2003 Chevrolet Malibu from North America


Do your homework before buying a Malibu


This is my daughter's car. She reported that, while driving, the car would surge unexpectedly, and continue surging, requiring her to constantly ride the brakes. This was an intermittent problem that I had difficulty duplicating until recently. I started the Malibu on a cool morning, and the engine immediately revved to about 2500 RPM and stayed up there, despite tapping the accelerator. I finally shifted into "drive" and drove the car, at 45 to 55 MPH all the way to the dealer WITHOUT TOUCHING THE GAS PEDAL! Once, when I had to stop at a stop sign, I shifted into neutral and the engine revved up to 3,800 RPM.

Diagnosis was a faulty transmission wiring harness. This was replaced and failed to completely correct the problem. I took the car back in and they diagnosed that the torque converter was malfunctioning, but were not sure why it was malfunctioning.

The Chevy dealer service department has had it for over 3 weeks now, replacing numerous parts, but so far, have not fixed it. So far, they've only charge me for the transmission wiring harness replacement (a mis-diagnosis). Now they tell me that it may take a new transmission to fix the problem.

Any insight from other owners who've had a similar severe surging problem would be appreciated.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 12th November, 2009

13th Nov 2009, 20:51

Not sure the transmission diagnosis makes any sense. The engine has to produce some HP for the car to go 50mph, regardless of what the transmission is doing. How can the transmission make the engine rev up? Maybe you misunderstood what they were saying.

2nd Apr 2010, 07:39

I had a 2003 Cadillac Seville that was doing the SAME exact thing... quite scary with a 300hp Northstar. I could drive at highway speeds without my foot anywhere near the accelerator. The car would sometimes idle as high as 3k rpms while at a traffic light, and would surge while cruising around town. The problem was diagnosed by Cadillac as being a bad throttle positioning sensor. This seemed to resolve the issue for good, but one night I was driving home from work and the car surged again for a moment. Although it didn't happen again after that incident, I drove the car to Carmax the following day and sold it. I couldn't take it anymore as there had been so many problems with this car in addition to the surging. Every couple of hundred miles something else would go wrong. It also had a few oil leaks. Unacceptable for a 2003 model year vehicle with under 100k miles.

I now own a 2003 Malibu LS (I know, quite a step down... but the Cadillac nearly put me in financial ruins) and I am pleased to report that it has no surging issues. In fact, I've had almost no significant trouble with this car... which is now just over 140k miles. It is quite sad when a $20k Malibu is far superior to a $56k Cadillac.

Hope they get the problem resolved with the Malibu... but I also doubt that it's the transmission. Try the throttle positioning sensor. This should be a lot easier to resolve on the Malibu than in the Cadillac... the Cadillac was a huge complex computer system on four wheels.

15th Nov 2014, 17:01

I had this exact problem with the same car. Disconnect your cruise control from the car and this will fix the problem.

2003 Chevrolet Malibu LX 3.0 from North America


Awesome first car


When I bought the car, the two front speakers didn't work, so I had them replaced for about $90.

The fuses for my two relay fans went out, only cost $40 to get two, four prong fuses so my car wouldn't over heat.

General Comments:

Had no other problems than the speakers and fuses for the relay fans.

The seats were very comfortable for them to be leather.

Love the sunroof.

Stereo sounds great.

I get about 350 to a tank if I don't floor it.

It's an overall good car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th August, 2009