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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • Good advice.


    After the dealer said the hatch closing resistance was normal, I tried adjusting mine as well. With a door or window open, it closes easily. Without a path for the air to escape, it needs to be shut pretty hard and with even pressure or it doesn't latch.


    My main complaint is that GM incured additional cost to use aluminum for a lighter hatch. Their extra money resulted in fussier closing and easy damage. Hope they move to steel for newer versions.
  • prdmprdm Posts: 145
    With the amount of metal in the hatch as opposed to much heavier glass the switch to aluminum would seem to provide an inconsequential weight reduction. Was hatch weight the only reason to use aluminum?
  • Not sure, but there is really no other reason to use aluminum in hoods or hatches. It costs more per pound or unit area and it is more difficult to form.


    Metal versus glass weight for the Maxx hatch also effects how easy it opens and (theoretically) closes. With lighter aluminum far away from the hinge point - it "should" feel lighter and be easier to open/close.


    You are right that doesn't make much difference in the overall vehicle weight.
  • fstylefstyle Posts: 2
    I just bought an 05 Maxx and have 600 miles. Two issues:


    1. When I fill the gas tank the fuel gauge only reads 3/4 full.


    2. I have a message on the Info Center: Check Gas cap.


    Anyone have these problems?
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Hope you aren't waiting for me, Kurt. I really don't have any comment on that one.


    Regarding the dashboard logo, keep an eye out for 2006 models and you will see that something else is taking its place. Nothing fancy and hopefully Chevy will have some pics of new models soon with auto shows coming up.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Sorry fstyle,


    If your dealer can't find it recommend they look at TSB #04-08-49-025
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I think it is OK to post an external link from but for those Maxx owners interested in an article on the aluminum hatch (from technical side) I found this for you



    I kind of remember this article from original magazine.
  • fstylefstyle Posts: 2
    "If your dealer can't find it recommend they look at TSB #04-08-49-025 "


    e2helper: What is TSB #04-08-49-025?


  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    NP - I can't print out whole thing for you but it is a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB)


    Title is:


    "Fuel Gauge Does Not Read Full When Fuel Tank is Full, Service Engine Soon (SES) Light On.....(Inspect Fuel Level Sensor Operation)"


     - Came out in mid-October
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 159
    If by bum trans, you mean the howling problem, see post #126 in this forum, which contains the text from the TSB. The howling problem (caused by chain) occurs in trans units built between 1/16/04 and 5/5/04. You have to check the julian date on the Trans ID plate attached to back of trans. The ID plate faces the firewall. You can see it from under the car. The build date of trans is different from build date of the car. I believe the trans is built in Canada and shipped to KS where car is assembled. If you car was built before 1/16 you probably don't have a howling trans. If your car was built towards end of month, you might have a howling trans with build date after 1/16.


    My 04 Maxx was built sometime in Feb. The trans was built on 2/12 and has the howling problem, but is shifts just fine, IMO.
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 159
    e2helper, could you please give me build date of my 04 MAXX, VIN 178793. Thanks much.
  • can anyone help out?
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
  • Great article on the rear lift gate e2helper! Thanks.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    NP, Don't think that this article actually explained rationale on why aluminum was used other than mass savings (which was original question posed here - I don't know the answer). However did give details on the weight savings and had some interesting aspects of the process.
  • Thanks for re-posting the trans info sgr5516. I guess that one was out of e2helpers' realm.


    I do not know exact build date of my Maxx but suspect it was before 1/16 as I have never heard any howls from the trans, but will check trans date to be sure. My VIN last 6 digits are 155722.


    Also thanks e2helper for hatch article link. Interesting from technical standpoint, for sure!
  • e2helper. Your replies are really impressive.

    Will you kindly tell me my Maxx's build date?

    166797. My guess is around 02/12/2004.


    Is your real name:

    Rick Wagoner, Jr.?

    Jack Smith, Jr.?

    Ron Zarella?

