Federal regulators have received multiple complaints concerning a potentially dangerous defect in 2016-2018 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles that could cause a sudden and unexpected loss of 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, leaving 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, while others reported that the sensors failed completely and would not work after restarting the engine.
Most drivers also report that an “engine power reduced” warning appears on their dashboard when this problem occurs. Some drivers say that the alert remains on after restarting the engine.
“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 engine shut off in the middle of the freeway. Luckily I didn’t get hit. This could [have] caused me a horrible accident,” a driver of a 2016 Malibu from Whittier, California, reported to NHTSA in July.
“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,” one 2017 Malibu driver from Detroit reported in March. “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.”
Compounding the problem, General Motors doesn’t offer an improved sensor that permanently fixes the problem.
“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,” the same driver from Detroit reports. Other drivers told NHTSA that their dealership said the parts were on backorder. Still others say GM replaced the sensor in their Malibu 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.
Experiencing a sudden loss of power while driving, especially at highway speeds, could easily have catastrophic consequences. GM of all automakers should know this after its ignition switch defect caused the deaths of more than 120 people and injured several more. 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 in addition to wrongful death, personal injury, and economic loss litigation and claims.
NHTSA has not opened an investigation of the Malibu and General Motors has not announced plans to recall 2016, 2017, and 2018 Malibu vehicles affected by the problem.
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 Ben Keen or Dan Philyaw, call us at 800-898-2034, or fill out the contact form on this page.
Additional source: Law360