How Long Do Chevrolet Malibu Last? (11 Important Facts)

The first Chevrolet Malibu debuted in 1964 and to this day it’s still a very popular family car.

It boasts a handsome design and most models are equipped with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look a the average lifespan of a Malibu.

Here is the short answer to how long the Chevrolet Malibu lasts:

The Chevrolet Malibu has a service life of 200,000 – 250,000 miles on average providing it’s properly maintained. If you drive 15,000 miles per year, you can expect the Chevrolet Malibu to last 13 – 17 years before requiring uneconomical repairs or breaking down.

How Many Miles Can You Expect from a Chevrolet Malibu?

Chevy’s aren’t known to be as reliable as some of their Japanese competitors although there’s no questioning the Malibu’s ability to go the distance.

On used car websites such as Car Gurus and Autotrader, there’s no shortage of high mileage examples – some have even surpassed 250,000 miles, although there’s no guarantee any vehicle will last this long.

On owner forums such as ChevyMalibuForum, you can find further proof of this car’s resilience, one owner had this to say:

“With proper care, it is not unreasonable to expect 200,000 on a Malibu. The last 3 I traded had 150,000+ and one was over 215,000 miles.”

Once you’ve clocked mileages in the region of 200k, the car will most likely have incurred some degree of rust, wear and tear, and its reliability won’t be what it once was despite repairs – at this point in the cars life, a big repair bill will outweigh the value of the vehicle.

Ultimately how long your Malibu will last comes down to:

  • How well it’s maintained: Routine maintenance and servicing is critical for keeping the car in good working order
  • Style of driving: If you’re an overly aggressive driver you can expect reduced longevity.
  • Climate: Harsh winter weather will cause parts to deteriote and corrode faster
  • Luck: Some cars just seem to fare better than others

The Malibu is covered by a 3 year / 36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5 year / 60,000-mile powertrain warranty, this is a guarantee that your car will run as you would expect for your first few years of ownership.

In summary, a well-kept Malibu should last around 200,000 – 250,000 miles but this is entirely dependent on ownership habits.

Do Chevrolet Malibu Rust Easily?

The Chevy Malibu is not the most rust resilient car on the market, as an economically priced car this is to be somewhat expected and there have been some reports of rusting. A common area for rust is on the side skirt near the wheels.

Keep in mind there’s no escaping rust completely unless you live in a dry state like Arizona, although paint fading will be more common.

We dived into the Malibu owner’s forums and there are reports of owners experiencing some degree of rust after 3-5 years of use, which is fairly normal.

Depending on where you live this number can vary – for example, those that live by the ocean will be affected by salty sea air and those that live in states whose roads are heavily salted during the winter will also be more at risk.

Salt can wreak havoc on metal components, hence why regular washes are so important.

Common rust spots on the Chevy Malibu include:

  • The bottom of the doors
  • Sideskirts
  • Undercarriage
  • Exhaust pipe

4 Tips to protect your Malibu from rust:

  1. Keep it clean: Wash your car Malibu regualrly including its underside, especially after exposre to mud, dirt and snow as these can all fuel rust.
  2. Watch out for scratches: If you have any nicks, dings or scratches on your paintwork get it looked at asap before rust sets in.
  3. Storage: Store your Malibu in a garage will help protect it from harsh weather conditions and keep it nice and dry.
  4. Rustproof: Some owners in cold weather states highly advise rustproofing, this adds an extra layer of protection and can help keep rust at bay. Alternatively some owners advise a coat of Fluid Film.

What is High Mileage for a Chevrolet Malibu?

A Chevy Malibu with over 100,000 miles is considered high mileage. Although these cars can last much longer, it will have incurred some degree of rust, wear and tear and will typically need repairs and replacement parts sooner rather than later at this stage in its life.

When assessing a used car, mileage can give some indication of its value although it only gives one piece of the puzzle.

A well-looked after Malibu with over 100,000 miles is certainly a better purchase than one with half the mileage that’s been badly neglected.

