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I haven't made up my mind yet, but I may decide to buy a 2012 Malibu. Can you tell if the car is reliable? What are common problems? I heard changing the headlight is a headache. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
 

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Duplicate thread in Gen9 area deleted.

Changing a headlight is harder than some others, but for those of us who have done so, we now have a faster method than that in the official manuals.

1. Lift hood and remove radiator shield
2. At both front fender inner fender covers, remove single hidden bolt (I haven't put it back!)
3. Unsnap bumper cover at front of each wheel well
4. Unsnap top of cover at the point where cover meets to of fender under the removed radiator shield
5. Lift and bend cover to access 2 bolts in each headlight
6. Perform your headlight housing task
7. Reverse above to reinstall/reassemble

Take the VIN to a dealer and ask for any open recalls or TSBs. Check it against CarFax and any other record-keeping database you can find.

If it's a 4-cylinder, drive figure 8s around the parking lot or somewhere else for a few minutes to see if the EPS starts to act up. (4-cyl gets EPS, V6 has hydraulic PS.)
Drive over some bumps while turning to see if any suspension components need some love. Listen for clunks.
Check the color and smell of the trans fluid. I4 requires removing a screwed-in plug from the side of the trans. V6 just needs the fill/dipstick cap removed. Check either one with it fully warmed up, running, in park. (You can check it in the sales lot, too, but checking it in a park means the scenery is much nicer! ;))
Check for any obvious signs of a tune-up. Depending on the mileage, spark plugs may need to be changed. On the V6 that requires a new intake plenum gasket as well.
When driving, put trans in "M" and test the shifter button for proper operation. When it's cold out and I shift down (clicking the "-"), mine doesn't like to fully return the button to its center position. Others have had similar issues but it's minor. The shift will still work but the button acts weird.
Check the dash top next to the center lid. If it looks like it has separated a bit and it lifting at the right rear corner (between the lid and windshield), it may stay that way or get a bit worse. Minor cosmetic issue but still an issue for those with OCD.
Check that all of the electric seat functions work, including heated seats.
Check that all of the dome lights work. There isn't one for the glove box.
Check operation of all locks, both from the key fob(s) and both front door switches.
Check operation of all turn signals from the TS switch as well as the hazard switch.
Make sure temperature gauge climbs to center of range.
Make sure fuel gauge works as good as you can determine.
Check the front right door when opening from outside to see if it drops a little when opening.
Check interior door panels for looseness as some (like my front right) have come loose from use or abuse.
Check the chrome on the interior door release handles. My front right (is this a theme???) chrome is peeling and I didn't know until a passenger told me they cut their skin!
Make sure both rear seat backs fold down and lock back in place when lifted.
Make sure the trunk liner is secured all the way around the edges.
Check the trunk on left side for the fuse box access. See if it has been disturbed or is in place.
Check where the rear bumper cover attaches (it snaps in) where the trunk lid normally covers it when closed. There should be no gaps there.
Check the wheels for curb rash.
Check for proper operation of the DIC (driver info center) display.
At DIC, check TPMS for all 4 tire pressures being displayed.
At DIC, check OLM (Oil Life Monitor) % remaining.
Check for proper operation of the heater: temp, fan speeds, mode actuation, any odd smells or sounds
Check the headliner for stains, especially if it has a sunroof.
Check the visors to see if they snap back into their fully-upright position, and how much they droop and that they extend when the ends are unsnapped.

There could be more, but you get the idea...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks so much for your help. Ill check everything out. I was skeptical because of videos on Youtube about electrical problems. I see something about the glass being checked twice on the Carfax...
 
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