    Thomas J. Davis?

    Donald E. Hackworth?

    Mike or Larry Burns?

    Or, maybe you have lunch with these guys from time-to-time. (Just kidding...your info is great!).
  • bagbag Posts: 1
    My wife owns a 2003 Malibu LS which she has had for 26 months. Last year, she noticed that during the winter the engine would "shudder" or "miss" in the 1500 RPM range. We have had the car back to the dealer four times in the last 12 months,most recently 01-05-05. There has been no permanent resolution to the problem and now we have the car back and still with the problem. Has anyone else experienced this and does anyone have any ideas as to what might be wrong?
  • joe3891joe3891 Posts: 759
    E2helper I don’t know if this anything you can report to someone at GM but I have a concern with my 04 Malibu. Last summer on I-91 in the Vermont hills at temps 80 deg F and above, when descending the large hills when the cruise would back off the throttle to maintain set speed then when the throttle would come back on with a jolt, I mean a JOLT. I thought something in the drive train might break. I tried it with the cruise off and same thing. On the return trip the temp had dropped to the low 70 deg F and was hardly noticeable and at times none. This all happened after a 4 hr drive so everything was heat soaked.

    I have not reported it to anyone because it would be too hard to duplicate. Mine had the chain and sprockets replaced. Thanks for any feed back you can give me.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    """It wouldn't have anything to do with the "learning" feature these electronic transmissions have, would it?"""


    Jerry: you win the prize man, regarding the adaptive technology in today's transmissions. I'll explain further in a moment. I took my car in today. First, the manager did not like the howl in my tranny. After going over the parts on a schematic that will be replaced, he said that I should have it I will. The job takes two days, and they'll give me a rental.

    Now for the real reason why I took my car in: the manager believes that it indeed is "learned behavior" from my driving habits. Nonetheless, he also won't dimiss the fact that when he flashed my PCM for the overdrive NOT kicking in fast enough at highway speeds, that the tranny might now be overcompensating in the other direction, and kicking in at too low a speed. Despite this theory, he stated that the tranny computer will allow my RPMs to fall when I take my foot off the gas at 35 mph, and will assume that I want the RPMs to remain low since I might be coming to a stop soon. I was under the impression that there would be a slight spike up in the RPMs as a result of the tranny already being in a state of overdrive, and the car is running too slowly to maintain that low RPM level should I decide to step on the gas.


    e2helper: my service manager stated that I should ask you about TAP (adaptive technology). He said that there was some literature out there which described how I could "reprogram" my tranny's thinking so it would shift differently than it does now. He could not find the literature in his computer, and thought you might know where I should look.

    He also stated that it is possible that the '05 Bu has different programming than the '04 tranny, and that is why my rental Maxx last week had so much zoom zoom in it.....or, it was peppy because it was a rental and that so many different people drive it and beat the heck out of it, causing the tranny to act the way it does. I will acknowledge that I am the only one who drives my Maxx, so coupling that with the fact of DC area stop and go driving, may indeed be the cause of my "overdrive too soon" delemma. Thoughts?
  • Thanks for that feedback! The one cure I've found for the sluggishness I seem to cause for my vehicles is to let my wife drive them a few days (like I said above, lol). She likes hard starts and rapid sprints to the speed limit, while I tend to just baby them nearly everywhere. It almost never fails that my transmission downshifts are much easier to cause, even with only moderate throttle pressure, after she has driven for a day or two. :D


    Good luck with your problems. Hope they solve them for you and you get your car back quick.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Your build date 01/16/04
  • Thanks for info, e2helper. Sounds like I __just__ missed the transmission issue, but I have to check the trans julian date to be sure.


