Last post on Feb 09, 2013 at 9:37 AM
You are in the Chevrolet Malibu
What is this discussion about?
Chevrolet Malibu, Sedan
#4033 of 4972 problems...Lemon1
Jul 11, 2004 (7:59 am)
Cut your losses. Any time you have to spend hundreds or thousands to fix a car that is only worth a couple of thousand, that is throwing good money after bad. I remember learning that lesson when I was younger, and it is a painfull lesson. The early Malibu's seem to have had some problems which were slowly corrected as the model aged. I hope Chevy doesn't take 3 or 4 years to get the new models right.
If you still want to get a Malibu, try for one that is 2001 or newer. Our 2003 has been a jewel.
Whatever you chose for your next car, get a CARFAX report, and if possible have an independent mechanic go through it. A few dollars spent up front can help you avoid costly repairs later on. Also, study the comments from current owners on this Edmunds site...personal experiences are worth far more than what any car salesman is going to tell you.
#4034 of 4972 Hate to admit it...
Jul 13, 2004 (8:33 pm)
but after 14,000 miles on our 04 LS Malibu, we have encountered our first glitch...I think.
While my wife was out and about with the Malibu, she called me and told me that the power steering had gone out. I told her to get the car home right away so I could take a look at it.
The first failure happened July 9th, and it was very strange how intermittent the problem was. Basically, the steering would function three different ways: just fine, total failure, and "Parkinson's" mode.
By Parkinson's mode, I mean the steering wheel would twitch erratically even if the car was in park and not moving. It wasn't a strong twitch, or something that would cause me to lose control. If I grasped the wheel, it was enough to stop the twitching. What I thought was strange was that when I turned the car off, the twitching would continue for a short while and then kind of wind down.
Most of these symptoms happened July 9th and 10th. However, when driving over 400 miles on July 11th thru 13th, the power steering has been working fine.
Originally, I was going to take the car to a dealer and have them fix it, but I think I'm going to take it to the plant and have the quality/reliability people look at it. If I took it to the dealer, they'd just fix my car, but if I can get the engineers to see the problem for themselves I can hopefully prevent this from happening to anybody else.
Fortunately, I captured all of the symptoms on video so that I can show them exactly what is going on even if my car is behaving now. Unfortunately, Fairfax is currently in summer shutdown, so I won't be able to show anybody until next week. I'll keep you guys posted with any information I learn.
It isn't a big deal, but it is a customer dissatisfier. Hopefully, some good will come out of my experience, and lead to a better car.
#4035 of 4972 triedntru .........this electrical power steering
Jul 13, 2004 (8:40 pm)
"I mean the steering wheel would twitch erratically even if the car was in park and not moving. It wasn't a strong twitch, or something that would cause me to lose control."
This new electric power steering is good in theory, not taking power away from the motor to operate, but it seems to me the jury is still out. Most people and reviewers complain of "lack of road feel". This is pretty scary, what your describing... what happens at 65 to 70mph if there is a problem?
#4036 of 4972 electrical steering and soapbox
Jul 13, 2004 (9:35 pm)
When holding the steering wheel in your hands, it feels like an erratic vibration. When I was driving down the highway (65mph) I let go of the steering wheel, and it still tracked fine, even though I could see the steering wheel twitching ever so slightly. It's not enough to make the car change course. But if I turned the car off and back on, it would work just fine....or not at all. Like I said, it was pretty erratic for a while.
I know what you mean about reviewers complaining of "lack of road feel."
In my opinion, it's subjective fecal-speak!
Can somebody please quantify "road feel" in a unit of measure? A road is bumpy and gritty. If I sit on sandpaper does this help "feel the road?" I'm sure if I remove the shocks that'll help too. All I know is that with electric steering, I can navigate a busy WalMart parking lot with a finger. A FINGER!
Or how about when they say the Malibu's engine lacks "refinement?" Well, I'm sure they all use refined fuel and oil. Heck, at least the chevy has a bowtie...isn't that kinda refined?
If the reviewers would lay out definitions like: "By refinement we mean the level of decibles experienced when accelerating full throttle from 0-60 mph" then I would totally accept that.
But it really bugs me when they can't find any reason other than subjective bullarky to recommend one vehicle over another.
I was reading some recent review (I can't remeber which one) and they were complaining that the Malibu didn't do much when punching the throttle at 85 mph. My first thought was, "I don't care!" I'm rarely that high up in the mph territory, and if I am, I'm certainly not punching throttle!
