The Malibu is one of the oldest nameplates in the auto industry, with roots dating back to ’60s.
Despite this impressive feat, the Malibu can be subject to random nuisance alarms.
If your Malibu’s alarm keeps going off, this article is here to help.
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Why Does My Chevrolet Malibu Alarm Keep Going Off?
A Chevrolet Malibu alarm is usually triggered by hood switch failure, accidentally triggering the panic alarm, a malfunctioning door latch switch, manually unlocking the doors, or key fob issues.
1. Hood Switch Issues
Hood switch issues are a common cause of nuisance alarms – the switch might be dirty, broken or damaged. Also known as the hood latch sensor, this component is in charge of detecting the position or status of the vehicle’s hood (shut or open).
A good place to start is inspecting the hood switch.
- Check for any obvious damage, rust or corrosion – you may need a replacement.
- Give the hood switch a clean too, as dirt and grime can impede it too.
- Sometimes cleaning the hood switch is enough to stop the alarms.
You can test the switch using a continuity tester and there are tutorials online on how to do this, however your easiest option is to visit your local dealership.
On ChevyMalibuForum.com one owner shared this advice:
“The security light blinking more rapidly would mean not everything is closed and locked. It certainly sounds like the hood switch. Does anything get displayed in the DIC when you press the remote start button? They should be able to track down the problem easily this time. Also, the original random alarm may have been from the hood switch going bad as well.”
2. Accidentally Triggering Panic Alarm
A simple yet common cause of Malibu alarms going off is accidental pressing of the panic alarm.
This can be easily done if you have other items in your pocket with your keys, you bend down to pick something up are wearing tight pants.
Here is what one owner had to say on ChevyMalibuForum.com:
“I have had issues with my keys being in my pocket and the panic button accidentally being pushed. If you find it happening without the keys in your pocket I would have the dealer take a look at it.”
3. Door Switch Issues
A very common cause of a false alarm on a Chevy Malibu is a faulty door switch.
- The door switch is an electrical switch, located inside the latch.
- It monitors the state of the door – open or closed. When the alarm is armed the door should be shut.
- If the switch is dirty, faulty or broken it can trigger false alarm.
It’s a good idea to give all door latches a good clean and spray some WD40 to see if that remedies the situation.
Due to the doors being continually opened and closed, the door switch is prone to failure.
If you take your Malibu to the dealership they should be able to run some diagnostic tests to ascertain if you have a faulty door switch.
Similarly, issues with the actual latch can also cause alarm-related problems, as described by one owner on Chevy MalibuForum.com:
“Likely a failed or failing door latch. It is combined with the door lock actuator motor plus the door-ajar switch and the door-open switch. (The former alerts you that it’s not shut all the way, the latter turns on the dome lights.)”
4. Drained or Faulty 12V Battery
A faulty or weakened car battery causes a lot of different problems, including accidentally triggering the Malibu alarm system. It is one of the most common causes of nuisance alarms.
The best thing to do is take your Malibu for a battery health check, these are usually quite inexpensive or sometimes free such as at AutoZone.
Or you can test it yourself with a multimeter (see the guide at the end of this article).
A battery at full capacity should be about 12.6 to 12.8 volts while a weakened battery reads below 12 volts.
Prior to doing so, you should check that the battery terminal connections are tight and clean of gunk/dirt/grime/rust.
Make sure the engine is off before doing any work on the battery.
- Inspect the battery and look for any signs of damage, dirt build-up, rust, or corrosion.
- Disconnect the battery and loosen the nuts on the clamps using a wrench
- Remove the negative clamp, marked with a “-” first
- Clean the terminals with a toothbrush dipped in a mix of baking soda and water, rinse with distilled water and dry with a cloth.
- Re-connect the battery, ensuring tight connections
5. Unlocking The Car Manually With The Key
Manually unlocking a Malibu with a physical key can trigger the vehicle’s alarm system. This is because the vehicle has been designed to be unlocked with the fob.
This is common on a number of Chevrolet vehicles and various other car manufacturers do this as well.
