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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
61,304 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.

2011 Chevrolet Malibu drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2011 Chevrolet Malibu Owner Comments (Page 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #23

Jun 162014


  • 31,000 miles


Bought used in November 2013 with 23,000 miles. Car's resistant to acceleration attempts, loses power at varying speeds from 30 mph and up. Vehicle brought in, dealer stated there were no problems. The problem is very intermittent, that is to say it doesn't do it all the time but this has left me in a dangerous spot while changing lanes or pulling out onto a street from a stopped position; I can floor the gas pedal and it sluggishly accelerates. The RPM often races when trying to accelerate at highway speeds after having to slow down for traffic issues. This car does not get close to the quoted fuel mileage that it is supposed to for an lt; my sole reason for purchasing this car.

- Depew, NY, USA

problem #22

Dec 092013


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu. The contact stated while driving approximately 60 mph, the reduce power mode warning message illuminated as the acceleration decreased to 20 mph independently. This failure recurred every 22 miles traveled. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who could not diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The VIN was not available. The approximate failure mileage was 60,000.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #21

Mar 252014

Malibu 4-cyl

  • 317,322 miles
While driving the vehicle on interstate 270 at around 50 to 60 mph, the vehicle transmission down shifted upon breaking with a loud clunking noise. When I went to reaccelerate, the vehicle was unresponsive as though it was stuck in a higher gear and would not down shift to accelerate. This problem has recurred frequently so now when I drive on the highway, I set the cruise control to make sudden acceleration and deceleration unnecessary but the car still clunks out of gear upon exiting the highway.

- Frederick, MD, USA

problem #20

Jul 012013


  • 32,000 miles


I started to experience a vibration in the front end. I took it to the dealer and was told they could find nothing wrong. The problem persisted and then a noise started as well. I took it back to the dealer and the determined that it was a broken axle shaft that they ordered and then replaced. The noise went away but the vibration has persisted. I have taken it to the dealer 5+ times to be looked at and they tell me something different each time. I need tires rotated (did that), need new tires (bought them), need tires balanced (did that), need tires balanced on the rims (did that), and now that the tires must be cold. I explained that the problem persists after being driven over 30 minutes and that the tires should be warmed up by then. I have contacted Chevrolet in regards to this several times and all they want to do to correct the problem is to have me return the car to the dealer to be looked at. Each time I do this, I am left with no vehicle and fending for rides. I am currently commuting nearly 100 miles per day for work until I am able to relocate and cannot be without a vehicle. Chevy refuses to pay for a rental for an error that is clearly related to their product. I am not sure what else to do at this point to correct the problem. I will be filing a complaint with the BBB and anyone else of significance.

- Ada, OH, USA

problem #19

Feb 202014

Malibu 4-cyl

  • 113,305 miles
I'm driving along the highway and all of a sudden my power steering and ESC are lost! the car's monitors alert me but I have trouble controlling the vehicle! I finally get the vehicle to the dealer, they inform me I have to pay $1400 to fix the problem! it's not a wear and tear issue to me. My car isn't 3 years old yet! I later learned many owners have this same issue.

- Milwaukee , WI, USA

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problem #18

Feb 122014


  • 66,000 miles
Car suddenly decelerated and started sputtering. Engine acted like it was going to quit and did not have any power. Would not get over 15mph. Put me in a very dangerous situation in rush hour traffic. I am very lucky no one was killed. Decelerated at a very fast rate. Dealership diagnosed the problem as the throttle body. The throttle body had to be replaced for $675. Was not covered under the 100K powertrain warranty. Chevrolet conveniently stopped covering the throttle body starting in 2011. From looking at other complaints for the 2011 Chevy Malibu this seems to be a very common problem and is clearly a defective or poorly designed part.

- Millington, TN, USA

problem #17

Feb 112014


  • 25,768 miles


Sitting at intersection, foot on brake, waiting for light to turn green, felt sudden power surge, thought someone hit me from behind, lights on dashboard read: Reduced engine power, service ESC, service engine icom appeared. Light turned green, had to cross 5 lanes of state highway. Car would barely move, light turned red, pulled to side of road as best I could account 5 ft snow piles alongside road. Minus 6 degrees out. Shut car off for approx. 5 min. Started car and could drive it to first parking lot about 3/4 mile. Had car towed to Chevrolet dealer, was told it was a defective throttle position sensor. Throttle body assembly replaced under warranty. Service technician told me he's had alot of these failures and it's due to extensive cold weather. I feel Chevrolet should order a recall and take care of these vehicle problems before someone gets injured or killed. Car just ended warranty period this week, other owners should not have to pay for this repair cost if their car is no longer under warranty.

