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2000-2011 Chevrolet Malibu



  • tomcat630tomcat630 Posts: 854
    Is it the 2004 Malibu or the Classic that placed good in the surveys?
  • andy71andy71 Posts: 96
    Many domestic cars did well on initial quality only to turn out to be a lemon in long term reliability. And if history is any indication this Malibu will be no different. I am glad I "overpaid". If I want pushrod power I will buy one to mow my lawn
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Know why the Hummer finishes at the bottom? Because its owners are shocked at the terrible MPG. Thats hardly a defect, and this make doesnt belong at the bottom because of it. But this illustrates some of the issues with the JDP IQS... is mileage that doesnt meet expectations or window sticker really a defect? Hardly, IMO.

  • hbund216hbund216 Posts: 162
    Since the 90s my family has always good long term reliability on their GM cars. It was always the initial quality that was off. Our Malibu has great initial quality so I'm not worried. As for pushrod engines...they don't sound that great at high RPMs but have great for low end pickup which is what is used in the city a lot. What exactly is the problem with pushrods Andy?
  • rwisemrwisem Posts: 96
    Sounds like not everyone got the memo. The "I don't like pushrods..." forum had some VERY knowlegable people explaining why pushrods are just fine and in some cases preferable. Sure opened my eyes.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    J D Power survey guys! That's very encouraging to see. About the # of problems between domestic and Japanese makes being statistically insignificant, I made some comments on that a while ago on their 2003 survey results. Glad to see people begin to realize that. Although I havn't sat in a 04 Malibu, my feeling from reading about it is that it's a whole new generation than the old Malibu in terms of refinement and technology. These J D power surveys suddenly make the domestic makes all that more attractive. GM really oughtta pat themselves on the back for this one.

    One thing I don't like the overhead cam engines is that they're too rev happy. The tach needle goes up and down like crazy whenever you need power, which can be perceived as "fun" depending who you ask. That said I really don't have a strong opinion about either pushrod or overhead cam engines. Buy what you like, end of argument. No need to bash each other.

    Does anybody know the paint code for a 02 redfire Malibu? Or is there such thing?
  • mitzijmitzij Posts: 613
    should be 72 for 02 malibu, redfire color.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Apparently we still haven't resolved the scratch/dent on the door yet. All the shops we called said they needed to take the door off and repaint it. I just don't feel comfortable with that idea. What if the color they use is slightly off or the reassembly causes lots of rattles down the road. Didn't expect so much trouble for fixing a door ding.
  • triedntrutriedntru Posts: 73
    One thing a lot of people don't realize is that the data JD Power collected was for cars that were built in the August - October timeframe last year, which was exactly when the new Malibu was being launched.

    I heard the most recent numbers on IQS from JD Power show the Malibu tracking at 95 pph, which is much improved over the reported 113 pph, and would put the Malibu at the head of its segment.
  • hbund216hbund216 Posts: 162
    Someone mentioned that history would show that the Malibu would end up a lemon. In addition to the Malibu we have a 2000 Accord in our family. So for a comparison I went to the JD site and compared the 2000 Accord, Malibu and Camry. Malibu's "Overall Dependability" was the highest among the three. If anybody would have asked I would have to say it would have been the Toyota first and Malibu last.
  • bcmalibu99lsbcmalibu99ls Posts: 625
    I've read an article on the subject a few months ago on (can't find it now, sorry) and it said that pushrods are better because they are cheaper to build and to maintain (saves you $$$ on the initial purchase price and the repair), while overhead cams are better because they are smoother/quieter and get more power. So, one cannot say that one type is better than the other, as you would end up paying more to get a smoother engine with more HP. It's not like they cost the same to build and repair
  • johnclineiijohnclineii Posts: 2,287
    I really wish this whole pushrod discussion would go somewhere else, but before it does, I MUST point out that overhead cams may generate more HP, but normally pushrods of similar size generate more torque...The additional horsepower is normally very high in the RPMs, and one must rev the engine quite a bit more than most drivers do in order to access it.

    Can we get back to discussing the Malibu itself again?
  • venus537venus537 Posts: 1,443
    but normally pushrods of similar size generate more torque...

    but they don't. the malibu's 3.5l V6 only produces 8 lb-ft more torque than the accord's 3.0 v6 and falls short of nissan's and honda's 3.5l V6's. and all camry V6's this fall will have the torquer 3.2l engine.

    the first couple generations of OHC engines were rightly critizied for being too peaky but this is no longer the case. the latest OHC V6s from honda, toyota and nissan are punchy throughout the rev range.

    it's true that peak torque may come at higher rpms but most of that torque is available at lower rpms.
  • I have a 2004 Malibu LS on order right now. As I have never owned one before, I checked to see the NHTSA website to see if the vehicle is safe. The crash tests were pretty average but what concerned me was the NUMEROUS complaints about the steering locking up without warning at highways speeds!!!!! How many accidents have to be reported before GM recalls these cars??? Has anyone else heard about this? I am seriously thinking of cancelling my order.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    NHTSA does not verify the accuracy of complaints - an angry poster can post multiple times to give a car a black eye.

