Update #2 to original post.
THE HONEYMOON IS OVER!!!
8703 Miles - Steering shaft had to be replaced after twice having intermittent steering failure. The gas gauge has also gone south, reading full after traveling over 200 miles. The dealer, of course, did not think that to be an issue. I must now document this and return. So, off I went, filled up the tank, reset the trip computer and now on full, it says I have 278 miles to empty. This has not changed in 100 miles. Before it would state 443 and go upwards for a while as the mileage increased. I hope that this is just a fluke and not a harbinger of things to come. They did give me a nice Impala to drive while mine was in the shop... I may go buy one of those. More updates in the future, however I am now hesitant to recommend the car. My coworker has a 2004 LS model and her steering went out at 9000 miles also.
Update #3 to original post.
Fuel gauge not a GM issue. It was caused by bad Shell gas sold here in South Florida containing Sulfur. Shell is reimbursing me for the repair. Steering is now perfect. In fact, after driving it a few hundred miles, I think the steering was never right from day one. Hope it was just an isolated incident. More to come as the miles pile on.
That's too bad about the steering shaft. But no car is perfect, even Japanese cars, and I've unfortunately endured glitches with them. I test drove a 4-Cylinder Malibu and I liked it. The power was good and had a bit more get up and go than my VUE with the same engine. I liked my VUE, but I missed the feel of the road in a sedan. Then the dealer said that I would probably enjoy the Malibu Maxx more as it was more versatile and the V6 used around the same amount of gas. So I decided to splurge a bit and buy a fully loaded Malibu Maxx LT. I've had it for a few months and I love it even more than the VUE, it has tons of room and quality is excellent. I have about 2200 KM (1375 miles) on it. Oh, and about the Shell Gas thing, there was a big issue with that and many cars. When you get gas, I find that Shell isn't as good as Chevron, I'm not sure if they have it in Florida, but with shell, my cars always made a weird noise and gas mileage wasn't as good as with Chevron or Petro Canada. Although you won't have Petro Canada in Florida, maybe other companies like Chevron will give your Malibu better gas mileage. Enjoy your car as much as I do with mine.
Update #4 to original post. 11033 miles. The "Brake" warning light is coming on intermittently while driving. The CD players skips the first 30-45 seconds of the first track of any CD. There is a frightening recall involving the seat belts in a side impact collision. The car will not stay aligned for anything. I always have to hold the steering wheel at least one inch or more to the right for the car to track true. I am becoming more dissatisfied with this car as time goes on. Why is it that quality in cars has taken a complete nosedive over the last 8 to 10 years? The last truly trouble free car I owned was my 1994 Probe GT. Not one problem with that car in the time that I owned it. I wish to this day I would have kept it. I am afraid to trade this one in for fear of getting something worse. The items mentioned above will be corrected at the 12,000 mile service.
Update # 5 to original post: Just got the car back from the 12000 service. So far, the steering problems seems resolved. The dealer did a 4 wheel alignment on it and it seems to be tracking dead center. The CD player was replaced. The brake light was a sensor gone bad. The recall was completed on the safety belt issue. I truly hope that this is the end of the problems that I have with this car. I realize that it is a first year model, so some of the bugs have to be worked out. I am frightened over the fact that the NHTSA has opened an investigation on the steering on this car. There were over 137 complaints as of the last time I checked into it. I am going to run this one a while longer and if all goes well, then keep it. Should any further issues arise, it will be replaced by an Impala. More to come.
A very helpful and informative post - especially the updates. I've been considering a Malibu, but starting to have some doubts after reading your comments. I know every brand/model can have a lemon now and then, but these steering issues sound pretty serious! A while back I had a Sable with goofy steering and it really does spoil your driving enjoyment. Good luck with it!
Update #6 to original post: Just had 15000 service completed. No other problems have surfaced with the vehicle. It seems to be broken in now, with the handling and ride smoothing out nicely. The tires are hardly showing any wear, as I rotate them every 6000 miles. I had the dealer replace the fuel filter, air filter and pcv valve along with the oil change. I am hopeful that the problems mentioned previously have run their course.
Update #7 to original post: 17947 miles and once again a new steering shaft has been installed again. This one is allegedly the "new and improved" one that was released May 2004. Also, new brake pads and rotors for the second time. This has been very disheartening, for I really like the car a lot. I am hoping that this is the end of the steering issues, though now there are almost 300 complaints regarding the steering issues on the NHTSA website. I am interested to know if other 2004 and 2005 Malibu owners have had these issues.
I own a '04 Malibu (base) with the 2.2l Ecotec engine. I've also had the steering column replaced. The problem seems isolated to Malibu's built before April 2004. I did receive a notice from GM stating that they were experiencing problems with the steering column up until a specific build date & that they were pro-actively looking to replace columns before failure. Unfortunately, my steering failed about 2 days before I received the notice. I haven't experienced any other problem with my car -- steering or otherwise. It's been tremendous. Like yourself, I'm routinely experiencing way-better-than-the-EPA-sticker gas mileage figures (36-38 mpg) as well. To date, my Malibu has been a very, very nice vehicle. To those of you that are contemplating a Malibu purchase; I'd recommend one. If something happened to mine, I'd replace it with another without hesitation.
Update (I have lost count) to original post. I finally had to Lemon Law the Malibu. Constant issues with steering as mentioned above were just too much to take. The dealership was helpful, putting me into a leftover 2004 Impala. I like the Impala so far, but not the gas mileage. I probably wouldn't recommend a Malibu unless they put conventional steering into it.
I purchased a 2005 Malibu, drive 100 miles a day round trip to work. It has almost 7000 miles on it now. It is the most comfortable car I've ever driven. I'm 6' tall and I can adjust the seat all the way down and still have headroom. The electric pedal adjustment is fantastic. Mine is also a 4 cylinder. I average 35 mpg. This is a base Malibu, but has heated seats and remote start. msrp was $21000. I wrote a check for 17000 with all the rebates. Can't beat it for the money.
This is my first entry. I am the owner of a 2004 Malibu LT which I purchased in 2003. I love this car in every way except for the steering issues. I like many above have had problems with the steering column. It has been replaced by the dealership 4 times. The manufacturer issued a notice of the steering problems at the end of 2005. I was notified at first that this issue would be addressed in the first quarter of 2006. Then I was told they would have something about this in the 2nd quarter. The second quarter is over and well I haven't seen any recalls. My car's steering is OK now, just because 2 months ago they replaced the steering because it locked up. This is a good car, but I just wish the steering problems would go away.