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2000-2011 Chevrolet Malibu



  • blgrosblgros Posts: 6
    Bought my '01 Malibu LS last week. So far so good.

    One question: I notice the temp gauge tends to run between the half way mark and 2 "ticks" hotter than half. Is this normal? Seems a little hot to me, but maybe that's where it is supposed to be.

  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    The late 99 Malibu with 3.1l engine are the best.

    It already got the improved 170hp engine (can be checked by a letter in VIN). From 2000 there was a lot of small changes mostly to worse, including a tiny glove box (it used to be huge).

    Additionally, a batch of engines with bad pistons was produced and installed in 2000 and/or 2001 models.
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    Have a 98 Malibu. The temp gauge needle points exactly to middle most of time, goes up 1/2 notch only in city traffic during hot days.
  • haven't been on in a while, but I just hit 92,250 miles and I needed to get another alternator. Other then that, she is still runing very strong. It is almost time for my transmission fluid change and tune up. I'll post all the problems that I have had with the car later. Really not to many, but there were some. Anyone can email me if you want.
  • I have had a 98LS for over 3 years with 33K miles and only had to replace the front rotars three times. Now that it is out of warranty (since june) I have heard about the AC problem, I got it and I hear that there is a tail light problem. I've replaced the bulbs 2 times recently and they burn out right away. Any suggestions as to what to do since I am out of warranty? If the 97 and 98's have all of these problems, why don't they recall them and fix them?
  • Had the repair done for the leak at the intake manifold, had an appointment and it was suppose to be an all day repair but took about 3, took it on wednesday morning and got it back friday afternoon. Also had the flickering a/c fixed, now it seems to blow even colder even on the speed the light didn't blink on.

    There is something verrryyy weird about the tires on our car. two of them seem to be low profile, but two don't, i checked the size/brand and they are the exact same, i just don't understand it.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    I hate to re-post a topic esp. as minor as this. Does anyone have a LS? If you do,do you have a coin holder? If so, did it come with the car? If not, can you recommend where I can get one?


    P.S. 2300 miles and going strong. 31.5 mpg last tank probably about 26-27 this tank.
  • I have a 2001 Malibu with the 3.1 engine that makes a ticking noise at cold startup.Please refer
    to message # 539. I would like to learn the source of your information concerning defective pistons in the 2000 & 2001 3.1 Engines. The Dealership's Service Manager said they would replaced my engine . He also stated the noises I was hearing was common to all 3.1 engines. Before I go having an engine replaced I'd like get few more facts. Note Engine has 11,000 miles to date.
    Thanks, Sparky 51
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    I would check the NHTSA web site for TSB (technical Service Bulletins) They are issued by the manufacturer to the dealerships describing remedies for problems a car may have. I'm sure if he is offering to replace the engine, it must have been directed by Chevrolet.
  • I have a 2001 LS and I don't have any coin holders.

    I don't really need coin holders, but I"m suprised they were available in the base model.
  • Can get 2000 Malibu w/36,000 warranty for $10,900. About 30,000 miles. No power windows or locks, back seat does not fold down. 6cyl. Blue.

    Can get 1997 Honda Accord w/36,000 warranty for $10,500. 77,728 miles Power windows, locks, back seat folds down. 4cyl. Champagne-type color.

    Which would you go with & why?
    email me at
  • Oops, I meant that the Honda has a warranty till 2003 and is marked at $9,900. (I've been looking at too many cars...) It also has sunroof.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    Personally, I would buy the Chevy Malibu. Here are my reasons:

    1) less miles on the Malibu and better warranty.

    2) You will be hit with a huge bill for the Accord in exactly 12,272 miles. The timing belt of your Accord needs to be replaced at 90,000 miles. That will run oyu at least $300, $500 if you replace the water pump (which you should).

    3) 1997 is the last model year of the preceidng design of the Accord. Still an attractive vehicle but it has significantly less space then the 2000 Malibu.

    The Accord does have better features that make it more attractive but it also has twice the miles. The real decision is whether oyu can live without power windows, locks, etc. I can't but each person has his/her different needs.

    Good luck.
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    I'd take a smooth GM V6 over a 4 banger any day, even a Honda. 2000 Malibu is pretty reliable from what I see so you should be in good shape unless the car was abused.
  • Hello. Responding to your Malibu fuel gage, we had the same thing happen when we changed our alternator. Took it to the dealer and they said the dash would have to be taken out, sent off for repair and this would cost us approximately $350.00. We or course said no. My brother-in-law took a paper clip and popped the needle over the stopper using the hole for the odometer reset.

