Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • maxxlibertymaxxliberty Member Posts: 82
    Regarding "+/-" button shift mode: It would be much more convenient if it were possible to shift from 4th gear to 3rd, also with the side button, rather than having to move the console shifter.
    Since all shifts are apparently done electrically, it should be possible to shift from 4th to 3rd with the button or a switch.

    I'll be looking into installing a switch to do this when I get a service manual with the wiring diagram.

    Any downside to this idea "e2helper"?
  • mr_botsmr_bots Member Posts: 236
    On number 2, the A/C is designed to run when the blower is set on the defrost only mode. Most cars since the early 90s have done this and is helpful in defrosting the windshield because the A/C removes moisture from the air. While this limits the air from getting as warm as it could, its much more effective in defrosting the windows.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    Matt, Glen, e2helper: great posts; thanks for the info. I'm happy to know the +/- and a/c defrost on heat is normal. I had little doubt about the latter issue, and agree that a/c is MUCH more efficient at removing moisture. I just wasn't sure how it would affect removing snow and ice in the winter.
    While I have no great need to use the +/- button and was simply testing the performance, I do find shifting down to 3rd handy on some of my hills, and do miss my overdrive off button rather than the Malibu's inline shift to 3rd on the column.
  • sadiedogsadiedog Member Posts: 1
    I've been test driving the Malibu Maxx to see because I am considering purchasing the car. I have test driven 4 different cars from different dealers. Reasons for this was rumble when the brakes are applied. Right out of the lot going 40 MPH and stepping on the brakes at medium pressure the pedal and the car rumbled considerably. I had the sales person sitting next to me they noticed it as well. It seemed to get better as I drove but never went away. We then went on the freeway going 65 MPH and hit the brakes again. ONce again pronounced rumble. This is almost like the rotors were warped or all the load went to the front brakes. Anyone have similar experiences? Any current owners having symptoms like this? I drove Impalas, Camerys, Accords and Town and Country Mini vans and the brakes were smooth as silk when applied. I can't believe others aren't seeing this problem...

    Please respond.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    you haven't been reading our posts......many of us have commented on the pulsating noise coming from the brakes. I have only 2k miles on mine. The noise was there from the beginning with just a light brake applied. While is sounds like rotors, no one has commented on any pedal feel or vibration; simply the noise. I will bring it in only if it gets worse. For now, I don't see any performance problem as a result of this minor noise.
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    I've only noticed a slight rumble that goes away when I start driving on a foggy day. I think the brake shoes are hygroscopic. Or it could be a thin layer of rust on the rotors. Other than that my brakes are silky smooth at all speeds.
  • paopao Member Posts: 1,867
    not sure I want my car jinxed as I dont suffer any of these problems, or at least that I have noticed!!!...and mine was built in Feb! are you doing a manual shift from 1-3rd? are you referring to the L1-3 +\- feature? will be interested in the comparison to your vehicle....see ya Tues!
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    Actually shifts are not completely done electrically. There is still is shifter cable running to the transmission from your shifter. In order for the "+/-" switch to work the transmission requires the shifter to be mechanically in the "L" position. As I mentioned in earlier post you do lose some perceived shift quality when you operate vehicle out of the "D" shifter position (although I can't provide the technical reasons behind that).
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    that's OK e2helper. In this case, it is enough for me to know that it is normal to have the clunkiness when using the manual shift mode. While the expaination would be interesting, I just wanted to be reassured that everyone experienced it, and that there was nothing wrong with my car. Thanks again.
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Member Posts: 159
    I bought my Maxx LS in May and did not notice this brake problem initially. I was away for a week and left the car home. When I returned, the brakes were very grabby and noisy for several days, I think because of the rust that built up on the rotors when the car was not used.

    Around the same time I started to notice the rumbling sound when stopping to pay toll from 65mph. There was no shaking, vibrating, pedal pulsing or pulling, just the noise. My car was built in Feb 04 and now has 4K miles. This is the only real problem I have noticed with the car (other than the rear shades). I have not experienced any of the other problems people have been talking about on this forum.

