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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • common problem as lock on door gets dry. Put some dielectric grease in lock so moisture will not form and cause lock to freeze up so that door cannot be closed. The heat from the car interior warms up the lock as you drive and eventually after 10 minutes or so you can close it. a coating og dielectric grease will keep this from happening, put on all doors.
  • My apoligies regarding the electronic range select. A major car magazine referred to it as a "manumatic" and I was just following their description.

    And no, other than hearing of possible SS version, I've not heard of any major changes for 2006.
  • joe3891joe3891 Posts: 759
    I have found little information in the 04 and 05 owners manual on the proper operation of the 4T45E transmission compared to my last car a 00 Cavalier with the 4T40E, same basic tranny. Do you know of any other source of information on the trans operation. Thanks Joe
  • Looks like the power steering failure issue for the '04 Maxx / Malibu is still being evaluated at NHTSA.

    There doesn't seem to be such an issue for the '05.
  • chrpaichrpai Posts: 32
    Well I must confess, I live in South Texas where it's flat as hell and never snows. I also don't tow and my car only knows 2 speeds: Stop and Bat out of Hell. :) Ok I'm not really that bad.

    The only thing I ever use the lower gears for is sudden deacceleration while not painting a big red x on my rear end for johnny law to see. But I guess that doesn't really work these days but then again, why stick out.
  • I think that it might actually be your PCM, power control module, going bad. I had the same problem to the point of where my car would not start one day, take it in!
  • I am having the same problems as you, my power steering has gone out 3 times. It is very scary when you work in downtown detroit and you can't turn! I am trying to turn mine in as a lemon, but it is very hard. I have had where the cd's spit out, it is the PCM module,the brain of the car, let them know before you car won't start like what happened to me. It is depressing, if you get any further, please let me know how.
  • Ah...both of my '04 Maxx's have/had 4 speed automatics transmissions--not 3 speeds as you indicated.
    On another subject, my current '04 Maxx is a March04 build date. The first '04 Maxx I purchased was a May04 build date. In comparison of the two, the May04 was a little "tighter"--less creaking/rattles, and the transmission/engine seemed to be more in sync. Will have to check for the transmission shifting TSB. I've got a rattle, that I THINK is related to a problem with the left rear passenger assist handle--will check it out later today.
    Still, I must confess that I really enjoy my Maxx(es). I paid $14,299 (after rebates) for the first one, and traded it @ 15,002 miles straight across for the second Maxx without a $ out of my pocket, thanks to a GM Mastercard bonus credit.
    e2hepler--GM/Chevrolet is to be congratulated for building such a versatile vehicle--I think I could go for a third Maxx next year, especially if there is a SS AWD version (hint, hint).
  • The electronic range select in '04's appears to be 3 gears/speeds, while in the '05's it is 4 speeds/gears. The transmission itself is 4 speeds/gears. Sorry for any confusion.

    madmax, you may find your "assist handle" rattle to actually be the driver seat head rest. The plastic heigth adjuster/locks do not mount tightly in their metal shafts and can rattle. Just moving your head around slightly can make this rattle audible or not.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002

    Yes, I wish that the car magazine would have gotten it right (LOL). I think they were the instigator for the addition of "L4". I think that just made it more confusing for the owner.

    And I thought it was confusing now, just wait until next year ;)
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I am not sure what you might be looking for, Joe

    GM has spec data at

    but I am sure that is not what you are looking for
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 159
    For those interested, GM is conducting a Customer Satisfaction Program (recall) to replace the steering column in all '04 Malibu's with the defective steering column sensor.

    They are notifying all customers with eligible vehicle and will replace the steering column under warranty, even if steering has not yet failed. The program expires on Jan 31, 2006.

    GM has issued Bulletin 04050 which documents the specifics.

