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I have had one, and only one issue with my 2009 Malibu. The price was great, incentives awesome, nice offerings from the dealership, great car all around, fun and problem free... except one thing. As I've posted in another thread there is a really annoying whine directly linked to the interior lighting, and specifically the instrument/ambient/gauge/radio lighting. I don't know if it is the, or a light specifically, interference within the speakers (though I doubt it because turning the stereo off or down changes nothing) or something else.


When I have the adjustable lighting turned to it's brightest the noise is at it's loudest and most annoying. As I turn the lighting down it decreases in intensity and eventually goes away. The problem is that to get it to disappear completely I have to have the lights all the way down which is not desirable or safe. About half way down it is subdued enough to make it tolerable, but this isn't what I want. Everything looks nicer at full brightness, and especially so for the instrument cluster. Furthermore, I bought a brand new car (for the first time ever) off the lot, and expect everything to be to my liking, but I also don't want to be too picky. I didn't hear it in any test drives because I was distracted by talking, etc. and it isn't something you notice right away because of being excited about being in a new car, etc., and it isn't piercing or loud... just annoying because it never goes away.

I'm not sure if it's an issue with all Malibus and should probably test it out on another at a dealership. Another member here heard this before, and the dealer said one of his technicians knew what it was and called it "static noise", but didn't know of any way to fix it because some people are sensitive to it, and others are not. I also don't know if I want them to start pulling apart the dash with no real intent or planned fix. If they did this would it never be the same again as it was new? I'm worried about that, and it rattling down the road or whatever. I am sensitive to noises like this such as department store security systems, etc., but it is also a real concern for me. This car is so refined, so nice and so quiet that the noise isn't really drowned out by road noise/wind/etc. Having music turned up helps distract me from it some, but it doesn't cover or even mask it really because the pitch cuts through all of that, and it never stops... and is going to drive me nuts.

If the dealership has already said they know what it is, but don't know how to fix it, what can I do? Should I do anything? Is it wrong of me, or demanding for me to ask them to work on it as part of the bumper-to-bumper warranty? I don't want to be a finicky, demanding, a-hole customer, but this is something that bothers me. The service manager and sales managers could not hear the noise at all, and neither can my girlfriend, but I had all of them play with the brightness knob while I was in the passenger seat (with music on and off) while my eyes were closed and I could tell them if it was fully bright, all the way down or in the middle based on sound.
 

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So, the problem is the static noise coming from the speakers when the light is on the full brightness? It is a definite warranty issue and they should address it. You're not picky at all, I would definite take it in if I were you.
Mine doesn't have that issue for sure. It's nice and quiet and I always have in on the full brightness.
Take it in. If they have to take apart the dash (which may not be even needed) and add any rattles or misalignment then take it back in and insist that it gets corrected.

If the issue is in the radio itself than it's easy for them to replace it. It doesn't take much to replace the head unit properly, I had it done for an intermittent cutouts I was having.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So, the problem is the static noise coming from the speakers when the light is on the full brightness? It is a definite warranty issue and they should address it. You're not picky at all, I would definite take it in if I were you.
Mine doesn't have that issue for sure. It's nice and quiet and I always have in on the full brightness.
Take it in. If they have to take apart the dash (which may not be even needed) and add any rattles or misalignment then take it back in and insist that it gets corrected.

If the issue is in the radio itself than it's easy for them to replace it. It doesn't take much to replace the head unit properly, I had it done for an intermittent cutouts I was having.
No, I don't think it's coming through the speakers or stereo. It's possible, but I doubt it. You may have this happening too, but you may not be able to hear it. Most people can't hear it in my car, but I can prove that I hear it by noting it with my eyes closed.

That's the problem... it's hard to fix if the tech can't hear it, and there isn't a specific place for them to look. Though, if they know what "static noise" is, they should know of some solutions. I had a door panel rattle problem with a Nissan once, and it took about 50 trips to the dealer for them to fix it because they couldn't hear it in the test drive (either luck of the draw that it didn't happen or they didn't check thoroughly). I'm worried the same will happen with this... if they don't hear it they wont try to fix it.
 

