Chevrolet Malibu In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The Chevrolet Malibu has been a favorite for American families for years. It offers considerable storage space, a comfortable cabin, and decent fuel efficiency. Overall, the Malibu is a perfect vehicle that can satisfy the needs of the average American family.

Here is the short answer about whether the Chevrolet Malibu is good for snow and winter driving:

The Chevrolet Malibu drives well in snow and other winter conditions because it comes with a plethora of features that improve winter driving. These include Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, Antilock Brake System, and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution system.

Is a Chevrolet Malibu Good in the Snow?

The Malibu can drive in snow; but only in light/medium snow. Trying to brave extremely deep snow with your Malibu is like signing your car’s death warrant because it can damage its components.

The Malibu has features that enhance its drivability in snow. For example, it is well proportioned, which makes for balanced driving on slippery terrain.

In addition, the low ground clearance can be helpful, depending on what type of snow you’re facing.

On surfaces covered in light to medium snow, cars like the Malibu can be a godsend. Since they are closer to the ground, they are less likely to lose control and roll over.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

We researched and came up with a list of features that enhance the snow driving ability of Chevrolet Malibus. Below, we listed those features and explained how each contributes to stellar winter performance:

Traction Control

The Traction Control system on Malibus uses several wheel speed sensors to detect wheel slipping. During winter, it’s easy for your tires to slip because they don’t get enough traction. And once they slip, your car can easily lose balance and careen off the road.

The TCS measures wheel speed to see if any tire is spinning faster than the others, which signifies wheel slippage.

Once it detects such tire(s), TCS will apply the brakes to reduce the spinning, allowing for proper contact between the wheel and road.

The result is increased traction in the wheel(s) and greater stability for your car in winter.

Stability Control

The Stability Control feature on the Chevrolet Malibu tracks your vehicle’s performance in real-time to determine its stability. To do this, it combines input from steering wheel sensors, wheel speed sensors, and so on.

The Stability Control system detects when you lose control of your vehicle by comparing steering wheel motion and vehicle motion. For example, you could be steering left while your car is drifting to the left, indicating a loss of control.

Stability Control can also detect loss of control by measuring wheel speed. If your vehicle is moving at 50 mph and some wheels are moving at 70 mph, it means your tires are slipping and your car is going out of control. 

Whenever it senses loss of stability or control, Stability Control will kick in to prevent your vehicle from crashing.  It could reduce the car’s speed so it becomes easier to control.

It could also apply the brakes on the slipping wheels so the car can stay on course. Stability Control is useful in winter because low-traction road conditions often translate into higher chances of accidents.

At least, with Stability Control, you’d reduce your chances of crashing or colliding.

Antilock Brake System

The Antilock Braking System (ABS) stabilizes your vehicle under extreme braking. Extreme braking (application of excess brake force) is needed occasionally when driving in winter. However, your wheels could easily lock from the excess brake force.

By monitoring wheel speed, ABS can decide if a wheel is about to lock and stop such from occurring. Once the brake force on a wheel gets excessive to the point of lockup, ABS will “pulse” the brakes to reduce the brake pressure and stop wheel lock.

Electronic Brake Force Distribution

The Electronic Brake Force Distribution system is part of the Antilock Braking System and averts wheel lockup under extreme braking. However, its manner of execution is quite different from the ABS.

The EBD doesn’t reduce brake pressure; instead, it transfers brake force to the wheels proportionally. This means each wheel gets just the right amount of brake force—enough that they don’t lock or slip under braking.

Heated Front Seats

The Malibu comes with adjustable, heated front seats that keep you warm and comfortable during winter drives. This definitely improves the winter driving experience and makes it more enjoyable.

Please also check out our article on how long the Toyota Camry lasts.

Does a Malibu Have Snow Mode?

The Chevrolet Malibu doesn’t have a Snow Mode. Typically, snow mode helps improve snow-driving capabilities by adjusting vehicle operation for greater traction and stability. 

The lack of a Snow Mode definitely limits the Malibu’s snow driving ability. Still, you can use other features such as Traction Control and Stability Control to enhance snow driving.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Malibu?

Using snow gear on a vehicle can improve its drivability in snow. Can you install snow gear on your Malibu? Yes, you can. In fact, we advise investing in a set of snow gear for your Malibu.

The Malibu uses front-wheel drive, which isn’t as effective in snow as either AWD or 4WD. Therefore, installing snow gear on your Malibu is a quick and easy way to increase its snow driving ability.

Some snow gears you can install on your Malibu include snow chains, snow tires, and snow socks. In some states, snow chains are mandatory for small vehicles like the Malibu.

How Much Snow Can a Malibu Handle?

The Chevrolet Malibu offers a little above six inches in ground clearance. Based on this, we’d say the Malibu could handle the regular snowfall in your area. However, it will likely have problems navigating heavy snow.

If we’re giving estimates, the Malibu should be able to drive in snow between four to five inches. If you’re not living in an area where heavy snowfall is recurrent, the Malibu should satisfy your snow driving needs.

Make sure to also check out our article on Chevrolet Cruze in snow and winter driving.

How Does Malibu Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

Unlike older carbureted models, the Malibu is much easier to start and run in winter. This is because the vehicle uses electronic fuel injection.

Fuel-injected vehicles are rarely affected by cold weather and can start in subzero temperatures without problems. Carbureted vehicles, however, are difficult to start in winter and sometimes fail to run.

Some problems could prevent your Malibu from operating properly in winter. Here are some:

  • Faulty electrical system
  • Failed spark plugs
  • Contaminated fuel
  • Blocked fuel filters and fuel lines
  • Dirty air filters

Can a Malibu Drive on Ice?

The Malibu can drive on ice. And the reason for this is straightforward.

First, the Malibu has a small body, making it easier to control on slick surfaces. Second, the low ride height of the Malibu means it’s less susceptible to rollover crashes, which is common on icy roads.

More importantly, Traction Control and Electronic Stability Control both combine to increase traction and stability on ice. This makes driving on icy roads safe.

Does the Malibu Have 4WD?

The Malibus don’t come with 4WD. Instead, you get standard front-wheel-drive (FWD) on all models in the Malibu lineup. FWD isn’t nearly as good as 4WD in terms of winter driving, but it’s still better than rear-wheel-drive (RWD).

In addition, placing the engine over the front wheels in FWD improves stability in slippery winter driving conditions. Therefore, FWD isn’t as bad as people think it is.

We also have an article on Chevrolet Equinox in snow and winter driving.

What About Older Models And Winter Driving?

Most of the early Chevrolet Malibus didn’t have features that aid winter driving. For example, Traction Control didn’t appear on Malibus until the 2004 model year.  Based on this, we can hardly recommend them for any winter driving.

If you must buy an older Chevrolet for winter driving, get something released from 2004 and later. These are more likely to have features such as Traction Control, Stability Control, etc. 

Does a Malibu Need Snow Tires?

The Chevrolet Malibu will need snow tires if you plan to subject it to a lot of winter driving.

Despite what salesmen tell you, all-season tires are not good for use in winter conditions. They offer less traction, reduced stability and expose you to higher risks of road mishaps on ice and snow.

However, snow tires are winter-ready and have various features that make them better at winter driving. For example, they have tread compounds that provide greater traction and control in less-than-ideal conditions of ice/snow.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow On A Malibu?

You cannot mount a snowplow on the Malibu. It is too small and does not provide the power needed to move large amounts of the white stuff.

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