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Chevrolet (Geo) Prizm



  • mt700a1mt700a1 Posts: 53
    It is highly unlikely that both the belt and the tensioner happened to be defective at the same time. Here are the possibilities.

    1.The belt broke first and it damaged the tensioner.

    2. The tensioner failed and as a result the belt got ruined.

    3.Belt tension was not set correctly at the factory or by a garage mechanic who worked on the car. This resulted in belt slippage, and slipping belt fails very fast. You need only a new belt, and correct tension in it.

    4. You did not need to have either item replaced. Your mechanic was going to be late for his boat payment that month.

    Other problems you mentioned....I really get annoyed by stuff like that. A four-year-old car should not need a new power window motor or a bulb behind the dash. I feel your frustration. Be sure to take your car to a reputable mechanic.
  • Thanks for the feedback. I hate it when a $25 oil change turns into an $825 one. I was told that a tensioner for most make/models costs $100 or less, but because I needed a Toyota part, it cost as much as it did. I believe that what happened was the tensioner became defective which screwed up the Serpentine belt. I'd much rather believe that than your Option #4. I've been going to this mechanic for several years, and I think they're honest guys. Their labor rates are a bit high, but I write it off as an "honesty fee" which sounds terrible. One of these days I'm going to go to auto mechanic school and open up a repair shop and market it as an honest repair shop run by women for women.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    The Forums may not be used for buying and selling. Some messages have been removed. Thanks for your understanding.
  • fmzfmz Posts: 5
    I have a 96 1.6L Geo Prizm...non California stuff...i think its 3 speed too...the gearbox (automatic) is P N R D 2 L

    It has lots of miles on it, about to hit 250000 in a few weeks.

    I usually fill up about 9.5 - 10 gallons of gas in it and it is usually around 250 miles, the fuel gauge tells me my fuel is almost empty. I mostly drive in the city.

    I have looked everywhere on the net and see that fuel tank is 13.2 G
    So my question is that do i have like a 10.5 Gallon Fuel Tank or my my fuel gauge is bad?

    Please shed some light on this subject.
  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,680
    Like many cars, the fuel gauge is too conservative - it tells you your empty, but reality is you got lots left. You can tell if the tranny is 3 or 4 speed by the button or lack of on the side of the selector. It would be a 4 speed if there is an O/D drive on /off button below the normal lock button.
  • fmzfmz Posts: 5
    There's no O/D drive on off button below the normal lock button.
    So do you think i should risk going over like 30 miles more?? You know like 290 or 300 miles in one fuel go??

    So its true that I have a 13.2 Gallon fuel tank as opposed to what I think is more like a 10.5 gallon tank?

    Thanks for all your help
  • fmzfmz Posts: 5
    One more thing, its a 93 Prizm Vs. a 96

