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Chevrolet Malibu Engine Problems



  • i guess people have different expectations when it comes to how their vehicle performs.i belive in this day and age with all the technology available you should have a smooth running engine and a transmission that doesn't slam and bang when it shifts.You also shouldn't have to put up with rattles coming from the sunroof and seat.As for the Cadillac DI noise i witnessed it first hand at a Cadillac dealer.The customer came with his 2009 CTS complaining of engine noise,sounded like pennys rattling in a can,service tech, told "its normal" and could not be fixed.The guy peeled rubber out of there,think he will buy another cadillac? tech said some cars are noiser than others,got the same story from chevy tech.
  • i get no error codes or check engine light on my 2008 car. i have been waiting 1 year for a fix from a gm engineer.i think we need more owners to complain on line to get any action from gm.i experianced a misfire on 4 new cars with the 3.6 ltr.V6,two 09 malibu's,09 pontiac g8 and 09 caddy cts.two differant dealer serv.techs.also had misfires on brand new cars in the dealers lots.i am sure gm knows it has a programing problem with these engines but as long as they can still sell cars with this problem they will.maliblues1
  • I did not see anything about the test procedure.
    Were the probes put into the radiator or where?
    If the coolant was becoming acid, then he might have read a voltage by having to probes of different metals.
    Voltage is merely and indication that a charge is present. Current, amps, would indicate how much of that charge is being displaced, that is that corrosion is taking place at a specific rate.
  • A couple of years back, I read that GM had three engines that were noted for such problems, the 3.1 and 3.8 being two of them. Ford had two engines with the same numerous complaints, their 3.8 being one of them. Since then, it seems the newer version of the 3.0, the 24 valve version, has joined in with blown head gaskets and cracked heads.
    For as many years as this has been going on, you'd think they would have fixed it, or is there more money in the short term of doing these repairs after warranty?
    I read through some of the complaints with the Dex-Cool class action. Some of them were clearly bogus which makes me wonder what the lawyers game is. (As weird as my left rear wheel fell off because of coolant.)
    This may end up like the class action against the Firestone 500 radials. By time it was settled the average driver would have put over 100K on a 50K tire. Long time replaced and who kept receipts? And I actually had tires made about 10K tires after cut-off and three of them separated, for which they would do nothing.
    Lawyers will get rich.
  • I'm not sure if they have idiot engineers or the bean counters cause the problem. One thing seems to be certain, that is GM too often tries to save money by reusing assemblies from older vehicles. This might be a case of them trying to convert an engine to DI that just is not meant to do that. Enviromental law changes keep them busy but maybe this was not the time to modify, rather build new.
    I remember the first fiasco when Environmental laws started. It and the gas shortage of '73 crossed paths. Detroit tried to fix pollution buy adding EGR valves and changing timing of engine which worsened mileage and power at a time of gas shortage. PPP. Also the move to unleaded gas destroyed the valves in older cars. And Chrysler had been putting all its eggs in the power basket where gas guzzling and pollution were the worst, so they nearly went bankrupt.
    It seems that Ford has been more prone to design from the ground up on newer models since mid-80's which may be why they have not gone bankrupt. It would be interesting to find it is owner loyalty. Ford has not been without problems related to design changes, for sure. A recent one comes to mind where some idiot replaced the differential ring gear made of steel with one made of synthetic to save weight.

    Good Luck!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    If you could answer the mystery as to why GM persistently does not repair known defects as soon as possible, but rather let's them run for 4-5 model years, then you should be running the company, because it's been a big problem.

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  • Is it normal for the balancer to wobble
  • Agreed, and the coolant problem runs into other Detroit makes as well. Did Ford discontinue its slogan of "Quality is Job One"?
    Perhaps I've always been a bit picky about quality, but it went into overdrive while in Vietnam when lives depended upon the quality of my aircraft work. And it has certainly stuck with me. I am not at all like the woman that buys six pairs of shoes because they are on sale and then throws five away to only buy more. Although fewer may be of that mind set because of economics or whatever and that may be part of the crunch Detroit now feels.
    As large as the automotive industry is, I'd have to say we have a societal problem above all.
    As to dependability, maybe Detroit has the cheap inkjet printer mentallity. They make their money on ink or Detroit makes it on repairs. I built and worked on Gulfstreams and other aircraft for a number of years and I can easily say most Detroit workers are over compensated. In part I blame the union for that, but then the big bankers and other financial people are extremely overpaid.
  • Depends what you mean by wobble. And the balancer design.
    I've seen them as a solid cast that is drilled to remove weight for balancing or has added weights.
    I've seen them with an inner hub and outer separated by a layer of rubber.
    I've seen much older ones that had weights inside that moved like a pendulum. That was to help at idle and they would achieve there maximum centrifugal force at some RPM above idle.
    Now that balancers are brought up, I have to wonder if that might be what I hear on neighbors suburban. Damn thing sounds like it is about to throw a rod at idle. I mentioned it to him when vehicle was new. He said he asked dealer and they said it was normal and he listened to several of them there, all making the same deadened clunk like a slapping piston.

