Federal regulators have received multiple complaints from 2016-2018 Chevy Malibu owners. Drivers report their vehicles suddenly cut off due to reduced engine power.
Several Chevy Malibu drivers reported harrowing experiences to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) that seem to involve the accelerator pedal position sensor. Many of the drivers say there were driving at highway speeds when their vehicles suddenly slowed to 20-40 mph. The sudden slowdown left them stranded or crawling along at dangerously low speeds.
Some drivers say that turning off the ignition and restarting allowed them to resume driving at normal speeds. Others reported that the sensors failed completely and would not work after restarting the engine.
Most drivers also report that the Chevy Malibu engine power reduced warning appears on their dashboard when this problem occurs. Some say that the alert remains on after restarting the engine.
A 2016 Malibu driver from Whittier, California, reported to the NHTSA in July:
“I was driving on the freeway at a speed of 60 and all of a sudden a message pops up saying reduced speed and then it automatically went down to 20 mph then the engine shut off in the middle of the freeway. Luckily I didn’t get hit. This could [have] caused me a horrible accident,”
In March, a 2017 Malibu driver from Detroit reported:
“At least twice a day, while driving, I’ll randomly get a message on my [dashboard] stating ‘engine power reduced’ and then my car will slow down. I’m unable to speed up … and I have to find a safe spot to pull over, shut the car off and wait about 10-15 minutes before I can restart it. Once I restart it I can drive, but my engine light remains on. I’ve taken it back to the dealership I got it from, but they are telling me nothing is wrong and that it’s just a sensor.”
GM Seems Unconcerned
To make matters worse, General Motors doesn’t offer an improved sensor that permanently fixes the problem.
Some drivers told the NHTSA that their dealership said the parts were on backorder. Others say GM replaced the sensor but they continued to experience the same sudden loss of power.
“Repeat failures indicate that GM is removing defective sensors and replacing them with an unimproved version, which is essentially a band-aid repair and not a fix,” said Ben Keen, a lawyer in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office who is investigating claims related to this engine defect.
A sudden loss of power while driving, especially at highway speeds, could easily have result in tragedy. GM should know this after its ignition switch defect caused 120 deaths and even more injuries. Instead of responding to the problem promptly and reporting it to NHTSA, GM tried to hide the defect. That decision cost more than 120 lives, hundreds of injuries, and billions of dollars in recall expenses and penalties.
The NHTSA has not opened an investigation of the Malibu. General Motors has not announced plans to recall affected vehicles.
Beasley Allen is investigating cases of injuries and deaths where these faulty sensors may result in a collision. Our lawyers are experienced at handling claims involving auto products liability based on a design defect, a manufacturing defect, a failure to warn or a combination of the three. For more information about a possible claim, contact Mitch Williams, call us at 800-898-2034, or fill out the contact form on this page.
Additional source: Law360