2021 Chevrolet Malibu Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

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

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

First launched in the U.S. in 1964, the Chevrolet Malibu sedan was the manufacturer’s first midsize car. It was touted as a top choice for families wanting space coupled with efficiency for long commutes. Soon after, it changed its focus, aiming at suburban customers.

Retired in 1983 after its 4th generation, it was relaunched in 1997 as a modern, front-drive sedan. This won it the title of Motor Trend Car of the Year.

By 2012, it was heralded by the manufacturer, General Motors (GM), as the new flagship for Europe.

But the Malibu has had its problems over the years. For whatever reason, it now seems that the end of this once iconic car is in sight. Many reports say the 2023 Malibu will be the last, although a Chevrolet dealership in Miami disagrees. They maintain they’ve seen a new report that states there will be a refresh in 2023 and a new generation in 2025.

Of course, any dealership will focus on the advantages and benefits of any car. They certainly won’t be the first to highlight the problems of any model. So, if your 2021 Malibu has problems, what can you do?

The United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a transparent reporting system that incorporates consumer complaints, and a record of recalls. The NHTSA also has all communications between manufacturers and dealers since 2012 on file. These are documents, including technical reports, that cover faults and malfunction risks that dealers need to know about.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2019   2020   2022   2023

Safety Ratings

The NHTSA also undertakes safety ratings so that consumers can compare vehicle safety when looking for a vehicle to buy.

The frontal crash safety rating for the 2021 Malibu sedan is 5 stars, but the side crash and rollover ratings aren’t as good. Overall side star ratings are 4 out of 5, with the rear front and passenger seat rating only 3 stars each. The rollover star rating, which measures the risk of a car rolling if the driver loses control, is also 4. As a result, it has a rollover risk of 10.30%.

Most Common Problems

So far, there is 1 recall and 4 complaints about the 2021 Malibu. There are also 170 manufacturer communications on file, showing there are more issues t han many consumers know about.

Complaints to the NHTSA about the car are varied. There are currently 4 in all stating that the affected components include the electrical system, seats, structure, tires, visibility/wiper, and unknown or other elements.

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2021 Chevrolet Malibu Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Back Over Prevention: Warnings
Service Brakes

Seat Problems

The seat problem complaint was made after someone was injured in the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu. The issue was that when hard braking while moving, “the vehicle’s seat, both front and rear, unlatch and become free in motion. The front seat unlatches from the base moving the seat forward, and the rear seat unlatches and falls forward opening the trunk from the inside.”

While not mentioned in the complaint, there is also a recall on 402 cars for rear seat belt retractors that aren’t secured properly. If they don’t function correctly in a crash this can result in injury. The question is, what happens if the seat unlatches AND the seat belt malfunctions?

Problems with the Electrical System

The electrical system complaint is from the driver of a rental car. The car was “equipped with an electronic key fob and a starter/turn engine-off button on the dashboard. This particular vehicle could be locked remotely from outside of the vehicle while it continued to run.

“Additionally, it appeared that an occupant of the locked vehicle, who did not have an electronic keyfob in his possession, could not open the doors from the inside. Thus, adults or children could be asphyxiated under certain not-too-hard-to-imagine situations.”

Tire Problems

The tire complaint is from someone who was driving a Malibu with only 2,000 miles on the clock. It was raining, and “while coming out of a complete stop the tires began to spin, not gaining traction on the road.”

There wasn’t a crash or injuries as a result of the incident.

Problems with the Windshield

Categorized as a Structure, Unknown or Other, Visibility/Wiper issue, this complaint is about a windshield crack. The incident happened when the owner was driving through a sandstorm at 45 mph.

“The vehicle windshield cracked nearly a foot.” It started with a small chip the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen and then spread quickly.

“I feel this is a safety hazard – a defect in this windshield – and (it) should be investigated for public safety.”

What to do if your 2021 Chevy Malibu is a lemon? Your Lemon Rights

Cars that have recurring and/or persistent problems that impact their use, safety, and/or value may be categorized as a lemon. So, if you own a 2021 Chevrolet Malibu that you suspect is a lemon, what can you do?

Lemberg Law has an experienced team of lemon lawyers who have negotiated many settlements including buybacks, trade-ins, and replacement vehicles for car owners. All you need to do is contact our Helpline and we’ll evaluate your case. The law makes GM pay lemon law legal fees, so you’ve got nothing to lose.

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

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