If you’re looking at buying a used Malibu you should also consider:

  1. Service history: Can the seller provide records and documents that they have followed the maintenance schedule outlined by the manufacturer?
  2. Number of previous owners: As a general rule, fewer owners is always best. A car that’s been passed around many times will most likely have had a tougher life than one that had one owner and was fully serviced.
  3. Investment: If you’re looking at the car as something you want to keep long-term, it’s worth considering paying a bit extra for something more reliable.
  4. Rust: Rust is a problem that will spread, give the car a good inspection, this includes the underside too.
  5. Interior: The car’s interior can tell you a lot about how the owner has looked after their car. Be careful though, if some ites look suspiciously new, the owner may have just bought replacements for the sale.

How Long Does the Chevrolet Malibu Last Compared to Similar Cars?

In this section, we’ll compare the Malibu against its competitors.

Chevrolet Malibu vs. Hyundai Elantra

The Hyundai Elantra is a compact car known that has recently won the North American Car of the Year award.

The Hyundai Elantra can last 200,000 – 250,000 miles or 13 – 17 years, equal to what is expected of the Chevrolet Malibu. 

Chevrolet MalibuHyundai Elantra
RepairPal Reliability Rating4.0/5.04.5/5.0
RepairPal Reliability Ranking 9th / 24
Midsize Cars
8th / 36
Compact Cars
Average Annual Repair Cost $532$452
Kelley Blue Book Reliability Score4.0/5.04.0/5.0
JD Power Quality & Reliability Score84/10080/100

The Elantra is the smaller of the two cars which inherently makes it easier to handle although there’s less space for passengers and cargo.

It is also notably more fuel-efficient and comes with a 5-year basic warranty which is almost double that of the Malibu.

Read more: How Long Do Hyundai Elantra Last? (11 Important Facts)

Chevrolet Malibu vs. Nissan Altima

The Nissan Altima is a capable mid-size sedan that is noted for its sleek styling, comfortable cabin, and surprising athleticism.

The Nissan Altima can last 250,000 – 300,000 miles or 17 –  20 years, greater than what is expected of the Chevrolet Malibu.

Chevrolet MalibuNissan Altima
RepairPal Reliability Rating4.0/5.04.0/5.0 
RepairPal Reliability Ranking 9th / 24
Midsize Cars
11th / 24
Midsize Cars
Average Annual Repair Cost $532$483
Kelley Blue Book Reliability Score4.0/5.04.2/5.0
JD Power Quality & Reliability Score84/10082/100

Nissan’s tend to last longer than Chevy’s generally speaking, although both of these cars are built to last.

The Altima has the option of AWD which for some people will be a must-have if they live in snow-prone regions.

In terms of fuel economy, these cars are about the same.

Related: How Long Do Nissan Altima Last? (Solved and Explained)

Chevrolet Malibu vs. Chevrolet Cruze

The Malibu is the Cruze’s bigger sibling,

The Chevrolet Cruze can last 200,000 – 250,000 miles or 13 – 17 years, equal to what is expected of the Chevrolet Malibu. 

Chevrolet MalibuChevrolet Cruze
RepairPal Reliability Rating4.0/5.04.0/5.0 
RepairPal Reliability Ranking 9th / 24
Midsize Cars
26th / 36
Compact Cars
Average Annual Repair Cost $532$545
Kelley Blue Book Reliability Score4.0/5.04.0/5.0
JD Power Quality & Reliability Score84/10083/100

The Malibu is the bigger car, with nearly 20 additional inches in both length and height.

The Malibu also has 15.8 cubic feet in trunk volume, compared to a smaller capacity of 14.8 cubic feet in the Cruze.

Read more: How Long Do Chevy Cruze Last?

Comparison Chart

Chevrolet MalibuHyundai ElantraNissan AltimaChevrolet Cruze
Annual Repair Cost$532$452$483$545
Reliability Rating4.0/5.04.5/5.04.0/5.04.0/5.0
KBB Consumer Rating4.0/5.04.0/5.04.2/5.04.0/5
J.D. Power Rating84/10080/10082/10083/100
Lifespan (miles)200k – 250k200k – 250k250k – 300k200k – 250k

Is the Chevrolet Malibu Reliable?

