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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • I looked around and couldn't find any other posts on this forum regarding this topic, so I thought I'd see if anyone has/had this problem.

    I bought my 2004 Malibu used about six months ago. It had been driven as a company car for about a year and abused pretty badly for such a new car. One of the problems with the car was that there were stains on the front and rear passenger seats. It looked like somebody had spilled something all over them and then dried, leaving a sort of patchy stain. The rest of the car was pretty dirty too, so I figured I would get it detailed and see if the stains came out, and they did. I thought my problems were over, but last night I went for a jog in the rain and drove home from the track. This morning I noticed similar stains, but much worse all over the driver's seat. I'm sure that I only got water and nothing else on the seat, and that these stains are new and not just the ones I had taken out resurfacing. I've also noticed small stains on the other seats where water has dripped when the doors were opened. I find it hard to believe that GM could apholster their seats with fabric that stains simply by coming into contact with water, but apparently they did in my car. Has anybody had the same problem, and if so, is there a solution?
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    That's pretty much what the dealership said too. He was polite about it, and I really couldn't argue. (Dunno what I was expecting! senile moment I guess..)

    As for the other things- I forgot one off my list:
    Weak / chattering passenger side power window. This has happened before, and they've always just lubed the window seal (assuming silicone of some sort), which took care of the chattering, but not the slow window motor. This time I insisted that they also deal with the motor, before the car's out of warranty and it fails altogether.

    1) Piece of cake. Cost ~$35.
    2) (Had answer above, but repeating here to keep things together) The manager claims to have checked other cars on the lot, says they're all the same. Supposedly they leave some slack in the handle to avoid overstressing the cable? (Makes little sense to me, but if they really ARE all that way, whattayado?)
    3) Mentioned above. Basically, I'm going to take care of this one by taking the car to a body shop and having this spot and any others addressed, as well as having some minor custom graphics added, to please my wife. This may be a few months away. For the short term, has anyone got a good suggestion for stopping / preventing the spread of the rust until I get time / money to get the car into the shop?
    4) Trunk release glitching. Wouldn't you know it. The thing's refusing to glitch now. First they claimed you have to wait for it to reset, but later they simply claimed they couldn't reproduce the problem. Since it's working perfectly (regardless of how many times I've opened it trying to cause the problem) I just asked that they keep the ticket marked as "unable to reproduce" so that if it doesn't happen again until outside the warranty I can still get it addressed properly.
    5) Power window. Two things were at fault. The first was the dry rubber seal around the windows, which they lubricated again (seems to need this about 3 times a year, so I guess I'm going to stock up on silicone lube myself..). The second was that the motor / mechanism itself was dirty. They cleaned it and lubricated it (also did driver's side, which the mechanic said was also dirty). The passenger side is still slower than the driver side, but it's so close now that I won't press the issue. (the driver's side closes while the passenger side still has between 2 and 3 inches of travel left if you close them both simultaneously from fully open. It was at least twice that or more.)

    With all my minor problems, I still love this car. I'm not blind to any faults (for example, the seats are a bit hard on the backside on longer trips, and the suspension is a bit firm over the rough pavement we have here in this part of NC's highways), but overall it was still an excellent value. Great performance and fuel economy for a mid-size family vehicle, good fit and finish, relatively low number of problems (for an early 1st model year build!), outstanding level of equipment for the dollar- it all adds up to a deal that's hard to beat. Unless of course, you bought a Maxx (my wife and I both still have issues with the rear styling, but can't argue against the extra functionality). ;)

    The local service department experience has pretty much sealed our satisfaction with the vehicle though. Even when we don't "get our way" they're polite and do a good job of explaining why. More often they go out of their way to make us happy, even if it means fixing something that most others might balk at. Too bad more dealerships don't provide this sort of experience, or GM might not be sitting where it is financially right now.
  • The maintenance manual talks about applying some kind of silicone lubricant on a regular basis. Is this really important? :confuse:
    I haven't been able to find anything fitting the description at the auto parts store. When I asked the service desk whether they apply this during the oil change service, I was told that it was up to me. Apparently, they don't think it is that important.
    However, this is my first car with a sunroof and if this stuff will help maintain the gasket, where can I get some? :surprise:

    I'd appreciate any opinions/info.
  • prdmprdm Posts: 145
    Silicone spray onto a cloth. Rub that around the weatherstripping. It prevents the rubber from drying out and in winter (if that's an issue for you) it prevents the doors from sticking to the frames.
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 156
    The owners manual has the part number for the dielectic silicon grease which you can get from the dealer parts dept. I got tube (about $12 at dealer) and smeared it on all my door gaskets with my fingers. A little goes a long way. You can see the difference in the gaskets after you put this on. I did not use is on the gaskets that touches the window glass when you close the windows as the grease would transfer to the glass when you open and close the windows.

