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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • robert8robert8 Posts: 13
    I have a 2004 Malibu LS and need to get at the back of the radio for the antenna. Does anyone know of a website or personal knowledge of how to get the front plastic housing off to get at the radio. I can see some clips on the bottom under the dash but I did not want to force them, they seemed pretty tight. Thanks, Robert..
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I think the clinic was April 24-25.
    I was there (LOL). I enjoyed it as well although too darn hot outside for me.

    You might have met me although I bet you were probably talking a lot to the Powertrain guys. We had our lead calibration engineer there and he is quite an interesting character :).
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I think I posted procedure in another forum on this I will take a look and repost here. It is pretty involved because of the layered design of the IP.

    Why do you want to do it?

    Here is it: Do at your own risk -

    It does require a bit of disassembly. I wanted to give you an idea of what is involved before you really dig into it. There are lots of those snap-in clips things which are amazingly aggressive in retention and sometimes you might think you are going to break something before it releases.

    I have watched numerous radios removed on 2004 Malibu. I have never see the radio disassembled so can't help with that.

    The IP is layered and so requires removal of a little more than you would expect. It isn't that hard, just takes a little longer. You will likely be sweating by the time you are done.

    I would recommend you have a battery powered drill with 7 mm driver to speed things up. You might need a universal joint or flexible shaft on drill to reach a couple of the screws.

    You will need to first remove both lower hush panels which are just snapped in on driver side and passenger side. The driver side might have a clip going into it from the hood release cable. The passenger side may be attached to a wiring harness and will need to be guided back into HVAC duct when reinstalling which is a bit tricky.

    I think you might have to remove some small trim panels on each side. One on driver side contains dimmer switch, adjust pedal switch, etc. The one on right side is just a trim panel.

    Also remove the trim panel below ignition switch with the little key rest pad on it. There is a screw beneath it that needs removal.

    Then pop off the end covers of IP (just snapped in) and remove the screws holding the driver "knee bolster" and glovebox. You will need to remove all of the remaining screws on these 2 things and then unsnap them from the IP. You will likely have to fold down the glovebox to access all the screws - just squeeze box together in back to allow it to flop down.

    Then you can pull off the "center stack" trim plate. This is just snapped in. Start at the bottom clips first and work you way up.

    Be careful not to yank off the top. The hazard switch wiring connector needs to be removed or just have someone hold this trim plate up while you get at the radio (or you may be able to hold it up using the rear view mirror).

    Then take off screws for HVAC control head to drop it down out of the way and FINALLY you can remove screws from radio and pull it out (it will have an antenna connection and 1 or 2 connectors going to it).

    Congratulations, you have now disassembled about half of the IP of the vehicle.

    Remember when putting radio back in to line up the plastic bullet into IP which helps secure the radio.

    I can probably give you more details if required on any particular part but I know once you start you are going to have to finish the job.
    Good luck and repost on your experience.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    That is one thing I don't know how to read. I see only the same numbers (broadcast and traceability number)
  • Yes, E2helper, I do remember that clinic's calibration engineer.
    I also had a nice chat with the interior design engineer (he and 4 other people were inside my maxx that day fixing various trim).

    The whole experience was the most pleasurable I have ever had with a car, given my background __is__ engineering (electrical, audio and digital, including a stint at GM/Delco). I really wish manufacturers would do more of these.

    So, since there aren't any more clinics to go to, I'll ask my local dealer to verify the PCM is properly calibrated. Fingers x'ed they can help.
  • robert8robert8 Posts: 13
    Yikes, sounds complicated. I'm trying to get to the antenna wire so that I can install an FM modulator for my satellite radio. I need to pull the antenna wire out, put in the modulator wire and plug the car antenna into the modulator. I may be able to get something in to pull the wire out without going through all this trouble but it is pretty tight back there. What is IP that you referred to? Thanks for the information.
  • beedublubeedublu Posts: 236
    Well, today I had my first service experience with my 04 Maxx...addressing the cruise control problem and "check engine" light.