    While this is a serious complaint (steering wheel lock up), NHTSA will also post complaints about brakes wearing out too fast etc., where people are angry about maintenance costs.

    If there are enough complaints, NHTSA will then look into it, and determine what is going on. When they issue a recall, or get a voluntary manufacturer response, then the problem is definitely legit.

    I would recommend calling the Chevy customer service line, and also asking the Service Manager at your dealer to look into the reported problem for you.

    Chevy is generally a very safety oriented company, imho.
  • 37453745 Posts: 152
    The steering wheel does not "lock up". The power assist may fail and the steering wheel is harder to turn. In fact, it is less harder to turn than when a hydraulic system fails. The 2004 Malibu has electric power assist. The electric motor is mounted under the dashboard. Seeing as they put a fuse in the circuit to the motor which might blow under fault conditions, GM does not consider this more dangerous than the failure of a power assist hydraulic pump or the failure of a pump drive belt.

    The failure rate with GM's system is no higher than with a hydraulic system. All steering systems must be "fail safe" and even though the assist system fails, the driver must still be able to steer.

    I'm very happy with my new 04 Malibu and the steering is great.
  • hbund216hbund216 Posts: 162
    a couple of thousand miles and the steering on ours is working fine. As 3745 stated the steering does not lock up when power assist fails. It just gets heavier. At highway speeds the a car without power assist is manageable. How many of these complaints that you read involved accidents? Has a defect been established for GM to even recall cars?
  • triedntrutriedntru Posts: 73
    My wife and I have clocked in over 10,000 miles on our 04 LS Malibu, and no problems to date.

    I checked out those steering complaints on the NHTSA website. I don't know if I was reading them correctly, but several postings were the exact same complaint. Same verbage, same dates, same event. I think after you remove the duplicates, there were maybe 3 unique occurrences, none that I saw involving any damage or accident.

    I did hear that GM and the government were investigating the issue, but that's about all I know.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    Thanks David. You are correct; the NHTSA site does not get edited; therefore you will often have redundant postings. If you remove those, there are not many left. Thanks for keeping us posted on the steering issue.
  • For those of you getting paranoid about claims of electric steering assist failures on a few 2004 Malibus, let me ease your mind. I owned one of the original Saturn SL cars with manual steering (that's right, no power assist) for nearly ten years. While manual steering (which is what you get if the Malibu's electric power assist fails) is a chore if the vehicle is stopped or moving at a crawl (below 5 mph), manual steering is actually nice at highway speeds. IMO, manual steering gives you a better feel of the road at highway speeds and the steering wheel turns very easily. You only notice the difference in a situation like trying to park or back out in a parking lot. I should also point out that my wife drove that Saturn every day for several years without any problems. My wife is just over five feet tall and weighs 100 pounds. If my wife can drive a car with manual steering, then anyone can. So don't worry about it.
  • triedntrutriedntru Posts: 73
    Yeah, I agree with manual steering not being too bad...if you're expecting it.

    However, if you're cruising down the highway with power steering, and your exit is approaching, there's a good chance you're going to end up in the ditch or worse if all of a sudden you go from power to no-power assist. That's the safety issue I think everyone is concerned with. It does seem that this problem with the 04 Malibu is extremely rare (maybe a handful out of several tens of thousands of vehicles) so hopefully the cause will be easy to identify.

    Since they published it in our newsletter, I guess it's considered public information and I can talk about it now. Here are some of the new options for the 05 model:

    Optional Spoiler for Maxx.
    Rear Windshield Wiper for Maxx.
    Thorax airbags mounted in seat in addition to side-curtain airbags.
    Optional heated cloth seats.
  • Nobody is going to crash while exiting an interstate. Even if they are going slow enough (5 mph) to notice the change, I doubt they will go careening off the road at that point. The steering difference will simply not be significant enough at speed, not even for an old lady. Once they come to a stop and then attempt to turn, the change will become apparent, although still not a big deal, possibly except for anyone born devoid of muscle tissue. For those with a 2004 Malibu, if you want to experience what happens when the power assist fails, then just temporarily remove the fuse for it. I would imagine the fuse is right there in the fuse box along with all the others. Try driving around that way. I doubt you will notice a very big difference, other than when turning from a stop.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    This is off topic of course, but my first car was a 83 Honda civic with manual steering. Let's just say I don't miss it. It's a miracle my wife was able to drive it for about a year, and She weighed below 100 pounds.
  • ...funny you mentioned the Saturn SL. I used to have a '94 SL and the manual steering was quite bearable for the 5 years I owned it. Best car I have ever owned so far.... Back to the Malibu, if steering failure is like driving a Saturn, I don't think I'll have a problem. As with any car, drive responsibly (expecting the unexpected) and you virtually eliminate all possibility of an accident. I'll be sure to respect the speed limit on an offramp just in case. Looking forward to coming back to GM.....owning a Chrysler will do that to you!
  • rwisemrwisem Posts: 96
    Not a big issue, There is a warning chime and a read-out "power steering" on the radio display. The steering turns manual and stiffins up but the car is driveable. it happened to my wife while I was riding with her and she just drove the remaining three miles home. Turning the car off and on again restored the steering. This was a few weeks ago and no repeats. I know we need to run it to the dealer to be checked. I'm hoping for a TSB to be announced.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    rwisem - you should take it to the dealer. They can interrogate steering module for fault codes to see why this occurred on your vehicle and most likely can address it.
  • triedntrutriedntru Posts: 73
    Yeah, I would definitely take it to the dealer. This problem is so scarce, that the more vehicles they can examine the quicker they'll be at determining the problem.

    I'm going to do some asking around and see if I can get any updates from engineering on this issue.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    We just came back from a 1000 mile round trip in our 2002 LS. With 3 adults, 2 kids and all the gears, we averaged 30-34 mpg doing 75-80 mph. I changed the oil right before the trip and put in 5w-30 syn/conventional blend oil. I'm sure that helped a lot with the gas miliage. Weatherwise, we drove through sun shine and pouring rain. The Malibu performed flawlessly. The ride was comfortable, power was plenty, and we felt very safe in it.

    The intermittent turn signal is working fine again. So we'll wait till it acts up again to take it in. So far no problems yet with our Malibu. We're very happy with this purchase. The much hated OME tires are just fine IMHO. Overall, our Malibu is a dependable comfortable transportation, which is all I ask for at this stage of life.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    acted up again lately. The wife had it fixed at the dealership today in 30 min. Indeed, it turned to be a shorted hazard switch.

    Saw an article in a baby magazine on safe family cars. It mentioned that the no-frills Malibu offered more usable backseat space than some of the more upscale cars (e.g. the Volvo)and vans. Three car seats fit in the backseat with no problem, while the same couldn't be said for some of the other ones. I can second that from personal experience. Although we never tried to install 3 car seats in the back, I did find it very easy to secure a car seat thanks to the Malibu's flexible seat belts. I had a hard time securing a car seat in the Hyundai Sonota we testdrove. I really liked the car but the seat belt was too hard and slippery. We're becoming more and more appreciative of our Malibu's functionality as time rolls along. Hope we'll be able to say the same in another 3 years. Only driven 15000 miles so far in 2 years...
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    After much reading up on it (and others) here, and seeing a few around the area on the roads, I finally made the leap. Actually, the aging 1992 Toyota Corolla just pushed the wife one step too far. Somehow, the Toy has issues running reliably if it's been allowed to sit outside in wet weather. Until it has thoroughly warmed up, it tends to try stalling out on acceleration. This never happened if it was garage kept (even if the roads were wet or the car was being driven in the rain). The last straw was this past Saturday when the wife was following me to take the TB to get the wiring for my sidestep lights hooked up. The car nearly died on her through three different intersections during the trip, so when we returned home, I drove the Toy to the local Chevy dealer and started looking around.

    Choices were between one of several non-LT AWD Equinoxes, one of several identically equipped (stripper, 2WD, no power options at all) Trackers, and a Malibu. My wife quickly settled the issue of the Tracker (NO MORE MANUALLY CRANKED WINDOWS, like the Toy had, says she). At that point, she left the rest of the decision making completely up to me. After several trips back and forth between the two vehicles I was considering, getting in and out, playing with various features, I decided that the nearly loaded Navy Blue LT Malibu (only missing OnStar) was a much classier, more solid feeling vehicle, with better feel to the interiors (both in fit and finish, and ESPECIALLY in fit and finish).

