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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have an ongoing issue with my 2016 Malibu 1.5L Turbo. I will be driving normally then all of a sudden the RPM’s shoot to around 5k, the check engine light comes on and the car gets stuck in 2nd gear. When it does finally shift, the car shifts so hard that I practically get whiplash. When I try to speed up, the rpm’s go up then back down and the car begins to stutter. When coming to a full stop, the auto-stop no longer works and it takes between 10-15 seconds to get to 10mph. If I turn the car off then back on, the issue happens again approximately 2 minutes later.

I’ve taken it to the dealer 4 times and on 2 occasions, the issue is miraculously gone and it doesnt happen again for about 1,000 miles. It happens randomly; on the highway, back roads and once in the city.

The dealer replaced the TCM and a few other parts (I know everyone needs this info but I forget the other parts) and that cleared the issue for about a month. Then I fully broke down and was barely able to make it over a hill; I had to have it towed because it was not recognizing what gear i was in. When I tried to put it in reverse, the whole car moved back and forth 3 times before going into reverse, but again, it wasn’t showing I was in reverse on the dash.

After finally shifting in and out of the gears, I finally got it to recognize it was in park for a second then turned the car off for 45 minutes. I turned it back on when the tow truck arrived; the check engine light was on but it shifted and recognized it was in drive and reverse.

Dealer drove it 30 miles on 2 separate occasions and the issue was not present but check engine was on so they cleared the codes and sent me on my way.

Do I have a lemon?

Attached are the codes being thrown.

70896
 

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2016 Malibu 1LT 1.5T/6-speed 6T40
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That's a major bummer... sorry you are dealing with that. Intermittent issues are the worst since you end up with "unable to reproduce customer concern" at the dealer. It looks like the dealer tried some diligence in replacing the TCM. That often happens when codes are popping they can't explain. P0700 is probably what led them to that. U0101 interests me. The description I see in your doc is a bit different than I see in my docs. Some questions:

I see this is a 2016 Malibu. Is this a 1.5T, 2.0T, or 2.5L engine?
Is this car on the original battery?
Was it bought new or preowned?
Any warranty left?
At what mileage was transmission fluid service performed, if ever?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's a major bummer... sorry you are dealing with that. Intermittent issues are the worst since you end up with "unable to reproduce customer concern" at the dealer. It looks like the dealer tried some diligence in replacing the TCM. That often happens when codes are popping they can't explain. P0700 is probably what led them to that. U0101 interests me. The description I see in your doc is a bit different than I see in my docs. I see this is a 2016 Malibu. Some questions:

I see this is a 2016 Malibu. Is this a 1.5T, 2.0T, or 2.5L engine?
Is this car on the original battery?
Was it bought new or preowned?
Any warranty left?
At what mileage was transmission fluid service performed, if ever?
Yeah, it’s definitely frustrating. They replaced the TCM after they were able to reproduce the issue. It’s a 1.5T.
 

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That's a major bummer... sorry you are dealing with that. Intermittent issues are the worst since you end up with "unable to reproduce customer concern" at the dealer. It looks like the dealer tried some diligence in replacing the TCM. That often happens when codes are popping they can't explain. P0700 is probably what led them to that. U0101 interests me. The description I see in your doc is a bit different than I see in my docs. Some questions:

I see this is a 2016 Malibu. Is this a 1.5T, 2.0T, or 2.5L engine?
Is this car on the original battery?
Was it bought new or preowned?
Any warranty left?
At what mileage was transmission fluid service performed, if ever?
@jordanthren

Please provide the requested info. You told us that it's the 1.5T and that helps, however there were other questions asked but not answered.

An additional question would be if it's the 2016 "Malibu Limited", which is a Gen8 carryover, or if it's a 2016 Malibu without "Limited" anywhere on the vehicle. If you're not sure, please share a picture of the front of the car that includes the grille and headlights and we can help guide you from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@jordanthren

Please provide the requested info. You told us that it's the 1.5T and that helps, however there were other questions asked but not answered.

