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Chevrolet (Geo) Prizm



  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    I bought a used 3-speed 2002 Prizm in April 05 because it was such a deal ($6750 for LSI with 25K, from a local rural Dodge dealer, excellent condition, local owner). I have an 86 mile commute round-trip and the 17-18mpg in my v-8 Chevy Silverado was hurting me at the gas pump. My understanding is that the 3-speed simply lacks the overdrive. You can easily tell which a car has by the presence or absence of the button on the driver side of the shifter. The 4 speed should run quieter on the highway as its running at lower rpms and will get better fuel economy. My 3-speed runs about 3000rpm at 60mph. I've put 6000+ miles on it in the 15 weeks I've owned it and my fuel economy has run from 31.0 to 37.4 mpg (for 34 years of driving, I've kept a small notebook in the car and recorded every fill-up, oil change, maintenance etc.). Its been in the 90's here and I am noticing an air-conditioning penalty of 2 to 3 mpg that I don't see with my v-8. I drive mostly on the highway and the 4-speed (I would have preferred the 5-speed!) would have been a better choice but this example was just too good of a deal to pass up. While its noisy on the highway, I do a lot of coasting when I see a light turn red in the distance. The 3-speed is excellent for this as it has more engine braking than an overdrive equipped car. I rarely touch the brakes. As I never drive it over 62, I'm the slowest car on the rural highways and try to take alternate slower "twisty" routes, which are always more fun with small, slow cars. Of course, in the city, there would be no need for overdrive, and the 3-speed would be fine. My intention is to drive it for 4 years and then use it to teach my now 12&1/2 year old daughter to drive - I think its an excellent car for teaching a new driver.
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    Bought a 2002 Prizm LSI used that was missing its remotes. I bought a new GM remote for 98-02 Prizm cheap on eBay but without programming instructions. I prefer to program it myself - anybody have any instructions?
  • notyou2notyou2 Posts: 35
    I know this may not be the answer to your problem, but, I had the very exact same thing going wrong with my Pontiac, and finally, my brother, who is a GM mechanic said, just replace the gas cap. The whole gas system has some kind of vacuum thingy and if the gas cap does not seal correctly, the vacuum thingy comes on, etc.... Could be the same thing for you, and real cheap to fix, it fixed mine.....never had another code like that for the rest of the time I owned the car....
  • crw7crw7 Posts: 5
    I wish it was that simple. I'm not ruling that out completely, but then again, the dealer is doing all this troubleshooting for free and I'd hope that they would be smart enough to check something like that first rather than waste parts and labor hunting for another solution.
  • notyou2notyou2 Posts: 35
    Go get the gas cap, drive around for a while, then if it isn't that, all you have lost is about $5.00. But, you may just solve the problem too. We went through the same thing for about 6 months, then I called my brother, who lives 1100 miles from me, he told me get a gas cap, viola, fixed.....made the dealership mechanics down here scratch their heads.....doesn't hurt to try.....good luck...
  • phicougphicoug Posts: 3
    I've used a 1 gallon can of mineral spirits during an oil change, but I don't run the engine, I disconnect the spark plugs and crank the engine a few times to circulate the solvent. You'll be impressed with how clean your oil is after trying this. I also might try kerosene next time.
  • phicougphicoug Posts: 3
    I've had a heck of a time with the belts on my 94 prizm. There is interference between the alternator and AC belts. I had to modify my alternator bracket moving the alternator toward the right fender by 3/8 of an inch to alleviate the condition. In addition the belts that the auto parts stores have in their systems just don't fit, even when all components are loosened to their most slack positions. I know what you're thinking, but it is a 94 prizm with a 1.6L engine, I can't see any modifications other than mine, and I believe I'm only the second owner.

    As to the starter, it sounds like the starter is slowly failing, replace it before it quits perminately.
  • phicougphicoug Posts: 3
    Most importantly confirm that the timing belt was replaced at 60K miles. If the belt goes the engine is shot. other than that there is a recommended maintenance schedule in your owners manual. I recommend new plugs and cap and roter every 60K when you change the timing belt. You'll want to replace the transaxle oil at 100K -If it's a manual (I think that's what it says in the manual) and at 85K you might be looking at a new clutch. Have the coolant flushed--again back to the manual for recommended service intervals.
  • geomurphygeomurphy Posts: 1
    1990 Geo Prism LSi Hatchback. 1.6L, auto-transmission, only 68,500 mi. The brake pedal on this car has gone (nearly) to the floor 4 or 5 times in the past year. It then slowly recovers over the next few minutes regardless of how much you pump the brakes. Happens so infrequently but understandably family is afraid to drive the car. Need help to diagnose this problem!

    Last Fall it happened to my daughter twice (parking lot both times) and I didn't believe it until it happened to me on the road. No fluid loss can be found by me or a brake mechanic.

    Had the master cylinder replaced last October at a brake shop for lack of anything better to try. We thought perhaps fluid was getting past the seals somehow.

