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Geo Metro Engine Questions



  • I just got a 2000 Chev. Metro, 3 cyl. I limped home with it from the auction. The air filter bracket was reversed. Compression is 120 lb. It has a surging idle from 2 to 3000. Mechanic said to try replacing the idle motor, but it's still the same after I put in one from the junk yard. I sprayed carb cleaner to check for leaks. EGR valve is free and holding a vacuum. Car has 153,000, seems ok otherwise. It shows no engine codes.
  • zendenzenden Posts: 62
    a vacuem test would tell if you had multable burnt valves; it could be!! one because it has low compression; Metro 3 cyl engines are knowen for this! Are they all within 15% of each outher, over the total avrager?
  • Compression test was close to 120 on all three. I guess I'm still thinking of old VW's where that would be good compression.
  • zendenzenden Posts: 62
    I checked the specs. on your 2000 Metro 3 cyl Normal Compression : 199 PSI, minimum 156 PSI
  • pcthurmanpcthurman Posts: 1
    I am buying a 93 the engine is bad so I purchased a 90 model engine I see some different sensors on both can I drop it in or do I need to swap everything?????
  • mageomageo Posts: 3
    I recently purchased an 89 metro and it pretty much runs fine except when I try to travel in 5th gear. As soon as I reach the appropriate speed for 5th gear and try to put it in it seems to bog and starts to decelerate as if it's almost to high a gear, but I can't maintain speed or accelerate. I can leave it in 4th and climb up to 65 no problem. Could this be because of an EGR or PCV clog that effects the amount of load the car can push at 55pmh in that gear, or fuel filter?
  • mageomageo Posts: 3
    Hello, I saw your response and you seemed like you knew a thing or two about those metro's. I have an 89 and all seems to run fine except when traveling in 5th gear. I can run the car up to 65-70 in 4th no problem but when I try to shift to 5th it almost acts like it bogs and starts to decelerate, not maintaining speed or accelerating at all. What do you think the problem could be?

  • zendenzenden Posts: 62
    It could be low vacume due to a clogged catalytic converter but then it would have a loss of power through the whole power range. How long has it been doing this? How long have you had it do you know the car; or GEO's and how they feel?; and is this problem getting worse? Is it possible that the tires are to tall for that car are they 12 inch tires on the car? Is it possible that it has the FXI trans in it, that would throw the speedo off and be making you go faster then what it shows; in turn putting an extra strain on the eng,
    It could be the fuel filter or pump; or the pump pressure regulator, it is under the air breather on top of the throttle body toward the front passengers side. it is round with about 3 screws. If the fuel pressure is low when under a load due to the regulater, you could replace for about $40. parts, or clean it out with spray cleaner; watch out most likely its spring loaded and a small ball check valve seated. Make sure that you seal it properly. If it where a fuel supply problem witch it sounds like it could be, then most likely when you are on the highway pulling a hill as it has that loss of power slows down if you where to put it to the floor and hold it then immediately down shift and hold it to the floor again , this would be the extreme test for the fuel supply system. The car will then fall flat on its face, chug and maybe even come to a stop due to lack of fuel pressure, or low fuel flow when needed; unless you where to let off of the gas to let the pressure build back up.
    If it where a cat clog, then it could be tested with a vacuum gage at idle; and if it where a cat clog then there would be a primary reason for the clog, like low eng temp as in bad thermostat( running to cold, low ignition timing; is many times the reason for the cat clog! all of this would be a symptom of bad MPG for a long time to clog it. Its hard to fix a car online so sorry for thinking out loud! but hopefully it is what you needed to give you some ideas that will help. Most people on here will try to fix there own or get pointed in the general direction, then speak to other mechanics about it. Ask away I will do my best when I can to help.
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    I've never heard of the fuel pressure regulator on a Metro giving trouble. And the PCV valve and EGR valve would have a much greater effect on running at low speeds and in the lower gears than they would in 5th at high speed.

