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definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
39,622 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Chevrolet Malibu cooling system problems

cooling system problem

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2002 Chevrolet Malibu Owner Comments

problem #17

May 242010

Malibu 6-cyl

  • 63,500 miles


Chevy Malibu 2002 V6 - coolant leak problem.

- Sunnyvale, CA, USA

problem #16

Feb 282009


  • miles
Intake gasket went in car cost $740 to fix, the coolant was mixing with oil. I didn't have heat couldn't see out back window. The signals work when they want, the rear defroster don't work, my husband has fixed it 2X and put in shop, still don't work. My car gets service when its time. There's a sound in the dashboard sound like wires rubbing together and you get a little shock when you get out car. I hope I don't be driving and my car catch on fire with me in it. I think my car was in the bad batch section.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #15

Feb 252009


  • 155,540 miles
2002 Chevy Malibu won't start occasionally passlode problem diag at local dealer ignition replaced and keys reprogrammed cost $398.60.still have problem that we took car to dealer in first place for. Dealer can not fix problem what do we do this is unsafe for wife and young child to become stranded on a daily bases. I have done some research and have come to find out that this is an ongoing problem with the passlock systems from GM. We have also had to replace the intake manifold gasket and have sense learned about the ongoing problems with the dexcool coolant causing gasket failure.we need help.

- Bostic, NC, USA

problem #14

Mar 062009


  • 74,000 miles


Low coolant light kept coming on. Had this checked during an oil change and oil was found in the coolant. Intake manifold gasket was replaced for the 2nd time. The intake manifold gasket was previously replaced 2 1/2 years ago. Starting in the spring/summer of 2008 started having problems with the turn signals only working part of the time. This was checked at a dealership and I was told that since the signals seemed to work fine for them and the problem couldn't be reproduced they weren't able to determine what was wrong to be able to fix it. The problem continues.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #13

Jun 012007


  • miles
My car has an anti-freeze leak and I have to fill it once a week. I went to Chevy and had a test down on it. The test showed that my low intake gaskets are bad. Chevy quoted me $900 for fix.

- Tulsa , OK, USA

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problem #12

Jan 202008

Malibu 6-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Chevrolet Malibu. The contact stated that there is engine coolant leaking into the engine. The failure could possibly start a fire. The dealer stated that they were willing to pay 25% of the cost for a new engine. The mechanic at the dealer stated that this was a common failure with her year, make, and model vehicle. General Motors advised the contact to drive her vehicle to the dealer instead of having it towed, even though it could catch fire. The powertrain was unknown. The failure and current mileages were 74,000.

- Villas, NJ, USA

problem #11

Aug 072005

Malibu 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,085 miles


I bought a 2002 Chevrolet Malibu on August 10, 2004. The mileage was 45,281. Since that time I have had 2 problems with my vehicle. 1.GM dex-cool/intake manifold gasket. 2.anti-theft light comes on. After car has been stopped, the car will not restart again. With regard to item number 1 above, I understand there is a class action lawsuit pending. With regard to item number 2 above, these are the circumstances concerning my problems associated with the anti theft system. From August to October 2006 I had to tow my vehicle to the Chevrolet dealership to address the problem of my car not starting. It was towed 4 times, the first 3 times and all the dealership said was that the battery needed to be charged. On the last time, October 13, 2006 the dealership said their "educated guess" was the need to change the starter switch and ignition lock cylinder for which they charged me for a starter switch - $96.15, an ignition lock cylinder - $154.79, recode the lock cylinder - $15, and $46 to correct the pass lock sensor data, plus a $10 environmental disposal fee. My son looked on the internet to see if anyone else has had similar problems with their same model car. It appears quite a few owners have had similar problems. The anti-theft problem fix was to allow the car to sit for 10 minutes, and then try to start the vehicle again, and it worked, sometimes after 2-3 attempts. The dealership had also said to try the same fix procedure, it might work. It appears that General Motors knows about this two problem, and is only addressing the GM dex cool intake manifold gasket. General Motors should recall to fix both problems at no charge to the owner. It's only a matter of time before either of these two items becomes a safety issue and causes a loss of life or limb. The current mileage is 55,340.

- Beaverton, OR, USA

problem #10

Sep 272007

Malibu 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
Antifreeze is going bad at low mileage (75,000 miles below life expectancy), becoming caustic, and causing intake manifold gaskets to dissolve causing a leak, also causing head gaskets to leak leading to major engine failure. This leads to an expensive repair at best and engine replacement at worst. The anti freeze is obviously a bad formulation and/or interacts with components to became caustic. This is a defect and repair should be covered by the manufacturer. It is all over the internet how prevalent this problem is. No notice to owners was ever sent to replace the antifreeze before it became caustic.

- Metairie, LA, USA

problem #9

Apr 222007

Malibu 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,100 miles
(1) 2002 Chevy Malibu. 3100 V6 engine. Gasket failure/factory default. (2) only 22,200 miles, and intake gasket has failed. (3) what needs to be done, is a GM factory recall to fix this issue.

