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Chevrolet Malibu Climate Control/AC Issues

beedublubeedublu Member Posts: 236
edited August 2015 in Chevrolet
Here's something that isn't explained well in the owner's manual:

It states that when you're in defog or defrost mode, the AC compressor will run automatically. When I set the mode selector knob to one of those positions, I seem to hear the compressor kick on -- but isn't the indicator light near the AC button supposed to light up?

When I turn the temp knob to the cold range the air from the defroster outlets definitely feels cold so I presume the compressor is running as it should, but I'm just wondering.

See also: Edmunds Technology Tips: Air Conditioning
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    chevyguy657chevyguy657 Member Posts: 216
    If I didn't have GMPP, I swear I'd sink this P.O.S.

    Anyway, last month it was brakes, now it's A/C.

    '00 LS, 61K miles. Have had control head replaced (switching back and forth between norm and recirc); it's not that. Have had fan speed control replaced (didn't work on speeds 1 and 2); not that. Am On 3rd alternator; not that. All of this has been done in the past.

    Put approx. 500 miles on the car between yesterday and today. This afternoon, the A/C started making a noise (inside the car, not outside) which sounds like, well, not a bucket of bolts, but more like a bucket of nails. Very weak on Speed 1 and 2, sound gets louder as I increase fan speed. Not nearly as cool as it'd been. Also, car deposits HUGE amounts of water on the road at rest. That's it.

    Compressor, possibly?

    Guess I'm headed to take my rightful spot in the dealer's waiting room Monday morning.

    I really am at the dealer once a month for something. This has been going on for the last year or more......
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    bluedevilsbluedevils Member Posts: 2,554
    I don't know if the indicator light observation is an actual problem with your Malibu. I will have to check ours. I do think the same situation exists with one of our other vehicles, a 2002 Kia Sedona.

    This is undesirable. If the AC is running, the light should be on.
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    tra2883tra2883 Member Posts: 79
    In my Malibu, with the windshield defroster on, the a/c compressor runs & the a/c light is on.
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    e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    I know that implementation of the A/C Compressor LED isn't done consistently across vehicles.

    Some vehicles have LED turn ON whenever A/C compressor is ON.

    With other vehicles it only turn ON when the customer has requested A/C to be ON. It doesn't turn ON if the vehicle itself decides A/C needs to be ON.

    Believe it or not this is sometimes a marketing call.

    I will post back on subject when I get some more details.
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    sgr5516sgr5516 Member Posts: 163
    On my Maxx LS (manual A/C) the A/C LED turns on whenever the compressor is on. It does not matter if you manually turn on A/C (when in floor and/or dash mode) or if it automatically turns on when you select defog/defrost mode.

    When in floor and/or dash, the body control module remembers your last A/C request forever, until you change it. There were several times when I thought the A/C was not working and I then realized I had to turn on the compressor. Now I always check the LED to make sure it is lit when I want the A/C on.
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    jason992477jason992477 Member Posts: 11
    Srry that post b4 I hit enter on accident! New Keyboard! I noticed today when I was fixing to drive my 2002 Chevrolet Malibu home from work that when I pushed the AC button on, and pushed the Recirculation button on that the AC was cutting itself on and off... I noticed when I looked on the RPM gauge on the left it was going up and down abnormally like it was skipping! Well I know it wasn't because I just got the car 2 weeks ago on monday 3rd week having it. I looked down and told my passenger to look, and sure enough the little green light was not exactly flashing but was comming on and off and I noticed that the RPM guage went down when light came on and when it went off it went up... I guess im screwed for this car, its financed till '09 and wondering becuase I already have a radio problem like I said from earlier posting and this cars not got but 32 thousand on it. Does anyone know why the AC was going on and off like that?! Then after I tried it a 3rd time it stayed on and then I eventually just turned it off a minute later because I was scared something maybe shorting out or whatnot! E2helper or ANYONE whos ever experienced this please let me know!!! Also if anyone knows why my back speaker was going in and out erratically while driving let me know too, I took it in on saturday and had the radio repair guy look at it, since he looked at it the radio speaker hasn't acted up but my right front door speaker is not working period!

     

    if anyone out there who knows anything on these two subjects let me know I am worried this car maybe falling apart on me!