An additional question would be if it's the 2016 "Malibu Limited", which is a Gen8 carryover, or if it's a 2016 Malibu without "Limited" anywhere on the vehicle. If you're not sure, please share a picture of the front of the car that includes the grille and headlights and we can help guide you from there.
It is a 2016 Chevy Malibu 1.5L Turbo. If it was a limited, I would’ve specified in the original post. Thanks.
 

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The rules posted by @DrivenDaily include information about vehicle mileage which hasn't been provided. I also asked several more questions that went unanswered. Please update the information or this thread will be closed. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The rules posted by @DrivenDaily include information about vehicle mileage which hasn't been provided. I also asked several more questions that went unanswered. Please update the information or this thread will be closed. Thank you.
My apologies, to answer your questions:

2016 Chevy Malibu 1.5T
Original battery
Pre-owned, was originally a fleet
Warranty is available through 120,000 miles
I’m not sure if the transmission fluid has been changed.
The odometer is currently at 68,200. It was purchased at 24,000 a year and a half ago.

If I left anything out, please let me know.
 

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Thank you very much for that. I'll check through some bulletins and diagnostic docs for those codes and get back to you if I find something of value.
 
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OK, didn't think I would get to this until midday but had a virtual no show this morning so got a chance.

As I said before, P0700 tells you something is wrong in the transmission but is too generic to help. So I looked closer at U0101 since I have never seen that one before on this forum. It is defined a bit differently than the summaries in your screenshot above. I show U0101 as Lost Communication With Transmission Control Module. GM has a bulletin for it here: https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2017/MC-10140373-9999.pdf

I am not a big fan of that bulletin because there is a major typo but I believe the diagnostic checks should be the same. Did you ever read that bulletin number on your service paperwork or know the items were checked? Beyond that, if you currently have those codes and have exhausted avenues at the dealer call Chevrolet if you haven't already. A different dealer may be needed. You have a warranty and right to have it fixed so this doesn't happen and those codes don't pop. Having tangible codes is half the battle at the dealer.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
OK, didn't think I would get to this until midday but had a virtual no show this morning so got a chance.

As I said before, P0700 tells you something is wrong in the transmission but is too generic to help. So I looked closer at U0101 since I have never seen that one before on this forum. It is defined a bit differently than the summaries in your screenshot above. I show U0101 as Lost Communication With Transmission Control Module. GM has a bulletin for it here: https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2017/MC-10140373-9999.pdf

I am not a big fan of that bulletin because there is a major typo but I believe the diagnostic checks should be the same. Did you ever read that bulletin number on your service paperwork or know the items were checked? Beyond that, if you currently have those codes and have exhausted avenues at the dealer call Chevrolet if you haven't already. A different dealer may be needed. You have a warranty and right to have it fixed so this doesn't happen and those codes don't pop. Having tangible codes is half the battle at the dealer.
Thank you for the quick turn around. I’m going to the dealership tonight and will request the paperwork from this visit and the previous visits so I can provide you with as much information as possible. I know for a fact they did more work and checked other items last time but misplaced the paperwork. I do remember them talking about the loss of communication to the TCM last time. I’ll post an update this evening. Thanks again for the quick responses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
OK, didn't think I would get to this until midday but had a virtual no show this morning so got a chance.

As I said before, P0700 tells you something is wrong in the transmission but is too generic to help. So I looked closer at U0101 since I have never seen that one before on this forum. It is defined a bit differently than the summaries in your screenshot above. I show U0101 as Lost Communication With Transmission Control Module. GM has a bulletin for it here: https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2017/MC-10140373-9999.pdf

I am not a big fan of that bulletin because there is a major typo but I believe the diagnostic checks should be the same. Did you ever read that bulletin number on your service paperwork or know the items were checked? Beyond that, if you currently have those codes and have exhausted avenues at the dealer call Chevrolet if you haven't already. A different dealer may be needed. You have a warranty and right to have it fixed so this doesn't happen and those codes don't pop. Having tangible codes is half the battle at the dealer.
Attached is a PDF containing comments from 3 visits to the dealer. Notice how on two of them they couldn’t duplicate the issues. Thanks ahead of time.
 

