The Chevy Malibu has been reimagined numerous times since it was first introduced in 1964. Although it has been billed as a largely reliable midsize sedan for decades, the Malibu has had its share of growing pains in every generation, including the latest 2016 redesign.
The revamped 2016 model offered vast improvements on older versions, but has had its own share of engine problems and recalls. Per Kelly Blue Book, the Malibu has displayed a wide array of part failures and engine failures. Here are a few of the most notable issues that plague the Chevy Malibu.
Transmission problems in the Chevy Malibu
The Chevy Malibu has displayed severe transmission problems, especially in its 2010 model, which has been widely recognized as the worst version on the market. According to Car Complaints, the majority of the Chevy Malibu’s complaints in both 2010 and 2011 pertained to transmission failure. On average, transmission failure occurred at 97,400 miles, and the transmission had to be entirely replaced or rebuilt at a cost of approximately $3,250.
Per Repair Pal, the Malibu’s transmission problems continued through 2011, after which they decreased, but new problems arose with electrical, engine, wheel, and ignition systems. Many of the issues from 2010 appeared to have been resolved by 2015, but the 2016 redesign saw a resurgence in transmission problems. Fortunately for Chevy fans, these problems decreased in the 2018 model, so it can be hoped that the transmission will be fully functional in the upcoming 2020 model as well.
Engine and fuel system complaints
Less fortunate are the Chevy Malibu’s ongoing engine and fuel system problems. According to the NHTSA, more than half of the complaints about the 2018 Malibu pertained to the engine and fuel systems. Problems range from simple gas cap errors to severe coolant and engine oil leaks from various gaskets and lines.
Although the loss of speed control seems to be the main symptom, there are also numerous reports of stalled engines, shaking, low idling, and at least two fires. Car Complaints indicates that these issues occur much earlier in the vehicle’s life than the transmission issues – between 5,000 and 7,000 miles.
Electrical system glitches
In addition to the more obvious transmission and engine problems, there is a wide range of electrical issues reported with the Chevy Malibu. The most common appears to be with the electric power steering system. More than 800 reports make this the largest issue affecting the Malibu, according to Repair Pal. The failure can only be repaired by a full replacement of the steering column and is common in Malibu years 2004-2015. Repair costs are relatively low, ranging from $88 to $111.
Other electrical glitches include a turn signal switch failure which activates the hazards instead of the left or right indicator, incorrect fuel gauge readings, instrument panel lighting failures, and poor terminal contact at BCM connectors. There have also been reports of ignition failure due to a Passcode sensor error and a malfunction of the ignition module. Taken separately, these seem like small issues, but the number and type of electrical issues significantly affect the Malibu’s safety and reliability.
The Chevy Malibu does show signs of improvement
All in all, Chevy seems to be having a tough time keeping the Malibu up and running. For every issue that is resolved, more seem to replace it. However, as customer complaints were reduced by half in 2018, it’s hoped that Chevy is working to resolve the major problems.
According to reviews by Car and Driver and US News, even without these problems, the 2020 Malibu leaves much to be desired, with lackluster performance and cheap-feeling interior features. If you’re looking for a midsized sedan, they suggest a better performing Honda Accord or Ford Fusion, for a reliable vehicle.