    I believe it is one of 5 possibilities: poor compression, excessive resistance in the plug wires, defective distributor cap or rotor, clogged fuel filter, or worn or unsuitable spark plugs.

    The compression pressure in the 3 cylinder Metro should be 195psi. If it is lower than 180psi in any cylinder; the engine cannot be made to perform properly.

    The spark plug wires should have no more than 1,000 ohms resistance for each inch of wire length. (They measure 500 ohms per inch of length when new.)

    The distributor cap can create problems if the carbon button in the center of the inside edge is missing or damaged. There also can be problems if the inside surface of the cap has any carbon tracks or lines on it; or if it is coated with dirt on either the inside or outside. It must be kept surgically clean. The same goes for the rotor.

    The fuel filter should be replaced, as it is the least commonly maintained item on that car; and is thus the most likely to need replacement. And it will have the greatest effect on running in 5th gear.

    Metro engines are astonishingly sensitive to spark plug brand and condition. Most people install NGK plugs in that engine; just because they are such a popular brand. But in the 17 years I have owned my 1990 Metro, and in the 30 plus years that I have been a diagnostic, fuel and electrical systems specialist; I have never seen a worse spark plug choice for the Metro than NGK plugs!!! In this car, I would recommend either Bosch # 7900 Super Plus (which is a fairly new part number, and may be difficult to locate), or Champion # 332 (RN7YC). The gap in these plugs should be set to .043". These plugs are slightly colder than the recommended ones; and my experience is that they work better, for that reason.
  • zendenzenden Posts: 62
    What you said sounds like good advice! As for the PCV and EGR comment that I made, that was in refrance to anouther post; Not this (5th grear struggle post). He could also check the resistance on the ignition coil.
  • 97 metro 3 cyl , 1.0 liter, is pinging at part to full throttle after it is warmed up. have not messed with timing at all. the car has 156,000 on it and when i did a compression test it came up as follows: #3 90psi; #2 120psi; #1 125psi; i'm gettin a cat efficiency below threshold code. i replaced plugs and wires and pcv valve. any ideas? i'm sure there's about a 1001 different problems as usual. lol. so throw me some ideas folks. haha.
  • mageomageo Posts: 3
    Thanks again for the help. I've only had the car for a few weeks, my first one. So I'm new to the machine. But really in every gear there seems to be a sweet spot for accelerating that I can't push past until the car matches in speed and RPM's. Once past the optimal running speed in that gear I can then floor it and have it accelerate. The exception is in the 5th gear. I thought well if the load is just to much for that speed I might be able to compensate by flooring it past the optimal speed to shift from 4th to 5th and then jump to 5th to have it be a better working speed. Doesn't work. I have added an oil additive and will see if that helps a little. If it does then I think it's safe to assume it's a compression problem and I'm SOL for a quick fix.
    The gas gauge doesn't work very well so I'm still waiting to see how far I can go on a tank till I add the fuel system cleaner and see how that changes things.

    P.S. all testing is done on level road highways.
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    There is ONLY ONE problem which is behind this situation; your compression is WAY out of specs. With compression that low (assuming your gauge is not defective) there is no way on earth you'll ever make the engine run right. The minimum compression spec is over 150 PSI; and the original compression in that motor was 195 PSI. So it's time to bite the bullet, and at least overhaul the cylinder head; but it probably will require redoing the whole engine.

    What you describe as "pinging" seems to me to be very likely the sound of one or more broken piston skirts or broken rings.