    Just a note, the low fuel light still works and so does the fuel gage now!
  • Well, I'll be getting the Chevy Malibu 2000 on Wednesday. Even though it doesn't have power locks, windows, fold-down seat, I think I'll be happy with it. Roomy trunk. Lotsa places to put cups & toys. Smoooth ride. The biggest thing is knowing that a V6 should last longer than a V4... so with a 2000 model, I should be set for awhile. I hope. That's the most important point... who has time to take cars in for repairs or to shop for another one.
  • The alternator on our 99 cutlass stopped working this morning. Surpisingly it was covered under the 3rd party extended warranty so all i paid was $50. What causes alternators to stop functioning?
  • Just wanted to get anyone's opinions on two Malibu's I'm considering:
    '98 LS, 13,000 miles for $12,995
    '99 LS, 29,000 miles for $9,950

    Both are in really nice shape, run well, and essentially have all the same amenities. Carfax reports on both came back clean. Not too concerned about any resale value, as I plan on driving it till it drops or gets totaled, whichever comes first. I'm leaning one way for sure, won't say which though. Don't want to influence the jury. Any opinions are appreciated. Just like to hear different perspective. If you were me, what would you buy?
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    I would check first more precisely when they were produced: the month not year.

    The late 99 Malibu already had improved 170-hp engine vs. 150-155hp with 98 and early 99. It is possible to tell exactly by VIN: the different engine are coded by different letter in VIN, but I do not remember what letter.

    The early 98, produced in 97, are practically the first year model. Have the same problems with reliability as 97. My Malibu was built in July 97: a nice car to drive, but a lot of small repairs was needed, plus two more expensive ones.

    However, if the two cars you are comparing were built a month or two apart, the only serious difference is in mileage.
  • Thanks for the input. Both models were produced in March of their respective years. Kind of a bummer to hear that the later 99's have more HP, but I find myself leaning towards the 99 as the numerous accounts of reliability issues on the earlier models sort of nullifies any difference in mileage in my mind.
  • I purchased a 1998 Malibu LS in June of that year, dead in the middle of the GM strike, and used Edmunds to assist me in making a decision. Now that the car has passed its third birthday, it gives me a chance to reflect on the Malibu. It has about 43000 miles on it.

    First, the good news. I got a very good deal on a car that is substantial in size and room, with a large trunk and a reasonably good stereo system and heating and cooling unit. I also went for the LS, which gave me an engine that can really move the car. You can accelerate quick enough to safely pass slow-pokes and not feel the car straining to get up to speed. The windshield gives you a lot of viewing space, but unfortunately the car's design also makes it a target for more road spray than any other car or truck I have driven.

    Here in western New York, winter salt spray is particularly a nuisance, so I find the need to use the windshield wiper fluid quite a bit. It makes me hate those darn SUV's and other ridiculous "I had to buy this because all my neighbors have them" high profile vehicles, because you can never see around them and whatever they spray ends up dead on the windshield.

    Those positive points are tempered by the negatives I have also experienced.

    Like many other owners, I too have nothing positive to say about the brakes on the Malibu. They've been serviced at least annually, with complete factory replacements last year to the tune of $400 dollars. Despite that, less than a year later, it still requires pushing that pedal to the floor to comfortably stop, particularly when the road is wet. It's probably time to deal with them again, but I think I'll go aftermarket this time. Brake dust tends to foul the wheels as well, and its easier to deal with early, so don't let it accumulate or you will be spending a lot of time getting rid of it.

    I have also experienced the low coolant problem. When it happened this past winter, the dealer supposedly checked the system and found no leaks and topped it off, perhaps replacing the cap. The problem has just returned once again, and I am personally dreading the manifold leak problem reported by many others. This car just came off of warranty this year and if it is a leak, I intend to raise a fuss with the dealer who told me this past spring that it wasn't a leak. The car was in warranty at the time. For the time being, because there is always a wait to get in with the dealer, I'll top it off with some Prestone Dexcool I bought. I am assuming it is okay to top it off for the moment.

    Other problems:

    The factory CD/cassette combo unit has been replaced for the third time. Radio reception has been fine, but who wants to listen to that. My problem has been with the CD player. After so many bumps and jolts, the laser head ends up out of alignment and they simply replace the whole unit. I likely won't waste my time with another factory radio now that I am out of warranty.

    Water leaks are also a problem with the 1998 Malibu, but not in the compartment but rather in the lens assembly. The brake and headlights needed far more attention than they should have. As others have experienced, bulb burnouts are a bit too common, but I discovered a major reason for this is water in the assembly.

