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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • UGH! The dealer blew me off without even making a confirming phone call. Those bad feelings are starting to brew again...

    According to, the '05 with rear audio comes with wireless headphones as e2helper said. The dealer is stuck in 2004 - and this is the "customer satisfaction" guy that I am dealing with. I am going to have to call Chevrolet customer assistance and have them contact the dealer. Is there anyone else here from GM that understands what a dissatisfier these little things are?
  • E2,
    This message board is good stuff. Can you tell me build dat for VIN 1G1ZT64804F234748? Thanks in advance.
  • After 45 minutes on the telephone with a lovely woman from Chevrolet Customer Asssistance (800-222-1020), we confirmed that:

    1) The rear audio option (UK6) uses a different control unit for 2005. The new one is capable of using the wireless headphones.

    2) Wireless headphones are supposed to be included with 05 Maxx's built with rear audio UK6.

    3) My dealer will give me the wireless headphones (he has some in stock - perhaps the ones they snagged from my car during prep?). I just have to drive the 30 minutes each way to pick them up.

    Again, thank you e2helper!
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 156
    Yes, E2helper and maxx4me are correct, the starting sequence on this car is controlled by the PCM. You just momentarily turn key to start and let go. The computer takes over and cranks the engine for 5-6 seconds until it starts. Once engine starts and you turn key to run, nothing should happen. The starter should not engage while the engine is running. If this is what is happening to you, this is normal.

    However, if what you are saying is that after you have released the key (key in run position) and the engine has started, the computer does not stop the starter from cranking or it tries to start the car again such that you hear the gears grinding, then I would think something is probably wrong and you should have it checked out.

    After a short trip, my Maxx sometimes does not start on first attempt. Computer cranks for 5-6 seconds then stops before engine has started. I think it is normal that it stop cranking after 5-6 seconds on a no-start. This prevents start motor from overheating and battery run down. After 2-3 attempts, it starts right up. I am going to have dealer reflash PCM to latest calibration next time I bring it in. Other posts here state this will correct the hard start problem.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    You are to be congratulated for buying a Malibu. While you folks are trying to decipher VIN's, and discussing wireless headphones, the Accord and Camry people are trying to figure out why they are having so many engine and transmission problems. If you want a boost in morale, just visit the foreign car "problems and solutions" areas sometime. I'm sure the new Malibu's and Maxx's will have to have some re-engineering done as the model matures, but for a first year model, things are going quite well. When the foreign car lovers start criticizing your choice of cars, just smile, and be secure in the knowledge that you probably got more value for your money than they did...and you are helping to keep American jobs safe.
  • Good point! I bought the car because of the apparent quality and plethora of unique features. It really is wonderful that the only complaint I have is about headphones. I also have an '04 Grand Prix that has had zero problems in 18 months of ownership. It will take a while but the perception of GM will improve if it continues to consistently build high quality, high content cars such as the Maxx.
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Posts: 2,554
    It may get you nowhere, but why not ask the dealer to MAIL you the headphones? It is their mistake and they should make it right without inconveniencing you. Of course, you probably know all this already, and so does the dealer. But that doesn't mean they will actually do what's right. Worth asking, though.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    No need to provide your whole VIN nw :)

    But it looks to be 5/19/04
  • beedublubeedublu Posts: 236
    I can relate to this complaint about cycling...I'd call it "hunting": 4th to 3rd, 4th to 3rd on grades that I'd call only moderately steep. And the downshift to third is so rough as to be startling.

    As I've said in other posts, this is the worst cruise control I've ever experienced, hands down. I haven't had mine in to the dealer for another attempt at solving the "stand on the brake pedal to disengage" problem that plagues mine, but I intend to have them look at it again. Btw, thanks to those who posted info on this previously.
  • I was wondering if anybody here has tried using a higher octane gas in their Malibu, and if it had any impact or economy or performance. I've been using 87, but was wondering about trying a higher grade. One of my previous cars was a 95 Camry 4-cylinder, and I used 87 regularly in that car but occaisionally used 93, and when I did I noticed that I got better gas mileage. Thanks.
  • prdmprdm Posts: 145
    Wishful thinking. Use what the engine was designed for as stated in owners manual. Any higher octane is only padding Exxon's profit sheet. High octane gas is used in high compression engines and as such actually burns slower. There is absolutely no benefit to using such gas in a relatively new 3.5L Malibu engine.
  • I agree that using Premium is only benfiting the oil companies. If you think you were getting better gas mileage, you probably exercised/experienced a more economical driving pattern during that particular tankful. Save your money and stick with 87.
  • 37453745 Posts: 152
    I've just received a recall notice for my 4cyl. 2004 Malibu. The recall says - 04002 Ignition Circuit Thermal Events.