    I won't mention the final deal price, but I was pleasantly surprised to get $1300 out of the old warhorse on final trade. The wife likes it so much that I'll be lucky to drive it very often (usually I'm the designated driver any time we go somewhere as a family, but for the time we've owned the car, she's been more than happy to take over a bit :D).
  • dan165dan165 Posts: 653
    Congratulations on the new Malibu.

    My dad is still thinking about getting one. I think he is hoping to get a year end deal come September.
  • bcmalibu99lsbcmalibu99ls Posts: 625
    Walk into the dealership on December 31 several hours prior to the closing. They will have:

    1) A "regular" deal of 0% financing for 5 years or 2-3 thousand off MSRP, PLUS

    2) A "ring in and win" type of a game where you are guaranteed to get AT LEAST $1,000 off extra when you call a certain number, and may even win your car, PLUS

    3) You will be shopping for a vehicle which will become one year old the next morning and thus will cost less, PLUS

    4) The dealership will want to sell you a car really badly, as it is the end of the month, quarter and year, so they are very likely to ADDITIONALLY give you a handsome discount, as they need to meet certain sales goals for bonuses and just to show good numbers to investors and everyone else

    So, why would you shop on any other day? :)
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    cause the likelihood of my Mazda breaking down at that moment is 1 in 365. With GM allowing their employees to give out Supplier's discounts, why would anyone buy their car any other way? They are really doing everything possible to make it easy to buy a car, because they really need the business. My hat's off to them for doing so. I'll get my maxx when the supplier's rebate is on.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    BCMalibu is right on Dec.31 being a good day to buy. There are others that can give you an advantage. Several years ago, we bought a new car on Dec. 24th. The dealership wanted to close at noon and let its people off, however, we and one other buyer were pestering them. Finally, about 12:30, the salesmanager said words to the effect "just sell them the ^%$# car, so we can get the %^&* out of here". We got a good buy.
    The last couple of new cars we've bought, we've bought in early January. Most people are pretty well burned out from the holidays, and traffic at the car dealerships is way down. They are under pressure to start the year off in a positive manner, and with few buyers, their incentives are usually pretty good. Plus, at least in this state, personal property taxes are based upon what cars you owned on Jan. 1. So, if you buy a new car after that date, you essentially get the first years taxes based upon your old car. By the time the new car taxes arrive, its 2 years old, and taxed quite a bit less.
    If anyone else has favorite car buying times, join in..we might get some good tips going.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    You posts are always informative. Will keep that in mind for our next new car purchase, which probably won't happen anytime soon. I just got my other 13 year old car fixed for stalling yesterday. It cost me a hair below $400! Can you believe they charged me $70 an hour for labor? I called their corporate 1800 number and was told "$70 an hour was correct". Man, a mechanic is paid more than the president of the United States. You can see why a new car is not looming on our horizon in the near future. BTW how is your 03 Malibu holding up?
  • dan165dan165 Posts: 653
    I don't think there will be many 2004's left on Dec 31. The clearance sales usually start in the summer and then selection dwindles quick. By Dec 31 you may get 1 or 2 leftovers in ugly colours or loaded with features you don't want.
  • johnclineiijohnclineii Posts: 2,287
    And the president makes more than $70 an hour!

    Anyway, dealers are independent business people. They can and do set their own labor rates. Those rates must cover salaries, supplies (though some dealers itemize that one), insurance, taxes, a bit of profit and some other overhead items.
  • bcmalibu99lsbcmalibu99ls Posts: 625
    Here in Greater Vancouver, Canada, dealerships charge 90 dollars+ Canadian an hour. And that with 20 dollars an hour being a decent salary in Canada. Ouch! But if you make your car purchases based on economic sense, so long as your old car costs less than 3-4 thousand a year to repair, you would still be better off than buying a new car and paying 4-5 thousand a year for five years to pay it off
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Some old-timer colleagues of mine thought even $40/hour is outrageous. Well, time changes I guess. $70 an hour adds up to a $160K salary assuming 8 hours a day 6 days a week. Don't know what the president's salary is, but it was lower than this figure before Clinton gave himself a raise. I know auto shops can't possibly have that much business, but still...
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Clinton gave future presidents a raise, not himself. :)

    But the president's salary is way off-topic here, so let's get back to the Malibu.

  • bcmalibu99lsbcmalibu99ls Posts: 625
    in that mechanic's rate many different things are included, not just the mechanic's salary
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Hi Pat, just a couple of sentences off topic, no need to sweat.