- Elkhart, IN, USA

problem #16

Feb 052014


  • 93,541 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu. The contact stated that while driving 60 mph, the check engine and engine power reduced warning lights illuminated as the vehicle began shaking and decelerating independently. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer for diagnosis or repair. The manufacturer was made aware of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 93,541.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #15

Jan 232014


  • 42,000 miles
My wife was driving our 2011 Chevy Malibu with 42,000 miles on snow-covered roads. All of a sudden, warning lights lit up, including "service ESC", "engine power reduce" and the car began in jolt. This caused her to swerve into the other lane and just missed getting broadsided by a semi truck. We let the car sit for a couple of hours in a parking lot. We then took the vehicle to the dealership, who indicated it was the throttle body and that it wasn't a covered part under GM's powertrain warranty. We proceeded to talk to GM's customer service. Both individuals that we spoke with us told us that it is a covered part. The issue was escalated to a tier 2 rep who spoke directly to the dealer and the dealer continues to maintain that in their communication with GM, that it is not covered. We are so frustrated. We are 2 months from turning our vehicle in and were considering another GM lease, but I'm pretty sure we will be going with another manufacturer, since GM has opted to take this position. The dealer has offered to split the cost of the repair with us, but to me, this issue was not caused by the driver. This is a defective part. It should either be covered under warranty, a recall should be issued or some other type of resolve. This car now sits in our garage and acts this way when we start it.

- Swartz Creek, MI, USA

problem #14

Jan 142014

Malibu 4-cyl

  • 30,300 miles
I was at a stop trying to make a left turn across traffic at 7pm. When I had a chance to go my car would not go forward. It would only rev. I threw it in park then to drive...nothing. Tried manual. Nothing. Reverse was all that worked. Thankfully I was able to reverse out of intersection. Had wrecker take to the dealership. Friday night they tell me car is ready that the chip in transmission went out. Go Saturday to get it and when I turned car on it read "service air bag". they tried to clear code but failed. Said that there was a true problem and would look at it Monday the 20th. Just got a call saying the air bag chip shorted out and generally all in all is a $700 fix. They allegedly spoke to GM who said just charge $100 deductible. Due to some issues I had with dealership they said they would only charge me $50 and they would cover the rest. I do not have my car back yet as they are working on it still. Glad I still had powertrain warranty so right now the only out of pocket cost with this whole ordeal will be the $50. However I feel I nor anyone else should have to pay since I was told this is a "known &common" issue.

- Benbrook, TX, USA

problem #13

Nov 052013

Malibu 4-cyl

  • 78,989 miles


I was driving on the highway and out of no where the check engine light came on. My car than started to jerk like it was running out of oxygen, the car felt like it didn't want to shift in gear.. took to have check and come to find out its the (tcm) transmission control module which isn't covered under warranty for and extra two thousand dollars from santander consumer and bronx Suzuki/victory in bronx, NY. I have been ripped off in a car payment that's more than the car is worth.

- Yonkers, NY, USA

problem #12

Sep 022013


  • 6,000 miles
I purchased this Malibu in March 2011, new. I currently have less than 26K miles on the car. The car has been at the dealer multiple times for the same issue. While accelerating (usually) between 25 and 35 mph the car seems to lose its ability to shift gears and the tachometer will go to 4000 plus with no acceleration. Its as if the transmission was shifted to neutral and pressing on the gas pedal. This first started happening in the first year of ownership (exact mileage noted above may not be totally accurate) and the car was brought to keyes Chevrolet, where purchased. They said they noticed the defect and apparently did an overhaul (?) on the transmission and kept the car for several days. My guess is they had no problem with doing an initial repair as they would be reimbursed by GM ($1500?). new or similar repairs or issues may be more difficult for reimbursement, as GM will say they fixed it already and paid once!!!!! I try and maintain a log in the car of the transmission issues. Probably have at least 25 times noted and logged in 2013. It should be noted that there were probably numerous times that were not logged because of timing or location or just tired of logging issues on a new car. The car was returned to dealership again for making engine noises when starting up, at least twice. One time I did not do a repair order as they did not hear the noise and looked / listened to the car. The noise has gotten louder and the shifting issue happens more regularly. I try to maintain a record of the date, time and mileage. Will see if they can duplicate the noises and shifting issues, when I bring it in soon, again. The car has recently started chugging along when driving in reverse, a new issue.

