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2000-2011 Chevrolet Malibu



  • OK. I will check out the things you have mentioned and see what is going on. Will keep the group posted.

  • I guess I should start saving my pennies for a new intake manifold gasket :) I'll let you guys know when it goes, so that you all can feel for me :)
  • Went out just now to inspect my car for the intake manifold problem from my prior post. From where the resevior runs for adding fluid I followed a hose it (standing in front of the engine - under the hood) from left to right and to the right of the oil dipstick (but lower) and to left of the battery (arout 11 o'clock direction-wise from the battery) I found a reddish substance that was slightly puddled. This hose connects to radiator on the battery side of the car. My knowledge of cars is limited - so this is the best way I can describe it. In checking the oil I do not see any mix of radiator fluid and the oil seems fine. How does this sound? Intake manifold problem.

    Saying it is - and this seems to be a specific problem with Malibu's - do you think I am OK taking it to the local garage (I have some co-workers who have given me recommendations for a local garage - my car has never been to a non-Chevy dealership save my tires)? It sounds like a pressure check on the radiator would be my next step.

    Thoughts/comments - I am all ears.

    Thanks guys,

  • Magnus, I can't help with that question. Maybe you'll get some more responses tonight. I do think the gasket problem is yours.

    Well, my brake problem only got worse today, so off to the dealer I go again tomorrow (will have to rent at my cost, I'm sure, since none of what I need done is covered by Ext. Warr.). I need a full brake inspection (and new brakes, probably), tire rotation (which I forgot last month) and a hard-start problem figured out. I think the latter is because my local Chevron station just became Sunoco and the car hasn't been happy. Probably a fuel-injector flush and possibly a fuel filter. Good thing I'm keeping it at least 6 more months.

    Also, I'll take the time to play "Hot Button" (wish me luck) and will snoop around a bit more re: the '04.

    Will advise....
  • Ok Here's My Story..

    99 Malibu Loaded Base Model Purchased it with
    39,000 KM on the clock.

    70,000 KM - Front pads replaced-rotors borderline

    71,000 KM - Lower Intake manifold gasket repair

    80,300 KM - CD Player Replaced (skipping)

    85,650 KM - Blower Motor Resistor replaced.

    94,000 KM - 4 tires replaced (Affinity = CRAP)
    Got Michelin Very GOOD

    99,350 KM - Rotors replaced(warped)pads, serv calipers clean adjust rear brakes emer cable etc.

    109,700 KM - Lower intake manifold gasket AGAIN !! Repaired

    110,500 KM - Water Pump Replaced

    110,580 Km - Alternator Replaced

    112,000 Km - Replaced right front wheel sensor
    related to ABS light coming on solid.

     So What Do You Guys Think ??

     Is this a family car or a good BOAT ANCHOR ??

    SRRY for the long post but had to Vent

  • but low quality for sure. I hope the second intake manifold gasket was repaired for free?
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
  • These problems occured after 70K, and not all of them were serious enough to affect performance of the vehicle.
  • First things first: GET THAT GASKET FIXED NOW! A lady I work with has (or had) a 99 Grand Am SE with the 3.4 engine, which has the same gasket problems as the Malibus. I told her over and over again to watch the coolant and the gasket for any leaks. She had the "Low Coolant" light and simply kept adding Dex-Cool. Welp, driving home the other night, her gasket completely let loose, hydro-locking the engine, leaving her stranded. Now after replacing the engine to the tune of $3K, she traded the car in for an Altima. Like I said, GET THAT GASKET FIXED!

    As for the "Junk or Not", you've had the car for, what, about 75 km or so, right? That means you have had one problem every 10 km or so, which seems EXTREMELY excessive. I would dump her. I always complained about my Malibu, and I never had that many problems. There are much better vehicles out there, maybe even better Malibus...yours just must be a lemon.

  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    those wacky GM pushrod v6's and blown gaskets.......
  • Magnus;
    It sure does sound like you have the leaky intake gasket problem

    I wouldn't have any issues with having a local shop do the work. (I'd recommend phoning the local dealership just to get a quote. Just say that you think you might need a new intake gasket and the car is at another shop getting looked at but you'd like to know what they would charge for replacing this would be. Most likely it would be more expensive, but sometimes GM comes out cheaper).

