Chevrolet Malibu Forums banner
1 - 20 of 72 Posts

·
Registered
2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.5L 173,xxx mi
Joined
·
63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Okay the electrical in this car has been a nightmare, but here goes nothing.

#1. The trunk still won't open, but I am not using it for now. I rarely drive it, and grocery pickups happen in the back seat since we have no kids...

#2. The car sits typically for a week or two at a time between using it. We are working from home for now so really no need.

A couple of days ago, I went to drive the car, and found the battery dead / no crank. I figured it was from lack of use / normal battery drain, so I pulled the batery and put it on the charger in my workshop. Dropped the battery back in, car cranked fine.

Went to drive it to a local convenience store to get ice (My fridge icemaker is dead, and the service company has failed to fix it for the last 3.5 months...). As we were coming home, probably a total of 20 minutes driving, and 4 miles travelled, the ABS light came on, trying to turn into my driveway the power steering simply didn't work and on the contrary kicked the wheel back HARD against my hand, and once I wrestled the car back into my driveway, I parked, turned the engine off, and tried restarting it, and ended up with a super low crank. I Haven't metered the battery yet, but I suspect it is drained again...

Looking for ideas on where to start troubleshooting this thing...

I know the power steering / column issue is under recall, but I need to get the car happy otherwise before I drag it to the dealer. Pretty sure my local Chevy dealer won't be happy to see a won't start car in there for recall work...

UPDATE: RESOLUTION.

FIrst off, I want to than the members here that went out of their way to help me figure this out.

The issues were twofold.

#1. ECM failure. This is the first time I have ever run accross an ECM / ECU failure. And I am shocked. The R&R / Reconfiguration went far easier than I expected. One of the very few items on this car I found reasonably easy to work on.
#2. crumbling MAP sensor. I honestly think all the time working around the MAP sensor, I managed to break the old crumbly plastic.

NOW I took advantage of the time the car was down for maintenance. The following work was done to get the car road ready.

#1. Full oil and filter change.
#2. Replace the weeping water pump.
#3. Replace belts, and hoses.
#4. Full cooling system flush.
#5. Swap out the alternator. Not sure if the original alternator was really bad, but it DID bench test bad at Oreilly, they gave me a new shiny one. Eh... whatever.

The troubleshooting / pending work I am planning on starting other threads on are...

#1. Locking system failures. Trunk lid release works, doesn't work, flaky behavior.
#2. Door locks work with shifter, do not work / intermittent works from switches.
 

·
Administrator
2011 Malibu LTZ 3.6L V6 Red Jewel Tintcoat
Joined
·
19,638 Posts
Start with scanning for codes. If you pulled the battery to recharge it, the codes are most likely erased, but still check for any.

It sounds like the alternator has failed or something is not telling it that it needs to charge the battery while you drive.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,477 Posts
Battery should maintain 12.6v resting if healthy. One over 3 yrs. old is very suspect.
Minimum of 13.6v at battery with motor running if charging system is working properly.
V6 doesn't have electric steering so check the fluid level for it.
I'll guess you have a LG (low grade) or Sammysung fridge, they are junk.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jomoto

·
Registered
2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.5L 173,xxx mi
Joined
·
63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Battery should maintain 12.6v resting if healthy. One over 3 yrs. old is very suspect.
Minimum of 13.6v at battery with motor running if charging system is working properly.
V6 doesn't have electric steering so check the fluid level for it.
I'll guess you have a LG (low grade) or Sammysung fridge, they are junk.
Charging the battery. Bought new less than a year ago. My charger has an alternator test circuit, will run test once charge cycle is done, and battery is left to rest for at least a couple of hours. Probably tonight, but I digress. Upon testing this morning, it was smooth at 12v.

No power steering pump under this hood. Alert on stereo stays Power Steering, and steering wheel kicks back in my hand HARD. I have to assume it is electric power steering. First vehicle I have ever had with this system. Not impressed with that feature.

