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2001 Chevy Malibu - Wont start

andersonnc andersonnc
New User | Posts: 8 | Joined: 08/07
Posted: 10/03/07
01:13 PM

141,000 mile 2001 Chevy Malibu

A month 1/2 ago I had my car towed into the shop because it would not start.  It acted like it was out of gas, but it wasnt.  When they got it to the shop & took it off the tow truck it started?  STRANGE - The mechanic did on board diagnostics & he could not get any codes from the OBD, & he didnt try to find the problem himself?  

Now here we are again, it wont start again?  It acts like it could start - it cranks & tries to start, but doesnt.

I tried the Passlock code (On for 10 minutes then OFF for 5 seconds) as recommended on another forum, but it did not work.

Any idea what could be causing this?  

I dont know what to check for.  My dad, husband & uncle could not pinpoint the problem.

What could cause it to act like this?   Confused

Any advice is greatly appreciated - Im clueless Mad  

dhjenkins1 dhjenkins1
User | Posts: 130 | Joined: 09/07
Posted: 10/03/07
02:36 PM

Are there any trouble lights on (SES, Security, etc...) on?

The first start would be to make sure the fuel pump is coming on.  With the door open (and hopefully someone else to listen near the fuel tank), turn the key to the "ON" position (not start) and listen - you should hear the pump whine for 2-3 seconds.  If you don't, then it's either the pump, the relay or the PCM.  If you bang on the tank and the pump starts working - that's your problem.

Next would be to make sure you have spark.  You can buy a cheap-o *adjustable* spark tester from a parts house for about $6.  Set it to 25kV, hook it to a wire and check for a clean, stable blue spark.

If you've got fuel & spark, and if you don't have a scantool or meter (and your check engine light isn't on), try disconnecting sensors (except crank/cam) one at a time until it starts - it's possible you have a grounded sensor that's dragging the PCM down.  Start with the MAF, then the TPS, IAC, etc...

Other than that you'll just have to take it back to the shop unless you want to buy lots of tools.  

andersonnc andersonnc
New User | Posts: 8 | Joined: 08/07
Posted: 10/03/07
05:36 PM

Thank you.

There arent any trouble lights coming on.
We hear the fuel pump coming on.  
We performed the spark test & got a blue spark

Now we are going to check the sensors - if we can find them all?

I will keep you posted as to what we find out.

I really appreciate your guidance with this  

dhjenkins1 dhjenkins1
User | Posts: 130 | Joined: 09/07
Posted: 10/03/07
06:53 PM

Check your fuses under the dash and under the hood - especially the one for fuel injection.  Since you seem to have fuel pressure, it's possible your injectors are not firing due to a bad fuse (which usually won't set a code), a fault in the security system, or a fault with the PCM.  If you do find a bad fuse, do NOT buy cheap-o fuses - it's recently been discovered that they don't 'blow' at the proper rating and can cause electrical fires.  

Another way to see if the injectors are firing is with a mechanic's stethascope - about $10; just put the point against the injector body and listen for the clicking.

Since you have spark, that pretty much rules out the crank sensor; it's possible you may have a timing issue, such as a busted timing belt/chain, but the engine would sound very different while cranking.

FYI - on some vehicles, the passlock procedure has to be done 3 times.  The correct procedure can be found at - click 'search back issues' and enter Passkey (it will yield one result).  However, since your security light isn't flashing (does it come on at all when you turn your key to "ON" or open the door?) that's probably not the problem.  

andersonnc andersonnc
New User | Posts: 8 | Joined: 08/07
Posted: 10/04/07
11:29 AM

UPDATE - The car started!!

The fuel gauge was showing that I had a 1/4 of a tank - we thought we would try to put some gas in it..We put 5 gallons of gas in it & it started?   So we are thinking that even though it said 1/4 of a tank it was on Empty?

Now we are thinking that I have a faulty fuel gauge?  
Does anyone know what could cause this or how to fix it?  

dhjenkins1 dhjenkins1
User | Posts: 130 | Joined: 09/07
Posted: 10/04/07
11:57 AM

Does the fuel gauge go to empty when the car is off?  If so, it's not the guage; it's either a problem with the fuel level sender or a problem with the pick-up tube/screen - both of which are part of the fuel pump assembly.  

Since you have to remove the tank to get to the pump, you may as well replace it.  Labor guides show it to be a 2 hour job, and it's best to use an AC Delco pump.  

andersonnc andersonnc
New User | Posts: 8 | Joined: 08/07
Posted: 10/04/07
05:53 PM

The gauge does go to E when the car is turned off?

Thanks for all the help - I really appreciate it!  We took it up to AutoZone & the guy hooked up the diagnostic tool cause the check engine light came on after it started.  He said that one of the six cylinders isnt working- the reason for the check engine light?   He said it is probably my fuel injector causing the problems?  

dhjenkins1 dhjenkins1
User | Posts: 130 | Joined: 09/07
Posted: 10/04/07
10:43 PM

You're better off taking it to a shop that offers a free code check; the guys at 'the zone' (at least, down here) are constantly getting their codes mixed up.

If they didn't get the code wrong, (a code P0306 - misfire cyl. #6) A malfunctioning pump that doesnt provide enough fuel pressure can cause a misfire on one or several cylinders.  You can either buy a fuel pressure tester for around $30 or you can take it to a mechanic.  