    Predictably, the response regarding the former was "Function test cruise. Operating as designed". Argh! IMHO, if this is the way the thing is designed, then it needs to be redesigned! As I said before, you have to push the brake pedal down half an inch or more and HOLD it to release the cruise. I guess I'll report it to NHTSA. It's a definite safety issue and I'm uncomfortable using the cruise in this car.

    The "check engine" light repair went better. Here's what's written on my copy of the RO:
    "Code P0442 evap leak detected. Install purge cart found leaking lines at rear main connection. Repair fitting at main rear line connection. Clear code. Retest OK. WG/2W L0160." And the light remains off. Success.

    *Unfortunately*, there are two new problems discovered on the drive home. First, the temp gauge is absolutely dead; the needle remains pegged at the bottom of the scale even after a 10 mile drive.

    And while stopped at a red light with the radio on, I could hear this incredible racket coming from somewhere under the hood. When I reached my driveway I turned everything off (stereo & AC), and listened with the windows down and it appears that the engine cooling fan now runs full blast, full time. The outside temps were only in the low 70s and I tried driving with the AC off, yet still the fan runs like crazy.

    Since my dealer has banker's hours (not open Saturday), I'll have to call and gripe first thing Monday, but in the meantime...any ideas on what's screwed up now? Thanks.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    IP=instrument panel (I forgot the context in my original message).

    I don't know much about these FM Modulators but does it have to be installed right at the radio? There are a few more coax connections in the vehicle (although maybe the one at radio is the only one that is a match to the modultor you have.)
  • 37453745 Posts: 152
    You should just touch the brake pedal and the cruise control must disengage. You can check the action of the brake lights and see if they respond by slightly pushing on the brake pedal. I don't know how many switches are activated by the brake pedal on the Malibu but one of them should disengage the cruise control and I suspect that your problem could be solved by a simple adjustment of the relevant switch.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    yes, on my Maxx, I can ride the brake without the rear brake lights coming on, so there definitely is some play there.
  • cofl02cofl02 Posts: 2
    My 1997 Malibu headrests do not have a button. At the base of each steel post there is a plastic cover mounted on a black plastic tube with ridges around it (visable only when the fabric is pushed down).

    The headrests travel up on the steel posts that are stationary.

    Does anyone know how to remove these headrestes?

    I am stumped!
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    I just got done rotating my tires and wanted to pass on to you the following observation: the metal wrench which is attached to the side of the jack is ABSOLUTELY USELESS for raising and lowering the car. Do yourself a favor before you get a flat: go and buy a 16'' long drive bar with the "U" in the middle and large sized socket head, and a 19mm socket.
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    The fan running and the inoperable temp gauge are most likely related. Maybe the dealer forgot to plug something back in when they were working on your car, or maybe coincidentally something just failed on your car when you left the dealership. However I believe that the fan running full blast is just a fail safe designed into the car since the PCM doesn't seem to be receiving the engine temperature from the temp sensors. Also, I've heard of someone experiencing this and then after driving it a few more times everything returned to normal.
  • 37453745 Posts: 152
    The more I hear about inoperable this or that the more I get convinced that there is a bug in the body control module. Just the other day for no rhyme or reason my doors would not unlock from the key fob. In fact, there was no response to any command from both key fobs. Then hours later, just as suddenly, everything starts to work again. I've also had random no-start which clears itself after locking and unlocking the car.

    Now I hear about temp. gauges that do not work but come right later and, fans that run all the time. I am convinced that all these problems are related and are caused by the body control module. I'm sure there is a bug in it.

    Are you listening GM?
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 156
    The transaxle ID plate is on the side of the transaxle closest to the firewall. You can only see it from underneath the car. It is right below the catalytic converter which comes off of the rear exhaust manifold.

    I put my Maxx up on ramps at end of my driveway and crawled under the car to get the numbers. The 1 digit year and 3 digit julian date are embossed into the top right edge of the tag, like the numbers on a credit card.