    VIN range for Sedan is 4F10001 - 4F166649
    VIN range for Maxx is 4F100161 - 4F166645

    Not all these vehicle may be affected. The dealer will have to check the bar code number on the steering wheel on the above cars.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Those last VINs correspond with build date of 2/4/04 by the way
  • joe3891joe3891 Posts: 759
    Thanks for looking but not what I was trying to find, I don't think its published. I guess I should not worry about lugging the engine in manual mode that has a steel crankshaft,like a race engine LOL.
  • Very useful info, e2helper, thanks!

    I noted the Buick version of the 3500 V6 gets a steel crankshaft while other versions make do with iron. But at least the iron crank has been strengthened!
  • skyhawkskyhawk Posts: 126
    The main reason I decided on leaving my Maxx garaged for the winter while I am in Florida was the potential failure of the steering. I did not want to be 1400 miles from home and have a failure to deal with. My vin falls within the posted range and I will contact the local dealer in April once I return home. I have not had any of the problems discussed. I did need the thermostat changed as the car ran slightly cooler than required. The left front signal light burned out the day before I left. The Maxx had 12750 miles over the first 9 months. I was and still am pleased with the car. I have only seen 3 Maxx's in northwest Florida since late December.
  • muffmuff Posts: 4
    refer to my message #1413 and the ones refered there....beat the BIG BOY. the dicision came last week in favor of me. have now purchased a Hyundia XG350L. can't beat the price or warrenty. wounder when GM will get the message and start getting getting it right. they lost a 50yrs custermer and the dealership lost a 3 car buyer.
  • Mine must have rolled down the line just after the steering column fix..4F166797.
    By the way, I've had the "pull to the left" syndrome since day one. When dealer said his alignment machine was broken, I took it to the GM (Pontiac-Buick-GMC) dealer that is buying out the "Broken" dealer. Within 15 minutes, the busy service writer notified me that the problem is not alignment, but rather a steering "part" that he has ordered. Quite a change from the selling dealer who has had the Maxx twice and done nothing...starting to feel a bit more optimistic about the Maxx.
  • My Maxx had its steering columm replaced and so far does not show the "pull to left" syndrome.
    That dealer (which has flunked simple stuff like oil changes and interior part rattles) proved very competent for this repair.
    Hopefully hickoryd, you will find one as competent to fix your Maxx.
  • I have 2005 Malibu Maxx LT (vin last 6 = 137014), purchased in October 2005, 6000 miles. Overall love the car, and forgive the well known minor nuisances - ie. front seat headrests, DIC fuel economy inaccuracies, poor tire grip (will replace with better tires).

    However, I have two mechanical issues with my vehicle that I have not been able to receive definitive answers from Chevrolet, NHSTA site, etc.

    The first problem: When the vehicle is fully warmed up, but the outside temperature is cold, and I am at a stop in traffic (red light, etc), the engine runs rough - feels almost like it is missing, feel vibration in steering wheel, on occasion feels like may stall, but never quite does. When car was first purchased, this did not occur, and seems that it doesn't occur to same extent when outside temperature is warmer.

    The second problem: Vehicle has 4 speed automatic overdrive. When accelerating moderately from a stop, the best way I can describe it is that it feels like a 5 speed - starting from first, you can actually see the the RPM drop back 4 times and feel the accompanying hesitation. I know that there are only 3 speeds after 1st, but this is driving me crazy.

    The dealer hooked up to a computer and said they got no bad readings/lights.

    Any one know about either of these? Thanks.
  • bhw77bhw77 Posts: 101
    seacove - I have exactly the same "engine runs rough" problem. There was discussion with TSB
    involved (I believe computer re-flash). Can someone confirmed if it helped? I am going to try to address this problem with dealer on next oil change.
  • 37453745 Posts: 152
    Second problem. Torque convertor lock-up feature is kicking in. Operation is correct.
  • The trans does act like a 5 speed in that the torque converter can vary its lockup ratio. You'll see this most often in 4th gear when accelerating up a hill. If you press the accelerator gradually downward, eventually the engine revs will increase quite rapidly even though the vehicle speed does not. This is the torque converter varying its ratio. It helps the transmission better match itself to the load.

