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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
98,796 miles
Total Complaints:
29 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (24 reports)
  2. replaced key switch and ignition module (3 reports)
  3. built my own passlock bypass circuit (1 reports)
  4. cut the yellow wire in ignition & insert toggle switch (1 reports)
  5. install auto remote start (1 reports)
1998 Chevrolet Malibu electrical problems

electrical problem

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1998 Chevrolet Malibu Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #29

Feb 262011

Malibu 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


We have had many problems with the start not starting when it doesn't want to. I am so glad that we have two cars because my husband would be late to work so many times. I get stuck everytime to anti theft light comes on. I wish that the company would just fix it.

- , Dayton, OH, USA

problem #28

Oct 282010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,000 miles

This auto-theft system is ruining my life!! I'm a high school student with curfews and need to be at school and job interviews at a certain time. With this dumb#ss problem I can basically say goodbye to a job. I've had it for a few months, nothing bad happened until it was getting cold out. Then this stupid Theft System light started going on my father didn't know what was wrong either at first. This is where the manual comes in I flipped through and... what the fudge is it talking about code??? I don't have no code I wasn't told about no code. I was stuck at a store at a busy area and I live a good couple miles from there, and I have a curfew that says I can't drive past the hour of 12, well I did not make that curfew. So visiting my mother at work turned into me screaming at my car for an hour, with people looking at me strangely next to me in their cars. My father has talked to a friend of his and says he can disable it. HOW??? Its like my car thinks I'm stealing it. I paid 18,000 for this car I do not think that I am stealing it. In fact I don't know who would want it. I loved this car begged my parents to get it for me and this is what happens. Whoever had this car before me also didn't take very good care of it. I dislike this person... Please if you know what code it's talking about please share this information. I need help

Update from Oct 6, 2011: My malibu is way better. I was able to get a new radio, and once we put it in no more auto theft system problems. The light is always on but it's better than it not starting. So if your able to get a new or used radio for cheap, I would definitly choose to do this rather than having a mechanic take a look at it.

- , Hemlock, MI, USA

problem #27

Jun 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,061 miles

I was very hesitant but I cut the yellow wire and couldn't be happier!!! It's been 5 months and I haven't had a single issue with starting my car. I can identify with your FRUSTRATIONS and I wanted to share my experience.

I had the same problem with my Malibu not starting due to Passlock issues (other than this problem I have been very pleased with my car). At first it only happened occasionally but then it began happening weekly (it was worse in hot/humid weather). I was extremely frustrated and worried about being late for work, embarassed at a gas station ... or left stranded! But I'm a student and could not afford to get it fixed (that's why I'm driving a '98 in the first place). I also heard from others that the fix is only temporary and it will just happen again eventually. So I did some research and found out about cutting the yellow wire in the ignition (accessible by removing the radio) while the car is running. I was really hesitant to try this as I didn't want to make it worse and it seemed sort of sketchy. But I finally got so fed up that I tried it. And it worked!!! It only required a few simple tools and about half an hour (I talked my brother into helping me). We also soldered in a toggle switch (approx $6) which is optional. The theft light stays on but you get used to it and don't even notice it after a while.

It is an easy and cheap fix. If a young, mechanically-challenged female such as myself can you it, anyone can. Just do your research ahead of time so you cut the correct wire.

- , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

problem #26

Nov 042010


  • 86,065 miles


Need a cheap fix.Chevy should fix for free with as many complaints as I have seen

- , Clarksville, TN, USA

problem #25

Aug 172010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

There has got to be a by-pass solution to this problem, what is it? Chevy should make it public, how to by-pass the complete Anti-theft system.

- , TUcson, AZ, USA

problem #24

Mar 012004

Malibu 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,351 miles

This problem occurred often. My wife drove the car. Her job took her to various clients each day. She would land up being late for appointments because it would not start for 20 minutes once the Passlock system detected a problem with the ignition switch.

After some research of remote start systems for the Malibu and being an electronics buff I designed and built my own for under $30.

It's now 2010 and it has never given me a stitch of trouble since I fixed it back in 2004.

