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Chevrolet (Geo) Prizm



  • abigail1abigail1 Posts: 1
    Denniswade responded in this forum to someone and mentioned being able to get 150,000 to 200,000 on a Prizm.

    My '93 Prizm has 98,000 miles on it. I have been happy with it for the most part. Major repairs I can recall are replacing alternator, replacing brakes, replacing catalytic converter and muffler.

    I have been thinking seriously of purchasing either a '00 Prizm or a '00 Honda Civic. Since my Prizm is heading towards 100,000 miles, and since I rely on it very much for my job, not to mention many other areas of my life, I need a reliable car. I have been getting concerned that the Prizm might soon require additional and/or costly repairs, as it approaches 100,000 miles.

    Is this a good point at which to consider purchasing a new car? Or should I hang in there and see what happens? But then suppose something major and costly occurs?

    Also, my current Prizm has considerable body damage. Cosmetically, it is not a pretty car, due to this damage. And I think it is leaking oil. Otherwise, though, it seems to be okay.

    Any advice on whether this would be a good time to purchase a new car to replace this one?

    Many thanks.
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    Why not just start saving your money? Just keep driving the car to however long it will last. When it does eventually develope a big problem, you have the option of either use the money you saved to fix it or just put that money down on a new car. Both Prizm and Civic are all over the place. You can go to the dealership and walk out with a car on the same day.
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    If your car has body damage, it won't be worth much as a trade-in anyway, so if your main concern is money, keep it until the wheels fall off. Just maintain the mechanicals well, since that's what gets you down the road.

    If and when you decide to buy a new car, keep the old one as a spare -- I've always had a back-up car, it comes in handy when I need to service mine or carry something i don't want to put in my new car. I even loan it to my friends from time to time. Back in Michigan, a lot of people have second cars they call "winter" cars, because you drive them after it's snowed, to keep the salt off your good car.
  • jashujashu Posts: 1
    I am getting a 1996 Geo Prizm Lsi (1.8 Litre engine, fully loaded with options like Automatic transmission, ABS, Power windows, power locks, keyless entry, rear defogger, alloy wheels, cruise control etc.) with ONLY 24000 miles and original owner. The owner paid $18775 for it and is not willing to go below $9000.

    It is in really excellent condition but I suspect the price is a bit high. After all, it is 1996 model!

    Should I really go for it?

    Will appreciate if you can throw up some options.
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    The miles are very low. That's probably why the owner wants so much for it.

    Go to Edmund's used car section for 96 Geo Prizm, and use the "appraise" button on the bottom to see how much the car is worth. You can then show the number to the owner and try to strike a number between the trade-in and the retail price. Good luck.
  • flamanarflamanar Posts: 11
    Just found out some disconcerting news about my '99 prizm. First, the vibration problem I posted about a while back was due to a bad hub-bearing (at 12,000 miles???!!) and lack of tire rotation (the car was a rental purchased recently by myself). I've had a really annoying problem since I bought slows down and speeds up at around 45 MPH especially when going down a hill. Trying to maintain a constant speed between 45 and 50 MPH is impossible. I called a Chevy dealer yesterday to find out that it's a problem with the torque converter that Chevy is aware of...but won't fix because there aren't enough people complaining. Nice. Funny thing is, I owned a '73 Chevy Nova that was a 3spd auto and don't recall this problem. In fact, my Nova was the reason I went back to buying Chevy and especially the 3spd! Do yourself a favor and go with the 4spd auto.
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    The 3spd auto in the Corolla/Prizm is really not up to the task of freeway driving, especially on grades -- and it you have the A/C on, it's even worse. I'd trade the thing in a get one with a 4spd. You won't believe the difference. Other than that, it's a great car.
  • lmcclurelmcclure Posts: 1
    I am looking at a 1999 Prizm and have read enough to be concerned with the engine power of a 3 speed automatic. How do I know when looking at the car if it has the 3 speed or 4 speed transmission?
  • flamanarflamanar Posts: 11
    Now you tell me! Unfortunately I'll have to stick with the car for quite some time until I can afford to trade it in. As far as telling whether it's a 3 or 4 spd just by looking at it, look in the window of the car at the center console by the 'T' shifter. My car has the following settings for the shifter: [L],[2],[D], etc. Correct me anyone if I'm wrong, but a 4 spd auto should have in addition either a [3] between the [2] and [D], or another [D] with a box around it for overdrive. Can anyone confirm this??
  • liufeiliufei Posts: 201
    Not for the corolla/prizm. The shifter has the P,N,D,2,L settings in, but the 4spd has an overdrive button on the shifter while the 3spd doesnt.
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    liufei is right on. a 4-spd automatic will have an "overdrive" button on the shifter, the 3 spd doesn't. It allows you to turn off the 4th gear and let the car behave as a 3 spd. But most people just leave it on at all times.
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    For merging into freeway traffic and shifting down for a curve, however. I use mine that way all the time. It's also handy for creeping along in commuter traffic because you get some engine braking, whereas with the overdrive you don't.
  • I bought a new LSi in 1996 and I have about 50K
    miles on it now and it hasn't given me a lick of
    trouble except for the knob on the temperature
    control busting off twice. (warranty covered)

