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Chevrolet (Geo) Prizm



  • I just purchased my first Prizm, so I thought I'd introduce myself to the forum and ask a couple of questions.

    It's a 96 with 145K, believe it's a 1.8 liter(it's a LSi). I think the car's general condition qualifies as "fair"based on KBB rating scale. The real good part is it only cost 850 so I don't have a lot to lose.

    The most apparent issue is body damage to the left rear door(smashed in, real bad). That's why there's junk yards, but I was wondering if a door from a Corolla would also fit.

    The car hasen't been driven much for the last couple of years and looks like it needs the basics, but it's had some maintenance done. It looks like it needs stuff like hoses, trans service(I read that at this cars milage things can happen), battery etc

    BTW, the car runs pretty good as is.

    As people expereinced with this car, what else as far as routine service would you recommend.

    thanks for your input
  • lovemygeoprizmlovemygeoprizm Posts: 4
    edited February 2011
    You're going to love this car. I bought a '95 Prizm in 1996 with 3000 miles on it, and now my college student uses it, it has 110,000 miles on it. Rattles like crazy but it gets her from point A to point B reliably.

    Then in October I bought another '95 Prizm for my soon-to-be 16 yr. old. It had 191,000 miles on it! Like you, I bought it for $750. It needed a new windshield and I had the oil & trans. fluid changed, new rear struts, put snow tires on it, some hose leaks fixed, new battery, and around $1000 later it was on the road. Runs great. It gets up my driveway in the snow while my 2002 Sable wagon is marooned for the winter. Really came in handy this winter. And these cars are fun to drive - very responsive. (Oh yeah, it does have a power steering fluid leak right now, but I have a feeling that will be easy to fix)

    Good luck!
  • skb4eskb4e Posts: 2
    Thats not true. :mad:
  • skb4eskb4e Posts: 2
    Autozone cannot do this in older model cars, usually 95 and less
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    Hi skb4e - you might want to check the dates on messages you're responding to. This one was from 2003. I suspect the member has already figured out the problem by now!


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  • mika3585mika3585 Posts: 2
    i'm trying to find me an owner manual for my 1995 manual geo prizm the owner before me didn't give it to me and also i need to get another key for it so do i have to order a new key or what
  • I have a 1995 Geo Prizm. It has run 99K miles. The car is vibrating now and different mechanics suspect different problems about the car. I got one mechanic who asked me to replace the following parts

    1. Rack and pinion.
    2. Struts.
    3. Lower Control Arms.

    The estimated cost was around 1000 bucks. is it worth getting it fixed with a uncertified mechanic for 1000 bucks, from a dealer for 2300 bucks or is it worth selling it off and buying a new one?
  • Hi -
    I have had three of these things and never replaced a rack and pinion or lower contol arms. Unless the rack is leaking or the control arms show serious visible wear I cant believe those are your the problem (My last one had 250,000 hard miles before it retired & my current one has 160,000 hard miles on it). The fact that his guess is that "wild" tells me he does'nt know what is is and may be wasting your money by trying a shotgun approach to fixing it.

    most likely (depending on when the vibration occurs) it could be struts, or a bad cv joint (drive axle) or potentially a wheel bearing (but unlikely). For that matter it could simply be bad or out of balance tires (or if you live where it is muddy or snowy mud or snow can pack up on the inside of the wheel and throw the balance off making it vibrate), If it had more miles on it and the vibration only occurred at really high speeds it could be transmission output shaft bearings (but this is probably unlikely).

    If you hear a kind of slight clunky noise or feel more viration when turning the wheel it might be a cv joint.Take a look at your front tires for uneven wear patterns. this can indicate a bad strut. If you feel the bumps a little harder than you think you should, or hear clunk when you hit potholes then most likely Struts. (struts will also sometiems leak oil when they are bad) There are a lot of little things as well that can cause vibrations.

    Find someone who has a good idea of how to troubleshoot your problem.

    I definitely wouldn't spend $1k on speculations. These are pretty good cars. take the time to figure it out. Mechanically this car is an exact twin of a toyota corrola (except for body and trim)and when taken care of can easily exceed 200,000 miles.

    I hope this helps.
  • geobluegeoblue Posts: 71
    Vibration is felt exactly when? While driving slow? Driving fast? At idle?

    It might be engine mount/s if you see the engine shaking when it is running.
    But like the previous message said, these cars run forever if you do the basic maintenance. When something breaks it is usually easy/cheap to fix.Things do not break easily.
  • geobluegeoblue Posts: 71
    edited April 2011
    Now my question:

    What is the size of automatic transmission drain plug? What is the tool to use for drain&refill service? An allen wrench? Sockets?

    Car is 1994 Geo Prizm with 4 speed auto. (158K miles).
  • billb60billb60 Posts: 3
    It almost sounds like you took it to a Tires Plus store - as they always manage to "find" problems with every car that comes in!

    I have a 1999 Prism with over 275,000 miles on it, and have never had to replace any of what you've been told.

    I'd take it to a reputable mechanic (if any still exist today) to get it checked out.

    Either way, I would not spend $2300 to get it fixed... I'd use that money to find a newer used car.
  • ruddneckruddneck Posts: 23
    If you can feel it in the steering wheel at high speed (55+ mph), chances are it is a badly worn tire or a bent wheel. Start with the cheap and easy fixes first.
  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,679
    Also could be a wheel bearing.
  • hubbsy176hubbsy176 Posts: 4
    I have a 94 prizm with the 1.6. While driving it will just shutdown, starts right back up, and will be fine. Just never know when it will do it. It has a complete tuneup, new fuel filter and fuel pump. Check engine light has not come on. Any suggestions? Thank you :confuse:
  • geobluegeoblue Posts: 71
    It happened to my 1994 Prizm too.