    There was a recall for unwanted ABS activation due to an erratic wheel speed sensor and the dealer re-programmed the brake module. After that the rumbling is less noticeable, but it is still there. I still think there is something wrong and will have dealer check it out when I have my next service.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    thanks sgr5516; please keep us informed on what is done to the brakes at that time.
  • oldntired1950oldntired1950 Member Posts: 151
    I think that this is just one more example of poor quality rotors from Chevy. I've got about 8K miles on my Maxx and have had the brake rumble intermittently, especially when slowing down the car coming down the mountains upstate. If it continues I'll probably have my mechanic (not the dealer) replace the rotors with a good quality aftermarket to solve this.
  • scrapshellscrapshell Member Posts: 1
    Found out today that the alternator in my '99 Malibu needs to be replaced. Does anyone have a rough estimate of how much this would cost to have done? Also, is it something my husband could do himself if we just bought a new one? (he's not super mechanically inclined, but can follow directions fairly well if it's something relatively simple)
  • thinmanthinman Member Posts: 18
    Many years ago after I had a brake job done the mechanic (who also crewed on a race team) told me that new disc brakes needed to be "bedded in". Drive normally for the first 200 miles but go easy on the brakes. Then find someplace where you can get up to 60 and do some full application brake stops. It helps if you know how to threshold brake.

    We bought our Maxx in March and I noticed a rumbling sound coming from the front brakes and a grinding feeling through the pedal. This occurred mainly around town. After driving at highway speeds it seemed to quiet down quite a bit, but after sitting all night it was back again. After about 400 miles I "bedded in" the brakes and the noice and feel went away and hasn't been back since.

    One thing I have noticed though is that we seem to get an abnormal amount of brake dust on the front wheels. The car has 5K on it now. Makes me wonder about the longevity of the brake pads.
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    That's strange about your observation concerning brake dust. My 04 Malibu seems to give me the least brake dust I've ever had on a car.
  • bonnie0372bonnie0372 Member Posts: 26
    Well I contacted the CHEVY ASSISTANCE CENTER and they totally agree with the dealer that there is nothing wrong with my car and therefore I have to live with the ROUGH IDLE. Where do I go from here? HELP!!!! I am a very dissatisfied CHEVY MALIBU OWNER at the moment!!!!
  • paopao Member Posts: 1,867

    can you define a rough you have a variance of several hundred RPM, does the car shake at idle...know you are not happy with the car..might want to look at lemon laws as they apply to your state.....but if the dealer can diagnose a cause or get a code to come up...dont know what course they have either..

    other board members...what ya think?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    bonnie: there's no denying that the shake is there, especially when the a/c is off. I do feel the skake, just barely, when the a/c is on; I therefore think it is an engine manufacturing issue, rather than a mere RPM adjustment issue. The worst time for me was a one time occation: when I started the car up cold in the morning, the car literally shook to start (as if there was moisture in the starter coil, distributor, or cracked wires). I have not had a repeat since. Still, I think that this light shake to the engine is responsible for the car having intermittant acceleration hickups from a stopped position. I'm infering that your shake is the same as mine. Unfortunately, until a code comes up, I doubt there is any other recourse.
  • bonnie0372bonnie0372 Member Posts: 26
    The rough idle is at COMPLETE STOPS or when the car is put into PARK. It almost feels like the car is about to STALL. But because NO CODES are coming up the Dealer is telling me there is nothing wrong with the car. Could the computer in the car be wrong??? (Bad) husband is a mechanic and knows that this car is not running like it should be. And because of the warranty he will not touch it to try to find out what is wrong... I dont know what else to do. Thanks for any suggestions. I LOVE THIS FORUM!!!
  • paopao Member Posts: 1,867
    Bonnie...did the service department at the dealership not notice the idle if it is this bad at stops and in park..surely they did more that just hook it the computer....if there is a rough idle that seems to about stall the car....this surely must be noticeable...

