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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    I keep a bottle of this stuff and add it whenever I change anti-freeze. The label says it is compatible with all types of anti-freeze. I would certainly give it a try before spending several hundred dollars on a new gasket. Knock wood, I've never had any problems with cooling systems using Bars Leaks. Whenever I use it, I add it when I can immediately drive somewhere for about 30 it a chance to spread thru the system completely and bond to good hot surfaces.
  • A while back I mentioned that once in a while my 2001 Malibu wouldn't start. By the time the car was towed to the mechanic it started just fine and would run for three or four days and then wouldn't start again. After the installation of a fuel pump by a mechanic which it didn't need I discovered that I had a faulty ignition switch. This morning when it didn't start (it cranked just fine and the security light was blinking) I left the key in the "on"position for 10 minutes, then turned it off and then to start. It started just fine. If someone else has this problem, try this before you call the tow truck.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    This problem sounds very similiar to one my daughter had on a Corsica she owned a few years ago. Once in awhile, she would have to turn the key on for several minutes to get the car to start. She took it back to the dealer a couple of times, but naturally, it wouldn't fail. Finally, our son-in-law got to playing around with it, and he reseated the control module/on-board computer plugs a couple of times, and it quit failing. Looks like they had a bad or corroded connection. There were no further troubles in the remaining two years they kept the car. I think the module was tucked up behind the glove box in the Corsica. It might be worth a try.
  • That is interesting. The car is already at the dealers and I guess Monday they will order the ignition switch. Back in the good old days if they didn't start it was usually the battery. Unfortunately the dealer can't deactivate the security system. If the ignition switch can't read the key for some reason (the chip is in the ignition switch now - not on the key), the fuel pump won't operate and the car won't start. All this electronic stuff does is cost money. It is nice, however, to not have to fiddle with a carb and keep adjusting the idle.
  • The results have been posted on the web for mid sized family sedans, and the Malibu has come out at the bottom. Only the Acura TSX scored worse. The 4 low speed crash tests produced just short of $4K damage. GM has responded by saying that they will redesign the bumpers for added protection. Where does that leave those of us who have already plunked down our hard earned money..... out in the cold! How about a retrofit for current owners??? For details go to
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    I noted the bumper crash data. This is why it is probably not the best idea to get a completely redesigned car as soon as it comes out. I wonder though, if GM did any bumper tests of their own, knowing that someone else would as soon as the car was offered for sale. If not, it was pretty shortsighted.
  • rwisemrwisem Posts: 96
    Don't be too alarmed. I've been involved in the insurance industry on auto insurance matters for over 35 years. Crashes are individually unique events, and no single arranged crash will tell you what to expect in a myriad of real world crashes.