    Mine was related to corroded battery poles. Just get a battery post cleaner (wire brush), clean the rust, then add a a few drops of hot watyer+baking soda mix over the rusty part, clean the residue and then tighten the battery cables. I hope it solves your problem too.
  • hubbsy176hubbsy176 Posts: 4
    Thanks I will try that.
  • thickumthickum Posts: 1
    just had a constant growling noise pop up out of nowhere and is consistent starting around 20mph tryin to pinpoint the noise anyone have any ideas?
  • thacherthacher Posts: 14
    1990 Geo Prizm; Vin code6. LSI; 3spd. Auto.

    I'm aware that the correct fluid for the differential part of the transaxle is ATF. according to the manufacture. Have you ever heard of people putting in gear oil instead [80W-90]. I've had several mechanics tell me that this an an accepted fluid. I had to have a transaxle installed in my Prizm recently and the installer used gear oil [80W-90] instead of the ATF. for the diff. And he's certain that it's alright.
    What do you folks think of this. Thank you for your opinions.
  • Well I found a local junk yard that is very reasonable. Bought the throttle body and the distributor. Ran it until problem started and changed throttle body, same thing. Replaced distibutor and runs great. I bought both of those items along with an antenna and rim/tire combo for a total of $80.00. Thanks for the input. See if we can get another 207,000 miles out of her. ;)
  • Since yesterday oil light like this : is on. Can anyone please tell me what does it infer? My car has run 101k. It has run 3300 miles since last oil change. I will be getting it changed soon. But I would like to know if there could be any more problems.
  • Could just be that since you are near an oil change that your oil is too thin. I had an old van and just before oil changes the light would come on.
  • geobluegeoblue Posts: 71
    Check your oil level on the dipstick. Check if your filter is screwed on tight enough, it should not be too tight either. The oil pan bolt should be tight enough also. I hope there is a washer there.

    What kind of oil filter are you using? What grade/weight,brand of oil are you using?

    It is easy to change oil and filter on a Geo Prizm/Toyota Corolla. You do not even need jacks,ramps etc. Filter too is easily reachable.
  • I took it to my mechanic today morning and it was found that there was no oil in the engine at all. He then filled 2Quarters of 10/40 regular oil and asked me to check for an oil leak when it is parked. Any thoughts on this?

    I forgot to get the air filter changed. I will be visiting my mechanic again for that.

    Changing oil and filter is easy, But I would like to visit mechanic atleast for this so that it can be like a regular checkup of my car.
  • mirde98mirde98 Posts: 95
    First time posting here from Orlando FL. I own a 2002 Chevy Prizm LSi, 4AT, Gold/beige kinda color w/ tan interior. Has 165,300 miles on it. Pretty reliable I must say. I get 30MPG average. Besides routine maint, i changed the sparks to Iridium, flushed coolant, and fixed a AC leak. Plastics and trim are cheap in this cars, replaced both inside and outside driver side door handles. But i guess for this mileage is ok. Also, I noticed this car drinks oil. About a qt per 30-60 days. No oil leaks, no smoke, just dissapears. I guess should be going away through the piston rings. I'll just keep adding oil since I've read is a common problems with this Corolla/Prizm models. Car looks sharp, paint still shines. Im happy with it. :)
  • geobluegeoblue Posts: 71
    I am sorry I did not see your post before.
    As I said the oil filter should be tight, oil plug on the oil pan should be tight enough.These areas are the palces oil leaks usually. Probably they did not tighten the bolt or the filter at the last oil change place.
    10W40 is thicker oil, maybe because they thought it needed it since oil loss, but the factory specified 5W30 for these cars in winter, 10W-30 possibly in summer.
    Air filter is visible, you can change it yourself in a minute.No need to pay extra for it.If you need the part number I can look it up for you.

    How is the car doing now?
  • geobluegeoblue Posts: 71
    Welcome here mirde98, whay you have is the next generation to what I have.Different engine design also.Because of the newer engine design, these cars usually burn oil.

    Check the PCV (valve) often, and replace if it is not good (when you shake it should rattle, if it does not it is bad).PCV is very much related to oil.

    I hope you get a couple of hundred thousand miles out of it unless you want to sell it some day.
  • I had a ton of problems with electrical problems and turn signal relay switch box.Im glad I got rid of it.
  • mirde98mirde98 Posts: 95
    I'll make sure to check that!! Thanks for the advice.
  • Just recently my dependable 95 geo prizm turned undependable. In a matter of 2 weeks my engine light and O/D light came on. Codes were 42 (vehicle speed sensor circuit), 62 (NO. 1 shift solenoid circuit), 71 (EGR System???). The cruse control went out as well. I replaced the battery, Distributor Cap, Rotor, Coils with in the two weeks as well. I replaced the vehicle speed sensor (pain) this weekend. EGR Valve is working properly. Need to look into Codes 62 and 71 more. The car is running pretty good. It still skips/jerk every now and then after i replaced the vehicle speed sensor. Anybody have this problem and what worked for you? Does the PCM need to be reprogrammed after replacing any of these parts???
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