    BC, you were right in the new-vs-old cost issue. I'll definitely think twice before buying another new car. Actually we desperately need a minivan. I'm thinking maybe we can trade our 02 LS (15000 miles) in for a low mileage late model year Venture or something that's priced at about the same amount as our current Malibu loan. Anybody think we've got a chance?
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    Tamu2002: You were in the same situation I was in: in need of a minivan. It will depend on how much you owe on your Malibu. And they do not hold their value well at all. Sort of like how a strainer holds water. You are probably looking at a trade-in value of about $8k-$9k. Since you are looking at another Chevy product, you might get a break but watch the numbers carefully!!!!!!

    I think you can do it if the VEnture carries a rebate and special financing. Make sure you don't pay more then invoice (whatever that is). And buy at the end of the month.

    Good luck.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    $70/hour is not an unusual rate. Of course, the mechanic only gets a fraction of that. The rest goes for quite a bit of overhead and some profit. With these newer cars and all the computer controlled stuff, the dealers need to get some fairly expensive test equipment to service them.
    Our '03 LS is doing great. We had the first trouble a few weeks ago. The drivers door power window failed to raise a couple of times. The dealer replaced the switch module, and its ok since...not too bad for 16 months and 15K miles. We've been saving for a new Lincoln LS or maybe a new Crysler 300C(Hemi), but the way the Malibu is treating us, we're not in any big hurry to trade. With these gas prices going up weekly, the 30+ MPG out of the Malibu is looking better all the time.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    dtownfb, we owe a little over $10 on our Malibu. I'm only thinking about trading for a used minivan, don't think we can afford a new one and don't wanna pay for the depreciation again. If we could get a 02 Venture with 20-30k mileage for about $10k, it'll be essentially like switching car/van for nothing, which would be worth it. But I'm just thinking at this point. Will move to Washington state this summer, the most likely thing we'll do is save up for a few months ('cause I'll have a real job there) and buy an old van in the $5k to $7K price range. Gotta save for a house downpayment first. New cars/vans can wait.

    deminin, glad to hear your LS is doing great. The only problem we've had was an intermettent turn signal, which was fixed under warranty. We'll leave on a 400 miles (one way) vacation tomorrow. Will update you guys on the mileage and everything...

    Have a fun and meaningful weekend everyone!
  • bcmalibu99lsbcmalibu99ls Posts: 625
    Tamu, we'll be neighbors, welcome to Pacific Northwest :)
  • triedntrutriedntru Posts: 73
    from a 700-mile trip in our 04 LS Malibu, and I averaged 34.6 mpg on mostly highway driving on regular octane. Shazam! I still winced at the price of gas, but I was happy knowing I was getting more distance for the buck than our other vehicles. I still haven't regretted buying this car.

    I'm curious to see how the hybrid Malibu does in a couple years, especially when comparing the mpg gain versus the cost of the option.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    Triedntru..sounds like your Malibu is a winner. I am not convinced that the hybrids would do much better on fuel. I caught a blurb on the TV news a couple of days ago about them. I think it was Consumer Reports reporting that their tests were not that impressive. It seems that the manufacturers are coming up with their mileage figures based upon dynomometer tests, but when CR put the Toyota and Hondas through some real world driving, the CR numbers were closer to 35 MPG. This is no better than what you are getting on your Malibu. The hybrids may get better results in city driving, but not that much better. When you factor in the thousands extra for a hybrid, you would probably have to drive 150K miles to break even. At this point in car technology, it looks like the best fuel mileage might be coming from a diesel VW. But then, you also have extra cost for the diesel, and have to learn to live with the stink.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    Where I live diesel is $.35 cheaper per gallon than gasoline, and the new diesels don't have nearly as much stink as in the past. I would welcome a diesel Malibu. GM has some nice diesel engine over in Europe that they could bring over.

    The Malibu does do very well on gas, even beating most imports. Nice to see.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    I agree with you on diesel...they can be made to run clean. I have a Kubota tractor with a 30HP diesel, and except for a small puff of smoke on cold startup, it burns very clean, and I smell almost no odor unless I get right down on the exhaust. I can run it for 10 to 15 hours on 5 gallons. Here too, in Missouri, diesel is 35 cents lower than gas. These big pickups with their V8 or Cummins diesels are not tuned nearly as well as my Kubota. They flat stink if you get stuck behind one in traffic...a good sign that they are blowing a fair amount of unburned fuel out the tailpipe...and I don't even want to think about getting caught behind a city bus in rush hour.
    With proper gearing, a mid-size car using a diesel engine could offer nearly the same performance as a gas engine, and get nearly twice the mileage. In my opinion, thats where Detroit should be going for the short term, until hybrids or Hydrogen fuel cars become practical and affordable.
This discussion has been closed.