    Incidently, when was the __first__ build date for the Maxxes (when they started actual production, excluding pilot runs / tests )?
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    I picked my 04 Malibu LS sedan up from the dealer last Wednesday, the 29th. It wasn't the transmission shift cable causing the hum, but a wheel bearing. They had my car 2 and a half days while they waited for the part and installed it, now that loud, annoying hum is gone. Also, something unusual I noticed today, if you bump the wiper lever up to low or high while in retained accessory power (after turning the car off, but before opening the door) they come on, but once the lever is moved down to intermittent or off the wipers stop right where they are, and don't return to their place until the key is in the accessory or on position and you bump the wipers on and back off or push down for the "mist" function.
  • Hehehe..methinks Mr.Bots has just a tad too much time on his hands...Hehehe Interesting though...I am not gonna try this...Jack
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    LOL, just so you know I wasn't sitting in the car playing with everything seeing what does and what doesn't work in RAP, I had just got home this afternoon and just thought to myself "I wonder if the wipers work in RAP" just before I was going to get out (don't ask me why I was even thinking about this) and so I pushed up on the lever and in intermittent they don't work, but in low and high they do, but then when you lower it back down they don't go back down themselves, they just stop where they are. Just some useless information I came up on.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I am pretty sure you will find that only occurs when wipers are on high :P


    Nice catch ;)
  • markf57markf57 Posts: 38
    On the map light housing, there is a small circular thingy. It is on the driver's side. Does anyone know what it is? I looked in manual, but I couldn't find anything. I don't have OnStar, but could it be some sort of mic?
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Pretty close, 02/04/04.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Yes, provisions for a microphone (a small grill) but microphone is only there when you have OnStar option.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    My guess is early Dec 2003 but saleable units were built prior to that
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Speaking of which. Did you happen to notice that vehicle actually has 2 different levels of Retained Accessory Power?


    Clue: check out how radio operates vs. power windows when you are in RAP when you start opening doors ;)
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    Yes, I've noticed that too, the radio stays on until the driver's door is open, but you can't roll up or down windows after any door is open.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    :) You got it


    Yep, window operation needs to work that way due to Federal Motor Vehicle Standards. The radio operation is slightly different to try to give customer a little more functionality so radio doesn't turn off if driver wanted to sit in vehicle listening to radio when just a passenger exits.
  • I hadn't noticed that yet. Nice feature. :)


    One thing I noticed is that if you are sitting with the car off listening to the the radio, and then start it without turning the radio off first, it cuts off then back on. That might not sound too surprising, but the '03 Trailblazer was the first GM I had owned with the RAP feature, and it's radio stayed on even while the starter was engaged. I think I understand why you'd want accessories off while the car cranks over (reducing battery draw until the alternator takes over), but this never caused any issues with the TB.


    Sorry for straying slightly off topic. It was just a neat fact about another GM vehicle I've owned.


    Hmm. Maybe I can bring it back on topic a bit- the TB didn't have the dual-level RAP. If ANY door opened all the accessories including the radio cut off. That IS a really nice feature with the Malibu. :)
  • muffmuff Posts: 4
    i purchased this auto 9/04. had a shimmy in front end. 1st of dec found out that it was the tourque converter locking up to the motor and can't be fixed. 47-55 mph. this was found out after a new chain and sprockets were put in the tranny. am now filing under the fla lemon law. anyone with a vibration in ur car 45-55 mph pls let me know. i drive about 25,000 miles per yr. very annoying. thks.
  • With everyone talking about the problems of the early builds and my hypochondriac tendencies, I would be very curious to know what my build is based on the VIN 147848. I think it was an early Dec. 2003 build. I have had no problems (knock on wood). Not even a rattle or a squeak.


    If these problems are due to design flaws, should I be worried that my steering or transmission failure are just a matter of time? What are the odds that I can keep this car for the planned 10 or 12 years and not have trouble.


