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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
85,850 miles
Total Complaints:
16 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace intake gasket and check intake manifold for warping (4 reports)
  2. GM lost a customer for life, bought a Toyota (3 reports)
  3. not sure (3 reports)
  4. replace intake manifold gasket & water pump (3 reports)
  5. rebuild (1 reports)
  6. replace engine (1 reports)
1998 Chevrolet Malibu engine problems

engine problem

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1998 Chevrolet Malibu Owner Comments

problem #16

Dec 012011

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


Thanks to this website, I knew that the gaskets would need replacing eventually. Unfortunately, it happened at Christmas-time. The mechanic replaced the intake manifold gasket set, the water pump, and the power steering pump (also leaking), and did a tuneup while the engine was open (spark plugs, thermostat, oil change).

- vap12, Brooklyn, NY, US

problem #15

Dec 172008

Malibu 31L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I am fed up with Chevrolet's and will never never buy another one. I am not a mechanic and who knows how long this problem existed before it was discovered by a Chevrolet dealer when I took the car in for an oil change. I'm retired and on limited income so the cost to have the engine replaced was pretty steep for me. So to hell with Chevrolet, I wish that we had let them sink when the economy did.

- Beverly F., Portland, OR, US

problem #14

Oct 302008

Malibu LX 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,900 miles

Coolant Leak caused by the unusual design of combining the intake valve manifold and the head together at a joint sealed with an inferior type (but only one available) gasket. The mechanic immediately diagnose the problem when he saw the location. The specific mechanical shop has repaired six of these leaks due to this design. Our car has a metal intake manifold, which is fortunate, some engines (mainly the 3.8 - ours is 3.1) has a plastic intake manifold. These manifolds tend to warp and if not replaced, will quickly cause the leak to return. Even if the plastic manifold is replaced, the replacement plastic manifold will again warp sometime in the future, causing the leak to return. As far as I could determined there is no "Permanent" fix by Chevrolet or third party vender. Purchased this Chev due to good price and low mileage from a friend who was purchasing a new car, I had sworn off Chev in the past for similar reasons, but I thought I would give them another chance. AFTER THIS, I WILL NOT RECOMMEND OR PURCHASE A GM PRODUCT AGAIN - THEY ARE STILL THE SAME POOR QUALITY INFERIOR PRODUCT!

- Don W., Charlotte, NC, US

problem #13

Jan 012009

Malibu 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles


We bought our son a 1998 Malibu in August to use as his college car. It now has 124,000 miles on it. Nice car, except for this week alone we have to come up with $1100 to fix it. Needed new spark plugs and wiring harness, and the big one was the intake gasket is leaking, antifreeze leaking everywhere. The more I check into things, the more I find out that this is a definite GM problem that they have done nothing about. How we are going to come up with this kind of money to fix it I don't know. What I do know is that we are DONE buying any GM product in the future. As we currently have a 2002 Venture with 61,000 miles, and our mechanic told us to save up, you will be replacing the intake gasket on that too. My friend replaced the intake gasket on their Lumina also. GM needs to quit putting plastic junk pieces on their cars. No more GM for me, ever.

- mac60, Bryan, OH, US

problem #12

Jan 182007

Malibu 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,604 miles


- Delores P., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

problem #11

May 112007

Malibu LS 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

1998 Malibu LS. Now has 145,000 miles. Had 20,000 purchased in 2000. Car has been GREAT - until 2006. Moon roof stopped opening all the way. Rear defogger (I was in Illinois for God's sake) stopped working. Blower had to be put on 3 to work. In 2007 noticed temp gage climbing. 2007 had harmonic balancer, new platinum spark plugs & wires, fuel filter. In 2008 had new thermostat installed. Biggest prob = coolant leaking. Been told need intake valve gasket work. Prices ranging from $600 - $850. Reading all these complaints makes me sick! I had no idea GM was aware of this problem with the intake valve gasket. I planned to keep this car until at least another 1.5 yrs before getting another one. Love the Malibu but GM you have lost another one!

- lurkg, Peoria, IL, US

problem #10

Apr 132007

(reported on)

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles


I started to see that my temp was running a little hotter than normal, so I checked the coolant level, coincidently I checked the coolant level at the same time I was changing the brakes and rotors for the 2nd time in six months since the car also has an abs problem. My level looked fine. three days later I started the car and made a quick u-turn off my street and the low water light came on and went off. figured I miss read the level so I went to buy some coolant. I had a shop put coolant in while they changed my oil that very same day and they come in the waiting room to hand me a car of an engine repair guy and said i am leaking coolant from manifold and need to get it replaced. i have still yet to see anything leak from this car but research says it could be mixing in with oil or with spark plugs. i just happen to have a friend in the family that owns a shop and he is fixing the manifold and looking at the abs problem with a possible fix on both for $550.00 but I'm still pissed seeing as that is still half of what the car even blue books at! if i was able to afford another car right now i would so be a honda or toyota girl. at this point, seeing as i have owned 6 chevy cars and i am only 23 years old, gm will be loosing a customer for life! i wouldnt even take a free chevy at this point! i cant believe they built the manifold from plastic. it was just a sure way to get money even after you bought the car. as for the union, they can shove it too. we are paying some guy 35.00 an hour to mold plastic manifolds.

