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Hi, First time posting here. I've seen several posts about broken pistons and have the same problem which I'm ticked off about so I thought I'd share what happened. I bought my Malibu in April 2016. Just before hitting 60k the stabilitrack light came on with a decrease in power a few times. I didn't think much of it because it it went off each time and the engine went back to full power. Then at just over 62k I got a check engine light with a decrease in power. Power returned but light stayed on so I took it to a shop that read the code. It came back with p300 or so code which the shop said could mean a number of things. They cleared the code and I drove it waiting to see if it would return. It drove find for about a month and then started running rough with a large decrease in gas mileage and decided to take it to the dealer. The day before dropped it off the check engine light came back on. Anyway, the dealer checked it out and said I have a cracked piston and they have to replace all four and that it would cost 4-5k. Since it was out or warranty I was looking at having to pay it myself but I knew enough to ask about participation from GM and the dealer checked with them and GM agreed to limit my cost to $1,500. While I appreciate having to pay only $1,500, this is a problem that should never have happened and it obviously started well before my warranty expired. Given that the recall obviously didn't work and the circumstances I think GM should have picked up the entire amount. GM decreasing their powertrain warranty from 100k miles to 60k miles says a lot about their confidence in their engines.
 

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Thank you for sharing @buffalomalibu. I believe this is the first forum report of the piston issue occurring post warranty with a specified cost. Actually, it is the first report at all in a long time now that I search the problems section. It is all bad, nothing positive about a car that eats pistons. The only semi-positive is you seem to have confirmed GM has a plan to reduce cost. $1500 is still a lot but it nowhere near covers the extensive labor that goes into replacing pistons. Now my curiosity is will GM approve this out of pocket up front or does everyone have to fight. I had been wondering if a special program would be established but that only happens if it starts to impact a substantial number of cars. It doesn't appear that has happened yet.
 

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Anyway, the dealer checked it out and said I have a cracked piston and they have to replace all four and that it would cost 4-5k. Since it was out or warranty I was looking at having to pay it myself but I knew enough to ask about participation from GM and the dealer checked with them and GM agreed to limit my cost to $1,500. While I appreciate having to pay only $1,500, this is a problem that should never have happened and it obviously started well before my warranty expired. Given that the recall obviously didn't work and the circumstances I think GM should have picked up the entire amount. GM decreasing their powertrain warranty from 100k miles to 60k miles says a lot about their confidence in their engines.
Wow! That's terrible. Never experienced a cracked piston in 30+ years and a 1 million miles driven.

If this was *my* problem, here's how I'd be approaching it:

1.) First - I'd want positive confirmation that the piston is, in fact, cracked ... because I'd be skeptical. I mean, a cracked piston has to be *extremely* rare. So I'd be asking them how they know the piston is cracked, and I'd want to see the proof with my own eyes (comparing to the other un-cracked pistons).

2.) Then, assuming the piston IS cracked, I'd be asking them, "how does this happen" (and to only one piston, no less)? I *think* the classic answer (assuming no manufacturing defect) is: extreme engine knock. But if I had been using the proper octane fuel, and I had not been hearing any engine knocking, and assuming this engine is equipped with an 'anti-knock' sensor (as most every modern engine IS nowadays), how could the damage be attributed to that?

So basically, I'd be looking to prove this is a manufacturing defect, and regardless of warranty coverage - I'd want it fixed free-of-charge. *NO WAY* should pistons be cracking within, say, 200,000 miles. I think we've established (at least over the last 30 years of automobile manufacturing), that pistons last *at least* that long (if they're designed and manufactured properly)...
 

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@Colt Hero - I think your advice to see the cracked piston is reasonable. I would want to see that if faced with a $1500 bill and yes I would try and argue it down even farther (and I have already put together a packet to fight with should I be faced with this post warranty). Unfortunately, visual confirmation can only happen once the engine is already torn apart unless the crack is top end visible via a scope. What is more likely being used to verify is a combination of the symptoms (stabilitrak light, engine light, reduced power, rough performance, poor fuel economy as noted by the OP), P300 code, and a failed compression test. All direct injection turbo engines are susceptible to low speed preignition (LSPI) which is the usual cause of piston cracks. This forum has seen a couple dozen 1.5T engines and a couple 2.0T eat pistons. The 1.5T even had a recall that changed ECM programming and changed oil spec which trickled to some other recent GM engines as well.
 