- Granada Hills, CA, USA

problem #11

Jul 212013

Malibu 4-cyl

  • 56,716 miles
Car slips 1st to 2nd (RPM buzzes up) this occurs when car has been driven for 30 miles or more and when it is above 85 degrees. It also hesitates 2nd to 3rd when cold. I was almost hit in the rear twice when the car slipped between 1st to 2nd. Took car to the dealership and they said nothing they could do as it did not show anything on the computer. Note that since they looked at the car on 7/26/13 the transmission continues to slip between 1st to 2nd gear. Note that the dealership test drove in the morning when it was still cool outside and did not drive it but a few miles. I was charged for checking the transmission $84.53. Car was first taken to another dealership on 11/23/12 as the transmission was slipping between 1st, 2nd, 3rd gears (44,000 miles on car). Computer showed no issues, car was one quart low in transmission fluid. Charge was $49.69. First I don't understand the difference in price as the dealership 11/23/12 did more and charged less. Second the car continues to hesitate when shifting between gears "everyday" I drive it (in the afternoon when it is warm). I am scared to drive the car due to almost being hit. Plus I am having to pay for this when it is still under warranty.

- Williamsburg, VA, USA

problem #10

Mar 082012


  • 28,000 miles
I purchased my car in Feb. Of 2012 as of today my car has been in the shop 10 different times for the same thing. The steering vibrates when you drive and it loses power when shifting. Then, I had to get a new motor in the car May 2013, then it was rattling again so I took it up there. They told me that the transmission problem was that it needed a program upgrade and that I had to pay out of pocket $60.70 for this upgrade. Two days later the whole car shuts down on me and they are now saying that it is an app module and it needs to be re-programmed. I am tired of paying all this tow bills and fees for a car that does not run and it not safe for my kids to ride in.

- Valmeyer, IL, USA

problem #9

Nov 012012


  • miles
I've owned the car for 18 months. November 2012, I reported to my GM dealer of loss of power when driving. Car's resistant to acceleration attempts, loses power at varying speeds from 30 mph and up. Vehicle brought in, dealer stated there were no problems. December 2012, while driving at approximately 30mph, car engine stopped running, car came to stop on active train tracks with children in car, no power steering, not able to shift into drive, neutral or reverse, park. Once ignition was turned off, vehicle would not start. Towed vehicle in for service, was told transmission needed to be replaced due to a bad solenoid. Vehicle still having problems two months after. January 2013 brought vehicle in for same issue, losing power, no acceleration, RPM's would rev and then rapidly drop while driving without foot on gas pedal. Was told by dealer nothing is wrong with car. February 2013, change oil light was one for three months, even after having oil changed. Brought to dealer to have reset. May 2013, vehicle still losing power, RPM's revving and rapidly dropping, dash lights randomly dimming without touching dimmer knob, driver's door will not open from inside and will not lock/unlock despite multiple methods, once open door will not latch to close and door bounces open again, auto start lags at time and randomly doesn't work. I have an appointment to bring vehicle in for service next Monday, not optimistic as the dealer keeps telling me there's nothing wrong with the car and they are unable to replicate, they state they are not aware of any other known issues on this vehicle, despite there being many many tsb's online for the same issues I've been experiencing. I haven't owned the car for even two years, traded in a beautiful new camaro for it to Transport my children in a safe car, yet this vehicle has been nothing but problems and headaches.

- Randolph, MA, USA

problem #8

Feb 032013

Malibu 4-cyl

  • 39,000 miles
Drove into gas station and stopped, turned off car, filled with gas. Upon starting car and putting car in drive the vehicle refused to shift into drive. Had to drive car approximately 3 blocks in reverse to get car in front of my house.

