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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
6 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
77,606 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.

2003 Chevrolet Malibu electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Chevrolet Malibu Owner Comments (Page 7 of 11)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #81

Feb 012014


  • 104,000 miles


The anti-theft system kicked in approximately after 35 minutes of driving while at 65 miles an hour. It cut power to the fuel pump which turned off the car and we had to coast to the side of a highway. We were very nearly in an accident due to this device malfunctioning and could have killed me, my husband, and our unborn child. This problem is well documented all over the web and current fixes are not working. This car has never known another owner and I have tried to reset the device with the key fobs that were issued with the vehicle back in 2003. I performed the reset procedure properly and it did not work. These security devices need to be recalled and fixed before someone gets hurt or worse killed.

- Dallas, GA, USA

problem #80

Dec 232013


  • 125,000 miles
I parked the car in the driveway which is sloped downwards, and thought I put the car in park and turned the ignition off and took out the keys. After I got out of the car, it started rolling forward into the garage door. I quickly jumped into the seat and slammed on the brake. Thank G-D, no real damage was done, but I am pregnant and got really shocked. I realized the extent of this safety issue which I previously disregarded. The issue is that the keys can come out of the ignition while it is in the on position. Therefore if I forget to put the car in park and take the keys out they come out. Most cars have a safety feature which prevents removing the keys until the ignition is off, which cannot be done unless the car is in park. In my car however this is not the case as the keys come out in the on position and I am therefore lacking the feature to remind me to put the car in park. This can G-D forbid cause a terrible accident. I subsequently checked my brother in law's car which is also an 03 Malibu and it has the same problem.

- Flushing, NY, USA

problem #79

May 012013

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 98,000 miles
Started having problems starting my car, theft light would come on and I would have to sit and wait to get the car started, very annoying problem having to play a waiting came to start your car. Then one day I was driving and the car just shut off in the middle of the high way, I had no idea the car was even off until I tried to acclerate or turn because the radio remains on. Have to stop and put my hazzards on and start the car again, some days it does repeat stalls which causes me to almost get hit by cars behind me (very very dangerous), some days it drives fine. Then one day while shutting my car off and returning home the horn started honking and would not turn off for about a 1/2 hour, and after that it hasnt worked again. Took the car in to the shop because im fed up and they said it is all linked to a faulty pass key/anti theft system that causes these electrical problems. Did some research and noticed this is and has been a reaccuring problem in the Malibu's.

- Thornton, CO, USA

problem #78

Feb 122013

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 87,001 miles


When it rains the tail lights fill up with water and the lights do not work correctly. And sometimes they do not work at all. It holds water and the lights flash in a christmas tree light manner. Also when the breaks are stepped on the blinkers do not work. Also when you step on the break the blinker indicators on the instrument panel remain lit up green. I have replace bulbs as well as the whole light housing. Even drilled wholes in the bottom of the light housing units so the water can drained. Nothing can remedy this problem it is very dangerous.

- Lewisville , TX, USA

problem #77

Jul 112012


  • 123,000 miles
Car failed to start, only cranked. Had spark plugs, wires, ignition switch, fuel pump, fuel filter, relays, coil packs, etc... replaced. Got it running drove about 40 miles, now it just dies while driving... no warning just cuts off. I have taken it to various mechanics and have spent alot of $$. I even had new GM motor installed. I am afraid to drive it as several time I was on highway. This is a serious safety issue. This will cause an accident or worse death. Dealership has given no help.

- Pomona, NY, USA

problem #76

May 102013


  • 172,527 miles
Two weeks ago, my car wouldn't start, but everything inside was working. We thought it was a fuel pump issue, but later found out that it was the anti-theft system. It turns out that the theft system light comes on, and my car won't start. Thank goodness I have a smart mechanic who realized the issue before replacing any unnecessary parts! he was able to reset the system, but it happened again this weekend. I read up on how to reset the system, but it kills my battery before I can even wait for the 10 minutes. My battery is brand new and it sucks it dry! this is not an acceptable fix for me, as I don't typically have the spare time to keep resetting/recharging my car. I have small children and need a reliable vehicle, and this is turning out to be the opposite! this issue needs to be addressed and a recall needs to happen. It makes no sense at all, when I have just read so many of the same complaints! shame on Chevrolet!

