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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last weekend I had a hard time starting the car. When it finally started I had a bad idle for a few seconds then it stalled. I turned it back on and backed up seemed rough but no warning lights were on. I suspected bad gas or some water in the gas since I hadn't driven in a couple days. I put it in D and went forward and it surged a couple times then jerked and the engine light came on blinking. I had it towed to the dealer. Today they called and told me cylinder one piston is done and they are taking the engine out to replace the pistons. They told me it would be mid-next week before I get it back but it will be good as new. I was given a fine Trailblazer loaner. I searched around this forum and see this is somewhat common. Other than this I have had problems with park assist and water getting in the trunk. This shouldn't happen in the 5th year of a model.

I always use the premium gas required either from Shell or Mobil. Could this be related to oil? I had the oil changed at the dealer a week before this happened.

2020 Malibu Premier
2 liter turbo engine
9 speed trans
15,000 miles
 

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2017 SS Sedan 6.2L
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I do not believe that 2.0T failures are common after 2018, and failing by 15,000 miles sounds like a factory defect. Sorry to hear you have had such a lousy ownership experience. I agree, a 5th model year vehicle should not have issues with electronic features or leaks.

Hopefully they can sort out this engine repair and it'll be smooth sailing for years to come.
 
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All the piston failures are rare. There are about 800,000 gen9 Malibi on the road in the USA alone. Right now between the 1.5 and 2.0 there are 42 reports of piston failure on this forum. 22 reports for the 2.0, 20 reports for the 1.5. The sample isn't scientific but it is a decent public sample. There are hundreds of reports of the "shift to park" issue on this forum so if it happens, it can and does make it here. The reports of piston failure beyond 2018 are rare on top of rare, just 6 on this forum. It's a major bummer you got unlucky.

I'd like to know if this car is leased or owned or if you have intention of buying out the lease. If a lease, just let them fix it and move on. If you own it, I would angle for some added protection from GM via the dealer and/or GM directly if necessary. They need to give you more than 45k on the repair. They sometimes do grant warranty extension or extended service contracts. I'd also want to make sure the tech looks carefully at the cylinder wall. If it was scored or scratched by a broken ring the whole thing needs replaced. They have a bulletin for this investigation involving a toothpick test.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I do not believe that 2.0T failures are common after 2018, and failing by 15,000 miles sounds like a factory defect. Sorry to hear you have had such a lousy ownership experience. I agree, a 5th model year vehicle should not have issues with electronic features or leaks.

Hopefully they can sort out this engine repair and it'll be smooth sailing for years to come.
I am glad it happened under warranty. GM is doing very well making it right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
All the piston failures are rare. There are about 800,000 gen9 Malibi on the road in the USA alone. Right now between the 1.5 and 2.0 there are 42 reports of piston failure on this forum. 22 reports for the 2.0, 20 reports for the 1.5. The sample isn't scientific but it is a decent public sample. There are hundreds of reports of the "shift to park" issue on this forum so if it happens, it can and does make it here. The reports of piston failure beyond 2018 are rare on top of rare, just 6 on this forum. It's a major bummer you got unlucky.

I'd like to know if this car is leased or owned or if you have intention of buying out the lease. If a lease, just let them fix it and move on. If you own it, I would angle for some added protection from GM via the dealer and/or GM directly if necessary. They need to give you more than 45k on the repair. They sometimes do grant warranty extension or extended service contracts. I'd also want to make sure the tech looks carefully at the cylinder wall. If it was scored or scratched by a broken ring the whole thing needs replaced. They have a bulletin for this investigation involving a toothpick test.
I own the car. The dealer called yesterday and said the repair will be done friday this week and I asked about coverage for the repair. They said no other warranty would be provided beyond 60,000. I contacted GM and opened a case and it is being evaluated. Thank you for the advice.
 

