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Discussion Starter #1
SO I just bought a used 2010 LTZ platinum (3.6l VVT 6 speed auto) MALIBU with roughly 80,000 miles / 130,000 kms on it.............

Car appears to run fine, it appears to shift fine.....

HOWEVER, ive now stumbled upon what appears to be TONS of people experiencing critical transmission failures around the 90,000 mile mark mostly stemming from this defective wave plate.

This of course has me VERY worried, cus my new car is starting to approach this 90,000 mile range.

But I wonder how prevalent this problem really is ??? lets say by 150,000 miles, what percentage of the Malibu's produced in a given year do think have actually experienced a critical transmission failure??

how many people here own a Malibu with over 100,000 miles on it ?
 

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I have a 2011 with 141,ooo miles on it. I bought it with 56,ooo miles, and even though I intended to do it sooner, I never changed the fluid until 104,747 miles. Due to the nature of the design, however, draining it does not remove anywhere near 100% of the fluid like it did when there was a pan and filter. As a result, all I probably got was about 50%, so I drained and filled again 3 more times, the second time at 127,657, third at 132,957, and fourth at 139,741 miles. Each time, I filled it with AmsOil ATF.

Based on the idea that it drains about half of the fluid, I figure that after the 2nd time it had 75% new fluid, after the 3rd it had 88%, and after the 4th it has about 94% new fluid.

I don't think it will need to be done again until around 190,ooo or 200,ooo miles, at which time I'll probably do it only once or twice, replacing about 75% of the fluid.

As for the wave plate, call any dealer or GM and ask what repairs have been done under warranty to see if the "3-5-R Wave Plate" was ever addressed.

Oh, and BTW, there really aren't "tons" experiencing this issue, but on the 2008 and 2009 models it was more prevalent. The 2010 and up versions should have had the new wave plate version from the factory, but nothing is set in stone so it's possible that your 2010 received one of the older versions.

But also be happy that you have the 3.6L V6 version! It has a proper fill cap and dipstick, whereas the L4 version has neither a cap nor a dipstick and has to rely on bolt plugs on the side of the trans to drain, fill, and check the fluid level. Both versions, however, suffer from an insane design concept where there is no serviceable filter, electing instead to trap a screen between the 2 case halves.

My suggestion is to first call to find out about your situation, and then start doing drain-and-fills at a regular interval, such as 50,ooo miles or whatever you feel comfortable with. You can't damage your transmission by draining it and then filling it to the proper level. New fluid replacing old fluid will not hurt the trans, but leaving old fluid in there that needs to be changed can start to cause issues that bring you trouble down the road.

As a kindness, here is where the trans drain plug is on the V6 version. This is from my car looking from the front of the vehicle on the driver's side. It doesn't get any easier than this, too, so be even happier that you have the V6 version.

  1. Put a pan under it
  2. Pull the plug and drain it
  3. Put the plug back in
  4. Fill it
  5. Start the engine
  6. Check the level and top off as needed
  7. Drive it a few miles, check and top off again with engine running
67664
 

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Just sold my '09 2.4 w/4 speed trans. with 189000 miles on it. Sold it to a friend and still running fine. Change your fluid on a regular basis for max life out of the transmission in any brand of vehicle. There is no lifetime fluid, lifetime means life of the OEM warranty. I expect it's replacement '15 Malibu to last just as long.
 

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Yup, change the fluid at recommended intervals, makes sure the 3-5-r wave plate issue has been addressed (if it applies to your car). And drive on. I'm at 326,000 km's roughly 200,000 miles and still doing ok (2011 v6).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I called the dealership today and provided the VIN # to the service rep who then advised me that my Malibu does infact have the older 3 5 R wave plate that is prone to failure.... pricing around and getting quotes, so far its looking like a $1800 cad job to replace just the old 3 5 R wave plate with the newer shot peened one. Also stumbled across Sannox ? Transmission parts, they offer a highly spoke of improved and resolved wave plate kit for these trannys that the shops say doesnt cost much extra to install. The same shops quoted me a $4-4500 cad to rebuild/replace a scattered tranny in the car. So ive got 3 choices.