    Mine is just barely leaking at this point so I'll wait until Spring or until the problem gets noticeably worse, whichever happens first, to replace the gasket. Adding radiator sealant (incidentally, the same stuff they add at the factory) seems to have stopped the problem for now. This is my first Malibu but my fourth car with the 3.1 engine and the first to have this problem. I would not worry about the car hydro-locking unless you are having to put in coolant all the time and ignore the symptoms. The most important would be to pull the dipstick when the car is cold and see if you have any of coolant on it. If you do then get the gasket done as soon as possible.

    There is a lot of information on the web about Chevy engines, dexi-cool (the red coolant) and intake manifold gasket issues. The Chevy engine is not bad, it just has poor gasket that I hope they've fixed with the latest design. I've gotten a lot of mileage out of my other 3.1's without having a lot of repairs, just regular maintenance.

    So, I'd take the car to a mechanic you trust and get them to look at it and do the work if they confirm it's a bad intake manifold gasket.

    Please tell us how it works out.

    Good luck.
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    gasket issues really only occur on 3.1L and 3.4L OHVs.
  • tomcat630tomcat630 Posts: 854
    Yeah, the 3800 has never had any!

    It is not as if ALL the push rod engines ever made will die in the first year.
  • Well, shot the day to you-know-where.

    First, they couldn't duplicate the rough start problem. But the tech came to talk to me. He's the same one that did the intake gaskets last summer. He said that yes, I do have the new gaskets (whew) and that customers who have GMPP also get a new fuel pump module at the same time, which apparently I got. The fuel pump module (I think that was the word, began with "m" for sure) is extremely trouble-prone on the 3.1 as well as the gaskets. They did both since 1/2 of the engine was apart anyway. Those of you considering taking your car to a place other than the dealer should make SURE that you get the new type of gasket, not the old. New one has more metal filaments in it (to make it stronger).

    I'm now over $3,000 in covered GMPP repairs (paid $950 for the coverage), since part of my brake troubles were covered. First, the front pads were nearly shot, and the rotors needed resurfacing (expected both). But, the rear brakes (which were replaced 15K ago) were also shot. Both cylinders were leaking, causing brake fluid to warp those rotors and cause the shoes to stick, hence the "thump". The cylinders were covered by GMPP, but I still had to cough up $520.

    By the way, the tech told me that the gasket replacement and the fuel pump module would have cost $1,600, had I not had GMPP.

    The price seems to get higher daily.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    the 3800 has been plagued with issues too. my father in law blew 1200 to fix his, and his shop was extremely familiar with the problem on several other 3800's.....not to mention all the times its been brought up on edmunds....
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    So you're saying to do this inevitable intake gasket replacement and get the must-have fuel pump module while at it would cost $1600 at a dealer? I don't have GMPP, and it sounds like having a dealer do it is the only sure way to get the new revised gasket and the fuel module. You're making me a bit uneasy here to say the least. Does anybody know if the 2002 malibu has the new gasket?
  • Well, I discovered this morning that good old GM has gone back on its word. It is now selling '04 Chevy Classics to the retail customer. My dealer just got a truckload in yesterday. So much for Lutz's statements. I don't know why this has happened. Guesses, anyone?

    The base Classic stickers for $19,700 (with one or two cheaper options), while the stripped base '04 Malibu stickers for a few $ under $19.

    The salespeople are so confused, and I feel for them. GM is mixed up at the moment, big time.

    But so is the dealer. The writer and the tech in the Service Dept. both felt that the '04 Bu is a much better Buy than the Impala, due to the more current technology.

    The salespoeople are pushing both the Impala and the Classic and not the Bu. Higher margins on the Impala for sure, but they also have over 30 on the lot. I can imagine why they're pushing the Imp and Classic. Sticker shock on the '04 Bu (one salesman whispered to me that it's way overpriced and will depreciate like a falling brick; chuckled to myself; didn't say anything). They had 6 new Bus, but no Maxxes yet. Salespeople claim the Impala to be much higher quality, which I doubted, until I sat in the Bu. The plastic trim inside of the door strike plate did not fit and left a 1/4" hole running down the entire length of the front door opening. Very appealing. The faux wood around the power window switches was loose, just as the panel is on mine.