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Hm....I have a decent hearing. Let me try next time I am in the car.

However, if we're talking about something that I (being extremely picky and sensitive) didn't notice in almost 6 months...it maybe normal?

Let me try though.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hm....I have a decent hearing. Let me try next time I am in the car.

However, if we're talking about something that I (being extremely picky and sensitive) didn't notice in almost 6 months...it maybe normal?

Let me try though.
I think it's an issue not of how well you hear but being sensitive to certain frequencies. Some people can hear some ranges of dog whistles, for example, while others can not. I know that certain department stores have security, or anti-theft systems that I can hear in the form of a high pitched whine when I walk into the store, and other people do not hear it or don't hear it as loudly as I do. I've found other people that have heard it in their Malibu and one person that hears it in my car, but most people do not. Everyone at the dealership that I talked to could not hear it and didn't know what it could be, but the service manager talked to a technician that was aware of something called "static noise" that he thought was the culprit, and stated that it is "normal" and nothing can be done about it. However, if I'd known this would be an issue with the car before buying it, it might have been enough to push me into the Altima I was considering. I really love everything else, but I don't want this to be an issue for years to come. The other solution would be drying to deafen my ear to that frequency, and that doesn't sound safe.
 

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Well...if we're talking about this kind of frequencies I am afraid they might have a reason for saying that it is normal...
Can't blame an engineer for not trying to eliminate these kind of sounds. But it definitely sucks for people like yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well...if we're talking about this kind of frequencies I am afraid they might have a reason for saying that it is normal...
Can't blame an engineer for not trying to eliminate these kind of sounds. But it definitely sucks for people like yourself.
That's what Im worried about. There should be some way to correct this though.

Check this page out if you're interested & see what frequencies you can hear:

http://journal.plasticmind.com/ears/mosquito-tone-or-how-to-tell-youre-a-youngun/
 

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I could hear 15 KHz distinctly. I could also hear 16 KHz, but it was more like ringing in my ears, if I didn't know that I was listening to it I might've ignored it (although it was also physically unpleasant, but the sound part I hear was extremely weak).

What's your max?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I could hear 15 KHz distinctly. I could also hear 16 KHz, but it was more like ringing in my ears, if I didn't know that I was listening to it I might've ignored it (although it was also physically unpleasant, but the sound part I hear was extremely weak).

What's your max?
I can hear them all, but the last one is very faint.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I hear 11 and 12, nothing beyond that.
Everyone is different. I dont think it's much of a hearing test for age as they say, but some people just dont hear certain frequencies. I wish I didn't hear the high end. It has never been beneficial to me. It's an issue with this car, I can hear an annoying noise on some screens of my GPS, some dog whistles, store security systems and some CRT televisions and computer monitors. All of those things are annoying not beneficial. Too bad I can't make money with it somehow.
 

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I am not sure how you would ever get this fixed on any kind of product. The fact that the person responsible for doing the repair cannot hear the problem means there is no way for them to determine if they fixed the problem except by your say so. They are also in the position (at least from their perspective) of fixing something that isn't broken which means it will not get their full attention. That is just human nature.

Bill
 

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I can hear them all quite well on that page. I do not hear any noise like that in my malibu but typically have the radio going.. I will listen out to see if I notice anything in mine
 

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I think I know what this is too...I've always heard an electrical "hum" so to speak. It's very, very faint and I only hear it if I'm sitting in the car running with the radio and blower off, or low, but I definitely noticed it. I think more so because it's not something I've ever detected in our '08, whatever the differences are...or maybe I'm just not in that one enough.

It's something, but I'm not sure what. Some kind of electronic interference, of some sort.
 

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Guys, regarding that page with tests. I think a lot depends on your speakers. I just listened to all of them again though my notebook speakers - I can hear all of them (surprisingly 17 is the faintest, 18 is more distinct).

