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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • When done with the proper tire aspect ratio & width, going from a 15" to a 16" rim should improve the hamdling response of the car. Simply put, there is less tire sidewall insulating you from the road. But this can reduce the ride quality slightly too. Proper tire size means a 16" tire with the same circumference as the original 15", so the gearing and speedometer won't be affected. A good tire dealer has data to make this choice easy. You can find online calculators at and other sites. The best part of this change could be in getting away from the rock-hard OEM tires that were put there more for low rolling resistance (gas mileage) than grip.

    BTW - Malibu & Maxx models already have different gearing partly due to the tire & wheel sizes GM fits them with.

    As for tire rotation and the chance of a tire-pull returning, it is a chance you have to take. Not rotating the tires would reduce their life and eventually lead to uneven wear anyway. If a tire is known to have a pull, moving it to the rear should lessen the problem.
  • Thanks for the information. The rattle is definitely in the roof when I push up on the dome light it stops completely. The dealer had my car again yesterday and did a great job putting insulation in and it seems to be helping. Now I only get the rattle on a really rough road. So I will wait and see how this lasts over time. If it doesn't fix it this time I will have them reglue the magnet in the dome light. They seem to think it is in the rear by the skylights and say it is a poor design.
  • gonogogonogo Posts: 879
    Gear ratio the same, the tire is not as tall. The 16 inch looks cool, the larger the wheel the rougher the ride. Sometime look at a 20 inch wheel, the tire is about 3 inches in height, rides like a buckboard, looks cool, good for racing. :)
  • Thanks for the info.
  • Thanks for the wheel diameter info. Much appreciated.
  • hi, new to this forum so please forgive me in advance.

    can i get some info on the Malibu Maxx steering wheel lock-up and what the recall i saw posted entailed? i own a G6 and have experienced the same thing and GM is saying they have had no complaints about it. yet i have FIVE CERTIFIED cases of G6 Owners with the same complaint, all have contacted their dealers numerous times and all are told the same thing: "we have not had a problem with any 'lock-up'"!!! the service manager at my local dealership DID tell me that he had a similar complaint and that GM Techline told him to repalce the column, which they did. apparently have not had any further complaints from that owner.

    please let me know what YOU know and i, along with several owners on the G6 Owners Club website would really appreciate it.

    thanks, kevin
  • Had something siilar on my '04 Maxx. It turned out to be a "misaligned" hatchback door. It also needed lubrication. Of course, your problem may be different.

    Good luck!

    PS Have other "rattles" that are most annoying.
  • what was the recall concerning? what were the symptoms? everything you said is correct regarding torque steer, however the EPS has a 'TORQUE SENSOR' that is suppose to compensate for this. if the Torque Sensor is not operating properly, then the column may need to be replaced, as the sensor is not serviced separately from the column at this time (if it is the same as on the G6).

    but i would like to know what the recall was for and why GM was replacing steering columns in Malibu's.

  • glennbglennb Posts: 34
    I have not posted or read the forum for a while, but was surprised (and somewhat relieved) to read about some of the problems that seem to be common among other posters here. Misery loves company I guess. I have an '04 Maxx LS with 28000 miles. I recently had my rear rotors re machined for a second time due to warping. The dealer actually confessed that it will most likely be a recurring problem. I have had 3 occurrences of problems with the front right turn signal, one I fixed by re seating all the relays in the fuse box. I also recently had my Maxx in for what I called a front suspension rattle. The dealer said everything checks out, but after reading other owners descriptions here I see that it may actually be related to steering. I still have an intermittently whiney fuel pump, but I can never get it to the dealer when it is occuring, and they seem reluctant to replace it. Now I have been noticing a clunk in the steering; I am going to take it to the dealer and ask to have that taken care of. I never knew about a steering recall; is there anyplace the recall is documented so I can go to the dealer with that info?
  • Hey kurtamaxxxguy do you have the power sunroof? I do and wonder if this fix will work? The slide cover for the sunroof goes right over the dome light so it cannot be secured to the the roof of the car. The rattle is again returning not as bad so far. But you know how rattles are and they become very annoying fast. Turning the stereo up does not help.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    hi glennb: as for your rotors, I'm sure you will be going in for another visit to the dealer before the 36k mark to get them replaced. If you are on your second resurfacing (as I am with my front rotors), there is no way you'll even make it another 8k. I'm sure your service manager knows this, and expect this.
  • gonogogonogo Posts: 879
    The torque sensor in the steering is to know how much pressure you are applying to the steering wheel, has nothing to do with drive train torque.
  • How and where do you check and change the oil in a 2005 Malibu classic??? :confuse:
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I had no symptoms on my steering column but it was still replaced under the recall. When the EPS did however fail on other cars, it was only the "power assist" that failed and the wheel could still be turned. There was not a "lockup" as such. The symptoms would be much like a hydraulic power assist that had failed - burst hydraulic pipe for instance and no more dangerous.

    The problem was traced to a noisy slip ring which sent electrical impulses to the computer which would become confused and then shut down. At the next startup the problem would clear and the power assist would work again until the slipring once again sent confusing signals to the computer. The cause of the noisy slipring was contamination by grease during assembly. A modified slipring and new software was installed to remedy the problem.

    GM should have sorted the problems out by now on the newer models unless other issues of which I am not aware of have crept in. I don't know. What I have described pertains to my 2004 Malibu. I should imagine that safety would dictate that no steering wheel should solidly "lockup" under power assist failure. You should still be able to manually overide the steering.

