2010 Chevrolet Malibu LT Platinum Edition
2010 Chevrolet Malibu LT Platinum Edition. Click image to enlarge

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By Chris Chase; photos by Paul Williams

The redesigned 2008 Chevrolet Malibu was the seventh generation Malibu to use the name, first used in 1964. But of the modern models wearing the now-recognizable nameplate, it was only the third version of what has become a very popular family car.

The Epsilon platform the Malibu was built on was shared with other North American GM products sold in Saab, Saturn and Pontiac showrooms; GM’s dramatic downsizing mean that the Malibu is the last car standing of this group of sedan siblings.

Basic spec at the car’s introduction in 2008 included a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine (169 hp/160 lb.-ft. torque) and a four-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed automatic was an option with the four-cylinder (a late addition to the 2008 line), and a 3.6-litre V6 (252 hp/ 251 lb-ft) was paired exclusively with the six-speed. There was an underwhelming “mild” hybrid model too, that used the four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic, and added an electric motor to the drive-train; its power numbers were 164 hp and 159 lb-ft.

The slow-selling hybrid was discontinued in 2010, and in 2011, the four-speed automatic transmission was dumped.

2010 Chevrolet Malibu LT Platinum Edition
2010 Chevrolet Malibu LT Platinum Edition
2010 Chevrolet Malibu LT Platinum Edition. Click image to enlarge

The Malibu Hybrid had the thriftiest of the three drivetrains, with 2008 Natural Resources Canada ratings of 8.5/6.2 L/100 km (city/highway), though the regular four-cylinder/six-speed automatic model came close at 9.5/6.1 (the four-cylinder, four-speed Malibu wasn’t much worse). With the V6 and its standard six-speed auto, the ratings were 12.2/7.8.

The Malibu shares more than its powertrains and structure with the G6 and Aura; it also inherited the same mechanical flaws as those two cars.

One of the most common problems is with the intermediate steering shaft, a part of the assembly that connects the steering to the front wheels. The main symptom is a grinding and/or clunking sound when the steering wheel is turned. Lubricating the shaft is a temporary solution, while replacing it is the more permanent fix, though some owners posting at SaturnFans.com say they’ve had to have the same part replaced multiple times. Click here, here and here for some recommended reading on the subject (from the Aura forum at SaturnFans.com).

Another pervasive problem is a slight vibration at speeds between 60 and 100 km/h. As far as I can tell, the cause has never been determined, but guesses made by Malibu owners and the mechanics who’ve tried fixing their cars include out-of-round tires and erratic six-speed transmission performance. For details click here, here and here.

Here’s a lengthy discussion about the six-speed automatic transmission’s performance, including rough and erratic shifting. The first post at this link is a very detailed description of the problem.

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