    This is NOT a safety issue. it is a damage/cost issue and besides the fact that this test does not predict real world crash damage, a consumer is only going to be responsible for the deductible amount, so the issue of $1,500 damage or $5,000 damage is moot.
  • I fell in love with the versatility and functionality of the Maxx and I had to have one. I still love the car, but I'm very annoyed with GM... this is exactly why I haven't bought a GM car since my '92 Saturn SL2, and at that time Saturn wasn't really a part of the GM cookie cutter factory mentality. The Maxx has all the makings of a really good car, dare I say a great car, but this obvious refusal of GM engineering to take care of the basic elements of good design is very frustrating. And now, after the horse has left the barn, they say they'll close the doors by doing a redesign of the bumpers - where does that leave those of us who already spent our cash on the new guy in town??? Hey GM - how about a response!
  • oldmedicoldmedic Posts: 78
    For GM talk is cheap, but silence is golden. Your voice is but a small cry in the wilderness and you don't matter.
  • tim04lttim04lt Posts: 2
    Hey, folks.
    Maybe I'm just venting... but I got a brand new Chevy Malibu LT back at the end of December and already it's been in the shop three times, and I'm about to take it back for a fourth.
       First time: During the bitter cold we get here in Toronto, I had problems closing the door and trunk; the little plastic latches froze and the doors just bounced back open. My wife had to sit in the back seat holding the door closed as we drove home. Also, the cables in the trunk that power the lights in the trunk lid were binding against the weatherstripping around the trunk, and would have eventually split it.
       Second time: The "1-6" button on the steering wheel radio controls did not work for switching between the CDs in the 6 CD changer. A new radio had to be ordered and changed out.
       Third time: I noticed that the steering was a bit off centre and the car was pulling to the left a little bit, so that had to be adjusted. The car only had 2800km (1750mi) on it, so it was just about halfway to its first oil change.
       AND NOW... as I was driving home, the "check engine" light came on, and the message, "POWER STEERING" came on my D.I.C. -- that's right, my power steering system failed. I turned the car off and on again, and it worked for a bit, and then failed again! I thought this was supposed to be a brand new electrical power steering system that was going to be so much better than the old hydraulic type.
       In conclusion, I've always had GM vehcles, and this time I almost waited for the '05 Nissan Altima. People generally bash GM, saying that their cars are unreliable, and of poor quality, fit and finish. The new Malibu was supposed to be the car that lured Camry/Accord drivers back to GM... and I know the first run of any new generation of car is bound to have its problems, but you never want it to happen to you. All I can say is that the service at my dealer is excellent, and they've kept me happy by supplying a free rental car without me even having to ask, for as long as I need it. When everything is working on my Malibu, it's great. But I would suggest that anyone who is looking at the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu wait until they work some of the bugs out for 2005.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    Wow! Sounds like you got a good one! I don't know how the law works in Canada, but if there are "lemon laws" for cars up there, you might have a good case for such before too long.
    At the very least, I would begin to make contact with the local GM district offices for your region, just to protect yourself.
    One of my daughters bought a Chrysler Sebring a few years ago that was about the same as what you are describing. She had it in for substantial repairs 6 times in the first 4 months..different problems each time. She raised enough cain that Chrysler took it back and gave her another one which did just fine for the 3 years she kept it. Maybe your car was built on a Friday afternoon when the plant guys all had a hot date waiting for them.
  • tim04lttim04lt Posts: 2
    So here's the update...
    I took my Malibu in to the dealer to get that power steering problem fixed. They had to replace the entire steering column and the electric steering motor. Everything seems fine now... but I'm skeptical. My wife thinks I'm a bit obsessed, listening for noises, making sure the steering is straight and the doors all close properly.
    On the up side, nobody changed my radio station presets in the Grand Am rental car I had since the last time my poor Malibu was in the shop.
  • My wife and I test drove the LS Maxx at a local dealership last week. We were both very impressed except for a problem with the front passenger seat. It just seemed to hit my wife wrong; the edge of the seat pan was in just the right place to cut off circulation and put her legs to sleep. Has anybody else noticed this? Also, are there any front passenger seat adjustments besides forward/back and recline? Do the leather seats fit differently? Thanks for any info...
  • rat284rat284 Posts: 20
    Well, it's good to know that someone else has had the same exact problem with the power steering that I experienced on 2 separate occasions earlier in the week. It was just as you described... I was driving along, and all of a sudden, the check engine light and "POWER STEERING" message came on. I pulled over and restarted it, and the power steering seemed to be working, but then failed again a few minutes later. I knew I wouldn't have a chance to take it in until the next week, so I just kept driving it. It didn't happen again for a few days, but that time it was the same thing.

    I just got the car in the middle of January, and knowing my luck, I got in an accident in February which required a wheel, ball joint, and other assorted parts to be replaced, along with some minor body work. I was concerned that maybe this problem was related to all that, but I guess it's not. Now if they give me any trouble I can say "I know this guy in Toronto..."

    Now for the new problem, as of today. Let's hope you don't get this one next. I was driving along uneventfully once again, and when I went to accelerate, there was no power. Then the car surged ahead. From that point, there was intermittent acceleration and lack of power. Then the car stalled out, and I had a hard time getting it started again. Since then, it hasn't stalled again, but still the same acceleration problem. When I take off from a stoplight, it feels like I'm in a car with someone trying to drive a stick for the first time. So now the car is officially out of commission until my service appointment.

    Good thing I have my Alero to drive, which I also have to take in for a broken power seat, faulty climate control knob, and clattering noise under acceleration. It also suffered the frozen door that won't close this past winter. I'm starting to wonder if my GM loyalty is misplaced...
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Sorry to hear about your problems so far. Hope you like your Malibu in general. Is it a Sedan or Maxx? 6 cylinder or 4 cylinder? Definitely have dealer take a look at the steering problem. Even if isn't happening when they see it there will be diagnostic information stored which will give them enough info to figure out what happened. On your other complaint, it is new one to me. Did you ever see a Check Engine Light or ENG REDUCED PWR message in your radio Driver Info Center? Keep us posted !
  • rat284rat284 Posts: 20
    I must say that I really do love my Malibu in general, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a car in that class. It's worlds ahead of GM products of just a few years ago in design and build quality, and I feel it can stack up to any of the competition. Mine is a loaded LS sedan, black, V-6, sunroof, etc.

    I called up the dealer this morning, and told the service manager about the new problem. He had me bring the car right down and gave me a loaner... an exciting white Lumina. I also asked if he'd seen any other cars with the power steering problem, and he said he's had one other one, the solution to which was the same as tim described above. No other ones with the acceleration problem, though. And the check engine light did come on, but there was no warning on the DIC.

    I didn't mean to seem too disillusioned with the Malibu, or GM cars in general. It's just so many things were going wrong at once, but I don't think it's necessarily going to be a trend. This is only the second time I've had to take the Alero in for a problem in over 3 years, and the first time was something very minor. Overall, I've had good luck with GM products, especially considering some of the horror stories I've heard about other cars.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Thx for additional information. I should have checked your bio first since I see you already provided that info ;)

    And I'm glad to hear the Check Engine Light came on, it may help them with figuring out that issue.

    The steering problem will likely require replacement of steering column but I am sure that will address the problem you were experiencing.

