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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Many thanks for responding. I'll begin with the no-start condition first. I'll also try and make it as simple as possible.

    Unlock car with fob. Insert key into ignition lock and turn key to crank engine. Engine cranks but does not start. Release key after 5 seconds or so and engine stops cranking. With a normal start the computer takes over and cranks the engine even though you release the key. I try cranking the engine again but it does not start. On occasion the engine barely turns over. Sometimes it sounds like a flat battery. The no-start condition happens more often after a short drive when I might take a trip to the store and then back home again.

    Now I take the key out of the ignition lock and while sitting in the drivers seat, use the fob and press the door lock button. Then I unlock the doors using the fob, insert the ignition key back into the ignition lock and crank the engine. The engine spins up and starts. I've tried just removing the key from the ignition lock and inserting it again but that does not help. I have to lock and unlock the car.
  • Wrt rear window buffeting, I remember having it in my 1983 Camry hatchback (only workaround was to open front windows which helped a bit).

    Wrt power steering glitches, sorry to say my steering columm failed last week, right at 10000 miles. Service center verified pulsing during turns and declared car undriveable (provided free rental and is in process of replacing columm).

    wrt cruise controls' continual hunting between third and fourth on hills, the service center has experienced the same on many Malibus and sadly there is no fix.

    Have also noticed parcel shelf is getting squeaky over bumps - temporary cure was to put in lower position where shock towers squeeze it harder and keep it from shifting. And, sadly, some rattles are showing up in the dash.

    Still good car, but durability is a concern.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Very well described.

    I have to think about this. You have me stumped right now.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Sorry about another post. Couldn't edit my last one in time:

    You have a V6 engine, correct?

    How often does this happen?

    When you have the crank no start condition if you leave the key in ignition with the ignition ON is the Theft Deterent Telltale in instrument cluster illuminated?

    Probably I am going back to your original post topic with that last question.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I have the 4cyl. Ecotec engine. It does not happen often. About 7 times in 7 months. I've checked on the telltales and the Theft Deterrent goes off once I unlock the car with the fob. However, when I crank the engine all telltales come on including the Theft Deterrent and all go off again once the engine is running. In the no-start condition as I can recall, all telltales are on including the Theft Deterrent. It's all a bit confusing but I hope you can see what I mean.

    Anyway, thanks a lot.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Thanks. The telltales will go on for a bulb test normally. The Theft telltale is likely going on and off due to you operating the fob with ignition off (it is indicating the state of content theft system).

    If it does happen again in near future please leave the ignition ON for a short amount of time after the failed start and observe what telltales might be staying on (FYI - the Check Engine Light SHOULD be on when the engine is not running) and if the odometer is reading correct mileage.

    I am especially interested if the Theft Telltale is on or off under these conditions and if you have correct odometer display. The odometer function isn't critical for starting of course but if it is displaying something other than the mileage that would be interesting.

    Have you ever had Check Engine Light stay on when engine is running?

  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    No, I've never had the check engine light come on while running. Other than no-start problems on rare occasions the car runs very well. I'm getting 38mpg on the freeway. The engine performs well and has surprising low end torque for its size. The transmission is also very responsive and helps to give the car good performance.

    It's just the now and again no-start situation that is spoiling a perfect performance.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002

    When you shut off the ignition and get ready to leave the vehicle do you see any immediate activation of the theft deterrent telltale in cluster before you try to lock the doors?

