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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
80,650 miles
Total Complaints:
118 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced intake manifold gasket (58 reports)
  2. not sure (31 reports)
  3. replace gasket (13 reports)
  4. run to the hills and buy an import (6 reports)
  5. submitted my name to class action lawsuit (4 reports)
  6. replaced with non-plastic gasket (3 reports)
2002 Chevrolet Malibu engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Chevrolet Malibu Owner Comments (Page 1 of 6)

problem #118

Jan 072015

Malibu LS 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 162,901 miles


Four years & 45,000 miles later I had to again replace the leaking intake manifold gasket, thermostat, water pump, oil pump drive o-ring, oil (have run Mobil 1 since new and have never had a engine malfunction due to lubrication or any oil leaks) & filter. This is the SECOND repair for this problem & I decided to take my '02 Malibu to the dealer this time & it costs me twice as much. I'll see if my decision pays off by getting A LOT more mileage on this repair. The original intake gasket lasted 117,000 miles.

- Rich T., Chula Vista, CA, US

problem #117

Aug 062015

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 177,000 miles

Ready to drive it off the nearest cliff. Pain in the ass. Replace gaskets, more money on coolant than gas. Been on the side of the road more than on the road. Will never ever buy Chevy again and will alert anyone and everyone that Chevy does not back up their word they are a disgrace. Go to hell Chevy!!

- William T., FRESNO, CA, US

problem #116

Sep 102015

Malibu 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

click to see larger images

leaking coolant, cracked intake manifold gasket leaking coolant, cracked intake manifold gasket

2002 Chevy Malibu 3.1L V-6 engine, base model. From buying the car in August 2014 to September 2015 the car worked fine. I had a transmission flush, new belt, new spark plugs, and a few other things replaced. Not that they were bad, just it was time to be replaced. But one day I noticed the car reached 220 degrees or however high in order for the temp light to come on. I managed to put more coolant in but was worried as to how I had none left. My dad said not to worry too much about it but I was concerned as I put about half a gallon in a week. The odd thing was the oil wasn't really affected much at first, normal level and dark color. But after a few weeks it was way high so we changed it and sure enough it was milky as in the picture. My dad's pretty good with cars, and he uses GMs 3.4L v-6 in his impala, but replacing the intake gasket is such a fined tuned job and neither one of us had time to fix it so I had to spend $750 total after tax for a local dealer to do it, however I made them use a gasket kit I bought to drop the price. I needed it done ASAP because my dad was being an asswipe and wouldn't let me borrow his car, he has a jeep so he could've driven that. Local car shops quoted $600 but couldn't do it til end of week and that wasn't an option so I had the dealer do it. They also did the recall on the electrical system, however all they did was make the key cover bigger, as far as I could tell. All in all, I'm a little pissed at GM for not making this A FACTORY RECALL! If it happens again I'm selling it, that is unless something else goes wrong, trans I'm lookin at you. First car, okay, I guess.

- Aaron K., Rogers, AR, US

problem #115

Oct 282011

Malibu LS 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,748 miles


$600 repair included replacement of the intake manifold gasket, water pump, thermostat, and an oil/filter change. For some reason I've done better than most since this repair took place after 117,000 miles. This car has consistently averaged 30 miles/gal on road trips. Now, three years and 40,000 miles later it looks like the gasket has gone bad again. Not sure what I'm going to do.

Update from Jul 29, 2016: Updating the time & mileage since this last repair is actually FOUR years and 45,000 miles later. Decided to take the '02 Malibu to a Chevrolet dealer instead of an independent. For this item the repair cost was more than double what I paid at the independent. $1,395 to replace lower intake gaskets, thermostat, water pump, coolant, Mobil 1 oil & filter (have never had an engine problem due to lubrication or any oil leaks running synthetic oil for the life of the vehicle). Even with 162,901 miles at this repair I'm hoping to get much more than 45,000 miles before a repeat. New vehicles are expensive. I find it more cost effective to maintain & repair reliable vehicles. So far, I'm 20,000 miles on this repair and all is well.

- Rich T., Chula Vista, CA, US

problem #114

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!

- Lidia C., San Diego, CA, US

problem #113

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.

- Pat J., Springfield, OR, US

problem #112

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.

- Susan H., Evansville, IN, US

problem #111

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!

- floridagirljok, Tulsa, OK, US

problem #110

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

- S P M., Pennington Gap, VA, US

problem #109

Jun 012011

Malibu 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Have been told by several it's the worst motor made!! Autozone stated that they sell more parts for Malibus, even brand new ones, than any other car. Big money pit! Decided to keep car & try to get it fixed considering I had already put thousands into it...Started overheating, leaking antifreeze, & etc. just like other complaints I've read. Couldn't make it to work!! I thought Chevy's were built to last!! lol Can't wait to sell it & go back to a Toyota. Paid $400 recently to have this problem so called fixed & it still has issues overheating.

