt tensionor replaced twice, at around 60,000 miles the first time, and almost exactly another 60,000 miles later. I expect to have it changed again in another 60,000 miles. I just hope that I never have all the problems that I hear you did, cause I'm a college student and I really can't afford it. Thus for, by the grace of god, I've been truly blessed with my car, including the interior, which I thought looked a little fragile.
  • smrennasmrenna Posts: 6
    I road tested a 2003 Malibu and found the steering to be hard much more than my 91 Olds. Has any one else experience this? Otherwise I liked the car.
  • robby8robby8 Posts: 17
    I own a 2000 Malibu LS and for the last couple of months I have been hearing a rubbing noise when I turn the steering wheel at low speeds. I suspect the noise is still there at high speeds but I just can't hear it. My steering isn't affected. Does anyone know if this is a problem?
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    chevymalibu19: You call having the rotors warp, power steering pump go, intake manifold gasket replaced, and the belt tensioner replaced twice all within 60k miles as having a good Malibu. I realize that the the first 3 items were done under warranty but it doesn't give much comfort in the long term reliability of the car. I hope you don't have the same misfortunes as Pathow.

    robby8: Based on the fact that it is relatively new (and the problems the early models have had with the suspension) I don't hink it is normal. What exactly do you mean by "rubbing" in the steering wheel. If it is in the steering, the only thing you cna try is to have a power steering flush and hope that helps. The next option is replace the rack. If you do have to replace the rack, insist on a re-manufactured one. BTW, how many miles do you have on your Malibu?

    Maybe pathow can tell us how his steering felt when he had to replace his steering rack? If youhave some of the same symptoms, then that could very well be your answer.
  • robby8robby8 Posts: 17
    Thanks for your response, dtownfb. The only way I can describe the rubbing is that it sounds very similar to the type of sound your hear when you clean windows with Windex and you get that 'clean noise'. It is not a high-pitched squeak however. The car has approximately 31 000 miles on it. By the way, I believe they did a flush on my last maintenance check.
  • dtownfb, has me to thinking about the long term reliability of the Malibu, and I am questioning it now. If there is another person with over 100,000 miles on your bu, i'd like to compare lists of woos and maintenance fees. Although i do not plain on getting another car soon, I'd like to see where i am in costs. I'd like to wait until I finish college, which is May 04, to get another car. By then, I expect to have up to 150,000 miles or maybe more. I'm depending on this car to make it there, I just want to see what anyone else has experienced above 100,000 miles and to see if it is anything different from me. Thus far, other then return maintenance, I've had my belt tension replaced ($40), but it is the second time. The first time was around 60,000 miles along with an alternator replaced under extended warranty, I ended up paying $9.00 for the alternator replacement. I have a little over 122,000 miles right now. Does anyone think it is about time to look into another alternator, and about how much should i expect to pay?
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Yesterday it occurred to me to check the surface of my brake pads, and I found both surfaces were not smooth. I could feel minor grooves. I then checked my other car (Geo Storm) and the surfaces were super smooth. Is this a cause for concern in terms of the longevity of those pads in the long run?
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    First to "chevymalibu19"..WOW! If you have gotten 122K out of your Malibu with only a couple of belt tensioners, and an have a great little car! Insofar as the alternator is concerned, they can go bad in a thousand miles, or last a lifetime. The easiest way to check one out is hook up a good digital multimeter to the battery terminals. Then fire up the engine, and hold the throttle at about 12 to 1400 RPM. The meter should read 14 to 14.2 volts. If you can't get 14 volts out of it, you can start planning on replacing it. Any good auto shop can test it for you at a minimum charge. Alternators are easy to replace, and the part should not cost much over $100..and should carry a lifetime warranty from most good auto supply stores. Just save your receipt if you have any future troubles.
    Second, to tamu2002..yes, the pads should be smooth. If you are starting to get grooves, check your rotors for matching grooves/ridges. If you can replace the pads before rotor damage occurs, you will be money ahead. If you replace the pads/rotors, try to do it at a time when you can take the car out and put about 100 miles on it with light use of the brakes. They need to seat and break in for optimum life. The worst thing you can do is to put on new brakes over the weekend, then get into heavy rush hour traffic on monday. It only takes a few panic stops to crystalize the new pads, and they will not last long before they start pulling, grabbing, and squealing.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421

    Join us tonight, 6-7pm PT/9-10pm ET for another
    round of automotive trivia and member-to-member chat.
    Test your skills (or multiple choice guessing ability)
    against other Town Hall members.

    Hope to see you there!
  • Thanks Deminin for the advice on the alternator, I'll have it checked this weekend. Just for clarity, alternator and belt tensioners are not the only problems i've had with my car. I also have had my rotors replace and my power stearing pump replaced. In the message before, i was just refering to events that i've encountered since I've went over 100,000 miles. Thanks again for the alternator tips.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Thanks deminin. What would happen if I don't replace the pads now. We only have 7400 miles. As long as it won't cause any damage to the rotors, I'm willing to live with it because I'm not sure if the dealer would be willing to replace them for free. I'm even sure if it's supposed to be covered by the warranty. As always, thanks a bunch for your input!

  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    With only 7400 miles, the problems should not be severe. I would continue to watch the pads, and listen for any strange noises as you brake. If you have the aluminum wheels, take note of the condition of the rotors whenever you are washing the wheels..a regular visual inspection can spot a problem in its early stages. If you hear any fairly loud sqeaking or grinding noises, that would be a good indicator that service may be required. Since brake problems seem to be high on the list of complaints for this car, I intend to watch mine closely. If I start having troubles, I plan on getting a set of Brakebest, or Wagner rotors and pads, which carry a lifetime warranty, and put them on. If you take your car in to the dealer for service, ask them to check your brakes...just tell them you have heard some funny noises when you apply the brakes, and let them check it out. With so few miles on the car, a good dealer will replace the pads with no questions if they see any abnormal signs of wear.
This discussion has been closed.