    My bad
  • My daughter has a 2000 Prism with about 80,000 miles on it. It started using oil about 5,000 miles ago...I have always changed oil on a regular basis...but not sure what she did when she went to school. I have switched to 10w40...but, that has not helped...she is sucking down 1 quart a week...with low miles! Did you get any feedback from anyone...we have noticed that the backend of her car on the tail pipe side has lots of soot...including the inside of the tail pipe...but there is NO black or white smoke...even at startup and acceleration.'s a great car, she loves it! (PS, the car was purchased new by me as a business vehicle, then I gave it to does not have an automatic overdrive on it...the rpm's stay up pretty high....)
  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,680
    Yes, you have a 13.2 gallon tank. You can go 30 miles more. Just don't go too far, because the fuel pump supposedly is cooled by fuel in the tank, so if the level is too low, the fuel pump runs hotter (not good). Also, you never want to run a car out of fuel (not only bad for you, but bad for the car.) And yes, you have the old 3 speed auto.
  • cindym1cindym1 Posts: 2
    I can't seem to find a separate posting for new messages - I'm a new person at this site, and although I'm pretty comfortable with forums, my screen just isn't showing a posting icon or lettering. So I'm hoping, that even though I'm tagging this on as a reply, someone will read it that will be able to tell me something about this issue.
    My daughter was just involved in a head on collision (not at all her fault) while she was traveling 35 miles an hour. Her 1995 Prizm with only 83,000 miles is totalled, and surprisingly, her airbag did not activate at all.
    She took a real hit with the steering wheel, and the seat belt did some damage to soft tissue and spine, but she was able to get out of the car under her own power. I'm impressed on how well the Geo Prizm held up in the crash. Her knee did get pushed into the steering column, but overall, for that kind of crash, good safety.
    Our concern is really on why the airbag didn't go off. Any feed back would be appreciated. We're having the car towed from the tow yard to the GM/Chevy dealer for inspection and if there is any reason I should know about before I talk to them I'd appreciate any info.
    We have two 1995 Prizms and have been really happy with them both. One had the 83000 miles and has been a wonderful car that my daughter was planning on keeping for at least 3 more years. Our other has over 150,000 miles. Maintenance has been preventative only except for replacing a gas tank on the higher mile one when some road junk punctured it. Both have held up great - in fact my daughter's rated excellent in the insurance inspection after the wreck. Anyone who has the bright green prizm will appreciate the fact that the person who hit our car said that she didn't see it:) Even the cop made a joke about that statement.
    Thanks for any help or insight into the airbag malfunction? problem,
  • fmzfmz Posts: 5
    Good to know that, i have my old fuel pump replaced 2 weeks ago. i had a brand new one unused sitting at home and go it changed when the distributor shot out.
    thanks for all your comments. i'll limit taking the car over 290 then.

    one more question, i haven't replaced the timing belt, and i dont know when the old owner got it replaced. should i go ahead and replace it? also what other belts shoudl i get replaced

  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Welcome Cindy - I'm glad to hear that your daughter is okay! How frightening.

    I'll just mention that if you look toward the bottom of the page and you are logged in, you will see the post box. To start a new thread, all you need to do is just put something in the Title box and then put your post in the Message box. Then you hit the Post My Message button and you're in business! After that, you have have 30 minutes in which you can use the Edit or Delete links that show up to the right of the date and time of the post if you want to.

    Something that many folks - newbies and oldies alike - frequently miss is the Search This Discussion feature on the page bar. I don't know if this will help you, but you can use it to search for previous posts that may have related information in them.

    There is no question that our style is unique among most message boards - lots of people have a bit of difficulty figuring us out. You'll get the hang of it and in the meantime if I can answer any specific logistical questions just drop me an email.
  • cindym1cindym1 Posts: 2
    Thank you. The second time I logged on and scrolled down there was the posting section, so I felt very non-observant. I had just not scrolled down far enough to see that - I thought when I got to the #'s of messages and all that it was the bottom of the page. I'll know better for the future.

    Until then, do you have any past information on airbag malfunctions or speed of travel that the airbags are suppose to go off on the Prizm and does anyone except for us think that they should have gone off during the crash? I've done some research on this and can only find a recall for the airbag sensor back in 1996. We bought the car used in 2000 and to our knowledge, it had not been in a previous wreck.

    Some mechanics that I have talked to about this problem say that 35 mph is a borderline speed and the airbag may or may not go off at that speed, some say it most definitely should have gone off at that speed and with enough impact to total the car (the hood is now folded back on to the windshield). So we are getting conflicting reports of what the airbag perimeters are for a Prizm. GMC could not tell me any perimeter information, or any information at all without the inspection being done, which we are arranging to have done. It's tough because we are in Oregon and the car is in Virginia and just last month, when the car was paid off, our daughter got her own insurance, so it's not our place to be dealing with her insurance. Meanwhile, she's struggling at this point to get through the day in as little pain as possible, so we're trying to help her gather what material she needs to deal with the insurance.

    Any information on the standard and usual operations of airbags would be helpful at this point. No warning light was lit on the dash showing anything malfunctioning before the crash.