    I REALLY like this car. I got the 5 speed manual
    with the 1.8L engine option--a combination that
    provides much more power than most people expect
    from a Geo. I drive in the mountains of Colorado
    with no problem at all, and the folding rear seats
    make it a breeze to throw snowboards and skis
    in the back. The alloy wheels give it a nice look
    too--sometimes I think of it as my "poor man's
    Audi A4."

    I'm thinking about a 2000 Celica GTS, but I can
    honestly say that I probably won't trade in the
    Prizm. It seems like it's going to last forever
    and I haven't exactly "gone easy" on it!

    Edmunds told me $8500 and I wouldn't sell it for
    a penny less. Great car.
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    for when you need to do scheduled maintenance on your GT-S, or take the dog to the beach!
  • lallylally Posts: 5
    I have a 2000 LSI with the 4 speed auto and the 1.8. The sticker said 37 on the highway, and I'm lucky to get 32mpg. I was wondering what everyone else is getting. The 93 LSI I traded in with 200,000 miles was getting 33mpg right up until the tranny went.
  • tr0sstr0ss Posts: 14
    Have a 96 Prizm with about 72K miles. I have never changed the front brakes. The brakes have never squeaked and seem to function OK. I did
    change the rear brakes at about 40K, but they
    told me at that time that the front ones were OK.
    Is this normal?

    Does anyone else have problems with adjusting the
    a/c vents to a position other than "all the way up" or "all the way down". They seem to have lost the friction that would keep it pointing at me.
  • I own a 91 Prism with 160,000 and love it. I recently bought a 95 Prism Lsi with 60,000 miles thinking that I'd bought a newer version of my beloved car. It is clunkier, heavier and not nearly as nimble on the road. It is no longer a fun drive.

    Only three days after bringing it home from the dealership it had a "problem". A couple days ago, I had it in reverse and when I put it in drive the engine cut out, when I put it back in park it STARTED ITSELF BACK UP! I also heard a metallic grinding noise. After three times of this it finally stayed running in drive and I drove it home. I made an appointment to get it fixed and when I drove it to the mechanic shop today it was fine. I was told that the only way to fix this problem is if the car was acting up when I brought it in. The mechanic had never heard of such a thing and said it wouldn't be possible to find anything with a computer diagnostic. The car is also very loud at about 65-70 mph, the whole thing shakes. Has anyone else had "phantom" problems with their 95 Prism? And did you find out what it was? I would hate to wait until the starter is completely wrecked to finally get it fixed.

    Thanks for your time.
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    I drive a 2000 Corolla with 4spd auto and get 30-32 mpg. I think my mileage is due partly to the wider, stickier tires (16" 45s), but you're still not gonna get the same mileage as with a 5spd manual.
  • ina_purina_pur Posts: 1
    Hi there!

    I am a foreigner who wants to buy a car. I am looking for something within the $4,000-5,000 price range, and I was able to find a 1995 Geo offered by the dealer for $4,750. It has 85,000 miles on it, though, I am not sure whether that's OK or not. (I'm used to kilomters(: ). It has AC, new tires, stereo, and other goodies. I would greatly appreciate any advice from any 1995 Geo owner or any other person knowledgeable about this specific brand. Please, HELP!!!

  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    Edmunds own site for used car prices. 85k is fine if the car has been properly maintained (I assume you're talking about a Geo Prizm?). If it's a Metro, watch out -- it's a throwaway car.
  • cynthia83cynthia83 Posts: 7
    Hi Guys,

    I have a 99 Prizm, had it aince Aug of 99 with very few problems, I have about 11750 miles on it so far and around 10,000 miles I noticed a squeaking noise when I go over dips or bumps, could it be the suspension??? I am taking it to the dealership soon to be looked at, just curious if anyone has any ideas to what it might be you can email me, I would appreciate it, thanks