- Kristin M., Sacramento, CA, US

problem #9

Mar 052007

(reported on)

Malibu 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

During oil change service center indicated that the Lower Intake Gasket was leaking, noticed a slight increase in temperature gauge moving towards the hot side. When fan turned off the gauge would move even closer to the hot side. Service center indicated that the problem should be corrected immediately and to contact GM as they were the issue and had numerous complaints on file. Also they indicated that GM created a next repair kit just for this problem.

- countchocula1, Richmond, BC, Canada

problem #8

Jan 232007

(reported on)

Malibu LS 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Had to have it looked at, smelt coolant every time I stepped out of the car... took it to mechanic, said needs new intake gasket.. got that fixed, 800 bucks out the window... two weeks later, started it up, heard ticking and the next time I couldn't even start it up, had a top engine problem, bought a whole new engine with 8 hours labor, bill was $2000... but what can i say? Being screwed over by a car thats equivalent to AIDS (cant get rid of it), Priceless

- Mike L., Saint Pete, FL, US

problem #7

Feb 122007

(reported on)

Malibu LS 3100

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

3100 V6.....HAD A 1996 Beretta.... intake gasket failed.... had it rebuilt by a mechanic $650... after rebuild engine was toast!.... bought a used engine $1000 (same mechanic cut me a deal)...... drove for 4 months...... gasket failed on this motor .... crankcase filled with coolant.... rebuilt it myself.... ran good until I sold it... NEW PROBLEM... I bought dad's 98 Malibu 40K miles, has 55K now and low and behold..... coolant disappearing from the bottle, coolant/cream starting to form on the oil cap and valve cover...... not fixed yet... getting estimates and my story to argue with GM..... total BS... if GM doesn't think there is a problem..... I'm one guy and had the problem 3 times in less than 1 year and a half... I'm gonna give GM a chance to make good on the repair... if they don't..... so long GM... I'll report back in a while to provide an update.

- Rod B., Rochester Hills, MI, US

problem #6

Nov 072006

(reported on)

Malibu ES V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles


Overall, I like the Malibu. However, I don't think that I would purchase another (or chevy product). The check engine light frequently comes on and off (for a few years, without problems), so I've learned to ignore it. My 2002 Blazzer does the same thing. This time the light came on and there really was a problem. I got a sudden coolant leak and high temp. I had to change the water pump at a cost of just under $900.00.

- Jack W., Anchorage, AK, US

problem #5

Dec 152006

(reported on)

Malibu LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

I have had good years with this car but I have never had so many problems with an engine than this car. I bought it new in 98. Toyota looks good to me. Non union maybe that is the way to go

Unions make people lazy, and put out poor quality.

I thought we went thru this in the early eighties. I thought about a ford but after this No more union cars for me.

- Anthony P., Rockford, IL, US

problem #4

Dec 012006

(reported on)

Malibu LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

My Malibu has 38000 miles. One day I had coolant all over the garage floor. I did not take it back to Buff Whelan because they rape you with their price. I took it to a good dealer and when he finished my bill was $1196.00 They had to replace the intake manifold and the water pump change the oil and of course new coolant. My son-in-law who works for GM said I don't drive it long enough and I say bull the gasket material is the reason. Of course paid my bill and since put 400 miles on it.

- Joseph F., Sterling Heights, MI, US

problem #3

Oct 012006

(reported on)

Malibu LS

  • 65,000 miles

I read all the other complaints on this problem and can't believe it. I was never told this was a common problem. My intake gasket had to be replaced three times in less than two years, and now I have an engine check light on, and am reading about bad wiring harnesses. I was about to go and purchase a gm vehicle. After this I don't think I will ever buy another chevrolet, let alone gm again. I have three other cars, all foreign, and no problems.. go figure. I am really disappointed in chevrolet.

- Thomas M., Clinton, MD, US

problem #2

Sep 182006

(reported on)

Malibu LE

  • 50,000 miles

My car started over heating three years ago. I kept replacing the fluid and it would dump out again. I have had the head gasket replaced, some other gasket, the reservior, thermastat, water pump. And everything has been flushed. For years I ran the heat even in the summer time to keep the car from overheating while I was on the road. Now, I have no ac and no heat because the fan motor wore out from over use. My car just runs slightly hot now. I am waiting for the engine to completely break down. I will never buy another GM vehicle. They have lost a customer for LIFE. I will tell everybody I know for the rest of my life about the horrible experience I had with this GM vehicle. They could have addressed the problem before my car was ruined. The dealer acted as if they had never heard of a problem like mine. When I called the 1800 customer service number, they pretended to be equally ignorant to the problem. I told them to check to f##cking internet. I will replace the car with a Toyota before the end of the month and I will be soo happy when I can get rid of my Malibu. I will end up having to sell it for whatever anybody is willing to pay for such a crummy vehicle.

- A S., Washington, DC, US

problem #1

May 082005

(reported on)

Malibu Sedan

  • 142,000 miles

Coolant pooling on top of the engine near the transmission.

Intake manifold failure.

- antioch1, Antioch, CA, US

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