    I'm 6'4" and no lightweight, but the Maxx is more comfortable than any car I have owned (Explorer, Caddie SLS). It has good power and great fuel economy. If I could just talk my wife into trading the 97 Explorer for another Maxx. She has her heart set on a new SUV and they all seem so overpriced and impractical.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    like I will be doing, I'd recommend getting a GMPP before your 12 month/12k mile period ends.
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    I wouldn't worry about it, there's just some bugs in the early builds that will most likely be worked out of your car before the warranty expires, and will probably be fine in the long run.
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Posts: 2,554
    yes, this was good design. I have noticed, and appreciate, this feature.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    12/22/2003 - this is the earliest VIN I have seen from any posters at Edmunds.


    Congrats on your vehicle


    I guess everyone else copied you :)
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    I think maybe I have an earlier build, my number is lower. The door says December 03, here is the last 6 digits: 139569. After getting the few problems taken care of, I'm more then happy with my Malibu and glad I purchased it. Also after ~4600 miles I still can't seem to get used to pulling 32mpg on the highway going 75 - 80mph with a V6.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I agree 12/05/03. However I think you have an advantage. You have sedan body style, right?


    Sedan started production a few months earlier that year :P
  • I've been off for a while and I don't know if I missed anything but my positioner only work "hardly" I hear a click but most of the time it won't move. Any ideas? Thanks
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    You hear a click, OK, that is a good observation and indicates that the system for the most part electrically is connected. If you are getting no movement of pedals you could try pulling fuse for a few seconds for system to force a hard reset. It is labelled "PEDAL" on Instrument Panel Fuse Block (check owner manual for where it is - Fuse section starts on page 5-87 or 5-88 of manual, depending on what edition you have). Gives you a chance to test using the white plastic fuse puller provided.


    If same thing happens after cycling the fuse then the system is telling you it doesn't want to move because there is something wrong so you will need to take it in for service.


    System only works with transmission in Park if ignition ON or anytime when ignition is OFF.
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    Looks like my Malibu LS Sedan will have to go back to the dealer (again) this time the message "Check Gas Cap" is on (the gas cap is tight, and its been over a week since I put gas in it), the engine is knocking (noticed this morning when I pulled in the driveway and it was idling), and my XM radio works intermittently. I only wish I would have known to look for one built after April. Still loved the way the car drives though, and its gas mileage.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Since you have a Sedan, mr. bots the problem likely is not same thing that affected some of the Maxx owners on the boards like ISLANDPETE.


    I know it is annoying but once the diagnostic for this fault sets it will take a few passes of the test for it to clear and because the test only runs under certain conditions once you see the message you can't get rid of it immediately.


    Believe it or not that message was added to try to help customers avoid the common occurrence of taking the vehicle to dealer with a Check Engine Light and find out it was because they (or gas station attendent) didn't put the gas cap on tight.


    What happens with your XM? Give some more details if you get a chance. I might have a suggestion.
  • wuvwuv Posts: 5
    My Malibu Maxx is giving me fits and have only had it for one month. The engine light came on at 2 weeks. Took it to the shop and they said it was a (flook reading) for me not to worry. Well now its 2 weeks later and the engine light is back on. Plus the remote start won't work now and the trunk does not want to pop I know this all can't be a flook. Plus I forgot that it seems to idle rough when waiting to take off.
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    Ok, I did some further inspecting on it, and I'm pretty sure that the "Check Gas Cap" and the knocking noise are connected because there is a small hose that is some type of vacuum hose that is making the noise and not a piston or valve knocking but a pulse of air, to help identify the hose, its a small hose that has a little green thing on it near the engine. The guy I work with who is also a mechanic, sorry automotive technician, says that they probably broke it when changing out the transmission shift cable (that didn't need changed). Also, with the XM radio (which is working currently) shows "Check DAB" when I start the car, then that message goes away, but I can only cycle through "AM, FM1, and FM2" no XM.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Do you know build month (on a label on door). Have you noticed any "Check Gas Cap" message or does your fuel gage go to or past FULL when you fill tank?


    The remote start function will not work when you have a fault that is causing a check engine light.


    Trunk release button on key fob does have a delay of almost up to 1 second to prevent inadvertent activations. Try holding button a little longer and see if that is it.
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