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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
88,633 miles
Total Complaints:
15 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace gasket (12 reports)
  2. not sure (3 reports)
2002 Chevrolet Malibu cooling system problems

cooling system problem

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2002 Chevrolet Malibu Owner Comments

problem #15

Aug 152014

Malibu LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


A couple of years ago I notice that my antifreeze kept draining away. I took into a mechanic and he said that I needed a coolant flush since oil was getting into the coolant tank. He said that I need to replace the intake gasket, which he was charging me $600. Fast forward two years and now I have multi- coolant leaks. one from the heater pipe, one from the intake gasket, and one from the water pump. Thank god my engine wasn't ruined.

I don't understand why this isn't recalled!

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #14

Jun 222012

Malibu Coupe 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

I bought this 2002 in March of 2012, I was looking for a good US made car for school. I paid cash for it, so by the time summer came around it was overheating, took it back to dealer, they tested it and PRESENTED me with a $900 BILL, i was so upset,but took it too another shop where they quoted me $700. I WAS OVERCHARGED BY 2 HRS LABOR. I fixed the intake gasket and car still overheats,now I am really mad. Had to replace water pump, still runs hot during the summer, so I turn the heater on which helps keep the engine cooler. This car is not worth the $2000 extra money I have put into it. They are a disgrace to us, that a US made car can bring so much expense. I hate this car.

- , Springfield, OR, USA

problem #13

Feb 142013

Malibu LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

Chevy should stand behind their mistakes. Intake manifold should be a recall and Chevy should repair this problem at no cost to the buyer.

- , Evansville, IN, USA

problem #12

Sep 012008

Malibu LS 3.1V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles


I also bought a 02 Chevy Malibu LS with a faulty intake manifold but I have been told I needed to replace the intake mani gasket bu one mechanic and then the manifold itself by another. Luckily I only have to drive it to work no more then three miles one way but for the last year and a half it sat up with no driving due to another issue (alarm sys to be posted in separate rant).

I plan to have it fixed but everyone with the same car says it's not worth it to fix it because I'll have to do it again and I'm currently at 94,000miles. And it baffles me that a 173$ part cost 500$ in labor Wth!

I wish I would have done further research on this car at the time I purchased to through a private sale because I would have learned then that the summer before I bought it there was a class action lawsuit stating Dexcool Coolant was causing the issues most of us have. I wondered why I didn't see that particular orange coolant in the stores anymore and thought it was strange to mix the two coolants (green and orange).

At any rate I will wait to find someone who can do it for me at like a third of that labor cost!

- , Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #11

May 012008

Malibu 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles

When this first happened, I only had 37,000 miles on the car. I have never driven it much. It kept overheating for no apparent reason. When I looked in the overflow tank it was full of stuff that looked like a pile of SH-- . It was brown and gunked up into big blobs. I flipped out because I could not figure out how something that looked like that could get inside my radiator!!!! Since I didn't drive it very much, I kind of let it go for a while. Well, when I could no longer drive it 2 miles without it overheating, I finally took it to the garage and paid almost $600 to get the intake gasket replaced, flush entire system and put in GREEN antifreeze instead of DEXCOOL. This is the advice I got from the mechanic who told me about the Class action lawsuit GM had against them. He also told me he did the same to his vehicle and had never had any more trouble out of his. I started doing some research about the Class Action Lawsuit and found that it was too late for me to get any reimbursement or anything at all. I found online that thousands of people had the exact same problem and some of them got their cars fixed free and many, like me, did not know anything about the Lawsuit.

So I write GM a very long letter in which I told them EVERYTHING DETAILED and that if they were any COMPANY AT ALL WORTH A grain of salt, they would have sent out something (like they do with recalls) to EVERY ONE of their customers who were involved. I never heard a word back from them. I searched everywhere during that time to find a phone number to call because the numbers I had called for GM the persons I talked to would always say they did not know anything about it. They would flat out deny they knew anything!!!! This was AFTER the Lawsuit!!!!

Needless to say, I never got anything done. Now my car has 40,000 miles and it starts overheating AGAIN!!!

I checked the overflow tank to the radiator and it was empty and I could see small peices of sludge just like the first time but this time I saw a pinkish or orangish color around the gunk. This color antifreeze(dexcool)was supposed to be flushed out and replaced with green antifreeze the first time the car was worked on!!!

I took it back to the same garage who originally fixed it and they kept it all day and when they brought it back to me they said they did not have any idea what was wrong.

They said the work they did the first time was solid, nothing wrong with their work and that I was losing antifreeze somewhere but they could not find out where it was going.

I said why does it have the pinky orangey color? You guys were supposed to have changed that and flushed it all out. He said that they only did a water flush and there was probably some left. Which sounded fishy to me.

I am a disabled woman living alone with no man to go to the garage with me and I think I just got taken for $600. How could the old Dexcool be showing up and there was no sign of ANY GREEN antifreeze at all which was what they were supposed to have put in the radiator the first fix.

I am so upset. I live on a fixed income which is very small and it took me months to save enough to have the work done on this car the first time and now it is doing the exact same thing again.

Why will GM not allow all these other people like me to get their car fixed? We have the same problem as the first people did but we did not know about the CLASS action lawsuit. It is not fair. My car has only 40,000 miles and I will never be able to afford another car in my lifetime. When I got this car NEW, I expected it to last the rest of my life because I hardly drive it.

Does anyone know of anything at all I can do?

I am so desperate and have no one to help me. That is why I turned to this website to tell my story.

