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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    Service doesn't get a "code" from the computer, neither can they make the problem happen.

    I quote from hitskyfam's post. The dealer did not clear any codes because there WERE NO codes stored. I'm getting weary now.
  • jmax4jmax4 Member Posts: 22
    Rear shades.
    I got good news! I just received a reply from GM. These are their exact words: “There will be a service fix available in the near future for the rear sunshades (...) as we are currently designing a permanent repair for this concern."

    There is a hope that it will come soon and there will be no longer startling from the shades.
  • hitskyfamhitskyfam Member Posts: 5
    I copied your suggestions and returned to service with them in hand. No luck. They checked everything you said to do, drove it to see if they could make it happen but they couldn't. I guess we're stuck with waiting for the next time it happens and bringing it back, assuming it happens when and where that's possible. How aggravating!
  • kaylinkaylin Member Posts: 1
    I purchased the 1997 malibu new. Every year since I've had it, when temperatures rise is spring/summer, the AC blows warm air. A couple of times the dealer replaced a part and recharged AC. After dealerr warranty expired, & extended warranty kicked in, the problem continued. The dealer put dye in to find the leak, but could never identify a part that needed replacing. So the extended warranty insurance company would not pay for the re-charge; I had to pay for it. About 2 months after my 4 yr extended warranty expired - the leak was found!

    I was searching the internet to build a case that this is a common defect in the 1997 malibu, does anyone know of documented history of this problem that I could use when I try to get GM to pay for the $680 cost to replace the compressor?

    It wouldn't be so bad to just pay to have it recharged each year, but now that the hole allowing the leak is larger, I don't know if the recharge will continue to last all summer.
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    There is something wonky with one of my keyfobs. I've tried that procedure. The fob gives very inconsistent results. I've checked the battery and it's good. The other fob works right everytime.
  • jim_in_ohiojim_in_ohio Member Posts: 21
    My wife has the Maxx this weekend and is visiting her daughter in South Carolina. She called today to let me know one of the rear window shades popped out of the frame. Has anyone else had this problem? Is it easy to get back in place, or do we need to take it in for service?
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    Maybe the complaint is similar to one of these with the window shade?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    ugh: only two weeks and my first problem. My temp guage is no longer functioning. I'm guessing either the guage itself is bad, or there is a bad fuse, or the thermostat is stuck in the open position. I am concerned about driving the car, and perhaps the radiator fan not coming on as a result. Anybody have a guess?, and will a dealer get me in right away with a problem like this?
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    If there is no CEL on I'd imagine it's just the guage itself. The temperature sensor is pretty important in the scheme of things and would surely give you a driveability problem if it was bad. I would also check under the hood to see if any wires or plugs were off. You might just get lucky. I don't know of a fuse that only supplies power to the temperature guage.
  • jim_in_ohiojim_in_ohio Member Posts: 21
    From my wife's description this is more than just the shade refusing to stay closed. That may be how it started, but evidently it snapped back so hard that the whole shade fell out of the skylight window frame. The car is 600 miles away so I haven't actually seen it. I'll let the group know more when she gets home next week.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    thanks. no check engine light, and no message on the driver's information center. Still, is there any chance of overheating as a result of fans not being turn on??
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    If the fans don't turn on at all you engine would likely overheat, also air conditioning probably wouldn't work very well either. However because you don't have a Check Engine Light I would agree with 7937 that probably an instrument cluster problem.

    There is no special fuse for just that gauge. If any connector was off underhood I would expect that the Check Engine Light would come on as well.

    Is the temperature gauge always displaying cold??

    It would be very easy for dealer to read data from engine controller and see what temperature is being read by the engine coolant temperature sensor. If the gauge isn't following this temperature then instrument cluster would need to be replaced.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    thanks e2helper. Wouldn't you know it; the guage worked fine when I started it up to go to the dealer this morning. It didn't work at all yesterday, even after several turns of the key. The service manager said there was nothing he could do under the circumstances.
    Yes, the guage was at the very bottom when not working.

