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Chevrolet Malibu: Problems & Solutions



  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    It is 5 quarts on the 3.5 liter engine. I change my oil myself. As for the sulfur smell, this is not uncommon for a new car. It is very prevalent in Toyotas, and apparently in the state of California due to gas additives. Let your car break in a while, and see (smell) if it continues.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    From GM TechLink

    Three conditions are necessary for "rotten egg" or hydrogen sulfide odor to be present in exhaust gasses:
    - Hot catalytic converter
    - Sulfur in the fuel
    - Rich air-fuel ratio, at least momentarily.

    Of these three, the quantity of sulfur present in the fuel is the most variable, and most difficult to control for both a vehicle manufacturer and a customer.

    High amounts of sulfur in fuel can cause not only a rotten egg odor in exhaust gasses, but also certain re-active sulfurs can corrode silver contacts in the fuel level sender, causing erroneous fuel gauge readings.

    At present, there is no EPA requirement for the level of sulfur in fuel, outside of the state of California, and the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) specification limit is 1000 parts per million (PPM). To put that number into perspective, the current limit for sulfur in California phase 2 gasolines requires an average of less than 30 PPM.

    In 2004, the EPA will begin limiting the sulfur content in gasoline. In 2004, the EPA limit for the corporate average sulfur content will be 120 ppm, and no single gasoline can exceed 300 ppm (except for small refiner exemptions). By 2006, the corporate average will be limited to 30 ppm (the current California limit), with a maximum of 80 ppm (except for small refiner delays). California Phase 3 gasoline, which will be available next year, will have a maximum sulfur content of 15 ppm.

    In the absence of an identified vehicle condition, customers can be advised to temporarily change to a premium grade brand of fuel from a major supplier such as Shell, Exxon, Texaco or Chevron. Premium fuels in general have been found to have lower sulfur levels. However, even these suppliers can be susceptible in areas where base fuels are delivered either by pipeline or from the same refinery.

    TIP: Dealers should refrain from attempting repairs or replacing catalytic converters for odor complaints, unless there is a MIL indicating a part deficiency.
  • Have driven 2 more (Pontiac G6,Malibu LS) with the 3.5 v6 here in upstate NY,also own 04 silverado,04 Deville,no odor,using Hess,Exxon/Mobil,Sunoco fuel.My vehicle in question did have a loud converter crackling sound once while entering my driveway after a long drive.Fuel blend will change for the winter,converter will not be 100% come Spring odor will be gone ?- LOL. Have bought new GM cars/trucks since 1984.Will I continue YES ! (wife loves her Malibu)
  • I have a 04 malibu lt.If you have one let me know if you are having any problems with it.I have problems with the radio/cd/xm and a have noises in the front end.,thanks ">
  • Hi gang,
    2004 Maxx LT with almost 34K miles. Last 6 of VIN is 179608. Car is running fine with no complaints, but the 36K manufacturer's warranty will soon expire and I'd like to know if there is any work I should have done beforehand. Can e2helper consult his magic oracle stone and let me know? Thanks --
  • As previously posted our 2004 Maxx has been basically trouble-free. However, one strange thing happened this weekend. I was backing out of a driveway shortly after starting the engine, and noticed the steering was extremely stiff - almost like no power assist. There were no failure indications in the DIC. Electrical load would have been high, since it was just before sunrise, and the temperature was near freezing. Once I straightened the wheels and applied some power the steering was normal. I have not noticed this before -- does the electric steering assist drop off line under certain conditions?
  • Hi all. Newbie here.
    My Malibu 97 with 104K miles on it, is giving me hard time.
    The check engine light is on, and most of the time it flashes. The OBD code shows mulitple misfire in cylinder4. I changed the spark plug with a friend and nothing changed. The car vibrates a lot while running and that scary check engine light is still flashing. Could anyone help me out with there experience on similar problems. I am planning to go to a mechaic tomorrow, however would like to hear you guys take on this.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Build date was 02/25/04. This would already had revised steering column. For your other post, it doesn't sound like it was cold enough to be applicable but you might suggest dealer look at TSB 05-02-32-001A. Just don't tell them where you heard it - :)

    The only other thing I could say is that your engine controller doesn't have latest calibration but if you aren't experiencing any complaints might be better to leave it alone -- new calibration was supposed to have some improvements for starting, idle quality and some changes to 3-4 upshift which I think people noticed when using cruise control going up/down hills.
  • Thanks. Can you tell me more about TSB 05-02-32-001A or direct me to a site or post with information? Sorry but the search function was no help.

    Also, is my transmission the configuration with the "howl"? I've heard a resonance under certain conditions, but no louder than I've experienced in several other vehicles.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    Title of TSB is Steering - Increased Steering Effort on Start-Up Cold, however it mentions lower than 10 deg F which you weren't at - that is why I said might not be applicable.