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I own the car. The dealer called yesterday and said the repair will be done friday this week and I asked about coverage for the repair. They said no other warranty would be provided beyond 60,000. I contacted GM and opened a case and it is being evaluated. Thank you for the advice.
That is true, GM has no obligation to provide anything beyond 60k powertrain (and any bumper to bumper and emissions if applicable). Hopefully corporate feels they can do a little more - they have for some but every situation is different. It'll all work out - good techs do this sort of work and others have reported good results. Let us know how it comes out.
 
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I know I sound like a broken record here, but the AFR on a stock tune is too lean, and the stock spark plugs are too hot.

I also believe there is a learning curve for the driver. Turbo GDI engine do not like to be lugged.

Driving at full throttle with the engine at a low RPM because the transmission is in too high a gear is known as lugging your engine. And while it's bad for naturally aspirated engines, it's even worse for turbocharged ones.

At the most basic level, lugging your engine doesn't make much sense because it puts your engine at a disadvantage. That means it has to work harder to do the same amount of work. But that also means it runs less efficiently, increases engine temperature, and can even cause issues with the engine's timing. With a turbocharged engine, you also have to worry about low-speed pre-ignition, a phenomenon that can damage spark plugs or even crack pistons.

This is why I drive in manual mode and the lowest RPMS I'll keep the engine at are 1800 - 2000 RPMs.
 

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I know I sound like a broken record here, but the AFR on a stock tune is too lean, and the stock spark plugs are too hot.

I also believe there is a learning curve for the driver. Turbo GDI engine do not like to be lugged.

Driving at full throttle with the engine at a low RPM because the transmission is in too high a gear is known as lugging your engine. And while it's bad for naturally aspirated engines, it's even worse for turbocharged ones.

At the most basic level, lugging your engine doesn't make much sense because it puts your engine at a disadvantage. That means it has to work harder to do the same amount of work. But that also means it runs less efficiently, increases engine temperature, and can even cause issues with the engine's timing. With a turbocharged engine, you also have to worry about low-speed pre-ignition, a phenomenon that can damage spark plugs or even crack pistons.

This is why I drive in manual mode and the lowest RPMS I'll keep the engine at are 1800 - 2000 RPMs.
I 100% agree that GM's factory transmission programs across the board lug the engines too much, and it's especially hard on these turbocharged 4-cylinders. With that said, the factory tune did not kill this engine in 15,000 miles. If that was the case, the forum would be flooded with engine failures on a daily basis.

Driving your premier in manual mode all the time must be a lot of work with all those gear ratios! And that's coming from a guy driving stick. :p
 

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Lugging the motor is a cause of LSPI .
Get those revs up. A tune that does a trans. reprogram would be my course of action.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I got the car back late Friday and drove it about 100 miles this weekend. It seems to run like new. I don't see any leaks and the engine bay is spotless. One my work order I see piston replacement, conn rod bearing kit, timing chain tensioner gasket, spark plugs, a bunch of other gaskets, coolant, oil change, transmission fluid change, turbo seal, lower oil pan. Seems like they really tore it up. GM ended up giving me a chevy protection plan to 100000 miles which covers the engine rebuild and quite a bit more thankfully. A big thanks to campb292 for getting the ball rolling on that. I don't like that the engine failed at 15000 miles but I feel good about how GM handled it. Grateful to this forum also. Good day fellas.
 

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Thanks for the follow-up.
 

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To the OP:

Did you get any photographs of the parts when they removed them? A piston does not typically break a ring land by shifting to a drive gear from a stop. Whatever happened the night before the hard start needs to be understood, because the parts of a piston that break to cause an issue like this are not the result of engine starting/stopping alone. Water in the fuel does not cause parts to blow up, maybe a hard start, but you'd have to be pumping fuel from the most unreliable gas station ever.

The LTG requires 93 octane fuel for maximum power and knock suppression. 91 octane with 10% ethanol is also acceptable, and is arguably better because of the increased fuel mass cooling the crown of the pistons. If you run 87 in this engine you will damage it at higher engine speeds eventually. The knock retard profile is not fast enough to prevent ring land slamming. Couple this with the wastegate solenoid bleed-down lag and you have a recipe for pre-ignition when hitting boost cut.

You guys will figure out who I am eventually.....
 
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