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2000-2011 Chevrolet Malibu



  • will125will125 Posts: 9
    It looks like the Malibu 3.1 engine is made in either Ramos Arizpe, Mexico or
    Tonawanda, New York. Are the NY engines plagued with the same piston problems
    as the ones made in Mexico ? I have seen postings from numerous consumers (on
    several message boards) who have had their engines/pistons replaced after a few
    thousand miles because of the intrusive valve tap. Is there a Technical Service
    Bulletin issued on this problem ? How would one determine where the engine was
    manufactured on a specific vehicle (door jam label ?, engine label ?) Any information
    is appreciated.
  • florinflorin Posts: 11
    Sorry if this is a stupid question,
    but what exactly is a valve tap?
  • seanmagseanmag Posts: 2
    I own a 1998 malibu, it has approximately 42,000 miles on it. lately it has been jerking when accelerating into turns. like it is not transitioning well between gears, it does it a lot more when turning than when going straight, and it seems to do it even more when making left turns than right turns.
    I drive for a living, so I use the car a lot, and I tend to drive somewhat rough, but I know it should not be doing this.
    what could be the cause???
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    Your gas mialeage should get a lot better . Just don't use any constant speed for the first thousand miles or so and never engage the cruise control before you hit the 1000 mile mark. Mine used to give me the same bad gas mileage problem but after 1500 it was great. I now get excellent gas mileage and I can get over 30 miles per gallon on the highway ( I have posted the numbers before in this forum ). So don't worry just take it in so they can run a diagnostic but it should be fine :-). Good Luck!
  • beedublubeedublu Posts: 236
    From snowy upstate New York comes this question: How do you Malibu owners like your cars in the snow and slush? Can the Firestone Affinities hack it, or do you have to use snow tires?
  • seanmagseanmag Posts: 2
    mine does fine in the snow, i don't use snow tires or chains. it slips a little here and there, but nothing major. and i drive pretty fast, even in snow...
  • I live in Upstate New York, too, and I think I can answer your question. I never had the need to use snow tires or chains when I had the Affinities. They did the job just fine. However, the SH-30's I have now do an even better job. They handle so well in the snow and are significantly quieter than the Affinities.
  • aniazianiazi Posts: 39
    For valve tap see posting # 383, 388, 395, 396.
    I have 2001 and I am having somewhere between 20-21.5 city. Everytime somewhere in this range and having this ever since I have this car. I have driven to Dallas once and got more than 32 MPG when the car had hardly 1000 miles. I live in TX but winter can take more gas. When I was in MN i used to get different mileage in Winter and Summer. But yours look extra low to me. Let us know the results of chevy tests!
  • It took about 3 months for us to find the car that we wanted then ordered it due to none on the lot. Started with the 2000 models then ordered the 2001 for the same price. We are very pleased with the car except for the uncomfortable feeling of getting Shocked while exiting the car on cool or cold days. The service department said that there was nothing that they could do about it and that it is normal, Bull. I also have an Astro Van and a Prism and they do not do it at all. Is anyone else out there having the same problem or know what the problem is and how to fix it?
  • florinflorin Posts: 11
    Many thanks to all who responded. It really was a big help.

    I'll take the car to the dealership, and I'll let you know if they
    find anything amiss.

    I'm really disappointed with GM--I wish I were able to like Honda or Toyota.

  • florinflorin Posts: 11
    We are very pleased with the car except for the uncomfortable
    feeling of getting Shocked while exiting the car on cool or cold days.

    Well, one solution would be to turn the heat off 5 mins before you get out
    of the car--this way the transition to the outside temp wont be as shocking :)

    If you are talking about electric shocks, I suspect that it is the dry weather that
    favors them, not cold temperatures. Stop rubbing against the seats, and wear

    I wish my Malibu had that problem!

  • will125will125 Posts: 9

    TSB was issued in Jan 2001 for the piston problem. A piston with a bad design is used in the Malibu 3.1 engine. The fix involves replacing at least four of six pistons and possibly the engine block that houses them if it was damaged/scraped. GM is trying to hide/sugarcoat this defect with everything they have. This is the type of problem that initiates factory recalls. If your vehicle has this issue, get it addressed before your warranty period expires. The repair is extensive and involves taking the major internal components of the engine apart.

