Originally published January 23, 2009, updated December 9, 2015
Update by Justin Pritchard; original article by Chris Chase
Update: Chevrolet Impala, 2006–2013
A popular used-car buy when affordability, size, space, comfort and power are priorities, the last-generation Chevrolet Impala was available for model years 2006 to 2013 inclusive, before being replaced by the current-generation model.
Highly reasonable pricing, standard V6 power, solid reliability and low running costs continue to add appeal to the last-generation Chevrolet Impala as a used car buy. Top line models got heated leather, Bose audio, automatic climate control, Bluetooth and more.
Look for four doors and front-wheel drive on all models, with an automatic transmission as standard. Six or eight-cylinder engines were available, with up to 303 horsepower. A 3.5L V6 generated 211 horsepower, and a 3.9L V6 generated 233.
Here’s a closer look at some common problems and issues identified by the owners community, with some more detailed information that’s emerged in recent years. We’ll also advise some checks that should be considered mandatory ahead of purchasing a used Impala from this generation.
Some owners have reported trouble with the transmission ‘slipping’, perhaps especially when changing from reverse to drive. Ensure that’s not the case with the transmission in the Impala you’re considering. If you detect any signs of slippage or hard shifting, the likely culprit is computer-related and not mechanical in nature, though you’ll want to have a mechanic investigate to be sure. Computer-related problems can typically be fixed on the cheap with new programming and updated software. Mechanical problems with the transmission can be pricier and more involved to fix, especially if they relate to a bad pump or solenoid within the transmission itself. Translation? Any transmission-related funny-business you detect on a test drive warrants further investigation to compare potential repair costs against the value of the model being considered.
Note that having a computer ‘scan’ of the used Impala’s computer systems is highly advised, as it may reveal potential issues with the transmission or other components. A GM technician can complete a full electronic systems scan in a matter of minutes.
The owner’s community has also determined that intermittent assist from the power steering system may be the result of a misaligned harmonic balancer, which is basically a pulley that also drives the power steering pump via a belt. A misaligned harmonic balancer can cause damage to the belt, power steering pump pulley, and negatively affect steering system performance. If issues are detected, this is a relatively easy fix.
On models with the 3.5L engine, be sure to check for oil and coolant leaks, particularly caused by leaky gaskets. A check of numerous posts on owner’s forums shows that this engine may leak from its oil pan gasket, crank seals, crossover coolant pipes and oil filter adapter.
Newer models may feature OnStar navigation capability, even if the vehicle itself isn’t equipped with a navigation system. Confirm this handy system works properly by ensuring there’s an active OnStar subscription and pressing the blue OnStar button. Ask the advisor if they’re able to communicate with your potential used Impala candidate, and if they can ‘see’ it via GPS. If that’s not the case, the system’s GPS module may be in need of replacement. Confirm that the Bluetooth phone system, if equipped, is working properly too, by pairing your phone and making a call.