    Do you know about this recall? Maybe it has something to do with my intermittent no-start situation.
  • townhometownhome Posts: 104
    Has anybody had a problem with hard starting? My Maxx has 1250 miles on it and about 3 times this has happened: I start the car fine, drive it, and it warms up. I turn it off, come back 20 to 40 minutes later, and go to start it. It cranks fine, but won't turn over, until I slightly release the key. It always starts eventually. A few other times, I also had a feeling that somehow the key was sticking in the start position. This has happened twice, with the engine running, but the starter still going.
    Any ideas anyone? I'd especially like e2helpers opinion!
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Sorry I am not aware of that one. It doesn't show up on NHTSA site where I expect notifications of all recalls to appear. If there are any other numbers that appear on the notice please post them back. That one, 04002, seemed a little short.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002

    I apologize, but first a few clarifications.

    On the times that this occurred you say it "cranks fine but won't turn over until you slightly release the key". So you observed no problems cranking the engine these times, the engine just wouldn't start?

    The other times you had "feeling the key was sticking in start position.....engine running, but the starter still going". Does that mean that you thought that you intially cranked the vehicle and the engine began running under its power but the starter motor was still running and engaged - which typically causing some nasty noises. How long do you think that condition occurred? Or did it continue until you shut off the engine.
  • 37453745 Posts: 152
    The notification is on a postcard and says, "according to our records as of September 25, 2004, the following open recall has not been completed on your Chevrolet".


    That's it. No other numbers. This is the first notification I have had about this.
  • prdmprdm Posts: 145
    As a follow up to a post by bdubsee and a heads up to anyone else - any '05 Malibu MAXX LS with option 1SB and up is entitled to a pair of wireless headphones. Dealers still don't know this.I just picked mine up and now while my wife is listening to some guy named Josh I can crank up Hot Tuna from the back.
  • mitzijmitzij Posts: 613
    That recall is for some older ('98-'01)cavaliers, skylarks, achievas, grand ams, and sunfires. If you used to have one of these, GM thinks you still own it. Oftentimes, GM's records are inaccurate. The VIN is somewhere on that card,(near your name and address, I think) it won't match your Malibu.
  • 37453745 Posts: 152
    Hey, thanks there. That's it! I used to have a Cavalier. Seems like GM's records are behind the times.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Thanks for clearing that up mitzij - had me scratching my head what it was about ;)
  • mitzijmitzij Posts: 613
    no problemo!
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    blew the first light bulb today in the Maxx..the left turn signal..was wondering how long the bulb would last with the DRLs. Easy to replace and replaced both the left and right at the same time 9 months and 12k on the car.....also..does anyone else have problems with the wipers skipping over the wind shield and leaving rubber residue...causing the wipers to skipped badly as the residue builds up.....seems like the OEM wipers are lousy...any recommendations for replacments?
  • >any recommendations for replacements [wipers]?

    Last ratings I'm aware of had Anco Premium 31 on top. Since then Anco has a new blade "HydroClear". You could put one of each on either side and tell us how they do!

    Ratings: from Consumer Reports - Oct., 2000, Pg. 37,2194,2442_7142_1- 3676243,00.html
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    yes pao, I have that problem; I chalk much of it up to the fact that I run my waxing towel over the window to help it bead water. Nonetheless, the wipers do skip a bit. I never replace the rubber inserts; I always get the entire wiper blade assembly.
  • >any recommendations for replacements [wipers]?