    Just curious.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I don't see any activation until I press the lock on the keyfob. Then the Theft Deterrent telltale comes on steady for approx. 30 seconds and then starts to flash at approx. once every 5 seconds.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    You should be good to go now. The wider chain and sprockets eliminate the harmonic vibration inherent in the original chain drive. Glad to hear you got it corrected.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    All: this has happened 3 times to me now, so I wanted to see if you all have experience it:
    driver's continue to flash their high beams at me at night, presumably because they think my high beams are on. When I demonstrate to them that they are not, they turn their lights down to normal. Has anyone else had drivers flash their lights? I do think the Maxx/Bu's lights are superior; perhaps other driver's are jealous???
  • I have an 04 LT and always have the fog lamps on at night, and I never get flashed by other drivers. However, a friend of mine has an 04 LS w/o the fog lamps, and she gets flashed all the time. Perhaps most drivers see the fog lamps on, and know that my high beams aren't on. I doubt that they're too bright, but maybe it's the way that they're aimed. Regardless, I'm very happy with the intensity and distance of my car's headlights.
  • While Maxx is in shop getting P.steering fixed, am driving a Chevy Trailblazer.
    While not build quality equal of the Maxx, its cruise control really works. Driving hills, the cruise will put transmission in "porportional mode" (slip torque converter between 4th and 3rd gear) to let the car handle hills smoothly.

    The MAXX cruise control just bangs back and forth between 4th and 3rd - very annoying. The service manager handling my car also drives a Maxx and has reported the same cruise control glitch.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I'm driving the 4cyl. 04 Malibu and am satisfied with the performance of the cruise control. It was a pleasure to use on a long trip. It only shifted down when needed and negotiated some pretty steep hills without complaint. This engine transmission combination is pretty potent.
  • e2helper, Have not had a "Air Bag Light" come on in a couple of days. Was just wondering if "Bump Starting" the ignition had caused this problem. Someone had suggested letting the computer start the car by just turning the ignition on slightly. Never knew this and I was doing this even after the dealership said they fixed the problem by changing the BCM. If you rememnber I said I was getting the "Light On" twice after the fix but then it has straightened out. I had reverted back to a full turning of the key when starting and no problem. Any thoughts as if there could be a problem by bumping the ignition?
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I think it was me that posted about Bump Starts.

    No I am very sure this will not cause any problems

    I do bump starts it ALL the time. In fact when I get into a vehicle that doesn't allow it I am annoyed I have to hold the ignition switch in the crank position. :)

    Keep us posted on vehicle. I bet it (Air Bag light) comes back again.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Any potential you have a lot of stuff in the rear of vehicle? That would throw off the balance of vehicle and make lights shine too high.

    In Europe they are so concerned with this they require headlamp leveling systems.
  • I recently posted that I got the "check gas cap message" in my v6 sedan. When I got out and checked the cap it was not on properly. I got back in and hit the info buttton and reset the message. I then was getting it every time I turned on the car. I took the car into the dealer on Friday and they pulled the codes and said that it did show a loose gas cap message, but that once they reset it it did not re-appear. They said it kept showing up because I did not actually reset the computer - I just hit the button which acknowledges it until the next ignition cycle.

    Is there a way of resetting the codes or this message without taking it to the dealer? If this happens again I don't want to have to take it all the way in just to have them reset it.

  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002

    I saw somewhere else where you said you bought your Maxx in February. If that is the case there is a potential that there is a new calibration for your powertrain controller that might help out on your 3-4 shift concern. It came out in early May 2005 and here is description of what it changed:

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

    Sounds like last item might address your concern
  • paopao Posts: 1,867

    I know this was addressed before but couldnt find the has been mentioned here..there are several new calibration updates...why wouldnt a dealer note the production date of the vehicle and cross reference the lastest calibration enhancements and automatically reprogram the car....instead of an informed consumer having to ask about it and requesting it be done?
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002

    I am not sure how many days elapsed between you finding your gas cap loose and when you took the vehicle back to the dealer. However once you "fixed" the vehicle by tightening the gas cap I believe the Check Gas Cap message would display on subsequent ignition cycles until the test ran again and passed successfully (it MIGHT actually have to do this 3 time - I am checking on this). This requires the engine to be started after cooling down and you to have fuel tank within a certain range (not full or empty).

    So this message would have gone away on its own assuming you found the cause of the problem, which in your case sounds like you did. It just didn't have enough time to clear out on its own.