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Thank you for scanning all of that paperwork; lets us know what has been going on and what has been tried. I don't see that bulletin number specifically referenced but I see them checking wiring and grounds. Assuming they actually did, that was probably as instructed by the bulletin. I checked the other codes listed and agree with the writeup, that was all probably related to the TCM at the time. Problem is figuring out what causes what is occurring now.

The car is currently at the dealer with the codes in post 1, right? What are they currently telling you or are they still investigating? If it is at the dealer with codes, that is the best place for it. If they cannot resolve it again, call Chevy. If they just can't figure it out and give you something less than acceptable, I'd ask them to replace the battery and verify the transmission fluid level. They had to drain the transmission to remove the valve body cover and replace the control solenoid and volume might be wrong.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you for scanning all of that paperwork; lets us know what has been going on and what has been tried. I don't see that bulletin number specifically referenced but I see them checking wiring and grounds. Assuming they actually did, that was probably as instructed by the bulletin. I checked the other codes listed and agree with the writeup, that was all probably related to the TCM at the time. Problem is figuring out what causes what is occurring now.

The car is currently at the dealer with the codes in post 1, right? What are they currently telling you or are they still investigating? If it is at the dealer with codes, that is the best place for it. If they cannot resolve it again, call Chevy. If they just can't figure it out and give you something less than acceptable, I'd ask them to replace the battery and verify the transmission fluid level. They had to drain the transmission to remove the valve body cover and replace the control solenoid and volume might be wrong.
Yes, the car was at the dealer throwing the codes provided (the screenshot) in one of the original messages. I got those codes straight from Onstar after I broke down. I spoke to the manager and he told me since they couldn’t duplicate the issue (again), there was nothing they could do so they cleared the codes and sent me on my way. It drove perfectly today, as it does after the issue has happened in the past.

Extremely frustrated. I have reached out to CarMax and we are speaking with their legal team because this has quite literally almost killed me on 2 occasions. I’m going to call Chevy tomorrow to see what they say.

I’ll post an update tomorrow after speaking to Chevy.

In the end, if I do end up getting a new vehicle through CarMax, it’ll definitely be a Malibu!
 

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Oh dealers.... I hope Chevy steps in. If you go in with a strange noise, bad fuel economy, surging, stalling, they say "diagnostic is fine, no codes" and off you go. If you have active codes and a CEL they say "but it isn't doing it". IT LITERALLY HAS THE LIGHT ON AND CODES MEANING IT HAPPENED. THAT IS WHAT IT IS DOING. THE CAR THINKS IT IS STILL A PROBLEM. LOOK LIGHT ON. That irritates me. Their own manual says see the dealer soon.

Grrr... My sympathies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Oh dealers.... I hope Chevy steps in. If you go in with a strange noise, bad fuel economy, surging, stalling, they say "diagnostic is fine, no codes" and off you go. If you have active codes and a CEL they say "but it isn't doing it". IT LITERALLY HAS THE LIGHT ON AND CODES MEANING IT HAPPENED. THAT IS WHAT IT IS DOING. THE CAR THINKS IT IS STILL A PROBLEM. LOOK LIGHT ON. That irritates me. Their own manual says see the dealer soon.

Grrr... My sympathies.
Oh trust me, I gave them an earful the last time they pulled this “but it’s not doing it” bit. The only time I was able to have them do anything was when they were actually able to reproduce the issue which was a miracle within itself.

The real kicker is that I got an Uber a few months back and the dude starts going on about having an issue with his last car, explaining everything I have experienced. I said, “what car did you have” and it was a Chevy Malibu, same model and everything. He had to trade it in because the dealership couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I’m set on Chevy figuring it out but if they don’t, I’m probably going to take legal action against CarMax because I drive anywhere from 100-200 miles a day and I can’t take the risk anymore.

