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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • Well I suppose the problem with this design dates back all the way to 2000. I recently bought a used 2000 Malibu LS. When I test drove it I didn't even think of flipping the visor down, but for sure as soon as I left the lot I noticed it. The thing is the part isn't even there, it's just the mirror. This is a hassile because if I put the visor down it hits me just so. Now my question is can I order a part for it if its a used 2000, or no?:confuse:

    :lemon: lemonade
  • joe3891joe3891 Posts: 759
    The change to digital must be complete system, it's a 2 hour estimate. :)
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    I noticed today that some rust colored stains are on my head liner in two locations. There are a couple around the dome light, and there are two or three along the roof just in front of and behind the "B" pillar on the driver's side. Any thoughts? Possible electrical connections for dome light and side air bags rusting from trapped moisture?
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    do yuo have a sunroof?..if so..could mean the drainage tubes are clogged and may need to be cleaned out..
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I think they "only" need to replace the electronic module in the dash, other stuff doesn't need to change - no wiring changes or anything like that.

    Then they likely have to go thru some set-up procedure with OnStar operators to transfer account..
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    No, my Malibu does not have sunroof (although I wish it did).
  • I've read all the posts in the MPG forum and am wondering what the "break in" period on my 2005 Malibu LS will be. In my 1997 Malibu I got 23 MPG a tank on average. My commute isn't highway or city, but somewhere in between. Right now I only have 250 miles on my car and the DIC is showing about 21 MPG. Which, according to what I've read here, is usually high. I love my new car, but one of the reasons I bought a new Malibu is that my old Malibu got good gas mileage for a car its size. Oh, and I'm in FL, so the A/C is on all the time. Thanks, Dianne
  • joe3891joe3891 Posts: 759
    If it's just a module change it must be buried, the dealer I use can drop a gas tank and change the sender in less than one hour. :)
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    It can take several thousand miles to break-in (up to 5000 I think?) I currently have 13.5K and I get about 23MPG. I drive a fair amount of highway, but I can have a bit of a leadfoot at times. :D
  • As I have stated...I drive my '04 LS (new style w/ 3.5L V-6) about 90% highway. Of that, about 65% is at 56 mph, the rest is freeway at 66 mph. The rest is stop and go driving. In the 9,000 miles I have had this car, I have averaged 37.2 mpg. This is calculated by dividing miles by gallons. My last 4 tanks of gas have averaged just over 38.3 mpg. I try to never let the tach go over 2,000 rpm, and I set the cruise at 1 mph over the speed limit. When I first got the car, I averaged about 36.4 mpg. After those first tanks, I raised the pressure in the tires to 32 psi, which I check every week. I also switched to Mobil 1 5-W30 oil, and my car gets nothing but 87 octane Shell gasoline. I also slowed down from 5-7 mph over the speed limit to the 1 mph over now (so I don't get completely run over!)

    Granted, my tires are not the larger 215-65 R16s, so I roll a little better, and I have the sedan, which is slightly lighter and more aerodynamic. Still, this mileage is within three mpg of what my Chevy Prism (Corolla clone) with a 5 speed manual got. The Malibu is MUCH larger and more powerful than the Prism. I am very happy!
  • FYI, my 04 Maxx LS (with 3.5 liter V-6) just completed its first full year, with 14,000 miles on the odometer. My average for the year: 26.7 MPG. I'm very pleased with that number.

    That represents about 60% highway at 65 mph, much of it with a/c on and the remainder local stop-and-go. And that daily commuting is over an 8.5 distance, each way, with about 10 stop lights or signs. The maximum posted speed on any segment is 45, and there's one very long red light at a five-way intersection. Even under those conditions, I still get about 24 to 25 MPG. And while I don't drag race with anyone, I don't baby the thing, either.

    My mileage was a little bit lower during the first 2000 miles, but then it improved to where it is now.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    I have the same model..but the LT.....just over 41K on my average mileage is between 25-27 MPG...lots of stop and go traffic on a commute right now of 70 miles one way....45MPH off and on over 30 miles country roads...then interstate..has high as 75 and stop and go averaging 20 over a 45 mile or so stretch of road..with A/C probably around 25...without..around 27.....on long highway runs to SC.....27-28 with the A/C and close to 29-30 without....I also have larger 17 rims and tires as probably a higher rolling resistance than the original OEMS

    living in the northern va very happy with the car and mileage...I never go the 32plus MPG I see mentioned here
  • 'Forgot to mention, while I was rattling off all those stats: My all-time best MPG was essentially driving across Ohio on I-90 and I-71 (Cleveland to Cincinnati): 34 MPG. Air, cruise, 65- 70 mph, minus a bunch of construction slowdowns.
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    The highest I got the DIC to read was just after filling up and then driving about 10 miles of highway, cruising at 70 slightly downhill, A/C on and one passenger. Reading was 42MPG.
  • 04bu04bu Posts: 16
    I'm keeping track. Here is what I've experienced so far.

