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Chevrolet (Geo) Prizm



  • dukebludukeblu Posts: 18
    I'm thinking about buying a 2001/2002 Prizm but only want one with the 4 speed automatic. How do you visually tell the difference between the two. I'm assuming that very few sellers will have the original window sticker. Is the option code listed on the door as witrh other Chevys?

    Wish they were still making this car new. 40 MPG in a automatic Prizm beats the hell out of a smaller less powerful Aveo that can only manage 35MPG
  • mt700a1mt700a1 Posts: 53
    Check coolant level often. It you have to keep adding antifreeze in the radiator, you have a leak somewhere. If the coolant disappears but you see no external leaks, blown head gasket is a possibility.
    Thermostat failure is fairly common so let's hope that solves the problem.

    If it doesn't solve the problem, check ignition timing with a timing light. Check if the timing belt is tight. Clogged (internally or externally) radiator is another possibility. You can squeeze a radiator hose in your hand and see if the coolant is flowing once the engine warms up. Hoses should get hot as the engine gets hot, if the water pump is indeed circulating the coolant (be careful doing this). If the coolant is circulating, water pump should be ok.
    Good Luck.
  • mt700a1mt700a1 Posts: 53
    The 4th gear on 4spd model is overdrive. There is a little push button switch on the side of the shifter. Dashboard should have an indicator that comes on when the overdrive is off. That's usually that way it's set up, although I am not exactly sure on 2001/2 models.

    Toyota Corolla is still in production and it is almost identical to the Prizm, except that the Corolla has gone through a model change since the last generation of Prizm/Corolla co-production. My GF has a 05 Corolla, and it is much quieter and more comfortable than my 94 Prizm.

    The new bargain is going to be Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe. They are much more spacious than the Corolla and very good on gas. I expect the Vibe to depreciate in value much faster than the Matrix, and it will be just as reliable as the Matrix.

  • My prizm has been using about a quart of oil a week. I could not figure out where the oil was going. There were no signs of oil leakage under the car and no smoke from the tailpipe. The car was running a little warm so I flushed the radiator and saw there was oil in the water. Also there is thick black greasy film on passenger side of car, front tire and outer front door panel. What is causing this? I have asked several people and they don't know. If it was a blown head gasket, wouldn't the water be in the oil instead of the oil in the water? I am a single female and have to do my own repairs. I rely on this car to support myself and would greatly appreciate any advise I can get. Also, I took the thermostat out and the car doesn't run on the hot side any more. I figure that the oil in the water had clogged up the thermostat. If anyone knows what may be causing this, please let me know. :confuse:
  • Oil leaking into the cooling system "overfills" the cooling system, and the coolant is overflowing from the coolant reservoir. But the coolant is contaminated with oil, so the tire well and door get coated with grease. Does this sound like a possible senario? How much oil did you find in the cooling system when you flushed it?

    I would not assume that you need a new head gasket.
    Some cars have engine oil cooler inside the cooling system. One possible location for this device is near the intake manifold. This takes hot oil from the engine to the coolant (in separate a tube of course) for cooling of engine oil. There may be a heat exchanger (should look llike mini-radiator within the cooling system) bathed in coolant, and if there is a leak, oil will end up leaking into the radiator.

    I read somewhere that oil pressure in this oil cooler is typically higher than the coolant pressure, hence oil leaking into the coolant, not the other way around.

  • Update..after a new radiator, new fuel injectors, new temp sensor, new spark plugs and spark plugs wires and checking the compression which was real low on some of them I threw in the towel and traded it in for a 2002 Ford Focus SE. Hey the car did me good til the final stretch and with 185,000 was ready to be put to rest. So thanks for the suggestions you did give in a timely and helpful manner.

    But hey shocked the guys when I got the book out and replaced some of the parts myself lol
  • I've been dealing with the PO171 "Left Bank Lean" problem since May on my 2000 Prism (94K miles). I've had sealant added around the manifold, replaced the O2 sensors, replaced the gas cap, had the dealer clean the system (including the MAF allegedly), used premium gas with Lucas injector treatment, all to no avail--the check engine light will go off (or I'll turn it off via the fuse) then come back again (always 171, though I did get a PO300 "Random Multiple Cylinder Misfire" once--I appreciated the variety).

    It's an annoyance, really, since the only symptom other than the light is a hestitation sometimes when accelarating from a stop (I'm extra cautious about pulling into traffic now!).

