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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 156
    I also recently had trans/shades TSB fixes done on my 04 Maxx LS (2/25/04 build). Also took three days. Dealer does not have loaners or rentals but they arranged/paid for Enterprise Rental (05 Grans Am, yuck).


    On prior visit, they also turned front rotors to fix brake rumble problem and did front wheel alignment done to fix left lead/wander. I had to pay for alignment.


    Also had very positive experience with service dept., no run arounds, and no return visits. I gave them all the TSB info up front on all visits.


    Only minor problem is the paid alignment was done before trans work. I checked when trans work was being done to make sure they would do alignment again. SA said this was not included in TSB documentation and did not need to be done. I disagreed. When I picked up car, the steering wheel was off center. So I just left it and they redid alignment, no charge.


    Everything is just fine now and I expect to have no further problems.
  • jess33jess33 Posts: 13
    Is it necessary to redo alignment after the tranny fix? I don't believe they did one for me after the fix. I have not noticed an issue, what would I be looking for with the steering?

    As for the howl, if owners in this forum are questioning if they have it, if you have it, you absolutely know. It is an awful whining howl noise, nothing I've ever experienced in another car, just an FYI.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    Paul: I agree, the howl is very insignificant; my service manager (who maybe just wanted the work) at H.A.P. on Rt. 1 did not like the howl one bit. Despite him forgetting to order the parts, I really like this service manager; its the rest of the dealership that gives me the creeps. For me, I'm curious to see if there is any improvement to performance after the parts are put in. I still contend that there is an overdrive issue with my tranny. I'd be glad to take yours out for another spin. Name the lunch place and I'm there.
  • "Is it necessary to redo alignment after the tranny fix?"

    Often it is, whenever the engine/transaxle subframe is removed. Part of the front suspension attaches to that subframe and unless the assembly goes back into the car EXACTLY as it came out, the alignment will be affected. If the steering wheel is off center after the fix then either a 4-wheel alignment or steering recalibration would be called for. Maybe both.
  • What exactly does this "howl" sound like? At what RPM does it show up? My maxx was built very close to the date period that the bad trannies were built. So far I've heard nothing "unusual" but may not be listening for right thing.
  • Do you have an '05 model?. I am pretty sure the '04 models did not have heated seats. Please correct me if I am wrong as I would have loved to have them on my "04 LT.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Heated seats have always been standard on LT model for 2004 or 2005. For the 2005 for base and LS models a heated cloth seat option was introduced to make heat feature more widely available.


    You have a 2004 Malibu LT with the UltraLux seats, right? There should be a switch on outboard front corner of seat for heat function. Only the front seats are heated


    If you wouldn't mind can you post last 6 digits of your VIN?
  • jess33jess33 Posts: 13
    Thanks for the reply, I'll be watching to see if a steering issue evolves, so far, no problem. As for the howl, absolutely gone. It would typically happen going up hill, I guess 2nd gear? I never really looked at RPM's, but as I said not a sound that you strain to hear.
  • I am from an earlier posting. I went ahead and purchased the 2002 Chevrolet malibu LS. It only has 32000 miles on the odometer. So far it has been a fun car for me and no brake problems as of YET. So far everythings been running fine on it, COLD Air Conditioning HOT heat, temp of engine halfway mark etc... Only problem is now the radios got a massive problem. I called the Chevrolet division of Smith Stokes dealership. Its gonna cost me alone 40 dollars for them to take the radio out and evaluate it. Great another 40 along with the 8700 to just evaluate and figure out why its acting up. The front speaker in the passenger door has gone completely out, and the rear passenger side speaker just goes in and out when it wants to on occasion... Usually when its just warm it stays on, but in cold it goes in and out alteast 10 times in a 20 minute driving period. Wonder where this is going, usually one thing branches from another. I asked Smith Stokes how much a radio would cost for this Malibu... its ridiculous! 469.99 for one compliant with a alarm armed 2002 malibu with a 1 cd deck only IE no tape deck. Also I noticed on some stations that are suppose to have INFO they dont show it in this car. My co-workers 2002 Cavalier does show radio information for a station that we both listen to alot but mine wont. And some stations it will just show the name and then some show name and info of whats playing... Hopefully nothing is wrong... but Smith Stokes told me they would have to replace the radio more then likely because something electrical has gone bad in it... thats 500$ almost and that not including installation/labor. Can anyone help me, have only had the car since Monday and already going in a hole of falling apart and the car not even old enough to do that!!!