    September 11, 2005
    While driving I changed from the right to left lane. When I reached the other lane I realized the directional indicator was not flashing. I checked that I did actually have the stalk in position to actuate the directionals. I then switched it to the position for a right turn. Again there was no indication the directional was working. I then pulled it back to see if the high beam indicator would work and it did not. At this time I noticed the parking brake indicator light was on. I checked the position of the foot pedal and found that it was fully released. (I do use the parking brake regularly having spent the last sixteen years driving cars with manual transmissions.) I was unable to pull to the side of the road and see whether or not the lights were working when this happened. I was very near home and before I got there the problem was gone. I had driven about one quarter mile with this problem.

    September 13, 2005
    On my way to the dealership to have the car checked over I found that all the radio presets were gone. Also the radio was not on the station I had been listening to the previous night. (I am the sole driver of this car and no one else has any access to it)

    September 14, 2005
    After retrieving the car from the dealership, I preset four stations on the AM band of the radio and returned home. The car sat for about an hour and a half before I drove it again. When I did drive it again, the presets for the radio were gone again.

    September 16, 2005
    Received a call from the dealership inquiring about further issues. Reported the event of the 14th. Later that night I encountered a new problem. The left directional was flashing at twice the normal speed. I got out of the car at the intersection and found the left front light was not flashing. The left front running light was on. Upon returning home I checked the filament of that bulb and got continuity on both the running light and directional filaments. Testing the hazard lights I found them to flash at what seemed a normal speed. However the front left light did not flash.

    Does anyone have any similar electrical problems to report? The service guy told me any repair should be covered under warranty, "unless it's mouse damage". I get mice in my garage.

    It seems like the other data on the Driver Information Center is correct regarding time to next oil change, what is on the trip odometer, etc.

    When I scheduled the appointment for the electrical gremlin they asked if there was anything else so I mentioned a slight clunk when turning the wheel. The steering column was already replaced under the "customer satisfaction program" (recall) early this summer. They replaced the steering column again this time!

    Then, I also mentioned the TSB about the headrests which I learned of on this forum. It had been a slight nuisance, but not a problem. Now I decided to say something. The service guy comes back "well, I learned something today". He didn't know about the TSB from January '05! Don't the dealerships read these things? :confuse: I'm currently waiting for the new headrests to arrive.

    I'm feeling a little uneasy as the :lemon: laws in this state cover only the first year of the car and I've had this for over 18 months.
  • This problem has been resolved and the car is now a pleasure to drive.
  • As mentioned in previous post the power steering noise has been remedied and also most of the annoying rattles.

    Finally, it's a pleasant car to drive.

    Would I buy it again? Can't be sure because it took a number of trips to the dealer to get all the problems remedied.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Regarding the Left Front Turn signal, it sounds like you might have an open circuit somewhere preventing that lamp from coming on. Federal requirements for turn signal operation require a noticable change in flash rate when it is detected that one bulb is not working (everytime you see someone driving a vehicle where their turn signal lamp is flashing too fast you can bet they have a turn signal bulb not working somewhere). Federal requirements also require that hazard lamps continue to flash normally even when a bulb is detected as not working. That is why vehicle is operating as you described.

    If your dealer were to use a diagnsotic tool on your vehicle he will find a fault code associated why the left front turn signal bulb is not working.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    As far as electrical goes, yes, there is certainly some instability in whatever is controlling the works. I also have numerous gremlins popping up at various times. But as the problems are short lived and seem to go away by themselves, I have learned to live with it. Taking it to the dealer is a waste of time because the fault has cleared up by the time you get there.

    The directional indicator also left me in the lurch at a crucial moment only to start working again when the car was restarted. In this model too much has been left in the control of some unknown entity buried in the bowels of the vehicle.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I want to add that my left and right turn signals were completely dead for a time.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    This may not have anything to do with your radio situation, but I believe this radio has the his and hers settings. There can be two sets of presets programmed into the radio for two different people, and the indicator for who is driving is built into the ignition key chip which automatically sets the radio depending who is driving with what set of keys.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    04bu did say they were the sole driver of the car. As long as the same key is used nothing should change. As a side note I notice that some GM models are giving erratic blower fan operation which is being fixed by fitting a capacitor between two electrical conductors. Maybe the control module on the Malibu is picking up electrical spikes and locking up or something stupid like that.
  • 04bu04bu Posts: 16
    When I left the car at the dealership, I did leave the second set of keys with them. That might explain the loss of presets after returning home. I can't remember which set of keys I used when I picked up the car. But, that can't explain the first instance of radio memory loss. Can't wait to see if anything crops up on the trip to my parents today.
  • When my 04 Maxx had about, say, 3000 miles I experienced the turn signal problem you describe on 9/11/05. It went away and never returned (I now have over 14000 miles on the car).