    Last ratings I'm aware of had Anco Premium 31 on top. Since then Anco has a new blade "HydroClear". You could put one of each on either side and tell us how they do!

    Ratings: from Consumer Reports - Oct., 2000, Pg. 37,2194,2442_7142_1- 3676243,00.html
  • My 04 Maxx rolls backwards at stop signs and in my driveway, both on inclines. The driveway isn't much of an incline. I've never in my life had a car that rolled back while in drive. At the stop sign, I have to keep one foot on the brake and rev the engine to go at the light so I don't roll back into the guy behind me. The dealer says this is normal. The only car I had that did that had over 150,000 miles on it. Anyone else have this "problem"? The tach reads 500 rpm when in drive and stopped with foot on brake.
  • skyhawkskyhawk Posts: 126
    After 8 months and 9700 miles, I have my first issue. The check engine light came on last night and the remote start has not worked since the light came on. I did check the settings on the menu and they are correct. I have an appointment next Tuesday at the dealer. I told the service person that the car runs fine. I was told that it was OK to drive it, but I will let it sit until Tuesday.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    sounds like a plan on the wipers...thanks..also....while the replacement of the bulb was do have to remove the entire reflector assembly to get to the caps to access the bulbs. teh reflector is a completely sealed unit..there was some earlier discussion about the rubber gaskets around the assembly seemingly allowing water in....wont happen..the reflector assembly has three caps that you have to screw off the back to access the three bulbs..there is only one electrical bundle connecting to the reflector..that controls all the bulbs....makes it clean and neat..anyway..about 10 minutes to change the bulbs......
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Remote start is disabled when a fault is detected which causes the Check Engine Light to illuminate. So your dealer will have to check what code is setting, diagnose cause and correct in order for remote start to function again.
  • e2helper, I had the emergency flashers on today and attempted to use the remote start before getting back in the car. It was "no-go". Is that similar to the "check engine light" scenario you mentioned in your message #660?
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    HAHAHA. Good observation.

    Hazard Lamp Switch activation is one of the disablers of Remote Start

    It is mentioned in owner manual - somewhere around page 2-10, I think.

    We wanted some way to allow you to easily disable from inside the vehicle and hazard switch was felt to be an accessible point.

    Now why were you trying to remote start your vehicle with the hazard lights flashing? LOL

    Maybe you might be interested in what else disables remote start?

    Not a complete list but here are things that come to mind:

    Hazard Lamps ON
    Powertrain Controller detects a fault which causes a Check Engine Lite
    Transmission not in Park
    Key in Ignition
    Hood open

    Also you will notice if during remote start you manually push on accelerator pedal to idle above some value that the engine will shut off after a few seconds (I forgot what RPM it happens at).

    If you do cause these types of disable criteria to occur the Body Control Module will store it away in memory so keep that in mind if you later take a vehicle to the dealer with a remote start inop complaint. :)
  • townhometownhome Posts: 104
    Sorry, dumb on my part.

    The car will crank, but not start until I start to turn the key back to the run position. At first, it feels like it has a strong battery, but no gas, Then all of a sudden it will start and run perfect. It only happens after running it up to reg. operating temperature and then trying to start it after it sits for about 30 minutes.

    The other thing that happens less often is I will quickly turn the key, it will start, I will start to take my hand away and then realize that the engine is running but the starter is also running. I then quickly jiggle the key and the starter disengages. It's very nerve-racking to hear that sound, like you said. Is it possible to turn the key too quickly?

    Thanks for your help.
  • Perhaps this is a dumb question, but today my "service engine soon" light came on. Is this an immediate thing that needs to be done right away,or just sometime within the next week or two?
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002

    I don't remember if you provided me your last 6 digits of VIN but please do so to see what calibration in your PCM. I don't want act like it is a panacea (cure all) but the latest calibration did mention something about improving starting. Vehicles built after early May 2004 already had this calibration.

    The second item you are experiencing, truthfully makes no sense to me at this time. It is not possible to turn the key too quickly. For this vehicle the ignition switch is really a low power device which is used to give electronic modules an indication of your intent for "power moding" of the vehicle. However the whole cranking/starting event although initiated by you is really directly under the control of the engine controller (PCM). So when you request the vehicle to crank it will keep the starter relay engaged until it has determined that the engine is running. It decides on its own when to disengage the starter relay. Jiggling the key should have no effect on what is going on, it might be just coincidence.