    My Maxx has build date of 02/04 on the driver door. The julian date on transaxle is 4043, which is 2/12/04. Trans is built in Canada. Car is built in Kansas. So my car must have been build in last half of Feb. If my trans has the howling, I really don't notice it. I would have to drive another Maxx whose tranny date is out of range to compare.

    I too would not do anything about this. This is a major repair, requiring removal of trans and many parts within to get at the chain and sprockets. It is not worth risking future problems, even though I have a 6yr/100k x-warranty.
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    Just so you know the PCM (powertrain control module) and BCM (body control modules) are two different things. The PCM is the computer that controls the engine, transmission, fans, things related to the powertrain. The BCM is the computer that controls the radio, windows, locks, interior lights, and mirrors (so pretty much all accessories). So the temp gauge, fan issue is not further evidence of a problem with the BCM but an error in the PCM.
  • 37453745 Posts: 152
    Ok, that may be so but there is certainly an interaction between the two. They do "talk" to each other through a common bus. Also, certain information from the PCM is read out on the DIC - driver information center - which in turn is also connected to the BCM. Things are getting so complicated on modern cars that it is almost impossible to separate the systems.

    It is a fact now that it is very difficult to upgrade entertainment systems on cars because of the intertwining of computer systems. The aftermarket entertainment system industry has lodged a complaint with motor manufacturers for this very reason. They are now working on a common standard whereby any aftermarket entertainment system can be installed by simply plugging it into an IEEE type of plug. But then of course, that new system must also have a DIC display compatible with all cars. So now we have a new standards war. There are cases where the upgrading of an entertainment system has forced the installer to extend the existing system wiring into the trunk and connect the original system there in order to keep the car running!

    Only then can an upmarket system be installed in the car. So, you see, things are not as simple as what they used to be. I am still convinced that there is a bug in whatever/whichever, (take your pick) computer system on the new Malibu.
  • beedublubeedublu Posts: 236
    Yes indeed...all is back to normal as of this morning! Temp gauge works just as it did before the "Check engine" light repair and there was hardly a peep out of the cooling fan.

    I'm getting the impression that a lot of things related to the PCM require a number of start/stop cycles in order for the PCM to reset itself.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    my service manager and I were using a telescoping mirror and flashlight. He saw the plate, but claimed that the numbers did not match up with the picture in his GM computer.
    As for your build date, I found mine (aside from e2helper telling me the date) after I took off my front left tire. It is on a white sticker which will face you: 2004jjjj j=julian date
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Sorry for not replying on this. I think I had started a response and fell asleep before finished (LOL).

    There is only 1 brake "switch" on the new Malibu. It isn't really a switch anymore it is a sensor similar to type used on engine to detect the throttle position (it is called the "Brake Apply Sensor"). The body computer reads this sensor and tells the rest of vehicle via a couple methods the status.

    There is a "zeroing" procedure done at assembly plant which can be redone by dealership using their scan tool. I don't know all the conditions that might require such a "relearn" to typically be done.

    The calibration on "dumping" cruise control, turning on brake lights, turning on center high-mounted stop lamp, turning off the brake-transmission shift interlock and unlocking the transmission torque converter clutch all pretty much happen at the same point so you will notice that brake lights and cruise "dump" do occur at the same time.

    There is a method that dealer has available also using his scan tool to check the current rest position of your brake pedal vs. the learned "home" position of this sensor.

    If the value happens to be negative that means that currently the brake pedal has to travel a little bit to get to the zero point which would increase amount of travel before stuff happened.

    I think it would be good to check that value before relearning so that you would actually know if something was going to change or not.

    The amount of movement I am talking about is VERY VERY slight but may be enough for you to be noticing.

