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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
103,459 miles
Total Complaints:
15 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (8 reports)
  2. replace intake manifold (5 reports)
  3. fixed the problem with a cheap stop leak solution (1 reports)
  4. replaced upper and lower intake manifold gaskets (1 reports)
2002 Chevrolet Malibu cooling system problems

cooling system problem

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2002 Chevrolet Malibu Owner Comments

problem #15

Jan 152016

Malibu LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,000 miles


I wish that I had known about this website before I purchased my car last month.

At first the car seemed like a great value, considering the low price ($1000), but I would soon discover that the car had problems with the engine's cooling system. The previous owner had taken good care of the vehicle and had kept it serviced regularly. (Obviously my quarrel is not with the previous owner, but with the automobile's manufacturer for not recalling the vehicle in order to prevent its resale to an unsuspecting buyer). I understand that many times the "you get what you pay for" adage rings true, but I am a financially embarrassed college student so I didn't have much of a budget for this expenditure. Now, on to my story.

After returning home from classes one mild January afternoon and getting out of the driver's side door, I noticed a distinctively "sweet" anti-freeze smell emanating from the front end of the vehicle. As I looked under the car to investigate the source of the smell, I observed a torrent of orange coolant gushing from beneath the car. This was a complete shock to me because there were no indicator lights that had come on to inform me of the problem, nor had I ever encountered a situation like this before. (Of course these things only happen when you can't afford repairs, but I'm grateful that this happened in the driveway and not on the side of the road.)

After the engine cooled, I checked under the hood for any leaky or loose hoses and everything seemed to be fairly intact. Just to make sure, I disconnected the main hose that lead from the coolant reserve tank to the radiator because to me it seemed to possess the greatest suspicion of liability. In order to test my hypothesis, I ran water through the hose in order to observe any leaks that were not obvious during the first inspection. When I did this, the water flushed out this mysterious dark chunk of debris. I'm still not sure what this was, but suspect that it was something other than the rubber from the hose because the hose was intact and holding the water just fine.

I put the hose back on, replenished the coolant, and prayed. After a week the coolant level is the same, but I still have higher than normal temperature gauge readings. When I can afford to do so I will take the car in to be checked out by a professional, but for now I have to keep driving it to school and back.

The most perplexing thing about the ordeal is that there were no warning lights on the instrument panel to let me know that I was in danger of losing all of the coolant. If the pressures were so high that the cap on the reserve tank blew (which is the only conclusion that I can draw at this point), then there should be some kind of warning system in place to prevent motorists from causing damage to the engine and its components.

- , Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #14

Aug 012011

Malibu ES 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,122 miles

Seems to be coming from the intake manifold. We just picked up this car and now it has to be fixed.

- , Waterford, WI, USA

problem #13

Nov 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

wow honestly it has stressed me out having my first owned car since i got my license. Of coarse i picked a damn lemon!! Since Ive had this car all I've done is put new stuff into it. I'm a mother of two, working four hrs a day. I cant afford car repairs. Some how Ive managed to overcome getting these problems taking care of so i thought. Spent over a grand on fixing the gasket so my car would stop leaking and overheating. now a month later here we go again!! I get home one day and my driveway is covered in coolant. I cant take anymore!!! Chevy Malibu is the worst car ever!! Now I'm stuck with no car and no way to get more money to pay for more garages to screw me over!!

- , Somersworth, NH, USA

problem #12

May 242010

Malibu LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles


GM should recall all these defective cars and repair. Looks like this is big problem in this car. I will never buy any GM car again. Govt should ask GM to take care of this major issues.

I don't understand why NHTSA or other Govt organizations are ignoring this issue.

- , Sunnyvale, CA, USA

problem #11

Mar 082010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,962 miles

As I read the beefs, all the similar problems and then see many of the beefs ballparking fixing the problem of the coolant leaking at around $1800- $2000, I am reminded once again of the Canada - US pricing difference. I have had 3 different cost quotes to repair and here in Canada (Windsor) my quotes are $4000 - $5000. I am single, 52yrs, retired and have a physical disability. Am unable to afford a more handicap equipped vehicle and am also unable to afford the cost of fixing - especially because from what I read, it is a quick fix and do not be misguided into thinking the cost of fixing the problem will give several more years of life to the car. I am steaming as I read this site for the first time, and here too GM ignores those who buy their product.

- , Windsor, Onario, Canada

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problem #10

Feb 152010

Malibu 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 147,000 miles

my 2002 Malibu was doing the same thing, but mine the intake manifold gasket went. luckily i didn't crack a head and i am now in the process of fixing it myself with the help of my brother, and saving a few hundred bucks, hopefully you haven't cracked the cylinder head.the gasket kit cost around $140.00 and buy the time labor and shop supplies is figured in its around 900 dollar to fix at a dealer. I have been in the auto industry for 12 years in the service department as a service runner but also doing light mechanical work when needed.