    Also does anyone else's malibu of this year have a very sensitive gas and brake pedal... I know mine is, barely touch and its flooring itself.
  • IE in earlier posting this line "Great another 40 along with the 8700 to just evaluate and figure out why its acting up." I paid 8700 for it got a discount cuz i financed and he got the money right up front.
  • Sure; my last 6 are 194045. Don't tell me I have been sitting here freezing in upstate NY without knowing I had heated seats!.
  • Lo and Behold- I had to run out and check for myself if indeed I had heated seats in my '04 LT. Sure enough, there was the switch on the outboard side of seat with two positions (high & low).Discussing it with my wife, maybe we knew in the "summer" time that we had the option, but it did'nt sink in. I think what threw me off "besides age" was the fact that I knew about and we used everyday the "remote start" feature which warmed up the car sufficiently until we controlled the auto HVAC.
  • To further stand on the bandwagon- think about all the "goodies" we have on this car for the price; 200 HP V-6,ABS,TC,Htd seats and O/S RV mirrors just to name the major ones. My previous car, a '97 cad. catera had all this but with a price tag of 34K-back in '97. Plus we get 30+ MPG and have elect. power strg to Boot-only in America!
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Well I am glad you found out it :) - they are nice to have.


    The heated seats in the Malibu require you to activate switch each ignition cycle that you want to use it. It is more energy efficient but requires you to remember to turn it on


    By the way the remote starter is not capable of turning on the heated seats but it does turn on rear defogger (if cold enough out). Also because you have the LT your Auto HVAC system will automatically go to a setting to optimize heating or cooling interior of your vehicle.


    Finally, with the LT the outside rear view mirrors in your vehicle are also of the heated variety and are activated whenever the rear defogger is on. Those also turn on with remote starter if cold enough out
  • jlwgmjlwgm Posts: 8
    Jason99999 - If you do indeed need a new stereo system, I would check some junkyards first to see how much they would charge for one.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Well I think that I've solved my suspension creaking noises on my base 04 Malibu. Today I jacked up the car and proceeded to spray all rubber bushes and rubber exhaust hangers with Pyroil silicon lubricant. I think the real culprits were the rear sway bar bushes however and gave them a liberal dose of silicon lubricant.


    Result is that all noises are gone. Many years ago before silicon lubricant in a can was available, we used to squirt brake fluid onto all rubber bushes to quiten them. If you use brake fluid however, just make sure you don't get it on your cars paint. Don't use anything else but silicon lubricant or brake fluid or you will damage the rubber.
  • Glad to hear Pyrol helped. It's also very good for lubricating weather stripping and other rubber parts (I apply it to a rag and wipe the strips down - that keeps it off the paint and avoids excess buildup).


    Another thing one can use to zap metal-metal and in some cases plastic creaks is CorrosionX from It has a mineral oil base and will slightly soften butyl rubber, but supposedly is safe on other stuff. It's primarly used by the USA Navy and Army to preserve metal (it will displace water and other stuff by its ionic creep). Works great on seat hinges, tracks, and other stuff.
  • wuvwuv Posts: 5
    I wrote message earlier about my malibu giving me fits. Well I got the car in Dec. had it in the shop for engine light two weeks after I got it. They said it came up with some odd reading and that nothing was wrong with my car. Erased the error messages. Two weeks later the light came back on and the remote start wouldn't work. The night before I was to take it back to be checked the light went off and the remote start was working again. They said that I could bring it in to be checked but it may not register anything. With weather being so bad and that being a 70 mile drive I didn't go. Then I noticed I was putting in alot of gas and not really going any further than a mile or two to the stores. So checked the info on screen about gas mileage and was only getting 16mpg. Took it to the shop today and they told me the fuel system was bad and they would have to replace the purge cylinode (spelling lol!!). Plus the brakes are popping when its damp out. They have treated me like I am stupid. Telling me I should read my manual which I have!! They keep trying to talk me into going some place different other than them, but that's where I'm leasing it thru. Wonder what will be next after reading all the problems other people are having.
  • haulthault Columbus OhioPosts: 128
    Any one know of a TSB for the 2004 Malibou Maxx engine to solve the rough idle ?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    e2helper, "Chevrolet Malibu Owners: Problems & Solutions" #619, 2 Nov 2004 8:54 am!keywords=allin%3Amsgtext%20p0340


    New calibration with diagnostic enhancements for DTC P0340. Also improvements for starting, idle quality, and shift stabilization affecting 3-4 upshift.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    again another complaint for an incompetent service dealer and one that is shirking their duites for customer satisfaction...Im still amazed......all vehicles will have noted in all the forums..but without a good dealership and better service department we all are lost...sounds like a ground swell GM needs to know about
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Sorry to hear about your continued problems, wuv.