Fridge is the highest model Whirlpool from 2018. Dutch door top fridge, large drawer freezer on bottom, ice makers in fridge and bottom. Warranty service has been abysmal... Build quality of the 2018 model is RADICALLY less impressive than the 2002 Whirlpool side by side it replaced. Wife wanted stainless steel... Ooops.
 

·
Registered
2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.5L 173,xxx mi
Joined
·
63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Start with scanning for codes. If you pulled the battery to recharge it, the codes are most likely erased, but still check for any.

It sounds like the alternator has failed or something is not telling it that it needs to charge the battery while you drive.
After resting overnight, check with multimeter at about 7:30 A.M. today it metered right at 12v flat. Freakishly low if you ask me. Put it on the charger, still taking a charge, leave it to complete the charge and then will let it rest and meter it again...

My charger has an alternator test function. Not exactly a VAT40, but it will have to do...

Alternator is from O'Reilley from December 2019. May have to verify warranty but I don't think it is a lifetime warranty... If not available for warranty, will order a new Delco from Rockauto. I am in no hurry as of yet.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,477 Posts
Charging the battery. Bought new less than a year ago. My charger has an alternator test circuit, will run test once charge cycle is done, and battery is left to rest for at least a couple of hours. Probably tonight, but I digress. Upon testing this morning, it was smooth at 12v.

No power steering pump under this hood. Alert on stereo stays Power Steering, and steering wheel kicks back in my hand HARD. I have to assume it is electric power steering. First vehicle I have ever had with this system. Not impressed with that feature.

Fridge is the highest model Whirlpool from 2018. Dutch door top fridge, large drawer freezer on bottom, ice makers in fridge and bottom. Warranty service has been abysmal... Build quality of the 2018 model is RADICALLY less impressive than the 2002 Whirlpool side by side it replaced. Wife wanted stainless steel... Ooops.
Use your multimeter to test running charging voltage. Don't trust the chargers reading.
Battery at 12v after resting out of car and after being on the charger for a while is not a good sign. Most likely a bad cell in it. 12.6 is the normal resting voltage of a charged and healthy battery.
I didn't know some V6 had electric steering. I do know all the 2.4 motors do though.
Bad battery or charging will cause steering warnings and steering to drop out as it uses a lot of power.

Whirlpool stuff is all I have/buy in appliances. Maytag and Kitchen Aid is also Whirlpool. Retired on site Sears service tech. for 46 yrs. . A lot has to do with the service Co. and the tech working on it, no difference than with cars. Icemakers in freezer only have the least issues, the fresh food compartment ones always screw up. It's a marketing trend start by the China brands so others have to follow sadly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
935 Posts
2006 ...... 3.5 l v6 ....has electric power steering....

I....would do all said above...maybe look at connections for sorrosion.....can put a draw on things. .. is the battery topped up ( or is it sealed). .. for the cars powersteering to kick off mid drive ( mine has....but for different reasons)....makes me wonder about the alternator
 

·
Registered
2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.5L 173,xxx mi
Joined
·
63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am just going to post this as a troubleshooting note here. Battery charger connected at 7:30 A.M. at 12.0v. Charger shows full charge, disconnected and metered at 1:20 P.M. at 13.31v

No attemps to start, crank, or otherwise use any power whatsoever in the vehicle were made.

Will meter the battery again after 6:00 P.M. partially to give the battery some rest time and insure I don't have a fast bleed down not related to the charging circuit not doing its job.

And the fridge warranty company blew past their appointment window of 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.

Yay fun.
 

·
Registered
2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.5L 173,xxx mi
Joined
·
63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sorry for any misunderstanding. The 12v flat reading is after sitting all night last night, prior to me hooking the charger up. WIll meter it while running absolutely. But my multimeter lacks ability to apply a load. Honestly the charger likely lacks that same ability.

And yeah, not impressed with the service provider, but then again, not impressed with the appliance all together. My last whirpool lasted 16 years and while it died, it could have been easily fixed (fan broke). The new one was so my wife could get stainless steel blah blah blah... You get the drill. And the icemakers died before the 3 year mark. The warranty service company has been less than stellar, and since it is under warranty I have no choice of repair techs...

