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Chevrolet Malibu MPG-Real World Numbers



  • javon7065javon7065 Posts: 9
    I really like my 2005 LS. Nicest car I have ever owned. however, the one thing I do not like is the gas mileage. the computer info display says that I am getting 19.8 or 20.8 MPG. And it seems about right. I got this car with 19k on it in Jan 2007 it now has 28k on it. I just do some local driving. don;t use it for work. just for errands here and there. From all of the reading I am doing, MPG is the one thing that everyone loves about this car. could it be the fuel filter? the tires are inflated properly. I changed the air cleaner about a year ago so I know that is due.

    just wondering what the deal could be before I ask this loaded question to a mechanic and they start seeing $$ signs and suggest a tune up

    thanks for any input

  • malexbumalexbu Posts: 169
    Try the following:

    1. Find the true MPG over a period of time (miles passed divided by
    the fuel purchased), writing down and resetting the DIC reading
    (plus compare the distances with the odometer readings.)

    (I do the recording at every fillup, then compare the real MPG
    with the one DIC shows.)

    2. Post the data on your average speed between the fill-ups. While you
    are not using the car for work, you may be stop-going excessively
    -- the average speed is some indication of your driving patterns.

    3. If you haven't done so recently, dump a bottle of fuel cleaner into
    your tank during a fillup.

    You mentioned replacing the air filter: did it have any impact on the
    MPG? Is it a good filter? Was everything clean and clear in the area
    it covers?

    How about your oil? Changed well and often?

    My two 2005s (more economical than your LS, obviously), have roughly
    this regular pattern, usually (from the two last readings on one of

    tank-mpg 24.94 computer 26.1 speed 24
    tank-mpg 26.93 computer 28.0 speed 25
  • malexbumalexbu Posts: 169
    Did you record the average speeds from the DIC? Are your numbers from the DIC or calculated from your fillups?
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    based opn yuor statement that you just use the car for errands, here and there..what distance do you drive...16 months ownership with only 9K driven tells me you dont average very long trips...short trips, city traffic, stop and go will generate the worst MPG. I would simply suggest a good fuel injector cleaner, a new air filter, oil change and hand calculate your mileage....the DIC can be up to 2 MPG off in its calculation.....but I would suggest you probably will not see better than 22-23 MPG based on you short trips.......

    no need for a tune up.....the first isnt due to 100K as I recall, but consult the owners manual...
  • javon7065javon7065 Posts: 9
    Thanks for the recommendations. I'll admit that I have not yet done the manual MPG calculation. I just read in the manual that you can reset the DIC MPG info, so I just did that. This really was not an issue until gas hit $4 a gallon. since I get gas kind of infrequently, it seemed like gas was about .15 higher from the last fill up each time. so like most peopal now, I am looking into how to get better MPGs. I know that the stop and go driving I do is the worst but I just thought something was up since it was reporting MPG in the teens.
    Oil changes are regular, always at the three month mark versus the 3k mark due to the limited use. I'll replace the air cleaner again. wasn't concerned about MPG when I changed it last year.

    what type of injector cleaner is recommended? I have never used any of that kind of stuff.
  • malexbumalexbu Posts: 169
    I'll replace the air cleaner again. wasn't concerned about MPG when I changed it last year.

    Really no point in it now -- a filter should be changed every 24,000 miles.
    But you may want to check that the one you have installed is clean and sitting well.
    (Easy to to it yourself -- read the manual.)

    what type of injector cleaner is recommended? I have never used any of that kind of stuff.

    Hard to recommend with true knowledge: one can't look inside the engine and see the results after using one. I used various brands available at Autozone and the one thing I know, I didn't have negative consequences: Chevron, Valvoline, Gumout. You won't go wrong with Chevron.

    Also, try to use a good brand of gas: Shell, Mobil, Chevron -- at least most of the time.
  • tsgraysontsgrayson Posts: 9
    2008 LTZ with 4 cyl and 6 speed on a 1000 mile roadtrip...34.2 mpg
  • malexbumalexbu Posts: 169
    2005 Base Sedan on a 2300 miles (1150 miles each way) round-trip this

    36.6 mpg one way (empty)
    36.8 mpg back (fully loaded)

    (by the fuel purchased).
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    Even with this kind of driving you shouldn't be dumping oil at under 3K. Follow your OLM, if that shows under 10% at that kind of driving you really do have a problem, no one's driving patterns can show that kind of oil abuse.
  • javon7065javon7065 Posts: 9
    I was just changing every three months due to the old "3000 or 3 months, whichever comes first rule" I was not following the OLM. The few times I looked at it when I got the oil changed, it did indicate a whole lot of life left in the oil. do most people follow the OLM system? this is my first car with any such system.

    thanks for your reply
  • malexbumalexbu Posts: 169
    You should really read that manual and follow it -- for oil changes and everything else.