I’ll post an update tomorrow.
 

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Oh trust me, I gave them an earful the last time they pulled this “but it’s not doing it” bit. The only time I was able to have them do anything was when they were actually able to reproduce the issue which was a miracle within itself.

The real kicker is that I got an Uber a few months back and the dude starts going on about having an issue with his last car, explaining everything I have experienced. I said, “what car did you have” and it was a Chevy Malibu, same model and everything. He had to trade it in because the dealership couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I’m set on Chevy figuring it out but if they don’t, I’m probably going to take legal action against CarMax because I drive anywhere from 100-200 miles a day and I can’t take the risk anymore.

I’ll post an update tomorrow.
The Malibu gets weird codes thrown with a bad battery, though usually stablitrack is one of the ones reported.

Given the age, the random behavior, the Malibu's dislike for low battery voltage and the dealers repairs, it may be possible that you have a battery cell that may be occasionally shorting out (which reduces its voltage creating the code issues).

My 2016 Premier has had its battery replaced two times so far. The AZ heat eats up batteries (GM's charging scheme does not help, as it sulfates the battery). The battery location in the Malibu is compromised due to the adjacent turbo surplus heat.

At 5 years old, it may be worth replacing the battery to see if it fixes the issue. At worst, you replaced the battery one or two years earlier than it may needed be.

Else, it appears that you may have CAN bus communication problem, which could be caused by any module jamming the line. Thus would require factory level GM technicians that have the proper tools for diagnostics.

Assuming that your warranty is with CarMax, you need to resolve this with them.

While I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, I would let CarMax know that the vehicle is unfit for its intended use, which is the condition you purchased the vehicle for. Since the vehicle is unsafe, you should politely request a loaner car until such time that CarMax, via their warranty, makes the vehicle safe for use.

If possible, have a travel companion video document the issue when it occurs such than you have evidence for your claims.

Good luck and stay safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The Malibu gets weird codes thrown with a bad battery, though usually stablitrack is one of the ones reported.

Given the age, the random behavior, the Malibu's dislike for low battery voltage and the dealers repairs, it may be possible that you have a battery cell that may be occasionally shorting out (which reduces its voltage creating the code issues).

My 2016 Premier has had its battery replaced two times so far. The AZ heat eats up batteries (GM's charging scheme does not help, as it sulfates the battery). The battery location in the Malibu is compromised due to the adjacent turbo surplus heat.

At 5 years old, it may be worth replacing the battery to see if it fixes the issue. At worst, you replaced the battery one or two years earlier than it may needed be.

Else, it appears that you may have CAN bus communication problem, which could be caused by any module jamming the line. Thus would require factory level GM technicians that have the proper tools for diagnostics.

Assuming that your warranty is with CarMax, you need to resolve this with them.

While I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, I would let CarMax know that the vehicle is unfit for its intended use, which is the condition you purchased the vehicle for. Since the vehicle is unsafe, you should politely request a loaner car until such time that CarMax, via their warranty, makes the vehicle safe for use.

If possible, have a travel companion video document the issue when it occurs such than you have evidence for your claims.

Good luck and stay safe.
Thank you for the reply. I will replace the battery and will let you know the results. I have a dash cam now and have all of the instances on recording. They all claim extremely explicit language lol. I’ll keep you all updated. Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The Malibu gets weird codes thrown with a bad battery, though usually stablitrack is one of the ones reported.

Given the age, the random behavior, the Malibu's dislike for low battery voltage and the dealers repairs, it may be possible that you have a battery cell that may be occasionally shorting out (which reduces its voltage creating the code issues).

My 2016 Premier has had its battery replaced two times so far. The AZ heat eats up batteries (GM's charging scheme does not help, as it sulfates the battery). The battery location in the Malibu is compromised due to the adjacent turbo surplus heat.