The Chevrolet Malibu isn’t the most reliable car in the segment however it has received good reliability ratings from major auto review sites. In recent years the Malibu has had far fewer reported complaints which indicates that newer models are less problematic.

Like any car that’s been around a while, the Malibu has had some problems over the years, most notably with its power steering.

Steering problems have plagued Malibu models for almost a decade from 2004 onwards.

Owners have reported that the power steering suddenly turns off when driving which is accompanied by a warning on the dash – as you can imagine this is very dangerous.

Despite its steering issues, the Malibu has received respectable reliability scores from consumers and auto journalists:

  • Kelley Blue Book’s consumer rating index gave the Chevrolet Malibu a reliability rating of 4.0/5.0.
  • J.D. Power provided the Chevrolet Malibu with an average reliability rating of 84/100.
  • Repair Pal ranks the Malibu 9th / 24 for midsize cars with a reliability score of 4.0/5.0.

Keep in mind the reliability of your Malibu will also depend on maintenance and practicing good ownership habits.

Reliability Compared to Other Midsize Cars

ModelReliability 
Honda Accord4.5 / 5.0
Mitsubishi Galant4.5 / 5.0
Toyota Camry4.0 / 5.0
Toyota Prius V4.0 / 5.0
Hyundai Sonata4.0 / 5.0
Mazda64.0 / 5.0
Chevrolet Malibu Limited4.0 / 5.0
Kia Optima4.0 / 5.0
Chevrolet Malibu4.0 / 5.0
Toyota Prius4.0 / 5.0
Nissan Altima4.0 / 5.0
Chrysler 2004.0 / 5.0
Buick Regal4.0 / 5.0
Honda Crosstour4.0 / 5.0
Buick LaCrosse4.0 / 5.0
Subaru Legacy4.0 / 5.0
Volkswagen Passat4.0 / 5.0
Ford Fusion4.0 / 5.0
Dodge Challenger3.5 / 5.0
Ford Mustang3.5 / 5.0
Chevrolet Camaro3.5 / 5.0
Honda Accord Crosstour3.5 / 5.0
Chevrolet Corvette3.0 / 5.0
Volkswagen CC2.5 / 5.0
Avg. Midsize Car4.0

The Best and Worst Years for the Chevrolet Malibu

We’ve done some digging to find the best and worst model years for the Chevrolet Malibu.

Worst Model Year

The worst model years for the Chevrolet Malibu are 2009 and 2010 based on the severity of the issues faced. The 2009 and 2010 models had a high rate of transmission failure and power steering issues. 

According to Car Complaints, the transmission on 2009 and 2010 Chevrolet Malibu models typically failed in the region of 100,000 miles and cost around $3,200 to rectify – the solution was to replace the transmission entirely. 

These same model years were also notorious for power steering problems, one owner had this to say:

“When I accelerate to get onto the freeway and push on the gas the check light with the tool will come on and I am unable to steer my car and the steering locks. It isn’t until I ease up off the gas pedal does it stop. This has almost caused an accident as I was unable to control my car.”

Reports like these are all too common for Malibus from 2004 – 2013, although they are staggeringly high for 2009 and 2010 models.

Judging by the number of complaints models from 2004 – 2013 have received, these years are probably best avoided entirely.

Best Model Year

The best model years for the Chevrolet Malibu are from 2019 onwards. These models have received significantly fewer complaints and it would appear they do not suffer from the infamous power steering issues.

The Malibu like any car gets refined over time, and based on consumer feedback it would seem as though Chevy has finally got their act together and managed to iron out the faults pertaining to the steering.

The latest Malibu models will also have the most up-to-date tech and safety features.