- rachaelky, Winchester, KY, US

problem #108

Aug 112010

Malibu 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles


I had this car 3.5 years and the coolant has been leaking since the day I got it and my dad could not figure out where the leak was coming from. I had filled the car up with Dexcool two days before and I got about 5 miles from my house and the coolant light came on like it does when the coolant is low. I made my way 3 more miles to a gas station and I got out of my car and the smoke was rolling from the engine. I had to call my dad to meet me and I had to wait for a while for the engine to cool. My dad checked the car and found the car was out of coolant so he brought a bottle and started filling the car up and the coolant was pouring out of the bottom of the car. Dad tried putting seal leak in the car so I could get it to a garage and that didn't work. So he told me to get some water and fill it up and try to drive it. I put water in the car and drove it 3 miles before it was dry again. I put more water in it and drove to my Uncle's garage and had to leave it there. It took my dad 3 days and $300 to fix it.

- trouble41267, Warfield, KY, US

problem #107

Aug 142011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Well let me just say i am not the owner of the malibu but all it took was a 14 hour trip (which should of been around 7.5) home from NYC, to Toronto, Ohio to realize id never own one. We checked the basics of the car like tires and oil prior to our trip, yet failed to look at the coolant. It wasn't until being 6.5 hrs away from home in NJ that the temp. gauge went up and so did the rpm's without gaining speed that we noticed transmission fluid in the coolant. To top it off it was a saturday at 2pm and every mechanics shop either didnt have a tech or they would say "Try this one right down the road, but being a saturday i doubt u'll have any luck". There was one shop that the mechanic mentioned the manifold gasket and then seen the coolant and told us we had a major problem. Let me just say we cranked the heat (in 80+ degree weather) thinking nah maybe its just the thermostat. and continued to NYC. On the way home at 11pm the car again starting losing speed and never gaining unless we were downhill. We stayed for like 4 hours at a service plaza 2.5hrs away from home and decided we were gonna try and make it. At this point i have prayed more than a dedicated nun and it worked! I have no clue how but we managed to get the car home. After seeing the pictures of what could of been i very glad of how fortunate we were. Needless to say i think the cars next trip is the junkyard.

So to end this story i would say if this starts to happen to you I would ditch the car. It is an expensive fix and depending on the year would surely not be worth it. I'm already assuming however its already happened to you if you're on this site, but if it hasn't happened yet please have the sense to either get rid of it or get it look at immediately and often.

- Aaron M., Toronto, OH, US

problem #106

Jun 292006

Malibu V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

I buy as much antifreeze as I do gas! This is a problem that cannot be ignored.

- janetme, Houlton, ME, US

problem #105

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.

- baulwes, Riverside, CA, US

problem #104

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.

- Brandy S., Bloomingdale, NJ, US

problem #103

Jan 022011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,000 miles

I have been having a problem were my coolant fluid is leaking. Though there is no fluid on my driveway. After speaking to a friend about this. He informed me that this has happened with many Chevy Malibu's. I'm unable to fix this problem because I was recently laid off from my work. It does not appear that Chevy has a recall for this even though so many people have complained about this problem. I'm not sure what I'm going to do to fix this.

- marknew jersey, Essex, NJ, US

problem #102

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.

- azel, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

problem #101

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.

- bad car blues, Campbell, OH, US

problem #100

Sep 072010

Malibu 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,530 miles

I take great care of my vehicle and I am the only one that uses it. When I brought in to the mechanic for a regular oil change and tire rotation he noted the leak and said it would cost about $800.00 to repair. Expensive repairs never come at a good time and this is right on-time. I am hoping Chevrolet will bail me out like we did them.

Update from Sep 30, 2010: Had my local wrench replace the gasket and in the process the EGR Valve too. The bill was $733.00. Friends suggested I try stop leak first, but I wanted the peace of mind knowing that the job was done right. work is very slow and I am not in a position to gamble with seizing an engine.

- chef ray, Montague, NJ, US

problem #99

Nov 222006

Malibu LS 3.1L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

Replaced intake manifold gasket at 86k miles. Intake manifold gasket went out a second time at 134k miles. Head gasket was also gone at 134k miles. Water in bottom of engine. Chevy said the motor was trashed and would need to be replaced. Because of emissions, the government will not allow me to change to a different motor. Stuck paying $4000 for the same motor that has been giving me trouble. This will be my last domestic car.

- Jason F., Mebane, NC, US

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