Why Won’t My Chevy Malibu Start?

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What began as a trim for the Chevy Chevelle quickly became its lineup, forming the Chevy Malibu, which started in 1964.

The lineup would only run till 1983 before halting production. The car would then resurface in 1997 and has been around since.

You may be wondering why the Chevy Malibu had to halt production.

While the car was slowly phased out and replaced with the Chevy Celebrity due to its popularity, it was also due to its issues.

These issues were so severe that you would have to ask,” Why won’t my Chevy Malibu start?”.

The main issues that you could find in this lineup were as follows:

  1. Alternator Issues
  2. Dead Battery
  3. Leaky Coolant
  4. Engine Problems
  5. Ignition/Starting Issues

These problems are very common, so you should read the article till the end to get a good grasp on these issues. This will help you solve them in the most efficient way possible.

What Would Cause A Chevy Malibu To Not Start?

Let's diagnose why your Chevy Maribu is not turning over and learn how to fix it

A single instance of component failure can cause massive repercussions in a vehicle.

The same is true for the Chevy Malibu, which will struggle to start if one of its systems has an issue or a faulty component.

Here are some of the main issues you can face with the Chevy Malibu:

1: Alternator Issues

Alternator issues are a very common occurrence in vehicles. The alternator’s job is to ensure that the battery is constantly charged while the vehicle is being driven.

It does so by utilizing the energy generated by the engine and converting and sending it to the battery, helping it charge it back up.

A faulty alternator will not be able to do so, and as I will explain later, the battery is a very integral component of the Chevy Malibu.

Alternator issues can also be very hard to detect, as you can only figure out if one of them is defective if the battery is constantly draining.

Here is what you should do if you suspect an issue with your alternator.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Start noting down how long the battery lasts. A good battery should not have any issues, but a battery with a faulty alternator will not be able to last more than a day.
  • If you see yourself facing constant jumpstarts, you might have an issue with the alternator.
  • Check for any visible damage and look for loose or corroded wires.
  • If you see any loose or frayed wires, attempt to replace them. If the situation is more complex, visit a mechanic.
  • Getting the alternator replaced is a much better alternative as it will avoid further issues down the line and may even cost less.

2: Dead Battery

As hinted above, your battery is an essential component you need to have in proper working condition if you want your Chevy Malibu to work and start.

The role of the battery is to provide the power the car’s components need to work.

If the battery does not have a sufficient charge, then it may cause the engine to knock and stall. It can go so far as to prevent the engine from starting at all!

Many factors can negatively affect the battery, which is why you should always try to keep the battery at its maximum health.

Without the battery, even minute functions of the car, such as the interior lights, fail to start, which is why you must keep the battery in tip-top shape.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Before you fix your battery, you need to identify if the battery is the problem. This can be done with a simple voltage test.
  • A good battery should output more than 12 volts, and a low-charged one will do less than 12 volts.
  • If your battery is less than 12 volts, you, for the most part, only have two options.
  • You can attempt to get your battery jumpstarted which is a good solution for new or recently purchased batteries.
  • If your battery is old, you might be better off replacing it.
  • Make sure that your alternator is in good condition, as well as it also has a direct effect on the battery.

3: Leaky Coolant

Every odd car here and there has some form of leak and trouble retaining its fluids.

At the same time, oil leaks can start to degrade the quality of the engine, while fuel leaks can prevent the engine from getting a good amount of fuel.

In the case of the Chevy Malibu, the biggest threat in terms of leaks is coolant leaks. This problem affected a good amount of Chevy Malibu models and lasted for quite a few years.

The crux of this issue was that the intake manifold gasket would crack. This would cause all the coolant to leak out.

Moreover, the issue itself is not too bad, but the problem lies in how it affects the car.

Not only does the leaky coolant cause the engine to overheat, but it can also eventually have long-lasting effects that can prevent the engine from starting.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Inspect the coolant intake to see if you have an adequate amount of antifreeze or coolant. You should also note down the amount of it.
  • Check if you are using more coolant than usual. If you find your car overheating a lot and out of coolant, you likely have a leak.
  • Inspect the engine and its surroundings to find the leak. You can attempt to patch it up yourself, or better yet, have a mechanic do it.
  • If you find yourself with this issue, you should resolve it as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could ruin your engine.

4: Engine Problems

Many consider the engine to be the heart and soul of any car. It is usually a deciding factor whether you want to buy a certain model or not.

With that being said, you will always want to have a reliable engine. This is where the Chevy Malibu starts to struggle, as it has had many instances of engine issues over the years.

Furthermore, the engine is needed to run the car and relies on a variety of different moving parts which have to work in unison.

The engine turning over, blowing up or even head gasket failure can easily create starting problems for your Chevy Malibu.

