At less than 23,000 miles, I noticed one evening a light coming from the glove box. (the glove box had never closed all the way. There was always about a half inch opening at the top.) This was one year to the month since I had bought the car for our daughter. The glove box light had been burning day and night for one year! When I took the car to the dealership where I had bought it, they wrote on the Service Invoice that the glove box door will not close tight and the light stays on; adjust door.
The tail light bulbs and brake light bulbs blew out (melted or burned) at about 25,000 miles. The dealership where I bought the car replaced the entire circuit board apparatus that the bulbs connect to. The service manager told me that many of the Malibu cars had this same problem.
At about 26,000 miles, the steering wheel started jerking and vibrating when the brakes were applied. The dealership replaced the front brake rotors and pads. The service manager told me that many other 1998 Malibu cars were also having brake problems; that it was fairly common.
Starting about 26,000 miles, sometimes the car would fail to start the first time. Then when the second attempt was made to start it, the anti-theft system would come on and it would fail to start again. My daughter said she would have to wait 15 to 20 minutes before the car would finally start.
Several times the ABS light would come on.
Sometimes the air conditioner would come on and shut off by itself.
The alternator and battery went out at about 50,000 miles.
The front tires wore out prematurely.
My daughter told me recently that the brake rotors need turning again, for the steering wheel is jerking again.
I bought this car for our daughter at a price of $14,000. After I had owned a sluggish Dodge Caravan and a gas-guzzling Ford Pickup, trying to save money in the years past; I decided to give Chevrolet a try. This family owns five Chevrolet vehicles. The service has been good with all but the Malibu.
The Malibu was almost a new car, at 20,000 miles, when I bought it for our daughter. I was meticulous at keeping her car maintained. I would change the air filter for her, inspect the drive belt, check the fluids, get the oil and filter changed, have the tires rotated for her, etc. I did this the first two years for her, until she moved away. Now when she comes home, I don't check anything. There have been so many things go wrong with this '98 Malibu, it doesn't matter to me anymore. I consider it somewhat a miracle when she even "arrives" safely.
There have been so many trips to the Chevrolet Service Center to have this '98 Malibu repaired, it has almost given me Parkinson's Disease. I actually feel my head jerk slightly when I think about how in the world could someone take $14,000. for a car like this? Well, I suppose the manufacturer doesn't know about this problematic '98 Malibu. They got their money for it, and that's all they care about.
Well, I suppose I was fooled by the name "Malibu". The Malibu cars I saw in the old days were good cars. All you had to do was keep them maintained and keep plugs, points and condensers in them. You could burn rubber as often as you wanted with the old Malibu cars and still get 200,000 miles or more from one easy, with no problems other than what was normal wear. I bet if one was to burn rubber in this '98 Malibu a few times, it would probably burn up or blow up with one big boom.
The glove box wasn't adjusted properly. The repairman had put a long piece of copper wire from the apparatus that the glove box latch hooks to, around and back, putting stress on the mechanism in order to pull it back where the glove box door latch would meet it properly and close. The glove box never closed properly. After the faulty wiring job was done, to close it, one would have to hold out on the handle and at the same time push the box in; then while one hand was holding the box in, pushing real hard, the handle would have to be released. Then one would have to push on the glove box door three or four times real hard until a "click" was heard. If a click wasn't heard, that means the latch wasn't closing, and you would have to start over at step one. I had about quit smoking until I saw the broken copper wire that the Chevrolet dealership repairman put on.
Our daughter came to visit recently. She said the copper wire holding the glove box apparatus in place had broken. I went out to look. The glove box had fallen down and the light was off. How was the light off? She had an ink pen wedged in between the open glove box and the light switch. I unhooked the light switch, looked at the unprofessional broken copper wire up inside the glove box. I thought to myself "They 'adjusted' it so it would last through the warranty, then the wire broke, allowing the latch-catch mechanism to fly back and break the latch." The plastic latch appears to be part of the glove box, and it may not can be replaced separately. I wouldn't be surprised if I get a call saying "Daddy, the whole glove box will have to be replaced, because they said the latch and box are one component, and they said it will cost $_ _ _._ _.
My answer would be, "Hey, that's not a bad deal. Remember when your alternator had to be replaced recently and they charged just under four hundred dollars to replace it?"
My prayer is that this Malibu money- getter will last her through college. I was hoping it would last her ten or twenty years, like the old ones, but these days I suppose some Malibu owners are not hoping for years; they are hoping for weeks or months.
Hindsight is 20/20. If I had it to do over, I wouldn't have bought it for her. I wish there was a way to get a class action lawsuit on the '98 Malibu. You can bet I would be in the heat of it. Don't buy a Malibu. Now the money I saved for so long to purchase this car is gone and what do we have to show for it? What will go out next. Oh yes, I have put two sets of tires on it from 36,000 miles to 52,000 miles. The first set of tires, apparently the originals, lasted exactly until the warranty expired. She forgot to rotate the front tires at exactly 6,000 miles and the front tires wore down slick as ice while the rear ones were still like new. The bottom line is: Has the world gone crazy?