    To be fair, this is the first new Bu that I've noticed anything less than near-perfect assembly. I hope quality isn't suffering of late and that this Bu is an exception.

    Pushing the adj pedals all the way back gave me marginal legroom on the Bu (I'm 6'1"). With the front seat back, there is unacceptable legroom in the rear (much less than on mine). I think the thick plastic panels on the back of the seats are the culprit. Impala has a tad less front legroom than I do, but the rear is much better than the '04 Bu.

    I'm perplexed as to why the media gushes over how roomy the new Bu is; it's not.

    Makes no sense, based on what I saw and heard, but I still prefer the new 'Bu to the Imp (and Classic, obviously). Maybe the Maxx, but I need to carefully scrutinize the amount of room behind the rear seats, which I hear is marginal as well. At least the rear seat legroom is better.

  • The new gasket only became available last summer, so even most '03s don't have it either. You can use the old gasket, but it'll go again for sure.

    Remember that dealer labor rates vary around the country. Mine could be higher than yours.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    So you're saying to do this inevitable intake gasket replacement and get the must-have fuel pump module while at it would cost $1600 at a dealer? I don't have GMPP, and it sounds like having a dealer do it is the only sure way to get the new revised gasket and the fuel module. You're making me a bit uneasy here to say the least. Does anybody know if the 2002 malibu has the new gasket?
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Any dealer's quote can't be too far off can it?
  • perhaps. I've seen posts about the gaskets in several forums, I think quite a few in Chevy Equinox (the 3.4L has the gasket problem too; don't know about the fuel pump module).

    I've seen posts quoting $500, and I've seen $800 AND I've seen $1,200.

    To the best of my knowledge, I'm the first to mention the fuel pump module, so that's why my charge would have been higher.

    Wait for other posts in here about the module. I'm not sure how necessary it is compared to the gaskets, which we all know about (remember, they go around 5 years or 50K miles).
  • Just called a Chevy dealership I do trust on my gasket problem. They are on the other side of town and inconveniently located but I do trust them. They were familiar with the problem and quoted me $560 for a new "intake gasket" parts and labor. They of course said they would have to look at the car to diagnos if this is the true problem, etc. How does this price sound?

  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    3800 is know to be very reliable, it is not "plagued with problems". Any data to back that claim up????

    Your father may have had an issue with his, but it's not even close to typical.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    not what I've heard. A guy I work with had heard about it when he was buying his LeSabre. He bought the car anyways because it was a deal. The shop that did my FIL's had done 4 other 3800's recently.

    GM and gaskets, I dunno.....
  • Manifold problems with the 3800 courtesy of postings re: both the Grand Prix and Impala. Don't know if this is a gasket problem or not.

    This 3800 stuff is off subject, by the way.

    I had other minor gripes with the Malibu LT, that I didn't catch the first time around. All are cases of penny-pinching that wouldn't stop me from a purchase, by makes you wonder about penny-pinching where you can't see it. No more door relectors, no more bi-level console, no more glove box lock, slippery hard plastic on the back of the rear seats that could be problematic, no more rear-seat armrest (mine doesn't have it either, but the '98 did), etc. The dual antennae on the front of the roof looks worse every time I see it; the Colorado pickup has them there too, but at least they're at opposite ends of the windshield. One in front, one in back, please. Too many extra pennies, I guess. It's a case of saving a few bucks here and there, but just a few. Unnecessary.

    A question: I'm seeing in the Grand Prix discussion that radio reception is bad if you tint the rear window (which I do; it's FL) because of the embedded antenna. They recommend XM for this reason. Anyone had the same problem with an '04 Bu?
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  • Nearly forgot. The front headrests are angled too far forward for tall drivers (perhaps that's why the front seat cushions (lower) are so short (too short for decent support for my legs) - to clear the headrests when the pass seat is folded forward). Even the rear headrests could use a tad of angle backward.

