Malibu to the Maxx


My wife says she’s a nester and I guess I have some of that in me too. I have just traded in my 2004 Chevy Malibu Maxx and I’m both sorry and relieved to see her go.

I bought the car in May, 2005. It was a leftover 2004 model so I got a really good price. I spent a lot of time in that car, ate a ton of meals and took more than a few naps. In the end, we traveled 216,000 miles together.8999

It had some idiosyncrasies like it’s insistence on warning me of “Low Fuel” while I still had a quarter of a tank. The warning would come up on the status display, and the yellow light on the fuel gauge would come on. It was ridiculously early. So early, that I fell into the habit of setting the trip odometer to 0 when the low fuel warning came on. I learned I could go as far as 90 miles with the light on. The trip odometer became my unofficial gas gauge.

The only major repairs I ever had to do were a catalytic converter and a starter. The water pump started leaking last December, but I just kept adding anti-freeze, and then water right up until the last trip – the ride to the dealership.

Of course, there were lots of little things that broke or wore out:

The volume knob for the radio stopped working about 7 years ago -right after the warranty ran out. Good thing I had the volume set at a reasonable level when it died.

The factory-installed remote starter stopped working around that time as well.

About five years ago something strange happened; The engine warning system chimed three times then the power steering went out. It wasn’t a huge problem at highway speeds, but a slow speeds it took all my strength to turn the wheel. Over the years, this happened about 12 times, maybe more. I assumed it was just one more thing that needed to be fixed but it turns out it was a manufacturing defect. I got a letter about two weeks ago informing me that the car was part of GM’s massive recalls. Apparently, this problem has been linked to numerous accidents and some fatalities.

The arm that held up the hatchback broke a couple of years ago, so I had to prop the rear hatch open manually whenever I needed to load stuff into the back. I was always afraid it would slip and come crashing down on my head or back but it never did.

The side mirror control failed last year, but since I was the only one who drove it, I hardly ever had to move the mirrors.

All the seat control levers broke over time, so I carried a pair of vice grips so I could put the rear seats down when I had to carry a sheet of plywood, a Christmas tree, 23 bags of leaves or whatever else I had to haul. She was my family truckster and the sticks and pine needles in the trunk attest to her ability to move lots of stuff.

Something happened to the sensor that detects when it’s night or day and turns on the headlamps. It stopped working, most of the time, so my headlamps were almost always on. The downside of that, is it also automatically dimmed the dashboard lights, making it very difficult to see the odometer, trip odometer (i.e. unofficial gas gauge), radio station setting, etc. That made going those 90 miles on the light a little tricky.

She served me well, so I’m sorry to see such a fixture in my life go away, but at the same time I’m relieved I got rid of her before something really big, and expensive, failed….or the power steering went out at the wrong time and killed me.

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