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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • joe3891joe3891 Posts: 759
    Use the parking brake, its recommended.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    yep, the tranny does not hold the 'Bu on inclines. I can't give you a scientific reason for it, but you will roll back slightly on moderate to severe inclines.
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    Nearly every automatic I've ever driven rolls back at least slightly when in park on an incline. The parking pawl in the transmission is what stops the movement, but it also usually ends up keeping the vehicle from being shifted back out of park when you're ready to drive away again. That's also why there's usually some sort of button or switch to release the transmission from park when this happens.

    I don't remember right now whether the Malibu has the button or not but even if it does I always set my parking brake anyway. Better safe than sorry.
  • Other than the "gear release" button on the front of the transmission shift lever, I don't know of any extra button.

    My drill is get car in position, set parking brake, shift into park, remove key, do whatever, etc.
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    That's my routine too. But there have been times with other vehicles where the parking brake didn't get set (usually by my wife, until I broke her of the habit ;o)).

    A good example is the 1992 Toyota Corolla that we once owned. The parking lot for the townhouse we were living in at the time had a slight grade up toward the houses. She left the parking brake off after work and couldn't get the gear lever to move the next morning. She also didn't know what the little button at the rear driver's side edge of the gear shift console was for, but I did. (manuals are wonderful things sometimes, lol)
  • topdllr1topdllr1 Posts: 1
    I have a 2001 chevy malibu. All of a sudden, the car will not turn over. It sounds like it wants to but will not. Had a similar problem approx. 6 months ago and the solution was a fuse to some part of the fuel system. Friends have suggested the fuel filter as the problem. Could anyone tell me where the fuel filter is and where the fuse would be for the fuel system.
    Thank you!
  • cytcyt Posts: 2
    Just got my Maxx back from service (3rd time) was a growling noise coming from front when coasting or in reverse when turning wheels. 1st time replaced right front strut (they said it was leaking), 2nd time replaced left strut assembly and the steering column, this time they said the link was worn out and bushings noisy so they replaced both of the front stablizer links. Does anyone know what the front stablizer links are? I am a bit concerned and do not want to have any further problems. So far, no noise.
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    The updated head restraints finally came into the dealership for my 2004 Malibu LT sedan this week and my wife took the car to get them installed yesterday. I got a chance to drive it a bit last evening and have to say, even though it's hard to tell the difference by looking, the new restraints are a MAJOR improvement. They no longer force me to either drive with the seat reclined into the back seat or to live with the feeling that someone's constantly pushing my head forward while I drive.

    So for any other owners of the new 'bu that have an issue with the way the original headrest leans forward compared to the rest of the seatback I highly recommend getting it taken care of under warranty at the dealership. It costs nothing but your time. :)
  • hickorydhickoryd Posts: 57
    Quite a few members of this forum have found the headrests to be too far forward, while others (myself included) have found them to be a really great feature. Since my '04 Maxx is an LS, I'm wondering if the 2 models' headrests were at different angles???
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    I'm not sure. I didn't try out any LS models when I was buying (was looking for a fairly well loaded car to be the first really new car for my SO). Ironically, my wife's biggest gripe about the original headrests was that she couldn't wear her "scrunchies" in her hair (iow, with her hair down it wasn't that bad). So maybe I'm strange. :P
  • sschribersschriber Posts: 89
    Personally I like only having to lean my head back a couple of degrees before resting my head. My 05 Maxx is the first car I can remember since my '78 Saab where I didn't have to look down my nose in order to use the headrest.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    By the way Jerry, I did pass your message to lead engineer that implemented this redesign to the seat, he passed it on to the supplier of seats :)
  • I also have the new headrests...please feel free to let the engineer know they work well for me too.
  • njmaxxnjmaxx Posts: 15
    Wow! Those headrests must really be new because GM Customer Svc doesn't even know about them. They don't know about the steering problems either.
  • njmaxxnjmaxx Posts: 15
    Kurt, are you sure you don't still work for GM? You "had bad experiences with a lot of aftermarket blades..."
    As for dealership service: they work with what GM builds. Even they can't make lemonade of a car. It doesn' sound like parts or service when complaints are fairly consistent in a car model.
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    With so many Technical Service Bulletins coming out you shouldn't be surprised if they don't know about one in particular. I'm sure that other customers benefit from our bringing it to the Customer Service folks' attention though.

