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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated May 6, 2024

Have Older Chevy Malibu Models Aged Well? Their Reliability And Possible Mechanical Problems To Be Aware Of

Related: The Simple Way To Get A Low Price On A "New" Chevy Malibu

2012 Chevy Malibu

While historically high new and used car prices have forced many buyers to look for "older" vehicles that have aged well as a way of saving money, the issues of reliability and dependability have become all the more crucial.

Older Chevy Malibu Reliability

So, how has the Chevrolet Malibu fared when it comes to reliability and mechanical problems? Have well-maintained, older Malibu models aged well? And by "older", I'm generally referring to models that are 10+ years old, so those from its sixth and seventh generations, which covered the 2004 - 2012 model years.

Overall, the Malibu's track record during these years has been a bit mixed, with many owners reporting satisfaction with their vehicles and few issues during ownership. But others have reported more serious or recurring mechanical problems.

And having been around now for many years, history has proven that a well-maintained Malibu from these years can generally be expected to last in the 150,000 mile range, which is about average for all vehicles.

That said, there are indeed reports of some doing over 200,000 and even 300,000 miles, so there is upside for extremely well-cared for and easily driven vehicles, along with a little luck.

But before going into detail on specific mechanical issues, let's pause to point out some very important factors when thinking of buying an older vehicle.

Things To Do When Considering An "Older" Malibu

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the Dealer or private seller, it's usually best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $150-$200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

And My #1 Price Tip: It's important to get dealers to compete for your business by using auto sites such as and (both, actually), whether looking for a new or used car. Competition among dealers for your business is what gets you a lower price, and it's very easy.

And quickly, while we're at it, my #2 Tip is to always know the up-to-date trade-in value of your current car. You can get a quick and surprisingly accurate one at Edmund's Trade-In Quotes.

It's free and just takes a couple of minutes. I think what helps its accuracy is the inputs will include either your plate# or VIN# followed by many simple, but specific, yes/no questions. It really focuses in on the detail of the specific vehicle.

6th-Gen (2004 - 2008) Chevy Malibu Possible Mechanical Problems

Chevy Malibu LT (2004)

The 2004-2008 Chevrolet Malibus had a number of mechanical issues reported by some owners that should therefore be included in an inspection before buying one today:

Power Steering Issues: The most widespread issue were problems with the power steering system, including leaks, noise, and difficulty steering. In some cases, this was attributed to issues with the power steering pump or rack and pinion assembly.

Electrical Problems: Electrical issues were occasionally reported, including problems with the car's headlights, dashboard displays, and power windows. These could stem from issues with wiring, switches, or electrical components.

Transmission Concerns: While the automatic transmissions in the Malibu were generally reliable, there were sporadic reports of transmission problems such as rough shifting, slipping, or failure. These issues could be related to wear and tear, fluid leaks, or electronic control module malfunctions.

Failed Passlock Sensor: Problems with the ignition system’s Pass Lock system caused headaches for some owners.

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Brake System: Some owners experienced issues with the braking system, including premature wear of brake pads and rotors, as well as occasional brake fluid leaks.

Engine Performance: While the engines in the Malibu were generally quite durable, there were occasional reports of problems such as oil leaks, excessive oil consumption, or issues with engine sensors. Also, some owners reported sudden deceleration or stalling, accompanied by an “Engine Power Reduced” warning.

It's important to note that not all Malibus experienced these issues, and many owners had trouble-free experiences. Regular maintenance and prompt attention to any emerging problems may have helped mitigate or avoid potential issues.

Sixth Generation Chevy Malibu Overview (2004 - 2008)

Chevy Malibu LTZ (2007)

The Malibu was redesigned for the 2004 model year and added a new hatchback body style model in addition to its traditional four-door sedan. It also got a new front-drive platform shared with the more luxury-oriented Saab 9-3 as well as the Pontiac G6.

Added features included available remote starting as well as a rear seat that slid backward and forward 7 inches in the hatchback.

Base Malibu sedans were equipped with a 145 horsepower four-cylinder engine. LS and LT sedan models received a 200 horsepower V6.

The hatchback model, called the Malibu Maxx, was given a 6-inch-longer wheelbase, but a slightly shorter body than the sedan. The Maxx came in LS and LT trim levels, both of which came with a V6 engine and a four-speed automatic transmission.

Antilock braking and traction control were standard safety features on all Malibus except the base, where they were optional. The Maxx featured all-disc brakes. In addition, head-protecting curtain side airbags were standard on the LT sedan and LT Maxx, and optional on the other models.

Standard features on all models included a power driver-seat height adjuster, power windows, power locks and power mirrors. Optional features to be found on some models included heated front seats, power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, OnStar assistance, and satellite radio. Both body styles came with a fold-flat front passenger seat and split folding rear seatbacks.

And incidentally, the remote starter works through the keyfob from up to 200 feet away. The Maxx hatchback also got a glass skylight over the back seat and a DVD entertainment system was optional.

7th-Gen (2008 - 2012) Chevy Malibu Possible Mechanical Problems

The seventh generation Chevrolet Malibu also had its share of mechanical issues as reported by some owners. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common that should therefore be included in a pre-purchase inspection:

Power Steering Problems: A significant number of owners reported a complete loss of power steering. The steering wheel would lock up while driving, posing safety risks. This issue was most prevalent in the 2008–2010 models and to a lesser extent in the 2011–2012 models.

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Coolant Leaks: Coolant leaks were another concern and if left unaddressed, could lead to engine overheating and damage.

Transmission Concerns: While the automatic transmissions in the Malibu were generally reliable, there were occasional reports of transmission problems such as rough shifting, slipping, or failure, and were more prevalent in the 2010 model.

Blower Motor Resistor Failure: Malfunctioning blower motor resistors could result in issues with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

Ignition System—Pass Lock System Issues: Problems related to the ignition system, including Pass Lock system issues, caused starting and security concerns.

Fuel Level Sensor: Faulty fuel level sensors could lead to inaccurate fuel level readings, affecting the driver’s ability to monitor fuel levels.

Hood Prop Rod Failure: Malfunctioning hood prop rods could make it challenging to keep the hood open while performing maintenance.

Seventh Generation Chevy Malibu Overview (2008 - 2012)

2009 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

The next redesign took place in 2008 (yes, there was some overlap) and was produced through the 2012 model year. Initially, the 4-speed automatic transmission came standard with the four-cylinder engine while the toplevel LTZ model was available with the V6.

In addition, the base LS model was not offered with stability control, however, it became a standard feature on all models in 2009. The 2009 model year also saw the four-cylinder became standard for all models, while the 6-speed automatic became standard on all but the LS and 1LT (the 1LT got it in 2010).

This generation can be found in four trims: base LS, midlevel 1LT and 2LT and luxury LTZ. However, even the base LS is well-equipped, with standard features including full power accessories, traction control, air-conditioning, side curtain airbags, satellite radio and OnStar.

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The 1LT adds stability control and alloy wheels, while the 2LT upgrades with heated seats and additional power features. Among added Malibu LTZ features are leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, and an upgraded sound system.

The solid power choices for this Malibu include a 169-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 252 horsepower.

Overall, this Malibu version got good grades for ride comfort, interior space, level of features, excellent crash-test scores, and fuel efficiency (city: 19 - 24 highway: 26 - 32).

Lastly, Suggestions For Getting A Low Malibu Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" Chevy Malibu if the price was really good, here's info on exactly How To Get The Best Price On A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.

And checkout our Facebook page for more tips, car news and fun.

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