    I will see if some more specific information can be made available for dealers to help them know how to do this

    If you want to provide the last 6 of your VIN number it would be of interest. I don't think I have seen yours before
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Yes there has to be a little "deadband" there. You wouldn't want the cruise to shut off when hitting a pothole or going over rough railroad tracks.
  • 37453745 Posts: 152
    It's like a Windows computer that crashes all the time. The other day my turn signals stopped working - not nice - and then started to work again after the car was stopped and re started. In other words, they started to work after a the computer was re booted. Everything depends on the wretched computer these days and it's only going to get worse. The days of simple relays and fuses and circuits everybody can understand are gone.

    It's no good going to the dealer if the problem has gone. GM must be made aware of the problem and a fix found for it and the dealers told what to do.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867

    I have to disagree with you on the wrench..I used it to remove the two rear wheels when I installed my mud took some getting use to..but after some refined technique...I found it easy to use...and jacking the car was not problem at all..what didnt you like?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    pao: the wrench is pretty stiff to turn, the torque ratio is pathetically low due to its small handle, and the metal has sharp edges. Also, you cannot make a complete revolution with it. So after cranking it from left to right less than 180 degrees, you have to push it back over to the 9 oclock position and start the cranking again. It took forever to raise the wheel in this manner. I am glad I found the tool I mentioned in my earlier post. Sorry, but having built dozens of homes, and worked on many cars, I think it was the worst jack wrench I have ever seen.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    perhaps...I had my car up in two minutes...using the jack..again personal taste Im sure...but it is easy to store....and not looking to find another tool to store somewhere in the car to keep it from rattling..either...heck right now Id just like to have my car out of the collision shop...gonna pick the rental up tommorrow!!
  • beedublubeedublu Posts: 236
    Hey, thanks for the detailed explanation. It all makes sense, since yesterday I got underneath the dash with a flashlight and a mirror and I couldn't find *anything* that resembled the brake light switches on my previous cars.

    Just now I went out to the garage and tried moving the brake pedal -- and you're right, nothing happens with the brake lights or center stop lamp until the pedal has been pushed down the same distance required to dump the cruise. And it's pretty far! That means that drivers behind me aren't seeing my brake lights until I've really hit the brakes pretty hard.

    FWIW, my last six digits are 248816 (build date 6/04). Thanks in advance for any additional info.
  • robert8robert8 Posts: 13
    Thanks e2helper for the information. After you posted the procedure I figured I would give it one more try and try to get the antenna wire out without taking apart the instrument panel. I was able to get my hand up in there behind the radio and pull the antenna wire and bring it down. I plugged in the fm modulator and all is well. Thank you..Robert..
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Great news. I wasn't sure what you did was possible but given the alternative (ripping apart instrument panel) I guess you were motivated :)
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002

    By the way your build date is specifically 06/09/04 which means you have one of the newest Malibu of posters on this site. I looked up the original brake sensor zeroed value on your vehcle but I don't know how to interpret the units it is in.

    I had to ask someone else for assistance. Will be back in touch when he converts into something I understand
  • cadellcadell Posts: 10
    Thanks for the info maxx4me. At least I know I am not the only one who has noticed this. I won't worry about it anymore.
  • jmax4jmax4 Posts: 22
    e2helper: Could you check the status of the latest calibration of my Maxx with a build date 01/04 and the last VIN digits: 162807?

  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    The web site I use is down right now so it was more difficult to look up but I see your vehicle was built right at the end of Jan 2004. Either 1/29 or 1/30 depending on where I look.

    In any case there is an updated PCM calibration for your vehicle.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    .....and my PCM reflash is working fantastically so far. Much reduced vibration, no hard starts, and no deer jumping into my great
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Great news

    There were a few more of you Malibu owners out there with similar complaint (not with the deer but the engine idle or transmission 3-4 shifting which this calibration was supposed to help on)

    Keep us posted maxx4me.
  • ssmaxxssmaxx Posts: 13
    im so glad i found this site just surfing ive had my max since may. i drove a 71 chevell SS 454 for 10 years and totaled it on a spin out it was sad. the maxx is agreat car and i drive alot of difrent vehicals i am cer master at. aqnd have pushed this little car and it has preformed well beyond what i and others thought trac is very quick and pep was snapper before up date flash but i would like to find out how to program the the doors to lock when the security arms pasivly i hope chevy pepole dont take offence of the SS but it in memory of the last of the muscle cars
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Hi there ssmaxx,

    Sorry to say that you cannot program the doors to lock automatically when the security system is set to arm passively.

