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NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. Turn Signal Lamps NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA09004

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: March 20, 2009
    • Date Closed: August 12, 2010
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Exterior Lighting:Brake Lights
    Exterior Lighting:Headlights
    Exterior Lighting:Tail Lights
    Exterior Lighting:Turn Signal

    Summary: GM designed the MY 2004 and 2005 Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx vehicles with a daytime running lamp (DRL) system that uses the same filament (the high power filament of a dual filament bulb) as the front turn signals.The high power filament operates at full battery voltage when functioning as a DRL.The DRL is illuminated whenever the headlamps are off, increasing the duty cycle of the front turn signal bulb.The MY 2003 and earlier Malibu vehicles (Malibu Maxx was not manufactured for sale in the U.S. prior to MY 2004) used a headlamp based design, operated at a reduced voltage, for the DRL function; GM reverted back to this design on the MY 2006 and later Malibu and Malibu Maxx vehicles. Filament based bulbs have a finite life (hours of illumination) for any given operating voltage.As a result, increasing the duty cycle of a bulb typically decreases the life span of the bulb.GM identified and addressed two front turn signal/DRL and rear turn signal bulb quality issues early in MY 2004 production, however vehicle warranty claims for failed bulbs continued to occur.To address the high warranty levels of bulb failures (90% of the warranty claims submitted to ODI by GM were bulb failures and 10% were socket failures), GM issued a technical service bulletin in March 2006 advising dealers to use a new specification of bulb when addressing service failures, and to also inspect the electrical sockets for thermal damage and replace if necessary.In June 2006 (after subject vehicle production ended) GM changed the turn signal bulb specification to that of the TSB bulb in vehicle production also.To date, ODI has not identified any allegations of crash, injury, or fire related to the alleged defect even though the subject vehicles have experienced 5 - 6 years of field exposure.ODI's analysis of consumer complaints, both VOQ and manufacturer, shows a declining trend.The warranty rate for turn signal bulb replacement is high however statistical analysis of the warranty data suggests that the majority of the original equipment bulbs have already been replaced.GM conducted a safety recall (06V-263) for MY 2004-2005 Cadillac XLR to replace the front turn signal/DRL bulbs and the electrical sockets.However GM advised that the turn signal/DRL bulbs/sockets on the subject vehicles differ from those on the recalled XLRs in several respects, including using bulb sockets with four electrical terminals as opposed to three, which improves the electrical connection, allows the bulb to operate at a lower temperature, and adds stability to the bulb in the socket; operating at a lower voltage, which increases vehicle bulb life; using vented headlamps, which allows bulbs to run cooler than those installed in a non-vented XLR headlamp; and using a clear bulb, which runs cooler than the amber bulbs installed on the XLR.Additionally, the warranty claim level related to subject vehicle sockets is unremarkable compared to other defect investigations into defective socket assemblies.A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time.Further use of agency resources does not appear to be warranted.Accordingly, this investigation is closed.The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist.The agency will take further action if warranted by the circumstances.See attached report for further information.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #EA09004 »

  2. TURN SIGNAL LAMPS NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE08062

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: October 21, 2008
    • Date Closed: March 20, 2009
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Exterior Lighting:Tail Lights
    Exterior Lighting:Turn Signal

    Summary: The subject vehicles may experience loss of function of one or more of the park, turn, stop or daytime running lamps (drl).failure of the bulb may also include discoloration (heat damage) to the bulb socket.General Motors (GM) technical service bulletin (tsb) number 06-08-42-004C instructs technicians to examine the lamp housing for signs of discoloration and to replace the bulbs and or sockets depending on the severity of the discoloration and the condition of the bulbs and sockets.the scope of investigation in the preliminary evaluation (PE08-062) was the 2004 Malibu/maxx.however, the Agency evaluated GM's warranty data which indicates that the 2005 model year (my) Malibu and Malibu maxx vehicles are also affected by this condition.this investigation is upgraded to an engineering analysis (EA09-004).

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE08062 »

  3. LOSS OF ELECTRIC POWER STEERING NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA04018

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: July 01, 2004
    • Date Closed: May 10, 2005
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Steering
    Steering:Electric Power Assist System

    Summary: In performing this engineering analysis, ODI determined that the electric power steering system in the subject vehicles can malfunction or fail, causing the driver to lose power steering assistance; however, due to the following reasons, ODI has decided that further expenditure of Agency resources on this investigation is not warranted at this time: - GM issued customer satisfaction campaign (csc) 04050A indecember 2004 to address the alleged defect in approximately58,700 subject vehicles, encompassing at least 97 percent of thecomplaint and warranty claims population.vehicles outside thecsc 04050A population contain a newly designed torque andposition sensor and have experienced a relatively low complaintrate.this customer satisfaction campaign presently has acompletion rate of 52%. - the impact on the driver's ability to control these relativelysmall and light vehicles was limited.VRTC test engineers wereunable to induce a failure mode that would cause the eps tosubstantially limit the driver's ability to turn the vehicle in aparticular direction or to provide the driver with unintendedpower assistance.- there is no risk of fire.accordingly, this investigation is closed.the closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist.the Agency will continue to monitor complaints and other information relating to the alleged defect in the subject vehicles and take further action in the future if warranted by the circumstances.(for further details see attached engineering analysis (EA04-018)closing report.)

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #EA04018 »

  4. LOSS OF ELECTRIC POWER STEERING NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE04031

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: March 30, 2004
    • Date Closed: July 01, 2004
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Steering
    Steering:Electric Power Assist System

    Summary: ODI opened PE04-031 based on eight reports of alleged power steering failure in the subject vehicles.the complaints allege that the driver suddenly lost all electric power steering assistance without warning making the vehicle difficult to steer. The subject vehicle utilizes an electric power steering assist system (eps) that provides variable steering assistance based on steering wheel torque, steering wheel postion, and vehicle speed.General Motors documents identified the following two factors that contributed to the alleged defect in the subject vehicles: A.contamination of the torque and position sensor from theseparation of grease applied to the steering column assembly. B.electrical noise generated on the power and ground slip ring surfaces of the torque and position sensor.the noise is generated as the sensor contact brushes move along the slip ring surfaces when the steering wheel is rotated.ODI's analysis showed failurerates that are of concern to ODI and indicated that the alleged defect is continuing to occur in the subject vehicles. This preliminary evaluation has been upgraded to an engineering analysis to further investigate this concern, to assess the potential safety-related consequences, and to determine the scope of the affected population.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE04031 »

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