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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I'm glad you found the fault.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Problem - the horn on my 2004 Malibu works intermittently. I seem to recall that I had problems with it from new but didn't bother too much about it. As the car is still under warranty, what do you suggest? Have you heard of this problem before?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    hmmm, I think I may have that problem too. I thought I was going crazy. Perhaps you and I need to aim more for the center chevy logo and reduce the smashing of our palms around the perimeter of the horn area :D
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I've tried the center as well. Doesn't work at all then.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I am not familiar with any known issue with horn being intermittently inop. I would think more likely it would be completely inoperative (something disconnected) or you would have a complaint that it sounds when you don't want it to.

    When you get it in situation where the horn doesn't seem to honk can you sit there and push on it and get nothing to happen? If so a few things of interest could be observed (although I realize you might not be in a situation to be able to do them if driving). #1 - If the cruise control ON/OFF switch is ON is the telltale in switch illuminated? #2 - If you are stopped somewhere when this is noticed and can turn the ignition OFF, when you activate the LOCK button on keyless entry fob mulitiple times does the horn "chirp" - this only works when ignition off.

    The first test does a crude check of a portion of the electrical circuitry in the steering wheel wiring, the second check makes sure that the horn and relay themselves work when this happens and your issue is more related to something with the steering wheel.

    That is about all you can do on your own. The dealer would likely need to remove the horn pad to check electrical connections - this requires special precautions due to airbag system.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Thanks for the reply. Cruise control works fine. Horn always chirps when using remote eg., when locking and then pressing lock again. Have also changed horn relay with same type. Horn will sound sometimes while driving. Same with cruise control on or off. Both left and right side of steering wheel have same intermittent response. While parked and idling horn will have intermittent response.

    I am aware of airbag issues so I do not want to investigate further but somehow it appears to me that there are bad horn contacts. Unless of course the BCM (heaven forbid) has something to do with it. Has the BCM maybe got an input from the horn contacts seeing as the remote can also chirp the horn ?
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Here is how it works. The fuse/relay underhood are used for both activating the horn with the horn switch or by BCM when you use the key fob. So because the horn always worked with the key fob you really didn't have to replace relay.

    The horn switch is wired to the relay directly and so the BCM doesn't have to take any "real" action to have horn operate. I put that in quotes because the wiring from the horn switch does go TO the BCM but it really just passes through it to be "combined" with the BCM's output used when you activate horn with key fob, theft system etc. There is no logic involved for horn switch operation.

    So there is a slight chance that the problem might be a poor wiring contact going into the BCM for this horn switch contact but it is more likely it would be the wiring connection to the horn switch itself found under the horn pad in the steering wheel. There is a separate connection for that.

    When I asked about the cruise control I really was trying to give you a check to see whether a good "ground" was available to the steering wheel. the cruise control function itself doesn't require a ground, the ground is only used for the ON/OFF indicator in the switch. On second thought probably a better check would be when it is dark out if the steering wheel switch illumination works. All of those functions (as well as the horn switch) rely on the steering wheel being grounded which is done by a wire to steering wheel.

    Having said that make sure you horn switch doesn't do something weird like only work when it is daytime out but not work at nighttime. Not sure if you might follow where I am going.......

    When you say horn sounds sometimes when driving does that mean without you requesting it?

    Final question. To you knowledge has any work been done on vehicle which required removal of steering wheel? Such as a steering column replacement.
  • I had my address set on "private".
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    that's not the problem. It bounces back. Is it a good address? I'll test it.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    One additional comment, it is good that you found problem but blown fuses have a way of happening again unless you can come up with a reason on why it happened in the first place. The normal load in vehicle on that particular fuse won't result in a blown fuse but things like chafed wires or someone doing modifications to vehicle and shorting something out. Aftermarket equipment can also be suspected.

    So again good it is fixed but if it happens again let us know. :)
  • Has anyone else had this problem with the Chevrolet Malibu? If so, did you ever get it fixed???

    We've had this done so far:

    * Ignition module replaced
    * Electronic ignition switch replaced
    * Pass-lock theft system sensor replaced
    * Airbags unplugged

  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    It doesn't work in the center no matter how hard you press? You have an '04 Malibu, not Classic, right? If so, try this when honking the horn. Look at the bottom spokes of the steering wheel, where the center cover meets the rest of the wheel. Press the horn and you can see that the cover pivots down. Try pressing on the lower spokes and see if it honks any better. I notice that I can make it pivot some without getting a honk.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Thanks for the response. I swapped relays with a similar one from the engine compartment fuse block before I realized that all horn functions worked from the key fob. So as you say, that would eliminate the horn wiring.

    Yes, I did have the steering colunm changed but I was having problems before that with the horn - I should have mentioned it to the mechanic but at that time I did not think of it. All switch illuminations work on the steering wheel. So, it would seem as if the grounding is good.

    No, the horn works at times in the daytime - I haven't tried it at night yet - don't know where you're going with that one ! By working "intermittently" I mean it only works at certain times when I press the horn. It does not sound on its own.