- Valley Stream, NY, USA

problem #7

Aug 042012

Malibu 4-cyl Diesel

  • 12,000 miles
Backed out of driveway and drove to the end of street and vehicle was sluggish to move into gear by the end of the street which is roughly 4 house down from driveway I backed out of it would no longer go forward so I had to back up all the way to my driveway and cal dealership to tow in. Monday morning dealer service dept said it was diagnosed as a sensor in transmission and it was ordered and car was back to me within two days. I am worried this will be a continuing problem as I had a similar situation with previous 2009 Ford Taurus X that just kept happening with and nothing was done to resolve the situation. When you buy a new car you do not expect these issues. But, more importantly, I do not want this to occur when I am driving on a highway since this happens with no warning.

- Granite City , IL, USA

problem #6

Jun 152010

Malibu 4-cyl

  • 2,000 miles
I purchased this vehicle in March 2010 from mangino Chevrolet. It has had a problem with (I believe) the transmission from the very beginning. The problem is very intermittent, that is to say it doesn't do it all the time and appears to do it very regularly if the vehicle has been on the road for several hours or it is hot(over 85 degrees) out. It is always the same though; it begins by not shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear smoothly. What it does is it takes several seconds to get to 3rd gear. It is almost like it goes into neutral for seconds before it slams into 3rd gear. This has left me in a dangerous spot while changing lanes on several occasions. Once the problem begins, it then will buck and clunk when it is shifting. I have brought the car in to the dealer several times & even called onstar while the problem was occurring (at the dealer's recommendation). I am currently vacationing in myrtle beach SC & was without my car for 2 days while the local dealer (jud kuhn Chevrolet) tried to diagnose this problem. What has happened to date is no parts were changed & all I get is the same story that there is no "code" showing up & they can't replicate the problem. What I would like to see is for the dealer to fix the problem. If that involves swapping out parts (transmission, torque converter, drive module etc) until the problem goes away. I have also noticed (searched online) other people are having similar problems with this vehicle. It is unacceptable that the dealer can't repair this without the computer telling him how. I otherwise am very pleased with my vehicle. Please help me to resolve this problem. I have been a loyal GM customer for over 30 years.

- Whitesboro, NY, USA

problem #5

May 272012

Malibu 4-cyl

  • 23,000 miles
Sunday, May 27th 3pm cst driving in southwest Missouri, the transmission hesitated shifting to a higher gear. I pulled over and parked on a back road, turned the car off and back on. When I shifted into reverse, the transmission did not shift, pressing the gas had no effect. I shifted the car into D, the car lurched forward but moved " increasing speed it shifted to 2nd roughly and then into 3rd with hesitation ? it would not shift into a higher gear from there. I did not note a check engine light at that time. Because there was no cell phone signal I drove to the nearest relative"S house in Oklahoma. While driving I shifted into neutral and back to drive, the transmission hesitated and took a good 15-20 seconds to engage in 3rd gear. The check engine light was on but the display did not indicate what the issue was. Shifting to manual, the display did not indicate the car was in manual (should have read M3). Shifting back to drive had no result. The car maintained speed in 3rd gear. So I drove in 3rd gear with my hazards on, North on 43, through seneca (no Chevy dealer), to my aunts house in Oklahoma. I contacted GM roadside assistance 800-chevusa and had the car towed. The car now sits at a dealer in joplin mo awaiting "diagnosis" and the GM customer service people will not authorize a rental car until a "diagnosis" has been done. 1st business day for dealer is Tuesday, May 29th and they state they have a back log of diagnosis and can not get to it until weds or Thursday. It has been a real catch-22 getting support since the dealer is too backlogged to diagnose I am renting a car on my own dime, plus live 3 hours from joplin! note that over the past year the car occasionally had automatic gear shift delays that were not consistent and were tolerable because the transmission recovered.

- Raymore, MO, USA

problem #4

Mar 072012

Malibu 4-cyl

  • 32,579 miles
While pulling into a parking lot, the car suddenly stopped going forward. When I pressed the accelerator, the engine would rev like the car was in neutral, but it would not go forward. I put the car in park and turned the car off. Started the car and put it back into drive, but the same thing happened. The only thing I was able to do was go in reverse. I had to drive in reverse down the street to another drive entrance and back in and park. The car had to be towed to the dealership. The transmission was replaced.

- Red Rock, TX, USA

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