Oh back to the car issues. I need to iron out these electrical gremlins, it is hot now, but October is coming, and I need th car in good shape, with a trunk that will actually open so I can take my wife on a road trip we are planning...

I can't complain too much about this car. We bought it 100k miles ago and it puts up with logs of abuse.
 

·
Administrator
2011 Malibu LTZ 3.6L V6 Red Jewel Tintcoat
Joined
·
19,638 Posts
To my mind, it sounds like you're not taking a logical approach to testing your battery.

I suggest that you remove any possibility for parasitic drains by removing the ground cable and checking the voltage immediately. Write it down. (#1)

Then check the voltage after it has sat for an hour or longer. Write it down. (#2)

Charge it fully. Write it down again. (#3)

Let it sit for an hour or more. Write it down the last time. (#4)

Share those 4 data points.

Seeing those results will help us, and more so @repairman54, to see if there's a pattern. As Jason Bourne, er Matt Damon, said on "The Martian", and I'll paraphrase, "You gotta 'science' the crap outta this!" Taking logical steps in the process of eliminating issues is better when it's done in a manner that eliminates possible causes a step at a time.

Cut a deck in half by determining if the hidden card is black or red. Cut it in half again by determining which of the 2 possible suits it is. In 2 steps you've eliminated 75% of the wrong answers. The same logic works in many situations, like this one.
 

·
Registered
2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.5L 173,xxx mi
Joined
·
63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
To my mind, it sounds like you're not taking a logical approach to testing your battery.

I suggest that you remove any possibility for parasitic drains by removing the ground cable and checking the voltage immediately. Write it down. (#1)

Then check the voltage after it has sat for an hour or longer. Write it down. (#2)

Charge it fully. Write it down again. (#3)

Let it sit for an hour or more. Write it down the last time. (#4)

Share those 4 data points.

Seeing those results will help us, and more so @repairman54, to see if there's a pattern. As Jason Bourne, er Matt Damon, said on "The Martian", and I'll paraphrase, "You gotta 'science' the crap outta this!" Taking logical steps in the process of eliminating issues is better when it's done in a manner that eliminates possible causes a step at a time.

Cut a deck in half by determining if the hidden card is black or red. Cut it in half again by determining which of the 2 possible suits it is. In 2 steps you've eliminated 75% of the wrong answers. The same logic works in many situations, like this one.
Not sure if I posted it above. But yes, full charge yesterday at 13.0v, this morning at 13.0v, so parasitic drain not happening, at least not fast like I was thinking. No I did not test the battery disconnected as I did not suspect the battery, still don't.

So battery installed in car at 13.0v, started car, let idle, meter reads 12.2v fluctuating to a high of 12.4v, I would expect if the alternator was working to see 13.5 - 14.2v.

Pretty sure I found at least the main culprit.

Yanked the alternator out, but honestly didn't have enough time to go to Oreilley to get a new one, so the car sits in the driveway, in pieces, some of them in the garage...

I figure while I am there, and that deep into this thing, time for a new serpentine belt, and since I am doing the belt, might as well do hoses... Some preventative stuff...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
935 Posts
Do the tensioner if you are doing the belt IMO. . Lol ,, I have 110k km's at least on my belt and tensioner
 
  • Like
Reactions: good4jg

·
Super Moderator
2016 Malibu 1LT 1.5T/6-speed 6T40
Joined
·
3,378 Posts
[sarcasm]

Whatever you do never replace a battery or test the charging system! They last forever and never fail!

[/sarcasm]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
935 Posts
Were you being sarcastic? Lol , they most definitely fail
 

·
Registered
2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.5L 173,xxx mi
Joined
·
63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Battery tests out fine. Alternator is 100% dead. Not going to tear it apart to see where the failure is, Oreilley replaced it under warranty. They however did not have the needed serpentine belt. Ordered on Amazon and will get it in tomorrow. Likely install on Saturday. Ordered the tensioner at the same time so there is that, the OE tensioner has 170K on it so yeah.... time to go.
 

·
Registered
2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.5L 173,xxx mi
Joined
·
63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Status so far...

Alternator swapped out.