    Will 125
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    If you want to stop the car from shocking you every time you leave, try this. Take the tip of any metal key and touch it to the doorframe BEFORE you touch your hand to the door to close it. You will then release all the static electricity built up in your clothes and all, and no more shocks. It looks dumb sometimes, but it's better than getting shocked all the time.
  • florinflorin Posts: 11

    To which model year does this report apply? doesnt list
    the bulletin you mention, at least not for
    2000 or 2001 Malibus.

    What gives?

  • To florin,
    Yes, I was talking about a static electrical shock when we touch the door frame (and it doesn't matter what you are wearing), Not the shock of a temperature change. It does not get that cold in South Florida. Besides, how would you get out of the car without rubbing the seats.
    Bye the bye florin, as per your mileage, we have been getting the 20 MPG in the city from day one. I would definitely have the dealership check that out.
    I realize that it is static, and most likely from the dry weather, but it seems kind of funny that it only happens in our Malibu.

    With today's technology you would think that this could be resolved short of having a piece of metal added to the car to drag on the ground in order to dissipate the static.

    For focus,
    The problem there would be scratching up your car with a key, plus you don't always know when you are going to get shocked.
  • t_h_x1138t_h_x1138 Posts: 13
    Our '93 Tracer did the same thing, although it seemed that the shocks where more often felt on passenger side, then the dirvers. Why, I donna know.
  • beedublubeedublu Posts: 236

    I've had this problem with my current 95 T-Bird as well as my parent's 91 Olds Ciera. The best explanation I've received is that it has something to do with the kind of rubber they're using in today's tires. Supposedly, the tire manufacturers are using an ultra-low rolling resistance compound that (unfortunately) allows for more of a static buildup in the vehicle as it moves. I have no way of knowing how true this is, but it sort of makes sense. (And I'm not sure how much fuel is actually saved by these "efficient" tires, but I guess the manufacturers will try anything for a few more MPG on the EPA test cycle).

    The only solution I've heard of is the grounding strap that you mentioned. I'm not sure how well that would solve the problem; I've just learned to do what someone else here mentioned -- touching the key to the doorframe, or letting my shoulder contact the door for a somewhat less irritating shock.
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    Have no serious static problems for several years, even while I am very hairy. Had a lot of static shocks before married.

    My wife used old-fashioned antistatic when we lived in Russia. Switched to the Bounce fabric softener (thin sheets for use with dryer) after we moved to America. I believe the Bounce also contains antistatic.
  • will125will125 Posts: 9
    Subject: Cold Engine Tick Noise (replace pistons)
    2000-01 Buick Century
    2000-01 Chevrolet Lumina, Malibu
    2000-01 Pontiac Grand Prix
    3.1L engine

    Cause: The noise may be caused by excessive piston to bore clearance during cold engine operation resulting from THE SPECIFIC PISTON DESIGN USED IN CYLINDERS 1 THROUGH 4.
  • florinflorin Posts: 11
    Thanks Will for this depressing piece of news!
    Where did you find this bulletin?

    I bought my Malibu in Feb, is there any way to
    find out if my car is affected?
    Thanks for any extra info on the subject.
    has the following for Buick Century and
    Chevrolet Lumina (but nothing on Malibu!)
    Year: 2001
  • malibu1malibu1 Posts: 52
    Haven't been to the forum in a little over a year and just wanted to check in and let everyone know that our 1998 Malibu LS (Dark Cherry Metallic) is running like a total champ @ 42,000 miles. We have only filled it with gas, rotated tires, changed oil and air filters so far. No major problems of any to report. The thing runs better today than it did when new...seems to have more get up and go! The car stills seems very tight and only have a few squeeks or rattles when the car is VERY cold (we live in Idaho). Once the car warms up....I could drive over 10 sets of railroad tracks and not hear anything but the radio. Again, just wanted to add a success story to the list. Have a good day!
  • wam46wam46 Posts: 1
    Just bought a 2001 Malibu in Feb. I notice that the book calls out a front tire pressure of 29 lbs and a rear pressure of 26 lbs. The dealer had 32 lbs pressure in all the tires. What's the best tire pressure for good performance with the Affinities?
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    The tire pressure is somewhat personal: depends on driving style.

