Last post on Feb 09, 2013 at 10:37 AM
You are in the Chevrolet Malibu
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Chevrolet Malibu, Sedan
#1483 of 4972 New to Edmunds - My 97 Malibu
Mar 08, 2003 (9:36 pm)
Hey guys...I'm obviously new to this "town hall" and I think it's great. I've gotten TONS of info from it. I see it as kind of a support group.
The car: I'm 16 years old and own a 1997 Malibu LX with everything except power windows or locks (I guess those are big omissions). I bought the car with 48,417 miles on the odo at a used car place in south Denver. I got it for $5,000 but there was one drawback: a salvage title. It seemed fine and since the rebirth of the Malibus in 97 I've wanted one. Every thing was great for the first couple of months. In October of 2002 I went out to start the car and nothing. When I turned the key to the on position none of the dash board indicator lights came on and there were no chimes. The engine did crank however, but didn't turn over. Good thing my grandparents live right across from me, so I was able to borrow their car to get to school. Anyway, when I got home that night, I tried to start it, and of course nothing. This went on for about 3 more days and on the 4th day the car just mysteriously started...nothing funny, she just started right up. Since it didn't happen again, I felt no need to take it in or have it looked at. Thank god that hasn't happened since. I have had other problems pop up though: In February my alternator went out when I had only 55K on her. Then they told me my rear control arms and my intake manifold gasket had to be replaced. My alternator was $360 Century Chevrolet in Broomfield, CO., my rear control arms were $260, and just today I got the bill for the intake manifold gasket: a whopping $754.60. Of course today they found two new problems...my brakes have only about 500mi or so on them and my engine mounts need replacing. I suspected the engine mount thing though because at speeds of 50 mph + the car shakes really really bad on the highway. That's going to be $250 and I'm gonna do the brakes myself tomorrow. HOLY COW! That was a mouthful. Anyway, beside the mechanical problems I love my bu to death. It's great for long drives and easily fits 4 friends. Everyone tells me I should trade it in but I can't afford to pay the loan off and no one (not even if I traded it in) would give me $5000 for a Malibu with a salvage title. Anyway I guess the point of this article was to introduce myself and my car. By the way I have the 3.1 V6 (love the power). If anyone else has had any of the problems, please respond. Oh! I'm also gonna get the bra for it which includes the front end cover and hood cover with air deflector for $85 at John Elway Chevrolet in Denver...if anyone has found a better deal, let me know. Anyway, that's me and my bu. P.S. - After they changed my intake maifold gasket my serpintine belt (I think that's how you spell it) is sqweeking just a bit. Not too much, but just enought to where I can hear it. I found some small cracks about a month ago so I'm thinking I should replace it. Do you guys think this should be done at the dealership, at and independant place, or by myself? I have the service manual for the car, but I'm not too great under the hood...I guess I should try it and see what happens...Just kidding.
Mar 09, 2003 (10:30 am)
It's me again...In the winter mornings here in the Denver metro area, before my car warms up, there is a grinding noise. It almost sounds like there is no oil in the crankcase, but there is no oil pressure light or anything of that sort (and yes, i keep plenty of oil in it and I check it at every fill up). It's fine once it's at normal operating temps. I wonder whats up?!? Does anyone else experience this?
#1486 of 4972 One more comment and a ?
Mar 09, 2003 (4:21 pm)
I did my brakes by myself...it was a lot easier than I had thought. No more squeak. Does anyone know what the "SERVICE VEHICLE SOON" light means. It hasn't came on, I'm just curious. In our manual it says there is like a DRL malfunction or something but I have no idea what that means.
Mar 09, 2003 (7:46 pm)
WOW! It's like I can't stop writing. Anyway, since I have owned my car (I've had it for 10 thousand miles) I have used conventional Valvoline 5W30 Engine oil in her. What do you guys think about Valvoline DuraBlend or SynPower 5W30? (I'd rather not use SynPower; it's kinda expensive.) She only has 56,000 miles on the odo, but I figured at the next oil change I could try it. Has anyone had any noticeable improvement with it? How about with Restore? I bought a can of that and it says "use at every oil change". I'll see if I can feel an improvement in power. I'll report back on both DuraBlend 5W30 and Restore.