    Just in case you're interested in the updated head restraints yourself njmaxx, here's the post where e2helper gave us the particulars I needed to get mine taken care of:
    e2helper, "Chevrolet Malibu Owners: Problems & Solutions" #1580, 15 Feb 2005 5:42 pm
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    We're all really sorry that you got a lemon. Sounds like it's made you a bit sour though. I've had a couple minor issues with my own Malibu, but they've been dealt with in a relatively timely manner by the dealership, so I wouldn't categorize all Malibus as lemons.

    Gotta keep in mind that every car line produced has a few bad ones slip out, and likewise every line has its own common issues to watch out for.
  • Both my GM Prism and Saturn ION were very difficult to find good wiper blades for. I went through at least 5 vendors before finding ones that did not chatter and lasted longer than 2 months.

    As for the Malibu, when I last checked a few months back the blade matcher books I've found didn't mention the 2004. But sounds like it's time to try again.

    I wanted to give an American car a try (have driven foreign from 1973 to 2003). We'll see if the decision was a good one.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    I replaced my wipers from my local auto parts store...used Bosch....the books didnt list the replacement for the 04s just went to the desk..and he looked them up on their computer.....easy to replace..and much better than the OEMs..which started to skip within 6 months of ownership.
  • karunchkarunch Posts: 8
    I have a 2004 Malibu Maxx LS, and I had purchased my car the last week of August.. I know that there were 3 recalls on this vehicle, one for the ABS Reprogramming, one for the ABS sticker on the visor, and one for the seatbelt anchors.

    What is bothering me is that all three of these were announced I believe in June, over 2 months before I purchased my vehicle. Last week I had my car in the shop, and they had to do all three of these recalls on my vehicle..

    HOW CAN THE DEALERSHIP HAVE SOLD ME A CAR THAT HAD RECALLS ALREADY ANNOUNCED, WITHOUT FIXING THEM BEFORE I TOOK THE CAR OFF THE LOT???? I am EXTREMELY unhappy about this.. Is that even legal, to sell a "defective" car without fixing the "defects" before I take the car off of the lot? Obviously the car was "defective" if there was a recall campaing.. What if I had gotten into an accident and the ABS brakes did not work correctly, or the seat belt anchor had broke..
  • hickorydhickoryd Posts: 57
    My thought exactly. The dealer did it to me too, even though I bought mine December 31. They probably don't get reimbursed for the recalls until the vehicle has been sold. As soon as I registered it at the "My Chevy" site, the recalls appeared.
  • hickorydhickoryd Posts: 57
    After two failed attempts to get my Chevy dealer to diagnose this condition, the salesman suggested taking it to the dealership that was in negotiations to buy this Chevy dealer out. In just 25 minutes, this Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealership informed me that they had ordered a steering part. Last week, they installed the replacement part. Problem Fixed! The service writer said he would mail me the details but it included an electric motor on or near the steering column.
    By the way, that dealer decided he was getting ripped off and decided not to buy my Chevy dealer out...but his cousin went ahead so it gets a new name and new ownership anyway.
  • mitzijmitzij Posts: 613
    Two of the three recalls were started in April (sticker on visor) and May (seatbelt retainers). The Third (programming ABS module) started in December. Dealerships are supposed to do all recalls prior to sale.The Dealership did mess up by not doing the first 2 recalls on your car when they came out, however, they've fixed it now, no harm done.

    If you had gotten into an accident and the seat belt had broken, I suppose you could have sued GM, or the dealer. But you didn't have an accident, so that is a moot point, and speculation gets no one anywhere.
  • townhometownhome Posts: 104
    Has anyone had their dealer become annoyed at being given a TSB number?

