2020 Chevrolet Malibu Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical System and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

While cars continue to decline in popularity, the 2020 Chevrolet Malibu keeps making waves. The automaker claims that this Chevy car “totally measures up.” However, research shows a glitchy electrical system and poorly-functioning engine.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2019   2021   2022   2023

Problems with the Electrical System

While the Malibu isn’t considered a luxury vehicle, it must still be equipped with a well-running electrical system. This Chevy model falls short of the mark in this department.

Here is one Edmunds review discussing some problems. “The screen is slow, laggy and of poor graphic quality. On top of that, if you go deep into a menu like music on Airplay, pressing the Music app button won’t bring you back to the main Music screen. You have to press, Back, Back, exit etc. Not very safe while driving. Also, you will have to put up with unexplainable control lags while changing songs. I pressed Next song on the steering wheel and it took 10 seconds for the song to change. I drove other cars (Mazda and Nissan) and the controls never lagged.”

The issues go even deeper. Service Bulletin #20NA011 talks about problems with the voice recognition and radio station adjustments within the Malibu. While it might seem like a simple inconvenience to have these systems malfunctioning, it could eventually lead to an accident, especially if the driver becomes distracted by the problems. So, what does the Malibu “measure” up to exactly? From the standpoint of owners, it’s nothing short of a lemon.

2020 Chevrolet Malibu Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Service Brakes
Unknown Or Other
Power Train
Vehicle Speed Control
Fuel/propulsion System
Air Bags
Electronic Stability Control

Engine Problems

The engine in the Malibu isn’t expected to provide as much excitement as a Corvette, but it should run properly. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Here is one NHTSA complaint to read. “Car lost power when passing a truck on the highway, hard start, immediately contacted dealership. They have had the vehicle for going on three weeks tomorrow. They haven’t been able to diagnose the problem. I have contacted GM and the service representative at the resolution center said the dealership was not answering emails and he could not give us any information. The service manager at the dealership said he and the master tech had driven the car and both said that they detected a problem. The service manager said the diagnostic computer showed excess, or unburned fuel in the #2 cylinder. The master tech said he put a bore scope into the #2 cylinder and saw a burned or discolored spot on the piston. The service manager said that a regional engineer had come down from Spokane, WA. And driven the car with another diagnostic computer. They still have not diagnosed the problem, and the dealer says that GM wants us to take the car back and drive it. We feel the car is unsafe and we are refusing to drive it. They are not coming up with a resolution to this safety problem.”

Chevy continues to address engine problems, one of which is illustrated with Service Bulletin #PIP5733. In this communication, we see trouble starting the engine or customers complaining of an extended crank situation. This is unacceptable with any newer vehicle and needs to be addressed, especially if the car wants to ever “measure up.”

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Mahammad A

    I have a 2020 Chevy Malibu 2020 and since getting my emissions my vehicle has done all the things listed, I believe its a sensor problem because when the alarms go off the car acts up but when they go off it goes back to driving normal. This is very scary to deal with. I would like to know what I need to do.

  • Caridad R

    I have a 2020 Malibu and have brake system issues and check engine light on, car has less than 50,000 miles!…I blame the seller for not performing the 5 point inspection as they claim they do! Needed wipers, took back for oil change they claim they did before selling cars and now check engine light is on! You can actually hear ugly noises going on under the hood…

  • So.. A

    I don’t think so, I had Malibu 201, 2019 and now I have the 2022 Malibu premiere… this was not the case in any of them… I wonder when you say I didn’t face this issue in Nissan and Mazda.. all Nissan cars have a very poor screen function….

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