    Thankx!
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    jerrywimerjerrywimer Member Posts: 588
    I'm with chrpai on this. My '97 did the same thing, and it only got worse with time. It never caused an issue as far as worries over shorting or other electrical problems. We did find that it actually does cut the A/C completely off when it goes out though. I'd be driving down the road on a 95+ F day with the A/C going and suddenly stop feeling cool air. When we looked down, sure enough the light had gone out.

     

    As far as the cost to fix it goes, I have no idea, because I traded the car off in 2003 without ever having fixed the issue. The problem had been happening for about a year, and I had already decided it was cheaper to just keep turning the thing back on when it cut off than replacing the control head, especially after discussing it with my local Chevy dealer's service department. :P
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    chrpaichrpai Member Posts: 32
    My system had the blinking A/C light again after the unit was replaced. The second time around it also got the fan speeds 1 and 2 stop working problem. There was also something with my system that when the A/C cut out the air smelled stale. So I knew immeadiatly when the system kicked out. I'd then cycle the fan off and on then hit the button to turn the A/C back on.

     

    I drove 45 minutes to work and sometimes I'd have to do this several times in a row and sometimes i wouldn't have to do it at all.

     

    I traded the car in and didn't disclose the problem. I figured the dealer ought to be expecting it to be broke anyways as common as this problem was.
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    ge_malibuge_malibu Member Posts: 1
    My Malibu has a problem where I have to constantly press the AC button intermittantly. It goes off by itself.

    Same thing happens with the recirculate button. Button goes off and switches to the other mode.

    If I stick a coin under the button to hold it in on the on position it stays most of the time.

    I took the climate control unit off and made sure the vacumn hoses were on securely.

    Ideas?

    Thanks,
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    tarmentarmen Member Posts: 6
    This is a common problem. Look at the previous older messages in this forum concerning this issue. There was a great deal of chatter concerning it awhile back. I have a 98 Malibu, and experienced the same problem. I was able to obtain a home fix suggestion, but opted to just replace the HVAC dash control unit (I think it was around $130, do a little searching at, for instance, at http://www.parts.com and you may be able to get it cheaper). It was very easy to do myself, just pop the old out, and put in the replacement. Took about 20 minutes, and I have had no problems for over a year.

    Anyway, the on-line "home fix" is available at:
    http://www.imcool.com/articles/aircondition/AC_ControllersAreRepairable.pdf

    Can't tell you how well this fix is, but I hope it helps.

    Later
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    rdtaylor1rdtaylor1 Member Posts: 1
    I own a 2001 Malibu LS and owned a 1998 Malibu LS. Both cars have had AC control head failures approx. every one to two years. I had two replacements from 1998 - 2001 on the 1998 model and now have experienced a third failure within four years on the 2001 model. An Internet search also indicates that the problem is common to this model starting with the 1997 model year.

    I've called to complain to the dealer, who referrred me to the GM consumer hotline. 800-222-1020. If you've experienced this problem also, contact GM and raise hell so that a product recall can be initiated (after Delco fixes the faulty ('dirty') contact problem.
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    tamishachattamishachat Member Posts: 1
    I have the same problem with my A/C switching from fresh to recirculating and I replaced the A/C cycling switch and that wasn't it, now they say I need an A/C control switch, is that what you got? :lemon:
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    masteryodamasteryoda Member Posts: 41
    Hey everybody, on my wife's 2000 Malibu LS, all of a sudden, when we try to turn on AC nothing happens, the same thing for the heat. Is that because of the dead blowing motor or some sort of electrical malfunction? THursday, everything was working just fine....
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    dave1951dave1951 Member Posts: 4
    Chronic problem with blower resistor, speeds 1 and 2. Another chronic problem with the a/c switch. My mechanic charged $80 to fix both (probably double at a dealer)
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    timmietimmie Member Posts: 1
    when i turn air conditioner on it starts cooling but quickly blows fuse in engine compartment 10 amp that goes to compressor and gas guage and temp guage. also blower 1-2 doesnt work 3-4-5 works .if blower motor resistor was bad would that blow fuse? please help !!!!!!
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    pcmkrpcmkr Member Posts: 2
    Hello,
    I am having the same issue as you with my blowers 1-2 not working but 3,4,5 are working and my gas and temp gauges are also not working...Oh yeah, my AC isn't working eiether. I was wondering if you found a slution to the issue.
    Thanks
    Eric
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    jerrywimerjerrywimer Member Posts: 588
    I didn't have any issue with the blower settings on my 1997, but I had the exact issue with the AC working for xx minutes (sometimes a whole trip, sometimes seconds..) before it would blow a fuse that caused not only the AC to quit, but several guages. When I took that car to the dealership to have it checked out they were stumped at first and put in a call to higher level GM support. What they told me when they came back was that this issue was rare (this was in 2003). Supposedly it had been reported on like 6 cars at that time and the fix seemed to be replacement of the compressor. They couldn't explain why this worked (all tests on the compressor seemed within normal specs).