    My Maxx has had the hard starting issue about 8 times since I bought it at the end of September, 4100 miles ago. The very first time it happened, I figured out what the problem was with everyone on the Forum's help, and I got the TSB from the board. It wasn't serious, so I didn't hurry in to the dealer. This past week I was out of town, so I asked my father (retired and with very little to do!) to take it in. I wrote out a list of things to do: the ABS recall, the seatbelt recall, (both from the GM website, not from any official notification), fix the left rear speaker that wasn't working, and do the PCM reflash. I included the TSB number for the reflash and wrote that the car had hard starting problems and a rare rough idle.

    To make a long story short, my dad told me that the service manager grilled him about how and where he got the TSB number, since they are only meant for Chevy dealers. My dad said I got it from the internet, but that was all he knew. Apparently, the SM was very unhappy that a customer had this info.

    So, I have two concerns -- #1 am I endangering the people who give us these TSB's by letting this dealer know I have them, and #2 where can I take my car now? I'm not very happy about that SM, not to mention they said they fixed the speaker, but it still doesn't work. This makes me wonder if they did ANY of the work at all. This dealer has been around for 40 years and is supposed to be one of the best Chevy dealers in L.A. Like too many people here, I love my car but don't like the dealer.

    Thanks for reading my rant. Any ideas?
  • Unless you divuleged the source (who I am very grateful for, btw) __directly__ (url, etc.), I don't think the SM would bother taking the time to track a TSB down on "the internet.
    The GM Chevy Owners web site also posts recall information (all 3 of mine were listed there).

    Your SM sounds like "old school", is way too typical and will do nothing to further repeat business, let alone inspiring a future Mailbu purchase. Sadly, I too have yet to find a decent service center in Los Angeles, CA (have been to three klutz outfits so far - am becomming very concerned).
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    My SM has been very helpful so far, and even seems to be glad that we've brought the appropriate TSB #'s when needed, since it saves them time. I've said it in here before- with so many TSB's released on each vehicle and the service department having to deal with all the vehicles, I can see how it would be hard to track down the TSB for every problem (assuming there even IS one), let alone KNOW about them. Having the customer in the loop can't hurt the dealership or GM, surely?

    Hope not anyway, because my list now includes the same TSB as you used for the hard starting issues. Our LT sedan has had to crank itself over 2x many times in the recent past when the first attempt didn't work. Every time the car was still somewhat warm from previous driving. Then this past weekend it actually failed to start at all, and took me around a minute of repeated attempts before it finally cranked over.

    Anyway, thanks to all who provide us with the information and TSB #'s that lets us make sure our cars are in the best possible condition and keeps us from having to spend unnecessary time and money in the service department as the mechanics have to figure out the problem on their own.
  • ericw55ericw55 Posts: 53
    Just brought my Maxx in (first time)for the pull to the left, and fuel gauge/check gas cap problems. I mentioned the TSBs, but didn't give the numbers (didn't want to be pushy). They claimed the pull was due to uneven tire pressures, and the fuel gauge issue was because of a faulty sensor.
    Well, the Maxx still pulls to the left, and when they install the new sensor next week, the gauge will still show 3/4, when full.
    When I go back next week, it will be with TSB numbers, and a "no excuses" attitude. I hope to get better results.
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    That's why I like to carry the TSBs in with me, if I know of them. If the SM / mechanics don't know about the TSB and don't find it when searching (assuming they even try to, I'm betting some don't), you run a risk that they won't find the actual cause of the problem the TSB addresses.

    I still don't see why GM would worry if we know of the TSBs. It HAS to at the very least save them some time in the shop when we already have the problem's solution in hand. And that translates to money, not just in mechanic man-hours either, but possibly in parts, when they replace something that wasn't bad in the first place. We also lose time, just not money. (er, except possibly lost wages, in some cases..)

    Obviously this is talking about things still under warranty. The situation is even worse for out-of-warranty repairs, where WE are the ones out of money.
  • hickorydhickoryd Posts: 57
    Filled the tank last week right after picking up Maxx last week from the dealer for correction of the "pull to left" problem. As usual, reset Average mpg, Trip A, and Average speed. Maxx had been getting a steady 27 mpg before the repair.

    Filled up again yesterday having driven almost 400 miles.

    This time the actual mpg was 30.589!

