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I'm looking to buy a Malibu Premier 16-18, I read all of the horror stories about odds and ends going out. Is there a better year to look at purchasing used without an extended warranty? My brother and dad both have Malibu's without any issues. But my luck I'll get a lemon..thanks in advance for your advice.
 

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Personally I’d choose a ‘16 with all recalls done and in good shape because of the proven 8 speed transmission.

Most issues I’ve read about in the 2.0l Malibu have been the 9 speed ‘17+ models. My ‘16 2LT has been great in that department.
 

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2016 Malibu 1LT 1.5
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most issues are with the 1.5L. I have a 2016 with the 8 speed and haven't experienced any issues.
Two years ago I would have agreed. However, adding together reports since has made it a little more foggy. The 2.0T has seen a similar proportion of piston failures based on this forum sample (2.0T / 20% of sales / 10 reports of piston failure, 1.5T / 70% of sales / 33 reports of piston failure). If you do the math the ratio is almost exactly the same. Compounding that, the 9-speed 9T50 has seen way more stranded/loss of propulsion scenarios than the 3rd gen 6T40 or new VT40. That said, piston failure - generally caused by LSPI - is just a rare possibility with small displacement direct injection turbo engines. You need to know it can happen and do everything possible to mitigate by using quality top tier fuel and dexos1 2nd gen oil to keep vapor and buildup down. It is still rare either way and not much different than the rare occasion an older non-turbo PI engine blows a head gasket or tosses a rod.

If buying used I would go for the 2.0T with 8-speed in the 2016 Premier or 2LT. The blue book residual is very similar between all trims in the 2016 year and the aisin 8-speed, while new to the Malibu and only used 1 year, has been used in other GM cars. I see very few reports of problems with that combination. I'd also take a look at 2016+ 3.6L LT Impalas too... those are on blowout prices around here with just 25000-40000 miles and competitive price-wise with 2016-2017 Malibu Premiers.

Attached is a doc citing forum sources for the 2.0T/9-speed issues.
 

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We have the 2016 with the 8 spd Aisin trans which I would recommend. Our only problem is that it eats batteries, likely due to AZ heat combined with the turbo (GM should have stuck the battery in the trunk to avoid the heat soaking).
 

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I bought a CPO 17 Premier, got 1 year/12000 mile extension on warranty. Love the car. I never buy new cars. CPO is the way to go.
 
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