    I would still use the assistance center..they assigned a case number and a person to deal with them..leave a voicemail....keep telling them you arent a happy camper....and do the same with your salesman and the service feel the car isnt right and you arent a satisfied customer now......perhaps e2helper is frequents the forum can also provide some insight as well
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    I am going to pass your thread to others and see if any feedback. Bonnie - you have a V6, correct? I figure you do since you mentioned sunroof.
  • bonnie0372bonnie0372 Member Posts: 26
    Thank you. Yes it is a V6.
  • bonnie0372bonnie0372 Member Posts: 26
    Yes they noticed it...but according to the Service Manager..the car is fine.(no codes nothing)..he keeps saying he knows someone with a Malibu and his runs like that too.....well I have a friend that brought a Malibu a week or two before me and hers does not run like mine! So what is wrong with this picture. the assistance center so much but told me to leave them alone about this...and they will not longer be accepting emails from me about this. here is the incerpt from the email that I got from the CAC.

    "We have reviewed your original request, and support the decision that has been previously stated to you. We apologize that this decision was not in accordance with your wishes.

    This is the final decision of General Motors and we will no longer address additional e-mail on this subject. Please feel free to contact us again with any other concerns you have."

    SO THERE YOU me...they are just going by what the dealer said. I dont know where to turn next. Because like I said according to the Dealer the car runs "fine".....ugh!! I am getting so frustrated with this. I should have just kept my old Malibu. (1998) but of course I loved the new ones and was dieing to have one...I just didnt intend on having these problems. Thank everyone for all thier responses. Again, I love this forum. To me it is someplace where I can vent....Haha! Thanks again to everyone!
  • gla4601gla4601 Member Posts: 40
    Kind of new here but been following the posts here for a couple of months. Went to start my 2004 Malibu (base 4cyl 2K miles)yesterday. Turned the key and nothing happened - starter did not turn over at all - not even a click. Released the key and tried again - this time it turned over but would not start. Released the key and tried again a few times - same thing. Sweating now and panic coming on. Finally I turned the key to off, waited a few seconds and tried again, This time it started right up like normal. Seems fine since then but I'll never be able to trust it again. Starting to think I should have listened to everybody and bought a [non-permissible content removed] car. Wondering if this has happened to anyone else here. Maybe just a temporary computer glitch I hope.

  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    thanks from me too E2helper. the shake is definitely there on the V6 engine. I'm hoping there is a vacuum solution to the whole thing. Most owners don't notice it since it is minor, or don't care to notice it; but at a stop with the a/c off, you notice it. I am now registerd on mygmlink, so if you think I (and everyone else) should send a note regarding this issue, I'm willing to do so.
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    I also have the base 4cyl. Malibu and the same thing has happened to me on several occasions. Don't panic though! I've found that if you take the key out of the ignition, use the keyfob and, while in the drivers seat, lock the doors and then unlock them again. Try starting the car. It should now start. This has worked every time. I can only conclude that there is a glitch in the security system.

    I will take my car to the dealer and inform them about the problem.
  • maxxlibertymaxxliberty Member Posts: 82
    >Where do I go from here?

    Good question. Arbitration is an option. Time-consuming and run by the BBB (page 7-2, owners' manual). You may get satisfaction, but the BBB is biased for business - naturally.

    According to this forum, and my experience, there seems to be a major and continuing problem with Chevrolet and its dealers. Every defect I've brought to the dealer's attention has been denied to exist or they are incapable of fixing it. The last was the incorrect fuel gauge reading. According to the dealer the defect doesn't exist - end of conversation. "Check Gas Cap" continuing to display, dealer response - no problem - end of conversation.

    Has anyone gotten anything repaired satisfactorily, under warranty, on their 2004 Maxx? What?
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    Another few questions if you are willing to answer.
    Do you know when your vehicle was built?

    Was it before early May?

    For the times that your vehicle was at dealer do any of the repair orders state they reprogrammed the powertrain control module?

