Malibu Maxx 2005 Rear Disc Brake Problem

Hello, new guy here…briefly, i’ve had to replace the pads and turn the rotors on the rear of my '05 Malibu Maxx at only 34k miles and they were quite shot. The front has lots of life left yet.

Has anyone encountered this and if so were you able to determine the cause?

Thanks in advance for any help with this as i also have an '07 Maxx and am now wondering if i’ll have the same problem.



I am sold on something causing the brakes to not release but it must be something affecting both sides unless this was a rust problem,you do just say shot.

Hello oldschool, thanks for the response. No rust at all really and what i meant by shot was that the rear pads were thinner than a nickle. What i’m trying to find out is if anyone has had this problem with their Malibu Maxx. The dealer actually told me that this can happen on new cars where the rear will wear out before the front but i’d never heard of that…well unless there was a problem. Car is off warranty so naturally i won’t get them to help me. My idea was that if i knew what caused it i could look at the '07 and since it’s still on warranty i could go to my chevy dealer with some ammo and they might have to fix something on that car then i could fix same on the '05. Yeah, i love the Maxx so i got another one.

Thanks again for the reply, oh and i figure it’s something affecting both sides too but not the front since there shouldn’t be any residual valves in the master. Also, the pistons retracted easily when i turned the pistons in.

Anybody else please?


Manufacturers have started putting thinner rear brake pads on their vehicles. It’s not uncommon these days for the rear pads to wear out first. The rear brake pads on my '97 Acura wore out, and had to be replaced, but the front pads are still good at 80K miles.

Hello mcparadise, thank you…though not the best news, it helps explain why the rear disc pads wore first. I’m still hoping to hear from Maxx owners to learn if they’re having the same prob as stated above at around 30k miles.

Again thanks and every reply is helpful.


Same problem on my 2005 Malibu LT sedan at 37,000 miles - I just replaced the rear pads today. The front pads are still OK, but the inner rear pads were worn down to the audible wear indicators. The rear discs were more scored than the front discs. It looks like the rear pads were hanging up on the discs. The parking brake lever was against its stop on both rear calipers, indicating that it was fully released. The rear caliper pistons screwed smoothly back into the caliper body, using a tool rented from the auto parts store.

Searching the internet, the only clue that I found was an article in Popular Mechanics suggesting that clean brake fluid is especially important for rear calipers that self adjust for the parking brakes. Apparently, the rotating rear caliper pistons are more prone to jamming than regular pistons. My brake fluid is original from the factory, and it looks a little dirty. Maybe a fluid change will be the project for next week.

Bingo jjcalif ! Ok, I think i know what the problem is on my '05 at least…it has to do with your statement…“the parking brake lever was against it’s stop on both rear calipers”…now i checked under the dash to see if the parking brake PEDAL was on it’s stop when released and it was…on your’s, do you mean the small levers back at the calipers where the parking brake cables come out of the cable housing?

Fluid change…i din’t think of that and the pistons screwed back into the calipers very easily…din’t even need the tool actually.

Hoping to see you reply about the cable/housing/lever part of this post.


GuitarZen, I was referring to the small levers on the back calipers. The parking brake pedal and also the small levers in the back are against their stops. So, it appears that the parking brake should not have caused the problem in my case.

Here’s another theory: If there is air in the brake fluid, it will expand when the fluid heats up. The expansion of the air would increase the pressure in the brake circuit, which would cause the discs to press against the rotor. If the air is located in part of the ABS module that controls the rear brakes, then only the rear brakes would be affected. The fix would be to bleed the brakes.

The brake pedal in my Malibu felt spongy from day one, but I thought that it was just normal for that car, and the brakes have always stopped the car well. Maybe there has been air in the system all along. If air is trapped in the ABS module, here is some bad news: according to the shop manual, the “DBC7.2” antilock braking system in this car requires a special ABS scanner tool to bleed the Electronic Brake Control Module (ECBM). This scanner cycles the electric solenoid valves inside the module in a pre-programmed manner. That kind of ABS scanner is not available at a reasonable price.

Current plan: Change the fluid and bleed the brakes without a scanner. If the problem persists, it may be necessary to break down and take the car to a shop that has the proper equipment.

Ok jjcalif, I think I’m finally getting somewhere with the '05 Malibu Maxx rear brake problem I have. I don’t know why i did it, but i was looking at the small lever on the left rear parking brake…i could move it about a half inch in the direction it would move when releasing the parking brake inside the car. Then i turned the rotor and noticed it felt freer. I tried the right rear lever and same thing…about 3/8ths inch additional movement. I set the brake inside, released it, looked under the dash and the mechanism was against the stop and lo and behold, there was drag on the rear rotors. not much, just a little. Also, each lever could be moved the same amount as before…in the direction of releasing the parking brakes !!

I don’t know where, but there must be an adjustment. Again, this Maxx is off warranty so i have no recourse there. I would tend to think this is a safety issue though, supposing if there were enough drag on the rear brakes at freeway speeds that a serious problem could arise.

Fortunately the pedal on my Maxx feels fine and always has…the car still only has around 35k miles on it so i’m hoping someone might know how to adjust the parking brake for a full release so that i don’t have drag on the rear rotors. Oh, and currently i’m not using the parking brake…another safety related issue i presume.

Good thinking on the air in the brake fluid but some physics come to mind there. It would be great if someone could verify your theory as fact because air in brake fluid automatically means moisture in the system too and that can turn into a big problem.

Thanks jjcalif, you’ve likely solved my problem with my Maxx. I’ll be well armed once i take the '07 apart on the back to check the small levers and will go to the dealer to see if they try to just dismiss the problem as ‘normal wear’ again.



Update on the Malibu Maxx rear brake wear issue: Today i took the '07 in to check the rear brakes as my warranty is almost up. I was allowed to talk with the mechanic and also to note how he checked for rear brake drag with the parking brake released. First thing i noticed was that the return springs are much stronger than the ones on the 05 Malibu Maxx and secondly that there was no brake drag associated with the parking brake mechanism. It looks like GM made a quiet fix sometime after the 05 model and now all i have to do is find out if i can retrofit my 05 with the 07 springs and/or mechanism at the rear calipers. Hope this helps someone that is banging their head against the wall and like me, unable to use my parking brake on my 05 Malibu Maxx.

Yayyy Chevy.