If you want to know the solution I can email you a circuit diagram and instructions. As long as you can use a multimeter and a soldering iron ad have some experience assembling electronic parts into a circuit you will succeed in getting this annoying problem fixed once and for all. Yes, GM wanted $400 at the time to fix it, I told the dealer technician to get lost, literally!!

- , Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

problem #23

Mar 012010

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,495 miles


General Motors called to advise there is no recall on the problem of failing to start by GM and there is no warranty on a car of over 10 years age. There is also no concern on their part as the no start problem does no exist when driving, just when the car is parked to visit a grocery store etc and then it will not start for 10 to 15 minutes.

The problem is in the passlock ignition system. GM built the two together and there is no way to bypass the passlock system. The repairs could easily cost $500 to $800 as my expense and if I have the work done, they would provide a one year warranty on the parts and labor. WOW, way to go General Motors for a customer.

I refuse to spend any money for a defective ignition/passlock system of General Motors just to make them feel good. This passlock system should have been separate from the ignition to begin with and not integrated together.

This is just another example of a car company saving money at the expense of a customer satisfaction and any repairs would be to expensive for them to cover at any time later.

Do I think any change will occur? of course not. Our government is useless and will act only to get some glory in big investigations that produce no results. It gives the public the impression our federal government is acting on our behalf which we all know if totally untrue.

- , Placentia, CA, USA

problem #22

Jan 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Like many, I have had an issue with my 1998 Malibu's thieft light coming on then having to wait 10-15 minutes before it will turn off and then I can start my car. This is a real Pain in the Ass. But for the most part, I havent had many issues with this car, and has treated me well. I will try the suggestion to wait until all the lights turn on and off before actually starting the car and let everyone know if that has worked for me

- , Raleigh, NC, NC, USA

problem #21

Jun 012008

Malibu LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

As you can see, I submitted a gripe last summer. Problem stopped until quite recently. Since it was my wife's car, I had to get it fixed. A small Chev dealer serv. mgr. told me to go to a good locksmith. I checked another Chev dealer and was quoted $435. I had a "reputable" locksmith do the job for $60 labor and $135 parts. Less than an hour to do job. Drop radio and replace small ignition piece.

- , Canby, OR, USA

problem #20

Feb 012006

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

I'm glad I found this site. This is about my mother's car. She had always had her car serviced through a GM dealer. She had kept the service up on it from the get go. Might I add, that my husband and I only buy Chevrolets and talked her into buying this car. In 2006 she was told by the GM dealer she needed gaskets replaced and it would cost over 800.00 dollars to do. This was because of an antifreeze light coming on and it was leaking on the manifold I guess. She had a local mechanic fix this problem, that claimed he had fixed hundreds of Malibus with the same problem, and he did it a lot cheaper. He fixed the gaskets but the antifreeze light is still on occasionally, and she keeps a check on the antifreeze level. A few months later the car would not start. My brother had his diesel mechanic that works on his big truck come and take a look. He determined that it was a fuel pump problem and he put a new one on it. It seemed to work. A few months later it started acting up again. She was out with her 83 year old mother and after coming out of the grocery store with groceries, the car would not start. After about 30 mins of being on the cell with her it started. This has gone on for years now with the damn thing starting when it wants to. She didn't drive for about 8 months in 2007 because it was at my brothers mechanic for that long changing out different things to make it start. He put it on a computer, the ones the Nascar boys use, he worked for one of the well known teams, that I want mention, and they could not diagnose the problem. But yesterday I came upon this site and was reading about loud knocking noises coming from the engine that just started yesterday, yes, a new problem, and I came across the anti-theft light coming on and preventing the car to start. And I'll be damn, mom's car would not start this morning. I remembered what I had read, and asked her if the anti-theft light was on, and she said yes. I told her to leave the keys in the ignition and lets wait ten minutes and try it again. I put it on a stop watch and in about three minutes the light started to blink and continued until exactly 10 minutes were up and I'll be damn, it cranked right up. All this time and depression from her and worry because she can't afford another car, we may have finally solved...... this non fixable, just let the car sit as a yard ornament, bottomless money pit, piece of sh*t, had to cancel another doctors appointment, because the damn thing would not start and the groceries went to the bad in the heat.....freaking mystery. Now what? Do we file a complaint with the bankruptcy court? How do we cut the line on the anti-theft system? After all, the constant trying to crank the damn thing probably has caused the knocking problem now and no thief would want it anyway because it would stop running on them too!!!! God Bless America and Freedom of Speech to rant with a few cuss words!!!!

