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Even by the standards of the crazy times we’re in now, this is a weird one, even for car thieves. They’re stealing steering wheels. That’s not news, as those expensive airbags inside the steering wheel hub can reap rewards for the brazen. But there is a more puzzling layer of steering wheel theft going on more recently; specifically targeting Chevy Malibu steering wheels. What’s up with that?

Cars provide an endless supply of material for thieves. Catalytic converters, gas, and for those with bolder ambitions, the entire car, and stealing gas directly from gas station storage tanks. But specifically, in and around Detroit, the steering wheels of choice come from Chevy Malibu sedans. Smashing in the driver’s window and snagging the steering wheel takes just a couple of minutes. 

Why can it take months to get replacement Malibu steering wheels?

2022 Chevy Malibu
2022 Chevy Malibu interior | GM

And then the owner is left with replacing the said window and steering wheel. But that is only the beginning of the hassle because, at least in the Detroit metro area, Malibu steering wheels are on backorder. Some dealers have to wait months before replacements arrive. So that means your Chevy Malibu is down for the time it takes to get a new wheel. 

In an interview on WXYZ-TV, one Detroit repair shop owner said, “They are just not out there to get because everybody needs them. They’re just doing this at all the different shops. So my supply house, when I call, they’re like, ‘Greg, we have 50 on backorder right now at all of the shops we service.’”

Why Malibu steering wheels?

2022 Chevy Malibu
2022 Chevy Malibu | GM

But why Chevy Malibus? It seems that by removing two screws, the steering wheel comes right off. So it is an easy, quick way to grab a wheel and go. And with many commonalities for components like these, the airbags must have applications in many other vehicles. 

And there are many Malibus out there. Though sales dwindled last year, for the last five years there are almost 600,000 of them out there. The Malibu has been a cash cow for Chevy for years. And it still is for airbag thieves. 

What do police recommend?

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu midsized sedan parked outside a wood and brick building
2021 Chevrolet Malibu | Chevrolet

Of course, police will tell you what they tell everyone who is a victim of catalytic convertor/airbag/ gas/tire theft; lock your car, park it in a garage or enclosure, or in a well-lit place. Security cameras come in handy as well. They’re becoming cheaper, especially the ones incorporated into your front doorbell. 

And they recommend steering wheel lock bars like “The Club.” Yes, they can be cut off, or the steering wheel can be cut to remove it. But in these cases, the thieves will probably just leave it on and steal the steering wheel with the Club attached. 

But if you own a Chevy Malibu in the Detroit area, take some extra precautions. You don’t want to have to wait for months while your car sits behind a repair shop while they wait for the next delivery of steering wheels.