Skip to Content

6 Annoying Chevrolet Malibu Transmission Problems 

6 Annoying Chevrolet Malibu Transmission Problems 

The Chevrolet brand is as American as they come, and we can see that the North American motoring public has trusted the brand enough for Chevrolet to have kept the Malibu nameplate on and off since 1963. Nine generations to date, but how do the various Malibu transmissions stack up over the years? Let’s give you a quick snapshot below.

The Chevrolet Malibu 2018 was recalled due to missing start/stop accumulator end cap bolts. The electronic transmission in the 2016 – 2019 Malibu failed to recognize when the gear selector was in Park. The 2014 Malibu drivers could not engage the correct gear drive due to a broken transmission adjuster cable.

To give you the complete picture, we will share our research which looks at technical service bulletins, NHTSA recalls and owner complaints leveled at Chevrolet. 

Have a look at this informative YouTube video by Transmissions America (John and Eva):

Common Chevrolet Malibu Transmission Problems

Let’s take a deep dive and look at some of the common transmission problems that Chevrolet Malibu have experienced with its eighth and ninth-generation models.

Current Ninth Generation (2016 – present ) 

Production kicked off in 2015 as the 2016 model year, with various transmission and engine options fitted on different models throughout the production years:

  • 9 – Speed GM 9T50 (M3E) – 2017
  • 8 – Speed Aisin AWF8F45 automatic 2.0 Turbo – 2016
  • 6 – Speed GM 6T45 automatic
  • GM Voltec 5ET50 (MKE) (2016–2019) Multi-mode two-motor, electronic continuously-variable automatic transaxle (Hybrid model)
  • GM CVT250 (MRG) CVT (2019)

9 – Speed GM 9T50 Automatic (M3E – 2017)

A recall was issued under NHTSA Campaign Number: 20V668000 in 2018 to address the missing start/stop accumulator end cap bolts. These missing bolts on the transmission were a potential fire hazard if oil leaked out onto any hot part of the vehicle, such as the exhaust.

GM notified owners, and dealers inspected the start-stop transmission accumulator and replaced this if any bolts were missing at no charge to the owners. 

Though a potential 194,105 units were affected by this recall, there have been very few other reported issues regarding this transmission that we have found, which is indeed a good thing.

8-Speed Aisin AWF8F45 Automatic (2.0 Turbo, 2016 only)

No amount of scratching around and research on the internet could reveal any significant problems with this transmission. Fitted only on 2016 2.0L turbo models, it was replaced in 2017 by the nine-speed auto transmission. So if you are an owner of this particular model, that’s one less thing to worry about.

6-Speed GM 6T45 Automatic

The “Shift to Park” function is electronically controlled, and the failure of this feature to recognize when the gear selector is in Park resulted in owners being unable to turn their vehicles off. Complaints were lodged with the NHTSA by frustrated owners of 2016 – 2019 cars fitted with these automatic transmissions. Chevrolet issued Service Bulletin 19NA206 to address the “Shift to Park” problem.  

GM should have resolved this remedy during the factory warranty unless the vehicle mileage excluded this no-charge fix.

On this note, our readers must be made aware that a class-action lawsuit by three different plaintiffs has been filed against General Motors over this commonly reported ‘Shift to Park’ problem of the Chevy Malibu.

Eighth Generation 2013 – 2016

The eighth generation Malibu on offer to the North American market was powered by the standard fitment of a 2.4L inline-four cylinder petrol engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. GM fitted two different transmissions types in the 2012 to 2016 production years:

  • 6 – Speed 6T70 automatic
  • 6 – Speed 6T40 automatic

GM offered an auto stop/start system on non-hybrid vehicles for the first time. This nifty feature was great and contributed toward reducing fuel consumption by switching off the engine when stopped and automatically starting up again when pulling off. 

Not so outstanding, though, when this nifty feature doesn’t work as designed, as noted by the numerous complaints to the NHTSA that cited the auto/stop function was causing vehicles to shut down with driving lights and interior lights all switching off.