    One other question for everyone (BuMaxx owners): My temp guage (when working) sits just above the middle line. Is this where everyone else's sits when fully warmed up? I think it is kind of high, and I have never owned a car which operated at this level. I know this is still within operating parameters, but I still want to see where everyone else's guage reads as normal.
  • glennbglennb Member Posts: 34
    I have a recently purchased Maxx (just over 400 mi.) that has been plagued by a burning rubber smell from under the hood since I bought it.(didn't notice on the test drive tho') Just came back from the dealer, where the service guy pronounced it cured after cleaning some body sealant off the manifold. I returned home and still can smell that acrid burnt rubber smell. Has anyone had a similar experience? Any info greatly appreciated. TIA

    Glenn Butzlaff
  • skyhawkskyhawk Member Posts: 126
    The horn no longer works when pressing the right side. Works fine by pressing the left side of the steering wheel.

    When It goes in for the recall, I'll have the dealer look at it.
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    Sorry to hear about this trouble maxx4me. I would not be too worried about the temp gage being a little above middle line but keep an eye on your first complaint to see if it comes back.

    I believe that a problem with the coolant sensor or its wiring has to be seen on 2 ignition cycles for the Check Engine light to turn on. However, even on the first occurence a fault code would set (if this was the problem). Do you actually take vehicle to dealer or just talk to him on the phone?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    I drove over this morning, even though the problem was not occuring. My reason was three fold: (1) to see what type of service atmosphere existed there; (2) to ask the service manager if I should be driving the car under this condition; (3) to get the name of the finance manager for pao and myself should we decide to do business on an extended warranty there.
    The service manager said that it should be OK to drive it since the guage was not connected to the sensor which ultimately decides when my fan should come on/off. He also said there was not much he could do with it working since neither the DIC nor CEL indicated a problem.
  • laura1laura1 Member Posts: 1
  • poorlytrainedpoorlytrained Member Posts: 1
    I recently installed an aftermarket, in-dash CD player into my girlfriend's '98 Chevy Malibu. Everything works on the radio, but now the speedometer is outta wack and the RPM gage is way off! I checked the fuses inside the vehicle but haven't made it to the ones under the hood. Can someone please steer me in the right direction before i get my ear chewed off??
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    You likely got carried away reusing all the wires going to the factory radio. Included in them was a Dark Green with White Stripe wire that contains the vehicle speed signal. It is used by the radio for the speed compensated volume function.

    Your new radio is likely messing up the signal which is causing the speedo problem and may somehow also be goofing up the Tachometer. So please re-check your wiring. You will find that this DK-GN/WH wire is smaller size than the speaker wires (it was originally in cavity 16 of original radio connector).

    There is a Dark Green wire (without a white stripe) for the Right Front Speaker return.

    If you find the wire with white stripe just tape it back unused.

    Good Luck!!
  • paopao Member Posts: 1,867
    Jmax....did you get a formal letter back from GM? did you approach them on this subject....Im sure other MAXX owners...would like to give them suggestions for improvements or enhancements on the car....I leave the shades retracted...just because of the problem with them snapping back......hope they come up with a latch for a more reliable fix....maybe even an entire replacement for the shade!
  • jmax4jmax4 Member Posts: 22
    Pao, the message in #105 (Malibu MAXX- rear shades) are the words from the actual e-mail I received from GM customer service in a reply on 7/1/04.

    When I bought my Maxx in February, I registered it in When the shades started to open and the plastic bent out of its shape, I send an e-mail to GM from account with a description of the problem and my complains.

    I received an answer by e-mail and talked to the person on the phone. They assigned the reference service request number and told me to take the car to the dealer. I called my sales person and talked to him about this problem too. I took the car on Sat. to the dealer to show him. (Service dept. doesn’t work on Sat.)

    They ordered the part and I took my car for the “repair.” The dealer did not replace the part, but called GM who “advised not replace any part at this time. GM is working to resolve concern and will notify dealership when concern can be resolved (per case number # and dated 6/22/04).” This is a cited formal note from my service papers. Then I sent another e-mail to GM with a complain about the headrest (no action from GM this time) and asked them about the rear shade again (see reply in msg #105).