    The torque sensor in the Delphi system which the Malibu uses is not to counteract torque steer. It senses the amount of effort you are putting on the steering wheel and the computer translates this into energy put into the steering drive motor. As a matter of interest, the steering assist motor is a 60amp motor and it is fused with a 100amp fuse which is situated under the hood near the battery. So, if the car is stationary and you turn the wheels you could draw up to 12volts x 60amps which gives me 720watts which is near enough to 1 horsepower.

    On the highway there will be times when the steering assist is drawing no energy therefore you are saving gas. A hydraulic system on the other hand always draws maximum energy even though the steering is not being turned.

    You will notice that hybrid cars use electric power assist for this very reason - to save gas.
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    Actually it is a 65 amp motor, drawing 780 watts or 1.05hp.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Ok, I was writing from memory. Anyways, an important point is that it is a brushless DC motor so it should be long lasting with no brushes to worry about.
  • Ok... I have been away for quite a while. I read the posts on this page and the ones just prior. The main reason I returned was to find out what may be the problem with my steering. I was driving this evening and went to make a routine turn to the right and all of a sudden I got a dinging and the DIC was flashing "power steering".
    It looks like in the few posts before this that there is or may be a recall on the steering, Is this true?

    Thanks y'all
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    There was a recall on certain cars between certain dates of manufacture for the steering column. Not all cars were recalled. Ask e2helper if he can give you the dates. Post your vin # here and he can tell you.
  • thanks for the info. that was very informative and apparently more accurate than the info i received at my dealership. the service advisor told me that the 'torque sensor' was to compensate for 'torque steer' which seemed reasonable to me. but then he also told me my EPS was a 'fly-by-wire' system without a direct connection to the rack & pinion. of course i couldn't let that comment lie so i took him to my car and pointed out the steering shaft from the column to the gear. he just kind of scratched his head as said "huh!".

    regarding my experience with this issue, in my case, it seems that possibly the 'torque sensor' is failing because when this happened to me, it was as if the wheel was resisting my attempt to turn it. i'm a big guy at 6'2" and 275lbs and i can tell you for a fact that wheel WOULD NOT TURN!!

    thanks again for the info.......
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I'm no expert on the EPS. All I know about it is what I have learnt on the internet and from the details on my recall letter from GM. Sadly, dealerships who should be learning about new technology fail to do so and all kinds of misinformation is given to customers. Many times just to get the customer off their back.

    As I said, I don't know if any further issues have cropped up since my column was changed. I just know that I had no problems and it seems as if the response and feel of my EPS is better now. This could possibly be because of the new software.

    There must be something wrong if you could not turn the wheel. As far as I know there is a clutch that allows slippage if the EPS should fail. In other words there is always a direct connection between the steering wheel and the steering rack. You should have it investigated.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    ps, the only "fly by wire" device in the Malibu that I know of is the gas peddle connection to the throttle body. Seems like your dealer is really screwed up.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    For 2004 Malibu it was a Customer Satisfaction Campaign #04050A. Owners with affected vehicles would have received notification quite a while ago. Potentially affected VINs went through 4F166649 but dealer would have to look up a vehicle specifically to see if it actually applied.

    If you are familiar with NHTSA website they did an investigation on this last year and applicable documents are posted. EA04018
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Below is a link with a brief discription of the Delphi EPS.

    Dealerships had better jack up their training on these systems because Delphi will be supplying Ford and Mazda plus many cars in Europe with EPS. More manufacturers will be incorporating them soon in their models. The column mount version (second picture) is the one used on the Malibu.
  • For those of you (with ANY GM vehicle) experiencing a range of problems please know that class action lawsuits are emerging against GM and Prestone for Dex Cool anti-freeze used in most if not all GM brands and models since 1996. After researching it, it appears to me that it is becoming evident to many that Dex Cool is likely an inferior anti-freeze and actually corrosive to engine parts. I for one (and I know many others) have experienced premature dinigration of fluid, major leaks and $900 gasket jobs. You might want to google the issue and consider replacing your original anti-freeze (or subsequent Dex Cool replacement asap) as well as joining the class action.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I've been using DexCool since 1998 without any problems on 2 GM vehicles. My 2004 Malibu with the all aluminum Ecotec engine has it as factory fill. Dexcool is formulated for aluminum blocks and heads. It will void the warranty on a new GM vehicle if any other coolant is used. The problem occurs when other coolants are mixed with it. This often happens when service centers "top up" fluids. Short answer - DO NOT change your factory fill DexCool for any other coolant. Rather, to be safe, drain the DexCool after 2 years or so, flush, and refill with fresh DexCool.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    In between football games, let me be the first to wish all of my cyber friends a happy T-Day. This unarguably is the best forum on Edmunds. While a 19k car is not significant for many Americans, for others like myself, this forum is an invaluable asset to keeping a major purchase in top running condition. Long live the Maxx. My best to all of us who make this forum what it is, and who do their part to make every part of the Malibu (from electric steering components to Dexcool fluids) understandable to the common car owner. :D
  • Right back at you maxx4me. Happy T-Day to all and thank you for all that you share to help those of us who need it. My feelings are the Maxx is the best car I have ever owned even with it's little problems now and then. I look forward to reading this forum everyday and I gain a lot from it. :) So to all have a great holiday.
  • I have the same thing on my 1998 3.1 liter. What happens is it will run at 2500 rpm sometimes , other times it will run ok, other times it will stall, that is the idle will drop off. Is this similar and if so what did you to correct it. The car has 172000 miles
  • i have 05 maxx LS with 12,000 miles on it and my front tires(bridgestones) are wearing badly dont know if has to do with the way it pulls to the right or not, because both front tires are wearing unevenly. I check the pressure about once every two weeks and keep them properly inflated. lam going to take it to dealer this week and see what they have to say. And get front brakes fixed.(gm brakes suck) Anyone else have this tire problem?
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