    Out of solutions other than having the fuel filter replaced, which I imagine would be expensive as heck given its location, I'm wondering whether the PO171 problem may be related to another issue I had at the beginning of the summer, namely my A/C refusing to cool. I added more refrigerant without any luck, then replaced the filter/orifice, which was completely clogged, and refilled with coolant. Both times the car cooled for a day, then stopped. I have an ultraviolet light to pick up the dye in the coolant, but I can't detect any leaks.

    I'm out of ideas, so I'm wondering whether ya'll might think there's a connection, however unlikely, between the PO171 issue and the failure of the A/C to cool. Or, if you have more suggestions on how to remedy either, I'd welcome them!

  • I have a 92 Geo Prizm with 144000 miles. Runs fine except that it's taken to not starting when the temperature reaches 30 or below. I've had the starter and alternator and ignition replaced and it has a new battery. I don't want to put in a lot of money on this car since it's 13-years-old but I would like to get through the coming winter.

    Anybody else have a problem like this?
  • Hi I have the same problem with my prism 93 cooling fan is running with the switch on,did u fix the problem?if yes,how,can u help me?thank you.
  • Update: I took the car back to a dealership where I was told to expect to leave it for several days while the mechanics drove it until the check engine light came back on. Because the Prizm computer is so small, they said, the best diagnostic info is obtained as soon as the light goes on.

    However, I heard back from the dealer an hour or two after I dropped the car off. As with other folks' experience with this problem, it was the mass air flow sensor. Parts and labor and a new sensor cost me $352.99 overall. Pricey, but the car runs like new now, and even the A/C seems to cool quicker (though I reckon I have to wait till summer to test that out fully!).
  • Yeah, so i have a 92 Geo Prizm also and recently the temperatures here have reached the low 30s and now i cant even turn my ignition. the key goes in but will not budge. i do not know why and am very frustrated. is this similar to your problem at all. we need some answers! :cry:
  • We have a '93 Geo Prizm...same problem! When the weather is cold, it may start or not. Battery is fine. All connections are tight. Sometimes a clicking noise when it is trying to turn over, sometimes nothing. However it will kick over fine when connected to another car for a "jump". This problem has started only now, with the coming of the cold temperatures. Anybody with any ideas??
  • I had some repairs done to my 1998 Prizm LSi yesterday, and I told them that the panel under the shift lever -- the one that reads "PRND2L" -- doesn't light up any more. The repair guy said that after opening it up, he couldn't find place to PUT a light bulb. I'm sure I remember being able to see the shifter setting in the dark before.

    Am I wrong? Or will my repairman have to remove the entire shifter cover to replace the bulb?

  • Brief history: I was returning home from a short trip ~25 miles. I let off the accelerator to turn right into my subdivision and the engine died. :confuse: It restarted and ran rough until i parked it in my driveway 2 blocks from where it died. Since then it stalls at traffic stops and depending how it stalls: either restarts immediately if it just dies or takes a minute or two if it sputters, seems to diesel, run backward and back flow through intake. Sometimes rough on acceleration sometimes smooth. When rough sometimes gentle pumping would let it catch and become smooth.

    Parts replaced so far:

    O2 sensor - no change in symptoms

    Fuel Filter - no change in symptoms

    Fuel Pump and pressure regulator - better for awhile but symptoms returned a week later.

    Drove to Nascar race in Atlanta ~350 miles one way. It went smooth on the interstate and highways with no problems as long as I didn't have to stop for a traffic light or stop sign. Only died twice on the way and twice on the way back. Averaged 35 M.P.G. for the trip.

    Timing Belt and alternator belt not for symptoms but wanted it done anyway - ran great that evening even through mechanics test drive but when I went to test drive it the symptoms returned. Next morning it wouldn't start at all. When checked found plenty of spark but no pulse at fuel injectors. :sick:

    ECU - (obtained at reasonable price from eBay with warranty) Finally got it to start but symptoms remain. Next morning no start again. Found code retrieval info and got code from ECU that read normal (steady flash). :cry:

    Throttle Position Sensor (changed but not adjusted to specs as we couldn't find pin outs to follow adjustment procedure)- Drove to parts store where it "acted up" on the way to and on the return trip. Checked ECU for code and retrieved code 31 .

    M.A.P. Sensor - Finally got it to start again but accelleration again produces different results. Sometimes it is smooth. Sometimes it chokes, dies, diesels and hard to restart. Sometimes dies right away on accelleration and easy to restart. Next morning no start again. :mad: ECU returns no code .

