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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 2
Average Mileage:
76,588 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

1998 Chevrolet Malibu steering problems

steering problem

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1998 Chevrolet Malibu Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #24

Jan 042016


  • 200,116 miles


While backing out of my drive way to the right I heard loud clunking and then finally a pop as I turned the steering to the left. Immediately following, while driving in residential area left turns became extremely difficult to make, and I noticed the steering wheel seemed to be off center. I decided to make a 3-point turn to return home, and while backing to the left there seemed to be little actual movement before I felt as if the front end of the car raised a bit followed by another lout pop. Returning the wheels right saw little movement at first before turning as normal. Left turns the rest of the way home difficult, while right turns are made with ease. Upon inspection when getting to my garage rack and pinion mount on passenger side that appears to be welded had broken. Perhaps rusted? I live in ca, so I didn't expect rusted parts to be an issue.I have researched other Malibu that have experienced incredibly similar behavior, and there is even a recall regarding the rack and pinion in my my Malibu, however mine is not included due to VIN. I find this to be absolutely appalling that GM can receive so many complaints for this issue, and request for a fix, and so boldly tell these customers that they will not service their vehicles when this is clearly a manufacturer defect.

- Vacaville, CA, USA

problem #23

Oct 052015


  • 32,000 miles
I purchased new tires today and the technicians noticed there was excessive play in the steering link via the rack and pinion. Upon further investigation it was discovered that the welds (which are both factory and most likely robotic) holding the nut through the rack and pinion have failed. These welds are not a consumable or an otherwise replaceable part of the car and unacceptable for them to fail. Currently if the nut that was originally welded in place comes off I will completely lose steering on the drivers side. At even slow speeds this could be fatal to the driver and occupants. The car has been owned by one family for the life of the vehicle and immaculately maintained. For Chevrolet to design and manufacture such a critical piece in this fashion is appalling. I am trying to get in touch with Chevrolet recalls department and safety but no one will return my calls. The one person that answered at a dealership said they would absolutely fix it if as a failed weld signals a fabrication defect. I gave them my number so they could call to schedule an appointment but no one has called!

- Lenoir City, TN, USA

problem #22

Sep 012009

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
My granddaughter was 18 years old and had recently graduated high school. She was driving to work on a Tuesday morning, the weather was clear and the road was dry. As she rounded a small curve, her steering went out. The car's right front wheel went off the road, sending the car out of control. When my granddaughter tried to steer back onto the road, the car slid on the pavement, spun around, was thrown over a ditch, hit a tree and landed back on the road. The airbag did not deploy, and my granddaughter's small body (98 pounds) was thrown across the seat and into the floorboard on the passenger side. When police and ambulances arrived, there was nothing they could do. My granddaughter died at the scene from head trauma and internal injuries. Her identical twin sister lost half of her identity that day; the two of them were as one. Emergency teams had to use the jaws of life to retrieve her body from the car. This accident happened within one mile from my home. I could hear the sirens in the distance but had no idea that they were sounding for my granddaughter. The memory of those sirens still haunts me.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #21

Oct 042014


  • 180,000 miles


The contact owns a 1998 Chevrolet Malibu. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the steering wheel would suddenly malfunction and became very difficult to turn. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic. The technician diagnosed that the rack and pinion was faulty and needed to be repaired. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 180,000.

- Spartanburg, SC, USA

problem #20

Nov 122006

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
This vehicle had a crash with fatalities in 2006. General Motors never issued a unintended ignition turnoff on this vehicle until aug2014. The crash began with an uncontrollable and unexpected spinout, there was no ability to steer, brake and air bags did not deploy. These are the exact conditions listed in the GM recall. GM will not accept a filing for this make and model vehicle and should be added to the GM ignition failure claim program. NHTSA didn't all the GM recall to Malibu's but I have notified them of the oversight. This should be corrected and compensation provided by GM. This is the exact wording on the GM recall website: The following recalls have been found for your 1998 Chevrolet Malibu results last updated: Sep 16, 2014 GM recall #: N140350 NHTSA recall #: 14V400 date issued: Aug 12, 2014 unintended ignition key rotation recall description: General Motors has decided that a defect which relates to motor vehicle safety exists in 2000-2005 my Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo, 1997-2005 my Chevrolet Malibu, 1999-2004 my Oldsmobile Alero, 1998-2002 my Oldsmobile intrigue, 1999-2005 my Pontiac Grand Am, and 2004-2008 my Pontiac Grand Prix vehicles. If the key ring is carrying added weight and the vehicle goes off road or experiences some other jarring event, it may unintentionally move the key away from the run position. If this occurs, engine power, power steering and power braking may be affected, increasing the risk of a crash. Safety risk description: The timing of the key movement out of the run position, relative to the activation of the sensing algorithm of the crash event, may result in the airbags not deploying, increasing the potential for occupant injury in certain kinds of crashes.