    Thanks for any help,
  • I was very worried that I was going to run out of gas on May 5th, but that stupid gauge was so off. It read empty as I arrived at work on the morning of the 5th with ~328.4 miles on the tank. I assumed that from my average miles per gallon from the last couple of tanks I would easily have enough fuel to get me home. My ride to work is around 18 miles each way. Well when I went home of May 5th to fill up, I was amazed. I went 346.4 miles on 10.803 gallons of gas, which turns out to be 32.1 MPG, a full 1.8 standard deviations above my average MPG -- my highest yet! And the funny part was this was mostly city driving. I could have easily put 400 miles on that tank . . . and yet the gauge still read like I had nothing left in the tank. I think it's because my rides have been much longer. Plus the dramatic temperature change and maybe the gas stations have put additives into the fuel for summer purposes (I don't know if this is true). I've shifted to 4,000 RPMs many times, and once or twice to 5,000 RPMs, but geez my car is 12 years old, and the engine bay looks like crap, I can't believe it's performing so well for its age. By the way, this is a 1993 Geo Prizm LSi 5 SPD Manual with a 7A-FE engine that I am talking about.

    Pictures of the car again (updated some):

    Here's an update of the Fuel Economy table:
  • endoffileendoffile Posts: 2
    CEL came up yesterday and took it to autozone to get analyzed. they said that engine is running lean after checking the code and said something about oxygen is not getting sufficiently.

    He advized to get a new ctalytic convertor for the exhaust. I am confused, as I dont know anything about cars. Is this true ? what should I do ? :confuse:
  • doug15doug15 Posts: 2
    1st, last year the ignition barrel was changed out, seem to be fine until about 3mths ago, now almost every time you turn the ign key, either you hear the soleniod click, no start or nothing..hold the key..then it starts, of course other routines are opening the drivers door..thats helped 2-3 times...jiggle the key...if it's the starter how do you get in there to replace it??? can the solenoid be replaced or????? :confuse:

    By the ways i was glad to see a lot of confused people asking about gas tank qty and mileage......
  • fmzfmz Posts: 5
    That's pretty good mileage
    My car is at 250119 miles right now...the car shakes alot, makes alot of noise, and recently started to feel like it will turn off when i at a stop light with the brakes pressed down on (I usually dont put the car in Parking gear at a stop light)

    If this one breaks down anytime soon, i'll go to dealer and get a new car.
    I do keep up with oil changes and tire rotation. That's about all the maintainense i have done on it

    Got a new fuel pump, regulator and fuel filter on it last month with new spark plugs and pvc valve...really dont feel like spending so much money on this car anymore even though i like it alot and hope it keeps on going.
  • aromanaroman Posts: 2
    Hi there! We have a 93 Geo Prizm, standard with a little over 123,000 miles. after fueling at a gas station, as we drive away the engine starts knocking. After about 15 minutes we pull over, wait for then engine to cool, check the oil and see that it is low. We pour oil in and while it's not a whole container, when we check the level it reads almost full. Get back in and drive away, the knocking is not as loud or consistent but it is still present. The knocking begins to get louder so we pull over again. When we check the oil again, it reads low. We pour a liter of oil in. As we drive away the knocking continues. We kept driving (because we were FAR away from home with our infant daughter) stopping only for about an hour. At this point, the car begins to stall out. Eventually we got over the bridge but by the end of the night, we just pushed it to a parking spot and left it there. Our mechanic looked at it and said that the engine had no oil in it. They poured a large amount of oil in to it and started it up but of course the knocking was still there. The mechanic suspects a leak though I have never seen any oil where we park. (I suspect that it is burning) He also thinks that the engine is pretty much gone. He suspects the rattling is a bearing or something that's broken off or loose and is rattling around whenever the car is started. We cant afford to pay for the engine to be repaired and it's not worth it. We've only owned the car for 2 months. Any advice would be appreciated.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Hi aroman, welcome!

    You might want to try the Got a Quick, Technical Question? discussion also ... good luck!
  • Cleaned my Prizm today!