    I should mention that under conditions where the vehicle doesn't start quickly (I don't know how long) if you don't hold the ignition key in the START position the vehicle will stop cranking before the engine actually starts.

    So a few follow-ups......

    1. On the first item. It sounds like when you turn back to run you then need to try to start vehicle again and it starts OK, correct?

    2. On the second item. When you remove your hand what position do you think the ignition switch is in? When you "jiggle" the key do you actually turn off the engine or does it continue to run? How long would you estimate this starter "grinding" sound might occur for?

    Sorry I don't have an easy answer for you.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I don't have a good answer on this. The owner manual is a little vague on it but I would suggest reading it over (approx pages 3-39 --> 3-41). It looks to be that they are giving you things to try to make the light go off which tells me it is not something that needs to be addressed immediately but "soon"

    However if you ever see this telltale flashing when you are driving this indicates a misfire condition is occuring and manual gives you other suggestions on that.
  • e2helper, I just wanted to share a concern about the sunroof. I cannot have it open with all of the windows up at speeds above 45 MPH. The roar is simply deafening. I recognize that an open hole in the roof will increase cabin noise, but I have a sunroof in my '04 Grand Prix, and had ones in my '01 Alero and '97 Catera (go ahead an laugh...) that didn't exhibit this behavior. All were comfortable at highway speeds.

    The difference I see is that, on the Malibu, the deflector that pops up when the glass slides back is perfectly vertical with the center cut out (almost "C" shaped) - it works like an air brake. On the other cars, this piece was more horizontal and helped guide the air over the opening, not into it.

    I don't think anything is wrong, I just don't like it. I refuse to put one of those hideous acrylic wind deflectors on my car so I'll just live with it. Just my $.02.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    would agree that the Maxx deflector is worthless....I simply added an aftermarket deflector and problem solved....can run 75 on the interstate and carry on a normal conversation in the car...or listen to the stereo at nominal volume....several have voiced an issued with the noise of the sunroof mine off ebay but you can get them here as well....I noticed you didnt like them..but these arent bad and easy installation to solve the problem....doesnt use 3m to stick on...bolts down to the leading edge of the sunroof opening - - 4_05
  • Hey folks,

    I've got an 05 Maxx LS with about 300 miles on it, and I've encountered my first problems.

    Yesterday evening my wife was driving the car home from work when the "Check Gas Cap" warning lit up. She got home, told me about it, and I reseated the gas cap, started up the car, and drove around a bit. Message still lit up. Now, reading the board here evidently the Check Gas Cap message will light up until a test (or is it three tests) runs that shuts it off again, and the computer only runs the tests after the engine is cold. Is this correct?

    Also, I filled the tank for the first time a couple of days ago and the gauge stopped at around halfway between full and 3/4. Is this related to the gas cap problem? Is the car refusing to go to full because it's running some tests or the like?

    My wife is going to call the dealer this morning to check. Does anyone have any idea if the fixes for these problems are long and/or expensive? I'd expect things to be covered under warranty though. Should I tell my wife to tell the Chevy guys about PIC3088 (whatever that is... very mysterious)?

    I know both of these issues have been talked about before (most informatively by e2helper) but I wasn't able to find a definitive answer or solution. If someone could set me to right I'd really appreciate it. Thanks much.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Actually I am going to lease a Pontiac G6 (am test driving it now) which has similar sunroof and the deflector you mention is now added to the vehicle. I don't know if it is plant or dealer installed but looks to have been added to address concern you raised.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    You are correct on all counts. These are related items. This PIC3088 is now an actual service bulletin that dealers can access more easily. It doesn't show up on NHTSA site yet (likely because of lag time in their system). Tell your dealer to look at bulletin #04-08-49-025.