    As far as the transmission, it is possible. TSB 04-07-30-021A gave a date code range of transmissions which might exhibit this - your dealer would have to check to see if it does apply.
  • If the transmission proves to have a "howlin' date code", am I better off at this point to have it fixed or not? Having the average dealer mechanic crack open a transmission scares me, particularly when the remaining warranty is so short and any post-modification problems would presumably NOT be covered. I don't find the noise objectionable; in fact, it's barely noticeable. Would it likely get worse as the car ages? Since this is a resonance, any chance it would eventually damage the transmission? What do others who've had the "howl" or had it fixed think?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    I had mine done, and am glad I did. I believe the howl is a resonance from the chain. I cannot imagine that it is a good thing to have such a vital part "out of balance". On my Maxx, I have noticed more performance out of my engine. However, I can still hear a minor resonance, so the "fix" did not totally silence it. My other point would be that if the mechanics ultimately cause more damage, I get a new tranny out of it. Since I have a GMPP to back me up, I can make that statement with a smile on my face. In general, if the noise is not bothering you, and you believe the vehicle is functioning perfectly as is, and you only have the 3/36,000 warranty in your pocket, I would not get the procedure done.
  • gonogogonogo Posts: 879
    I had mine done at 400 miles, now 14 K, mine made lots of noise, glad I had it done. The TSB for the repair spells out how to do the replacement, even what bolts to remove, the complete procedure step by step. The chain in there now is only 5/8 inch and they replace it with a 7/8 inch chain which I think would hold up better. Only some trans build codes apply, I think someone though it was a good idea to put in a cheaper chain to save a buck, didn’t work. :)
  • jmax4jmax4 Posts: 22
    Another pull to the left car

    After the steering column replacement the steering wheel started to turn left by itself while accelerating from the stop. It turns left for about 10 degrees. This is in addition to the pull to the left issue, which became more drastic and requires more effort to keep the car straight.

    The front tires were rotated, the alignment checked and the outcome was no change at all.
    The explanation I was given was that “some pull to left is normal (torque steer).

    e2helper and others: Is this really normal? Is it fixable or do I have to live with this until I change the car?

    The clunky front suspension was not fixed either (concern not duplicated.)
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    e2helper can explain in more detail about it but, pulling to the left after replacing the steering column is a result of not doing the electrical alignment correctly. It has nothing to do with mechanical alignment and your dealer hasn't a clue as to what is going on.

    My steering column was changed and my car drives straight and true with hands off the wheel for quite a distance. The only thing that makes it turn slightly to the right is if there is a camber in the road. In fact, you are saying that your car pulls to the left which would be opposite to the camber in the road.

    Your problem is fixable with a competent dealer who knows how the electrical steering system works and how to zero it.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    I don't know what to say, jmax4. When a column is replaced there are some "rezeroing" procedures that have to be done for position and torque sensors but I would think the dealer did those with all the other stuff you mention.
  • sgr5516sgr5516 Posts: 156
    I have 04 Maxx LS. I had the fix for the howl done at 8 mo, 10k mi and glad I had it done. I've had no problems with the trans since then and it sounds much better. Car is now 18 mo old and has 24K mi. The only problem I had with the fix was the wheel alignment was messed up. They have to disconnect the steering linkage to remove trans and the TSB does not call for a realignment. When car was returned, the steering wheel was at 10 o'clock position when driving straight.

    They realigned to recenter the steering wheel.

    I never had steering wheel replaced but have always had a left pull at highway speeds. There is a TSB to address this. It's 04-03-06-001, issued Sept 2004. It explains what needs to be done to correct a left pull. GM also revised the alignment specs on the 04-05 Malibu. TSB 05-03-07-005, issued Apr 05 provides the new specs.

    The last time I had car in for service I mentioned the left pull and gave dealer copy of the TSB's. They said all alignmentangles are within specs and they also recalibrated the steering wheel sensors, but I still have the left pull. They gave me a print out from the alignment machine and I noticed one thing they missed.

    The left lead TSB says that front cross caster and front cross camber are the only alignment parameters that influence lead or pull. The TSB says a positive cross camber (left camber minus right camber) may cause left pull. My left camber was -0.8 degrees and my right camber was -1.0 degrees. That gives a positive cross camber of 0.2 degrees. Next service I will show them the TSB again and the alignment print out and have them check it again. I know the left lead can be fixed. Some earlier posters on one of the Malibu forums said their dealers were able to fix the problem.
  • e2helpere2helper Posts: 1,002
    sgr5516 I am glad you posted all of that. I was aware of the TSB content but your first-hand experience is much more interesting and useful
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    Note that jmax4 said that there was a left pull that got worse AFTER the steering column was replaced. Replacing the steering column does not involve any removing and replacing of linkages. The new column only requires electrical re-zeroing.
  • jmax4jmax4 Posts: 22
    Has anyone noticed a steering wheel moving to the left while accelerating from the stop? Maybe this is coincident, but I have not had this earlier (before the replacement).