    Us '04 Maxxers get this with the throttle but not the cruise control. There you will have typical 4 speed transmission behavour. In 4th gear, the vehicle will loose some speed, then abruptly shift to third gear, speed up again, shift back to fourth, and repeat the cycle endlessly until you shift to third, or switch cruise off and go back to using the accelerator.

    Supposedly there was a service calibration to fix this cruise cycling, but it did nothing for my Maxx.

    Also, the trans is an "adaptive" type in that it apparently "learns" your driving habits. I do not know the exact details of this feature (E2helper or someone, details appreciated) but have noticed my trans has adapted to me and shifts more smoothly than when the maxx was new.

    Also I think in Maxx problems and solutions there is a TSB for the headrests.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    The torque converter lockup simply locks the impeller and turbine together to prevent slippage. This normally takes place at speeds above 40mph. There are no ratios involved. It's either on or off.
  • I took delivery of my 2004 MAXX LT on 10-18-2004. It was my first 'new car' but it was also a dealer demo with 7100mi on it. The tach now read 14125mi and I am very happy and there are no complaints except for when I'm in the fast lane on the expressway going 70+ mph I do experience a slight pull to the left. Will this be fixed if I bring it into the dealership? I cannot afford to lose my ride during any work week. Will the dealership pay for a rental car while the work is done? Thanks in advance for any advice that you all may offer
    R. Mason
    Boston, MA
  • I took delivery of my 2004 MAXX LT on 10-18-2004. It was my first 'new car' but it was also a dealer demo with 7100mi on it. The tach now read 14125mi and I am very happy and there are no complaints except for when I'm in the fast lane on the expressway going 70+ mph I do experience a slight pull to the left. Will this be fixed if I bring it into the dealership? I cannot afford to lose my ride during any work week. Will the dealership pay for a rental car while the work is done? Thanks in advance for any advice that you all may offer
    R. Mason
    Boston, MA
  • change your tires to standard GM tires. Fire stone is not the recomended brand for GM. It is recommended for ford. If you have custom rims on your car. That will effect it
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    unless you have the GMPP extended warranty, the dealer will NOT cover a rental unless a repair takes over 2 days to complete. Of course, your car would still have to be under the 3/36,000 mark. GMPP will ensure you are in a rental any time during the warranty period. Sorry.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    Well, I realize this is a bit early to declare victory, but the tranny fix to eliminate the howl seems to have taken care of my "overdrive too early" problem. Although it is much quieter, I can still hear a bit of resonance. Nonetheless, the bigger issue is the malaise when stomping on the gas. The new parts seems to have helped that. I will report back more as the week goes on. My dealer also installed the stiffeners for the rear shades, and turned my front rotors, all for free.
    It is nice having my Maxx back. They had me in a Bonneville. The Bonny is nice, but the steering feel is awful, the car floats a bit in hard turns, it gets terrible gas mileage, and the car doesn't hold a candle to the Maxx's versatility inside. Also, for those who hate the Maxx's headrests, go check out the Bonneville's. The headrests are about the same distance from your head as the earth is to the sun. I see no practical purpose to having headrests way far away. I love the fact that I can rest my head in an upright position in the Maxx. I guess to each their own.
  • beedublubeedublu Posts: 236
    I've noticed something like what you describe with my 04 Maxx's o/d transmission...frequent changes in RPM, although there's no hesitation or roughness. I figured it was probably the torque converter.

    I would have to comment that it seems that the converter lockup and disengagement is much more sensitive to pressure on the gas pedal than in other cars I've driven.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Maybe in order for the new Malibu to achieve its good fuel consumption, the torque converter lockup feature kicks in at a lower speed than what is usually used. This also brings in the overdrive so the engine would tend to pull harder and any more pressure on the gas pedal will cause the lockup to disengage. The lockup is only sustained when the computer is satisfied that conditions are suitable.