    I was told that I could expect around $1k to fix it (parts and labor? dunno, didn't go for it). When I told the mechanic that I'd just replaced the alternator for the third time and didn't want to spend another small fortune on the car (essentially making repairs add up to more than the car's value at that point), he gave me a box of the fuses (6 amps comes to mind??) and recommended living with it for a while.
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    maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    E2helper: like others, when running the car with the recirculated air button set with no fan or A/C turned on, my button will suddenly switch over to fresh air right at the 10 mile mark every time. Is there some kind of built in logic that will "force" drivers to accept fresh air into the cabin if the recirculated air button has been on too long?
    I do not get this same result when the fan is actually blowing air or A/C into the cabin, only when it is off, and I am not refreshing the air.
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    e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    Not sure but I am checking - however it would be time-based not mileage based so next time you try this maybe see how many minutes it takes ;)

    You have the manual HVAC system, right?
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    globe199globe199 Member Posts: 6
    What do you mean that it's time-based? Also, what is the manual HVAC system? Sorry, excuse my ignorance! :)

    The other thing is...and maybe this is because of the heat...but the problem appeared suddenly. It wasn't like it would do it once a month, then once a week, then everyday. No, it worked fine Monday, then Tuesday (for example), it was all screwed up, and doing it everytime.

    Again, this points to something electronic, and doesn't really sound like there's just some dust in the buttons. I could be wrong, but logically it just doesn't sound like dust.
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    e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    Sorry, My comments were on Maxx4Me's vehicle :)

    I was comparing what I call the "manual" AC system found on Base and LS models with the "automatic" AC system found on the LT. I have those models correct, right? I don't normally call them by that terminology.

    The "manual" system although still basically electronic in functionality doesn't have access to information about the vehicle that the automatic system does. So the "thing" that decides whether you are in "outside air" or "recirculation" mode (besides which button was pushed) really doesn't know how fast the vehicle is going. It does know when the fan is OFF so I guess it could have some timer which would reset back to outside air after a certain amount of time.

    Hope that helped ;)
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    maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    Thank you. Yes, I have the manual system on my LS Maxx. It could indeed be time based since it takes me essentially the same amount of time to get to work every day, and therefore, the recirculation mode goes to fresh air mode at about the same point in time and miles. This certainly is no more than a minor annoyance, but I'd like to know the reason behind why things happen. Thanks for looking into it.
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    globe199globe199 Member Posts: 6
    Well, I tested the defrost last night in my 99 Cutlass, and it seemed to hold. It's harder to tell since the A/C light isn't on when I turn on the defrost. I can really only tell when I smell outside (unconditioned air) coming in, or hearing the compressor click off and on when idling (and the windows rolled down).

    Has anyone else noticed that the defrost may display the same problem as the A/C light blinking? In other words, the compressor clicks on and off randomly whilst using both defrost and the A/C button?
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    e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    I received confirmation there is a 10 minute (approx) timer which does function you indicate. I don't know details on WHEN it actually operates but you obviously found one of the conditions :)

    Good catch, you found something I didn't know about - LOL
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    maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    yep, if there's something odd about this car, I'll find it. Thanks e2helper
    Kurt: my steering starting twitching slightly last year in parking lots only. It also was still during the cold winter months. I had the column replaced and alignment done like pao said. It has been flawless since. Now, if my dealer could only find the squeeking noise I have up front (which I believe is from the new steering column.........if it is, I'm leaving it alone since it is working better than the last column)
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    malibu_achesmalibu_aches Member Posts: 3
    The dealer told me the same thing for my 99 malibu. I searched around and found that you can simply clean the control module and do not need to spend $300 getting it fixed from the dealer. It is a very common problem

    http://www.imcool.com/articles/aircondition/AC_ControllersAreRepairable.pdf

    Tells you how to clean the control unit on your malibu
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    globe199globe199 Member Posts: 6
    malibu_aches: have you tried cleaning the module? If you do, I'd like to know how hard it is, and whether it works. Thanks!