Hope I have told it so that everyone can understand. I am not good at this kind of thing and just need advice on what to do.

Thanks, S MAYS

- , Pennington Gap, VA, USA

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problem #10

Jan 052011

Malibu LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

Have a 2002 Chevy Malibu, that would not keep water in the reserve tank and kept overheating. Took it to two difference mechanics that said I need the Manifold Intake Gasket needed to be replaced. The cost would be around $700.00....Got it fixed, got the car back and went to drive it home and it over heated twice on the way home. Water would not stay in the reserve tank and the engine was overheating. It is now back at the shop and they are telling me it needs a new water pump. I feel like I have been taken for something that may have not needed fixed and cost $700.00.

I would like to know if Chevy has done anything about this problem with the Mainfold Intake Gasket, since it seems to happen to a lot of the Chevy Malibu. You would think they would have a recall or at least pay part of the cost to fix them? Anyone know of anything please let me know.

- , Riverside, CA, USA

problem #9

Nov 042009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


I will never buy another Chevy again. First it was the water pump, then the Catalytic Converter then they tell me I need a new manifold only after 75,000 miles. Thankfully I have been getting by in the winter by keeping my heat on that seems to keep my car from overheating. To fix the problem will cost around $1,000.00 I don't have that kind of money! Why is Chevy not recalling this???!!!!!!! It seems like everyone experiences this problem as well.

- , Bloomingdale, NJ, USA

problem #8

Oct 122010

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,493 miles

oil leaking into coolant if not fix it could reverse and coolent go into the oil destroying the engine. chev have lost my business.

- , Kingston, ONT, Canada

problem #7

Apr 152009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

This is possibly the worst cars I have ever owned. The issue with the intake manifold gasket started slowly and by the time I found out it was a common complaint, the class action suit against GM had already closed. Needless to say, this is a problem that will not go away and I don't have the money to fix it and then cross my fingers it won't happen again. There have been several other problems as well and the car is a real lemon.

- , Campbell, OH, USA

problem #6

Jul 072010

Malibu LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 188,000 miles

I have spent so much money on coolant,and replacing the part that i will ever buy a Chevy product again. My turn signal also have a mind of its on. They work when they want to. never again will I buy Chevy!!!

- , Dothan, AL, USA

problem #5

Jul 072010

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


NEVER BUY A CHEVROLET!!!!!!!!!!!! GM makes the worst cars and it is no surprise they are going out of business. My car only has 45,000 miles and I find out today that I have a crack in the gasket seal of the intake manifold and a crack in the water pump. I took my car to Brakes Plus and I have been on the phone with Chevy and they offered no solution to my problem other than to take it in to a Chevy dealership, pay $100 and have them tell me that it is not a "manufacturing defect" and tough luck. I can't believe there has not been a recall on this. Why would I take it to Chevy to have them replace it with the same defective gasket so that this crap can happen again??? Unbelievable.

- , Denver, CO, USA

problem #4

Jun 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

This is awful that Chevrolet will not recall vehicles with this problem and fix it for the consumer. Shouldn't be happening

- , Federal Way, WA, USA

problem #3

Feb 012010

Malibu LX 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I recently had acceleration problems and I was looking online for possible causes when I ran across this problem happening to other people. I was counting myself lucky that I had not had it. little did I know I was about to. 600 spent on a Catalytic Converter and a tune up. That fixed that problem thankfully it was not the fuel pump that I thought it was... yet.

Radiator light came on monday 2/15 I put more in and it came on a couple days later I had not seen a puddle until 2 days ago when I saw it dripping. I was hoping it was just a hose since I have a lot of miles on it. obviously I was wrong. to the tune of 725$ my mechanic will fix ..you guessed it...the intake manifold. Since I drive 2.5k-3k miles a month I have to have my car. The only good news is the mechanic said they have come up with a revised version that has metal and they have had any come back to them yet with the same problem. I will definately tell them do NOT put dex cool coolant back in. I dont care what the manual says.

While I didnt really want to buy this car having poor credit I had no choice. so 1300$ this month in repairs on top of an almost 400$ car payment. How can anyone afford that in this day and the shape of economy. What will next month bring? the fuel pump(about 600)? or the anti theft device/ignition switch failing(500 if repaired properly)?

a lot of the above problems come back for a lot of people only to have to pay them again 6 months later. I think this is why GM is begging the goverment for money to bail them out. Maybe they should take those million dollar salaries to the people that need them and fix the cars they sold.

I wont ever recommend a chevy again to anyone thats for sure since they dont stand behind there products. As this should have been factory recalled and they ignored it. My next car definately wont be from one of the big companies as they dont know what they are doing with the money Im giving them therefore I wont be giving them anymore. Good luck to any current Malibu owners

- , Bryan, TX, USA

problem #2

Dec 282009

Malibu L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

I had the intake manifold replaced about 3 years ago at about 62000 miles. and now at 87000 miles it leaked again. It caused the coolant to leek into the oil and freeze in the oil pump and the relief valve froze and blew out the oil pump gasket. Which means that not only does the intake have to be changed but also the oil pump. I've been told that the intake manifold in the Malibu has been known to fail quite often. The cost to me is about $1500 to replace both. It makes me wonder if I will abuy another Malibu which I was seriously thinking about. I've had GM cars before and and was very happy . Now I'm not so sure if I will get another one. Marie Vitetta

- , Rye, NY, USA

problem #1

Mar 312007

(reported on)

Malibu 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I'm told this is common with Malibu's. Shouldn't Chevy take some responsibility for fixing this?

- , Channahon, IL, USA

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