    Condensation in the headlight assembly is extremely common on my Malibu, and when attempting to replace a rear blown tail light myself, I discovered a pool of dirty water had collected at the bottom of the plastic assembly and the moisture level corroded the contacts of the assembly itself. Once the corrosion also spreads to the bulb contact, your lights begin to dim and then eventually they fail. The standard bulbs should go opaque when they blow. If they are transparent, it may be the contact points. If they are rusted, you may need a new lens assembly.

    Guess what? That plastic box which holds the lights is NOT CHEAP. It's $260, but the dealer installed it for free, claiming he shared my outrage at the price. I replaced the driver side. I fear what I'll find if I need to get into the passenger side.

    I suspect this problem originated at the local car wash. The Malibu is not watertight in another place as well - the front driver and passenger doors. After the car wash, when opening the door, the bottom of the door jam tends to always be sudsy.

    The climate control switch has a relay which often fails when you don't pay careful attention to put the switch precisely at the click stop. I managed to get slightly off and between settings one and two and that totalled the relay. You'll notice this when you get no fan blower movement on settings one and two. It was under warranty so that was fixed for free, but I've seen this is a common problem in reviewing other messages.

    Condensation in the rear window, especially in winter, is common for me also. I solve it by keeping the heater out of the recirculate compartment air mode. Use the air from outside setting.

    The factory standard Firestone tires wore prematurely on my Malibu and required replacement at 30,000 miles. I went with Firestone SH (or SB, I can't remember) 30 tires, which are louder than the Affinity's but handle the road better.

    Winter driving with the Malibu is fine when you are cautious, but this car is not designed for driving through Rochester, NY style snowstorms. It's low profile will "plow" the road if there is significant accumulation, and the underbody scrapes when you hit one of those snow "cookies" is unsettling. If you drive cautiously, the SH/SB 30 tires will keep you safe, much better than the Affinity's did for me.

    The seatbelts sometimes lose their springiness after a lot of use. Mine became a nuisance because they wouldn't retract properly. Under warranty, the dealer replaced them. The new ones are roomier and a bit easier to cope with.

    Those are the experiences I have had. I like the styling and general performance of the Malibu, but I am honestly disappointed that GM seems to have been sloppy in several respects with this vehicle and I am concerned about how well it will age. I am now considering an extended warranty fearing what else may be forthcoming, as I would like to actually pay it off next June and still have a working automobile until at least 100,000 miles without having to drag it to the dealer every few months for this or that.

    Under warranty, "this or that" was just time consuming. But now it may become expensive and time consuming.

    I do warn those in the market for a used 98 to pay careful attention to the brake issue and the coolant level problem, which are by far the most common problems I've seen reported in my research.
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    Thanks for the update. Sounds like 98 is a year to avoid. Do you have a V6? I think LS models all do.
  • Yes, all of the 98 Malibu LS' come with the V6 engine.

    I made an appointment with the dealer this morning to bring it in Monday for a test to determine if I am the latest victim of the leaking intake manifold problem. It is a $700 minimum repair at the dealer. Yikes.

    They are well aware of the problem - they see it quite a bit. I checked my service records and found that when I had this problem back in March of this year, they didn't bother to test for leaks - they just filled it. Of course, that was when it was under warranty. I intend to blow my own gasket if it turns out to be the $700 problem and ask why they didn't test for that back in March and potentially deal with it as a warranty issue back then. Maybe I'll find a way to get some sort of discount. I can be very polite, but also persistant and hopefully persuasive.

    I was told it may also be a hose leak or a bad cap, which has also spawned a service bulletin from GM, but my luck sucks.

    BTW, I also rummaged through my papers and discovered I had more problems than I could recall initially.

    Here is the total breadown: (NC=No charge/warranty)

    25 JUN 98 Car delivered
    13 JUL 98 CD deck replaced NC
    02 JUL 99 Passenger side tail light replaced NC
    02 JUL 99 Bulging weather stripping - lens assembly NC
    02 JUL 99 Insulator, rear stabilizer shaft replaced* NC
    02 JUL 99 Rear sway bar bushings cracked/dry, replaced NC
    29 JUN 00 Driver's rear tail light replaced NC
    29 JUN 00 CD deck replaced NC
    29 JUN 00 Brake pads changed, rotors turned ($215-23k miles)
    18 JUL 00 CD deck replaced NC
    25 SEP 00 Replaced warped rotors NC** (28k miles)
    27 MAR 01 Bad blower motor resistor replaced NC
    27 MAR 01 Low coolant level warning light - topped off NC
    27 MAR 01 Seat belt driver's side replaced NC
    15 SEP 01 Serpentine belt replaced + New lens assembly ($400)

    * - This problem is identified if you hear a lot of creaking when getting in or out of the car. It sort of groans and makes a sound somewhat similar to a bed with noisy springs.