    This is where I am at after 7 months of chasing my tail and my Mechanic is just pulling his hair out now. Any ideas out there????? This is my only car and now has me stranded until I get this solved. The no starting just started since the weather turned cold. I only paid $600 US for the car when I bought it in April, 2005, now I'm at ~$760 in parts and labor since July. I'm willing to put a little more change into it since the gas mileage is so good on it though. ;)
  • My heater will not work. I've checked the fuses, wiring, etc. but cannot find the problem. I have 3 children riding in this car with me and it's about 12 degrees in the morning when we leave with no heat!! I am on a limited income so I cannot afford to take my car to a mechanic. Someone please help me!!! P.S. I bought this car in May for $600. I have spent already $1500 to fix all kinds of problems (replaced the entire brake system etc.) so I am now broke AND freezing!!! :cry:
  • I feel your pain... what year is the car?
    Few simple items to check:

    Coolant level & condition- Do you have enough? If you or the previous owner kept adding water to the radiator, it may not circulate well through the heater core when it is partially frozen.

    Temp gauge-is the engine really warming up? See if the temp gauge needle goes up to where it normally does in warmer months. If the thermostat is stuck open, your car may never reach the operating temp. Then the heater would not work. Bad for engine too. Symptoms: the car takes very long time to warm up. In stop and go traffic the temp gauge needle creeps up, but in constant highway speed it begins to cool all the way to where you started in the morning. If this is the case and if you can be EXTREMELY CAREFUL, you might try blocking 1/2 of the radiator with a piece of cardboard. This an emergency measure, and it will work on the highway, but could lead to severe overheating in stop and go traffic. I have used this method before but I kept very close eye on the temp gauge and replaced the thremostat as soon as possible. A couple of times I had to stop and pull the cardboard out to prevent overheating in stop and go traffic.

    Heater control knob-if it is broken and/or slipping, it may not be moving the actual temp control lever.

    There are space-heater like devices that you can plug into the cigrette lighter. You can get one at any auto parts store. At 600 watts it is not strong, but might serve as a hand warmer. This is obviously a temporary measure, because the alternator has to work hard to supply that kind of output. But if you are really frezing and can't fix the problem right away... Make sure you don't kill the battery with it. It is worse to get stuck with a dead battery when it's 12 degrees out.
    Good luck
  • I'll assume that you know for sure that the battery is in good shape. If the car starts every time it is jumped but not on its own, I suspect the battery cable. Probably the negative cable, corroded or otherwise damaged. You connect the red jumper cable to the positive battery terminal but the black goes on the engine block. If this works every time, then the problem is either battery itself or the cable that cannot carry large enough current to start the car. It takes larger current to turn over the engine when cold, and battery is weaker when cold. If you have a bad cable problems still could be temperature dependent.

    If you checked the battery, battery cables, and cable connections (both battery side and car side), the next stop is the starter itself. Starter solenoid can fail, starter itself can fail in such a way that it requires larger current to turn over the engine.
  • I have a 1996 Geo Prizm Lsi (manual) and recently I have been having issues with the heat. I lose heat when idling. I get no heat after warming the car up, but I do get heat when driving. The temperature gauge reads in the middle where it normally does, however I did notice once that when idling (and losing heat), it would rise briefly and then drop again (also sounds as if a fan came on to.
    Any ideas what the issue could be?
  • mt700a1mt700a1 Posts: 53
    Check the blower (fan motor for heat/ac, NOT the radiator fan) operation. If the fan is not running, the only time you get heated air through the vent is when the car is in motion and wind is forcing air through the vent. Fan speed selector switch typically uses resistors to control fan speed, and they fail from time to time. Or it could be the blower motor itself. Check the fuse box first.

    If the problem is not fan related check the standard items like coolant level and thrmostat operation. If the thermostat is partially stuck you might see overheating in warmer weather. It could also keep the coolant from flowing into the heater core at low water pump pressuer at low rpm.

    My prime suspect is the fuse for the fan.

    Good luck.
  • loujilouji Posts: 3
    My 1990 Geo Prizm makes an absurd noise every time I hit 35 mph. Now I can't even go beyond 45 mph. The car seems to have power whenever I hit the gas. I've changed oil and filter but that didn't help. This car was fine until I drove it to NYC for the holidays. I cannot stand the weird noise and I'm thinking of donating this car but I need it for a few more months. Will somebody please help me with this problem :cry: ?
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