    I followed the manufacturer recommendations, and replaced the tires at about 36-37k miles by Firehawk SH-30. Great tires for any weather, but especially for rain. Head and shoulders better than Affinity. The handling improved very substantially.

    I like to turn fast, and the original tires wore-down on edges. It would be better to inflate them more, e.g. to 32/29 front/rear. This is what I am doing with my new tires. Though, with slow turns, this would not be a problem.

    Would not inflate them substantially more, though.

    Any case, with Malibu the front tires must be inflated higher than the rear ones. I believe, the manufacturer knew what to do, when he recommended the 3 psi difference. In my experience, when dealer mechanic inflated all Affinity tires to the same pressure, the car was less stable on fast turns. A bit prone to fish-tail, even on dry road.
  • psibayanpsibayan Posts: 6
    Florin and will125, et al. I came on the Malibu forum to see if anyone had any problems with the 3.1 V6 and I found your messages. Let me tell you what we have encountered so far. We bought a 01 Grand Prix SE (has the 3.1 engine) on 2/24/01 and the ticking became apparent three days and 190 miles later. Took the car to Pontiac and they told us about the TSB to change the pistons 1 through 4. By the way we did not see this TSB listed on the NHTSB web site. Perhaps since it was issued allegedly in Jan 01 NHTSB has not had a chance to post it. The car is still at the dealership. They are in the process of changing the engine. They are putting in a long block or so they tell me. Apparently they found piston #6 to be bad as well. The service manager advised us that the regional GM service rep told them to hone the cylinder walls which they did, but there must have been too much damage so they are replacing the engine. I've tried for the past two weeks to have Pontiac give us another car. We were stonewalled by the Pontiac customer service reps at 1-800-PMCARES. They told us they will fix the car and that is all. Friday, we asked the Pontiac dealership in Norco, CA to do the right thing and return our trade and money, but so far the request has been answered with profound silence. We are very concerned that keeping this car with an engine transplant will only cause us future problems, so we are doing all we can to get help to resolve this matter. I hope no one else has to endure the stress and frustration that we have been through so far. If you have any ideas how we can resolve this pls reply. Thanks.
  • florinflorin Posts: 11
    > the ticking became apparent three days and 190

    > miles later.

    Would you please describe this ticking? How loud

    is it? My car is quite noisy in the morning,

    but I have no idea whether that's abnormal or not. I'm assuming that the noise is the only simptom--your car was otherwise fine, right?

    Psybaian, why dont you claim your rights under

    the "lemon car" laws?


  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    Nice to see you back! I bought my 99 LS in late June 1999 and almost 2 years later the thing is just as strong ( if not better ) than when new so I share teh same positive experience you are. I love this car, especially teh power when merging into traffic. Good LucK!
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    Using the key to touch to the outer door frame will not scratch it. Just touch the tip of the key to the frame, don't drag it across or anything like that.

    And BTW, my name is Vocus, not Focus. I don't wanna be associated with anything having that many recalls on it. :) Just kidding.
  • will125will125 Posts: 9

    My only advice is to follow your state lemon laws and try to cooperate with your chevrolet dealership. The root of the problem is that GM was/is using defective pistons in their 3.1 engine. GM should be held accountable for their defective product. Keep in mind you are dealing with a GIANT corporation with a fleet of lawyers. If you pursue this issue in the courts, it could become a lenghty and expensive process. Good Luck. Chevrolet is not helping our economy by forcing consumers to buy German or Japanese vehicles !!!

  • t_h_x1138t_h_x1138 Posts: 13
    Ok, I might be in the minority here, but if they give you a new engine isn't that a good thing? Ya, I would hate the fact that I would need a new engine, but atleast they will go over the install completely, maybe even better then what the factory did. Sure there might be other problems with that car down the road, but its the same with ANY car, ya just might have "other" problems. But it won't because they replaced the engine. Atleast they are doing something about it.
  • tmonettetmonette Posts: 3
    Hi there,

    Just wondered what you guys were getting for milage. My 2001 LS is 2 months old with only 1000 miles on it. I am presently getting 15 mpg for city driving ..really short trips, lots of stops and starts. Just wondering if this is typical on a non-broken in 3.1? I have noticed it slightly improving..Will it keep getting better as the car gets broken in more?