    [email protected]
  • mr_almr_al Posts: 9
    Hi Cynthia, and to those who have these 99' Prizms. I just drove my first prizm yesterday, it is a rental that I have for a week. I noticed the same things that Cynthia did. Weird Squeaks, I came to Edmunds to review the car and get replies from it. I do admit, I think it is a solid riding car (for a beaten up Hawaiin Rental) and the handling is superb. I would like to get some more feedback on this car, is a 99 or 2000 worth buying? I need another car for the wife. Also, anyone have problems or concerns with buying used from Rental car companies? Thanks~ Al
  • i finally went through 2 arbitration hearings and after proving the problem with my 99 prizms trans i got notice 2day that i won. if i would have known that gm would have given this much trouble to fix the trans in my prizm i would have gotten the toyota corolla instead. it is a shame the car is fun to drive and we did enjoy the car even though the trans didnt work right. but i am relieved the car was finally declared a lemon and gm was ordered to repurchase the vehicle. my advice if you are considering this model of car. get the toyota corolla ,pay the price difference . because chevy dealers gave me the line its not a chevy we are not use to working on them thare tiyoties,LOL. where as a toyota dealer is . just thought i would end my posting i placed a few months ago with the outcome. if you do have to take a car to arbitration , my advice be persistant collect as much evidence keep prompt records and dont give up . after all thats what i did and i finally did win.
  • shizushizu Posts: 4
    I am foreigner, too. I had to buy a car immediately when I moved to Florida from NY and I bought GEO prizm 94, 57k for $6000 last year. One month after the purchase, the engine starter died, after 70k, problem has been ocurring such as accelerate problems, squeeking and clicking sound. I have already spent $1000 for repair. I want to bring the car back to NY in 8 months but I am afraid if it will die on the way.... I should have bought a reliable Japanese car, well I am from Japan...
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    Is Japanese, a Toyota Corolla from the bone. Only difference, that chevy bowtie on the steering wheel and grille. Yep it's a Toyo so don't blame Prizm problems on GM blame it on Toyota trannies and that NUMMI factory. And actually GM doesn't build the prizm NUMMI does, they roll right next to teh Corolla. Funny how when the prizm runs great it's a Toyota but when it goes bad it must be that Chevy bowtie. You guys are funny. Either way enjoy your prizms.
  • liufeiliufei Posts: 201
    malibu99 is correct, the Prizm is basically a Corolla under the hood, with the difference being the exterior/interior material used and the fit & finish.
    That may attribute to the noise sound. I dont recall any Corolla owner complain about squeaking. So if the cause is the material or improper insulation, and yes, it can be blamed to GM since they are responsible for that. In the case of the transmission, Toyota is the one that design and built it and should be the cause of the problem, although the GM dealer should fix it since its sold as a GM. At any case, dealer causing you so much problem for warranty work is simply unacceptable, regardless of the brand.
  • shizushizu Posts: 4
    Thank you malibu99 and lieufei for your information. Please forgive me that I was so stressful about my car problems that I sounded blaming American car brands. I am not a patriotic Japanese businessman but just a young Japanese girl who is ignorant of car mechanism. Now I understand that I should blame Toyota. Actually I didn't mind buying any cars but My American co-workers recommended to buy the pure Japanese breed cars since their Honda, Toyota, Nissan are still in great condition after 13 yeras and now they are saying, ''See we told ya'' so.... Anyway I checked out what exactly caused the squeaking or clicking noise of my car and it was power steering pressure hose leaking and also requires the replacement of right and left axle. By the way, lieufei was talking about warranty and I remember that I was frustrated by the warranty that the dealer made me buy. She said if I pay $900 annual fee for the first year I only have to pay $200/year from the second year. So it was expensive but I bought the warranty. The first year I didn't have problems except the engine starter and the second year it started so many problems as I mentioned and when I went to renew the warranty, the dealer said the Ford changed the policy so I have to pay $900 again!(Of course I didn't.) I feel I am a stupid foreigner...
  • malibu99malibu99 Posts: 305
    yea, trim stuff can be blamed on GM if you wish but Mechanic they are the same car. Quite a little car I must say just too small for my taste :-)Oh shizu no apologies needed I was just generalizing, if your car stresses you out nothing wrong with saying it. :-)Not a stupid foreigner don't beat on yourself it's just a mechanical thing. Good luck!
  • liufeiliufei Posts: 201
    Sorry to hear about your prizm's problem. IMHO, dealer warranty are usually not worth it, unless the car you intend to purchase have a long history of problem. $900/year is ridiculous for a warranty, so next time dont even bother to say anything to the dealer but NO :)

    I'm curious whether the dealer fix the starter for free (assuming its covered under the warranty?). Regarding the clicking noise, I recommend getting a 2nd opinion. Faulty axle may give the clicking noise, as well as power steering leakage. But to have both of them on the same time ??(I already have a bad opinion regarding your dealer) Hmmm, if you could find a reputable mechanics, go ahead and get his opinion regarding the matter.