    The packaging did not say anything about using it on door gaskets. It is normally used on spark plug boots to keep them soft and easy to remove. You can buy this stuff in an auto store for a couple bucks per tube.

    I also checked with service and they do not apply this grease as part of regular maintenance work.
  • kmaurerkmaurer Posts: 48
    I have the same problem with my 04 Malibu (grey interior). Water will stain the seats. Also, make sure to clean the ENTIRE seat cushion when you clean it, or it will leave another stain.
  • joe3891joe3891 Posts: 759
    Ever try isopropyl alcohol, it worked on the head liner, and no stain. :)
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 156
    I have 04 Maxx LS and have not had any problems with water staining the seat fabric. I rented an 05 base Malibu sedan and the front seats were very stained. Perhap this is only a problem in the base models. They use a different fabric than the LS models.
  • I wonder too if anyone had the perma-plate done, that can also help to avoid stains on the fabric. I have leather and had both of my Maxxes done right after I bought them. Don't know how much difference that might make.
  • kmaurerkmaurer Posts: 48
    My Malibu is an 04 LS. The seat stains occurred with purified water - I put a mug on the back set that I thought was completely empty, but it had a few drops of water left in the mug. Well, the few drops oozed out onto the fabric and caused a ring where the water dried. The local GM dealer also got a small grease stain on my driver's seat that I haven't been able to get out (although it is slowly disappearing).

    For now, I now have a "no food, no drink" rule in the car.
  • My parents have a 2000 Chevy Malibu with 49K miles. It started squealing in the last couple of month. I figured it’s the belts. When I try to change the belts I realized that whoever designed the engine placement is RETARD.

    To change the belt, you have to remove the MOTOR MOUNT. In case, y’all don’t know what a motor mount does, it attaches the engine to the car. I don’t know how many of you out there have an engine hoist to raise the engine, so that it won’t dip after you remove the motor mount, but I don’t. I’m pretty sure unless you are a really serious DIY that likes to rebuild engine and transmissions, you won’t have one either. The only other option is take it to a shop and pay about $150 to change a frigging belt.
  • joe3891joe3891 Posts: 759
    A wheel jack and a piece of 2X4 under the front of the pan will hold it up. :)
  • djazzmodjazzmo Posts: 1
    I bought a 2005 Malibu Maxx program car. Love the car but I keep having problems with the CD Player. The old one would not read any CDs. Had it replaced with a new unit. On the new unit the tuning and volume knobs just stop working for a while. It's very frustrating. There seems to be a software problem in the radio. Anybody else had this problem?
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    The problem with tuning and volume knobs sounds specific to this part. I thought knobs are replaceable so I wonder if it has something to do with that?

    I have seen other posts on radio and often complaint IS with CD player. I would have thought that the latest service radio corrected these issues - and I guess you haven't had a repeat of that issue.

    Easter Egg!
    There is some way to read software level out of radio with a combination of button pushes. Might be interesting for you to see if you can read it out. It doesn't hurt anything to check but it does require a little coordination ;)

    Seek up,Preset 5, Display pushed and released simultaneously
    Then just push Display to cycle thru values. Mode times out in a few seconds if you don't keep pushing the Display. Your dealer won't know about that one :P but they have a scan tool to find out same information.
  • Purchased my Maxx 05 in July. Had a 7 mph hit to a pole in garage 3 weeks later. To date my maxx is still in the shop. The service rep. from my dealership called and said there is a 7 to 8 month back-order on the part needed, FRAME RAIL. GM has stopped production due to quality issue? My dealership contact said he had talked with the GM rep for Michigan and they told him they had located a 2005 maxx that had been TOTALED and to use the frame rail from this auto!
    My insurance man had called and was not comfortable with them fixing my car of THREE WEEKS with a JUNK YARD piece. I have called and contacted any and everyone I can to date, GM has said they feel they have fixed the problem for me.
    Any others with same issue, or advise
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    uum tough to call if your insurance carrier isnt comfortable using the used part....frame that a front, rear or side piece?..I cant imagine there is a back order of a part that long...and they have stopped production of the malibu for this one that what GM is telling you??? Curious
  • I had the same issue with my 05 Maxx and the left rear wheel liner. My wife ripped it out about 3 months ago when her bumper got caught on a stump she had backed over when she pulled away. They told me the part wasn't available when I checked at the local dealership. Cosmetically it looks ok except if you notice the missing mud flap. I'm sure all sorts of crap is getting splashed up into the rear quarter. Guess it's time to check again...
  • breyerbreyer Posts: 1
    I purchased a used 98 Malibu and have experienced complete brake failure twice. We live in the mountains so is very dangerous! After letting the car sit for 30 minutes, was functional again. I know very little about mechanics & I have limited resources for qualified mechanics where I live. Advice received includes replacement of the master cylinder and the brake assist / vacuum diaphram. Thank you for your response.
  • The part needed is the front frame rail. GM has stopped production of the frame rail because of a quality issue, not the malibu. Gm has stated there will be a 6 or 7 month wait for part to be available.
    GM has told dealership to look into a salvage yard piece to fix the issue. My concerns are that GM would even consider having a dealership repair a new auto with salvage parts. What safety issues may come up later, as well as warranty and valuation concerns. Are new car buyers now to be concerned that GM quality parts are now purchased from the local junk yard? I have placed calls to the appropriate line of command at GM, they have stated that it is GM's position they have found the solution. Any thoughts are appreciated.
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    as long as GM backs the warranty of the vehicle after repair ( get in writing) shouldnt matter...since the car was involved in an accident...and repaired at the GM will always have that record of repair....and will impact resale far as safety is concerned..if the GM repair shop recovers, inspects, installs and warranties the product....then the safety concern is long as it was not damaged to begin I stated earlier....does your insurance carrier care..and will he pay for the part from salvage.