    Globe199
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    malibu_achesmalibu_aches Member Posts: 3
    Better yet - print and keep a copy of the following. Takes a lot less time than bitching out the dealer and having to take aspirin after...

    Instructions for cleaning the AC control unit for chevy malibu...

    http://www.imcool.com/articles/aircondition/AC_ControllersAreRepairable.pdf
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    tfhtfh Member Posts: 1
    Tried it today after 3 years of frustration with intermittant a/c operation. Flashing A/C light. Pushing buttons and turning dials would get it to work for a short period.

    After cleaning it works fine. Took me about a half hour. Pry off trim. 2 screws hold the module. 4 plugs unplug from the back(5 min). Take apart module carefully, clean with denatured alcohol and cotton swabs, use pencil on contacts, snap it back together(20 min). Put back in car(5 min). Took me longer to find the alcohol than to fix the problem.

    Trickiest part is opening the module. 4 push buttons are loose, so keep track of where the go. 4 plastic tabs hold the face plate in the housing and there seemed to be a little adhesive on the ends of the face plate so take your time. Small screwdriver worked fine.
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    globe199globe199 Member Posts: 6
    I did it last night too, and I believe it actually worked! We had a dew point of 80 last night in the Twin Cities, so this was perhaps the best test I could imagine. My wife helped me do this -- that was indispensible!

    Getting the dashboard apart was easier than I thought. (It probably helped that it had been done once before -- I didn't need a pry tool except for the ignition switch bezel). I switched the transmission into first gear to get the shifter out of the way. What I didn't realise is that you can't turn the car off or get the key out unless the tranny's in P or N. I panicked for a few minutes thinking I'd screwed up the ignition switch! I shifted back into P after prying the trim panel off and all was well. I think that should be documented somewhere for this procedure.

    Anyway, we disconnected the HVAC controller and brought it inside. Here's where it became far less interesting. After getting the controller apart, I was very sceptical as to whether cleaning it would help. I could find almost no dust or dirt inside the module -- the buttons and selectors were all pretty clean. But I cleaned the contacts on the board and the copper contacts in the selector well. I used compressed air to dry them. And then I put a little graphite on everything.

    I reassembled it and drove around with the A/C on for about 1hr 15min -- and everything seems to work. The light didn't blink once. Seriously can't believe it!

    I think I could do it again in probably under a half hour if I needed to. I may keep the 7mm socket in my car just in case!!

    Thanks to everyone for your help. :):D :shades:

    Globe199
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    isp_baneisp_bane Member Posts: 1
    I've been frustrated by this problem for a few years myself ('98 Malibu). This solution worked like a charm. I'd like to kick the dealer repair shop guy in the twins that charged me $70 to look at it way back when and then said it's just the Texas heat that it can't maintain cooling constantly.

    Thanks for this post!
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    pcmkrpcmkr Member Posts: 2
    I just had my issue fixed yesterday and it cost me $301.
    The wire from the AC clutch was causing the fuse to blow. The clutch was replaced and I finally have the AC working along with the temp and fuel needles and all the different light in my dash console. I also noticed my automatic lights worked again when since I drove through a tunnel.
    The price I paid was parts, labor and tax and included the 1/2 hour inspection/diagnostics.
    Hope this helps. Best wishes to ya in getting everything fixed with your vehicle.
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    jerrywimerjerrywimer Member Posts: 588
    Thanks for the feedback on these issues. I'm glad you were able to get your problems fixed.

    The car I had with these problems was traded off shortly after I was told that the problem required the compressor to be replaced (quoted $1000+). Either the dealership was attempting to scam me (didn't work, traded elsewhere, and did NOT pay for a new compressor), or they hadn't discovered that the AC clutch can cause this problem at that time. I might have actually kept that car a few years longer if the repair was $300. On the other hand, maybe not- those regular $x00.00 repairs had been adding up over nearly the whole time we owned the car.
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    xkiddx13xkiddx13 Member Posts: 122
    i think i have repaired the brakes on my 99 malibu about 2 times a year if not more.. talk about american cars..
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    dtownfbdtownfb Member Posts: 2,918
    The previous generation Malibu brakes are horrible. When the time comes to replace your rotors, you may want to upgrade them to a differnt brand. The OEM are thin and prone to warping.
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    cruzzingcruzzing Member Posts: 3
    My 50,000 mile 2003 Malibu heater/AC fan control has five fan speed positions marked on the dial, suddenly now only two work, positions 4 and 5. I had a 2001 Malibu that had the same problem. It must be some resistor set some place in the dash. Anyone had experience with repairing this problem? Does the bezel that covers the radio and heater controls come off with the two screws located on the bottom of the bezel, behind the ashtray??
    Cruzzing
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    e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    I don't have personal experience repairing this but I have seen posts and pictures taken by others. The control head is NOT the place the resistor is located. The resistor is down near the blower motor itself because it sits in the airstream.