    Thank goodness there isn't any logic involved in the horn circuit from the steering wheel !
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I have an 04 base model Malibu 2.2L engine. No, no matter how hard I press in the center the horn does not sound. I've tried pressing the lower spokes too and I will get intermittent operation only. It works on occasion when I press in the area of the horn symbols. I think I need a trip to the dealer on this one. It's the airbag issue that persuades me not to investigate further.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002

    At this point I have no further suggestions, I only hope the problem is repeatible enough that the dealer will be able to duplicate it so they can quickly root cause issue.

    Good luck :)
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    I wouldn't worry too much about the airbag. I recently had the Chevy emblem on the weel drop into the steering wheel (exposing the airbag) and they replaced the airbag and steering wheel cover.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    It just needs to be treated with proper respect ;)
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I'm not sure what you mean by that. All my service manuals warn that the airbag must be disarmed in the proper manner when working on the steering wheel. Expensive damage could be done and personal injury could result if not done correctly. I do not have a service manual for the new Malibu so am not sure of the procedure. Seeing as I now suspect bad horn contacts, the only way to check on that is to remove the airbag.

    I have followed e2helper's advice and have checked the steering wheel illuminations which are all working correctly. That confirms that the horn ground is working so it can only be the contacts now. As a matter of interest e2helper, how many contacts are there and what form do they take?
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    My car goes in tomorrow (rear seat handle snapped off and dome lamp inop) and I was wondering if GM finally developed a fix for the hatch relatching when one shuts the driver's door. Its driving me crazy and I would like to know if its fixed.

  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I haven't looked at one for a while but from what I can remember there are 4 round protrusions off the structure of steering wheel beneath the horn pad/airbag assembly. When you press the horn pad its "backplate" makes contact with one or more of those protrusions which completes the circuit grounding the wire going to the relay coil in underhood electrical center which energizes the relay.

    There are springs somewhere which suspends the horn pad off of these protrusions normally.

    Hope that was good enough explanation.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    As you can see I retype title because I don't like to see my name there ;)

    I am not aware of any changes made in that area but you could ask dealer if you hadn't already done so. You are aware of the liftgate release switch on underside of rear applique, correct? This can be used to unlatch the liftgate as long as passenger doors not locked.
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    Sorry, I didn't realize that, I just wanted to get your attention. :D

    Yes, I'm aware of that button. It gets frustrating if I press the door lock button, shut my door, hatch relatches, I stop for X seconds and then the doors lock. When that happens, I can't use that button and then have to fumble around for the remote fob. If I recall there was a TSB or PI for the tailgate where it would partially relatch when any door is shut. It said that GM Engineering was working on a fix and owners would be notified when one was developed. I think that was 8-12 months ago. A little long to be working on a fix don't you think? ;)
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Thanks. I now suspect that there is a wire trapped under the horn pad that prevents the pad from being fully depressed. The right side of the pad goes down easily but the left side hardly moves downwards. Do you think this could be possible?
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Oh yes, very much so even though I would still suspect it might have occurred when column was replaced. There is a bit of wire that needs to be routed underneath the horn pad to the airbag and they might not have tucked it out of the way enough.

    If it is that obvious regarding motion of horn pad then by all means point it out to dealer on next visit. It is pretty easy for them to reposition.

    I knew I should have inquired more about how well it operated from different sides as other poster alluded to ;)
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    You are correct about an old PI, I know about it as well and looked it up to see if there was an update - there wasn't. This doesn't necessarily mean that something wasn't done. I will do a little research but am not promising anything ;)
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Well, I've repaired my horn problem. I searched on the internet and came up with this manual with information on how to disable and enable the airbag on the new Malibu. Zone 3, page 2-159. - anual.pdf

    The thing is that I cannot afford to have the car tied up for how long at the dealer. After following the disabling procedure I removed the upper and lower steering colunm covers and then the back cover of the steering wheel - 2 Torx screws - and I saw the problem without removing the airbag.

    The 3 wires from on/off button for the cruise control (left side of wheel) were snagged under the top left hand corner of the horn pad. There is a plastic stop where the horn pad bottoms against and the wires were under that.

    The routing of those wires is rather tight and I predict that more problems will arise with other new Malibus. They have to pass pretty close to the top left hand bottom stop of the horn pad. I think this needs looking into.

    Anyway, my horn now operates from any angle on the horn pad. My neighbors are also happy that I've solved the problem.
  • Hello.......Sorry I do not own a Malibu, maybe a should though,...a question? I own/lease a 2005 Saturn Relay(uplander SV6 Terraza), from my research and reading I see that our vehicles share the same engine,alternators and I believe tranny.....3.5l issue is Flickering headlights and dash lights, I am on alternator #4 and still no any of you fine Malibu owners have similar problems or is this something unique to the CSV`s. Your reply1s and help is greatly appreciated. :lemon:
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I don't recall any similar posts from Malibu owners but a question for you. Is this a fast flickering or something more gradual? I know that your vehicle has a slightly different charging system which has the ability to vary the vehicle system voltage under certain conditions, if it was something that changed gradually I would wonder about that.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I would look for a bad ground connection. That would cause flickering lights and also cause the alternator to blow when the alternator has no load. There are many grounding points to check. Also check your battery connections.
  • Thanks.....where would the most common groundings points be?....this flickering is in the dash lights too....I would love to find the fault in this and make the dealership eat crow....would the computer controlled alternator have anything to do with this?
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