    The lastest calibration for your vehicle looks to have made some improvements in idle quality among other stuff.
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    did you notice if the security telltale was illuminated or flashing during the no crank event? That is that amber car symbol with a lock
  • gla4601gla4601 Member Posts: 40
    Maybe both of you are on to something about the security system but really it does not make sense. My car does not have the security system - just the pass key. I could be wrong but I would think the pass key would either prevent the engine from cranking OR from running but not both. More likely it would prevent the engine from running as it would be easy for a thief to jumper the starter from under the hood. I had a no crank situation the first time i turned the key and then on subsequent tries it would crank but not fire up. Only when I turned it completely off and re-tried did it start fine. If it happens again I will pay attention to the dash telltale. Since then the car has been fine. Other than this the only other problem I notice with the car is a thumping sound from the rear brakes at higher speeds. No pulsing, shuddering or vibration - just a subtle thumping sound.

    E2helper - have you had this no start situation occur as well?
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    No, sorry, I really wish I did so I could experience it myself. I believe that the vehicle anti-theft system had capablity to both disable starter relay and fuel control.

    I only mentioned theft telltale because of an ealier post. At this time I really don't have any suggestions or want to rule anything out. Just suggest if it happens again that you try to describing other things like telltales in instrument panel (when the ignition is ON).

    Regarding brakes, I am not very knowledgable, and will ask around
  • btrflybtrfly Member Posts: 21
    I almost bought a 2004 malibu till I noticed how u really can't see the turn signals if you are along side the car? I am concerned about the safety when changing lanes.
      Also, is there any long term problems of having the lights get moisture inside of them?
  • malibubumalibubu Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2004 chevy malibu!It has been in 6 times for the power steering, 3 times for the brakes,once for fuel cap is off(it had a leak in the fuel tank),once for the temp gague stopped working for 2 days(couldn't find anything worng with it) and a few other things.I contacted the BBB and then chevy contacted me and offered me a extented warrenty which i turned down.Chevy didn't see how giving me a new car or my money back would fix my problem!You take these cars in and they have no idea what there doing with them , the malibu is to new, well that's what i think!I have to go to arbitrtion now!
  • malibubumalibubu Member Posts: 2
    Yes my malibu does the same thing it drifts and the steering doesn't feel right either.It's been in 6 times for steering . They have tried everything(recalibated,two new steering collums,new sensors,reprogramed and aligned twice!I now went throught the BBB!
  • tfbrtfbr Member Posts: 4
    For Bonnie and others where the problems are unresolved because they are considered too minor to justify a manufacturer's buy-back, I'd be interested in where arbitration leads, if you decide to go this route.

    Playing the devil's advocate, I can understand a manufacture's high threshold before buying back a vehicle -- to do this for minor issues the administrative paperwork and logistics alone would would be a killer, let alone the direct financial hit on the vehicle itself. Granted this may not be your concern, and you may not consider your issues minor -- you only want a car that meets your expectations, but understand the dilemma a manufacturer faces.

    On the other hand, I am not a manufacture's advocate. On 3 of the my last 5 vehicles (2 Ford Windstars and a Toyota Corrola -- the latter known for reliability) I encountered systemic issues. On the Windstar (first model year) the engine started running hot, I believe after about 30K, even over heating and requiring towing a couple of times, one time leaving me stranded! Three dealers, including one that specialized in heavy engine work, couldn't locate anything definitive, they just flushed the system and sent me home. I had the thermostat replaced but I doubted this was culprit. I was advised that since the temp gauge was within the "normal" range the vehicle was operating as designed.

    Unfortunately the problem could not be readily reproduced. To make a long story longer, it turned out to be major engine problem requiring resurfacing the head and replacing the head gasket (normally a $2000+ repair) but this wasn't apparent to the manufacturer for several months after I encountered the issue. Needless to say, when I eventually got a recall notice I felt relieved and vindicated... the problem wasn't just me, despite the experts.

    I was given an extended warranty, and the mini-van served me very well for 8 years.... in fact I even bought another one used that I knew had the same issue because I was confidant the issue was resolved. Yes, I would've preferred a manufacture trade out, and even compensation me for the many hours of consternation and disruption to my schedule, but I realize they have limits to what they can do to stay in business when dealing with thousands of customers, and the extended warranty (which I never had to use) was welcome and understandable.