  • patpat Posts: 10,421
  • mt700a1mt700a1 Posts: 53
    On some car, work around the steering column such as replacing the ignition lock and electronic components require airbag removal. It is very expensive to re-install airbags properly, and many garages charge you for it without acrtually putting the bag in correctly. They don't tell you about it, either. I would look into this possibility if I were you. I read an article about this scam at
  • mt700a1mt700a1 Posts: 53
    I am afraid that some permanent damages were made the first time you let the oil level go too low. Or maybe the coolant level was too low and engine started to burn oil after overheating. It does sound like the engine is gone. The rear bumper is probably covered with black soot. If not, check the radiator coolant and transmission fluid. Sometimes a damaged engine leaks oil into those areas. Did you check the oil level frequently beforen this happened? If everything else operates properly and if you like the car a lot, you can have a used engine put in the car. But you've had the car for 2 months so you can't know the condition of the rest of the car very well. You are probably better off finding another car. If you get another 93 model you can keep the old one as a parts car.
    When I was looking for a car I had the following criteria: Current tags, new state inspection, a lot of repair receipts, 1-2 owners, and no shady salesman. I ended up paying $1450 for a 94 model which was just inspected. It has a new clutch, exhaust, brakes, service records since day 1 ( 2inches thick), 140,000 miles and the owner was an architect who just bought a Matrix. He had just spent $750 for lots of minor repairs to pass the state inspection.
    I know if you need a car immediately it is going to be hard, but if you can hold out for a few weeks without a car, and look patiently, you will be able to find a reliabe car for less than the price of a new engine.
    Enterprise has a weekend special for $10/day. You have to pay for Fri, Sat, and Sun, but you can have a car for the whole weekend for $30. They have free pickup/dropoff service too. If you call the sellers ahead and make appointments for the weekend you can use the rental car to visit them. You are in a better position to negotiate by going to the seller than by asking him to come to you.
    Sorry to hear about your troubles. Good luck.
  • rlindemanrlindeman Posts: 3
    A friend of mine at work suggested adding some mineral spirits into the engine and letting it run for about 5 minutes before changing the oil. This supposedly breaks up any oil deposits inside the engine and you're able to remove more of the old oil from the engine. Is this true? Is this safe? Is there something better to use?
  • mt700a1mt700a1 Posts: 53
    If it is an engine detergent specifically designed for the purpose of removing sludge it probably won't do any harm. I wouldn't spend more than $10 on it though. If the car is running well and if you change your oil regularly such a treatment is usually unnecessary. Another thing is that the old oil and carbon deposits are partialy plugging up small holes and gaps created by wear and tear over the years between enigne parts. They may be keeping the tolerance between the parts within spec, and if you remove them with a strong detergent you may create new problems. This could happen in older cars, I read somewhere.

    Motor oils do contain detergents already. There is no need to rinse out all of the old oil when you change it. I generally don't like the idea of thinning out the oil in order to clean out the engine. Oil is there for for lubrication, and engine shouldn't be run without full protection provided by the oil. If you really drain all the oil, after the new oil is added the car will run with no oil in the vital parts for a few seconds until the oil pump starts to circulate oil in those parts.
  • sherrydsherryd Posts: 1
    Hello everyone,

    This is my first time on this site and obviously my first post.
    Haven't had a chance to browse through all the suggestions and wonderful info by all of you. ...

    I would really like to know how I can contact the Dealers of Geo Prizm.

    There are many parts in my car which I need to replace and want to know the original price for the parts through Geo Prizm's Dealer.

    So ... If any info on what I am asking ... Please Please Let me know

    Thanks!!! :)
  • mt700a1mt700a1 Posts: 53
    Geo is a discontinued make, like Studebaker ;) Chevy dealers sold them so they might still have parts. Toyota should also have some parts, as Prizms share most of their components with Corollas.
  • rdunfordrdunford Posts: 1
    Dear DJK,

    I have the same problem in our Prizm. Was your problem just a fuse or some other issue? How do I resolve?

    Thank you for responding,

  • rlindemanrlindeman Posts: 3
    You probably just need to replace the motor blower resistor. AutoZone has them for around $18, but not in stock. A dealer would probably have it in stock but for around $30. You can do the replacement yourself, the resistor is located behind and underneath the glovebox. I just replaced mine last week, about a 15 minute job. Here's what the old & new resistor look like.
  • ruddneckruddneck Posts: 23
    Can anyone tell me where exactly is the coolant engine block drain on the 2000 Prizm? The Haynes shop manual has a picture, but it's rather vague and I'm feeling rather foolish that i cannot locate it.

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