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Old 09-05-2012, 07:26 PM   #1
kennjame62
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Default 01 Malibu Surging while driving---Driving Me Crazy!!!!!!

{RE; Problem Fixed (See bottom page---Get new spark plugs}|
Hi Everyone, and thanks for any input you can provide.
To make a long story short, I recently purchased an 01 Malibu Ls, 3.1, all options, 110,000 miles. Heres the issue;
While driving (usually on highway), and I shift up in I believe third gear, the rpms surge between 2500 to 2700/2800 rpms (like it bounces, and the car gradually increases in speed). It does this every time when going up a hill, and usually when not,and it is always the same amount that it surges by. Sometimes does it between 2000-2100 rpms. If I step on it a little, it will shift up to about 3200 rpms (I think still 3rd gear) and the surging is gone, but it still doesnt feel like it has any power. Not even if you step on it all the way (it still accelerates slower).
So, I am having this surging issue, and it definately is causing a lack of power. It makes it very difficult when passing someone on the highway! I know this is a common issue with this car (and I guess some newer versions too?), but know-one seems to have a solution. I have done the following;
Replaced fuel pressure regulator,
Cleaned MAF sensor,
Ran seafoam through pcv to try cleaning injectors.
Cleaned throttle body via throttle plate (yeah, it was due).
Car was always maintained at Hoffman's to my knowledge, and it is in great shape.
I have only noticed a slight difference since replacing FPR- It usually doesnt hesitate at 2100 as it used to (but still from 2500-2700).

Has anyone had this same issue? It is really bothering me that I cant fix it, and I would really like to know if anyone has fixed it.
Thanks,
James

Last edited by kennjame62; 12-17-2012 at 08:54 AM.
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Old 09-06-2012, 10:31 AM   #2
Rodents
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Default Re: 01 Malibu Surging while driving---Driving Me Crazy!!!!!!

Well, no power, even at wide open throttle would make me want to check exhaust back pressure, the catalytic converter may be restricted. A restricted exhaust won't let the engine breathe and light throttle acceleration may feel the same as full throttle acceleration. You don't clean the injectors through the PCV valve, may have cleaned the combustion chamber up which probably didn't hurt. Hope you sucked that stuff through slow though, a huge gulp can bend a rod real easy. If you want to clean the injectors you pour the stuff in the tank. For that purpose I would recommend Chevron Techron fuel injector detergent at a rate of 1oz per gallon of fuel regardless of bottle labeling. The Chevron product is what GM sells over the counter and they have validated it's performance.

Should check the coil towers for corrosion, any rusty or powdery stuff on the coil towers and you need wires and most likely a coil, would be a good time to do spark plugs then as well if they are due or close to being due. If none of the above suggestions work, it would be time to verify injector resistance, 12 ohms is spec at room temperatures.
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:39 AM   #3
kennjame62
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Default Re: 01 Malibu Surging while driving---Driving Me Crazy!!!!!!

Thankyou,
No, the car doesnt have no powerr at wide open throttle, it just seems a little restricted.I dont think it's the cat because it runs fine, and it isn't "normally" hesitating. For instance, ti goes up and down by the same amount each time I am driving, like a sensor is causing it to do this, no built up back pressure, or injectors. And, no, I didnt clean the injectors via the pcv valve. I've tried the stuff in the tank but it seems useless. i have to find a line that runs to the injectors in order to clean it directly (Like what is done at jiffy lube--for $80 less).
Anyway, I will check for corrosion at the coil towers. Plus are new (as I can tell, i have taken them out. Coil looks original. It just doesnt seem like a spark issue, and I know it is quite common. like I said, its not a normal hesitation. it's almost systematic, like a sensor is causing it.