- Niagara Falls, NY, USA

problem #8

Jan 092007

Malibu 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
First incident of leaking happened after dealership worked on car. Arrived home coolant poured out on ground towed back. Dealership said reservoir cap seal. 10/2006 or 11/2006, picking up at school and smelled not engine. Parked saw coolant on ground. No engine light on but needle was past middle. Family brought coolant filled it up and went 5 blocks to dealership. They said nothing was wrong. Yesterday, 1/9/2007 car overheated in the school line. Added coolant. I brought it to a non dealership radiator shop owner thinks intake manifold gasket leaking. Car at dealership. I really don't know what the real problem is but because my warranty expired feel dealership will tell me it is a new problem from the first event so I will be responsible. At least two rotors replaced on the front driver's wheel & 5 sets of pads. Reported to GM they claim it is the way I drive! a non dealership tire company had the pads replaced with a good brand. 1 1/2 years since I had to have pads. Problem with the right front passenger door locks. Car is running and the driver gets out leaving car on and then the passenger turns off the car and gets out, locks car, the radio stays on. I went inside the store and came out and the radio was still playing. When you unlock the car but enter only the passenger front door and then close it and walk away, the car locks itself. Happened several times. I had not placed the keys on the seat of the car and shut the door or I would have been locked out. I reported this but no one seemed to care. Radio was replaced for left button paint (not sure if it is paint or cover on button) rubs off. Ignition switch was replaced. Fuel pump replaced.. I Transport grandchildren and I need a safe car.

- Lake Charles, LA, USA

problem #7

Dec 302006

Malibu 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2002 Chevy Malibu (85,000 miles) = approximately a year ago engine overheated and "need coolant" light came on. Owner refilled coolant. Several months later "coolant" light again came on and owner refilled coolant. No visible leak of coolant was noticed under vehicle. At next oil change owner asked technician to check coolant and technician noted that everything seemed fine, no discernible leak. July 2006 engine coolant light came on, owner refilled, this occurred again in late August and again in October. December 22, 2006, owner had oil change and asked technician about the problem. The technician suggested that Chevrolet regularly get air bubbles in the coolant system and often have problems with coolant because of it. He checked the coolant pressure, he said it was normal and suggested to do a flush and fill, the owner agreed. On Dec. 26, 2006, the coolant light came on again and the owner added additional coolant. On Dec. 29, 2006, owner took vehicle to a Chevrolet dealer service center. The technician determined the vehicle to have a damaged intake manifold gasket. The Chevrolet service center performed the service and replaced the intake manifold gasket on Dec. 30, 2006.

- Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #6

May 272006

Malibu 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles
Car started leaking anti-freeze from intake manifold gasket on engine at 45000 miles. Was told that there was a technical service bulletin on this problem but that since there was no recall I would have to pay $900 for this repair out of pocket. This could lead to a fire and overheating engine failure.

- Mastic Beach, NY, USA

problem #5

Feb 282006


  • miles
The intake manifold gasket in the consumer's 2002 Chevrolet Malibu was defective. The consumer contacted the manufacturer to see about getting the vehicle repaired free of charge. The consumer was told that the intake manifold gasket would not be replaced because the vehicle was no longer under warranty. The consumer believes the repair should be covered since the manufacturer was aware of a problem with the intake manifold because a bulletin was issued Oct 24, 2003.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #4

Mar 312006

Malibu 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,600 miles
1. vehicle is low mileage garage kept and well maintained. An odor was noticeable for a couple of days. Drove car a few miles and parked, when came out a half an hour later. 2. started car, tried to turn on to driveway to leave and had no power steering. Smelled bad. 3. the keefers auto service related the ac compressor clutch had frozen up. They replaced this part and recharged the ac system etc. I believe the loss of power steering in the vehicle, especially with only 11000 miles, is very serious and could cause an accident. This repair was just completed today 4/3/6 so if you interested in the old parts or anything to do with the service please contact tom keefer at keefer's auto sales and service (717) 334 2923. He is very nice and reputable.

- Gettysburg, PA, USA

problem #3

Oct 182005

Malibu 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Two weeks ago my water level light came on. I added dexcool coolant per manufacturers recommendation. The light continued to come on and go off for approx 1 week. I added dexcool coolant each time. After approx. 1 week of doing this, the light stopped coming on. Yesterday, when I returned to my vehicle after work, there was coolant in the lot under my vehicle. I filled the reservoir up again and drove the vehicle home. Today, I took the car to a repair garage who informed me that I needed to replace my lower intake gasket and thermostat gasket and valve cover gasket at a cost of $890. The mechanic informed me that GM has had several complaints in reference to this type of problem. They fixed four of this type of problem in the last two years. Apparently the problem is possibly due to the use of the GM-recommended dexcool which GM has since discontinued use of.

- Greensburg, PA, USA

problem #2

Mar 212005

Malibu 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
In January 2004, the "low coolant? light went on. It required more coolant to be added. There was no external leaking of the engine coolant. The light went on again about two weeks later. I took it to a private mechanic and the cap was replaced. The leak stopped. In Feb. 2005, the ?low coolant? light went on again and again I added coolant. Two weeks later, the ?low coolant? light went on. This time I took my vehicle to a Chevrolet dealer. I was informed by the service dept. Of this dealer that my car required a new intake manifold gasket. Also, engine coolant might have leaked into my engine, so the oil and transmission fluid required flushing and filters needed to be replaced. The service department informed me that it needed to be done immediately otherwise serious damage could be done to my engine. I had the service done as I thought continuing to operate the vehicle might have posed a serious safety hazard. So the vehicle was repaired and my cost was $1,700. I phoned Chevrolet customer service and was told this repair is considered ?normal maintenance" and I needed to cover the entire price of the repair. Although there was no damage to the engine of the vehicle, neglecting to have the necessary service completed may have resulted in permanent damage like the engine ceasing to work. I think the engine ceasing while in operation might cause a slight safety hazard to myself, passengers in the cabin as well as other vehicles in the vicinity of mine.

- Clifton, NJ, USA

problem #1

Feb 102004

Malibu 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,750 miles
Over heating problems and coolant leaks due to a faulty intake gasket. Dealership wants $660 to repair. This is a known problem and GM needs to do recall. Vehicle info 2002 Chevrolet Malibu V6 engine. This problem left me stranded on the side of a busy hwy

- Willis, TX, USA

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