This car is a entry-level midsize family sedan. If I'm punching throttle at 85 mph, I'm going to be changing diapers more often, or getting slapped by my wife! How refined is that?
I'll get off my soap-box for now.
Jul 14, 2004 (2:04 am)
Dave, if you want to see the difference between "road feel" and "no road feel," drive a previous generation Malibu, and then an Impala. Impala has a much worse road feel. I haven't driven the new Malibu, but if it has the same steering setup as Impala, then there isn't much road feel to speak of. I realize many people, especially older folks, like that, so to each his own.
BTW, plenty of 04 Malibus on Vancouver roads, GM is doing well. Though I still think the front is quite ugly
Where's that H3, Dave? Let's have it!
#4038 of 4972 Re: Hate to admit it... [triedntru]
Jul 14, 2004 (3:41 am)
NHTSA opened a defect investigation on this March 30 and it was closed on July 1 with a new one opened. Here is summary of their finding (sorry about all caps). There are more details - actual scanned copies of documents between GM and NHTSA on their web site:
ODI OPENED PE04-031 BASED ON EIGHT REPORTS OF ALLEGED POWER STEERING FAILURE IN THE SUBJECT VEHICLES. THE COMPLAINTS ALLEGE THAT THE DRIVER SUDDENLY LOST ALL ELECTRIC POWER STEERING ASSISTANCE WITHOUT WARNING MAKING THE VEHICLE DIFFICULT TO STEER. THE SUBJECT VEHICLE UTILIZES AN ELECTRIC POWER STEERING ASSIST SYSTEM (EPS) THAT PROVIDES VARIABLE STEERING ASSISTANCE BASED ON STEERING WHEEL TORQUE, STEERING WHEEL POSTION, AND VEHICLE SPEED. GENERAL MOTORS DOCUMENTS IDENTIFIED THE FOLLOWING TWO FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THE ALLEGED DEFECT IN THE SUBJECT VEHICLES: A. CONTAMINATION OF THE TORQUE AND POSITION SENSOR FROM THE SEPARATION OF GREASE APPLIED TO THE STEERING COLUMN ASSEMBLY. B. ELECTRICAL NOISE GENERATED ON THE POWER AND GROUND SLIP RING SURFACES OF THE TORQUE AND POSITION SENSOR. THE NOISE IS GENERATED AS THE SENSOR CONTACT BRUSHES MOVE ALONG THE SLIP RING SURFACES WHEN THE STEERING WHEEL IS ROTATED. ODI'S ANALYSIS SHOWED FAILURE RATES THAT ARE OF CONCERN TO ODI AND INDICATED THAT THE ALLEGED DEFECT IS CONTINUING TO OCCUR IN THE SUBJECT VEHICLES. AN ENGINEERING ANALYSIS HAS BEEN OPENED TO FURTHER INVESTIGATE THIS CONCERN, TO ASSESS THE POTENTIAL SAFETY-RELATED CONSEQUENCES, AND TO DETERMINE THE SCOPE OF THE AFFECTED POPULATION
#4039 of 4972 I agree with triedntrue
Jul 14, 2004 (4:58 am)
Some reviewer of the new Malibu sarcastically commented that the speedometer was marked MPH as if to tell stupid people that this was indeed the speedometer. What the stupid reviewer didn't know of course was that the user of the vehicle can choose between MPH or Kilometers per hour at the touch of a button! So it's not strange that the speedo would display the units.
Reviewers are pain in the butt.
Jul 14, 2004 (5:46 am)
Good for you to take it to the plant for the engineers to see. If all GM employees do that the quality of the cars will just keep going up.
I think the Malibu is a good car now. I just wish is was a little more exciting to look at.
#4041 of 4972 e2helper
Jul 14, 2004 (8:07 am)
A noisey slipring could explain the twitching in the steering wheel of Dave's Malibu. Maybe a squirt of WD-40 on the slipring might help. Only kidding. Its got to be fixed properly.
#4042 of 4972 Re: e2helper 
Jul 14, 2004 (9:12 am)
I think something like that was what caused problems in the first place. On the NHTSA link I posted if you look up details I mentioned you will see a 20+ page document GM returned to them describing what they found cause of these problems. It is pretty hard to read -- being a scanned version of a fax at a low resolution but it is enlightening, although technical.