    Thanks for input.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    That could be torque steer. It's usually caused by drive shafts being of unequal length. The longer drive shaft winds up more than the shorter one under hard acceleration and lags behind. So the drive to the wheels is unequal causing the car to veer off until things catch up again. However, it is common practice to make both drive shafts equal in length or, if need be, to make the longer shaft thicker than the shorter one in order to cancel out torque steer.

    The problem though is that there are many parameters at work here. Firstly, the new electric assist steering system which has its problems. Secondly, there seems to be an inherent mechanical problem on some new Malibus with steering to the left and, thirdly, torque steer.

    I have been lucky and have have had no problems so far. My steering column was changed under recall with the old one never showing any symptoms of malfunction.
  • I had a problem with pull to the left, with my 04 Maxx. I waited quite some time to take it in, as this was more of an annoyance for me, than anything else. They checked the alignment (within spec), corrected air pressure, and zero'ed out steering. It still pulled to the left. On final visit, the service writer told me that he tested car himself, and felt problem was corrected by swapping right and left front tires (they put over 25 miles on car, so I knew someone tested it). Have not had a pull to the left, since. The service writer suggested that zeroing out steering wheel corrected problem but the tire had memory, from pulling left for so long. A poster in this forum suggested that the tire was defective all along. Either way... :) , the Bu is tracking true!
  • I have a roof rattle that they can't seem to fix. It is in the rear and very annoying. I have had the car in twice and we still have the rattle. If you push up on the dome light it will stop. The dealer had it yesterday and took down the rear of the headliner and filled it with foam insulation. It still rattles. Can anyone give me any suggestions? Anyone else have this problem? We did not have this problem with the first Maxx.
  • tommctommc Posts: 68
    Tire with a memory? Now there's a new one.
  • the dome light itself is probably defective. It has a magnet to hold it to the roof of the car, and that magnet is poorly secured within the light plastic. result is the light rattles against the magnet.

    you or a competent dealer can remove the outer ring, then take the dome light assembly out, reglue the magnet to the surrounding plastic, and reassemble.

    also, the front headrest supports are plastic bumpers/locks inserted into metal tubes. These will rattle and sound as if noise is comming from the ceiling. it's difficult, but sealer or glue can be injected between these bumpers and their tubes, securing them and keeping them from rattling.

    My Maxx was much more pleasant once I fixed these. My dealer, btw, had no clue and only managed to smear grease on the headliner - be sure yours understands trim work or at least "how to work clean".
  • I've had the issue on my 05 sedan since I replaced the steering wheel column. Mentioned it to dealer on last service...he said it operates normally. I find it pulls to the left when accelerating from a stop, or even just driving very slowly...bumper to bumper say.
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    You say it pulls to the left after the dealer changed the column? If the car was ok before that, then it can only be the new steering column out of adjustment. If I were you I would not be happy with that.

    Just as a matter of interest to all, what about rear wheel alignment? Is this being checked when all other electrical and mechanical alignment up front is deemed to be correct? There are a few adjusters on the rear suspension for that.
  • "Tire with a memory? Now there's a new one."

    Tires can sometimes cause a pull and this is old news. While it certainly can't explain all the steering and alignment issues with the Malibu, tire pull should be investigated whenever the alignment is 'correct,' the steering re-centered, and the car still exibits a stability problem. Some will even investigate it first.

    Tire 'memory' in this instance refers to two things:
    First, the conicity or ply-steer built into the tire from new. This is a quality issue with the tires, not something that any manufacturer wants. The second is a wear pattern created in the tire from too many miles in an out-of alignment condition. This is discovered by people everyday after their tires are rotated and they notice their cars behave differently. Either way, the industry refers to it as tire memory.
    We love our Maxx, but this forum reminds us we've been lucky with it too.
  • What benefit is derived from a 16" diameter wheel compared to a 15" diameter wheel? Is it handling, fuel economy, or acceleration? Would there be any difference in the drivetrain, meaning gear ratios/final drive, of a Malibu equipped with 15" or 16" wheels?
  • I am assuming that my tire problem was/is the wear pattern that you mentioned. If it was a manufacturing problem, crossing the left and right fronts would have changed, but not eliminated the problem( I think). That being the case, will my pull return, if I rotate my tires? Any thoughts?
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