    ** - The rotors were replaced free because I had paid for brake service just a few months earlier. Keep your service records. Pointing out you've had an identical problem "fixed" earlier can give you leverage with cost to refix.
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    You definitely have a lemon there.A couple of months ago I was asking about a used Malibu for a friend here at the office. She ended up buying a 99 and so far so good. It's a base model with the 3.1L. She took me for a ride last week and it seemed solid. She bought it from a GM dealer so she has a small warranty period and a 30 day money back guarantee. She says she will keep it.
  • godeacsgodeacs Posts: 481
    Been considering a 2002 LS, nice price and 0% financing. Will save big $$$ up front but wondering if I'll give them all back, and more, on maintenance costs! Hopefully, the recent years have been better. Perhaps if I get an extended warranty at time of purchase it may help....comments?
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    Believe or not the maintenance for the Malibu are quite simple. For the most part, it is change the oil, rotate the tires and check/change the air filter every 15k miles for the first 50,000 miles. I was pleasently surprised by this. The coolant is suppose to be 150k but some people have linked the coolant to leading to the manifold leaks. They claim the coolant breaks down the gaskets over time. To be on the safe side, I'll change mine at 30k.

    The Malibu has better reliability for the past 3 model years. Check Consumers. BTW, Consumers is the only magazine that gives the Mailbu a bad review. Every other magazine, web site, etc. gives the Malibu very favorable reivew Brakes, leaks and manifold leak (Common in all the GM V6 engines. There's a separate board dedicated to just that) were inherent problems with the first 2 model years. I have a 2001 Malibu with 3500 miles. So far so good. I average about 24 mpg in mix driving and 29-30 mpg on the highway. So far I haven't regretted the purchase. BTW, I had my first service performed to day, gratis. It was an oil change and grease the suspension fittings. The total on the sheet was $24.35. Not too bad. Next service is oil change and rotate the tires. may get that done at an independent garage. i'll follow the 5,000 mile service. We drive highway majority of the time.

    I bought mine end of July for about $17,200 (LS) This includes the $1500 rebate. The finance rate they offered was 7%. Ended up financing thru credit union for 6.4%. When we bought ours, ther e may have been 5 2001 LS in the entire area (according to the GM site on Edmunds). So there was slim pickins. Plus I wanted to purchase locally. Now they have great rates, 0.0%.

    They offered a extended warranty for 5 yrs/75,000 miles (which is actually 2 yrs/39,000 miles) for $1500. Even if you have all the problems listed above that still doesn't total $1500. (The manifold leak is $700 and brakes are $400 (go aftermarket once warranty is up)). GM transmissions are some of the best in the business so I would be stunned if something were to go wrng there. Of course you can get a plugged oxygen sensor or a bad EGR valve or a stuck thermostat but that happens in all vehicles. Anyway, I thought the extended warranty was way overpriced. Try a third party extended warranty, just make sure that it doesn't have a clause that state they don't cover damage cause by gaskets.

    Good luck with the Malibu. Let me know if you have any questions.
  • godeacsgodeacs Posts: 481
    for the info! Sounds like the Malibu is getting better with age! Can get the LS for $18.7K with 0% financing - quite tempting! Will have to see what they give me on my trade in.....
  • My 2000 Malibu has about 23,000 miles and is ready for it's THIRD alternator. Is this a common problem?
  • Hi Folks! Got a question for all you Malibu owners. My wife bought a 98 malibu in the fall of 97. Never really had any major problems. In fact until recently its been pretty reliable. But lately we've been having problems with the ignition. The first go round the car would not turn over, then it would, then it wouldn't. Took it to the dealer they couldn't find anything wrong. Went to pick up the car and it wouldn't start for them. They blamed the ignition key. New key made by dealer, car starts...great. Two weeks later car won't start. Tow it to dealer this time, they replace ignition and battery (ignition still under exented warranty. Two weeks later its doing the same thing all over again. So back to the dealer and its sitting there right now. No one knows why this is happening. Does anyone out there know?? How about any TSB's on the problem?? If this keeps up I'm filing a Lemon Law claim. The last thing I need is to have my wife and kids stuck somewhere because my longest lasting most dependable car on the market wont start.
  • godeacsgodeacs Posts: 481
    Sorry to hear about your ignition problems (have been considering a 2002 Malibu). Good thing you have the extended warranty because I don't think a lemon law clause applies to a car 4 yrs old....

    Have the dealer keep checking...surely this has happened to other Malibus before...good luck!
This discussion has been closed.