    The vehicle comes from factory in the "RKE" mode which requires you to lock the doors in order to arm the content security system.

    You have the ability to change the setting to arm passively (via Driver Information Center) which only means you don't have to take any action for the system to arm itself. However some people might find that setting annoying which is why default is the other way.

    No problem with name ssmaxx. Next model year there will actually BE a Malibu Maxx SS (though nothing to compare with your previous ride in the HP area)
  • ssmaxxssmaxx Posts: 13
    hi e2helper thanks for the reply do you of any settings that would lock the doors automatically even if other feature would have to be disabled such as lock out prevention ,last door lock ,rke ive got a few things going on inside the car that need self locking i got cb, gps,tv tuner,all set up plug and play you'd be surprised where ive found space
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    would love to see pics on the inside showing the goodies!..why dont you post over in the mods section of the photo gallery
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    It looks like you probably figured them all out but here are the customization features you could do to make it more likely your doors are locked or security system armed.

    All but one of these settings is modified by owner using the Driver Information Center buttons on radio.

    1. If the vehicle is typically just driven by the driver (with no passenger) you might want to change to setting for Automatic Door Unlock from ALL to Driver Only. This would be a pain if you have passengers or want to get into the liftgate area much though since those "doors" wouldn't be unlocked to easily open them.

    2. You can turn off the last door lock feature so that the doors automatically lock as soon as you activate the lock button, even if you have a door open.

    3. From a content theft system standpoint you can change vehicle to Passive Mode instead of RKE. However this means every time you turn the car off the content theft system will arm itself, even if you didn't lock the doors.

    4. Dealer (but not customer) has the capability of turning off the the antilockout feature. This would allow you to more easily lock doors when the keys are left in the ignition.
    All of these things are basically disabling features that were added to the vehicle to make it more user-friendly but I understand you have a lot of added content in the vehicle you are trying to protect by keeping doors locked as much as possible.
  • ssmaxxssmaxx Posts: 13
    thank you e2helper for the pinpoint info on the dic program avalibilitys ill try that setup and see how it works .but just to stick my two sense in ,if the system contents theft needs to leave the doors open then we need to ad more black boxes seems redundant chevy dealer sent me to after market place to see if they could do it guy said only way if ads on aftermarket alarm .no way not for me . gm has to have a way to combine the timed arm security signal to the door lock command when theres no key in the ignition liability sign off if you lock key in car pay on star fee to open what do pepole do when they locked there keys in the car before maxx was born. ill be glad to pay for original setup like that but i wont pay for aftermarket alarm.creacure conferts on this car are great its unbelivable where chevy gone with this i recomend the car to every that asks me. 2 freinds bought maxxs one cavelir one venture and my brother just got a hd 2500 8+ liter engin no candy in that one.ikow its just a matter of time for the feature that im looking for to happen but in that time who knows what could happen
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I am not sure I am answering your question correctly ssmaxx so I will cover one additional area in regards to the content theft system.

    Content theft system is triggered when any door or Maxx liftgate is opened without first disarming and will cause vehicle horn to honk and exterior lights to flash for 30 seconds.

    You arm the content theft system in vehicle by either: pressing the remote keyless fob LOCK button, press the power door lock switch or turn the driver door key lock cylinder. The system doesn't arm immediately it typically waits 30 seconds unless you press the LOCK button a second time.

    You can tell the status of the content theft system by looking at the LOCK telltalte in cluster to see if it is on solid or flashing.

    If you don't lock your vehicle doors then the content theft system is not armed - unless you have DIC changed to Passive Arming

    Did that help (maybe you already knew all this)?
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,092
    Excuse the interruption...

    e2helper, could you please drop me an email when you get the chance? My address is in my profile.