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #75

May 192013


  • miles


I have a 2003 Chevrolet Malibu and the theft system light comes on all the time. Then I was coming out of work from working a long night shift and went to turn my car on but it would not turn on. I have read up on the theft system light and according to a lot of people this problem is quite frequent and nothing is being done about it. I am a single mother of 3 kids and I need my vehicle to work. I read that it will happen a lot and the GM people know of this and they don't do anything because they say there's not enough complaints. I want this problem fixed but I don't have the extra money to do it so it would be helpful if this problem was recalled so my car can be fixed from this annoying issue. I am afraid that if I get it to start I'm going to end up somewhere stranded with my kids. Please I hope something is done about this issue because I have read it happens to a lot of people who own Chevy Malibu from the year 1997-2005. I hope this helps to get this problem resolved for me and everyone else who owns this vehicle.

- Pa, PA, USA

problem #74

Jan 262011


  • 65,000 miles
The car is a 2003 Chevy Malibu. Occasionally, the "theft system" light will turn on for no reason, and the car will not start. The manual reset is to wait 10 minutes and try to restart the car. This was discovered after several expensive repairs, including fuel pump and ignition, were done. It has been inconvenient and sometimes dangerous to wait around for 10-30 minutes to restart the car. The theft system is flawed and there needs to be a recall to help owners fix this without having to put hundreds or thousands of dollars into fixing things that will not resolve the problem.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #73

Feb 212013

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 53,900 miles
Heating element of the heated seat feature burned a hole completely through the front of the driver's seat back.

- North Tonawanda, NY, USA

problem #72

Jan 092013


  • miles
I'm very unhappy as a Chevrolet client. My car has completely locked up and will not start due to the anti theft system. Upon a diagnosis, the Chevy mechanic told me it its my duty to get it towed to a shop only to have it hooked to a machine for $110 an hour only to get the car turned back on. I have seen that this is a common problem with this model of car and I'm very mad that it costs me and not Chevy for this avoidable, tedious problem. I thought their cars were suppose to be reliable. I will never buy another Chevy again! -very disappointed Chevy owner

- Mayetta, KS, USA

problem #71

Apr 192011

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 29,956 miles


The ignition/passlock system problem of intermittent no start that many others have with the 2003 Malibu left me stalled in traffic. Lucky for me there was no accident (not yet anyway). I have been dealing with this problem for a couple of years by doing the 10 minute reset as described in the owners manual. I took it to the dealer who replaced control & cable binding. Replaced floor shift control. Replaced shifter cable & ignition switch cable. The problem remains. I basically gave up complaining to the dealer and went back to the 10 minute reset procedure. A couple hundred dollars down the drain. My son asked why the car was never fixed. He found the technical service bulletin describing the exact problem as I and many others have with the 2003 Malibu: It states that "engineering would like to inspect any vehicle before the actual repair has been performed where the repair diagnosis leads to replacing the ignition lock cylinder for an intermittent or hard no start type of condition or customer complaint." (NHTSA item number 10002562) (service bulletin #022003). My son complained to the dealer and was told they fixed the stalling problem. They said I didn't mention anything about the ignition lock cylinder. My statement in the service order reads as follows: Owner states can't turn ignition lock cylinder at times. From what I have learned, the ignition lock cylinder should have been replaced. The ignition/passlock system is defective and should have never been installed in the 2003 Malibu. GM knew this but installed it anyways. They even have a remedy in their owners manual describing the 10 minute reset solution. GM creates the problem and then have unsuspecting customers pay $$$$$ to fix something else instead of fixing the real problem. This defect is an unsafe and an unethical scam!!!!!!!!!!

- Hazel Park, MI, USA

problem #70

Jun 122012


  • 113,000 miles
The anti theft system activated about 4 times for no reason in the past 3 months. Each time I followed the instructions in the owners manual and re booted the system. Then while I was driving the car sputtered and stalled. The car won't start. The fuel pump is broken. Why you ask did the fuel pump break. Because each time the anti theft system activated itself for no reason it shut off the fuel pump. This repeatedly shutting off the fuel pump causes the pump to break. This results in a $500+ repair bill plus the cost to tow the car plus sales tax making the repair $600. Chevy is aware that this is a very common problem with Malibu's. the defective anti theft system in effect causes other parts such as the fuel pump to break. Chevy profits by selling fuel pump modules each time there is breakage and this is why Chevy is covering up the problem! the Chevy Malibu's should be recalled immediately and repairs made to fuel pumps and anti theft systems because cars stalling on roadways are a safety hazard.