Models from 2021 onwards will have Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

Model Year and Number of Complaints

Here is the total number of complaints and problems for every Chevrolet Malibu model year from the CarComplaints and Car Problem Zoo databases:

Model YearCar Complaints
No. of Complaints
Car Problem Zoo
No. of Problems
202105
2020241
2019160
201816574
201743720
2016901,009
201539285
201479421
20131871,170
2012901,278
20111491,347
20101901,968
20092082,061
20081881,354
20071221,238
2006NA1,640
2005NA1,712
2004NA1,955
2003NA692
2002NA652
2001NA809
2000NA1,003
1999NA807
1998NA1,002
1997NA461

What About Recalls for These Models?

The Chevrolet Malibu has had a total of 64 recall campaigns since 1997.

You can check if your Chevrolet Malibu has been subjected to a recall campaign by entering your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on Chevrolet’s recall webpage.

Total number of recall campaigns for every model year of the Chevrolet Malibu:

  • 2021 Chevrolet Malibu: 1
  • 2020 Chevrolet Malibu: 1
  • 2019 Chevrolet Malibu: 1
  • 2018 Chevrolet Malibu: 6
  • 2017 Chevrolet Malibu: 3
  • 2016 Chevrolet Malibu: 9
  • 2015 Chevrolet Malibu: 3
  • 2014 Chevrolet Malibu: 6
  • 2013 Chevrolet Malibu: 8
  • 2012 Chevrolet Malibu: 3
  • 2011 Chevrolet Malibu: 3
  • 2010 Chevrolet Malibu: 3
  • 2009 Chevrolet Malibu: 5
  • 2008 Chevrolet Malibu: 3
  • 2007 Chevrolet Malibu: 1
  • 2006 Chevrolet Malibu: 0 
  • 2005 Chevrolet Malibu: 2
  • 2004 Chevrolet Malibu: 0 
  • 2003 Chevrolet Malibu: 1
  • 2002 Chevrolet Malibu: 2
  • 2001 Chevrolet Malibu: 1
  • 2000 Chevrolet Malibu: 2
  • 1999 Chevrolet Malibu: 0
  • 1998 Chevrolet Malibu: 0
  • 1997 Chevrolet Malibu: 0

Chevrolet Malibu Model Year List

First Generation (1964-1967)

  • 1964 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1965 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1966 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1967 Chevrolet Malibu

Second Generation (1968-1972)

  • 1968 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1969 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1970 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1971 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1972 Chevrolet Malibu

Third Generation (1973-1977)

  • 1973 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1974 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1975 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1976 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1977 Chevrolet Malibu

Fourth Generation (1978-1996)

  • 1978 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1979 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1980 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1981 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1982 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1983 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1984 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1985 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1986 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1987 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1988 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1989 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1990 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1991 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1992 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1993 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1994 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1995 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1996 Chevrolet Malibu

Fifth Generation (1996-2003)

  • 1996 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1997 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1998 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1999 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2000 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2001 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2002 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2003 Chevrolet Malibu

Sixth Generation (2004-2007)

  • 2004 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2005 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2006 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2007 Chevrolet Malibu

Seventh Generation (2008-2012)

  • 2008 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2009 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2010 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2011 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2012 Chevrolet Malibu

Eighth Generation (2013-2015)

  • 2013 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2014 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2015 Chevrolet Malibu

Ninth Generation (2016-Present)

  • 2016 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2017 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2018 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2019 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2020 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2021 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2022 Chevrolet Malibu

Are Chevrolet Malibu Expensive to Maintain?

The Chevrolet Malibu will cost an average of $532 per year in repairs and maintenance. This is lower than the average of $526 for midsize cars and the average for all vehicles in different segments, which is estimated at $652.