- , Troutman, NC, USA

problem #19

Jun 052009

Malibu 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles


Bought car used three years ago for run-about for wife. Experienced first problem of flashing Theft System shortly thereafter. Sat in vehicle waiting on tow truck and it stopped flashing and we went on our way. Since it's first mishap it has happened three or four times over the last three years. Most recently the light started flashing and just would not go off. Investigated several web sites and the ignition switch came to light. There are two parts to the dashboard mounted system. A key switch and an ignition module. They cost me three days waiting for the parts, $270.00 and four hours of figuring how to get the parts out and then putting it all back together.

- , Hookerton, NC, USA

problem #18

Apr 032007

(reported on)

Malibu 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Anti-theft light comes up when attempting to start car. Car won't start, engine won't turn over. After waiting 7 minutes, car will start. Happens intermittently but always when you don't have that 7 minutes to wait. Car runs fine after starting.

- , Frederick, MD, USA

problem #17

Apr 152006

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

So, I bought this car used a little over three years ago. I had it for about a month and all of the sudden, car doesn't start. Just an irritating theft system light blinking at me. What is going on? I'm going to be late for work! I wait until the light stops blinking and it starts. This scenario continued about twice a week (sometimes more) for the next year. I just had to make sure I left an extra 20 minutes early everywhere to make sure I wouldn't be late. Inconvenience is putting it nicely.

I have the original keys, that is not the problem. And I am not paying for a new ignition, you can kiss my a**. I have never found a way to override the system. Just try to wait patiently. Which is hard to do when you're freezing because its the middle of winter or youre going to be late for a very important job. Damn you Chevy!

So, about a year ago the problem stopped completely. The miracle I had always prayed for? Hardly. Then I had my ignition re-keyed because I lost both the originals. Two days later my car wouldnt start and I was in the kind of neighborhood you dont want to be in at night unless you live there. This time, I tried to start it 12 times. Yes, I waited two hours. My husband showed up and kicked the ignition really hard and then it started. I don't know if I recommend doing this :). Anyway, since then no problems until yesterday. Had a very important meeting that took me 2 months to schedule and I couldn't get to work. You have got to be kidding me. Let it sit overnight. Tried again this morning for another 2 hours. Nothing. I had to take a cab to work and was late. Cabs are fine, I live in Chicago, but my appointment was in the suburbs so it wasn't cheap and I was still late. About to go back out there, don't know if I should cry or blow the thing up and smile.

Would never wish this car on anyone, but how am I supposed to trade it in knowing it has these problems without them de-valuing it even more?

And GM wonders why no one wants to buy their vehicles. Please.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #16

Sep 292008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 185,000 miles

I love my 1998 Chevy Malibu up until last week. I got the brakes, routers, etc fixed.cost me 896. Took it home, left for work an hour later. As i turned into my parking spot the ABS light came on. so i turned the car off, then tired to restart it to see if light went away. I didn't start. after 10 mins it started. Drove fine all the rest of the day and next until we went for lunch the second night. We came out, car didn't start( theft system was flashing), someone said it sounded like the fuel filter, so i went and got that changed and some other small wiring and plus. That seemed to work for a day and a half. Then today pulling out of my drive way the ABS light came on and i pulled over and shut the car down, then tried to restart.. it started up the 3rd try.. what could this problem be?

- , Brantford, Ontatio, Canada

problem #15

Sep 292008

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

I do not understand why there isn't a solution to this problem. It is universal among MALIBU owners of any given year. Why can't the passlock system be disabled. I do not even have automatic doors or windows but I have a theft system.... HUH? Please if you are a car thief in the NJ area, please, please, try to steal this car. I dare you!

There must be a solution short of selling this car. I do not want to dump this problem on another unsuspecting consumer. GM needs to get this to a amiable resolution. I am writing their legal division today. Anyone who has resolved this over the past 10 years of MALIBU disasters, please feel free to contact me.