    For the first time, everything works like it is supposed to, the Maxx drives just great, and the fuel economy shot up!

    Could the pull to left have actually diminished average mpg by 3.5 miles every gallon? Time will tell or maybe 4,000 miles was a loosening up point.
  • sgmsgm Posts: 23

    I would like to ask current Malibu owners: if you had to do it over again, would you buy a 2004-2005 Malibu Maxx. My reason for asking is that my girlfriend may be in the market to replace her 95 Saturn SL2 soon and one of the cars she might consider is the Maxx.

    This past 12/30, I was in the market for possibly getting a new car, as the engine in my Olds seized (partially my fault). I ultimately got a slightly used engine put in, but had looked at the Maxx and liked many features on it.

    I could have gotten an 05 Malibu LT for $18,300 including all taxes - out the door, including the GM 5yr, 60k extended warranty. The car factory stickered for like $24k plus taxes. (A Maxx would have been about $500 more.)

    With GM's sales going south, and their bond ranting near junk status, I have not doubt they would be willing to make the same offer again, especially around June 30th.

    So, again, knowing what you, as an owner know today, would you make the purchase again?

    Thanks, in advance, for any and all replies!

  • prdmprdm Posts: 145
    Without a doubt but then we're fairly new owners with only 2200 miles on the clock.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    I'd have two in my driveway if it wasn't for the fact that I bought a new Vibe back in '03
  • This has been one of the most enjoyable and highly satisfying cars I have ever had. I have a little over 8,000 miles on my 2004 Maxx LT, and, yes, I would definitely consider another one.
  • ericw55ericw55 Posts: 53
    Yes. The problems are all fixable, and it's a great car to drive. A great bang for the buck, too!
  • madmaxxmadmaxx Posts: 44
    I would--and did. I'm on my second 2004 Maxx LS. Traded the first in on the second. Racked up 15,000 miles on the first, and currently have 6,500 on the second.
  • ktcktc Posts: 30
    Yes I would, I only owned my Maxx (2005 LS) for 3 months, but it drives nice.
  • skyhawkskyhawk Posts: 126
    I put 12,750 miles on my Maxx in 9 months. I replaced an eight year old pickup truck. I bought the Maxx because it had carrying capacity and my wife said she would drive the Maxx. The car is everything I wanted it to be. It drives great, good gas mileage, remote start is a big plus in the summer as my wife does not do well with high temps. I have not had any of the problems mentioned. The vin falls within the recall parameter for steering but it is not scheduled at the dealer yet.

    Having said all that, I wish I had bought the full size GMC truck. I miss having a truck as a daily driver.
  • townhometownhome Posts: 104
    After 6 months and 4200 miles I probably would ONLY replace my Maxx with another one. Mine has been almost perfectly reliable and the combo of price/drivability/features cannot be beat.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    Moved from an '01 Elantra that I liked a lot. Smaller size was easier to throw around, and I miss the 5-speed, BUT:

    Maxx gets within 2 mpg around town-- pretty good, I haven't had a chance to take a long trip yet.

    Maxx has more features-- even though the Koreans knew how to option.

    Chevy has a better dealer network.

    I for one LIKE the ohv engine. Not a real screamer, but good torque, and no timing belt to replace.

    Can't figure out whether I like the styling or not, but at least it's unique. That's the great thing-- strange but interesting styling and normal but competant inside. If I don't like any of the dealers lots of people should be able to do repairs.

    Still out for further thought-- the much maligned steering. It's much better than I thought but the car tends to wander if the road isn't perfectly crowned. I also think that the steering is better on some days than others-- probably road conditions. Lots of people knock the OEM Bridgestones, and maybe that's the weak link.

    Seating surfaces are probably durable but plain, thought Hyundai interior finishes were slightly better. Lots of people knock the gray interior, I have the neutral-- normally don't like wood trim, but I guess it's OK.

    Looked at a Scion xB which has the same space, better seating, but the damn thing cranks at about 3500 rpm at 70. Would be very tiring.

    Looked at a number of small suv's like the Tucson and the Mazda/Mercury/Ford triplets, Maxx has all the practibility but gets much better mileage.