    Brakes worked without incident through the winter and into May. Failed on me one day in May exiting expressway after 10 mile run. Brakes gradually recovered over the next few minutes as I went to a store. Left store, drove same distance on expressway -- no problem. Left second stop, and drove same distance again on expressway -- no problem. One month later, on a winding road, slightly down hill, 40 mph, pedal went to floor on my daughter and she barely stopped in time to avoid rear-ending the car in front. Continued on home. Brakes recovered as usual in a few minutes. I have driven it 10 times since, over 200 mi and no problem.

    How can the brake peddle go nearly to the floor with no fluid loss, and SLOWLY recover. Pumping does seem to not help bring it back. Seems more like it just takes some time -- like 10-15 minutes.
  • Greetings!
    I too recently had to change my alternator belt on a '96 GEO Prizm [1.8L engine] and also had a devil of a time getting it on. As you said, even with all of the adjusters loosened as much as I could and keep the parts still on the engine it still wouldn't quite make it. It had taken me a while to find that there was more than one adjuster on the alternator that had to be loosened. Between myself and my dad we managed to get the belt on without 'adjusting' the bracket, but it wasn't easy. Had to have one of us prying down onthe bracket while the other worked the belt on [new multi-channel type not good old v-belt type]. All told it took about 3 days from the time I got the new belt form the parts store until the car was running again. Don't know about '94 but probably the same as '96 in that it was made possible to change but would make you take it to the dealer after the first time or make you give up and take it to them in frustration. :mad:
  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,666
    This is a non-interference engine (as are most Toyotas) so the engine is fine if the belt breaks. Unless the previous owner was poor at driving a stick, the clutch should be fine.
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    Have a couple of stone chips on edge of hood & would like to touch-up with correct silver metallic paint. Anybody know where to find the paint code on this car (02 LSI)?
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    Found it! Codes sticker attached to underside of trunk lid.
  • achim59achim59 Posts: 3
    my Geo 162000 miles got a problem
    It won't start in the morning, cranks fine i suspect a faulty Fuel pump relay but i don't have a repair manual and i can't find that darn thing
    I thing if you turn the key to *ignition* your Fuel pump should kick on for a few sec. to pressurize the system, or not?
    Mine kicks only on when i turn the key to the *start-position*
    have to krank engine for about 5 min. Then you'll hear 1 or 2 cylinder firing. wait a little try again , after about 10 min it limps on 2 cyl and the 3rd one kick in!
    Another 2-3 min and car starts.
    After that car runs fine, with no stalling or other probs. All day long!
    Sits then @ work for 8 Hours and just starts right up!
    But next morning ( over night in the Garage) same problem *grrrrr*
    changed fuel pump , coil pack, coolant temp sensor plugs, whole distributor, fuel filter...and.....aehem that's it!
    aby ideas besides Fuel pump relay or EFI-relay???
    a very sad prizm owner! :cry:
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    You might also want to check out our "No Start" Problems discussion. Hope we can help.
  • mt700a1mt700a1 Posts: 53
    I can't remember exactly what it is now but there is a "choke" or an EFI equivalent of it that gives the engine a richer mixture when it is stone cold. Once the car is warm it will start without it, but it takes a rich mixture to start it in the morning. So the temp sensor (may be a different one from the coolant temp sensor) could be bad, or the engine computer could be bad. You should test the fulel pump relay just in case. Since the pump had already been replaced I trust that the pump itself is in working order.
    For a quick remedy, buy a can of starting fluid and spray it into the air filter. I bet it will make it easier to start.
  • Michael, I have a 93 Geo Prism. I just drained the radiator about two months ago. I had the same plastic drain plug you described. It was located at the bottom left hand side of the radiator. It was also shaped like a plus sign which
    allowed me to turn it by hand to remove and reinstall. If it is indeed stuck (may have been reinstalled on an angle) you may have to use the pliers to turn it. You may want to try and find a replacement part before doing so.

    Hope this helps!
  • I have a 5 speed 1998 Prizm. I did a dumb thing the last time I went to the gas station. I forgot to put the gas cap on my car after re fueling. I planned to replace it the next day, but you know life happens, it was off for about 10-12 days :blush: My question is, when you say drive around for a while, how long is a little while. Also, will the light go on when the muffler starts to go. The muffler has never been replaced. I feel an ever so slightly vibration under my feet when driving. My muffler also no longer repels my hand when I place it over the tail pipe. When I took it in to Midas to replace it the service manager said, my muffler had no holes in it and was not loud. There is not difference in gas mileage. "Why would I want to replace a perfectly good muffler," said the manager. That was in February. I never had that kind of trouble with Midas before I moved here. Any suggestions? What should my next step if you were me :confuse: Thanks
  • :confuse: I purchased my 99 Prizm a couple of weeks or so ago and can't figure out if it is a 3 or a 4-speed automatic. Is there a place on the engine or somewhere I can look to see? Or is there any other way to find out?
  • I have a 1994 Geo Prizm. 162,000 miles. Car starts...but when pushing on the gas it hesitates and chokes, then revs up. When driving it lurches forward some and loses power even on straight aways....going up hill is a real challenge. When pushing the pedal all the way to the floor, the passing gear doesn't engage, but you smell gas. Any suggestions?

    Also looking for a hood, any ideas for a cheap replacement as this is just a work car. :confuse: :sick:
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