I have owned this new 2013 Chevy Malibu LT since April. Before I bring it back to the dealer, I thought I would check with some of the other owners here to see if any of you are experiencing the same issue.
Something is seriously wrong with the steering on this car. It is hard to describe, but I'll try: The car's steering doesn't have any true center. This means basically, when you're on a straight, flat highway, and let go of the wheel, the car wants to track either left or right - but never dead center. The driver's reaction to this is to correct the course the car is going in by nudging the wheel in the opposite direction. When doing this, I can feel the power steering "skip" past center, in favor of gently tracking in the opposite direction.
The skipping effect is best described as a "void," a place in the steering where the resistance in the power steering diminishes. Once this resistance returns and the driver completes correcting the course in this manner, the car starts to subtly pull in the opposite direction. It's impossible to center it. What should be a pleasant cruise down the highway turns into an infuriating tug of war between the car which wants to go one way versus the driver's corrective efforts, which leads the car to track the other way.
This problem is obvious only when driving on a straightaway on a flat surface at highway speeds. But, the fact that it can be noticed under these conditions only tells you that it's a problem that is always present, and is compromising the drivers' ability to control the car under ALL conditions, even if not particularly noticeable.
Are there any recalls that deal with this? Are there any other drivers here who have experienced this problem? I would like to hear some feedback so that I can better describe this problem to the dealer when I take it back.
Was any front end work done to the car just prior to this happening? Sounds like the PSCM (Power Steering Control Module) needs to have the steering angle sensor centering and software endstop learns redone. The steering angle sensor centering procedure is done first, followed by the software endstop reset procedure, then the software endstop learn is done. If any steering linkage work is done, a column replaced, the steering rack or assist motor replaced, these procedures must be done or a condition like you describe will result. Been there, done that.
One of our newer guys put a column in a '05 Malibu, he didn't do the learn procedures, there were three separate procedures back then. He took it on a road test and came back and just by luck I overheard him say he had a bad new column. I talked to him, found out what he did and did the three learns and he drove it again and it was fine.
When you take it to the dealer, make sure you show them what you're after, take the shop foreman or service manager out and have them drive it so they know what you're concerned about. There may be a software update for the PSCM as well, I'm not sure though. I would start with the relearns first though, that will most likely fix it.
Wow, sounds like you hit the nail on the head! As far as I know, there was no front end work performed and the car was bought brand new with 0 miles on the odometer.
Have you ever heard of this problem in a new vehicle? Thank you so much for this information, I am going to print it out and keep it handy when I go back to the dealer. The "power steering angle sensor centering and software endstop learns redone," is a bit of a mouthful!
One last question: Is there ever a circumstance where this inability to get the car centered is considered "normal" by the dealer? I don't want to end up with the dealer just telling me that this is the way the car is supposed to drive.
And again, if the car is brand new, is this a problem to be expected?
I can't recall ever seeing it on a new car, doesn't mean it can't happen though. So you're saying this has been like this since new? You just lived with it? Mighty tolerant person if that's the case.
I assume you understand road crown and that it is not your issue in your opinion. Letting go of the wheel and having it move one way or the other is normal due to road crown but it would be something you could duplicate on another similar vehicle too. If you take another '13 Malibu down the same road, does it do the same thing? I doubt you will find this to be the case here, I think you have an issue.
In the old days, if you did the over center adjustment too tight on a steering box, you lost the center of the steering box. The wheel would be right or left of center but there was no center. These late model electric racks are pretty good, or at least I haven't seen one bad yet in this respect, let's just say that.
You may very well have the dealer say this is normal. I haven't driven the car, I'm just going by your description, going by that I think there is an issue. If the shop foreman or service manager drives it and says it's normal, have them get another '13 Malibu off the lot and you drive it and see if it does the same thing as yours.
I think, going by your description, you have a calibration issue with the steering angle sensor for some reason. Hopefully the dealer scans the whole car for codes, even though there are no warning lights on by your description, it only takes a couple minutes to check. My next step would be to check for PSCM calibration updates, not all updates have bulletins to alert us as techs to the updates existence. The latest calibrations are an absolute must anymore when problems arise. We fix quite a bit with calibration updates alone sometimes. After checking/updating the PSCM calibrations as required, I'd do the relearns I spoke of in my first post, then retest the car. If the problem still persists after that, I guess I'd do a quick alignment check and then maybe a call to Technical Assistance from there to see if there are any other cases of this type of thing.
It is absolutely not normal from what you describe, nor should it be expected. Still, not everything is always perfect right off the assembly line either. One way or the other you need to address this though. Good luck.
I work from home, and this car is driven little. Since April, I have put a fewer than 4,000 miles on the car. So, this car has never really been thoroughly tested. I did notice this problem last week when driving on a newly paved I-495 here in Massachusetts. This problem is really only noticeable on an almost perfectly flat road with little or no crown or curves. Otherwise it drives fair to poor. This is because on road surfaces that are other than perfect, you detect that SOMETHING is wrong - but it is not obvious what. The car won't center, but the driver assumes it is due to road imperfections.
I should also point out that the steering on this car is exceptionally light and sensitive and will exaggerate any defects on the roadway. In my opinion, I would not be able to use this car as a daily commuter driver. The steering is just too sensitive and if the driver takes his eye off of the road even for a second or two - to perhaps adjust the MyLink system, which requires more than a glimpse to get something done - the car will wander out from under you and require a correction. Possibly this is related to the problem I have been speaking with you about, but the steering is definitely not tuned right for this car.
But I will say this: This steering problem is one of those subtle defects that - when it made its debut - really pissed me off. It would seem that a car with a $26K sticker price would not have a problem like this.
Maybe it's just me, but if this was a broken power window motor or something similar, I would have been much more sympathetic. But this is a fundamental issue impacting its handling capabilities. It just speaks to slipshod engineering and/or quality control practices that should not be present, in my opinion anyway. When I bought the car it had 0 miles on the odometer and the protective plastic sheeting was still on the seats. It should be perfect and if not perfect, it should be close to that. Little things are understandable, but the steering being screwed up? I don't think so. It's a fundamental problem.
Anyway, thanks again, you gave me a starting point with regards to the dealer that I can use to approach the issue from.
I am sorry to hear you are having this concern. If you would like for us to reach out to your dealership, please let me know. You can private message me your name, VIN, address, phone number, and dealership. I look forward to hearing from you.
I've been working on some '14 Malibu's for a recall for the HVAC system and for the heck of it I checked to see if there were PSCM updates and there are, but there is no explanation of what, if anything is addressed. I haven't driven one for this kind of concern, and I haven't had any real behind the wheel time with one so I have to assume your description is accurate and that it would not be present on a similarly equipped car. That said, it can't hurt to update the PSCM calibrations and perform the calibration procedures to see if that fixes the issue. I haven't had a '13 in my bay to see if the PSCM calibrations are the same as for '14 and have been updated. It may be hard to convince some dealers to program the PSCM unless you get the car to a tech that has the same thought process I do.
My car has developed this. Centered and hands off tracks straight. When I need to correct there seems a dead spot with a slight bump when correcting.
Was going to have it looked at next service but may sooner.
I've noticed the same thing on my car. Sometimes when I'm driving straight and make a very slight movement of the steering wheel to the right, I can feel a slight bump that requires some slight additional force to get past. I don't feel it when doing the same thing to the left, and it's not present all the time. It's a lot more noticeable when I'm gripping the wheel very lightly, usually with just a few fingers.
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