However, and this is important - there are many things that can set a misfire code; throwing parts at a problem without verifying what's wrong will cost more money than a proper diagnosis and the correct part.  

dhjenkins1 dhjenkins1
User | Posts: 130 | Joined: 09/07
Posted: 10/04/07
10:56 PM

PS - if the gauge goes to E when the car is turned off, it's not the gauge.  

brujarubio brujarubio
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 11/07
Posted: 11/29/07
09:45 PM

My 2000 Chevy Malibu has the same problem.  In mid-Sept. my car just stopped at a red light, as if something electrical was going on.  Ten minutes later it started.  The car would then just STOP driving down the road, as if it were not getting fuel, or it was something electrical.  It has been in the shop for 2 months.  Tune-up first, new fuel pump second, and lastly a trip to the dealer.  No one could figure out why this car was erratically starting and stopping without warning.  

The mechanic persevered, and after much googling he has discovered many complaints about the crankshaft sensor going out on Chevys.  Mine was replaced earlier this week and the mechanic is testing it all this week.

After almost 3 months in the shop and $ 1,500 in repairs, I hope this is it.

Did you ever resolve the similar problem with your Malibu?      Smile  

funsarlo funsarlo
User | Posts: 146 | Joined: 12/06
Posted: 11/30/07
12:53 PM

could be a fuel pump relay thats going bad on andoff. If you have a can of starting fluid and an extra pair of hands the next time it stops running then squirt some i the throttle body and losten for a 'pop'. if you get that then you know its fuel . The easiest thing to change is the relay.Its in one of the fuse boxes (probably) best bet is the one under the hood.  

goody goody
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 11/07
Posted: 12/01/07
12:14 AM

Go get some POWDERED GRAPHITE LUBRICANT and a can of DUST-OFF.  Put a tiny squirt of graphite in the key slot and puff it with the dust-off.  That will lubricate the tiny magnets that are used to enable the PASSLOCK sensor.  

goody goody
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 11/07
Posted: 12/01/07
10:46 AM

Ok, I'm going to expound on the graphite issue.  
Background I have a 2001 Malibu with 92K on it.  About a month ago it started having no start problems.  I replaced the plugs, and started looking.  After internet research I was pointed to the Anti-Theft system. Since I am an electronics technician and as such wanted to figure out how it worked, so I contacted an excellent auto electrical mechanic and here is what we found.

ALL GENERAL MOTORS PRODUCTS FROM 1997-2005 CONTAIN AN ANTI-THEFT SYSTEM CALLED PASSLOCK.  Now for more, it seems the PASSLOCK or PASSKEY system comes in two flavors one is an option, version 2 and version 3 (optional on some models).  PASSLOCK works by sending a voltage code to the BCM (Body Control Module)that enables the fuel pump or fuel injectors, so if kicked in the vehicle looks like it has no gas, and the THEFT light comes on or flashes if the incorrect key is used.  If the theft light is flashing the system has lost the key code, on solid is a tamper.

Version 3 can be identified by the key, it will have either a 3 or + symbol on the blade of the key.  This key contains a resistor that is connected when the key is placed in the lock assembly that enables the vehicle to start.  There are numerous resistor key combinations available, and have to be matched to the lock and vehicle.  Tiny wires in the lock itself connect to the key and these tend to break and are not repairable, the lock housing must be replaced.  They can be bypassed by reading the resistance of the key and putting an equal resistor across the passlock wiring.  

Version 2: my version, standard on GM vehicles. Consists of a lock cylinder and lock housing. The lock housing contains a pair of hall-effect sensors, the lock cylinder contains a magnet(s).   When the magnet passes within a certain distance from the hall-effect sensor the sensor is switched on providing the voltage to the BCM.  Since there are two sensors both must be enabled, if only one makes up then the vehicle is TAMPERED and will not start.  If the magnet becomes gummed up or sticky and does not move to the required gap the vehicle is tampered and will not start but will crank.     If you search on google for passlock there are several sites that show how to defeat this scheme.  Most all involve taking the dash apart to cut the yellow wire (data to BCM) while the vehicle is running, this will give a constant ANTI-THEFT lamp on the dash, and a fail signal to the BCM, this will work if you never disconnect the battery or have it go dead.  

My solution is lubricate the lock, several posts I read said use contact cleaner, that will work but the residue (wax lubricant) left behind will eventually gum up the works again.  

Here is my suggestion, go the hardware store and purchase a small tube of powered graphite lubricant, and a can of dust-off or similar computer cleaner.   Put a tiny (tip of fingernail) puff of graphite in the key slot and use the dust-off to distribute it, set the parking brake, insert the key, put the shifter in reverse and make numerous start cycles of the key, going to park and removing the key each cycle (saves wear and tear on the starter).  Put in another puff of graphite and hit it with the dust-off again and repeat cycling.  That should cure the problem, if it acts up again lubricate it.  

As a practice lubricate all of the tumblers in the vehicle and the house since you have the necessary tools once a year.  If you desire further information please email me at goodys'at'charter'dot'net, I will answer them if I can, or point you in the right direction.  

supbro supbro
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 12/07
Posted: 12/06/07
04:19 AM

sup bro has a friend who drives a 04 malibu. sup bro was wondering if this passlock comes standard on the 04 bro. because sup bro's friend has a problem just like this but sup bro's friend doesnt think there is a passlock bro.

sup bro doesnt drive chevy malibus because sup bro was an all county lineman in 1995 and had 15 tackles for losses. sup bro didn't become an all county lineman by driving *** cars bro. sup bro just wants to help his friend because sup bro looks out for his teammates.  
sup bro?

jay11 jay11
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 04/09
Posted: 04/01/09
05:27 AM

I wonder if you can help me my problem is almost the same i have a 2000 malibu and out of no where it just didnt want to start for me. everything in the car works as far as radio power windows horn ect but it wont start and when i crank it it doesnt make any noise under the hood it makes a click noise i dont no what to do i am fustrated my dad said it might be the starter but for 200 bucks i wanna make sure before i buy the part. and i did take the battery out and took it to the zone and they said my battery is fine... please help me im so sick of dealin with the shop..  

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