6 – Speed 6T70 Automatic

On July 28, 2022, the NHTSA issued ID NUMBER: 11476369 for a complaint received by the owner of a 2015 Malibu that refused to start after stopping and then trying to pull off again.

On April 10, 2014, General Motors recalled the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles equipped with these automatic transmissions. GM recalled the cars under the NHTSA Campaign Number: 14V092000, and the affected transmission cables were replaced. General Motors found that the transmission shift cable adjuster may have disengaged from the transmission shift lever, and owners reported they were unable to engage the correct gear drive selected.

This fault meant these affected vehicles did not meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 102, “Transmission Shift Lever Sequence, Starter Interlock, and Transmission Braking Effect.” They also did not conform to FMVSS number 114, “Theft Protection and Rollaway Prevention.”

6-Speed 6T40 Automatic

Consumer complaints don’t necessarily lead to recalls. Unfortunately, many complaints fall on the manufacturer’s deaf ears, but as a consumer, we have google on our side. We can rely on our investigations and further research on sites such as Vehicle History. Interestingly this site has revealed common complaints of hard downshifting and “thumping” transmission noises in 2013 – 2014 models.

Looking at the Chevrolet Forum site, owners of the 2012 production year models complained of hard shifting between first and second gear, when downshifting and when coming to a stop. During downshifts, the transmission changes are described as harsh and abrupt. Vehicle owners noted these problems on vehicles with less than 2,000 miles on the clock.

The 6T40 auto transmissions are sealed and supposedly ‘maintenance free”; therefore, they do not have a dipstick to check oil levels. Snooping around reveals further online reports of complaints received of hard downshifting and “thumping” noises at a mileage of under 50,000 miles. 

Other complaints were about “rattling” noises from the engine bay. Low transmission fluid levels were found to be the problem in these reports.

Transmission specialists recommend that these vehicles should have an inspection done on the transmission every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. To avoid any possible damage due to suspected low oil levels in the news, a service involving a flush and a refill typically costs between $160-$200 in materials and labor.

  • A further investigation noted a single recall regarding the 2013 model with a transmission-related fault. They were issued on April 24, 2015, NHTSA Campaign Number: 15V245000, with GM notifying owners of the recall. Vehicles were then inspected and repaired at no charge to the owner. 
  • The console gear shift indicator did not illuminate, thus leaving the driver in the dark about which transmission gear the vehicle was in. This fault increased the risk of a crash and possible injury to the driver and passengers.
  • This fault also meant that these vehicles failed to meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 102, “Transmission Shift Position Sequence, Starter Interlock, and Transmission Braking Effect.”

How Long Does A Chevrolet Malibu Transmission Last?

Well, according to the folks at Motor and Wheels, the life expectancy of a well-maintained and cared-for 2012 Malibu is around 150,000 – 200,000 miles.

Generally, the transmissions in these last two generations have not been particularly problematic, as we have learned with no disastrous failures. Recalls were issued, and the owners’ vehicles should by now have been fixed. It is, therefore, not unreasonable to expect the original transmission to live out its days along with the rest of the vehicle.

However, on a side note, the 2010 Malibu experienced transmission failure at around 100,000 miles, so this would be something to look out for.

How Much Does A Chevrolet Malibu Transmission Cost?

With the fitment of varied automatic transmissions over the years, any Malibu owner should submit their vehicle’s VIN number to any repairer when shopping around and requesting transmission repair costs to ensure an accurate quotation. Scouring the internet gave us a sample of repair costs, as set out below:

  • 9 – Speed GM 9T50 Step Motor (start/stop actuator): $262 (Sheng Hai Autoparts)
  • GM Voltec 5ET50: $4,394 – $5,370 (Repair Smith)
  • 6 – speed 6T40 transmission: $2,989 – $3,653 (Repair Smith)
  • 6 – speed 6T70 Automatic: $2,195.00 (SPPrecision)
  • 6 – speed 6T40 automatic: $2,095.00 (SPPrecision)


Have More Questions? Join Our Facebook Group!

Do you have any more questions that weren´t answered in this blog post? Join our free Facebook group and ask your question there. We promise you you´ll get an answer from one of our team members. Join the group here!