HI: I AM VERY CURIOUS TO KNOW WHY ALL CHEVY MALIBU LS TEND TO HAVE A RUST EXACTLY BY THE GAS TANK JUST A FEW YEARS AFTER PURCHASE? POWER STEERING WHEEL GETS VERY STIFF FROM TIME TO TIME MAKING TURNING BOTHERSOME, CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT MIGHT BE THE SITUATION, HOW TO RESOLVE IT AND WHAT IT MIGHT COST ME TO REPAIR THE PROBLEM?
RUST ON CAR on 1998 Chevrolet Malibu
My '98 has the same problem, and I live in Michigan. My best guess is poor metal prep (rust prevention) at the factory. As far as the stiff steering, the steering rack is probably the problem. The valves stick and cause the an inconsistant fluid flow. Mine cost $1200 to repair (including a system flush, new pump and new hoses). Hope this helps.
The area rusting must be a weak point on the Malibu. Living in an area with snow does not help. I have not seen the problem you describe out here in California. The stiff steering could be due to a fault power steering pump or steering gear. Check the repair estimates at www.repairpal.com regarding your steering.