    Out of curiosity, what other problem you have with the Prizm?
  • like the line says gm has no excuse , if you cannot service what u sell than u have no right to sell the product. like i say i was very patient with them i gave them more chances than the lemon laws allowed and the thing they constanatly stated was " there isnt anything wrong with this car thats normal". i have had toyota products before and rarely had a problem with them but when something was wrong they took care of it and didnt piss and moan.after all cars are machines built by humans and they do have failures but when they will not back it thats when its junk. so from my experience i say pay the extra grand and get toyotas corolla thats under toyotas warranty and serviced at a toyota dealer because the definitely have a better idea of what it takes to repair the.
  • shizushizu Posts: 4
    Thanks everyone for your advice. Other problems? The metallic part by the front tire is detaching and makes annoying noise. When it is raining I get wet because the leakage through the drivers door. It was fixed already but I couldn't accelerate and ran so slowly that I was hunked by the cars behind me. At the intersection the car shook so much with scary noise like the engine was almost stopping.(I turned off the radio and AC but it didn't make difference.)
    Well my $900 warranty made me pay $100 to change the engine starter which died after 1 month of the purchase. They said they covered the rest...
    It has nothing to do with the mechanism but I got flat tire when I was driving after 2weeks of the purchase. It smelled burning for one day and it got flat just before getting into a highway. Firestone worker said it worned out and seemed very old ones. Oh, then 2 months later I couldn't open the trunk at all so I got the key fixed.These are minor problems but I was frustrated saying,'What's next?' So I think I just have a bad luck with the car. And today I purchased a brand new Mitsubishi Galant. I went to Mitsubishi dealer because they are offering 1.9 % interest rate for 60 months.(I was rejected because I don't have a credit history so I got 3.9% which was not too bad and got my corporate discount) I traded in my Prizm. Now I don't have to worry about repair cost or mileage anymore. But you know what? I prefer Prizm's design to any other cars. It was hard for me to say good bye to my Prizm. I feel as if it would still be in my parking lot tomorrow morning....
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    Sounds to me like you bought a bad USED car -- and God only knows what was done to it by the previous owner, even though it appears to have only 600 miles on it (dishonest car dealers sometimes turn back the odometer too). In any case, Toyota transmissions are very stout, and you should never have had any problems with it. The shaking and leaking of which you speak makes me think it was probably in a really bad accident, then poorly repaired. You should check to see if the car had a salvage title, which would indicate that the insurance company "totalled" it then sold it to a broker who "fixed" it and resold it. Anything you can find out about the car's history will help you figure out why all these things are happening. But my personal advice would be to get rid of the car and buy another. Prizms and Corollas are great cars -- don't let your experiences with an abused car sour you on them.
  • capmediacapmedia Posts: 1
    I purchased a new 1999 Prizm last June. Within 7k miles, three of four tires had broken steel belts. Dealer wouldn't help. Found Firestone dealer who said warranty was invalid because tires had not been rotated at 5k miles. Since then, I've put a total of 10 tires on this car. Finally, Goodyear dealer says rear end is seriously out of alignment, causing tires to wear, but there is no provision for alignment. Shivs must be installed. Chevy dealer (and owners manual) say alignment shouldn't be necessary, but dealer aligns car anyway. Now front end vibrates. Bad hub bearing perhaps? Also, weather stripping wore out on two of four doors and airbag module has been replaced twice. Anyone else have these problems? Car has 36k miles now.
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    Once again, I'd check to see if the car was damaged -- maybe driven off the carrier too hard, or abused by another customer driving it over a curb or something. This ain't normal, believe me. If it was just tire wear, I'd say it was the crappy OEM tires (I always have to replace mine within 15,000 miles), but it sounds like you have a mechanical problem unrelated to the design itself. I had a 98 Corolla and have a 2000 now, and never had any such problems. haven't heard of anyone else having this problem either.

    Good luck!
  • kwm03160kwm03160 Posts: 1
    My 2000 Prizm (bought new, April 2000) also has a squeak. My squeak appears to be coming from the left-hand side of the dashboard. I am fairly confident that my squeak is not coming from the suspension. I also have a rattle coming from my turn signal stalk. Of course, 2 Chevrolet dealers I have tried won't even look at it without charging me. I have a 3-speed automatic, and get 32 in mixed city/highway driving (28/32). Other than that, it's a great car!
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    the dashboard squeak is a common complaint. I think the dash assembly itself is a problem -- it needs to be more secure.