- Scottsdale, AZ, USA

problem #19

Jan 082014


  • 180,000 miles
I received my chev recall letter ref recall 14350 today. This is not a complaint, just info that may be important in reference to this safety recall. Problems I have had with my 1998 chev Malibu is : engine shuts off while traveling at highway speeds-sometimes engine won't start ( ignition key will not go all way to start position)-sometimes engine want shutoff (ignition key want turn back to off position). As a retired truck mechanic I know that the problem is in the ignition switch lock cylinder (tumblers are worn excessively causing the lock cylinder to jam and/or be come loose allowing ignition key to rotate off). I have attempted to make repair myself but all parts outlets tell me that the lock cylinder is not available (must purchase $350 ignition switch assembly) if this recall does not include replacing the lock cylinder, the problem will not be corrected. Experienced mech/tech can replace the lock cylinder in about 10 minutes.

- Waycross, GA, USA

problem #18

Dec 212012


  • 76,900 miles


I was parking the car in my drive way and all of sudden a loud noise comes from underneath and the car steers by itself in the wrong direction where the other car was already parked. I managed to steer due to the slow speed the car was moving but I realized how bad this could have been while driving the car in traffic and at high speed rates. When I checked what happened, I noticed that the front end cradle that the steering rack mounts to, has rusted out and the whole rack and pinion became lose in one of the mounting points. I am very disappointed with the quality and workmanship they put in one of the most important parts of the car, where steering, suspension, in fact the whole power train seats on and it failed so easy. The manufacture was trying to save some dollars at the cost of peoples lives.

- Troy, MI, USA

problem #17

Aug 012011


  • 206,041 miles
The contact owns a 1998 Chevrolet Malibu. The contact stated that the steering wheel was extremely stiff, making it difficult for the contact to steer in any direction. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic who replaced the power steering pump, but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 206,041 and the current mileage was 230,000.

- Greenville, TN, USA

problem #16

Mar 152011

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 177,000 miles
While driving my 1998 Chevrolet Malibu at slow speed (luckily), the steering make a crunching noise and completely failed. This cause the complete loss of control of the vehicle. The steering wheel would simply spin, with no effect on the actual steering gearbox. There was no longer any mechanical connection between the steering column and the rack and pinion gear. The vehicle was towed to my mother's home about a mile away and there was an initial inspection by my stepfather (a 25 year veteran of the automobile business). He stated that he had never seen a failure like this and suggested that a contact Chevrolet to see if there were any recalls on this, which I did. He also checked and there was one in the steering column bearing and it was completed in 2004 on this vehicle. I contacted GM by E-mail and they called and told me that they were not going to participate in any repairs. I subsequently had the vehicle towed to a local garage and they did a preliminary diagnosis and advised me of the nature of the failure (along with a $900 estimate to repair it). They also stated that they had never seen a failure like this. The main concern was that we were extremely lucky that this happened in a parking lot and not on the highway, as the resultant loss of control would likely have cost us our lives.

- Ione, CA, USA

problem #15

Jan 282011


  • 135,000 miles
The contact owns a 1998 Chevrolet Malibu ls. The contact was parked with the engine running when the steering wheel became abnormally stiff yet the contact was still able to operate the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for inspection where the contact was advised that the high pressure hose would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 135,000.