    If any more questions/observations on operation of your Malibu LS come up please post them.
  • kpugh2kpugh2 Posts: 20
    The wife has a 2004 LS that has always been hand washed since new but just noticed that many scratches on deck lid just north of spoiler. The car is less than 5 months old but witl 8.8K miles. Does anyone else have this problem?
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    It could be that someone placed boxes or some other object on the decklid and could have scratched the paint.
  • kpugh2kpugh2 Posts: 20
    I know that this is something that must be seen but not on spoiler and just under and too the north of spoiler. These fine scratches are between spoiler supports full length.
    Thanks for the reply
  • popadopolispopadopolis cnyPosts: 15
    Couldn't tell from your profile,but if you live in the snow belt perhaps the scratches are from frozen snow and ice shifting fore and aft being trapped by the spoiler and not being able to fall off the trunk lid as it would normally be able to do. Just my opinion of course. I have none from this past winter, but only got my LT in December and used our second car during snowy conditions while the LT sat in the garage.
  • deminindeminin Posts: 214
    I finally had to take our '03 LS in for service. The drivers door power window failed to go up 3 or 4 times in the past month. We found that if we shut of the ignition for a few minutes, it would work again. I had an appointment at 8AM today, and at 8:45, I drove out with a new power window switch. According to the mechanic, these switches have a built-in circuit breaker, and if the switch overloads, or overheats, it will shut down for 10 minutes or so. He was able to make it fail by raising and lowering the window several times in quick succession.
    Not too bad for 15 months, and 14,000 miles. I can't recall another car I've owned in the past 20 years that ran this far before I had to take it back for something. So far, we are very pleased with our Malibu.
  • gearhead4gearhead4 Posts: 122
    I've seen some good advice in this forum. Maybe some one can help me figure out a problem with my wife's 2001 Malibu that has me stumped .

    Last week, she ran out of gas even though the fuel gage showed 1/8 full. She was able to put in only 13.4 gallons. Since then the fuel gauge has been reading full, even after driving 190 miles. When she tried to add fuel yesterday, the pump shut off after adding only 3 gallons.

    I got under the car and looked for a collapsed tank. From what I can see, the tank looks okay. When I thumped on the tank, it sounds like there is only a few gallons in the tank. The fuel filler pipe doesn't seem to be collapsed. It's as if there is a big bubble caught inside the tank, or a liner that is collapsed.

    Has anyone experienced this problem and found a solution?

  • 37453745 Posts: 152
    Maybe you have a faulty fuel level sender caused by sulphur in the fuel that has reacted with the silver contacts. See post #677 in, "Sulphur from 2003 4Runner".
  • jim_in_ohiojim_in_ohio Posts: 21
    Thanks oldntired for your advice of a couple weeks ago. My wife and I tried the leather seats and she was much more comfortable. The upshot was that we took delivery of a Maxx LT yesterday evening. I am very impressed with the control layout, handling and features so far.
  • jim_in_ohiojim_in_ohio Posts: 21
    Drove the new Maxx LT to work today and noticed one anomaly. The outside temperature indicated by the driver info center was 54F this morning (believable); however, it still showed 54F this afternoon when the true temp was over 80. Later in the drive it went up to 60, then a believable 84F, for no apparent reason. The only reason I can think of is that I was running the cooling system on high and maybe cooling the sensor. Has anyone else noticed this?
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Because of a concern about underhood temperature affecting outside air temperature reading, the vehicle has to sit over 3 hours before the computer will use the temperature sensor signal on your next start. If it is less than 3 hours then you will need to drive vehicle before the temperature on display will increase. The amount you have to drive depends on how long the vehicle was off and what speed you are driving - if stop and go traffic it will take some time.

    If you started the vehicle with remote start system things are a little different. Even if you left the vehicle for over 3 hours you will need to drive it before display is updated.
  • jim_in_ohiojim_in_ohio Posts: 21
    Thanks e2helper -- I did start the vehicle with the RSS and was moving short distances from parking lot to parking lot. Once I got on the highway, the temperature reading was correct.
  • oldntired1950oldntired1950 Posts: 151
    and welcome to a small but very happy group; the Maxx Owner's club. I just passed 3K miles today, and I'm averaging about 30 MPG on the highway, about 20 around town. I love being able to drive for 150 miles without having to search for a radio station thanks to my XM radio. I have noted a sensitivity with the XM antenna... I guess that the satellite must be very low on the horizon because passing tall mountains to my south knocks out the radio for a few seconds. Other than that, it's darn near perfect.
  • gearhead4gearhead4 Posts: 122
    Thanks to the person who suggested a faulty fuel level sensor. I asked my local chevy dealer if they had some program to help pay the $650 replacement cost. He said no.

    I solved the problem by trading the Malibu in on a new Camry.

    The wife is thrilled with her new Toyota. I am relieved that I don't have to spend a weekend in my garage dropping a fuel tank. Toyota dealer may not be happy with the trade in when they find the tank has far less fuel than what the gauge says.

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