    In July of this year I had the signal problem that you describe on 9/16 -- very rapid flashing, right side only. A new bulb didn't solve the problem, so I went to the dealer. They determined that there was dirt of corrosion on the electrical connector to the socket. They cleaned the contacts and the problem has apparently been solved.

    Regarding radio presets -- on two occasions within the past year, mine has lost all or part of its memory, for no apparent reason. I'm absolutely certain I was using the same key fob, and I have both of them programmed to the same stations anyway. I can't remember the last time it happened, but it has never recurred.

    As with electronics sometimes: Go figure! :confuse: :confuse: :confuse:
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    As I said, there are some weird problems with the new Malibu control module. Seems though that these problems are also cropping in other GM cars.

    See this site and look up "fix it right first time - car" and you'll see what a capacitor can do to solve a problem.
  • Hi All,

    I've been searching through this forum for a couple of days but can't seem to find the TSB number for the latest (May '05, I believe) PCM Flash for an '04 Malibu LT sedan. I've experienced the hard starting and rough idle conditions several times since last November when I bought the car. I've also experienced the very annoying transmission howl.

    I had the car in for a regular oil change and wanted the dealer to address several issues. One of which was the transmission howl. The dealer ordered the parts and is going to do the repair; changing sprockets and chain from 5/8 to 7/8, I believe. Any idea how long the repair will take?

    The dealer was unwilling to look up any TSBs for the PCM flash as they weren't able to duplicate the hard start/rough idle. It took about 15 minutes of driving to duplicate the transmission howl as I couldn't remember what the circumstances under which it occurs. Because they weren't able to duplicate the hard start their only resolution was to tighten the grounds and state that the engine was operating to design.

    If someone has the TSB number for the latest PCM flash, I'd appreciate if you could post it, please. If there is no TSB number, how does one request that dealer service flash the PCM to latest calibration? Thanks in advance!

    I've also experienced an issue with the cruise control. While driving to Nova Scotia from Connecticut this summer, I noticed that when the cruise control would downshift the transmission from 4th to 3rd gear to climb a hill, when descending the hill or returning to a level road, the car would remain in 3rd gear. It would not upshift into overdrive again. There a lot of hills in Maine and Nova Scotia, so the result was that I did not use the cruise control :(

    Again, the dealer was unable to duplicate the cruise control problem. Has anyone experiences a similar issue with the cruise control?

    Also, the brakes started pulsating at 10,000 miles. Sometimes lightly but sometimes I would notice it more. The dealer seemed annoyed that I even mentioned it. Excuse me, but a new car with only 14,000 miles on it should not have pulsating brakes. In any case, he did resurface the rear discs, and it appears to have resolved the problem.

    Are there any other issues that I should be looking into, TSB's, etc. At the rate that I'm piling on miles, my warranty will only last 2 years.

    One further note; I decided to clean out my garage today and noticed a fresh oil spot/stain on the concrete. My house is only 3yrs. old and has not had any prior oil stains. I hope they didn't forget to tighten the oil drain plug! I'll have to have them check it when I bring it back for the transmission repair.

    BTW, despite the several 1st year issues with the car, I love it. Great car, nice interior (neutral UltraLux), looks sharp (sharp Red colour), and comfortable seats on my 16-hour trek to visit my folks in Nova Scotia. Great job, GM! Have a good day!
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Wow that was a long one ;)

    Yes we have had previous posts on cruise control 3-4 shifts

    PCM reflashes don't always (and most times don't) have TSBs associated with them. However your excellent observations readily points out to one software update that dealer should be able to find but here is a place you can go.

    Do a Google search for keywords "GM Calibration" go to that site and enter your VIN and then follow menus to find available progression of PCM calibration updates for your vehicle. You will see the one talking about shift stabilization and 3-4 shift - that is what your cruise control issue is.

    This site just doesn't reflect updates after your build, it reports everything associated with that configuration of vehicle so most of the software history shown is likely older than what is in your vehicle already.