Thanks,
James
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodents View Post
Well, no power, even at wide open throttle would make me want to check exhaust back pressure, the catalytic converter may be restricted. A restricted exhaust won't let the engine breathe and light throttle acceleration may feel the same as full throttle acceleration. You don't clean the injectors through the PCV valve, may have cleaned the combustion chamber up which probably didn't hurt. Hope you sucked that stuff through slow though, a huge gulp can bend a rod real easy. If you want to clean the injectors you pour the stuff in the tank. For that purpose I would recommend Chevron Techron fuel injector detergent at a rate of 1oz per gallon of fuel regardless of bottle labeling. The Chevron product is what GM sells over the counter and they have validated it's performance.

Should check the coil towers for corrosion, any rusty or powdery stuff on the coil towers and you need wires and most likely a coil, would be a good time to do spark plugs then as well if they are due or close to being due. If none of the above suggestions work, it would be time to verify injector resistance, 12 ohms is spec at room temperatures.
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:46 PM   #4
RalphP
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Default Re: 01 Malibu Surging while driving---Driving Me Crazy!!!!!!

Something like that can be a vacuum leak, which isn't too hard to believe on a car this old.

Also, have you cleaned the MAF with MAF cleaner? Wiped out the throttle body?

Have the O2s datalogged while driving - fixing a bad vacuum line took almost all of my surging out, and when I replaced the O2 sensors at 260Kmiles, the rest just .. disappeared.

Seems like the ECU was searching the air/fuel mixture due to vacuum leaks and the O2s being "sloppy".

RwP
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335K miles on original motor and tranny (only motor work 2 x LIM replacement), Monroe SensaTrac struts front and back (new at approx. 300K miles), and Alero discs in back. LS fogs added with custom wiring. HID high beams, HIR low and halogen fogs. Raybestos Pro Grade front rotors and Bendix D747 ceramic pads on front.

Addendum: Rest in peace. Surge tank blew, motor overheated, I think she's lived a long and useful life.
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Old 09-06-2012, 05:37 PM   #5
kennjame62
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Default Re: 01 Malibu Surging while driving---Driving Me Crazy!!!!!!

Ralph,
Thanks for your reply. Yes, I have cleaned the MAF sensor with MAF cleaner, and wiped what I could from the throttle body. I also didnt think it was a vacuum leak because it usually only does this surging thing on the highway---but I can check. Being I just got the car, are there any ones in particular that are known to crack from your experience?

As for the o2 sensors, I was thinking about that, with the car running rich and burning a little more fuel than it should-- How many are there, and how easy is it to replace them? ( And I don't really know what you mean by data logged, I'm not that in-depth. i have a basic code reader for engine codes, and I have used the one at advance but not in depth).

Plus, I know that those o2 sensors can be expensive any its only got 110k, so I was thinking of doing this as a last resort.

I have also heard that other people have had this same surging issue around the 2100 and 2500 rpms with this generation, but it seems knowone has been able to fix it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RalphP View Post
Something like that can be a vacuum leak, which isn't too hard to believe on a car this old.

Also, have you cleaned the MAF with MAF cleaner? Wiped out the throttle body?

Have the O2s datalogged while driving - fixing a bad vacuum line took almost all of my surging out, and when I replaced the O2 sensors at 260Kmiles, the rest just .. disappeared.

Seems like the ECU was searching the air/fuel mixture due to vacuum leaks and the O2s being "sloppy".

RwP
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Old 09-06-2012, 05:40 PM   #6
kennjame62
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Default Re: 01 Malibu Surging while driving---Driving Me Crazy!!!!!!

stuff through slow though, a huge gulp can bend a rod real easy. If you want to clean the injectors you pour the stuff in the tank. For that purpose I would recommend Chevron Techron fuel injector detergent at a rate of 1oz per gallon of fuel regardless of bottle labeling. The Chevron product is what GM sells over the counter and they have validated it's performance.

