Automotive

Low Coolant 2004 Malibu Maxx LT (V6)

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  • Dec 26th, 2011 10:05 pm
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Deal Addict
May 16, 2006
3479 posts
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Low Coolant 2004 Malibu Maxx LT (V6)

Hopefully ES_Revenge, Pete, qaz (LOL) or another RFD can help me out.

My mother has a 2004 Malibu Maxx LT with 110km. The vehicle has performed perfectly up until now. For the first time, the check engine late briefly turned on (~5 minutes) a few weeks ago and has done so intermediately. Since it didn't stay on, I didn't think much of it.

Today, on the radio LCD it says low coolant.

Few questions:

How serious is this?
Do I need to go to a mechanic to repair this, or is this a simple DIY repair (IE, pouring coolant in)?
-> If so, can anyone recommend an independent mechanic in Mississauga?
Given the vehicles age, I think it would be a wise investment to purchase a code reader. Can anyone recommend one?

Thanks for your help, I appreciate it. As you can tell I'm a complete car n00b. The last thing I want to do is bring the vehicle to the Chevrolet dealer and get bent over. Our goal is to drive this vehicle into the ground. We wanted to keep it for another 5+ years.
23 replies
Deal Expert
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Dec 1, 2003
18575 posts
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Montreal
buy some coolant and fill er up
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Dec 2, 2008
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CatDog wrote:
Dec 19th, 2011 4:43 am
Hopefully ES_Revenge, Pete, qaz (LOL) or another RFD can help me out.

My mother has a 2004 Malibu Maxx LT with 110km. The vehicle has performed perfectly up until now. For the first time, the check engine late briefly turned on (~5 minutes) a few weeks ago and has done so intermediately. Since it didn't stay on, I didn't think much of it.

Today, on the radio LCD it says low coolant.

Few questions:

How serious is this?
Do I need to go to a mechanic to repair this, or is this a simple DIY repair?
-> If so, can anyone recommend an independent mechanic in Mississauga?
Given the vehicles age, I think it would be a wise investment to purchase a code reader. Can anyone recommend one?

Thanks for your help, I appreciate it. As you can tell I'm a complete car n00b. The last thing I want to do is bring the vehicle to the Chevrolet dealer and get bent over. Our goal is to drive this vehicle into the ground. We wanted to keep it for another 5+ years.

for code reader, i would try partsource and ask about their loan a tool program. you might be able to borrow the code reader for free (might need to leave deposit). if you cannot, you can go to princessauto and they have the most inexpensive things

replacing a headgasket is not a DIY job especially for your experience. if you regularly do maintenance and have a repair guide then it might be possible to DIY

http://www.princessauto.com/pal/product ... ode-Reader

just make sure it can work for your car before buying, most shop will charge an buttload just for diagnostics
[OP]
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May 16, 2006
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wrote:replacing a headgasket is not a DIY job especially for your experience. if you regularly do maintenance and have a repair guide then it might be possible to DIY
For sure. I'll have to go to a mechanic for that. Can anyone recommend an independent for the Mississauga area?
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Jun 18, 2004
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There are symptoms of coolant getting into the oil via head gasket or intake manifold gasket. White smoke from the exhaust, white residue on the inside of the oil cap, etc. You should be able to visually check the coolant level at the resevoir (top right of pic below).

Image

If I have my GM crapbox history correct the intake manifold gasket thing was only with the 60* V6 family on the 1997-2003 Malibus, the 2004-2010 models used the "High Value" engine family that shouldn't have the problem.
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Dec 20, 2005
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OP, first of start with the easiest and make sure you fill up on coolant. If you do not know where the coolant reservoir is, construct your manual.
Next look around at all the coolant hoses and see if any are leaking, look for white dried residue.

Another thing to keep in mind however is that coolant does not usually evaporate, so its either leaking outside or internally somewhere.
Check you oil dipstick. Does the oil seem milky? does the dipstick show increased(more then normal) oil level? Check your tranny fluid dipstick? Does the tranny fluid seem red in color or not?