    Looked at Mazda 3, Kia Spectra5, and Elantra 5 door. Even though I like the smaller size, the Maxx was a lot more car for a little more money.

    Looked at a Mazda6, didn't drive one-- would have if they had a 5-speed hatch or wagon (irrational, I know since Maxx isn't available with manual transmission). Was able to get a 6 cylinder Maxx for about a thou. less than a 4 cylinder 6 Wagon. Maxx gets better mileage even though the M6 is sportier.
  • Temp gauge, for the second time, is not functioning and engine cooling fan runs continuously.

    Has anyone determined the cause and permenant fix for this defect?
  • mfrchicomfrchico Posts: 4
    I bought my maxx LT June 04 and have some sercous electronic steering crap going on. Have had it in 3-4 time's and the last, the big engineer came in and could not figure it out. am the first with this problem and now their are at least 10 others across the US c/o about the same thing. SO my advice is to wait.
  • mfrchicomfrchico Posts: 4
    At this point i would not. There is a serious GM problem going on. I was the first to report the problem and 4 time's being in, still ain't fixed. My 04 started with no power steering on backing up probably 3,000 miles ago (now have 7 on it). They have replaced all possible parts twice and the big engineer finally came in and he could not figure it out. Since my first c/o in the us, at least 10 others now have. So I am waiting for the big shots to figure it out. Very irritating to take it in so many time's and have to wait for rentals and then return the next day cuz they can't fix it.
  • jeromebjeromeb Posts: 31
    I own a 2004 Malibu LE.
    The only concern I have is that it has a noticeable pause in shifting between gears during light-moderate acceleration.
    I don't mind hammering it down, of course, but with gas at $2/gal I discovered that this was happening. Is it an issue?

    Other than that, I really like it. Strong acceleration, good interior comfort and gobs of conveniences. GM's idea of "entry level" has certainly made progress over the past 20 years.
  • 04malibu04malibu Posts: 2
    I have just found the edmunds forum. Great info. I have purchased a GM Program car in November of 2004 which is a 2004 Malibu LS. It had 8,765 mile when I purchased it from my local Chevrolet dealer. I was interested to find other owners on the edmunds website. I checked and my VIN did not come under the recall for the power steering. It was interesting to find the TSB info regarding the headrest replacements available. That was one of my wife's complaints when she rode in the passenger seat. My dealer did not know anything about it but the SM took the time to look it up and order the replacements. I have put approximately 2,400 mile on it since November. City mileage runs between 24-25 mpg. and on a trip I got just over 32 mpg. Otherwise the car has performed flawlessly.

  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    I doubt it is the fuel filter. The pre-2004 Malibus had issues with the ignition modules. That would cause the symptoms you are having.
  • sgmsgm Posts: 23
    Thanks for all the replies so far. Have it down to the Maxx and a Scion Xa or Civic.

  • The maxx certainly has more pep and more room than Scion Xa or Civic, but I'd check out my Maxx dealer very thoroughly to make sure they can fix what they sell.
    While much improved, GM build quality is still no match for the Scion. Wrt Civic, the USA ones seem prone to rattles.
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    Good suggestion. But also keep in mind that there are many more Maxx dealer's available to choose from to service your car if you DO have to have them fix the car than Toyota / Honda dealers. This can be important if your first choice turns out to be a pita to work with.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    The xB was far too busy for me in 5-speed form, would probably be better (but lots slower) in automatic form. I've found Chevy dealers to be superior to their Scion/Toyota competitors.

    If the xA would have a sixth gear it would be a good competitor to say the Mini Cooper. Like the looks but it's a pretty small car. It's taken me the better part of two months to get used going from an Elantra to the Maxx. The xA would double that leap.
  • mfrchicomfrchico Posts: 4
    I was the first in the US to report this problem months ago. Now there are several others and this is a big GM problem. The big engineer could not figure it out and is working on it. Would like to know if anyone else has this problem. When I back up or even pull forward after the back up, I have NO power steering. I always have it when driving. But have had the car in 3-4 time's now and I am getting angry. Only 7,000 on it and got it end of June 04, new.
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