Mar 10, 2003 (8:30 am)
jdmorton: The dealership wasn't offering to replace the pads under warranty. The service technician indicated there wasn't much wear on the pads. I told him if there was a problem (which ther hasn't been) I would check in with them the next oil change.
larryt: Probably had a couple of more ratings added to the list that were "subpar". It happens.
#1489 of 4972 To Jtrujillo86
Mar 10, 2003 (9:49 am)
It sounds like you have your work, and money, cut out for you. I can sympathize with you, though. Even though I'm an old geezer now, I can still remember a couple of my car experiences in my teen years. I would have recommended a CARFAX search on this car before buying it. However, with a salvage title, and all the troubles you have had with it, it was probably a wreck or flood damaged car that the insurance company totaled out. You are correct in your assumption that you will not get a good trade with a salvage title, so you might as well continue on with your saga of rebuilding it..piece-by-piece.
A couple of ideas for you...if you experience the starting troubles again, you might want to check out the computer module...and you may even want to see if you can find a good one at a salvage yard. A new one will cost a bunch, and you already have so much invested. I would definitly replace the serpentine belt..if it breaks you are stranded. Re-the grinding noise when cold..does the engine run cool/normal? You might keep an eye on the water pump, and check your anti-freeze to see that its nice and green or clean. If its a nasty brown, start saving up some more money for some cooling system work. As for oil/additives, unless the engine is burning oil, I would stay away from Restore, or any Teflon/Moly/etc., gunk...They may help for a short period of time, but the engine will still roll over and die if it's that bad. I remember once when I was about 18, I put raw hamburger meat in the differential before I traded an old junker. It sure quieted down the gears..the dealer I sold it to had screwed a couple of my biddies, so he deserved it. It is best to stay with whatever oil the original owner was using, if you can find that out. An engine will last twice as long with a diet of the same oil, rather than changing brands. At the minimum, keep a good filter in the engine.
Good luck with your adventure! Cars can keep a teenager broke, big time! If you have the manual, try to learn how to fix it yourself as much as possible. Dealers and shops will charge you a fortune...example, a new alternator should have cost around $100, and is a fairly easy job. I grew up in north Denver, near 36th and Federal, but I no longer know any contacts there that might be of any help to you (North High-class of '60). Check out the local auto parts stores for the best prices. If you have the O'reilly chain or Autozone there, they are usually fairly reasonable. Good luck!!!
#1490 of 4972 To Jtrujillo86 and deminin
Mar 10, 2003 (12:28 pm)
The raw meat story reminds me of one I have. When I was about 20, I owned a VW van with a manual transmission. When I bought it it already had about 120,000 miles on it. The thing used to pop out of gear frequently. An old after the market VW manual I had said to add saw dust to the gear box, plus a little thicker gear oil. I did that and ran the thing for another 100,000 miles. It never poped out of gear. The vehicle finally ended in the fate of many a VW when it caught fire about 8 years later due to a cracked fuel line.
Good luck Jtrujillo86. I had plenty of fun/good times working on all my cars until I bought my first new one in 1990.
Mar 10, 2003 (1:43 pm)
Thanks for the info guys. I don't think I'll be trying the restore. I do, however, think I'll try the DuraBlend. I've always used Valvoline, so I don't think this will do too much difference, but it's worth a try. Thanks for the support also! It's really helpful especially when I'm really frustrated with the bu.
Mar 12, 2003 (12:13 pm)
I have an '02 bu. I've noticed that my engine idles at around 1400 when in park. When I shift it into drive it drops down to the "normal" 600-800 range. Has anyone else noticed this? Should I be concerned about this? I don't remember ever seeing another car idle in park at such a high rate.
ps. love the car.