As for a code reader; partsource does not loan obd2 readers on the lend a tool program, nor do they offer free scans. Your best bet is either PA or order a read of ebay.
What i'd recommend... http://www.ebay.ca/itm/MS509-OBD2-CAN-C ... 154wt_1149

If you opt to take it to a shop, id recommend going to BLine Mechanics at 1829 Britannia Rd. East Unit 4
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Deal Addict
Nov 27, 2007
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001Stunna wrote:
Dec 19th, 2011 8:09 am
OP, first of start with the easiest and make sure you fill up on coolant. If you do not know where the coolant reservoir is, construct your manual.
Next look around at all the coolant hoses and see if any are leaking, look for white dried residue.

Another thing to keep in mind however is that coolant does not usually evaporate, so its either leaking outside or internally somewhere.
Check you oil dipstick. Does the oil seem milky? does the dipstick show increased(more then normal) oil level? Check your tranny fluid dipstick? Does the tranny fluid seem red in color or not?


As for a code reader; partsource does not loan obd2 readers on the lend a tool program, nor do they offer free scans. Your best bet is either PA or order a read of ebay.
What i'd recommend... http://www.ebay.ca/itm/MS509-OBD2-CAN-C ... 154wt_1149

If you opt to take it to a shop, id recommend going to BLine Mechanics at 1829 Britannia Rd. East Unit 4

+1
My dad has a 2004 malibu, had the low coolant notice only once in the the lifetime of the vehicle, and filled her up (50 coolant/50 distilled water), and never had an issue after that. Hence, try filling it up first, and then keep an eye on it. Our 04 malibu is like 9yrs old now, had to fill her up at 7yrs(that was after a CDN tire visit I believe, where the brakes had to be replaced also hahaha). If leaking still, then have fun finding where the leak is :(
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Apr 14, 2007
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IIRC, Malibu probably using Dexcool so you have to make sure on the hood or the cap it says use Dexcool which is not the same as regular antifreeze/coolant. You can't mix them so check your manual.

There's been a lot of issues with Dexcool and when I owned my GrandAm and did a coolant swap, I flushed the system and went with regular coolant.
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 16, 2006
3479 posts
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Bought some coolant. Will fill it up today.

The check engine light only happens from a cold start and then disappears. The guy at Part Source therefore couldn't read the code for me. He suggests it may be an O2 sensor. Does this sound correct?
Sr. Member
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Feb 2, 2005
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I have a 2006 Malibu Maxx LT. The low coolant warning has flashed once for me. I coundn't find any leaks on car or on my parking spot, so just filled up the coolant tank a bit with dexcool (might required you to mix 1/2 distilled water with 1/2 concentrate ... read the label). You must do this on a flat road and with a cold engine so that you can correctly fill to the indicated level. Look for the plastic tank with the orange fluid. The cap should say Dexcool only or something like that.

If there is a leak, then you should seek assistance.
Banned
Sep 22, 2008
8322 posts
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have the cooling system pressure tested for leaks, usually coolant does not disappear.
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 16, 2006
3479 posts
109 upvotes
Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to fill it up later today and see what happens.

T-Bone / Engi-Nir have you had any issues with your Malibu's?

Have you changed spark plugs, tranny fluid, etc?
Deal Fanatic
Feb 9, 2006
6137 posts
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Check the coolant cap. Usually the cap's gasket will dry out and stay fully compressed letting the coolant steam out.

If you don't have sweet smelling exhaust, wet carpets, mustard like oil. You've likely dodged bigger bullets.

Pressure test the cap, most parts stores can do it for free. If you have a mechanic you trust get him to pressure test the system it'll let you know if GM's crappy plastic end tank heater cores are leaking. The plastic welds and inlets are known to fail.

I've rebuilt/LIM/head gasket job enough of these GM 60 degree V6s thanks to GM's Dexcool and crappy gasket material.
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