    Kudos to Chevy for fixing one thing. The pattern on the base car's seats no longer is in the headrests. I didn't have an opportunity to check out an LS to see if that's changed too.
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    If there were 4 repairs "recently" at that local garage, it must be a major widespread problem.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Gasp, I agree with dindak. Use real facts, not cicumstantial evidence. The 3800 has been continuously improved since its inception in 1962, and is far and away one of the most dependable vehicle engines out there. (You might want to read some reports by Wards Automotive, Consumer Reports, Car and Driver....)

  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Folks, please ... leave this be or continue it in a more appropriate discussion.
  • Magnus;

    I went to my local Chevy dealer and got prices on having the job done and also for the parts, if I do the job myself.

    The quote is $590.00 for the job, including upper and lower manifold gaskets. They also recommend the coolant system flush for $99.95 and oil change and filter at $28.95. That makes it about $720 all up.

    The upper gasket is $9.00, lower $29.64. These are the new design gaskets. Advance Auto sells an aftermarket kit by Fel Pro that contains both gaskets for $49.95.

    Incidentally, the tech at Chevy said that the job is listed at about 8 man-hours.

    I'm guessing that a private shop would quote a lower price for the job.

    At that sort of price I really hope the gasket lasts until Spring so I can do it myself.

    I guess that I'd better start shopping around for private mechanic prices in case the gasket fails sooner.

    I'd be interested in whatever quote you get from your private mechanic if you care to share.
  • Further to my post #3498

    All of these problems have been fixed under my extended warranty. I paid $1900.00 for that when i got the car.PLUS !!$57.50 Deductible for each time it was fixed!!) Guess I'm sorta even on that now give or take. Had to rent a car at my cost about half of those times. (my dealer is pretty decent about that sometimes.)But talked privately yesterday to a mechanic at the dealership who said he's worked on dozens of these cars 97-02and thinks they are sub-standard for sure. Jokes with me that they have one area in the parts department just for Malibu parts alone!!!!My beef is not being able to really trust the car, you know?? My wife won't touch it with a ten foot pole.Think she's driven it twice!! Prefers her 94 Cavalier grocery getter LOL Any way that's my 2 Dollars worth. Thanks to all who replied to my post. Gonna find out how good Malibus float when the extended warranty runs out> HE HE
  • When I had my 2002 Alero in for service at a local Chevrolet/Oldsmobile dealer, I was speaking to the general manager about the new bu (its a tiny stealership). He told me that Chevrolet ran the Bu cross country, back and forth, only stopping for regular service and gasoline (plus wear and tear stuff) for 300K miles. He said there were no problems found whatsoever! I was surprised to hear this. Is there any merit in what this guy said about the "cross-country testing"?

  • it only takes:

    1) better rotors/brake pads
    2) better intake manifold gasket and
    3) better AC control unit

    to make the classic Bu a trouble-free gem, I would imagine GM took the past problems into consideration when creating the new Bu. It wouldn't surprise me if the new Bu has a better quality from the beginning than the classic Bu. But the styling...uh-oh
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    The test certainly is legitimate, and a good sign for new 'Bu owners.

    But it does not necessarily equate to real life experience. Long distance freeway driving is nowhere near as hard on a car as day to day stop and go driving.

    Factor in the long term effects of changes in weather, problems that arise from leaving vehicles sit for extended periods of time, occasional tank of bad gas, missed services, and you have challenges to a car that will not exist when trained engineers are driving it around the country.

    The test results are a good sign. It also shows GM is serious about making the 'Bu as reliable as possible. They will have to follow up on this test by watching what happens to their consumers over the long haul.
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    is the most reliable pushrod engine GM has to offer. In fact, Consumer Report called the Regal most reliable mid size car for 2003, just ahead of the Camry. Too bad, the car is such a slow seller. Maybe, GM needs to advertise that fact a little more. The Regal IMO is far far superior to the Malibu. Although the 04 Malibu looks promising, it is too early to call the car reliable or dependable.
  • tomcat630tomcat630 Posts: 854
    Dealers can order fleet cars if a customer wants them, unless it's a "police only" car. (due to EPA specs)

    Maybe dealer ordered the Classics for the ones who want a cheap replacement for their old Corsica/Celebrity.
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    Regal is reliable but it's looking pretty dated these days. I'd save my money and buy an 04 Malibu. I suspect the 3.5L will be as reliable as anything including the 3.8L but as you say, only time will tell.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    As for driving dynamics and overall execution the Regal/Century are very far behind the Malibu. VERY FAR.