  • njdevilsrnnjdevilsrn Posts: 185
    I'm going to check the NHTSA site, but let me ask the following questions...

    The piston slap you all refer to, is that the same tapping you hear first thing on a cold start that goes away after about 2 minutes of idling/driving?

    I thought that was written off earlier in this forum as a normal attribute of the 3.1 engine?

    What problems can arise from not having this repaired, and do the risks outweight the benefits?

    Does this problem require a heavy repair (i.e. engine replacement/remanufacture)?
  • paesanopaesano Posts: 3
    I am in the process of doing research for the purchase of my next vehicle and the Malibu is on my short list. I was wondering how you people like your cars and what problems might I expect other than the piston problem or the shocking ( I'm used to that on my 95 Merc Mistake! )

    Thanks, Ivan
  • fgriecofgrieco Posts: 7
    Here is the update on my Malibu. Last November the wiper motor went bad and was $270 to fix. That was at about 46000 miles. I hadn't had to do a thing to the car up to that point.

    Around that time I (finally) needed front brake pads. Since then, the brakes have squealed a lot. I also have a small grinding/popping noise when I first leave a stop -- just as the car starts moving-- and the same noise when applying the brake when backing up. Any thoughts on that? I thought about it and this noise has actually been going on for some time.

    The ac/heat unit is going flaky, with the usually symptoms: fan doesn't work in position 1 and 2, ac flickers on and off sometimes, and the fresh air/recirc buttons flicker back and forth occasionally. Does anyone know how much this is to fix.

    I still have the BAD stock tires, and they are getting really noisy. But at 51,000 miles, I am just being cheap.

  • will125will125 Posts: 9

    The piston noise I am referring to is heard in the first 5-10 minutes of operation. This is the pistons rubbing against the engine block they are housed in. Yes, this is a problem. The engine components are disintegrating while in operation. This has been referred to as a valve tap on this board but the pistons are the culprit.

    Do you want a new engine in a car with a few hundred/few thousand miles on it ? Do you want to disclose to the next owner what was wrong with it ? This problem will effect the resale value of your car. Will the "new" pistons wear out in a few thousand more miles ? Your odometer will no longer reflect the true mileage on the engine once the engine is replaced completely.

    Essentially, GM is taking your "new" car and replacing it with a patched together engine or a completely new engine. Either way, you end up with a vehicle that was not correct from the factory originally. This will show in service records, etc...

    I would not purchase a 2001 Malibu with a 3.1 v6. The con's outweight the pro's. Buy a Honda Accord and drive worry free for 150,000 miles !!
  • aniazianiazi Posts: 39
    I have 2001 LS and to date I have close to 4000 miles on it. So far I have no problem at all with the car. Only time will tell. I was reading consumer reports and according to them 97-98 malibu are very unreliable but reliability is improving every year since '99. Main problems were with the brakes and electrical. I assume myself that 2001 would be much better as they have redesign many components in this model. I saw piston problem on this board, what you can do is to ask service center about the TSB for 2001 about this problem. I have also bought extended warranty for just in case and for better resale value. Imagine if you are going to buy a 5 year old car and person tells you, you still have 5 yr bumper to bumper warranty on it, you probably would be happy to pay little more ..I guess!
  • mfletoumfletou Posts: 22
    Had the same problem on my '97. The fan in positions 1 and 2 simply stopped working. The dealer replaced some sort of switch back there and it worked fine up until I traded it for my new Alero. I believe it cost me somewhere around $200 to get fixed. The dealer also told me I had a slow oil leak that need to be fixed. They wanted $600 to fix it. I told them thanks but no thanks. They told me that eventually the oil would spill out of the engine and it would blow. I told them (after I had paid and had the car again) that they were full of it. Sure enough, I drove the car for another three months with no problems, oil pressure was fine. When I traded it for the Alero the dealer never mentioned any problems. In case any of you are interested in trade value, I traded a 1997 V6, light blue with Custom Cloth, 60/40 split, keyless entry and power everything with 49,500 miles After a bit of dickering, dealer gave me $7700 for it, which was about $500 above the NADA average. I was pleased, especially since I got an Alero 3.4 V6, plus sun and sound package (sunroof + 8 spker 200 watt CD/cassette)and extended warranty for $17700 from an MSRP of 20605.
    Overall, though, the Malibu was a great car that I would recommend. The deal was right on the Alero so hence the trade. I nearly got a Malibu LS instead for the same price...
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    I have a 98 Malibu, early build - June 97. Bought it September 98, used, and probably abused, with 15k miles.