    How much one exceeds the oil change interval is a personal choice (some posters at forums here claim there is nothing wrong in going 12-15 K miles between *synthetic* oil changes -- and this is also what Mobil says about its MobilOne syntheitc oils), but changing oil more frequently than the manual says (and it, basically, states, "Trust the oil monitor"), is not only an unnecessary expense for you, it's polluting environment without a reason.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    Your OLM is set for dino and should do about 7-8K between changes. It's very, very sophisticated, and very conservative. If you change at 3K you're throwing money away.
  • packer3packer3 Posts: 277
    Is it a four or a six. I had the six and it would get up to 37mpg on a straight highway ride, however in the city 15/16 mpg is what I would gt and I turned in the car with 23,000 on it. The six actually got better gas mileage that the four. Doing all that stuff to your car will not improve the gas mileage.
  • frankcdfrankcd Posts: 1
    I have a 2008 malibu and I am getting the same 17/18 avg mpg. I called the dealership and they told me to make sure I have enough air pressure in the tires. Plus, I was told it will improve with about 10k miles. I am ready to unload the beast.
  • packer3packer3 Posts: 277
    Tell the dealer to you know what, when they sold you the car was that information given to you or did the dealer read some of the blogs. Wait until the winter comes and those number drop to 15/16, do you add more air to your tires.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    4 ior 6 cyl? depends on driving style, region you are in....yes gas varies by region on blend additives etc,...proper tire inflation yes...and break in period..yes will maintain what was the EPA rating....remember if you look under that number is show a range of MPG, based on driving styles......
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    17/18 mpg is pretty normal for any car in that weight category (Accord, Malibu, Camry) in the city. There isn't much difference between the 4 and the 6 in the city. City mileage is terrible on all cars.

    If you have the 4 cylinder, it should shine on the freeway. Take it on a long freeway drive at reasonable (65-70mph) speeds. Reset your miles per gallon readout in your DIC (digital information center) and read the mpg during your trip. If you reset it while you are driving level, constant speed, you should see about 34 mpg. After you drive for a while it should settle down to 28 mpg for the overall trip. If you have a light and steady foot, you might hit 30 mpg or 32 mpg.

    You can confirm the numbers by looking online at the Consumer Reports website (subscription required). They do straight city driving and straight highway driving using a metering device they attach to the fuel line. They drive softly. Their numbers don't lie.

    Your car is fine. Your expectations don't match your driving conditions and driving style. You may not be logging your fillups and miles per tank. This is typical in America where we often jump from one experience to another without investigating very deeply.

    If you want to really test your driving conditions and style, you need to rent a similar car and see what your mileage looks like on the competition, before you take a loss on a trade in.

    Also, fwiw, we got the same mileage, in the city, on an Impala with a 6 cylinder as with a PT Cruiser (normal, non turbo 4). It's the driving conditions and driving style, vehicle weight second, and size of engine third.

    That's when I laugh when I hear people begging for a 1.0 liter Fit over here (that's the small car from Honda). By the time people "work" the 1.0 for acceleration it will have the same, if not worse, mileage than our 1.5 "export only" version. It's all about vehicle weight and that old "lead" foot. I drive my Fit softly and get 38-40 mpg on my freeway commute.

    The only time vehicle displacement comes into play is (1) gas consumption with a lot of idling and (2) taxes you pay in certain other countries, that tax on the basis of engine displacement instead of vehicle weight. My 1.5 liter Fit is "pumping" almost as much air through the engine at the 4,000 rpm required to hit 80 on the freeway as the 3.5 in our minivan, which only turns over at 2,000 rpm at the same speed. Of course the 3.5 requires a richer mixture to push the larger minivan through the air, and more gas to accelerate it, but within certain limits (cars the same weight) the gas mileage on a larger engine with lower rpm often match the gas mileage of a smaller engine with higher rpm. That's why Consumer reports indicated only a 1 mpg advantage to the 4 over the 6 in the last generation of the Malibu in combined driving (but if you cruise long freeway distances at a steady speed, the 4 is more frugal).

    Once again, in your situation blame your gas mileage on the timing of traffic lights and the devolution of our auto culture into a "stop light drag race" mentality. The potential mpg you can get from your Malibu is very fine.
  • packer3packer3 Posts: 277
    Your pretty much dead on about the city driving for the weight class you spoke about.
    I've said it a few times on the blog, when I leased my 05 Malibu V6 200 hp straight city driving was 15/16 mpg, straight highway run at 65 mph 37 mpg. mixed 28/30.
    It still amazes me, thats better than any 4cyl. on the market, even GM's own, they have magic in the bottle and don't evevn know it.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    My 3.5 Maxx beats my wife's 4 cylinder Optima by a couple of MPG. Probably 22 v. 20 around town. Most of the difference is probably driving styles, however. Her car is driven for extremely short distances and the average MPH is considerably lower on her DIC. I think the 3.5 'Bu is an exceptionally nice engine for low cost in both maintenance and fuel economy.
  • mazda6dudemazda6dude Posts: 283
    Does anyone know what is the rpm for a 2008 chevy malibu 4 cylinder when its going 65-70MPH on the freeway? Thanks.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    Does the 2008 have the 6 speed or the 4 speed?

    I'm interested in the answer too.