At 5 years old, it may be worth replacing the battery to see if it fixes the issue. At worst, you replaced the battery one or two years earlier than it may needed be.

Else, it appears that you may have CAN bus communication problem, which could be caused by any module jamming the line. Thus would require factory level GM technicians that have the proper tools for diagnostics.

Assuming that your warranty is with CarMax, you need to resolve this with them.

While I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, I would let CarMax know that the vehicle is unfit for its intended use, which is the condition you purchased the vehicle for. Since the vehicle is unsafe, you should politely request a loaner car until such time that CarMax, via their warranty, makes the vehicle safe for use.

If possible, have a travel companion video document the issue when it occurs such than you have evidence for your claims.

Good luck and stay safe.
An update, when this first started happening I got “service stablitrack”. We took it to our local mechanic and they ran a 15 minute test on the battery and said everything came back “completely normal”. Should I still get a new battery?
 

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Thank you for the reply. I will replace the battery and will let you know the results. I have a dash cam now and have all of the instances on recording. They all claim extremely explicit language lol. I’ll keep you all updated. Thanks again.
No problem. You may want to keep an eye on the accelerator pedal (sensor), as this is a common problem.

If you are handy, it may be worth cleaning the accelerator sensor connector contacts with WD40 -- this method works for fixing the park sensor issue as well (better and cheaper than replacing the shifter assembly) if you have that problem, (though you need to clean the switch contacts therein).
An update, when this first started happening I got “service stablitrack”. We took it to our local mechanic and they ran a 15 minute test on the battery and said everything came back “completely normal”. Should I still get a new battery?
It's going to depend on if your local mechanic's battery test -- you can also go to Walmart for a quick battery test (they use to be free, but may charge you $10 now if you don't need a battery replacement).

Did your mechanic check the charging system as well?

FYI, a battery can still appear normal at times and still have an intermittent shorted cell.

The service stabitrack seems to pop up on a low battery voltage event. This could be a loose battery connection,a bad battery, the car setting in an airport parking lot for a few weeks, a bad charging system or something else.

Your dealer service report also noted a charge/battery condition. It is possible you have a loose connection, questionable alternator, bad battery or something in the charging/battery system.

You can look things over yourself if you are handy, or go see Wally for a quick check.

Since you asked what I would do - I would replace the battery since it is a possible source of the problem and there is little downside to replacing it early (batteries here in AZ only last about 4 years).
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
No problem. You may want to keep an eye on the accelerator pedal (sensor), as this is a common problem.

If you are handy, it may be worth cleaning the accelerator sensor connector contacts with WD40 -- this method works for fixing the park sensor issue as well (better and cheaper than replacing the shifter assembly) if you have that problem, (though you need to clean the switch contacts therein).
It's going to depend on if your local mechanic's battery test -- you can also go to Walmart for a quick battery test (they use to be free, but may charge you $10 now if you don't need a battery replacement).

Did your mechanic check the charging system as well?

FYI, a battery can still appear normal at times and still have an intermittent shorted cell.

The service stabitrack seems to pop up on a low battery voltage event. This could be a loose battery connection,a bad battery, the car setting in an airport parking lot for a few weeks, a bad charging system or something else.

Your dealer service report also noted a charge/battery condition. It is possible you have a loose connection, questionable alternator, bad battery or something in the charging/battery system.

You can look things over yourself if you are handy, or go see Wally for a quick check.

Since you asked what I would do - I would replace the battery since it is a possible source of the problem and there is little downside to replacing it early (batteries here in AZ only last about 4 years).
After the battery change, hard shifting and getting stuck above 2nd gear came back today. Didn't throw a code but this is what it does before it throws the code. It suddenly went into 3rd gear then fell back into 1st and hesitated to go into 2nd with the RPM’s going up and down between 1st and 2nd & the car responded by going back and forth until finally kicking into 2nd. When I get in 2nd and start slowing down, it takes considerably longer to shift down and the speedometer needle stays in the same place while it’s waiting to downshift.
 
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