    In my experience, there was a lot of things to fix in this car. But most of the problems was just nuisances, fixed with regular oil change.

    For example, the both front and rear right speakers were replaced. A sensor claimed wrong "door open" - fixed by simple lubricating. The same with squealing left front strut. When fan stopped work at lower speeds (position 1-2), a resistor was replaced in the switch. $24 job including labor, not $200 as with mfletou. All of this under warranty, GM payed the price.

    Except the $5000 body shop repair after being rear-ended, the only expensive repair were brakes - pads and rotors. The brake work took about one hour, but with the genuine GM part, at genuine Chevrolet dealer :-) it costs almost $400. This happened before GM recognized the rotor problem, so I paid myself.

    Replaced the OEM Affinity tires at 36k miles (or 37?). With my driving style, tires are wearing-out rather fast, especially on edges. Also a $400 job, including alignment and road hazard insurance, at local Firestone. Now I am driving on Firehawk SH-30, and like them much better.
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    Yet it is OK for a 2000 Honda Accord to have a transmission defect and have it replaced and not be concerned that you would have a "patched" up car. What a double standard. Good luck though.
  • timmyg71timmyg71 Posts: 5
    Seeing as the 3.1 has been used for years in other cars, has the problem with piston/valve tapping (whatever way you think of it) ever been seen in the other models, or is it to blame on the origin of manufacturing? Just wondering, because I currently own a '99LS Malibu and have been thinking about buying a used Lumina with the 3.1 as my second car. Thanks for the input.
  • aniazianiazi Posts: 39
    Good to hear that you didn't get any big trouble with your 98 model. I think Malibu got the bad remarks mostly because of the brakes problem. According to the "2001 April Auto issue" of consumer reports, engine and transmission of malibu rated good to excellent in terms of reliability all along. Overall Malibu is now on Average reliability from worse since 1999 model year. I think thats a very good issue it also compares US, European, and Japanese makes in a form of a graph. According to that graph US auto makers made the greatest improvement compared to 1980 cars but they are still the ones who needs the most improvements. I think US automakers need to pay more attention in refinement then rolling out new models with new name and problem remains same.
    I consider Malibu different among the Chevy and other US cars and thats why I liked it. My 2001 runs very smooth, and I liked it very much. It was a so much good deal for me over Accord. If I didn't get brake problem I would be extremely happy then and that will put more confident in US makes.
  • To yurakm:

    My wife has mentioned using an anti-static spray on the seats, but I put it off. Thought it would be crazy to have to spray the seats all the time. I am not one for using the static free dryer sheets, but I think it may be time to give it a try. Also thanks for the insight of tire air pressure.

    My apologizes to VOCUS not focus :)

    To paesano:
    Besides the occasional shocks, We are vary pleased with our car. No problems like the brakes, knocks, pistons, a, etc... And I don't know about "a brake in period" with one gas mileage and then it increasing. We have over 4000 miles on our 01Malibu AS, and every time I fill up, it is at 20mpg.