    By the way the remote start is working as designed. Whenever the engine control system has a current fault that will turn on the Check Engine Light, your Remote Vehicle Start system will not be allowed to start the engine.
  • Ok will do but not hopeful I will find one. Also what do I do about the security code and such?! Lemme know
  • The malibu has only hit 32411 and now its making a whistleing noise. When we got it right at 32000 it wasn't making a peep you couldn't even tell it was running from the outside until the engine fan came on to cool it down. I noticed this whistling noise is not uncommon on other vehicles besides the 2002 Chevrolet Malibu. A dear friend of ours has a 2001 Toyota RAV4 and hers makes the same exact pitch whistle that my malibu is making at this point. Wonder what it is, now the engine whistling aside from a new came radio speaker problem?! Gee it don't rain it pours on my side of town! PLEASE HELP ME I think i done got myself in deep with this car!
  • Purchased '04 Maxx new a month ago. On 1/21 dealer svc manager wrote that alignment is "within specs". The left drift is only slight, but nonetheless, uncomfortable.

    Yesterday, took it to place advertising free alignment check: Tire Kingdom. A year ago took the Expy to same place and dealt a real tech who properly advised me to replace the Continental tires (it solved that problem 100%).

    Yesterday, the manager and 2 tire swappers hovered over the machine and setup and finally got a reading that said the Maxx is out of alignment, causing it to drift to the left. The machine's software reported that the caster is not adjustable on '04 Malibu, per GM. The team said they could adjust the toe only (The Hunter brand machine displayed indication of left front wheel toed out, and also needing a caster adjustment). I told them to proceed if they were sure this would help.

    After short test drive, I reported that whatever they did, was not a fix. They didn't charge me anything, plus I gathered from their huttles that the alignment tech was off yesterday.

    Now here's the scary part. When I hit I-59, the tires began to sing and the front suspension felt a little different (as in loose). Suffice to say that I'm not going to mention to my dealer that anyone has touched the vehicle.

    I am going to be firm with my dealer to do another check.

    At least one Maxx owner on this site has reported that an alignment solved his left pull problem, and that he paid for it. I'd like to know:

    Was that successful alignment done by the dealer?

    Is it true that there is no caster adjustment on the Maxx?

    Is it likely that another dealer would do an alignment check?

  • Alignment on the 2004 & 2005 Malibu should be left to the dealer. Your T/K people told you right that the caster isn't adjustable (and it isn't on most front-wheel drive cars, for good reason). However front camber is adjustable by shifting the strut, and rear toe and camber is adjustable with built-in cams. BUT, the software also had fine print that said this car may require special OEM tools. Other owners on this forum have mentioned the use of scan tools or such that help re-program the electric steering. This is probably out of the range of the typical tire shop for now.

    Go to the dealer before you wear out your tires!
  • Hi All!

    Haven't posted in a while because I finally surrendered my Maxx to my wife and took back my '02 Liberty. For the record, the Maxx was purchased in January '04 and has a December'03 build date on the door label. I drove the Maxx again a couple of weeks ago to take my wife to a doctor's appointment and on the way back I got the chime and warning light for a power steering failure. Having read earlier posts, I did what everyone else has done, turned the car off and restarted it. That lasted for about a mile when it failed again. Another restart got me the rest of the way home without a problem. I left the Maxx parked in front of my home, and left NY on 1/21 for 9 days in Cancun (not bad... left the day before the blizzard!) I got home, and on 1/31 drove my wife to yet another doctor about 25 miles from home. On the way back, on a parkway, the steering failed again. Needless to say, I took the car into the dealer this morning. To my amazement and pleasure, without an appointment, the dealer took the Maxx in, replaced the steering column and had it back to me a few hours later in perfect condition. No stress, no problems! This has restored my faith in my Maxx and in my dealer, Dobler Chevy in Hempstead, NY!
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 156
    I was owner that paid (the dealer) for 4W alignment to resolve slight left lead/wander. I believe the toe setting was off. Only reason I had to pay was because I waited too long to complain (6mo./10K), and alignments are considered a normal maintenance item, not covered by warranty. Had I complained at first visit, it would have been covered.
  • tim10tim10 Posts: 15
    A new TSB to address the door freezing problem was released on 1/27 for Equinox and the New Style 04-05 Malibu/Malibu Max. Hopefully e2helper can post the TSB# because I didn't see it at the dealer long enough to write it down.


    It was listed as an "urgent upgrade notice" telling the dealership they're required to add the super lubricant to the door handles by march 31st on instock units. It said that GM started applying the lubricant at the factory on 1/07, so any car received by a dealer 1/28 or later will not be affected.
  • I commented about the dealer's initial dismissal of the pull-left problem on the survey form. It gets sent to (if I remember correctly) GA. I'm sure it then gets sent to the dealer.

    Plan to drop off Maxx at the dealer ASAP for a 2nd try. Two "We Owe" items they "fixed" were below expectations: "Malibu" bezel replaced in center dash is not lined up well, and removal of rust from passenger rear seat-back hinge was 50%. Svc department was closed when I picked it up last time, plus it was dark, so I was not able to let them know my level of (dis)satisfaction. This dealership is transitioning to new ownership so present level of quality workmanship may not be getting any one's attention at present.
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