    You might even want to print out page and give to them. Good luck
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    Your dealer is pathetic. I'd find a new one. There is no excuse why they cannot look this up and perform the PCM flash. Here you go:

    Bulletin 04-06-04-080 is the calibration for V6 engine. For further info, do a "text" search on 'maxx4me' and 'pcm'

    As for the tranny, my "anti-howl" retrofit took 2 days
  • gmaxxgmaxx Posts: 10
    I live in a small town where the dealer seldom has a Malibu, much less a MAXX, and the dealer where I bought the car seems to have a reasonably capable shop. My 2004 Malibu Maxx now has 31,000 miles on it, and has had numerous problems. Most of these have been taken care of by my dealer. However, the nuisance of having to make an appointment and drive 50 miles one way to get a problem checked, then to take it back and leave it for a repair, then to go back to pick it up is getting old.

    For the past several months, each front seat heater has been coming on at will from one to several times a week. My dealer says he has no knowledge of a problem of this type, and I have found no TSB number to match it. We are sure that we are not accidentally turning the heaters on. Has anyone had a similar problem, or seen a TSB? :confuse:
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I rest my case. The control module is unstable giving rise to all sorts of weird problems.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    :) I stand corrected about TSB, you are correct about that one.

    Unfortunately the TSB doesn't indicate all of the things the new calibration addresses (it talks only about improving idle when engine warm), one of the additional ones is the cruise control complaint for 3-4 shifts. So you might need to focus on complaint addressed by TSB.

    "Some customers may comment on a rough or unsteady idle when the vehicle is at full warmed to operating temperature."

    BTW that TSB came out Nov 9, 2004. So it is not exactly late breaking news.
  • I too had the seat heater problem several times along with other electrical issues. The dealer wasn't quite sure how to track that one. The car was bought back under the Ca Lemon Law :lemon: due to all of the problems we had in the first year. We also had an oil leak develop from the intake manifold gasket it was replaced and started leaking again several months later. There was also a problem after an oil change with the drain plug leaking. But we did buy an 05 Maxx because we love this car. So far we have had a couple of problems, rotors, and next week the dealer is replacing the headliner because a clip has broken and we have a rattle.
  • e2helper & Maxx4me: Thank you sooo much for this information. I really appreciate it :)

    Hopefully, my dealer won't be one of those dealers who get upset when the customer brings in TSB information :)

    Have a great day!
  • joe3891joe3891 Posts: 759
    >>Do a Google search for keywords "GM Calibration" go to that site and enter your VIN and then follow menus to find available progression of PCM calibration updates for your vehicle. You will see the one talking about shift stabilization and 3-4 shift - that is what your cruise control issue is.<<

    I did that once and came up with 2, dealer said $65 for each update even under warranty. :(
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Guess they aren't interested in repeat business :(
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    I've also experienced an issue with the cruise control. While driving to Nova Scotia from Connecticut this summer, I noticed that when the cruise control would downshift the transmission from 4th to 3rd gear to climb a hill, when descending the hill or returning to a level road, the car would remain in 3rd gear. It would not upshift into overdrive again. There a lot of hills in Maine and Nova Scotia, so the result was that I did not use the cruise control

    Again, the dealer was unable to duplicate the cruise control problem. Has anyone experiences a similar issue with the cruise control?

    Before I had the PCM update described here, it did that. BUT! It also did it without the cruise. MAKE SURE you check to see if it does it when you are controlling the throttle. If it doesn't do the same thing (you will know, you'll have to let way up on the throttle to get it to upshift) then I'm betting the PCM update won't solve your problem. I had an issue with an '03 Malibu that would not upshift into fourth for miles under special conditions with the cruise. Because of that and some other problems GM bought it back as a lemon.
  • Hi E2,

    I bought a 2005 Malibu LT about a month ago and see that you are able to look up the build date for new car owners. Can you check mine to see when the new addition to my family was born? :) The last six are 320022. Thx.

    Also, can anyone suggest the best way to fix a chipped spot in the paint. Took the car on a long road trip this weekend and it took it's first chip mark. :( Though after realizing I got 31.7 mpg going 71 mph (with intermittent A/C and some hills) I was very happy. I was able to drive almost 500 miles on one tank of gas! Much better than the 16 mpg I was getting on my old SUV. I can't believe I get this good of gas mileage with a V6. :) Great car so far.
  • For some reason, my instrumental panel and all the night lights that usually turn on at nightime on a chevy malibu inside the car, are not turning on. I checked the wires to see if I'm getting any power, but there is no power. And I think it has to do with the ALC, that must of broke or something. Please if anybody could help me with this problem I would appreciate it.
  • tom83tom83 Posts: 10
    Problem--when I apply the brakes, I hear a droning noise combined with some minor vibration. My 2005 Malibu LS has just over 12,000 miles on it. Has anyone else experienced this or heard of this?