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@Colt Hero - I think your advice to see the cracked piston is reasonable. I would want to see that if faced with a $1500 bill and yes I would try and argue it down even farther (and I have already put together a packet to fight with should I be faced with this post warranty). Unfortunately, visual confirmation can only happen once the engine is already torn apart unless the crack is top end visible via a scope. What is more likely being used to verify is a combination of the symptoms (stabilitrak light, engine light, reduced power, rough performance, poor fuel economy as noted by the OP), P300 code, and a failed compression test.
Well, then I guess what I would do next would depend on how convincing their proof was. If they couldn’t prove to me that the piston was cracked via a scope, then I would probably wait for further proof.
 

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2016 Chevy Malibu lt SAME THING. My car is actually now at the dealership being repaired for engine cracked pistons. Bought the car March 2016 brand new in hopes of not having to worry about major repairs for several years. That was not the case. The engine is crap. GMC knows this.
I had the recall for repaired in 2017 & 2 years later at 98k miles my entire engine is out of my 3 year old car having piston replacement.
I was told it would cost $4500. I said absolutely not! Rep went back to gmc & then I was told $1500. I again said no way! My maintenance is up to date. The car is literally 3 years old. This is a manufacturing problem! I was asked what I would be willing to pay (that’s how you know they know it’s a gmc issue) & I told them $500 (If I was really thinking I would have said &0) so it’s being repaired as I type for $500.
I’ll never purchase an American car again
 

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Hello @Nikwalk21. Bummer about the car but really nice GM was allowing you to name your price especially with 98,000 miles. This makes you the 2nd out of warranty piston failure now with prices of $1500 and $500. Still a lot of money but small compared to the time spent pulling the engine and doing all the work. What a mess for GM. I wonder if they will ever start a special coverage program.
 

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Well, then I guess what I would do next would depend on how convincing their proof was. If they couldn’t prove to me that the piston was cracked via a scope, then I would probably wait for further proof.

@Colt Hero, this is a known issue with a batch of 2016 Malibu 1.5T models, the cracked pistons are very real. It's been a while since I read up on the issue, but from what I recall, a vendor that supplies small pieces of hardware shipped some defective parts that couldn't be traced with any specificity.

It would have been disastrous for owners and GM alike to recall all of them and tear down the engines of perfectly good cars. You end up with this "lesser of two evils" choice of just repairing engines that fail.

Now what I find GM at fault for is not extending warranty coverage for this particular problem. They usually make an addendum to the warranty when they discover specific defects.
 

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This is one of the reasons I traded in my 2016 LS, I was leery of the reliability of the engine. Although I'm not all that sure on the reliability of my new Encores engine either after doing some reading.:surprise: Happy it doesn't have stop/start though:D
 

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Good to know. Have we had 2017 1.5T cracked piston threads? Seems like 2016s are the vast majority.
A few, can't find them by searching really quick but I've read it before - they are probably metoo's mixed in with threads labeled 2016. They are mostly 2016. There is a 2018 mixed in here too and a couple 2017 2.0T. Even found a 2017 Cruze piston fail. Branching out to the wide internet with "chevy malibu piston failure crack" you find lots of posts for 2016-2017 and even some videos.
 

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This is one of the reasons I traded in my 2016 LS, I was leery of the reliability of the engine. Although I'm not all that sure on the reliability of my new Encores engine either after doing some reading.:surprise: Happy it doesn't have stop/start though:D
I also traded my 2016 in at 56k on a 2018 to avoid this issue in the future. Worth the piece of mind.
 

