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Hello, I find myself a bit over my head with a 2002 Chevy Malibu. My husband just recently totaled my lovely 2005 Buick Le Sabre (I loved that car) and one day drove up with this very neglected Malibu, that has been sitting for a year. That is the only background information I was given, unfortunately and I doubt I can obtain any more. I have extremely limited knowledge about vehicles but so far the problems I've run across are : overheating, cruise control does not engage (fuse is fine), acceleration feels "rough" and is very loud, brakes seem fine but I can hear a rattling when I'm coming to a stop, and if I drive faster than 50 mph it makes a constant sound similar to the one you hear when you veer off the road onto the shoulder of the interstate (sorry, I don't know how else to describe it). There are other minor annoyances but these seem significant enough to be worried about. Obviously, my list is too long to answer all of them, so today I am hoping you might assist me with my radiator. It ran a little warmer than other vehicles I've had but I figured that it wasn't too bad and didn't think much more on it. I've been running the ac and all seemed fine until the other day it got up over 90 degrees outside. Noticed the needle was over the halfway mark and I smelled (I think) something burning. So I turned the ac off and the needle inched back down below the halfway mark but not by much. My father checked the radiator yesterday and it was almost empty. He filled it up and I drove it the 20+ miles it takes to get home with the ac running with no problems. Checked it today before driving and the water is almost gone again. I had not driven it except those 20+ miles yesterday. I don't know what I'm doing and I refuse to go to a repair shop until I have some knowledge on the subject, so I don't feel so vulnerable and stupid. I would love to repair it myself but I know my limitations.

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Amanda J. Pierce, MBA Rebecca, you may simply have a radiator leak and I would do a coolant pressure test to show you where the breech is before going to a mechanic shop.

Amy Mattinat, Owner and Author at Auto Craftsmen Ltd HI Rebecca, Your Malibu seems to have quite a laundry list of things wrong with it. I recommend you take it to a good repair shop and ask of an assessment or safety check of the vehicle. Have them prioritize that work that would be needed to make it safe and reliable and ask them to make you estimates for each repair. Also - ask them to make sure it is even worth doing any work or would it be better for you to find another vehicle. Look to see if there is an certified shop near you. If not, find a AAA Approved shop or an ASE Blue Seal Shop.

Gelina Aquilina, Service Advisor / Mechanic at I would take it in for a full inspection. Some shops perform a safety check at a flat rate.

Helaine Kurot, Owner/Technician at 360 Automotive I would start by having the coolant leak addressed. Is there a puddle or wet spot underneath where the vehicle is parked at night? This may help determine where the leak is coming from. Most times this can be determined by having a technician refill and pressure test the system. If there are no visible leaks, it is possible that the head gasket is leaking into the cylinders. This would not cause the noise you hear on acceleration, but could be part of the rough acceleration.

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