    Problem 2--I typically ride by myself during the day. Over bumps, the front passenger seatback rattles and moves. It IS set in place, bolted down, etc. I think I have a seatback that is defective. Has anyone experienced this?

    Info--Does anyone know where I can purchase OEM mudflaps/mudguards and how much they cost?

    Info2--Which trailer hitch (type 2 with 1 1/4 hole) works best with the car and is somewhat invisible? Cost? Does anyone have any pictures of the hitch installed?

    Many thanks.
  • joe3891joe3891 Posts: 759
    To beat all, I bought it there. :mad:
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    #2. Maybe TSB 05-08-53-001 is applicable? Front Seat Rear Trim Panels Falling Off (Replace Original Retainer Clips with Revised Retainer Clips)
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Hmm, Do the headlights work, you didn't mention anything about them.

    If just the exterior parking lights and interior dimming are not working then I would check to see if fuse for your parking lamps is open.

    You didn't mention a model year so please post back that as well since parking lamp fuse/relay is in a different loction for 97-03 Malibu and the 04-05 Malibu
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Birthday looks to be 6/9/2005
  • 04bu04bu Posts: 16
    I too am thinking about adding a 1 1/4" receiver type hitch for a light utility trailer and bicycle carrier. I don't think it would be wise to try a carrier that rests on the trunk lid being the tin is so thin.

    If anyone has one I'd like to hear about your installation, tapping into the lights and how happy you are with it. Pictures would be great too.
  • >>Info--Does anyone know where I can purchase OEM mudflaps/mudguards and how much >>they cost?

    Hi Tom,

    Well, I bought my molded splash guards for my '04 Malibu from the parts department of my Chevy dealer. I ordered them while accepting delivery of my car. The dealer had to order them. Just be sure to specify the 2004 Malibu. I did, but they still managed to order the set for the '97 - '03 Malibu. I discovered this when I had the wheel off to install the splash guard. I did a test fit and they just didn't fit.

    I did a google search and found the site. There actually a little cheaper (not sure about shipping). I gave the dealer the part numbers from the site and he ordered the proper ones. They should be Part Numbers 12498916 and 12498917 for the custom molded Splash Guards. The description says a set of 4, but they are in fact 2 for the front and 2 for the rear.
  • I remember somebody posting a message about the oil capacity specs for the V6 and I4 engines in the Malibu manual being reversed. Has Chevy published a corrected specification?

    I had the oil changed at my dealer and it seems to have been overfilled. I need to show something to the dealer as he refuses to agree that the V6 engine requires only 4 qts. of oil while the 4-cyl requires 5.

    Can anybody clear this up and point me to an updated specification (if applicable)? Thanks in advance..
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Strange as it may seem, the 4cyl does indeed take more oil than the 6cyl. The 4cyl Ecotec takes 5 qts on my 2004 Malibu.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340

    Brakes: I am taking my Maxx in on Monday. Hopefully they will agree to finally replace my rotors. I have had the dealer turn them already (10,000 miles). Now at 17,800, they are making the "droning" noise when I apply the brakes over 60 mph, or when giong down a hill.

    Hitch: I put on the Reese Insta-Hitch Class II over a year ago. It did require some cutting by the installer to get it in. It has a Class II 1.25 inch square receiver hitch, and can haul/carry up to 3,500 lbs.

    sblfromns: as for oil, the 3.5 liter engine does seem to want to take less than the posted amount of oil (5 quarts). For a while, I was only puting in only 4.5. I have since gone back to 5. As one who does his own maintenance, I think the problem occurs when trying to drain either the pan or the filter first. Now that I have an extra long pan, I open both up and leave them open until all the oil is out. I get the feeling there is a pressure issue, and if you leave the filter on when the pan is draining, the oil won't all come out.
  • tom83tom83 Posts: 10
    This is Tom. Thanks for the reply. I was/am thinking that the rotors needed to be turned and will press the issue with the dealer. They said they could not hear anything but I think they need to have their hearing checked. The dealer is friendly and accomodating though. I may have to press them on replacing the rotors if that's the case but I don't know if it's the fronts or the back brakes or both.

    Any pictures of your hitch? Is it practically invisible? How much did it cost you?
    Thanks. Tom
  • tom83tom83 Posts: 10
    Thanks. The trim is fine but I'll have them check it. The problem is really the whole upright seat back wobbles or shakes going over rough pavement. It's definitely an irritant.
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