    I think you have to remove the blower motor and cut away part of the dash mat to access the screws to remove resistor.
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    cruzzingcruzzing Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for help. I will have to do some more seaching for the pictures
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    e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    Doing a Google search on your keywords "malibu blower motor resistor" works pretty well
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    kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Member Posts: 1,798
    Was this resistor system changed for 2004 (I remember seeing a fair number of posts regarding this problem)?
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    e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    I don't know much about exact cause of issue with previous model to answer this (whether it was the resistor itself or the environment/position it was located in).

    The base system in 2004+ Malibu also has a blower motor resistor card but it is a different part (fewer speeds). The auto ac system doesn't use a resistor card, it has a "linear power module" or LPM which is an electronic device which gives you more control over blower speed. It mounts in same location as the blower motor resistor.
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    cruzzingcruzzing Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for suggestions. I found several detailed instruction sets.
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    redmaxxredmaxx Member Posts: 627
    I think Chevy got a little overzealous in the automatic department for the automatic climate module. I had mine set yesterday to 50% fan and foot only and recirculate. Every few minutes it automatically switched back to fresh air. Hello! I don't want to breathe the semi's exhaust, that is why I set it to recirculate! :mad:
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    dtownfbdtownfb Member Posts: 2,918
    Do you have a manual override for the climate control so you can choose your own settings?
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    mr_botsmr_bots Member Posts: 236
    I think most A/C systems, auto or manual don't let you have it blow on the floor with recirculate on. The fan that recirulates the air in most cars pulls it from under the dash on the passenger side, so it would just be pulling in the air that was just heated. Not sure if that's the real reason they do it, just made sense to me. Also, the reason the A/C kicks on in certain modes is to keep moisture from building up inside the car.
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    imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 27,179
    The auto AC on our LeSabres lets you use vent or AC compressor mode (if warm enough to engage it) and the air can be directed to floor, floor/vents, vents, windshield/floor. In defrost it can only go to windshield and it tries to run the compressor if it's above about 40 degrees.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

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    gossamergossamer Member Posts: 2
    i have a 2001 and mine did the same thing. it seems GM put faulty switches in these cars. i replaced my recirculate / fresh air switch and this problem stoped. other faulty switches in this car are the hazzard switch that also controls your blinkers and the fan relay that controls your fan speed for ac/heat. when you compare the old switch to the new ones you can visually see the difference.
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    shadow5599shadow5599 Member Posts: 101
    We've just entered the hot season here and after I run the air conditioner and at some point shut it off and leave the vent blowing, there is an awful smell for quite awhile. I'm familiar with a funny smell with other cars in that situation but this is almost to the point of sickening. It has a chemical type really ugly smell to it and it's very objectionable. Anyone have the same problem? Is it a problem with something perhaps? Is it dangerous? What makes the awful smell?
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    e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    I don't have experience on this but Service Info diagnostics look to mention: Musty, Coolant or Oil type smells. I also know that there have been complaints about serpentine belt causing an odor.

    If Musty then typically dealer would look for any debris build-up in air inlet or wet carpeting. Then they would start looking at air conditioner components. They have a procedure to deoderize system. Finally the Malibu has a built-in "afterblow" function which can be enabled by dealer with service tool - this automatically will run the blower motor at high speed for a few minutes after vehicle shut off to help dry off ac evaporator core.

    Hope that helped - but I am sure there are others here with more experience on this that live in warmer climates.
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    maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    shadow, I just went out last week, turned my blower on high (outside air), and sprayed 1/3 can of Lysol into the intakes at the base of the windshield. This will kill any bacteria which has built up from pollen and moisture. You'll have to live with the Lysol smell for a few days, but it works well.
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