    Maybe when we complain to GM and dealerships at the same time, we will get what we want and they will not tell us that nobody else complained, and this is the first time they hear about this or that.
  • bonnie0372bonnie0372 Member Posts: 26
    UPDATE ON MY CAR. I took it back to the dealer to have the Steering Column replaced...according to the service department most MALIBU's will eventually need that! Don't ask me why! They still haven't found out why it is idling tech suggested that it could be the FUEL TRIM. (it has to level out or something)..I have no idea what this means.....Does anyone know anything about this....?? Also, the noise that is coming from my Tranmission GM doesn't have a "fix" for yet. Supposedly it is something like a TRANSAXLE..howling noise or something at accelaration in first and second gear. Nothing to worry about for now they say!!! We'll see they said by my first SERVICE which should be 3000 miles hopefully they will have the fix and they will work on it then! HA we will see.....boy oh boy, 600 miles on the car and all these problems...I hope they will be over soon and I can start enjoying my new car!!! haha!
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    If the oxygen sensors in the exhaust system indicate that the engine is burning too much or too little fuel for correct combustion, the computer will attempt to provide the correct air/fuel mixture by increasing or decreasing (trimming) the amount of fuel it delivers to the engine. That's "fuel trim" and the amount of trim can be read with a scan tool.

    Almost all front wheel drive vehicles don't have a transmission. Because the final drive is incorporated into the same cast aluminum housing as the transmission it's properly referred to as a transaxle, the transmission and drive axle in one unit.

    Re the noise you mention, this TSB from GM might cover it:

    ASI Resolution - Growl or Howl Type Noise From Transmission/Engine Compartment During Light to Moderate Acceleration from a Stop (Replace Drive Link, Drive Sprocket and Driven Sprocket) #04-07-30-021A - (Jul 2, 2004)

    2004 Chevrolet Malibu, Malibu Maxx
    2004 Oldsmobile Alero
    2004 Pontiac Grand Am

    Built After January 16, 2004
    with 4T45E Automatic Transaxles (RPO MN5) Built Between Julian Date 4016 and 4126 and

    3.4L or 3.5L V6 Engine (VINs E, 8 - RPOs LA1, LX9)

    This bulletin is being revised to include a repair procedure and parts availability information.

    Please discard Corporate Bulletin Number 04-07-30-021 (Section 07-Transmission/Transaxle).

    Some customers may comment on a growl or howl type noise during light to moderate acceleration from a stop. This noise is load and engine RPM sensitive and will occur between 1500 RPM to approximately 2300 RPM. The noise is most noticeable in first and second gear. The noise may dissipate prior to the 1-2 shift, but will be noticed again in second gear depending on the load and engine RPM. The pitch of the noise will change during the 1-2 shift.

    The noise is due to the new 5/8 inch drive link assembly being at a resonant frequency during certain driving conditions.


    Only RPO MN5 transaxles built between Julian date 4016 and 4126 have 5/8 inch drive link assemblies. Refer to Transmission ID and VIN Derivative Location, SI Document ID #760312 for Julian date location information.

    Follow the service procedure below to replace the 5/8 inch drive link and sprockets with a 7/8 inch drive link and sprockets

    etc, etc, etc.....
  • atlantisatlantis Member Posts: 1
    Lately the idle on my 2000 malibu (100K kilometers) has been erratic.
    When I start it in the morning the idle may go as high as 2500 rpm. The idle may stay at this speed or it will sometimes drop down to the 750 rpm level. If it does not drop, when I stop and re start the engine it may idle at 750 rpm. I have checked for vacuum leaks, cleaned the (IAC) idle air control. I have checked for problem codes but nothing comes up.
    Can anyone offer any suggestions as to what the problem is?
    Thanks Ralph
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    There were a couple posts in various other sections on idle complaints on initial start-up, I am putting suggestions here since more appropriate board.

    Has anyone done any work underhood on vehicle who might have taken something apart? This is waaay too detailed but here goes:

    Initial thought is this sounds like it could be a vacuum leak. A couple of the easier things to look at:

    PVC tube to be unplugged from rear valve cover
    Leaks in airflow system at either end end of the crosscar duct at throttle body on engine or the mass airflow sensor (by air cleaner).

    Final one would be brake booster vacuum check valve but that one is too tricky to look at yourself

    2nd thought:

    Check if this has anything to do with A/C being ON at start-up (do some vehicle starts when you know that the A/C is off and see if any different).

