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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
106,366 miles
Total Complaints:
10 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace lower intake manifold gasket (6 reports)
  2. not sure (3 reports)
  3. use barrs stop leak instead (1 reports)
1998 Chevrolet Malibu cooling system problems

cooling system problem

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1998 Chevrolet Malibu Owner Comments

problem #10

Aug 022012

Malibu LS 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,320 miles


My friend purchased this car new. It was a nice car the headliner did not hold up and fell apart at the sunroof. At 63, 300 miles I purchased the car. I noticed a light was on for the water within 30 miles. I put in coolant and the light went off. I cleaned the engine and recharged the ac system. The ac leaked out so I returned to the AC shop and they were looking for the AC leak. One mechanic showed me the coolant leak on both sides on the intake manifold. They estimated $1350. He told me it would take most of a day. Doing the math I thought he must be asking for $200 per hour. So I went on line to learn that this defect has been know for years and Chevrolet continued to build lemons on purpose. I wanted to buy a new car and have maximum credits on my GM card for discounts. Now they purposely built this known defect and did not fix it I take that as a direct F u from them to me and us.

And that is where they will end. Bummer now I guess I will go to Honda or Toyota I can not believe this issue was not recalled. Toyota had a 3.0 problem and they stood up and fixed it. Why is GM telling the world they do not care about the domestic buyer?

- , Newcastle, CA, USA

problem #9

Oct 172012

Malibu 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 198,839 miles

Noticed a coolant leak, but in only leaked when the car was running. Took forever to find where it was coming from, but finally noticed a pool at the top of the engine on the drivers side.

Tried to do the lower intake manifold gasket myself. Hint: ignore haynes, the fuel rail can stay on the d*mn manifold, just undo the fuel lines to the fuel rail. When the car is this old, the fuel rail clips break pretty easy, and the injectors are pretty well stuck into the manifold.

It is still not back together and so far: $200: manifold gasket kit, lower manifold bolts. $ 40: coolant $ 20: silicone sealant $ 50: fuel rail clips (seriously, they are the size of a quarter, and its $50 for 6) $ 35: used fuel pressure regulator $ 35: oil and filter

I put it back together with used fuel rail clips, and it still leaked fuel. Some friends had a heated shop and offered to try to fix it. They got it back together but now there is a wicked noise in the top end, so they have to head back in, possible rocker arms not torqued right, or they mixed up the push rods.

Its been a month, and I would up having to buy a second car to get to f**ckin work in the mean time. Hopefully if the darn thing gets running again I can sell one car and recoup some losses here.

Don't try to tackle this yourself unless you have backup transportation.

- , Salmon Arm, BC, canada

problem #8

Dec 062003

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

Always Was A Chevy Guy 98 Malibu SUCKS bad Head Gasket Replaced Bent Rods Bad Lifters Now Its Doing It Again Loud Knocking Noises More Lost Anti-Freeze Chevy SUCKS My Brothers 98 Chevy Trucks Brakes Are Locking Up Mine Just Started Doing The Same Thing CHEVY SUCKS Unions SUCK All They Do Is Protect The Tard Never Another F%#!*%#ing Chevy By The Way 98 Malibu Only Has 39,000 Miles

- , Butler, PA, USA

problem #7

Apr 162009

Malibu 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,500 miles


I Would have never bought this car had I known... I hope people who are considering purchasing a car use sites like this to get informed and negotiate the price accordingly or not purchase the car at all!!! 1998 Chevy Malibu, 3.1L V6 engine is the pits! I paid what I thought was a deal of a price only to find after using the car for less than 2 years I'd have to invest more than the cars value to keep in running.

Problem: Intake manifold gasket leaking coolant into the engine. Engine overheated and the head gasket seems to be blown. The mechanic can't say for sure until the intake and heads are removed. Speculation is the intake gasket is allowing coolant to leak - Head gasket is allowing coolant into the oil lubrication channels - coolant is in the oil.

Kelly Blue Book for a fare 98 Malibu here is $2200. Repair is $550. in parts and $1500 labor. Extra $300 to flush all systems and replace all timing belt, water pump and crank case breathing valves. Additional $400 to have the heads re-worked. All this is predicated on the block or heads not being cracked.

Should have check sites like this before wasting my money. I could have bought a decent Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, or Honda for $6000 2 years ago and still be driving it with none of this hassle.

Do I junk this thing and not put good money into something bad or invest the $2800. and pray nothing else happens. I've read this Malibu also has transmissions issues. To have purchased a clean running car for $2500. and two years later I'm looking at investing $2800 to keep it going than potentially have future repairs of $1500 - this is not a deal to me any more... Aside form tires, breaks, oil changes and a head lamp, this car has preformed well until now. Had I known these issues I would say you couldn't give me this car and have it be a value to own.

Tell your family and friends - before buying any vehicle - check sites like this for recurring issues and safety recalls. Buyer be aware.

- , Haiku, Maui, HI, USA

problem #6

Apr 142009

Malibu 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I just got the water pump changed on my car and now it's tripping when I start it up the car makes a knocking noise then when I accelerate it goes away. Also, it's leaking and getting hot really fast and I don't know what to do.

- , Long Beach, CA, USA

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problem #5

Feb 062009

Malibu LS 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,000 miles

I was losing cooling and on my way to work the car overheated and i thought i was low on coolant. That was not the case. Reservoir was full and i later looked for the problem and notice my engine oil looked emulsified with something else and it was past the full marker. It has to be coolant. Intake manifold gasket i assume.

- , Monee, IL, USA

problem #4

Nov 072008

Malibu 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles


The transmission went on this day as well; NOVEMBER 7 WAS A DAY TO REMEMBER; so when the guys at chevy were looking at the transmission they noted that there was no coolant in the car and said the intake manifold was done and the gasket needed to be replaced. sucks, but thank goodness i have an extended warranty and they covered a used transmission (i paid $887.00 difference to get a brand new Chevy issued transmission installed) and the cost of the intake manifold problem; this is my second chevy; my first new car was a 1998 Chevy cavalier bought right off the lot. i ended up replacing the water pump at 60,000 alternator at 48,000 and a host of other problems; will never buy another chevy. HONDA IS THE WAY TO GO. or MAZDA; i also have a mazda and it runs like a champ;

- , Hamilton, NJ, USA

problem #3

May 202008

Malibu 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

I went in for an oil change and walked out with a bill for $1200.00. A friend of mine had the same problem with her Malibu. She traded it in for a new Ford. Unfortunately I have to hang on to my piece of junk awhile longer and just cross my fingers it doesn't fall apart. Not only did they find the manifold gasket problem but I had to have new front hub assemblies. I still need to have crankshaft oil seal replaced. As for the rotor problems everyone else has...add me to that list as well. I have never owned a Chevy before this one and you can bet I never will again.

- , Evansville, IN, USA

problem #2

Dec 122007

Malibu LS 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

The low coolant light would come on and the go off every now and then while driving the car. The ABS light on the dash would do the same. Thought maybe we were just low on coolant. Service center pressure tested the system and the intake manifold gasket was leaking. and they found a defective left front speed sensor causing the ABS issue.

- , Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #1

Mar 192007

(reported on)

Malibu SE 3.2 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

The dealers cant be trusted to tell you the truth it seems they never offer you another way to go they just go for the jugular and try to scare you into doing the job.

- , Toms River`, NJ, USA

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