- Lehigh Acres, FL, USA

problem #69

Nov 022011


  • 85,945 miles
The anti- theft device in the 2003 Chevrolet Malibu has left me stranded 12 different times beginning November of last year. This vehicle needs to be recalled for this reason. I have read hundreds of complaints online for the exact same problem. General Motors is aware of the problem and does nothing. General Motors is personally responsible for lost jobs. General Motors is personally responsible for elderly people, infants, children, disabled men and women in the U.S. being stranded in their automobiles every day. We bailed General Motors out, they need to recall this model. Thank you.

- Lebanon, OR, USA

problem #68

Mar 222007

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 32,073 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Malibu. The contact stated that the vehicle experienced several failures in which the electric windows would not function, the headlights stopped illuminating, and the air conditioning unit failed. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the ignition switch was replaced. The failure recurred approximately one year later. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer and the ignition switch was replaced a second time but the failure again recurred a year later. The vehicle ignition switch was replaced for the third time. The contact also stated that the vehicle stalled while driving 25 mph. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and the ignition switch was replaced for the fourth time. The manufacturer was notified of the recurring failure and offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 32,073. The ignition switch was replaced four times. Updated 07/19/12

- Williamstown, NJ, USA

problem #67

May 122012


  • 131,086 miles
My 2003 Chevy Malibu wouldn't turn over noticed the anti theft light was blinking had to reset the system with the key because it wasn't getting gas. Before my vehicle would start read online about other people having the same problem this isn't safe GM needs to recall and fix this problem. With the passlock 2 system they have installed in these vehicles I have kids and am glad it didn't happen on the freeway with them in the car.

- Akron , OH, USA

problem #66

May 012009


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Malibu. The contact stated that the vehicle anti theft system activated and as a result, it prevented him from turning on the ignition. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic who diagnosed that the ignition cylinder needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 50,000 and the current mileage was 80,000.

- Potomac, MD, USA

problem #65

May 012012


  • 165,000 miles
My 17 year old daughter has a 2003 Chevy Malibu and she was stranded the other day because her car shut off and would not start back husband changed the fuel filter thinking that might be what it was with no success. I found on the internet today about the way to reset the anti theft system and it worked, but people have been saying that once this problem starts it doesn't stop happening. I feel that this is a safety issue for a young lady to be out somewhere and the car not start. I read many complaints about the same exact problem and I feel that it is a shame that Chevrolet won't recall the problem....if it is not recalled I will never buy another Chevy!!!

- Cookeville, TN, USA

problem #64

Feb 202012

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 44,000 miles
The heating/cooling blower does not operate at low speed setting (1-3). Works only at high (4) speed setting. At times some smoke is observed coming out of air vents. I had spoken to a mechanic during routine oil change at a dealership and he told me that this is corrosion problem causing due to condensation and eroding the contacts resulting in non operation of blower motor at low setting.

- Bensalem, PA, USA

problem #63

Jan 162012

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 49,168 miles
The car fails to start due to the passlock II system failure. It will not engage the fuel pump and/or ignition system. The theft lockout system light stays on or flashes all other dash warning lights do not light up. The car will start randomly when attempting to start the car. The passlock II relearning method has to be used to start the car as instructed by GM in the owners manual section 2 page 17 when the theft system fails. This method will work randomly. No know repair.

- Biloxi, MS, USA

problem #62

Aug 152005

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 20,000 miles
HVAC system has had numerous problems from the fan not working in selected speeds to the air recirculate function failing to engage or to remain engaged. The ac would cut on and off during use the recirculate function would stop working the ac system would not turn on the system control unit, evaporator core and compressor was replaced without any resolution of the problem. The system still fails to work. Multiple repairs done without resolution.

- Biloxi, MS, USA

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