  • I agree. Also the interior of the Regal and Century are just plain ugly. The stereos in them look like they came out of a 1992 Oldsmobile, and no other GM vehicle uses those particular stereos. WHY? Who the heck knows. I think that would definitely be a good start to a face lift for the interior of those...

  • is out of whack, but, hey OK for a bit. Sure Pat is OK for the moment, let's hope. ;)

    Regal and Century are near death and to be replaced by the LaCrosse, which we'll see in a few weeks at Chicago.

    Start crossing the fingers and toesies.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Its not a moot point if buyers are going to compare and cross-shop the two.

  • mtracmtrac Posts: 4
    I bought a base 2002 fleet car in September 2003 and like it quite a bit. Has approximately 38K miles now. I have a couple of questions:

    1. It needs new rear struts. I would like to make the car handle better without giving up too much ride comfort. Since I have to replace the rear suspension anyway, what can I do front and rear to accomplish this?

    2. What would be involved in making the rear seats fold? Is this just some hardware? Or, would I need to replace the seats?

    3. I've read this forum and noted various drivetrain issues. My (mis)understanding is the 3.1 is derived from the 2.8 used in the X-cars and problems should have been ironed out eons ago. I bought this car as a stopgap and didn't take an extended warranty. Since I now intend to keep it a few more years, is it worth getting an aftermarket warranty?


  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I just put a set on my Cavalier and they firmed up the ride and gave me a "sporty" handling that was lacking before.
  • About the rear seats, you will most likely need to purchase new seats (if that's even an option).

    Also, depending on how long you plan to keep your Malibu, I would definitely get the extended warranty. The Malibu's, as you may know, are plagued with alternator problems, engine gasket problems, suspension problems, and a few issues with the HVAC control head. On my 1997 I had each and every one of these problems, and then some. Also, GM's tend to have many of their issues between 60-80K miles, so once again, if you plan to keep it that long get the extended warranty.

    Good luck with your Bu in the future!

  • Buy the extended warranty, but make sure it covers all of the issues we've discussed. Also, check the company out to make sure it doesn't leave town before the car is next traded by you.

    Folding rear seats? My opinion is that since this is a stopgap vehicle for you, and you'll be out of it in a few years, just live with it as is.
  • 237kmd237kmd Posts: 3
    I just purchased a 2000 MalibuLS, with 66,000 kms (that's 41,000miles). Unfortunately we didn't research much, but knew there were some complaints. Now I'm REALLY worried. Does anyone like their 2000? We don't know what's been replaced or not.We did purchase an extra 3 yr. powertrain warranty, but not the full warranty (yikes!)It's rides beautifully right now... I had all these brake problems with my Mazda Protege (1999) - on 4th set of brakes at42,000 miles, so I figure why are you complaining at 30,000 miles getting your first? I need to hear some good news from people...please!
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    With regard to your rear struts and improving handling...if you live in a fairly large metro area, keep an eye out for a special on struts from one of the major national shops..Midas, etc. Replacement struts are usually valved heavier than OEM, and will give a slightly stiffer ride, and will probably carry a lifetime warranty. I replaced the struts on a car I had a few years ago, and the time and aggrevation was hardly worth the I still had to take it in afterwards to get the alignment redone. Other than getting a good set of replacement struts, there is probably little you can do to improve the handling without spending major dollars.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    If you haven't done so, get a Carfax report on your Malibu. I think the charge is about $25, and will tell you if there has been any repairs or problems reported against your VIN. When buying a used car, that is $25 well spent. I wouldn't get overly concerned about some of the stuff you read here, as I'm sure it is not typical of the vast majority of owner experiences. If the Malibu was as bad as some of these people claim, on a wide-spread basis, GM would have gone bankrupt from all the lawsuits. Personally, we have about 14K on our 2003 LS, and have had Zero problems. If/when we experience any brake problems, I intent to go to O'reilly Auto parts, and buy their best lifetime warranty rotors and pads, and that will probably put an end to it for less than $150, and 3 or 4 hours of fairly easy work.
This discussion has been closed.