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

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.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2017   2018   2019   2020

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Service Brakes
Unknown Or Other

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.

2021 Chevy Malibu 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 with the 2021 Chevy Malibu

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 than 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.

2021 Chevy Malibu 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?

2021 Chevy Malibu Electrical System Problems

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.”

2021 Chevy Malibu 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.

2021 Chevy Malibu Windshield Problems

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.

Complaint Data

CategoryElectrical System, Engine, Service Brakes
DateAug 04, 2022
3 times now, the car has turned off while in gear or in motion. In an arbys drive thru on a hill above a highway. Backing out of a parking spot in va. And pulling through a busy intersection in va. The safety hazard is that you lose power brakes and steering when a vehicle isn't running, one could easily be unable to avoid a wreck. Also the general danger of your vehicle randomly shutting off. No warning lights appear before during or after this happens. The 3 dealerships that have looked into the issue state they are unable to recreate the problems and there's no codes stored in the system so there's nothing they can do. No police or anybody other than the dealerships have inspected the vehicle. These issues began happening less than a week after purchasing the vehicle.
DateOct 20, 2021
the contact owns a 2021 chevrolet malibu equipped with firestone ft140. The contact stated while driving during the rain while coming out of a complete stop the tires began to spin not gaining traction on the road. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was approximately 2,000.
CategoryElectrical System
DateMay 02, 2021
This was a rental car, 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 the vehicle, while it continued to run. Additionally, it appered 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.
DateApr 25, 2021
In the case of a hard brake while in motion, the vehicles seats both front and rear un-latch and become free in motion. The front seats un-latch from the base, moving the seat forward and the rear seats un-latch and fall forward opening the trunk from the inside.
CategoryStructure:body, Unknown Or Other, Visibility/wiper
DateApr 15, 2021
Driving through a sandstorm at 45mph( slow lane and speed sure to visibility) on interstate 10 from rancho mirage to desert hot springs, california, the vehicle windshield cracked nearly a foot. I was charged 0 by enterprise rentals since this was a rental vehicle. A small chip could be seen, size of a ball point pen tip, at beginning of crack. Enterprise has the photos and this was repaired by caliber auto glass in tustin, ca. Rental vehicle unit # 7t1dm2. 2021 chevy malibu with 5,360 miles on odometer at the time. I feel this is a safety hazard, a defect in this windshield and should be investigated for public safety. Enterprise rent a car 32ua 78385 varner rd. Suite d palm desert, ca 92211

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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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