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New problem after being at the dealership. What to do?

Hello.  I took my 2006 Chevy Malibu into the dealership because my power steering light would come on when I turned right.  I also had them rotate and balance the tires as regular maintenance.  The car drove and handled fine so I assumed that it was just a sensor.  They looked at the car and four hours later told me that it was a senor that had gone bad in the steering column and that it would be $850.00 to fix.  I told them not to fix it and I would like the car back.  I picked the car up and now there is a knocking noise when I turn the wheel left or right about nine/ten o?clock, so I took it back immidately.  They put it on the lift and the noise is coming from around the tie rod area.  They said that they did nothing to cause this and unless I can prove it?s their fault they aren?t going to do anything. I am out of warranty on the car.

So my questions are: The noise absolutely was not present when I drove it there in the morning and when I picked it up it was there. I feel it was in their possession so it should be their responsibility. What is the legal responsibility here and what should I do? And what could they have done to cause this noise?


Take it to an alignment shop and see if they can fix it. It isn’t the dealer’s responsibility because you did not see them damaging your car. That was the judge speaking, not my personal opinion. I see how cars are built these days and I don’t know how they can even run for two years. It has to be a miracle.

I guess if you have no warranty then you are better off going to a local independent shop. You will get a better diagnosis and a milder blow to your wallet.

I am having trouble understanding ‘a knocking noise at nine/ten o’clock’. Can you describe that a little more? One clunk? A repeating noise?

The liklihood is that they simply left something loose, and they don’t want to look to hard for fear that they will find something that they really did break.

I have never heard of a power steering light. I suppose it must be necessary or at least advisable, but my first inclination when a sensor fails the the system is still working fine is to just remove the warning bulb. Why does it need a power steering light?

Definitely take the car to another shop. Preferably an owner-operated shop that someone recommends to you.

my power steering light would come on when I turned right. … The car drove and handled fine so I assumed that it was just a sensor.

What is a power steering light?

Ignoring the light put the blame on you and not the dealer unless it can be proven that the dealer caused the problem and your neglect did not aggravate the problem. They don’t put warning lights on cars just to test sensors. The put sensors on cars to alert you to a potential problem.

Why on earth would you ignore and remove bulbs??? They don’t have them illuminate for no reason. It is a fault.

If I understand correctly an electrical sensor is used for the power steering movement and it is failing or once it fails the power steering quits. A known problem with Malibu’s. Heck it happened on a rental I had a few years back.

Then again this was according to the rental lot jockey.

These Cars Have Electric Power Steering. Maybe That Explains The “Light”.

There are several Technical Service Bulletins for this model discussing power steering issues with turning the steering lock-to-lock. There is even information given in the Owner’s Manual supplied with the vehicle. TSBs also cover clunking caused by an intermediate steering shaft source.

Addendum: VDC driver, This is scary stuff. I was just coming back on to recommend taking the car to a different dealer.

Sometimes larger dealers offer more help because of the larger volume of vehicles they see with problems. I would also recommend calling some dealers and asking what they think the problem could be and how they would proceed in diagnosing. They can’t fix it over the phone, but often a dealer will stand out as being more knowledgeable, more helpful, and/or more “user friendly” than the others. It’s a “first impressions” thing. Kyle’s current shop doesn’t fit the bill.

I have a dealer that is sort of far away, but has a “GM Guru” and has a good attitude.


This is just a guess, but I think that this car has electronic power steering, rather than the more conventional hydraulic power steering, and the warning light probably is an indication of an electronic fault. My recollection is that 4 cylinder Malibus have electronic PS, and that the V-6s have hydraulic PS.

This is one area where independent shops have little experience, so it might be advisable to seek out a different GM dealership to assess what is going on here. Since GM cars tend to differ only by the badge on the hood, the service department at a Saturn dealer or a Pontiac dealer could be used instead of a Chevy dealership.

Oh–and it might also be a good idea to read what the Owner’s Manual has to say about the power steering warning light. I know that the concept of reading the Owner’s Manual is a radical step, but sometimes radical action is necessary.

Addendum: CSA–I must have been typing my usual verbose response while you were posting your response. Great minds think alike!

Look at the suspension on the side where the noise comes from. You may be able to do this by turning the steering wheel fully to the left, then inspect, turn fully right, then inspect. If you have to lift the car, DON’T use the car jack in the trunk unless you insert a jack stand. NEVER crawl under a car at home without a jack stand in place. One thing to look for is a tear in the constant velocity joint boot. There will be one where the axle meets the wheel. There is another one where the axle joins the transmission.

Here’s a URL that may help you:

If the CV boot is ripped, see if it is fresh damage. It may have been cut. If the dealer damaged it and then damaged the CV joint, then you should see fresh rubber at the tear/cut.

Thanks everybody for your helpful replies. I am having a independant shop look at the car right now, and I’ll see what they say and then go from there.
Just to clarify: The nine o’clock reference is the position my hand is in as i turn the wheel, twelve o’clock being the very top. The knocking nosie is a quiet thumping noise on the axle-tye-rod area and yes there is a boot there. The power steering light is actually a display that says “power steering” where my time/temp radio are.
As I see it, they gave me a new problem, and they don’t want to “own it” or, at the very least, investigate to see if it is their fault.

The noise sounds like a faulty CV joint or a loose wheel cover if so equipped and either nose can appear to come from the tie rod area.

Does this car have wheel covers or alloy wheels? A wheel cover that is not snapped on tightly or one that has a weakened clip can make noise; especially when cornering. Wheel and wheel cover flex is what causes this.
If you have wheel covers remove the cover and see what happens.

If the problem is a CV joint then a simple tire rotation and wheel balance would have nothing to do with this.

I am with the Dealer,you must prove what you claim. The Dealer does not have to prove to you they are not at fault . You must prove they are, and on your dime.