Before, I used my headphones connected through desktop speakers and only could hear up to 15-16. I think there might be a reason hospitals have audio testing labs :)

Speaking of TVs and other electronics....I hear buzz from those as well sometimes. Especially if I specifically listen. I suppose, generally I don't get affected by that too much. Often times I don't even know what I hear an external sound or my ears are buzzing, which has been known to happen too. Doesn't bother me either way :)

But some of those frequencies, as I found out today are almost painful...Like that 17 though laptop speakers or 16 though the headphones....I could hardly hear it, but I coiuld definitely feel it...not in a good way! So, slhaas, if that's a kind of sensation you get I feel for you. It is really unpleasant.

Do you hear that trough the engine and other noises or is it only standing still with no radio and no fan?

I still have to listen to my car. With the snowstorm today I totally forgot about it.
 

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I had the hum on my 07 silverado and it was the little sensor that pulls in air for the auto climate up on the headliner. If you put your ear up to it you could tell that s what it was. Drove me nuts but it s a 5 min fix.
 

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Could it be possible your hearing the fuel pump resonating back into the car? I know some cars have fuel pumps that make a feint noise when running?
 

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Could it be possible your hearing the fuel pump resonating back into the car? I know some cars have fuel pumps that make a feint noise when running?
That too can also be an audible hum, of course, but a little different than what I think this is. A little crisper, higher pitched, and sounds like electrical interference or buzz, from the front of the cab/dash.

I really don't notice this much, other than listening closely, but whatever it is, it does exist.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Guys, regarding that page with tests. I think a lot depends on your speakers. I just listened to all of them again though my notebook speakers - I can hear all of them (surprisingly 17 is the faintest, 18 is more distinct).

Before, I used my headphones connected through desktop speakers and only could hear up to 15-16. I think there might be a reason hospitals have audio testing labs :)

Speaking of TVs and other electronics....I hear buzz from those as well sometimes. Especially if I specifically listen. I suppose, generally I don't get affected by that too much. Often times I don't even know what I hear an external sound or my ears are buzzing, which has been known to happen too. Doesn't bother me either way :)

But some of those frequencies, as I found out today are almost painful...Like that 17 though laptop speakers or 16 though the headphones....I could hardly hear it, but I coiuld definitely feel it...not in a good way! So, slhaas, if that's a kind of sensation you get I feel for you. It is really unpleasant.

Do you hear that trough the engine and other noises or is it only standing still with no radio and no fan?

I still have to listen to my car. With the snowstorm today I totally forgot about it.
It doesnt matter how much road noise, engine noise, talking, radio, etc. there is I can still hear it. Granted some of that helps to distract it, but if I have the ambient lighting turned up all the way (which is what I like for the dash/instrument cluster anyway) it cuts through everything. You're right though, it's almost like I feel it more than I hear it when there is a lot of other distracting noise though, but I still hear it as well because it's such a different pitch than anything else.

Though I can hear it with other noises, the best way to test it is to sit in your car with the lights on. Turning the car on at night and letting it run with the auto lights turned on seems to be the best way. Then turn the ambient light knob to full power (but dont turn on the dome light) and turn off any other noise producing items like the stereo. Then just listen. It may help to cock your head about 45 degrees to the side so an ear is pointed towards the dash, but it may not be necessary. Then turn the ambient lighting knob all the way down and compare... then move it back and forth.

I still havent checked it in another Malibu as I don't have time to get to the dealer right now and don't know anyone with an 08 or 09 to try it out. I can hear it well enough that I can tell if the ambient lighting is full power, all the way dim, 1/4, 1/2 or 3/4 or there about.

On a side note... does the LTZ have different lighting in the dash or the instrument cluster? I saw a picture of a LTZ speedo/tach with the lights on and it looked like there was a blue hue gradient between the numbers and the center whereas my 2LT just has lighting behind the numbers, lines, etc. It looked pretty cool. If it is different that might account for a different level or no "static noise" as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I had the hum on my 07 silverado and it was the little sensor that pulls in air for the auto climate up on the headliner. If you put your ear up to it you could tell that s what it was. Drove me nuts but it s a 5 min fix.

Does the Malibu have such a thing? Why would dimming the lights change the pitch/intensity then? What does it look like if the Malibu does have one. I'd be SO happy to get rid of this somehow.
 
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