    It's easy to have an overdrive feature on a transverse mounted engine because the transmission is coupled to the torque converter and engine by means of a chain and sprockets. By making the sprocket on the engine side bigger than the sprocket on the transmission side, the output shaft of the transmission will turn faster than the crankshaft.

    A typical ratio would be 0.85:1. That is, if the engine crankshaft turned 0.85 of a revolution, the output shaft of the transmission would make 1 revolution.

    In the torque converter lockup mode with overdrive, there is a direct coupling between engine and transmission output shaft. There is no slippage in the torque converter and fuel economy goes up. Also, because the engine turns slower there is less wear.
  • Sorry to beat a dead horse. I had the same problem that I had a week ago, where my door wouldn't close.[05 sedan] . I've read back and see someone mentioned a TSB 05-08-64-002. I didn't see it on the NHTSA site. Does anyone know what it says? Has anyone been to a dealer and got it fixed? Is there a quick fix for this other than having someone hold the door closed for 15 minutes or so until the interior warms up and it latches by itself?
  • Just put some dielectric grease on the lock mechanism, moisture is freezing on the latch , when the door warms up from interior heat it works again. dielectric grease keeps moisture away from the metal parts so your door can close. Very frustrating i know.a thin film works great.
  • Are these happening on the new Malibu but not on other vehicle because of the internal design of the doors on this vehicle allowing water to run down over the latch assemblies where other vehicles don't?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    My SM told me that when they had my tranny apart, the chain was very loose, with a ton of play in the up and down direction. I told him just now that there is no doubt in my mind that the parts put in to satisfy the current TSB not only made the tranny quieter, but also enhanced performance. While my "overdrive too soon" concern was not completely solved, the tranny now tries to accelerate through the 800 rpm range without constantly downshifting needlessly like it did before. I recommend anyone with an '04 within the TSB tranny date range to get the work done.
    I also thanked him for turning the rotors, at which point my SM told me that ANY aftermarket roter is 10 times better than the thin rotors GM puts on their Chevys. At the point when I cannot get mine turned any longer, I will have them swapped out for something other than what came with the car.
    By the way, the rear shade fastener stiffeners do appear to hold the shade quite a bit better.
  • beedublubeedublu Posts: 236
    A new minor annoyance in the Noise Department: When I back out of my garage and apply the brakes, there's a "thunk". Then, as I continue to back down my driveway, there's this high pitched squeaking sound as I apply and reapply the brakes. There's no noise when I hit the brakes at the first stop sign about a quarter mile away, and no further noises when backing up subsequently.

    Any ideas what causes this? My 04 Maxx has only 7500 miles, about half of which is long trips, so I can't believe I'm up for a pad replacement already. Thanks for any input.
  • could be loose calipers. This seems to be a problem with a lot of Chevys. Mine made noise as well until the calipers were tightened.

    Incidently, anyone noticing more drivetrain "slop" as their Maxxes get older? I'm feeling a fair bit in mine now that was not there when the vehicle was newer (most noticeable in 10-20 mph range). Is this a symptom of the "bad" transmission chain reported earlier?
  • purchased a 2004 Maxx with 4,000 miles "new" from a chevy dealer. Wife loves the car, but it has a heavy groaning in the front right wheel area when wheels are turned while parked or turning in motion, alot like the days of an old power steering unit without fluid, or the sound of an old wooden sailing ship groaning. It's loud enough passengers complain about it. Dealer can't find a problem, they lubed what they said were dry bushings, but, of course, true to chevy, that didn't work. One other annoyance is a rattle in the headliner, Chevy took it apart and said it was repaired, but the loud banging is still there when driving side streets. I'm more concerned about the safety implications of the "groaning coming from the area of the front right wheel.
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    This sounds like what I experienced with my 04 Malibu LS Sedan. It ended up being the right front wheel bearings. It started making the noise at ~3500 miles. Also, it changed pitch and volume with the vehicle speed, at under 30 it was low and not very loud, but at 35 - 40 it got fairly loud, then got quieter until about 65. They also misdiagnosed it the first time claiming it was the transmission shift cable.
  • thanks! i'll encourage mr goodwrench to check the bearing.
    again, thanks for the info
  • hickorydhickoryd Posts: 57
    My Maxx has the "pull to left" syndrome. Two weeks ago, the 2nd dealer I took it to pronounced that the problem in not alignment, and that he had ordered a part for the steering.
    Does anyone have an idea what that "part" might be?
  • Wanted to order replacement wiper inserts for my Maxx from local

