No car is perfect — each has its strengths and weaknesses. Some vehicles offer more comfort and luxury, while others have better fuel economy ratings.

If you're in the market for a new sedan, one of the first things you should look at is its reliability by weighing its problems against its strengths. The Chevy Malibu has been a popular option in the mid-size sedan category for years, next to close rivals like the Honda Accord. Let's look at reliability and common Chevy Malibu problems drivers experience.

How Reliable Is the Chevy Malibu?

The Chevy Malibu line began in 1964 and ran until 1983 before taking a break and restarting in 1997. Since then, this mid-size sedan has offered individuals an affordable option for an average and reliable daily driver. After its reintroduction in 1997, the model has been in production ever since. Drivers like these automobiles for their excellent fuel economy, comfortable, spacious cabins and attractive exteriors. The fair handling, ample trunk space and practical infotainment center are added benefits.

With the Chevy Malibu now in its ninth generation of production, car owners seem to return to this vehicle over and over. Online sites like J.D. Power and U.S. News rank these vehicles toward the middle of the pack, while RepairPal gives the Chevy Malibu a reliability score of 4 out of 5.

Some years have been more reliable than others, with earlier models from 1999 to 2011 having more problems than later ones. However, if you perform regular maintenance and carry out replacements or repairs when necessary, your Chevy Malibu should reach well past the 200,000-mile mark.

4 Common Problems With the Chevy Malibu

While Chevy Malibus have improved throughout the years, many models still come with various issues. Here are some of the most frequent problems Malibu drivers experience.

1. Engine

Many Chevy Malibu models are prone to experiencing engine problems. These issues show their faces in the form of:

  • Frequent oil leaks
  • Low idling
  • Extreme vibration
  • Whistling
  • Fires

One of the most frequent problems that Malibu engines built between 2016 and 2018 experience is a reduced engine power warning. Many owners have reported this message popping up and resulting in a sudden loss of engine power, reducing their speed to 20 miles per hour. This leaves drivers without the ability to accelerate, proving quite dangerous when traveling at a faster speed on the highway.

This occurrence has been tied to a defective accelerator position sensor, although General Motors has not issued any recalls or bulletins. However, General Motors has issued a recall for 2018 models with a 1.5L turbo engine, which is also known to experience reduced power or the inability to start.

Rather than a malfunctioning accelerator position sensor, they have noticed a fault in the engine control module (ECM) software, which disables the fuel injectors. Without fuel being sprayed into the engine at the right time, your vehicle will not be able to operate successfully.

2. Transmission

The quality of the transmissions used within Chevy Malibus is often held under the microscope. Typically, when these machines reach around 100,000 miles, their transmission system begins to experience some trouble. You'll likely see this in the form of hefty jerking and difficulty changing gears.

In fact, General Motors built 2011 Chevy Malibu models with a faulty pressure control solenoid, which causes the transmission to skip gears. Similarly, those built from 2011 to 2013 had trouble shifting or even starting due to a broken transmission fluid pump.

Earlier vehicles, including those made between 2008 and 2010, were recalled for a defective shift cable, making it possible for the gear shifter to slip into park on its own. Similar models were also recalled for a separate issue with their four-speed automatic transmission, enabling certain vehicles to roll when in park.

Another common occurrence with Chevy Malibus is the key getting stuck. This problem has been tied to an issue with the automatic transmission shifter and is often solved by replacing the ignition lock cylinder. The transmissions used with Chevy Malibus are nothing to write home about. While these troubles are often linked to models from years ago, more recent models continue to have problems with hesitation, jerking and shaking.

3. Electrical System

Glitches within the Chevy Malibu electrical system have been prevalent throughout its production years. While many electrical issues may seem minor, such as CD players not working in 2005 Malibus, they play a telling role when judging the performance, reliability and safety of these cars.

Many 2009 Chevy Malibus routinely experience headlights that burn out prematurely, which can happen over time or in an instant. This occurrence is often due to issues with the vehicle's wiring harness connector or headlight assembly, which you can solve with suitable replacements. Other models manufactured between 1997 to 2006 and in 2010 are found to have problems with their turn signals and hazard lights continuing to flash after they've been turned off.

General Motors has used electric power steering (EPS) systems for nearly two decades in their Chevy Malibus. While they can be more efficient, these systems often experience problems with locking up, making it difficult for drivers to turn the wheel. Plus, replacing the entire steering column is the only solution since these systems don't require power steering fluid.

Newer Chevy Malibu models experience electrical issues, most commonly within their electronic "Shift to Park" system. This system is known to fail and be unable to recognize when the car is in park, preventing drivers from turning their cars off. This problem is especially common in Chevy Malibus released between 2016 and 2020. As a result, General Motors has issued recalls and is currently undergoing a lawsuit.

4. Broken and Faulty Machinery

If you own an early-model Chevy Malibu, you've likely experienced problems with some of its components. Commonly, drivers with 1999 Malibus often encounter strange and alarming banging and clunking noises that have been linked to damaged front coil springs and struts.

Additionally, you may have experienced regular coolant leaks with your vehicle if it was released between the '90s and early 2000s. This issue is usually down to cracked intake manifold gaskets that occur when they react poorly with their coolant, resulting in premature wear.

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Explore our catalog to find the Chevy Malibu parts you need to solve your Chevy Malibu issues. Feel free to contact our professionals with any questions or concerns about our offerings.