    I am checking on this 1 time vs. 3 time thing.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    You know, pao, I do not have a good answer for this but will forward your question to some more knowledgable people who are in that area for comments and post back a reply. Perhaps there is something that engineering is not doing in this area to aid service technician - like publishing some type of bulletin when new calibrations like this come out - it doesn't happen THAT often.

    Thanks for the question
  • paopao Posts: 1,867

    once again would like to compliment you on your assistance and help here from the manufacturer side.. I believe I noted you had been involved in this project since its nice to are still in it to see a good product is provided to us...I for one am extremely pleased with my maxx...02/05 build...but the steering column issue is a concern....yet as of now not noted as an problem with my car
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Thanks pao,

    You have a good memory. I have been involved with this product for quite some time (you would not believe how long, LOL) and hope to stay with it.

    So far I have found this forum to be the most informative one for customer comments and so am glad to share my knowledge where I can. I am here is an unofficial capacity, of course.

    In regards to your vehicle, it is possible it was built with an updated column. It was right in that timeframe, I believe.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I got confirmation that the new calibration in May should address this type of complaint.

    I also received confirmation that service technicians do have a tool available to get informed about new calibrations but I am not sure in this case how much information is actually provided (i.e., whether it says the calibration would address this concern).

    Hope that helps
  • Man, I *hope* there's something that can be done with this cruise control! It's absolutely the pits...easily the worst feature of this 3 week old car. So far, I'd say that cruise is one thing where Ford is really's the one feature of my old Thunderbirds that I genuinely miss.

    In addition to the heavy push on the brake to disengage it that I wrote about in a previous post, I'm also dismayed by the slam-bam operation of the thing on anything remotely resembling a hill. I was driving on Route 17 in Southern New York State and on one long upgrade that curved to the right it downshifted so abruptly that it almost pulled me into the left lane. I think there's a potential safety issue here, almost worth reporting to NHTSA.
  • I have on 04 LS and nobody has flashed me yet. In fact, I'm pleased with the light distribution of the low beams. They're better than what I've had on other cars. I hardly ever have to use the high beams.

    I think the dash and power window/lock switch illumination and is well executed, too.
  • Thanks for the info.

    The tank was between 1/2 and 3/4 full. It happened the first time (and I tightened the cap) early Thursday morning. I took it to the dealer on Friday morning. I know that I started it more than 3 times after fixing the cap. When I took it in it was still coming on. When I picked the car up it was still at least half full and they said they had reset the message. It didn't show up any more.

    I'm just wondering what they did to reset it that would be different from it resetting itself after a certain number of ignition cycles.

    Thanks again,
  • paopao Posts: 1,867

    what is the build date on your car...e2helper stated there was a new calibration enhancement out in May 04..that may address the shifting issue you are probably referring too, it is supposed to improve shift stablization as well as a few other may find it back a few is DTC P0340
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    pao "Chevy Malibu Maxx" Sep 21, 2004 9:13am

    lets see the most popular color of your 04/05 Maxx
  • I recently purchased a 2004 Chevy Malibu LS and had to take it back to the dealer due to a vibration in the brakes which was most notable at highway speeds. The vehicle has 492 miles. The dealer found that the rotors were rusted and warped. They resurfaced all of the rotors and everything is ok. My question is should they have replaced the rotors with new ones because now when I need brakes in the future they may not be able to resurface them again. I asked why they did not put on new ones and they said that GM would not cover it. Well they were the ones that shipped the vehicle with warped rotors. I am going to write a letter to GM and the dealer. I don't know if I would have any other recourse. Overall the vehicle is very nice and I hope that this is not indicative of any future problems.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Buying a new car these days - any car - is like buying a bit of hardware for your computer. If you buy a video card for instance you must go to the manufacturers web site for the latest software driver update.

    So it is now with modern cars. There seem to be never ending patches and fixes for their computers. And never ending computer crashes.

