Join the Club! It's a well-known problem, rather complex (as you will read) in variations possible, and requires the dealer's intervention.
To see what others are saying:
MALIBU CLUNKS AND NOISES
MALIBU STEERING AND SUSPENSION
And there's a Technical Service Bulletin out on this as well.
Bulletin No.: 06-02-32-007E
Date: March 09, 2009
Clunk, Knock or Rattle Noise From Front of Vehicle While Driving or
Turning Over Bumps at Low Speeds (Diagnose Noise and Perform Outlined
2004-2006 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx
2004-2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic
2008-2009 Chevrolet Malibu
2005-2009 Pontiac G6
2007-2009 Saturn Aura
This bulletin is being revised to update the models to 2009 and to
update Cause # 1. Please discard Corporate Bulletin Number
06-02-32-007D (Section 02 - Steering).
Some customers may comment on a clunk noise heard and felt in the steering wheel
while driving at slow speeds and turning. The clunk noise may appear to
be directly in front of the driver. Hitting a bump while turning can
produce the clunk noise. Sometimes the noise may be duplicated when the
vehicle is sitting still and the steering wheel is turned 90 degrees in
either direction before initially centering the steering wheel.
The clunk noise may be caused by a slip/stick condition between the inner and outer components of the intermediate shaft.
Revised design intermediate shafts went into production in the 2009
model year and are the only design currently available through GMSPO
since approximately September 2008. Since any model year vehicle could
have had a second design shaft installed, it is critical to identify it
before proceeding. The revised design intermediate shafts will NOT
tolerate any type of lubricant per the following instructions. Adding
lube to the second design shafts will cause a clunk noise in a very
short period of time.
Hydraulic Assist Power Steering
In the unlikely event that the source of the noise is identified as
a second design shaft with black painted tube, it must be replaced.
Correction 1 (Only for First Design - DO NOT USE FOR 2ND DESIGN)
Lubricate the intermediate shaft with steering column shaft lubrication kit, P/N 26098237.
1. From inside the vehicle, remove the instrument panel insulator
panel left side panel to gain access to the intermediate shaft.
2. Remove the intermediate shaft to steering column attachment bolt.
3. Remove the intermediate shaft from the steering column.
4. Extend the intermediate shaft all the way. Using the intermediate
shaft grease kit, P/N 26098237, inject the grease into the gap between
the inner shaft and the outer shaft as you are collapsing the shaft.
This will draw the grease into the shaft.
5. Cycle the shaft up and down several times to distribute the grease.
Remove original thread locker material from the bolt and apply
Loctite(R) 242 (or equivalent) to the threads of the bolt and reinstall
intermediate shaft bolt.
6. Install the intermediate shaft to the column.
7. Wipe off any excessive grease on the intermediate shaft to avoid damage from drips on the carpet.
||For electronic power steering, tighten the bolt to 49 Nm (36 lb ft).
||For hydraulic power steering, tighten the bolt to 62 Nm (46 lb ft).
8. Install the instrument panel insulator panel left side.
9. Verify that the noise is no longer present.
There may be interference between the clamp and the steering gear
input shaft. The clamp is beveled and if forced down on the input shaft
too hard, it may cause a loose fit with the intermediate shaft to input
To correct this condition, perform the following steps:
1. Loosen the intermediate shaft pinch bolt at the steering gear end.
2. Pry the clamp up using a pry bar to position the bolt into the
upper part of the groove as shown above. This will position the clamp
off the bevel.
3. While keeping the clamp in the upper position, tighten the bolt.
Apply blue LOCTITE medium-strength threadlocker 242(TM)
Tighten the bolt to 49 Nm (36 lb ft).
4. Verify that the clunk noise is no longer present.
This condition ONLY applies to 2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu/Maxx and 2005-2007 Pontiac G6.
Some customers may comment on a knocking or rattling type noise from
the front of the vehicle when driven at low speeds and over bumps. The
noise only occurs when the steering wheel is in the straight ahead position and sounds like the noise is in the left suspension of the vehicle or directly in front of the driver.
1. Ensure the noise is not caused by Condition # 1.
2. Determine the source of the noise. Install the chassis ears at the following locations:
3. If the noise is coming from the upper strut mount or sway bar link, replace as necessary and retest.
4. For 2004-2006 Chevrolet and Pontiac model year vehicles, the
noise may be coming from the radiator surge tank area. (The 2007 model
year vehicles use a different style radiator surge tank refer to Step
5. If the noise is coming from the radiator surge tank, release the
two retaining tabs holding the radiator surge tank and reposition the
tank away from the attaching bracket and isolate with closed cell foam.
6. Cut three pieces of closed cell foam, P/N P46515 (or equivalent), into 25 mm (1 in) by 102 mm (4 in) pieces.
7. Cut two pieces of closed cell foam into 25 mm (1 in) by 6 mm (1/4 in) pieces.
8. Install the three pieces of foam to the attaching bracket
starting at the top center inside the bracket and proceed down across
the fuel lines, then at the inside of the bracket at the left and right
positions of the center piece of foam. Finally, install the last two
pieces of foam to the inside bracket at the left and right extended
sides behind the retaining holes as shown above.
9. Reposition the radiator surge tank back onto the bracket and seat the two retaining tabs on the tank.
10. Drive the vehicle to verify that the noise is no longer present.