Here’s what one owner on Chevy MalibuForum.com:
“I have a 2013 Malibu 2LT. It has been great so far but has anyone else unlocked their driver door with the key instead of the remote and been rewarded with the panic alarm going off? I assume this is a programming type error and I will try to remember to bring it up at my first servicing.”
6. Key Fob Issues
The key fob is linked to the Malibu’s alarm system, if it is dirty, damaged or low on battery, the alarm can be triggered at random.
The most common reason is usually a flat key fob battery.
For the sake of a few bucks it’s worth replacing the battery in your fob(s), and it’s also worth spending a bit extra for a good brand of battery.
Whilst you have the fob open to change the battery, give the inside a good clean.
Dirt buildup and dust can cause issues with the electronics.
- To open your key fob, stick your prying tool into the slit or gap between the two halves of the outer casing and gently apply upward pressure to pop open the device.
- Remove the battery.
- Give the key fob a good clean to remove any dirt or fluff – a cotton swap and some rubbing alcohol should do the trick.
- Check for damage, rust or loose connection (you may need a new key fob depending on what you find)
- Be sure to insert the new battery facing the right way up.
- Assemble the outer casing of your key fob by clamping them back together.
7. Aftermarket Alarms
An incorrectly installed or faulty aftermarket alarm system is a common cause of nuisance alarms.
Aftermarket alarms are typically far more complex than any factory-installed equipment which makes them more prone to issues.
They may also have been installed by incompetent individuals.
If you are experiencing issues with an aftermarket alarm, the best thing to do is speak with a reputable auto electrician.
8. Faulty Body Control Module
A common reason why a Malibu alarm keeps going off is due to a faulty body control module.
The body control module or ‘body computer’ is the electronic control unit responsible for monitoring and controlling various systems associated with the vehicle’s body such as the alarm, immobilizers, power windows etc.
The body control module can develop corrosion on the pins or connections can become loose.
Other common symptoms of a bad BCM include:
- Repeated battery drain
- Starting problems
- Erratic electrical functions e.g. horn, wipers, lights, lights on the dash
- Security and alarm system problems
9. Damaged Wiring
Damaged electrical wiring can cause a wide range of problems, it can often be tricky to pinpoint too and you may need to have an auto electrician run some diagnostic tests.
10. Animals Climbing On The Vehicle
If your alarm has been set off in the middle of the night, it may have been by an animal climbing on the car.
Have a look for footprints on the hood and the roof.
Check for Recalls or TSBs
By entering your car’s VIN number on Chevrolet’s recall page or the NTHSA’s Safety Issues & Recalls page you can determine whether or not there is a TSB or recall for your vehicle and if there is you’ll want to get it addressed.
A recall is issued by a vehicle manufacturer for issues that are safety-related, while a TSB covers components that may be malfunctioning but don’t compromise the safety of the vehicle.
Disconnect the Battery
Sometimes mysterious alarm problems can disappear with a simple reboot, there are no guarantees here but it’s worth a try.
Disconnect the battery for 20 seconds and this resets many of the electronics in the vehicle.
Check For Warning Messages
When the alarm occurs can you see any lights or warning messages on the instrument panel?
This can give a clue as to what’s causing the alarm e.g. ‘Hood Ajar’.
Take it to a Chevrolet Dealership
If needed, take your Chevrolet to the dealership.
Tell them you are NOT paying for a check on what the problem might be.
Ask them if they will check it for free.
Most dealerships and other places do quick/initial diagnosis for no money as they plan to make money for the repair of your vehicle.
If your unit is still under warranty then they should fix and resolve the issue for free.
How to Test the 12V Battery
How to Test the Battery:
- Before testing, remove the surface charge from the battery, this allows for an accurate reading.
- Simply turn on the headlights for 2 minutes then turn off.
- Set the multimeter dial to the ’20 Volts’ setting.
- Make sure the car is turned OFF.
The multimeter will have a red probe and a black probe.
- The red probe is for making contact with the positive terminal.
- The black probe is for making contact with the negative terminal.
Measure across the battery terminals.
- The meter should display a reading, if the battery is fully charged the voltage should be between 12.2 and 12.6 volts.
- Anything under 12V and the battery should be charged or replaced.