    It gives them a test to perform on fuel tank and fuel sender. Would be a good idea to provide them the vehicle with as little gas as possible since they have to drop fuel tank to perform test (and they won't have to siphon off as much fuel).
  • Thanks much, e2helper; I really appreciate it. Hopefully it won't take too long or be too inconvenient. We do live right close to the dealer which is nice. I bought the car with GMS pricing (my dad oversaw a lot of the cockpit design on this car and strongly recommended it) so hopefully that won't impact badly on how they treat me when I come in with complaints.
  • e2helper, as always, you input is very informative and much appreciated. Thanks also for the additional comments regarding remote start disablers.

    I'm compelled to respond to your query, "Now why were you trying to remote start your vehicle with the hazard lights flashing? LOL". I was unloading my car in an area normally reserved for commercial vehicles at a local office complex. I turned the flashers on to hopefully indicate to local parking enforcement that I was there temporarily "taking care of business", and should return shortly. Since the weather was on the cool side I decided to use the remote start while approaching the car. That's when I discovered that the remote start wouldn't work.
  • Welp, my wife just dropped off the car at the dealer and gave them e2helper's bulletin number; supposedly they'll have this fixed in five hours, which seems a little short to me if they have to siphon out all my gas, drop the tank, and replace it with a new one. Has anyone else had this gas cap/fuel gauge problem fixed with a dropped and replaced tank like e2helper describes? Did it really take that short a time or am I misunderstanding things?
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 156
    E2helper, I have same hard start problem as townhome. Happens 1-2 times per week. It starts fine and I drive until fully warmed. I stop somewhere and return 5-15 min later and it cranks but does not start.

    I'm aware of how PCM controls the crank/start sequence. I always just turn key to start momentarily and let PCM take over. When this happens the starter cranks for 5-6 seconds then stops without engine starting. After 1 or 2 attempts it starts and runs fine. I never turn key off, just from run to start momentarily for each start attempt.

    After engine starts, turning key to start does nothing. PCM won't engage starter if engine is running.

    I do not have problem where starter keeps cranking after engine starts. My suggestion for townhome would be to not hold key in start position and never turn to start while starter is cranking. Perhaps turning key to start during some split second while PCM has control might cause this starter grinding problem.

    I also have slight intermittent engine shake while idling in drive with A/C off and occasional delay on 3-4 upshift.

    My 04 Maxx LS was built in Feb (VIN 178793), so I will have PCM reflashed to latest calibration next time I bring it in for service. Hopefully that will resolve all my problems.

    I also have the transmission howling problem. My trans build date is 2/12 (julian 4043), so it is one with the 5/8 in drive link. I'm on the fence as to whether I want dealer to fix this or not. I'm concerned the resonating chain will fail after my 72/90 x-warranty has expired. I need to keep this car at least 8 years.

    All the helpful info you have posted in this forum is just great. Thanks again.
  • Sorry to be gone away so long. Wrt cruise, yes, e2helper, my Maxx was flashed at the April clinic in Burbank to help fix the transmission shifting from 3rd to 4th, etc - and that was improved. The flash did nothing for the cruise control.

    Your help is appreciated, but it would really be nice to see the General M actually have a system for tracking folks and getting regular feedback on their new cars, especially newly introduced ones. The April Clinic was an excellent example of trying to do this, but if one is keeping a vehicle for a long time (6 years? more?), one single clinic doesn't provide much opportunity to contribute long term feedback.
    The dealer service department is no subsitute - those folks seem to only want to fix the problem at hand as quickly as possible and move on to the next (hopefully paying) customer.
  • >Has anyone else had this gas cap/fuel gauge problem ...<

    Same problem here. Took car to 2 dealers. One said there is no problem and the other had no interest in fixing it because "GM doesn't like me ordering parts I might not use".

    Would like to know details if you get it fixed.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I have passed your experience along to the person who came up with the idea (LOL).
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Wow, you certainly covered things well sgr5516, please keep us posted when you get the new calibration on how it improves things.
  • Is anyone else having problems with the doors of their Maxx rattling? My problem appears to be prominent during cold weather, probably due to thermal contraction. I took the car into the dealer and their claimed solution (fastened an unattached door clip) made no difference. Any suggestions on a fix other than slipping a matchbook between nonexistent door gaps? Thanks.
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