    I encountered another issue with a new Toyota that is closer to the rough idle complaint that was never completely resolved to my satisfaction (I'm going long so I'll spare the the details), but my point is that with all three vehicles I was ultimately served very well, despite the considerable frustration and imperfections. I'm also a former Honda Accord and Civic owner (multiple years and models). I'm not an automotive expert but until my family time commitments grew I did almost all mechanical non-warranty repairs. As I stated in a previous post, take the course of action you feel appropriate for your needs, be persistent, and document everything. Yes it is hard to be patient -- I can't tell you lost peace of mind I suffered with all the makes and models I mentioned, including "reliable" foreign makes.

    I'm certainly not excusing ineptitude, which may be at issue in some of the complaints I'm seeing, but I've grown to realize no make/model is perfect, even though this sounds cliche and may not be of much comfort.

    I also know from first hand experience that forums of this type tend to elicit more negative than positive feedback from the owner base as a whole. Obviously this particular discussion is explicitly intended for problems, but message boards often tend elicit more negative feedback than positive because people who are not having problems tend not to seek out resources like this. In the software marketplace I serve in I managed a dial up bulliten board for years, and I compared actual surveys (followed up with personal contact) with online comments. While the vast majority of users were satisfied to very satisfied, a superficial pulse of the online forum could easily indicate otherwise.

    Why am I saying all of this? I don't recall the actual ship numbers of this vehicle, but I'm confidant if problems like those posted here were endemic, there would be a significantly greater number of negative posts, and as it stands this is not the case.

    This forum is easy to find using Google, and manufactures and vendors all live in glass houses these days. They can no longer hide behind problems and stay in business for long.

    As I understand it this vehicle only began shipping late last Fall, and overall the first year issues and owner feedback are very positive. Again, perhaps of little consolation if you are having difficulties, but it might help to put your problem(s) in perspective. I believe the car itself and the ongoing feedback in this forum are good reasons to remain optimistic!

    I hope my feedback provides helpful perspective and is not seen as just a vain exercise to validate my own buying experience, which has been very positive. You'll probably not see long posts, if any, from me for some time, unless I have a serious problem. I just had a bit more time given the holiday weekend and I wanted to give something back to all of you for the invaluable help you've provided to me.
  • maxxlibertymaxxliberty Member Posts: 82
    >but I'm confidant if problems like those posted here were endemic, there would be a significantly greater number of negative posts...<

    Can't agree. When individuals are experiencing and relating the presence of exactly the same defects, those problems ARE "endemic". Consumer Reports and J.D. Power surveys clearly define which auto companies produce superior products - the various companies' quality is not the same.

    What is agreed is that perfection is not an option. The issue is the inability of Chevrolet/dealers to correct the deficiencies or even acknowledge their existence.

    It seems it would be a simple exercise for Chevrolet to monitor forums like this one, learn the problems, have engineering resolve the difficulties, and e-mail the information to the dealers. If nothing else, advise customers that "we're working on it". Instead, it's a constant runaround.

    American auto manufacturers (only two remaining) have been losing market share and may eventually be bought as Chrysler has been. It is solely through lack of quality in their products. The marketplace is the arbiter, and GM is not satisfying customers sufficiently, to, over the longterm, remain in the automobile business. Change is possible, and the owners on this forum would gladly forgive and forget, if GM would "do the right thing" and successfully correct the problems experienced.
  • btrflybtrfly Member Posts: 21
    I was just going 2 go buy a 2004 Malibu base sedan (NOT the MAXX) however after reading all these posts- I'm a bit scared! Is there THAT MUCH TROUBLE with the 2004's non maxx's??
  • maxxlibertymaxxliberty Member Posts: 82
    So far, except for the steering problems, most items have not been major - such as: incorrect fuel gauge reading, "Check Gas Cap" message constantly appearing along with annoying audio warning, brake rumble, intermittently inoperative temperature gauge, and idle quality.

    Long term, who knows? And more importantly, the current problems are not getting addressed/repaired.

    It's all about cost. If I were just interested in a sedan and not the Maxx I'd probably look elsewhere - if "elsewhere" is affordable.