    Sometimes the A/C system might have a higher initial load if refrigerant goes into liquid state after car has sat for a while.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    I doubt it is the first since so many of us are having the problem at start up. I also know it is not an AC thing since mine is always off at start up. The rought idle definitely is at start up only. I have a little "hitch" when I'm sitting at a light, but not always.
  • paopao Member Posts: 1,867
    I had a small problem with mine..and I simply went under the hood and made sure all hoses where connected..looking at clamps..pushing all hoses firmly down to insure a good connection and seal..and havent experienced any problems since..I start mine normally with the AC running and notice nothing..perhaps I got the one built on Weds instead of Mon or Fri....know this isnt much help..but lift the hood..and check?!?
  • glennbglennb Member Posts: 34
    I have an '04 Maxx with 1400 miles on it. The temperature guage reads just above half normally, but the other day, idling in traffic, no air on, it read a half a mark under the overheat range. Has anyone else noticed this? Any info appreciated.

    Glenn Butzlaff
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    yes Glen. My Maxx at 1200 miles is doing the same thing. It reads normally at just above the half way point. When I'm in stop and go traffic, it goes up to 3/4 of the way, just below the red zone. I join you in asking for some input from the other Maxx/Bu owners out there.
    David: any insight you can share with us??
  • paopao Member Posts: 1,867
    would suggest you mention it to the GM Customer service site.
    if you havent already signed up.

    register your VIN..and send in the emails with the problem..I did and they worked the rear shade issue..probably will not see a immediate re-engineer of them..but if the case file gets big enough...they might...would say the same for the temp gauge...Ive been fortunate and not had the problem...registers right at the halfway mark or a tick above it...all the time...maybe a sensor or guage problem....but at least be persistent...the GM customer service folks were very nice..and chased me down to insure I was a happy customer..worth a shot
  • jmax4jmax4 Member Posts: 22
    Thanks pao for joining me in the shades problem.
  • map013map013 Member Posts: 3
    Is anybody having trouble keeping their AM radio Pre-Sets. Every morning I have to re-program the AM radio stations only. My FM and XM stations are all there, but the AM gets lost. Any suggestions?
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    Do you unlock the car with the same keyfob every day? Each keyfob id's itself to the computer which in turn tells the radio which presets to use. One of my keyfobs is not consistent in this respect and I lose some presets when I use it. When I have time I'll take the fob into the dealer and hopefully they'll fix it or exchange it.
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    It is very interesting that you are noticing just AM presets are affected. AM and FM presets are stored in the radio. The XM presets are stored in the XM radio receiver.

    7937 is correct about function but likely that is not a fob problem in his/her case but something that receives the fob information. Your issue sounds to be radio related.

    If this is happening this regularly it might be interesting for you to switch to the other key fob and see if the problem continues. It doesn't really prove where the problem is but would be very interesting if you could repost with results.
  • steelerfan1steelerfan1 Member Posts: 7
    I was recently listening to a call-in radio show on automobile maintenance and the host said that the dexcool that many GM cars use will eventually cause problems to the engine. Apparently, it's too thick and causes hoses to clog along with a number of other potential problems. This is news to me. I've never considered changing it. Can anyone say if there's any validity to this? If anyone is using something other than dexcool, how has it been working out? Just curious to hear of everyone's opinion or experience on this.
  • jim_in_ohiojim_in_ohio Member Posts: 21
    Map013 and 7937: Before you blame the keyfob, review page 2-7 of your Owner's Manual:

    - To transmit the stations stored in the fob to the car, press "unlock" on the fob.

    - To store the stations saved in the radio to the fob, turn off the ignition.

    I have found it's less confusing to keep the presets on both fobs the same. An easy way to do this is take both keys with you to the car, start the engine, verify the presets are correct, turn the ignition off; then repeat with the other key.