    If it is wobbling like a bent wheel, then I'd definitely check with dealer. It might be a latest technology where the mounting hole is drilled to match the engine balance. Sounds strange, but that could be the case. Many years ago, one of my Dad's friends bought a vehicle that had no valve stem on the wheel. That blew the mind of many including the mechanics at the garage. Like how the heck did they air the tire up? The dealer told him that a machine was used for mounting the tires on the wheels. It encapsulated both (safety) and pressure inside as the tire was being mounted provided inflation before it was removed. The drilling for the valve stem was done afterwards. I guess that could work, but beware what the dealer tells you too.
  • I have a 2005 Malibu V-6 with 83K miles. Yesterday afternoon when I started the car, the starter really drew down the electrical to the point that it almost didn't start the car. The battery is 3 years old.

    Back from the 60's to the 80's if this happened, it was more than likely the starter drawing too many amps and I'd replace the starter.

    But my question is, on a 2005 model car, would it more than likely still be the starter or some other computer/sensor related problem?

    It drew so many amps that the clock on the radio re-set to noon. I drove to the grocery store and crossed my fingers when I cranked it up again and it did fine. I'm thinking to replace the starter, just so I don't get stuck.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
  • e_net_ridere_net_rider Posts: 1,380
    With it drawing so hard that the voltage drops to the point that it resets clock, I'd suspect the battery. If you have a battery charger, try charging it, noting the amperage. If the amperage tapers off quickly, say an hour or two or less and you know the battery was low, you know the battery is not taking much of a charge or can not store much of a charge. Bad battery. 3 years might be all you can expect of some original batteries. Look at the battery and see what the life expectancy is. If it is within one year of that, you will probably be better to buy outright one of your choosing that fits the car. The last GM battery I bought was 72 mo. and had a vent because it was under the back seat and close to 800 CCA as I remember. A lot of power stuff. Also had a Mercury diesel with battery in trunk. Same vent requirement and this one was about 1300 CCA. I went through three batteries with that vehicle and all of them lasted slightly longer than the rated life, so I suspect batteries in those locations last longer than one under the hood.
    Head lights being dim, or going almost totally out when trying to crank are also a good indication of battery, especially if you get the clacking sound of the solenoid. Fords especially, if there is no solenoid clacking, it is likely the starter. Even then, for it to draw so many amps to kill lighting, be careful. You could easily smoke some wiring.
  • I was wondering what ever came out of that problem with your temperature gauge. My girl has the same problem with hers. I had the code checked at Autozone (parts store) it said the cooling temperature sensor was bad. I spent the 25 bucks for the sensor, put it in, it still didn't work. I went to Advance auto, spent the $25 on a sensor, put it in, still didn't work. I took some 1000 grade sandpaper sanded the corrosion off the original sensor, put it back in, did not work still. Two days after that, it started working and check engine light went off. Two days later... stopped working. I went online checked the wiring diagram for this car and cannot find anything that would cause this problem other than that sensor. Please let me know what became of your problem and if it was ever fixed.
  • barky this is a common prob for 2002 malibu they put a nylon silicon gasket on which the dexcool antifreeze eats.
  • e_net_ridere_net_rider Posts: 1,380
    I would not bet on that. I had some older vehicles that I used Dexcool in and when I did the flush, remove thermostat, I used blue RTV instead of replacing the gasket. Five years later, the life of Dexcool then, there were no signs of the silicone RTV being eaten. In a few cases of extreme corrosion I've read about, it seemed more likely that the RTV or silicone gasket was not adhering to the metal and under pressure the softness of the material would allow some displacement under pressure thus allowing the coolant to weep around the gasket just enough to allow corrosion and eating away of the metal. They do not use this type of gasket for head gaskets and quite a few cases have eaten away material, gasket or metal, to the point they have coolant in the cylinder.
    I am still at a loss as to the root of the problem. And wonder if GM is doing any longevity testing toward fixing the issue.
    Such issues have certainly gotten much worse as we have moved to newer materials. Is aluminum more susceptible than copper? Is it because of dissimilar metals? Even with aluminum blocks and heads, is it that they might be different alloys or even the slight variation of composition from one batch of aluminum to the next?
    Some claim the problem goes away when switching back to the green, but is it that they are then doing the annual flush and fill required for the green? IE, if they changed the Dexcool annually would the problem go away?
    Has anyone figured out what the composition of that dark sludge that forms or the reason for it with long use? (GM did claim that it formed when you had air in the system, yet I had it occur with both the recovery bottle system and a sealed pressurized bottle.)
    As to the supposed electrolysis fix by bonding, does it really work? I am fairly certain that I read a very similar fix many years ago, except it applied to diesel engines. That period would have been cast iron blocks and copper radiators. I get the feeling that they may have been overlooking something particular to diesel engines which involves more intense vibration resulting in what is known as cavitation of the coolant. The effect is that the coolant jack-hammers it way through metal. Water does not compress. The real solution to that problem is adding a special product that in part makes water wetter and stops the cavitation.
    I do not know if the electrolysis issue has resurfaced in diesels during the last 20 years with metalurigal changes and possibly coolant changes particular to diesels.