Either drive the car hoping the tranny holds up till next spring and then sell it.

Or proactively spend up $2000cad now and most likey extend to life of the tranny far past my foreseeable ownership.

Or drive it and if it does pile up on a road somewhere, expect to either scrap the car. Or dish out $4500cad to get it back on the road.
 

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Even the old transmission waveplate had like a 1% failure rate. You'd be crazy to rebuild a perfectly good transmission over that. It's very rare that we see any 3.6L/6-speed threads about transmission failure these days.

Drive the wheels off the car and don't do abusive things to the transmission like ramming it back and forth between reverse and drive without coming to a complete stop first (you'd be surprised how many people do that casually), or when you have to rock it back and forth to get out of snow.
 

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SO I just bought a used 2010 LTZ platinum (3.6l VVT 6 speed auto) MALIBU with roughly 80,000 miles / 130,000 kms on it.............

Car appears to run fine, it appears to shift fine.....

HOWEVER, ive now stumbled upon what appears to be TONS of people experiencing critical transmission failures around the 90,000 mile mark mostly stemming from this defective wave plate.

This of course has me VERY worried, cus my new car is starting to approach this 90,000 mile range.

But I wonder how prevalent this problem really is ??? lets say by 150,000 miles, what percentage of the Malibu's produced in a given year do think have actually experienced a critical transmission failure??

how many people here own a Malibu with over 100,000 miles on it ?
I have a 2009 3.6 LTZ purchased new. Somewhere around 85k my transmission failed. My dealer wanted $4,200 to replace. However they appealed to GM on my behalf and got it down to $2,800 for a brand new tranny with a three year warranty. This fail is well known!!! Beside that I had one catalytic converter replaced. Otherwise it’s been a very reliable well running vehicle with just over 106K on her now. I use synthetic oil and high test BP and it runs extremely well and very quick off the line. I also have a K&N air filter as well. Not bad for a car that sits outside during nasty Northern Illinois winters.
 

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Like CP said you don't see a whole lot of threads on here with transmissions going bad in the 3.6L/6 speed cars. I personally have an 08 with the 3.6 and my car currently has 176k miles on it and I haven't had any tranny issues. I never even called the dealer to see if I had the updated wave plate because honestly at this point as long as it is working fine I'm not too worried about it. I've had this car for almost 2 years now and have put close to 40k miles on it and I personally wouldn't waste my time tearing apart the transmission when its functioning fine.
 

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Going by the any worse than other makes I've had several Sable / Taurus's in the past and they had trans. issues also. Most of the nice looking ones you see in the junkyard have bad trannies. Poor maintenance strikes again except for '80's and '90's vintage which had a forward piston failure trans. issue. I had 2 do that.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yah im still on the fence on the issue. Appreciate all the input tho! Checked the tranny level last week and it was just kissing the bottom of the dip stick when hot. So I brought it up to the max portion of the hash marks. Thankfully i am a light foot and real gentle on vehicles... so hopefully that alone goes a long way.
Despite this threat and the cheap material construction of the interior. Im REALLY liking this car! Gets respectable mileage, drives wonderfully, has plenty enough power, sounds nice and i really like the look of it by 4 door car standards. Fingers crossed that she holds up so long as I do my part.
 

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Yah im still on the fence on the issue. Appreciate all the input tho! Checked the tranny level last week and it was just kissing the bottom of the dip stick when hot. So I brought it up to the max portion of the hash marks. Thankfully i am a light foot and real gentle on vehicles... so hopefully that alone goes a long way.
Despite this threat and the cheap material construction of the interior. Im REALLY liking this car! Gets respectable mileage, drives wonderfully, has plenty enough power, sounds nice and i really like the look of it by 4 door car standards. Fingers crossed that she holds up so long as I do my part.
You'll drive yourself insane constantly being paranoid that you have a transmission made of glass. Enjoy the car! It's not one wrong shift away from falling apart.
 
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