- Waseca, MN, USA

problem #14

Sep 052010


  • miles


I was on interstate 95 going home when the steering wheel suddenly locked up on me and I started losing horsepower until I completely stopped!. so there I was in the middle lane stopped!, with cars swerving around me at high speeds!... not to mention the cars stopped behind me trying to get around!. I thought I would be badly rear ended for sure!!. luckily, a tow truck happened to be passing...and stopped to help. Someone could of been killed!!!!!. and from all the testimonials I've heard...I think General Motors should mail everyone who owns a Chevy Malibu a big fat check!.

- Glen Allen, VA, USA

problem #13

Aug 152008


  • 140,000 miles
While attempting a left turn the wheel became difficult to turn as if the power steering had gone out. Clunking noise was heard and wheel suddenly surged to the right. Wheel has become increasingly difficult to turn left accompanied by strain on the power steering. Problem has not been fixed.

- Wever, IA, USA

problem #12

Aug 212008


  • miles
On August 21, 2008, I was driving the car on a level, straight road and heard a snap. The steering of the car got really loose and squirrelly. I pull over to check for loose components under the wheel wells. Everything looked tight. Later I looked under the hood at the rack and pinion and had a helper turn the steering wheel left and right because it was difficult to maintain control to the left. Once the wheel was turned left, I saw the whole rack move up and down from the frame of the engine cradle. From the looks of it a part that held it down broke.

- Orangeburg, SC, USA

problem #11

Apr 182004


  • 171,000 miles
While driving there was a lot of play in the steering wheel. Dealership solved the problem once, but problem recurred.

- Animas, NM, USA

problem #10

Mar 292004


  • 63,044 miles
Dissatisfied with the length of time it took the local dealership to perform a two and a half hour recall.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #9

Aug 152001

Malibu 4-cyl

  • miles
When the gas tank was full the gas gauge read empty and when the gas tank was empty the gas gauge read full. The steering wheel made noises, the A/C light did not stay on and the A/C blew hot air when the button was not activated, the key would come out of the ignition and would not stay in and the vehicle would still drive without the key in the ignition. The brakes would have to be replaced at least twice a year, the antenna did not pick up an adequate number of stations, (case efficiency decreased from 350 to 250 to refill the can), when two batteries were replaced, the gas gauge did not work, and condensation would set in the rear lights and burned them out.

- Port Orange, FL, USA

problem #8

Jun 092003

Malibu 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles
While driving, the vehicle lost its rack and pinion steering and all power of the steering wheel. Dealer notified. The power window control panel on the driver side arm rest popped out, the vehicle pulled severely to the right (dealer couldn't find the problem). The dealer finally replaced the lower control arms, brake rotors, 2 sets of tires/almost completely bald at the time only 13K miles. The rims had to be forced off, the front rotors had become rusted at 20K miles, the ignition wire harness had come apart, the power steering hoses had come loose, lost fluid and power steering while in motion, the trunk leaked, the ABS light had come on twice a week, the front end squeaked and rattled, the antenna wire was loose, the right head lamp had permanent moisture with no crack, the A/C would shut on/off intermittently, the alternator failed at 60K miles and the waning light had come on for only five minutes, the engine leaked oil, and the right windshield wiper pivot housing had broken.

- Paxinos, PA, USA

problem #7

Mar 302003

Malibu 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles
The steering wheel was difficult to turn. The vehicle slid, hit a curb, and had gotten stuck in mud. Scc

- Parkville, MD, USA

problem #6

Oct 032001

(reported on)


  • miles
I noticed a rough feel to the steering wheel when making short turns.I took it to the dealer to inspect.they said I needed a new steering gear and that the mechanism was leaking fluid. When I contacted GM they told me they have no record of any problems with the steering mechanisms in their database. They did offer to share the cost 50-50(over $900!!) as a good will gesture as the car is now out of warantee.(woopee!!)I also reported my tail lights go out from time to time but the dealer says he couldn't find a problem.

- Chatham, MI, USA

problem #5

Sep 282001


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Front fender where front sensor was located was cracked. Consumer sustained chest and knee injuries from steering and dashboard because air bags didn't go off. Also, seat belt did not lock up. Consumer has not consulted manufacturer or dealer.

- Mountain Top, PA, USA

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