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I also traded my 2016 in at 56k on a 2018 to avoid this issue in the future. Worth the piece of mind.
I won't keep mine one mile beyond the service contract either. GM not having already created a special warranty program tells me this is as widespread as the perception is - too big to fail on. Of the 5 gen9 Malibu owners i know including me (1xLS, 2xLT, 2xPremier), 4 have had catastrophic reliability failures ranging from piston cracks to transmission solenoid and valve body replacement. I am the only one left without major powertrain problems.
 

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Hi, First time posting here. I've seen several posts about broken pistons and have the same problem which I'm ticked off about so I thought I'd share what happened. I bought my Malibu in April 2016. Just before hitting 60k the stabilitrack light came on with a decrease in power a few times. I didn't think much of it because it it went off each time and the engine went back to full power. Then at just over 62k I got a check engine light with a decrease in power. Power returned but light stayed on so I took it to a shop that read the code. It came back with p300 or so code which the shop said could mean a number of things. They cleared the code and I drove it waiting to see if it would return. It drove find for about a month and then started running rough with a large decrease in gas mileage and decided to take it to the dealer. The day before dropped it off the check engine light came back on. Anyway, the dealer checked it out and said I have a cracked piston and they have to replace all four and that it would cost 4-5k. Since it was out or warranty I was looking at having to pay it myself but I knew enough to ask about participation from GM and the dealer checked with them and GM agreed to limit my cost to $1,500. While I appreciate having to pay only $1,500, this is a problem that should never have happened and it obviously started well before my warranty expired. Given that the recall obviously didn't work and the circumstances I think GM should have picked up the entire amount. GM decreasing their powertrain warranty from 100k miles to 60k miles says a lot about their confidence in their engines.
Hey I have a 2016 Chevy Malibu. Within the first 6 months of purchasing my car I had a cracked piston which was oct 2016. They finally fixed it after having my car for 6+ months. Here it is 2019 I am having the same issues and they want me to pay for it
 

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Hey I have a 2016 Chevy Malibu. Within the first 6 months of purchasing my car I had a cracked piston which was oct 2016. They finally fixed it after having my car for 6+ months. Here it is 2019 I am having the same issues and they want me to pay for it
Contact GM corporate and see what they will offer you.
 

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My 2016 Malibu LT experienced a failure last weekend. The dealer has had it for a week. Cracked #1 piston. 3.5 years old, 72000 miles, still paying on it. I have the EasyCare extended warranty to 100K miles. EC called back today to say that they specifically do not cover this issue and that I will have to pay for it. Dealer says it needs a new engine, wants 9K to replace it. What should I do? I still owe more than that on the loan!
 

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Usually, the most basic of basic warranties covers the mechanical items and lets all the electronics go. This is clearly a mechanical issue.

First, review your EC contract for covered items. Then, if you can't call EC and reason with them yourself, consider a lawyer.
 

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+1 on what DD said. I also went to the EasyCare website and read the advertised coverages and sample contracts. Even the basic plans cover all internally lubricated parts of the engine as well as whole engine replacement. The big caveat is they exclude pre-existing conditions. That would be an arguable and where the lawyer comes in. From the contract administrator perspective they could rationalize piston failure as a pre-existing condition since GM has a service update and many bulletins about it thus acknowledgement. That reasoning would expose GM though. IMO an excluded pre-existing condition scenario would be a used car that had a history of front seal/crank oil leaks prior to the purchase of that service contract. Front seal would be excluded.

Follow all avenues and document date and time of contact. Contact your service contract/warranty company for explanation. Contact service manager in person, ask them to contact GM for help. Others have had the price significantly reduced. Contact GM customer assistance immediately if the service manager returns with an unacceptable resolution. Let that play out, then contact a lawyer if necessary.

EDIT - regarding the service contract/extended warranty... upon further reading of an EasyCare sample contract, I see some unfortunate wording in part E section 1 listed exclusions: "Any damage resulting from pre-ignition or detonation, regardless of cause." Check your service contract and see if that wording is there - if it is, focus on GM and the lawyer and spend less time fighting EasyCare/Auto Protection Corp.
 

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"Any damage resulting from pre-ignition or detonation, regardless of cause."

Seriously? Is such a clause common in purchased auto warranties?
 
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