Chevy Malibu Won’t Drive Forward [7 Easy Solutions]

Chevy Malibu won’t drive forward due to a cracked supply line or fluid line. Therefore, bad clutch packs, defective transmission valve body, low fluid levels, and incorrect linkage adjustment are some culprits that prevent the car from moving forward. 

Addressing and solving those issues, your Chevy will drive forward or perform smoothly. And this guide will break down each of those issues. So, continue to read till the end.  

Chevy Malibu Won’t Drive Forward [7 Easy Solutions]

This chapter will highlight all the culprits that cause your car to not drive forward. 

1. A Cracked Supply Line In-Transmission

A cracked supply line or fluid tube is the main culprit that causes your Chevy Malibu to not go forward, except in reverse. So, we suggest you check out the fluid tube in the transmission first. In most cases, it’s the culprit that prevents your car from going forward. 

A lot of people may tell you the transmission is at fault. Yes, this could be an issue that will leave a dent in your wallet. But 99% of the time, the cracked fluid line is the caveat. So, you must definitely give this a shot and replace the fluid tube in the transmission. You will thank us later as this replacement will save you $3000. 

To replace the transmission line, you should jack up your car. After raising your vehicle, drain the transmission fluid. Just detach the clip that keeps the supply lines in place. Of course, don’t forget to place a drain pan right underneath the transmission line. Otherwise, you will end up creating an annoying mess. 

Now, grab a wrench and use it to unscrew the nuts that hold the transmission line. Once you loosen the nut, wiggle the transmission supply line with enough force. Then, pull and remove the line. It will be better if you spray a brake cleaner on the end where you will install the transmission line. 

Next, install the new transmission line or fluid tube by attaching one end to the radiator and another one to the transmission. Now, secure the line by screwing the nut. Finally, refill the transmission fluid tube or line with fresh fluid as we emptied the transmission oil earlier. 

2. Bad Clutch Packs

Chevy Malibu won’t go into gear due to defective clutch packs. If the transmission fluid appears too black, we bet the clutch packs are gone. 

Generally, the clutch packs get worn out if you ride the clutch pedal more often. It creates friction between the clutch disc and produces heat, which accelerates the wear. 

Therefore, the clutch packs won’t release or move if the piston seal gets worn out. Either way, your car’s clutch packs will not move when the hydraulic fluid is leaking. 

If the clutch packs go defective, following the below tutorial will come in handy to replace your car clutch. Also, don’t hesitate to check out the piston seal for a crack. If needed, replace the piston seal with a new one. Lastly, we suggest you do not ride the clutch pedal more often than needed. 

3. Valve Body Failure In-Transmission

A defective transmission valve body can also be the culprit behind this issue. If it goes bad, the fluid (that lubricates every part or component of the transmission) can’t run through those transmission components. Indeed, you can compare the valve body to the brain. If the brain doesn’t work, the transmission goes nuts and prevents your car from moving forward. 

Harsh or incorrect shifting, shift flares, and gear slippage are some signs that will let you know about a failed transmission valve body. 

Once you notice any of those indications, you must replace the valve body in the transmission. If you are mechanically inclined, you can follow the below tutorial helpful to change the transmission valve body. 

4. Low Fluid Level

Low transmission fluid level is another culprit most vehicle owners overlook. If the fluid level of the transmission gets lower, no parts of the transmission will not get lubricated. As a result, the transmission will not perform optimally. In the worst cases, your automatic transmission system will meet the ultimate failure because of a lack of lubrication. 

To avoid this issue, we recommend you check the transmission fluid level often by inserting the transmission fluid dipstick. If needed, add transmission fluid to let the transmission operate smoothly. 

5. Incorrect Linkage Adjustment

Incorrect shift linkage adjustment causes a lot of problems like your Chevy won’t drive forward. 

Typically, the shift linkage resembles the connection between the gear lever and the transmission of your car. Once the linkage adjustment problem develops, you can hardly shift the gear to neutral or drive. In the worst cases, you can’t even start the engine. 

Adjusting the shift linkage cable correctly is an easy fix to this problem. If you don’t know how to adjust the shift linkage cable, you can follow the below tutorial. It will help you adjust the shift linkage cable to fix this issue. 

6. A Defective Speed Sensor

A faulty speed sensor can also cause your Chevy Malibu to not drive forward as it messes up with the transmission system. If the sensor sends the wrong information to the ECU, it will surely affect the gear shift. Consequently, your transmission system works erratically and prevents the car from moving. 

Replacing the speed sensor with a new one will be a simple fix to this issue. We recommend you watch the below tutorial to learn how to change the speed sensor on your Chevy. Alternatively, you can hire a mechanic to do this task for you. 

7. Defective Transmission

If you fail to solve the issue after trying out every step we mentioned, we bet the transmission system is at fault. In simple words, you need to replace the transmission, which is an expensive replacement. It will cost you at least $3000 to change the transmission. 


How much is a Chevy Malibu transmission?

You should spend $3500 to get a new Chevy Malibu transmission. However, changing transmission fluid or flushing the fluid is less expensive and will not cost you more than $1500. 

What are the signs of a blown transmission?

Grinding noise, shifting problems, strange smells, and gear slippage are some symptoms of a blown transmission. 

How long does a transmission last?

It typically depends on how you maintain the transmission and how many miles you drive a car per year. You can expect the transmission to last around 300000 miles if you maintain & service it. Otherwise, it will last up to 100000 miles without service and maintenance. 


A cracked transmission line is the main culprit that causes your Chevy Malibu to not drive forward. So, we recommend you check the transmission fluid tube first before going for any replacement, which will save you extra costs. 

If this is not the issue, we recommend you follow the other troubleshooting steps we mentioned. We hope our suggestions will help you figure out the reasons behind the problem and solve it. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to bring your car to a professional mechanic to solve this issue. 

About John M

John contributed as a technical head at an automobile company just 2 years after his post-graduation in Automobile Engineering. He loves to lead a free life, so he left his job & started blogging. Now, he does research on every automotive problem, part & product and seeks a better solution & best products & shares his findings with his readers to help them as well as to minimize their struggle.

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