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· Registered
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi y’all,
First, I have to say that this community is completely awesome. I have spent most of the last 72 hours on here reading up on everything about the Malibu. I found a very low mileage 31k 2011 LTZ for a good price and I decided to go for it. It has what I need in a car for the right price. The few things that are lacking, I can either add or live without.
I wanted to ask y’all a couple of questions. My car must’ve been owned by someone elderly. It must’ve just sat in a sunny South Florida driveway and pretty much never got driven much at all. I have the carfax that shows the maintenance and there were periods of time where maybe only a thousand miles a year got put on the car.
I have a lot of exterior cosmetic work that needs to be done… it’s white diamond pearl, and it has a ton of scratches. The right front quarter panel looks like it grazed a brick wall with scuffs all the way down to the metal; that really bothers me. Any good suggestions for touching that up, short of wrapping the whole car?

I’m going to fire off a few other questions/issues. Feel free to weigh in on any of these too.
Is it just my car, or does the Gen 7 not automatically unlock the doors when you shut it off? This seems insane. I shut the car off and try to open the driver’s side door and it’s locked. I have to press the unlock button every time I shut the car off and get out?

How much of a pain in the butt is replacing the front and rear bow ties? Mine are extremely sun-damaged and look awful.

From what I’ve read elsewhere, the pinstripes aren’t too much of a problem to remove, but any tips on that are appreciated.

My driver side interior door handle is really worn out - how hard is that to replace myself?

Any suggestions on good upgrades to modernize the headlights and taillights would be welcome too.

Also, I’d love to put in a push button start. Is there a kit specifically for the Malibu out there, or one y’all would recommend?

Lastly, since the car has so few miles and it and sat for long periods, is there anything in particular that might need a refresh? When I test drove it, the power steering was really stiff. The sales guy told that’s just the way Malibus were - which sounded like BS. I looked up some info and found that it was probably the power steering fluid so I had them flush it out and put in new and its steering just fine now. I have a feeling there other things that just kinda rot over time… like should I be replacing the spark plugs, oxygen sensors, or anything else like that? They put on new tires and wiper blades and the car runs perfectly fine in the 50 or so miles I put on it today (0-60 in about 7.5, getting about 24.5 mpg.)

Again, thanks in advance for any help y’all can provide.

· Administrator
2011 Malibu LTZ 3.6L V6 Red Jewel Tintcoat
21,133 Posts
Wow, what a score! Congrats!

There are 2 settings for the doors to unlock on the Gen7: 1) unlock when shift to Park, 2) unlock when key is turned off. I have mine set to the key. My sister was with me one day and her car was set to unlock going into Park. She tried to exit the car and asked my why mine didn't unlock. I told her that I changed the setting so I could have that extra measure of safety before unlocking. Check your settings menu.

Bowties: no comment, sorry.

I've seen special wheels, kinda like erasers on steroids, for removing striping and decals. Be careful to not burn through the clear coat!

Inside door handles are pretty easy. Everything is snap-together to reveal the actual fasteners. Pull the door handle, then unsnap the inside cover (hard plastic) from the rear, then remove to see the screw. To fully replace it, it is much easier to remove the door panel.

I have some LED headlights that I'm happy with. I tried others and they were garbage. If you wanna know more, just ask.

I recommend against the pushbutton start. It adds complexity and could reduce security.

12 years old and rubber parts could be stiff. My suggestion would be to replace every hose under the hood, replace the water pump, replace the t-stat, and do a complete cleaning and flush of the coolant, then drive on plain water for a week or two to be sure there are no leaks, then drain off water and replace with coolant. Also, drain (do not flush!) the trans fluid. You'll get only about 1/2 of it, but that's better than doing nothing. Do it 1 more time on the next oil change and you'll have about 75% new fluid on average. Change the motor oil and filter, use full synthetic. Remove as much PS fluid as possible, then fill with Lucas PS Fluid with Conditioners. I did that and my PS sounds and feels so much nicer! Spark plugs go by mileage so you're good.

With an LTZ and PS fluid, I assume that you have the 3.6L V6? Use 89 octane for the best cost per mile. I've been doing it for each the 3 I've owned since December 2008. Also, use Top Tier fuels to help keep the valves and cylinders as clean as you can. 87 octane will be sensed by the knock sensor and pull timing. 91 or 93 octane does not add performance so it just costs more per mile. If the Premium fuel offered by a station claims to have more detergents than its lower-octane brethren, make sure of that before spending money on what could amount to snake oil.

· Registered
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply!

Regarding the auto-unlock, I'll look again through settings and the manual... I couldn't find it, but I'll happily check again. I had an '08 Cobalt (that I put 232k miles on, see pic) that I swear had that ability, so it blew my mind that a newer Malibu wouldn't.

I appreciate the gas & fluid tips... I'll definitely give that all a shot.

I will go to work on the hoses, etc. I want this baby to last as long as the Cobalt did. I still see a ton of Cobalts out there on the road, but maybe that's just selective perception.

Any good source for upgrading parts (like the headlights) that you'd recommend would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again!

Speedometer Odometer Gauge Trip computer Tachometer
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