    #1 (Rydell, San Fernando); Paid for two inserts, dealer misordered them twice and - a month later - refused to let me take received parts home because there was a $2 additional charge that I could NOT pay for in cash (they insisted using my charge card, and then could not read it). I left without inserts and wrote letter to service manager.

    #2 (Power Chevrolet, Valencia); Waited 30 minutes just to talk to a parts guy, who found 6 variants of inserts for the Maxx, asked me for my VIN, and found the same 6 variants and "guessed" which one was right (not in stock). Meanwhile another customer was peeved because dealer had called him that his parts arrived, then had lost his parts "somewhere in the back".
    I declined to order.

    #3; (Rydell, Van Nuys). Given VIN, found inserts on first try, not in stock, took order (had no trouble with the charge card).
    We'll see if they are successful.

    A real pity GM just doesn't monitor dealers like they should. It's a terrible way to promote repeat business!
  • prdmprdm Posts: 145
    It never would have occurred to me to order blade refills from a dealer. Are they unavailable in part stores?
    I also had some trouble getting a trim piece (rocker sill cover) in from factory; it took three tries but they had no problem letting me take it and install myself.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    kurt: any 22 inch replacement wiper will fit (on the driver's side; 20 inch on the passenger side). I just went to Walmart and got the $3.50 replacement wiper and blade. It fits just fine. I always recommend replacing the entire wiper unit instead of puting in the blade refill only. Wiper arms these days are made to make it nearly impossible to simply slip in a blade. That is why you see 3-4 different manufacturers in each store offing wiper replacements, and only 1 offering blade refills.
  • I had bad experiences with a lot of aftermarket blades so to be safe decided to go with factory for first time.
    If I had to replace entire blade with aftermarket would probably go with Bosch or Luxor.

    Main point of blade thread was to point out inept dealer parts situations.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    I would agree with the inept dealers parts and service managers/departments...this seems to be the biggest headache we see on the forum...yes there are a few problems associated with anything mass produced...but Im still in awe of the ineptness of some of the service departments and the lack of basic knowledge of TSBs, parts, and even the willingness to try to be helpful when some folks from this forum have actually provided the TSB numbers to the service managers....I havent found that the case with the dealer that I bought my Maxx from...he has been very responsive to the little issues...but I have not had any major problems with my Maxx..(knock on wood)......18.5K and going strong..and just turned a year old this month!!
  • sciguy85sciguy85 Posts: 45
    I tried the fuse trick on my stuck pedals and I still hear a click but no movement. I notice that my headlights "bounce" Especially on the green exit sign of the Chicago area and on the back of shiny cars. The lights seem to "move" alot when I push on them.I just worry that the bounce will decrease the life of the lights.
  • well_huhwell_huh Posts: 1
    i put a stereo in. I bought a harness but it was the wrong one. So i decided to hard wire it. I know somethings about electronics so i figured it would be no problem. I wired the speakers and power ground. For the switched circuit I used a spot from the fuse box.
    The car won't sart now. Which fuse is blown. My door locks don't work. I used to install stereos for a living is this is pissing me off. I have to get to work with this car tomorrow! Somebody please help me ASAP! Sunday 9:00:00 CST.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I guess my reply is too late but you didn't mention what model year your vehicle is.
  • markf57markf57 Posts: 38
    We have an 04 Malibu Maxx with about 3500 miles. So far we (me and wifey) love the car.

    We have a slightly sloping driveway and I have noticed that when I put the car in park and take off the brake, the car rolls back significantly. Does anyone else have this observation?
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