    Automatics often get the same freeway mileage as manual transmissions because the manufacturer can gear them lower, confident that the automatic will unlock (first) then downshift as necessary for pickup. Manufacturers seem reluctant to gear their manual transmissions for optimal freeway mileage since it would then require a manual downshift to 4th for good pickup on the freeway, and then (apparently) consumers would complain that the vehicle is "gutless." (There seems to be an aversion in some drivers to downshifting when already on the freeway - I don't share that aversion.)
  • mazda6dudemazda6dude Posts: 283
    I'm interested in the 4 cylinder 4-speed automatic. I know the LTZ 4 cylinder comes with the 6-speed automatic.
  • malmouzamalmouza Posts: 141
    I do not think is better that any I4 on the market. I get 40 or 42 MPG on the highway at 65MPH with the 08 accord I4 and MT transmission. and I get 25 MPG on stop and go traffic, my average per tank is 33 - 34 MPG which is not bad for a large vehicle. And remember I am not hipper-milling, but I am not crawling like turtle either. To sum it up, there is not a lot of difference in highway mileage between cars, it does not matter the engine displacement, but the only difference is the aerodynamic. Friend of mine drive the Honda Fit, at moderate speed on the highway he gets 36 – 37MPG, I get little better numbers with the Accord. The difference is the cd for both cars is different.
  • mazda6dudemazda6dude Posts: 283
    Very good point. I would have to agree with what you said. The highway MPG for 4 cylinder midsize sedans are not that different.
  • packer3packer3 Posts: 277
    I'm talking about a 05 model V6 Malibu that is four years old, wouldn't you think technology would have improved ten fold. Your also talking about the aero dynamics of an 05.
    And last of all engine displacement, it is important other wise you wouldn't see the V6 getting as good if not better highway gas mileage than any four. The Fit's 109 hp engine is rated at 34 mpg highway and thats suppose to be the best in it's class, a little smaller than the Accord that is rated at 31mpg and has a 177hp engine, I dont think the aerodynamics have to much to say in this matter.

    And by far you are not getting 42 mpg with the Accord your lucky if your breaking 35 mpg, I also have an 08 Accord LX-P, that I got when my lease ran out on the Malibu a few months back, I know the mpg difference by my experience with both cars not some numbers from a car magazine.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    have to concur with the V6 in the Malibu, rated at 200 04 Malibu Maxx averages 26-28 combined.....and 32-34 on the hwy.......I cant see a reason to get a new car at this point....based on the fuel economy and size of the Maxx, despite it having 130K on it.....the scheduled maintenance is less than most imports and far less expensive as well...

    running full synthetic....oil changes every 7500 miles, a complete 100K service done... all fluids, plugs, wires, belts replace...two brake jobs (64K and 115K), replaced front rotors on the second, one battery, about to place third set of tires (68K on the current set) and no other repairs required. Insurance is low, property tax is low, and its paid for......
  • malmouzamalmouza Posts: 141
    I will have to disagree with you on the aerodynamic. The resistance from the air at high speed is one of the big issue that Car maker and Airplane makers are trying to solve to decrease fuel consumption. An example is the train is designed with less surface resistance so Cd is low, and that is why trains can travel 200 miles on one gallon of diesel, carrying tons of merchandise. If the train travel sideways the air resistance will increase and the train will need hundreds of gallons of diesel to travel 200 miles.
    The other thing is the car engine technology did not change that much over the years, except for the switch from carburetors to fuel injection to direct injection; the principle is still the same combustion chamber where the air and fuel are mixed and ignited by spark plugs or by high compression for the diesel case. Not that much changed, we increased a little bit the fuel efficiency by not that much. But one thing we did over the years is adding more weight to our cars, by adding more motors for the seats, motors for the moon roof, motors for the windows, motors for mirrors, motors for trunk, motors for rear seats, motors for rear wipers, motors for rear climate control fan, etc. Every motor weight a pound or two or more, and you are wondering why we are not getting a good fuel mileage, get ride of half of those motors and you’ll see a 25% increase in MPG, not counting that all those motors drain the battery of energy needed for the engine to run the computer (ECU), and other electrical systems. There you have it.
  • packer3packer3 Posts: 277
    Nice try but I dont think the air theory seems to be working well with the auto makers.

    Though I'm glad to see that Pao's Max is still rolling strong.
  • packer3packer3 Posts: 277
    Right, like this wind train theory, if an electric train was going 200 miles per hour which way would the smoke be blowing.
  • packer3packer3 Posts: 277
    What I find amazing or scary is the fact people are buying cars somewhat clue less.
    I just read the one review for the 2009 Malibu, I didn't understand if the person got the 4cyl or the 6cyl, I don't even think they know.
    The real stopper is that the person just got the car less than a month ago and already there thinking that the gas mileage will get better after it breaks in.

    Here's a news flash, what ever mpg they are getting today is what they are going to get tomorrow and the next day, etc. The sales rep. should get an Oscar for that sell, also I hope he told them to inflate their tires past the mfg's recomendation so there mileage will increase, but not telling them that their tires will wear out faster.

    See below article.


    2009 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)


    Our Malibu has V6 option. Very good feel with power and handling. Looking forward to after break-in to see true gas mileage. Beautiful auto.
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