- , Lincoln, NE, USA

problem #9

Feb 042010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,580 miles


When I took my car into my mechanic he told me every Malibu they've worked on on a regular basis had to have the Intake Manifold Gasket replaced. One would think that the folks at Chevrolet would be aware of that and make the necessary corrections. The price I was quoted was not insignificant.

- , Columbia, MO, USA

problem #8

Jan 142009

Malibu LS 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

i had a intake manifold leak like everybody else. My mechanic said this wasnt the first malibu he fixed with the same problem. I hate chevy because of this car, its been a pain in the ass since i got it, its like a death trap. Anyway it leaked and while it was all apart he went ahead and changed the freeze plugs, something to think about when your changing the gasket

- , la Puente, CA, USA

problem #7

Sep 132008

Malibu 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Well let's see everything started to fall apart on my 02 Malibu about 4 years ago when i had to replace the catalytic converter, kinda didn't think anything of it then about a year later the coolant light came on and then started to have to add water about every week took it to the shop and found out that the head gasket was blown spent about 800 bucks getting that fixed, check engine light went off for about a week and then came back on took it back to the shop they put it on the computer they found NOTHING. so i have been driving it for the next 3 years with the check engine light on. so back in September i started smelling antifreeze, my husband said that he though that it was the thermostat took it to the shop again and found out that it was the intake gasket and that the water reservoir was leaking also so again it was another big bill at the shop. kinda sucks that here i've owned my car for 5 years now and i've not heard anything about a class action lawsuit over all these problems with the intake gasket and the dex-cool antifreeze until now, i love my car but seems like everytime i turn around i'm dropping no less than 5 bills into it for something that seems to be a major deal for alot of people.

- , West Union, WV, USA

problem #6

Dec 052008

Malibu 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

I have read most of the com[plaints about the manifold leaks in the Chevrolets. I also was told that this also occurs in the Pontiacs and other models. I just paid 1,000 to replace the intake manifold on my Malibu. My mechanic told me that the deadline to collect on the class action lawsuit expired in October 2008. I hope that someone will bring a class action lawsuit in the state of Florida, as I was told that there is nothing I can do about it now accept gripe and complain. Anybody have a clue on how to collect from GM? This should have been a recall item for sure. Let me know.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #5

Nov 212008

Malibu 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles


My Malibu is leaking antifreeze but I don't see were it is coming from, I let the car run and look under don't see nothing leaking turn it off and do the same still don't see nothing, no wet spots on the engine and around the heads and I have to keep the over fill jug filled every two days.

- , Madison, GA, USA

problem #4

Aug 152008

Malibu 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

I am a single mother of two children and I can not afford a new car and my Chev Malibu, is leaking coolant but not bad, I have taken it to two car repair and they told me to take it to the dealer. I took it to the dealer and was told it was the lower intake coolant and they wanted $1,100. to repair. Is this the going price for a car with less then 80,000 mile bought new? I read about the stop leak but was told not to use that what should I do this is a lot of money


- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #3

May 182007

Malibu LS 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

My 2002, 60K miles, Chevy Malibu is said to be leaking intake manifold by my mechanic. It's leaking coolant, losing power and other problems. I will never buy GM car again. Wife kept complaining that I did not listen to her when buying this piece of sh*t. She was insisting buying a Toyota.

- , San Diego, CA, US

problem #2

Feb 192008

Malibu 3.2lV6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,221 miles

This is another problem that has showed up twice already with in the last two years of having it fixed, what is up with this car?

- , puyallup, WA, USA

problem #1

Feb 112008

Malibu LS 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

I bought this for my son without really investigating it. Big mistake. I just assumed (yes I know what happens when you ASS U ME) because it was a CHEVY and was made in the good ol US of A that I was buying a Malibu that it was going to be a good car. The problems started at 80,000 miles. Starts intermittently and the thing started leaking radiator fluid. I couldn't find where it was leaking from until I read complaints from this site. It's probably the gasket leak that everyone is talking about. Used stop leak and so far the problem is gone. About this time I started hearing a knocking sound when my son started the car. I thought it was rocker arms or lifters until I read from this site. It has to be the "normal" piston slap.....Needless to say, I have read too many horror stories. I am selling this ROACH as soon as I can and buying a Ford Ranger. At least I know the only issues I have ever had with those is having to replace a clutch every 80,00 miles or so. Bye Bye GM.

- , Temecula, CA, USA

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