    The latest I've read about is the integration of the radio/CD player/display into the overall operating system of the car. So if you want to upgrade to a better entertainment system you must extend the connections of the existing system into the trunk and stash it there in order to keep the car running. Then you rewire your new system into the dash. Lord help us all!
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002

    But not only ignition cycles but ignition cycles during which the diagnostic runs again. So likely it might only run the test each morning the first time you take vehicle for a drive (because that is the only time engine starts off cold). Your experience might indicate it does require 3 successful test cycles. I will post back after I find out if that is true.

    When the dealer clears codes in module they basically wipe out history on faults immediately which is why they can do it so much faster.
  • Hi.,..thanks for feedback.

    I visited the GM calibration site mentioned earlier here, put in my VIN and apparently all the codes on my 2004 Maxx LS are up to date (the bullets were as far along the graphs as they could be).
    So apparently the Maxx Cruise Control is malfunctioning normally. Too bad.
    GM has the ability to do a good cruise control (both a Chevy Trailblazer and Saturn ION I drove worked fine) - perhaps someday GM will have a fix for the Mailbu.

    As for the power steering pulsing/ self steering, it is pretty much gone now that the steering columm has been replaced.

    Only other worry is the transmission - have not heard the howl some other posters have mentioned but am keeping a ear open.
    And yes, the proportional control feature is hard to engage.
  • And out of curiosity, are there any affordable devices that can read the calibration codes so I actually know what has been done?
  • My 04 LT sedan makes a slight howling noise, usually when accelerating... Is this the transmission? Is this a major problem? I think the car has done it since I got it (got 4300 miles on it now), and I never thought anything of it... Thanks.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867

    this seems to be an issue on early build models...a resonance sound develops when accelerating on a hill and shifting out of 1st and 2nd as I recall..there is a TSB out..I believe they replace a pinion gear anyone else pls comment here as well.....Im one if it doesnt bother you...dont fix it personally ..I have a 02/04 build maxx and I havent noticed the concern on mine....look on the inside of the drivers door for you build date
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Actually that site doesn't tell you which calibration is actually in your vehicle. It just provides the sequence of calibrations applicable to your vehicle. Since you bought your vehicle earlier in the year is is not using the latest calibration unless it has been reprogrammed by dealer
  • e2helper, day three and the air bag light is still working normal although I am inclined to believe as you do it will return:-)When I took it in for serviceing the air bag problem, they said they performed a parking brake cable adjustment per a service bulletin. Any one else aware of this. If not ask your service writer about this. Also they said they had a problem taking the key out of the ignition and fixed it. I had no problem when I brought it in. Now that they fixed it , guess what. This morning it was tight coming out. Just going to put some graphite in the ignition and see if this solves the problem. If it doesn't, I have to take it in soon when the dash board end cap that they broke comes in. Should not be having these problems at 1600mi:-(. One more thing. Some have mentioned rattles. This car is anything but tight. I was putting on a coat of wax this morning and try rubbing the bumpers and flexing them up and down. You will hear all kinds of squeaks and noises as the bumper contacts the body. This is true also of the fender splash guards inside the fenders. Touch them and they are loose and can rattle. Check yours . Just curious if mine is the only one.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    sorry to hear about the problems....I just dont seem to have these same ones....have applied two coats of wax so far..and found all body parts solid..yes the bumper cover flexs...but not as much as the front and rear ones did on my 99 mustang...the rear cowling would vibrate in the wind at highway speeds...was uncanny.....I have a rattle or my glove compartment..nothing more than that.....cheers..and good luck
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    just surfed the the other forums for other makes on the board...and you know....the other owners...pick a model....have the same issues we do on the Maxx board here...squeaks, leaks, rattles, sunroof noise, lights not working, switches breaking.....transmissions going out in two year old toyotas, mercedes, BMWs, Lexus just a note....all cars have issues..regardless of manufacturer or price...was interesting to note recalls from the NHTSA site....everything from Ferrari to Kia.....again pick a brand and you will find an unhappy keep your voice with your dealer, the GM site..and if you have to the BBB and the lemon law of your state...cheers all
  • Geez, there are enough problems out there without me injecting anymore. In my Post #402, subject "Binding ignition key". Just checked my invoice and it states "Customer States Key Binds in Ignition(no I didn't) :-). Park Lock Cable Binding.
    Adjusted Park Lock Cable as per service bulletin. Sorry for the mistake. Thanks pao for the comparison on rattles. Actually ,I was just trying to shed some ideas as to some of these mysterious rattles that some have reported as happening at certain times and then are gone. Plastics are subject to temperature changes and depending on the time of the day expansions and contractions do come into play. May be just enough to cause some rattles. Actually even though I noticed some flexing, I must say the Maxx is pretty quiet:-)
  • pao, I did the same thing with the "Air Bag Light" problem I had and Wow ,I am not alone. Seems a lot models from Grand Marquis to Dodge Caravans and especially the Hundai Elantra is having big problems with their air bags. Undoubtedly there is a lot of room for improvement and hopefully the manufacturers are listening.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    yeah, the rear bumper is pretty flimsy; but what do you expect for a 2.5 mph bumper?? bike can withstand greater impact than that!!
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Actually I have an update.