Should check the coil towers for corrosion, any rusty or powdery stuff on the coil towers and you need wires and most likely a coil, would be a good time to do spark plugs then as well if they are due or close to being due. If none of the above suggestions work, it would be time to verify injector resistance, 12 ohms is spec at room temperatures.[/QUOTE]

* It aleady has Gm's infamous piston slap, so I'm sure it wouldn't hurt.. My personal opinion on Chevron is that it is a very low quality product.I have used it several times in many different chevy brands (I have a 99 olds bravada & My fathers 05 Topkick 4500) and several other cars with no luck. Seafoam almost always fixes any problem that I have.
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Old 12-17-2012, 08:53 AM   #7
kennjame62
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Post Re: PROBLEM FIXED

TO EVERYBODY EXPERIENCING THE SAME/SIMILAR ISSUE---IT IS THE SPARK PLUGS & EGR VALVE!!! I could not believe it either, with the precise rpm movements that caused it to seem like an electrical/wiring issue, but I had a good mechanic change all the plugs.
On two of them, the ends were almost gone! 110,000 on original plugs served this car well though. BETTER GAS MILEAGE and the surging is gone. Much better pickup. EGR valve was also very badly carboned.

POINT----Change your plugs, you should eliminate this issue and get much better MPG's!!!
On another note, the transmission wine is normal. The mechanic said all 4t40e's do that (he said the fluid was new, so my car was taken care of).

Now, I'm preying my intake gaskets wont go---110,000 miles on the original intake gaskets? Guess I've gotten lucky with this one. No signs of any problems there. I love my Malibu

Last edited by kennjame62; 01-08-2013 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:51 PM   #8
daddynemo30
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Default Re: 01 Malibu Surging while driving---Driving Me Crazy!!!!!!

i recently had this same problem and replaced the cat, the MAF sensor, the o2 sensors, the plugs and wires and had all but given up when i just decided to pull the EGR valve just for a look see. sure enough i had enough soot to stop the pindle. i cleaned it with carb cleaner and reinstalled. my violent idle in drive and surging idle in nuetral vanished. 1k$ wasted (other than now theyre all new) and it was 2 12 mm bolts and a 5$ can of carb cleaner. know you already found your problem source, but i figured id add this bit, just in case any one reads in the future. actually registered to site just now just to post.
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:21 AM   #9
kennjame62
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Smile Re: 01 Malibu Surging while driving---Driving Me Crazy!!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by daddynemo30 View Post
i recently had this same problem and replaced the cat, the MAF sensor, the o2 sensors, the plugs and wires and had all but given up when i just decided to pull the EGR valve just for a look see. sure enough i had enough soot to stop the pindle. i cleaned it with carb cleaner and re installed. my violent idle in drive and surging idle in neutral vanished. 1k$ wasted (other than now they're all new) and it was 2 12 mm bolts and a 5$ can of carb cleaner. know you already found your problem source, but i figured id add this bit, just in case any one reads in the future. actually registered to site just now just to post.
Actually, I cannot thank-you enough for replying, because, sure enough, two weeks after posting this, my surging began to come back, only more violent, leading me to believe there was a misfire. HOWEVER, I had NEVER had the egr valve off, and still cannot get it off, because there is a third bolt (on the manifold I believe) that I may have to spray some pb blaster on to get off (I guess mine has three bolts, it's an 01? Little bit of a PITA though, behind the engine.)
Anyway, I'm betting that this would be the root of my problem. Thankyou for helping me with this!
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:35 PM   #10
daddynemo30
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Default Re: 01 Malibu Surging while driving---Driving Me Crazy!!!!!!

there are plenty of write ups and how tos to clean the EGR. Oddly enough, i thought of its possibility while sitting in the car trying to figure it out with a friend. when i pulled it, the black build up was so bad that the pindle was stuck. its supposed to open and close. i used carb cleaner inside of it and used a torx bit and spun the pindle while cleaning. i also sprayed carb cleaner in the intake slot. i havent had an issue in almost 3 months. but if it got dirty once, im sure it will again.
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