2019 Chevrolet Malibu Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Build quality, electrical system, engine and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

The 2019 Chevrolet Malibu is a sedan that hopes to capture the nostalgia of the brand from years ago. The automaker claims that the Malibu lineup “totally measures up,” but owners disagree. This vehicle struggles with a faulty electrical system, defective engine, malfunctioning powertrain and shoddy structure.

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Problems with the Electrical System

To enjoy the open road, customers need access to high-end tech features and safety equipment. But what happens when the basic electrical system functions don’t even work right?

One owner talks about that in this NHTSA review. “After car is turned off and in Park, the dash light states to ‘Put in Park’ even though the car is in Park, the light won’t go away until the shifter is wiggled back and forth, and sideways way too many times, I am afraid the battery will run down if left like that, with the light still being on.”

Not surprisingly, the automaker is aware of countless electrical system problems. Even Service Bulletin #PIT5195F discusses customers’ concerns about an inaccurate speedometer. For the most part, Chevy tells customers that it is normal for the speedometer to be off slightly. Wonder if the police officer will accept that explanation when an owner gets pulled over for speeding?

Problems with the Engine

The engine of a vehicle can make or break it. Classic Malibus are known for their powerful and potent engines, but this model falls short.

One NHTSA review states, “At 7473 miles, reduced engine power light came on while driving the car. Diagnostic code: P0013. Car was towed 50 miles to a dealer for repair and replacement of exhaust camshaft position actuator. Car was driven 4 times before the reduced engine power light came on again. Mileage under 8000. Diagnostic code P0013. In both cases, the car still ran but it misses and cuts out.”

Again, Chevy isn’t shy about discussing engine problems. Service Bulletin #PIP5598C talks about trouble where the car exhibits a no start or extended cranking situation. It appears this is caused by the exhaust cam reluctor going out of position. This isn’t something that most owners want to deal with and shouldn’t be occurring if the vehicle “totally measures up.” What does it measure up to – a jalopy?

Problems with the Transmission

The powertrain is just as important as the engine; it consists of everything transmitting power from the engine to the wheels, including the transmission.

One NHTSA review discusses further problems. “At 10,000 miles my 2019 Chevrolet Malibu started to sputter and lose power. Taking off at a green light, driving on highways, turning at intersections, or turning against traffic has all become dangerous because the car will not gather enough power to go, leaving my car stuck on roads and in the middle of intersections. We were placed in a rental 2019 Chevrolet Malibu with 11,000 miles that also had power problems and left us stuck in a running car being approached by oncoming traffic. The dealership diagnostic came up as transmission failure, in multiple brand new 2019 Chevrolet Malibus. Me, my family, and hundreds of thousands of motorists are in danger by driving this car, or even being on the road with these cars.”

Again, it’s clear that GM isn’t hiding any of these defects from people. Service Bulletin #19NA200 tells technicians to replace the transmission auxiliary pump to correct trouble with the start/stop system. The Malibu was once considered a muscle car, but now it doesn’t have enough strength to accomplish daily driving requirements.

Problems with the Build Quality

The way a vehicle is built can say a lot about the quality. Looking at the Malibu, it’s clear that Chevy doesn’t take a lot of care building vehicles.

One Edmunds review states, “Bought a 2019 Malibu LT in October of 2019, felt like I got a good deal. got very good MPG 38 on hwy. In February 2020 got to noticing a musty smell & windows would fog up on inside while driving. Opened trunk to find items in trunk had mold on them, carpet was extremely wet. looked where spare tire was only to find 1″ of water in wheel well. took back to dealer, they said they fixed it, it rained a few days later and found more water in trunk. I called dealer where I got car from and worked out a deal to buy a new 2020 Malibu. Went to pick it up, looked in trunk and found water there.  Evidently Chevy has a serious problem with the Malibu.”

Aside from flooding occurring with the Malibu, Service Bulletin #PI0281H discusses how customers have been complaining about underbody component corrosion. Of course, Chevy wants to pawn these defects off as normal characteristics, but no one is buying it. Especially when you can find Malibu models from decades ago without these issues, but not one from just a couple of years ago. They don’t make them like they once did.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Chevrolet pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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7 COMMENTS
  • C J

    Just like Susan E, our 2019 Malibu “surges” they say this is just how the CVT transmission works. Sometimes it jerks so hard it is like a truck with a failing driveshaft U-joint that you step on the gas and bam you get the crap jerked oit of you. Sometimes the car wont start, it had 14 codes showing in the computer but here is the kicker!.. Some of the codes were fairly serious and yet no check engine light! I only knew of the codes causeI have an advanced scan tool and the car wasnt starting and had errors come up in the dash yet they didnt stay and every code showing on the car said (trigger engine illumination light – NO / something like that bit a little different). So they purposely (Im sure) are putting cars out there that used to show and check engine (or ABS, Trans etc) light if there were any codes that jad no corrected themselves or wasnt an issue anymore after a “drive cycle” now unless its certain codes they have many codes set to NOT illuminate any lights to alert you of a problem. Why? That is obvious, so we jeeo driving until our warranty is out and don’t keeo coming back to get the lemons worked on. I say worked on amd not fixed cause they seem to rarely “fix” anything these days. My mother used a lemon law attorney once and she was happy aje did, she got the manufacturer to take the vehicle back, oay the legal fees and pay her all the money she had paid out as car payments. We bought a used vehicle with that money and it has lasted many years.

  • Ali H

    hi everyone i have problem my car malibu 2019 i cant open doors with remote control but all light open when i lock/unlock and also inside car doors not open when i click buttons lock/unlock

  • Danny j

    2019 malabu Chevrolet check engine light won’t stay off and car misses bad and just about dies when at a stop sigh or going slow. I can’t even get my car inspected because of this problem with the check engine light

  • Alicia

    I have a 2019 Malibu I bought it in 2019 no miles wheel started shaking when driving dealership did nothing now engine light keeps coming on p1101 code mass airflow sensor been changed and it won’t go out and keeps coming back on I’m
    Over this car

  • Dan R

    Problem with transmission should be a recall.

  • Randy N

    I bought 2019 Malibu RS and after the fist day driving to work it had a vibration. Took it to the dealership and they force balanced the tires and gave it back to me. I then drive to work and still had a vibration 65 mph and up so I took it back again and they force balanced the tires again. Still having the same issue and a driveability issue do to a bad injector, took it back to them again. Received my car back with the vibration still and was told it was within specks per gm peco scanner. Called gm complaint line and was given a case, again was told today that there’s nothing they can do, it’s within spec’s. Called my case worker twice so far no answer back. Love my car but didn’t want something broken. What’s my next move?

  • Susan E

    I bought a 2019 Chevy Malibu & the transmission failed at around 2,700 miles. There was metal in my transmission fluid & the car made a terrible noise. The dealership replaced the transmission, but I have taken it back 3 times for what I refer to as surging. Sometimes my car just won’t go! The dealership said there is nothing wrong it is just how the transmission works in this car. Scary stuff! Now I have less than 15,000 miles on this car and it won’t recognize it is shifted into park. Tells me to shift my car in park over & over.

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