- , Mercerville, NJ, USA

problem #14

Jul 092008

Malibu LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

key would not turn to start the car,key just sits their, probably after numerous tries the key turns and then i'm able to start the engine. right now it it not turning at all, I am trying not to pay $500 dollars for a new ignition cylinder, Its very sad that this is a common issue and all that Chevy can do for their customers is charge them $500 dollars. I going to try the fix methods listed on this site, unsure if its going to work........if anyone has another solution or can recommend a shop where the cost is less than $500 to fix the ignition cylinder, please send it to me at thanks

- , Nocross, GA, USA

problem #13

Jan 012008

Malibu LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

This is my wife's car but I do drive it part-time. First time I noticed, I was going to use it and it would not start. Took my truck figuring I would take care of matter later. When I got home, it started right up. Next time, my wife called and said car would not start. I told her to wait and I would come over to her location. Before I got there, she called to say it started. Happened 2 or 3 more times. Took it to shop and they claimed it needed re-programming, which they supposedly did, plus other misc. repairs. Couple weeks later, it was a hot day and I was driving. Stopped for a few minutes and it would not start. Was 50 miles from home. I tried several times and while on phone to AAA, the thing started. Seems if you wait 10 minutes, it will start.

Went back to the dealer and was told to get a new key cut. Went to a locksmith to get key and he said this happened all the time and it was actually the ignition and needed a new one and that this model was the most expensive - about $200. Said he would have to remove radio, etc. to do it.

I felt I was getting a run-around. So far I have not done anything, other than use a different key I had, and it is working. I do expect it to go out again any time.

- , Canby, OR, USA

problem #12

Jul 102008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

if i wanted a theft system i would have put one in myself. i was told nothing about this when i bought the car. i owned my Malibu for about a year when it first happened. i get in to go to work, key in ignition, NOTHING but an angry red "theft system" light blinking on my dash... WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?! so i flip through the owners manual and it tells me to turn the key, tap out what feels like morris code on the radio, put in your code? what code?? geez are you kidding me.... and after waiting 8 mins.... YES it actually says 8 minutes (just enough time to contemplate slitting your wrist) it finally starts. and you can continue with life. im glad i found this sight, its good to know im not alone and that there are other people who know my pain. f*ck you Chevy, i will never buy ANYTHING from you again. this is ridiculous. when i pay for a car i expect it to do things like, oh i dont know..... START. there are several problems im having with this car but this one is the most frustrating. radio, AC, windows.... you bastards.

- , Franklin, TN, USA

problem #11

Mar 092008

Malibu 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 166,000 miles

My friggin Chevy Malibu recurrently will not start. It cranks just fine but then dies. I've had it towed once and been charged for a new fuel pump that I was told was the problem. Well today it didn't start again and I noticed that the theft system light was blinking. So I Googled the problem and found out it is a common issue. The car did start after waiting some time for the light to go off while the key was turned to the on position. I'm going to complain to Chevy and hopefully they will fix this stinking problem for free. Unbelievable!!

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #10

Feb 051999

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

Well to all who have this 10 min delay problem, we're all in the same boat I have tried several fixes for the problem but the thing that makes the most sense is to some how bypass the sensor for the anti theft system that is if we can find the info or the correct info. I don't have a yellow wire to cut as some have mentioned but have found other places where they have told of (cutting the wire)it makes sense to me that this shouldn't work because the car really thinks the car is being stolen those of you that have done this good luck! hope it doesn't leave you stranded lol more so lol.I think it stands to reason the car sees the key as a foreign object in the switch and thinks your trying to steel your own car. I've called the chevy man and they have no clues as to why or don't see this as a common problem. Maybe there aren't as many of us as we think there were but I doubt it. As I continue to research this problem I see more and more complaints but no cure. There has to be a cure and I have now made it my life's ambition to figure this out. As soon as I do I will post it. The first thing I'm going to try is to have a new key cut from the codes as if I lost the key or have the lock smith get the codes from the dealer to cut me a new one to see if its just a worn out key problem. Who knows maybe I'll get lucky - I sure would love it ......

- , St. Petersburg, FL, USA

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