    If you DO want different preset stations on the two keyfobs, remember to press "unlock" before you start the engine. Otherwise, you'll be starting with the other set of preset stations; and they'll automatically be stored in the fob when you turn off the ignition, overwriting the ones you wanted.
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    Dexcool looks no thicker to me than any other coolant. Dexcool is designed for aluminum heads and engine blocks which are very susceptible to corrosion. Also, radiators and heater cores are now also aluminum. I've used Dexcool for many years in my Cavalier without any problems. I believe that problems occur when coolants are mixed.

    Once every 6 months or so I transfuse my coolant by siphoning the coolant overflow tank dry and refilling with Dexcool. I don't think it is too wise to leave the same coolant in for 5 years or 150,000 miles. Also, the coolant level must never be allowed to go below the fill mark on the overflow tank. Follow these simple procedures and you'll never have trouble with Dexcool.
  • steelerfan1steelerfan1 Member Posts: 7
    thanks 7937 for your input. I agree leaving the same batch of coolant in for five years, regardless of what it is, is risky. It seemed that changing it to something else didn't make much sense. I appreciate the "second opinion."
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    Dexcool is also silicate and phosphate free which means that there is less abrasion and wearing away of your coolant pump impeller.

    I buy Havoline Dexcool from Wal-Mart and although I cannot remember the price, it is not much more expensive than standard coolant. The dealer will of course ask you more for it and quote a GM number. The fact is that Havoline makes it for GM and it states on the Havoline container that it is GM approved.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    OK: one more time: I'm not sure enough people chimed in last time, so I'll ask again (come on folks, you look at the thing every day): my temp guage sits at just slightly above the mid point line when operating at normal temperature. When sitting in traffic, the pin goes halfway between the mid point line and the 3/4ths line. Is everyone else's in the same position?
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    I don't think I can help because I've got the Ecotec powered Malibu. But as a matter of interest, my temp guage never goes above the halfway mark no matter what the driving conditions are and the outside temperature is. It's very hot in California now but the guage still only goes to the halfway mark. The engine gets to that temperature within minutes because the engine block is also aluminum.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    thanks Ernest. Good point; I need answers from 6 cylinder Bu/Maxx owners.
  • mr_botsmr_bots Member Posts: 236
    I have a Malibu LS with the 3.5L V6 and it has never gone past the mid point, and I always have the A/C on and the temperature here gets over 100 degrees pretty much everyday.
  • skyhawkskyhawk Member Posts: 126
    I have a LT Maxx. The temp guage never goes above the the half way point. My wife has a condition that is aggravated by the heat. I often leave the car running while parked to keep the inside cool. I always have the a/c running set at 60.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    OK, don't everybody answer at once. Since I got only 2 replies, I went out and did a test. I left the car running in my driveway for 10 minutes. With the AC on, the guage did not go more than a tick above the half way line. I assume that is because one of the two fans goes on automatically when you have the AC on. When I turned the AC off, the guage went up halfway between the halfway mark and the 3/4ths mark (red zone). Once there, the fan turned on and brought the temp back down to normal (a slight tick above halfway). Therefore, I assume all is well and normal. Comments?
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    It's perfect!
  • paopao Member Posts: 1,867
    seems like your tests proves all is well with the gauges.....thanks for letting us know
  • bikeboy1bikeboy1 Member Posts: 1
    02 Malibu LS, 34k
    I've had no problems with my car until around 30k. At highway speeds, I can feel the car stutter. The engine light comes on and there are misfires that are coded. It has been in the shop 8 times for the same fault. They have replaced about everything electrical, flushed the injectors, etc. Still doing it.
  • deminindeminin Member Posts: 214
    When you say they have replaced just about everything electrical, can you be more specific?
    I am going to assume they have replaced the plugs, but let me know for sure. How about the ignition control module...used to be the distributor. Spark plug wires are often assumed to be good, but can fail. You may be getting "crossfire" or arcing between adjacent plug wires. Will it fail at a high speed..say 2000+RPM's when not in gear? I ask this because if there is arcing, you may be able to see it at night by racing the engine and looking around in darkness under the hood.
    You may also have a fuel pressure problem at higher speeds. Perhaps your fuel filter is partially clogged and not flowing enough fuel at highway speed. You could also have a bad fuel pump that is not putting out enough pressure and starving the engine at 2000+RPM.
    Thats about all I can think of at the moment. I'll add more if I think of anything else.
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