    This "Check Gas Cap" message and code DOES reset after only 1 successful pass of test. However several conditions are required to run test: a "cold start" between a certain temperature window and vehicle has to be driven for at least 10 minutes. So you likely did not see those conditions when you drove to dealer that morning. I bet if you had driven the vehicle for a few trips during that weekend it would have fixed itself by the Monday morning commute (sorry).
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Not that I am aware of.

    I don't have any first-hand experience with what additional information the serial data tool Autozone uses to give you a Powertrain Fault Code check. Maybe someone else has used that service and knows if you can get any information beyond codes?

    Now if you had OnStar activated in your vehicle.......wonder if they would tell you anything? I know they can read codes in your vehicle but not sure what they will tell customer.
  • My build date is June 04. So does that mean that my car already has the new calibration?
  • OnStar only receives the diagnostic codes that trigger the check engine light. The advisor will tell you basic information (like, tighten your gas cap), but beyond that they will still refer you to a dealer.

    Their goal is to solve simple problems. Beyond that they will only tell you if the problem is urgent enough to head straight to the dealer, or get there when you can. Their goal isn't to be able to walk drivers through fixing their own cars.
  • I am up to 500 miles on my new LT, and have had a few issues I wanted to ask about. I have had a dealer look at the car, but as they could not recreate most problems, nothing was done.

    The last of the VIN is 170348. I am not sure if the PCM calbrations are current

    The issues are:

    1. Rough idle at times. Not bad enough to rock the car, but enough that you notice a vibration at idle.

    2. Burnt rubber smell is strong, especially in warmer weather. Dealer can't find any reason for it.

    3. Rear passenger window wouldn't go up using the driver side control until the back switch was used a few times (not able to recreate)

    4. Engine died going downhill in L2 gear. Called Onstar and they logged the event, and did a check and saw nothing wrong (not able to recreate)

    5. After starting and turning engine off after a few moments, a rapid squeak is heard that slows down and stops about 5 seconds after the engine is turned off

    ALSO, any idea what date of manufacturing GM switched to the corrected steering columns in production? I would like to know if I am going to expect problems as has been reported in this forum many times.

    Ideas? Thanks!
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    My guess is that your vehicle was built in mid-Feb 2004 and so it likely has newer column based on document posted at NHTSA website (which I provided a link to somewhere)

    The powertrain calibration in your vehicle is definitely older one (I think by 2 revisions) so there might be some improvement in idle using it but probably would need to compare how yours runs to another vehicle.

    I don't know about burnt rubber smell. I think I saw someone mention the accessory drive belt as having a funny odor due to material it is made out of but don't remember "type" of smell.

    The driver side switch only works on passenger windows when the passenger switch is in the rest position. Not sure if that helps but see if it happens again.

    No idea on other stuff
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