    Again...a 7 month wait.....there are parts available to build a car today...there must be a part to replace the damage one.....its GMs willingness to let a part go that was designated for production.....I had to wait almost a month for the rear quarter panel my Maxx..couldnt beleive ti was back ordered that long..
  • wwadewwade Posts: 1
    i had the same problem with my 2001 malibu , would not start, changed fuel pump,still would not start,towed it to shop ,cranked right up a week later same thing would not start , did all the keyswitch thing still wouldn't start .the thing that got me is every time it wouldn't start ,it was parked in the same spot in my driveway,with the driverside front wheel was in a small pothole so i thought maybe theres a low engine oil switch so i checked engine oil ,it was full so i over filled it 1/4 inch over full tried it and it cranked right up.if this works for any one plese reply thanks [email protected]
  • bhw77bhw77 Posts: 101
    My 04 Maxx makes a pretty loud rattling noise then it goes over rough surfaces.
    Seems like it comes from front suspension. Any idea before I take it to a dealer?
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    My sedan does that too. We don't have the time right now to drop it off to have that checked out (just had a visit a week or so ago for some other stuff). But it's coming up on an oil change again (DIC indicates ~16%) and we'll probably have them check this out when we take it in for that. I've kind of been waiting for someone else with the issue that's had the problem and dealt with it to post here so I have an idea what they need to look for. Does that say how little faith most of the service departments I've dealt with have left me? Even though the current one seems pretty competent once they finally identify the cause of an issue. (sometimes takes them a second or third visit though)
  • bhw77bhw77 Posts: 101
    My DIC is 57% and I do not have ANY faith in dealer's service department.
    I do recall thou, that there was similar problem discussed earlier and it turned out to be steering column related...
  • skyhawkskyhawk Posts: 126
    At my last dealer appoinment I told them the front end feels like and sounds like it is going to fall off when I hit a bump. It is worse if I am going around a curve. Naturally they told me nothing was wrong. However the noise was gone. Wonder what they did.
  • My 04 Maxx has a front (suspension?) rattle as well. It seems to be in the front on the passenger side. So far the dealer has replaced the steering column, one strut, one strut bearing and the anti-sway bar end bushing. It still rattles. The dealer has run out of ideas and I have run out of patience. Smooth roads and a loud radio seem to be the best solution!
  • The '05 malibu maxx they had for demo rattled its front suspension when going over ruts and speed bumps (was relatively new - 200 miles or so). Mine rattles over bumps as well - 27K miles.

    While I detest the practice, it is now common repair policy to use "refurbished" parts for repair (read your warranties for other products, especially computers! you'll see!). I assume this includes salvaged frame components as well?

    ...and what's with these 7-month part backlogs? Is the Fairfax plant running three shifts to build these cars or what?
  • I had a rattling noise in the front of my 2004 Maxx when driving down bumpy or gravel roads. Took it to the dealer and this is what the service sheet says they did:

    I have since not noticed the rattle anymore, but I have no idea what they actually did.
  • mr_botsmr_bots Posts: 236
    I had a similar rattle that sounded like a loose strut, that turned out to be the steering column, after replacing it the problem went away. But has returned (about 11k miles later) but not as bad as it was. Probably won't get it fixed again unless it gets worse, as the only time it makes the noise is when driving down my drive-way at about 10mph.
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    That sounds exactly like the rattle we hear in ours. We travel up / down about 250 feet of gravel surfaced driveway to get in and out from our house, and that's where I notice the rattle most. It also occasionally rattles when turning into or out of parking lots and speed bumps.
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