    ? To the people with Piston/Ticking noise. I live in Florida where it does not get very cold. If you are having this problem and live in the north, has anyone mentioned maybe the oil not getting pumped through the engine properly for those first 5/10 minutes of running allowing it to warm up and thin the oil.!!
  • rae08512rae08512 Posts: 6
    Can someone help me? Have a whooping noise on front right passenger side when the brakes are applied and malibu starts to slow down. Before we got new brakes we noticed a faint sound when we turned corners. Took it Midas they said it was the wheel bearings. After Midas looked at it today, it sounds louder.(coincidental?) The brakes are about 1mo old. We have 56,000 miles on it. Any suggestions..... Thank you
  • manyjobmanyjob Posts: 1
    Wow!! $400 for a brake job? I just had the fronts done on my '98 at 51,900, plus had the rears cleaned and adjusted, and it was $265 at the dealer. It seems that I bypassed the rotor problem to this point. The Affinity tires are still in good shape as well. I bought this one in August 1999 with 24,000 on it and have had almost no problem with it. It was an early build, went "in service" September 1997. The only repairs other than normal maintenance were to the rear stabilizer links and a leaking rear wheel cylinder, both covered under warranty. Very satisfied to this point with the Malibu.
  • bluwoodbluwood Posts: 1
    I have a '98 LS and have been happy with it. I paid $300 per month with nothing down thru a SmartBuy. I am starting to shop again & finding dealers wanting $370 & up per month. Considering the recent track record of the car (mine has been fine), I'm surprised by this. Can anyone offer any insight into what you've heard people are paying for the 2001 models?
  • njdevilsrnnjdevilsrn Posts: 185
    The 2000 Malibu is on its way to the dealer this coming Tuesday. Time for the 9000 mile service (the thing is one year fiance drives nowhere).

    I'm gonna have them look at the slapping/tapping of the engine. I told them it's on cold starts, and I told them how I think it may be a problem with a piston (let's see what they come up with)

    That and the wind coming through the speakers when the windows are down.

    I'll let you all know how it goes!
  • skipper8skipper8 Posts: 7
    My Malibu had just under 36,000 miles.. and I noticed that the brakes were grabbing when I applied them It was most noticeable at slower speeds. My wife really noticed it... and pointed it out to me. Me being the primary driver.. got used to the slight grabbing. Anyway... took it to the dealer with 35,977 miles... and they replaced the rotors. They said the rotors were worn (they didn't use the term warped).. and replaced them under the warranty. They also cleaned and adjusted the back brakes. They charged about 30 bucks for that.

    The service person said they had "upgraded" the rotors. I said.. you mean a better quality and the originals were "cheap"??.. she just looked at me.

    Still have about 65% on the pad so they didn't replace those..

    I had also mentioned the "ticking" noise in the engine. I wanted to get that into their records before the warranty ran out. They said that was "normal" for this engine.. the 3.1 "6". The service showed me a bulletin from GM saying that they have not found the noise to be a problem in the engine.

    I guess time will tell on the ticking noise.
  • malibu52malibu52 Posts: 2
    I want to thank will125 for the very accurate information regarding this problem with the 3.1 engine and the TSB issued to deal with it. To make a long story short with this information and other research I was finally able to get this problem corrected. With out that information or the internet clubs and forums I fear there would be many of us still trying to get to the bottom of this unfortunate problem on our own. Many thanks will125 and after all pistons, bearings and rings replaced by certified dealer (and there is a difference) no problems so far and a pleasantly quiet nice performing engine.
  • I had to have the pistons replaced in my vehicle after 12,000. I had a ticking noise at start up for about the first two minutes of operation. After the replacement I have had no noise. Just concerned for the folks that are being told this is normal for the 3.1. It is not normal and is not due to cold oil. If you have a 3.1 that is ticking you had better get it to a dealer that knows what is going on with this engine. I have had no problems since rebuild.
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    Some ticking is normal. THe ticking you describe is not the same ticking I have at start up. It doesn't even conme from the pistons. My Beretta had the 3.1 and it also had the slicgh ticking ( notloud enough to hear when inside the car). After the engine warms up it's gone. In the Summer it doesn't even happen. I'm sure teh ticking most people described was probably a bad piston but the 3.1 will have a slicght ticking sound on cold days. If the engine ticks in teh summer then that would be a cause for concern. Good luck! :-)
  • njdevilsrnnjdevilsrn Posts: 185
    My dealer called and told me that my vehicle is among those with this "piston slap" (they had it for an oil change and to check out the noise). He told me the parts will be ordered today, and they will be in in about a week or two. According to them, they will need the car for at least 2 days. Anyone who had this problem and had it repaired have any thoughts about length of the repair, performance after repair?
This discussion has been closed.