    With a 3spd auto, your mileage is right on the money. I have a 4spd auto and get a consistent 31-32 mpg, due largely to the wider, softer tires (205/16ZR45s). Before I added the new rims and tires I got 35 mpg in mixed driving here in LA.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    from a 900 mile trip in my 99 Prizm.

    first long trip / needed to break it in.

    5 speed - mpg results 36.2 mpg at speeds mostly 75-80 mph and a 70/30 hwy/city split. In 90-95 degree weather no less.

    Nothing to gripe about except lack of cruise control-damn my right foot and toe hurts.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    and I have said this b4.

    The stock tires suck.

    I can not express how much they suck.

    I am gonna be calling the tire rack soon to get some real tires. Dennis, what size are the TRD alum. wheel and tire upgrades?
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    205/16ZR45s (just like mine, only Nittos). However, based on input from my buds at c*three racing, try Sumitomos or Kumhos -- cheaper and much better handling. They hate Nittos. I'm switching over to Sumos myself this weekend -- probably 40s, though.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    I know your a CA guy?

    I have the incredible joy here in MN of looking forward to snow in the winter. The stock tires are unsafe in winter. Are the tires you're reffering to at least all-season?
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    Haven't lived in the white stuff since I moved out here from Detroit in 92. I doubt that a wide, low-profile tire is a very good idea in the winter, even with a FWD car. I'd check the tire reviews in the enthusiast mags before proceeding further. Or, just buy another set for winter (personally, I think that's the best way by far. As they say, anything worth doing is worth doing to excess!)
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    bought blizzaks for my last thunderbird.

    didn't think i'd have to do it for a FWD car :(

    the thought has crossed my mind because the blizzaks are phenomenal
  • Just bought a 94 Prizm, car seems great, runs good and on first hiway trip got 37mpg+, can't complain except for one thing. Is the loud road noise and engine noise normal for these cars. The more we drove the car the more we noticed the noise is really annoying and to crank the radio up to drown it out would make you go deaf. Actually at 60+mph it is the quitest per say as the engine rumbling is smoother, but the tire and road noise is still bad, unless you hit a hiway that is smooth blacktop and it is better, but if you hit hiway with a rough texture it's pretty much of a constant roar. At low speeds from 0-45 you hear the engine rumbling. We can live with it as the car was bought just as a work car, but was wondering if they all are noisy and if so does anyone know of any solutions to reduce it? In case anyone needs the specs, it is a std 4 door sedan, with the 3 speed auto basic model and a/c, with new Yokohama tires and drives perfectly straight and smooth.

    Joe Drivealot
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    Replace 'em. As far as the engine goes, you shouldn't even hear it unless you got the 3spd auto, which is entirely unfit for freeway travel, IMO.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    as is the 4spd auto. I have one, with the TRD exhaust, and I can't hear the engine except when accelerating (and then I hear a LOT, which is the whole idea!).
  • carubiocarubio Posts: 2
    I've had my '99 Prizm since Oct, '99. It gets 37 mpg, which I really like. But I'm worried about a noise it makes, a clunking sound, every so often. I first noticed it when making left turns. I took it to the dealer, and, of course, they claimed they were unable to reproduce the problem. Since then, I've noticed the sound now only when making left turns, but also, during some right turns, and when taking a curve on the highway at high speeds. Anyone experienced this problem or know what might be causing it?

  • liufeiliufei Posts: 201
    Sounds like either the cv-boots or the axle is wearing out. If its either of them, the noise will only get worse whenever you makes a turn, until it finally give out.
  • Definitely. I'd start with the CV joints. It would be rather unusual for them to wear out this early. They could very well be defective, could have been damaged in assembly, or not lubricated properly at the factory. Hopefully, you haven't crossed the mileage barrier on the warranty. They're quite expensive. Take the mechanic for a drive. Don't just drop it off.
  • carubiocarubio Posts: 2
    Thanks for the response. I thought it might be the cv-joints, too. But it doesn't make the sound every time. And when it makes the sound, it only makes it once during the turn. What I've read about cv-joint problems indicates they are supposed to cause a continuous clicking sound while turning.

    In fact, I did take the mechanic for a ride, but the car wouldn't make the sound at that time. I'm going to have to take it back again, I guess. Other people who have ridden in the car and driven it have noticed the noise. I'll just have to kidnap the mechanic and keep driving till he hears it, too. Anyway, luckily it is still under warranty.
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