    The Mazda 3 would be on my list - although it has less room than the Malibu, and also is a new model. Camry and Accord are no brainers but more expensive.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    right! If I had the money, I'd be driving an Avalon or a Lexus. But it is versatility and price which floats my boat, and the Maxx (so far) scores big on both accounts.
  • mr_botsmr_bots Member Posts: 236
    I have a Malibu Sedan LS and am confident that it'll serve me well for many years. Most of the cars I've had in the past have had a defect or two after I first got them. But after getting these defects fixed these vehicles have served me problem free for several years and 100-150k miles. Overall all cars are pretty reliable, and the defects that are encountered within the first year don't reflect overall reliability. But note that lemons do pop up every now in then for every make/model.
  • btrflybtrfly Member Posts: 21
    Thanks Maxx:) I'm especially concerned becuz it's such a great price=$12K!!?? BUt than it's just a base model. They are offering 2- a white and black so I"m undecided there. Both run about the same however the white one's driver door required closing 2x's and they say it's cuz of the "vacuum". I'm just NOT happy with the sales people at this dealer as they wont' let me take it for the 24 hr test drive...
      Is the low price a sign or just them wanting to get rid of these base models??
     PS I really appreciate all this input and think this and are another major perk of a web!
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    yeah, they simply need to get rid of these "old" models in preparation for the '05s rolling in. Don't just look at the price; will the car meet your needs? I know for me, the malibu sedan would do nothing for my lifestyle. I wouldn't buy one no matter how low the price was. I need a hatch/wagon, and I DEMAND seating for 4 adults. I think the legroom in the back of the malibu sedan is useless, like 90% of the sedans on the market.
  • bonnie0372bonnie0372 Member Posts: 26
    No I do not know when my vehicle was there someplace where I can find that out...I know it is on the car someplace probably! And no none of the work orders from the dealer say anything about reprogramming the powertrain control module...what would this mean?
    And where can I find out about the latest calibration for my vehicle?
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    Sorry Bonnie,

    I should have been a little more help...

    Look at the last 6 digits of the VIN on your vehicle (the stuff after "F")
    Is is greater than this number?

    If it is NOT then there is a later calibration available for your vehicle that the dealer should likely try out.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    sorry e2helper, but are we still talking about the idle issue? My VIN is lower than that number you posted. What should I have done to my car, and for what symptom? Thanks as always.
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    I knew you were going to notice - can't slip anything by you, "H" (LOL)

    Go to this site with your VIN

    Since it isn't a protected site behind a GM firewall I figure you might have found it yourself anyways. Probably some requirement that companies make this available to public. Make sure pop-up control turned off for this site with lastest IE or you won't see a response.

    For this specific calibration update I mentioned is the following comments:

    New calibration with diagnostic enhancements for DTC P0340. Also improvements for starting, idle quality, and shift stabilization affecting 3-4 upshift.

    Really this is the only information I have
  • maxxlibertymaxxliberty Member Posts: 82

    Any idea about this calibration update mentioned on the GM site regarding setting P0455?

    "12589770 12589771 New calibration to reduce the potential for setting P0455."

    Is it for the "Check Gas Cap" alert?
  • bonnie0372bonnie0372 Member Posts: 26
    Yes it is less than that!! What do I do now?
  • bonnie0372bonnie0372 Member Posts: 26
    I will try that website also!!! Thanks. I will keep you posted!!!! Thanks again for all your help.
  • e2helpere2helper Member Posts: 1,002
    Maxxliberty, yes the P0455 diagnostic code is the same thing that sets the Check Gas Cap Warning. Keep in mind this site is showing a complete history of calibrations from beginning of model year and that your vehicle (depending on build date) might already be at the lastest shown.

    Bonnie, in regards to your vehicle all I can say is that there is an updated PCM calibration available for your vehicle. I am not going to say that it will address your concerns but it certainly is something that dealer could try.

    I would suggest either contacting the dealership or the GM customer care contacts you already have and tell them you have learned there is a new PCM calibration available for your vehicle that MIGHT address your idle concern. It is always possible they already updated your vehicle with the calibration and just didn't tell you.
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