    I do remember seeing older vehicles that had bonding straps on heater cores, usually a springy metal strip fastened to the core and the other end often had a screw securing it. Even older radiators that were solid metal may have been bonded with rubber isolators that used a special compounding of the rubber so it was conductive. But with plastic end tanks, I have no idea if that plastic is specially compounded to conduct from the core. Even the coolant hoses could be made of a conductive rubber. I suspect none are currently.
    Finishing with a bit of humor via a prank we pulled a couple of times on newbs. Rubber O rings do not conduct, right? Well they do for special applications such as in RADAR waveguides. Besides stopping air and moisture from getting into the system, they also help bond one section to the next and stop leakage of the RADAR frequencies. If it was a slow day you could grab one of these newbs that did not know that and have him sit all day with an ohm meter and a big box of O rings. Give him two more boxes, one for the good ones and another for the bad ones. Almost always they will put the ones showing a few ohms, reading across the O ring with the two probes of the meter, in the box for bad ones. And that is when you start to razz them with, "Are you telling me all those are bad?"
  • I just found out that my 09 Malibu has a stress crack in the engine that allowed the coolant to leak into the oil. My dealership said there was a GM bulletin on this. I've not heard of it, but regardless, they are replacing the engine in my car. My car is still under warranty luckily. Has anyone else heard of this being a problem? Has this happened to anyone else? I have the 4 cylinder engine.
  • djm2djm2 Posts: 712
    Hi Missourigrl:

    I have purchased a new 2010 Malibu LTZ with a 4 cylinder engine. I am interested in this issue. Can you get a copy of this GM bulletin, and share the information with other people on this board? Keep us informed about this issue. Best regards. ----- Dwayne :shades: ;) :)
  • I have a 2003 Malibu with 150,540 miles and I am the original owner. This past week-end, I replaced the upper and lower intake manifold gaskets, because of an external coolant leak near the thermostat housing. I purchased the gasket set from Autozone. It came with the upper and lower gaskets, black RTV sealant and some o-rings. After taking it all apart, I inspected the gaskets and mounting surfaces. Everything appeared to be in order. After hearing the horror stories of the leaking intake manifold gaskets, I considered myself lucky to get 150K miles out it. I cleaned everything up and put it all back together. I started to refill the system. I got about a gallon in, when I thought I heard something leaking onto the ground. I took a look underneath and saw coolant dripping from the transaxle end of the engine. I looked around the top side and saw coolant pooled up on top of the transaxle to engine area. Further inspection revealed coolant weeping from the heater pipe to intake manifold inlet below the thermostat housing. I re-checked the parts box to see if I had any left-over parts. The only part remaining from the kit was an o-ring used for the distributor seal. I disassembled enough to gain access to remove the heater pipe. When I got it out, the o-ring looked worn-out. I had to get a replacement o-ring from the Chevy Service Dept. Total cost of the replacement o-ring: $1.22. Don't be surprised if a simple part is causing you major problems!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    I like to get all my gaskets right from the dealer because I know they aren't sitting around for a long time. But sounds like you did all right.

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  • Since this is my wife's car, I need to keep it up. She says it seems to be running better. I noticed that the idle is much smoother than before. Hopefully, I can get another 150K out of it.
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    The major problems with GM's OHV V6's (3.1, 3.8, 3.4, 4.3) tend to be the intake gasket and piston scuffing, with the gasket problem more serious. Looks like you caught it in time. It's not uncommon to put 300k on these engines. Good luck.
  • djm2djm2 Posts: 712
    Hi missourigri:

    How did the replacement engine from GM work out with your 4 cylinder Malibu. ------- Were you able to get a copy of the "GM bulletin" dealing with a stress crack in the engine allowing coolant to leak into the oil? ----- Kindly advise! ----- Best regards. -------- Dwayne :shades: :confuse: ;) :)
  • e_net_ridere_net_rider Posts: 1,380
    I've been doing a bit of research. I now have 3.6L, 2011.
    It came with PF48 filter installed, manual calls for PF63. This is a GM change and they may not have had new filters at production time. Filter is not yet available at dealers. And new dexos oil is not either.
    Another forum has a lot of timing chain failures on 3.6L. Mostly pre-2010. Is this an issue on Malibu?
    I changed oil with 22% life left and used a PF22500 because it crosses directly from the PF63. What I found was that the removed PF48 did not have an anti-drainback valve. My first thought was maybe the reason for the part change. I posted about the lack of valve on PF48 and some got back to me that I was wrong. PF48's do have valve. OK, but mine does not!
    The oil looked particularly bad for mileage so I had already elected to keep some and the filter just in case. Because of the horizontal mounting, dirty filtered oil could drain back to pan and lack of part might effect bypass valve, opening early.
    You may wish to do the same. Maybe even update to 2011 filter when they become available.
    Since new to about 2500 miles, MPG dropped suddenly after that about 3 MPG, both local and highway. Related, Unknown.
  • I just purchased an 09 Malibu and drove it less than 5 weeks when it blew a head gasket. The dealership replaced all of the head gaskets and 2 weeks later gave it back to me. Drove it less than 15 miles when it blew another head gasket the day after we got it back. Received a call from the dealership stating that they had just received a bulletin (not a recall) stating if the car was having these certain problems, then it had a crack in the engine block. So, now they are replacing the entire motor. All of my coolant leaked also which caused my temperature gauge to shoot way up and then started having a burnt smell coming through the air vents. Shut the car off and turned it back on a few minutes later and it sounded like a gush of water went out of something. looked under the car, no liquids found. Must have went into the busted seal on the head gasket (assumption). I also have the 4 cylinder engine. Have you had any problems since they replaced your engine?
  • gonogogonogo Posts: 879
    edited January 2011
    Some 4 cyl have had that problem. The liner is steel and when cast in the aluminum block, the block may develop a stress crack.
    The Trailblazer had that same problem with there 6 cyl inline engine. Testing for cracks must be done by the customer for GM.
  • The Asian guys have long been superior in the production of hi-reving 4 bangers..They use forged internal parts such as cranks and rods..The Big3 have used castings for the cranks and rods limiting the performance..The Asians started out with motorcycles and applied the same knowledge to the car engine..Having been involved in the hot-forging market from 1984 thru 2002 one learns that the Big3 only used the good stuff with hi-performance engines and the cast junk with the high-volume production..

    I am considering buying a new V-6 Malibu w/3.6, sunroof, cloth interior, and any suspension upgrades available, and would enjoy any comments as to troubles or negative input with the latest addition of the Malibu series..

    Currently own a 2006 V-6 Pontiac GT w/3.8 S/C engine and a 2010 Mustang GT w/track Pkg, and would like to spin the Pontiac off, no problems with it, bought it cheap w/4300 miles some 42 months ago, now showing 53k..Live in Fla, retired and enjoy the open road..hi-end cruise..

    The top end of the V-6 Malibu can be increased easily by tweaking the electronics, and upgrading to H-rated tires..however I am running T-rated on Pontiac, using Michelin Harmony that have excellent tread life and no problem with the high end..H-rated tire was std from factory on the Pontiac..

    The neatest little 4-banger from GM was the 260hp, turbo-charged with a great suspension setup in the Chevy Cobalt SS..which was phased out in 2010..I think it was also put in the HHR..Owned 53 cars over my 77 yrs..
  • jodi7jodi7 Posts: 9
    my malibu's latest problem is overheating and running out of coolant, this car is a moneypit I bought it a year ago used and since that time have replaced a fuel pump, battery, crankshaft sensor, tires and several other things that i can't remember off hand, the car also has an intermittant starting problem which while it usually willstart after an hour or so is incredibly annoying and inconveniant and no its not the ignition switch although I'll probably be replacing that at some point. I usually prefer American make cars-I'll never buy another chevy this car has soured me on them for good.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    you fail to mention how many miles are on this 9 year old car....the parts you mention all seem to be normal wear and tear for a car this age....did you get the maintenance history of the car..since you purchased it used?
  • jodi7jodi7 Posts: 9
    All except the battery and tires were an effort to repair the intermittant starting problem, I've also replaced the oil pump switch to no avail. Chevy Malibu's of this year are notorious for having multiple issues, and even though this car currently has 150K, head gaskets should not be blowing, again this is a problem that chevy's seem to inherently have. I've driven many a Ford, a chevy Beretta, and dodge trucks well over the 200K mark and other than routine replacements, tires, alternators, starters, exhausts, never had as many problems with a car. Google Chevy malibu and you will see hundreds of complaints of issues particularly with the early 2000's model.
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