ModelAvg. Annual 
Repair Cost
Frequency of
Unscheduled Repairs
(per year)
Probability of
Severe Repairs
Honda Accord$4000.39%
Mitsubishi Galant$4480.110%
Toyota Camry$3880.311%
Toyota Prius V$4370.59%
Hyundai Sonata$4580.311%
Mazda6$4810.49%
Chevrolet Malibu Limited$4480.212%
Kia Optima$4710.212%
Chevrolet Malibu$5320.311%
Toyota Prius$4080.511%
Nissan Altima$4830.312%
Chrysler 200$5490.312%
Buick Regal$5630.212%
Honda Crosstour$5200.79%
Buick LaCrosse$5690.312%
Subaru Legacy$5630.312%
Volkswagen Passat$6390.59%
Ford Fusion$5810.312%
Dodge Challenger$6500.214%
Ford Mustang$7090.214%
Chevrolet Camaro$5850.217%
Honda Accord Crosstour$4930.813%
Chevrolet Corvette$7370.322%
Volkswagen CC$8801.412%
Avg. Midsize Car$5260.312%

Read more: Chevrolet Malibu Tune-Up & Maintenance Costs (Complete Guide)

How Long Do Chevy Malibu Brakes Last?

Chevrolet Malibu brake pads will typically last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles or 2 – 4 years.

The longevity of a car’s brake pads is dependent mostly on how the car is driven and the type of traffic it is driven in.

Stop-and-go rush hour traffic will cause pads to wear out faster, as will being overly harsh with the brake pedal.

How Long Do Chevy Malibu Tires Last?

The Chevrolet Malibu tires should last 50,000 to 60,000 miles or 3 to 5 years.

Tires may wear out much sooner and it really depends a lot on climate, road conditions and style of driving.

To get the most life out of your tires ensure they are at the correct pressure and have them rotated every 5,000 miles.

How Long Do Chevrolet Malibu Engines Last?

The Chevrolet Malibu engine should last 200,000 miles which equates to 13 years of normal use.

To get the most life from your Malibu’s engine follow the service schedule outline in the owner’s manual.

How Long Do Chevrolet Malibu Batteries Last?

The Chevrolet Malibu battery should last between 3 – 5 years. A vehicle’s battery life varies depending on many factors such as climate, driving habits, and battery type, among many others.

  1. Keep your battery tightly fastened: The vibrations of your car can loosen the connections, potentially resulting in short circuits and internal damage.
  2. Limit short rides: Quick car rides prevent the battery from fully charging.
  3. Storage: Keep your Chevrolet Malibu stored indoors to protect it from extreme temperature changes.
  4. Control Corrosion: Clean the terminals (toothbrush dipped in baking soda and water mixture) and keep them free from build-up.

How Long Do Chevy Malibu Spark Plugs Last?

Chevrolet Malibu spark plugs should last 100,000 miles.

Signs of a fouled spark plug include:

  • Reduced gas mileage
  • Lack of acceleration
  • Rough idling
  • Hard starts
  • Engine misfires

What About Insurance Costs?

The average cost of full comprehensive coverage for a Chevrolet Malibu is $1,412 per year or around $118 per month. 

Insurance costs can vary from person to person; be sure to shop around to find the best potential deal for your Chevrolet Malibu.

Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Chevrolet Malibu

  1. Keep the car clean, both inside and out.
  2. Regularly check fluid levels and tire pressures
  3. Adopt smooth driving habits
  4. Have the car serviced per the factory recommended intervals
  5. Have problems fixed as soon as they arise so they don’t become bigger problems

Resources

  1. https://blog.protectmycar.com/at-what-point-is-a-car-considered-high-mileage 
  2. https://repairpal.com/reliability/chevrolet/malibu
  3. https://www.kbb.com/chevrolet/malibu/ 
  4. https://www.jdpower.com/cars/2021/chevrolet/malibu 
  5. https://www.consumerreports.org/cars/chevrolet/malibu/ 
  6. https://www.carcomplaints.com/Chevrolet/Malibu/
  7. https://www.carproblemzoo.com/chevrolet/malibu/ 
  8. https://www.cars.com/research/chevrolet-malibu-2021/recalls/ 
  9. https://insuraviz.com/vehicles/chevrolet/chevrolet-malibu-insurance/