Water pump swapped out, suspected it was the source of the leak, once the pulley was pulled all doubt was removed. Pulley was full of coolant. Apparently whomever was in this thing before did NOT bother doing proper sealing of the gasket. No gasket, tons of RTV, none of it done cleanly...

New serpentine belt swapped in.

New upper and lower radiator hoses installed.

Then the rain started. Oh boy did the rain start!

Waiting for the rain to stop so I can finish filling fluids up and buttoning up. Reinstall intake tube, reinstall airbox and MAF, reconnect ground.

And then pray it doesn't blow up when I twist the key...

Assuming all works the way it should, no leaks etc...

let it warm up, and then change the oil...

Yay fun...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
935 Posts
Keep us posted on your progress, like to know if your issues are fixed
 

·
Registered
2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.5L 173,xxx mi
Joined
·
63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Keep us posted on your progress, like to know if your issues are fixed
That's the plan...

Everything is back together, shroud is over the engine now, battery connected, cooling system filled. Currently with water, since I need to source up heater hoses soon, so planning on getting that maybe over the weekend...

Pressure tested, no drop for 10 minutes rest time, so that looks good, but it is cold to so there's that...

Started it up,belt is happy, no leakage still. So far so good. Meter on the battery terminals, 13.65v with the car idling, which is in the range I expect.

Not going to road test it yet, May not tonight, but definately need to head to Auto Zone, Oreilly, Advance, wherever and see if they can help me out with heater hose, and clamps, then head to the same local convenience store because I am out of Coke, and Jack & Coke just isn't the same with my wifes Diet Pepsi...

Oddly enough, been working on weight loss, and I can finally fit to reach the trunk release as the electric isn't working again. Need to get the trunk open, and start picking the fuse / relay panel apart and trace it back, my BIL looked at it, said there was a ground issue and puttered off doing something else. So I am on my own for this...

Well, once this is all done, and ready, we should be ready to strap on the roof top carrier, load it up with tents and crap and be ready for fall camping season with the family...
 

·
Registered
2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.5L 173,xxx mi
Joined
·
63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Road tested and fail.

So the behavior is this...

Temp gauge shows overheating well before engine should have reached operating temp. Yeah it burped. Topped it off continued. Drove for an additional 30-45 minutes and the power steering thing happened again.

Limped it home and shut it down. Battery reads 12.4v. Cranked it, a bit slower than it should be but it catches. Metered the new alternator, 11.6v.

Okay NOW I am going to consider a funky battery, but it IS taking a charge. My SL2 has a side post battery. might just have to swap between and hope it will take a charge and crank up the Malibu.

To say the least not happy with the results so far.

WIll start following wires tomorrow. Maybe the alternator lead is bad?
 

·
Registered
2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.5L 173,xxx mi
Joined
·
63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Digging into this some more, hoping y'all might chime in.Borrowed a 3 week old battery from the neighbor 2 doors down (2007 Malibu LT 3.5L so no worries there), and still no charge. So not battery, alternator brand new but questionable, it's not like Oreilly has the best stuff out there, but I want to eliminate possibilties.

Now on older cars I worked on as a young guy, such as the 70s Novas and Camaros we had in high school, the alternator cable itself was a fusible link that would sometimes as the car aged go bad due to the jacket deteriorating and heat buildup, and it would blow. Only way we knew for sure sure though was the manual TOLD US the cable was a fusable link and to replace it along with the alternator...

I can't find any documentation anywhere saying if this car has a fusible link, or fuse anywhere in the charging circuit. I have not tested yet today as I finally got a chance to sleep in today since it wasn't a work day and all... But in my testing previously the issue crept up as the car hit operating temperature. As I recall charging worked okay when the car was cold...

I don't want to stab parts willy nilly at this thing, but not sure what else to check. The skinny wire in the connector at the top is pretty crusty too. Not sure what to call that, but the connector and wire certainly could benefit from being replaced, and I do have heat shrink crimps so not worries there...

Anyway, any help identifying where this thing went bad would sure be appreciated. This is an odd one for sure.
 
1 - 20 of 72 Posts
Top