This is why engine issues are very sensitive operations, and you must be on top of them as soon as they arise; otherwise, you will be looking at a very expensive replacement.

What Should You Do About It?

  • First, switch to neutral and try to pump the gas pedal. If the engine responds, then you should try and reach a mechanic as soon as possible.
  • If the engine does not respond, you will have to call a tow truck and take the car to the mechanic.
  • Regardless of the above two options, have the mechanic assess what is wrong with the engine and attempt to get it fixed.
  • If your engine has failed, then there is nothing you can do besides getting a new one.
  • From here on out, you should carry out regular maintenance on the engine of your Chevy Malibu.

5: Ignition/Starting Issues

Some drivers of the Chevy Malibu had faced starting issues.

This could likely be due to issues in either the ignition or the starting system. While both are not as common in the Chevy Malibu lineup, there is always a possibility.

The starting system is in charge of getting the engine running, while the ignition system is supposed to ignite fuel to provide energy to the starting system.

It can be quite difficult to figure out which of these systems has the issue, but since they are both closely connected, you should be able to check both of them at the same time.

What Should You Do About It?

  • You should first start by attempting to start the Chevy Malibu. If the engine does not even turn, then you likely have an issue in either of these two systems.
  • You can look for some physical damage, but it is always a more practical bet to have the car checked out by a mechanic.
  • If you have faulty components, such as a starter motor or spark plugs, then you should get them swapped for new ones.
  • While the starter motor can be fixed to some degree, the spark plugs will have to be replaced entirely.
  • If you do frequent maintenance of your car, you should see these issues decrease significantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why Won’t My Chevy Malibu Start With New Battery?

Check to see if the new battery you have purchased has been correctly installed in your Chevy Malibu.

Always install batteries yourself if you know what you are doing, or hire a competent mechanic.

If the battery is perfectly installed, then you likely have an issue with the ignition system, which is preventing the car from turning on.

Q2. Why Won’t My Chevy Malibu Start Even With A Jump?

Firstly, you should check to see all the wires are properly connected and that you are jumpstarting the car right.

If all is good, then it means that your battery is fine and that your problem lies in another electrical component of the Chevy Malibu. It would be best if you showed this to a mechanic.

Q3. Why Won’t My Chevy Malibu Start But Lights Work?

The lights of the Chevy Malibu do not require a lot of energy to turn on. This is why they might be able to turn on, but the engine will not, as it needs a lot more power.

If you encounter this issue, you should think about jumpstarting your car. If your battery is old, then you can also think about getting a replacement.

Q4. Why Won’t My Chevy Malibu Start But Crank?

A crank should show that all the electrical components of the Chevy Malibu are working fine.

This means that you will have to check other integral components or systems if you want to find the issue.

A good place to start would be the fuel system, as it is likely the engine is not getting enough fuel to start.

Q5. Why Won’t My Chevy Malibu Start Just Clicks?

If you try to start your Chevy Malibu and all it does is click, then you have an electrical malfunction.

This could be as harmless as a dead battery or as devastating as an ignition problem.

If your Chevy Malibu clicks, you should take it to the mechanic as soon as possible so that they can resolve the issue swiftly.

Q6. Why Won’t My Chevy Malibu Start In The Cold Weather?

The Chevy Malibu cannot stand up against cold weather.

This is because the cold starts to reduce the battery output by a huge chunk and prevents the spark plugs from working properly.

Additionally, the cold also prevents the Chevy Malibu’s engine from heating up, which may cause it to not start initially. It also causes the oil to thicken up, which can cause issues.

Q7. Why Won’t My Chevy Malibu Start After I Get Gas?

If you have just gotten gas for your Chevy Malibu and it is still not working, you may have an issue with another part of your car instead of the fuel system.

Alternatively, it could be a defective component in the fuel system, such as a faulty fuel pump, or just a simple blockage that you have to remove.

Q8. Why Won’t My Chevy Malibu Start But Radio Works?

The radio functions similarly to the lights in that it can be turned on with little to no power. It will be able to turn on, but the engine will need a bigger jolt of power.

Alternatively, you could be having problems with your ignition system, which allows the car to turn on to a certain extent but does not activate the engine.

Related: What Are The Worst Years For The Chevy Malibu?


The Chevy Malibu is a long-running lineup, and a lot of people have respect for the brand. It has been able to maintain a good reputation despite a lot of faults and issues over the years.

I have extensively talked about these problems to the point that you should know exactly how to approach the issue.

I am sure you’ll no longer be asking,” Why won’t my Chevy Malibu start?”. Instead, you should be able to easily assess the situation and figure out what is wrong with your car.

You can then proceed to fix it in the most optimal way possible.