  • ssmaxxssmaxx Posts: 13
    i have to take some pictures and post for you pao i order the sunroof visor ill take pics when mounted
  • prdmprdm Posts: 145
    Is it possible to disable the DRLs in the US? I realize they are effective in Scandinavia where twilight can last 5 hours but here at latitude 43 they are just annoying. It's not a federal mandate is it?

  • 2damaxx2damaxx Posts: 12
    In my experience, the DRLs only activate the corner lamps during the day. I haven't taken time to thoroughly examine what happens during the day, but at least at night, the DRLs can be overridden by twisting the light stalk down (toward the driver). I REALLY like this feature. (Although you may be looking for a permanant fix, and this one requires you to override them every time you start the car.)

    If you drive interstates a lot, you know that turning your lights off and then on can signal to a truck that the lane is clear for a changeover. On earlier versions of DRLs the beams could not be turned off, which left only left you with the option to flash high beams - which is not as appreciated. Now, you can use the override feature - click down once to turn them off, and again to turn them back on.

    Altogether, the the auto lights feature has been a surprisingly pleasant convenience on the car, IMHO.
  • prdmprdm Posts: 145
    Thanks. I just picked up the car on Monday and haven't yet seen what is happening up front with the lights on. It's my wife's car. If DRLs are only similar to having the parking lamps on I could live with that.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    For the Malibu/Maxx the DRLs are the front turn signals. They are much brighter than parking lamps.

    You can turn DRL function off by a momentary rotation of the headlamp ON/OFF switch just like you can do with the automatic light control at night - just remember when you do this in case and it starts to get dark out the automatic light control will not turn on either. Just do another momentary turn to turn them back on. Watch the Driver Information Center which tells you what mode you just switched it to.

    This only works for U.S. spec vehicles. In Canada that Headlamp On/Off switch only works when vehicle is in Park - because DRLs ARE a requirement in Canada.

    For Mexican owners (don't know if any on this board) DRLs are shut off from the factory. This export mode is not something you can change your vehicle to. In fact I came across a Mexican owner of a Malibu in another forum that WANTED DRLs activated on his vehicle (LOL).
  • prdmprdm Posts: 145
    I drive a Ford Contour and I know I can bridge two pins in a relay socket to enable DLR. I was just wondering if the Maxx had something similar to disable them. I had assumed that DRLs were at 80% of high beam intensity but if the Maxxes are dimmer that would be fine.
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 156
    With automatic lights on, there are two modes, daytime mode and nighttime mode. In daytime mode the headlights are off and the yellow front parking lights (turn signal lights) are on, but they are a more intense/brighter yellow. In nighttime mode, the headlights and tail lights turn on and the front yellow parking lights get dimmer.

    The light sensor on top of instrument panel tells the body control module when to switch between

    From inside the car, the only way to tell which mode is activated is by observing the instrument panel. In nighttime mode, the instrument panel lights turn on, the pointers on the gages, speedometer and tachometer turn red and the DIC (driver information center or radio display) slightly dims. The brightness of IP lights and DIC can be changed by turning the knob to left of steering wheel. And you can switch between high and low beams using the left stalk. You will see the high beam light on the IP display.

    During day, if you want to quickly check mode, turn on the high beams by pushing left stalk away from you. If high beam indicator on IP does not go on, it is in daytime mode. If you want to flash your headlights in this mode, you first have to manually turn on the headlights by rotating the left stalk up 2 clicks.

    You will find that car goes into nighttime mode during dawn and twilight hours. The sun has to be pretty high up before daytime mode begins. The system also goes into nighttime mode 30 seconds after the wipers are started. It may also change to nighttime mode if you drive on streets that are completely shaded by trees.

    One thing that annoys some people is that the instrument panel lights do not go on when you manually turn on the parking lights or headlights.

    Best of luck with your car. You will find that most owners posting to this forum are extremely pleased with their Malibu.
  • prdmprdm Posts: 145
    Thanks. So far (all of two days) I'm very impressed.
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