GM product quality


I inherited my dad’s 2004 Chevy Malibu (Dad was a mechanical engineer, he respected and cared for his cars!)

At 20,600 miles I just replaced the steering rack, the rear brakes (totally disappeared), the front rotors, and reattached the stereo speaker into the driver’s door. I suspected the steering rack as mom’s 2000 Impala needed one at 40,000 miles (the Impala’s transmission went at 27,000 miles!) I’m personally used to Hondas which occassionally need only brakes and tires until about 100k miles. So - Is this what I should expect from GM? I now have an extra car, and my choice is to sell mom’s fully-loaded Impala which just turned 50,000 miles, or my son’s '99 Accord EX with 80,000 miles. Any guesses which car will last longer?


Oh No! Another verbal war between the Motowners and the Riceeaters!

Unless my reading comprehension skills have waned, it sounds like dad’s '04 Chebby is the problem child of the bunch. Why not sell that one?


Malibus are normally not this bad. I often rent them on business and they seem reasonably solid. This could be a case of the proverbial “Monday morning or Friday afternoon before the Memorial Day weekend” car. Agree with the other posters, that you should keep the Accord, sell the Malibu since it probabl? still looks good, and will command a decent price. Accords have a long life expectancy, and good bodies. If the Accord is well cared for, it should be good for another 100,000 miles at least. My brother’s 1987 Accord with well over 200,000 miles is still going strong, but getting some rust.


Our 05 Malibu has been perfect and I have never had a steering rack go bad with several brands. Is it possible that you have a mechanic who cheats; talks customers into unneeded repairs that are then blamed on the car brand?


Different mechanics in different shops. And I was talking with a friend who also has an Impala, the first thing he suggested was steering rack - his son is a GM mechanic and it’s apparently pretty common.
Just picked up the car - it wasn’t the stereo speaker - it was the power window motor falling off the door.

BTW, I also travel for work extensively and rent numerous cars. Last week in California I had an HHR with 2,900 miles on it. (every car in the hotel parking lot was an HHR.) The only way to close the rear passenger door and keep it closed was to slam it HARD. The transmission was sticky getting it out of park. I thought my civic 4-banger was slow - not compared to the Chevy!

My first (and probably favorite) car was a 65 Chevy - this isn’t a “motowner versus riceeater” issue. It’s turning into experience with products that just don’t compete on quality.


Before agreeing with any of it I always want to know the details behind the specific complaint.
What was the complaint with the steering rack?

My sister in law had a Malibu for 5 years and no problems at all up until trading it in year before last on a TrailBlazer.
Four neighbors of mine all own late model Impalas ('01s to '05s) and none of them have any complaints with the cars.
While chit chatting with a state trooper a while back I asked about his patrol unit (Impala) and he had no complaints; and believe me, he drives the beejeezus out of it.


When turning the wheel in either direction there was a subtle ‘thunk’ you could hear and feel towards the far end of the turn. Subtle enough that I didn’t notice it at first, but my brother borrowed the car and noticed it immediately - and when I quizzed my daughter (this is her primary car when home from college) she said she also felt it. My mom had definitely felt it in her Impala before we replaced the rack in her car. I would have ignored it if I hadn’t already experienced it in the Impala.


On average, you will get more fall-aparts from GM. They are sometimes assembled by saboteurs. It seems to be traditional. Their steering systems are a very frequent source of malfunctions. It has been going on for years and may not stop anytime soon. Ralph Nader hasn’t been discredited yet. You can get a good Chevy, but there is no guarantee.


It’s always possible the problem could have been a steering rack, but my guess is that given the symptom it would have been more likely a worn tie rod end. These can thunk to varying degrees, and even pop like a firecracker, depending on the wear pattern.

A Mitsubishi my daughter owned went through something like this about 5 years ago and whenever the wheel was turned sharply in one direction the tie rod end would pop as loud as a .22 Rimfire rifle. The tie rod end was perfectly tight; just had an odd wear pattern on it.
Often the only way to detect this is to separate the joint and physically move it with your hand. It then becomes pretty apparent.

Many rebuilt racks are sold without the outer tie rod ends and these are transferred from the old rack to the new/rebuilt one in this case. Now, there is a reason why a tie rod end may pop on one rack and not on another. That is because when it is separated from the steering knuckle the ball stud is often turned in the ball socket and starts the wear process over again.
Of course if the rack came with new ends then it’s a moot point and it’s possible an entire rack was changed because of a 30 dollar tie rod end.
It’s also possible a rack was changed and the worn tie rod end was also swapped onto the new rack if the rack was purchased w/o tie rod ends.

This problem would be more prevalent in a northern rust belt state (MN to PA, etc) or with a car that sees a lot of use around dirt roads, has been in high water due to heavy rains, etc.

Advance Auto Parts runs a reliability survey based on feedback from pro techs and they do not show the rack as being a chronic problem with either the Impala or the Malibu.

Hope some of that helps anyway.


Thanks for the details, but considering we bought both this Malibu and the Impala new, I wouldn’t suspect them of having rebuilt components. And getting back to the “maybe your services guys are rooking you” - the Impala was diagnosed by a very trustworthy guy in town - in fact after diagnosing it, he sent us to the dealer to get it repaired rather than taking our money. And the Malibu was diagnosed and repaired by the dealer. And as the car was just out of warranty, he didn’t charge for his labor.

BTW - it turns out it wasn’t the speaker falling off the door - it was the power window motor.