    FYI; you can get a premium quality remanufactured engine for the Metro for an outrageously cheap price; from Hiperformer Engines in Spokane Washington. They have a 7 year, 100,000 mile warranty; and the last time I checked the price, it was about $1,300 plus shipping:
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    You know; what you just wrote rang a bell in my head: It sure sounds like your clutch pedal free play has all gone away; and the clutch is just beginning to slip. When this first happens, it will only be noticeable under the heaviest loads; and that would be in 5th gear. So try loosening the adjusting nut on the end of the clutch cable to give about 1 to 1.5 inches of free play at the clutch pedal when it is all the way up; and then tell me whether this clears up the problem!!!
  • drewkohlsdrewkohls Posts: 12
    I have an 89 metro 3 cylinder 5 speed and it ran pretty good when i first got it about a week ago. it has some exhaust issues such as a cat converter that has been poorly clamped into place by the P.O and a muffler that has been rusted out almost completely through the bottom of it and sounds like a fart can. It ran fine until i went and past a fellah doing 45 in a 55. It's a small 3 cylinder so i went and goosed it a little bit and after i got around him and got her into 5th it started to kinda sputter a little bit and hesitate. I thought maybe my cousin had moved one of my plug wires, i had stopped and checked everything out and it seemed fine, then it started to sound like i was running on 2 cylinders, i limped her home and started diagnostics on it. Compression reads, #1 120 psi, #2 15 psi, #3 120 psi. I put some oil in all cylinders and no improvements, so i burned some valves. Was it likely my exhaust that is the cause of this? or EGR valve? i'm new to these fuel miser's.
  • zendenzenden Posts: 62
    In my experience I have never heard of a valve burning out suddenly like that. I have seen a head gasket do that. It could be a valve is stuck open from a peace of carbon that may have broke loose when you goosed it; if this be the case then the small chunk of carbon would be stuck between the valve and its seat keeping it from sealing. Usually in a short period of time it would have broke lose by its self and then run fine again . To me it sounds like a peace of the spark plug may have broken off in the cylinder and broke or bent a valve, maybe even piston damage with it. Some times a piece of the porcelain in the spark plug can crack off and cause damage in there. To tell if it is a intake valve take the air breather off and the coil wire off; crack the throttle open just a hair and crank it over. If it is a intake valve you will hear it breathing back out of the throttle body pretty bad. You can do the same with the exhaust, but it will be harder for you to here the abnormal sound on your car because your exhaust system has leaks. If the exhaust was sealed tight and not leaking you could simply test a bad exhaust valve by putting a dollar bill up to the exhaust pipe it will keep sucking it up in the pipe and blowing it back out as it is idling. I hope some of these tips help. Maybe some one else has some better ideas, I would like to here them.

    OH! I see! You said 15 Lbs if this is a true reading then was the car pinging when you pushed on it , if so it could be a broken piston from pre detonation.
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    Take a look at the spark plug that came out of the cylinder that had low compression. If that plug is different in appearance from the other two plugs, or is obviously damaged; try replacing it. I would also measure the resistance of the plug wire for that cylinder (should be less than 1,000 ohms per inch of wire length) and check the rotor and the inside and outside surface of the distributor cap for cracks or carbon tracks.

    As Zenden said; sometimes carbon can become stuck underneath a valve. That is particularly likely if you goose an engine that has not been driven hard recently. So it might be worth running some liquid graphite through the air intake. But the normal compression for that engine is 195 psi; and the minimum allowable pressure is 155 psi; so it does seem obvious that the compression is WAY out of the ballpark.

    The only good solution for low compression is to overhaul the head, or the entire engine. The lowest price and highest quality remanufactured engines for Metros come from a place called Hiperformer Engines in Spokane, Washington. They have a 7 year, 100,000 mile warranty. This company does all the engines for NAPA stores; and has the lowest rate of warranty returns in the industry. They charge about $1,300 for a completely remanufactured 3 cylinder Metro motor, and can ship anywhere in the US at affordable rates:
  • drewkohlsdrewkohls Posts: 12
    I was going to run a flow test on it but i cant find the fitting. But I didn't hear any pinging or anything when i got on it. But the 15 psi is only when the engine is warmed up. I changed the plugs to be sure that they were all new and the troubled cylinder's old plug was completely fouled, carbon, oil and the center electrode was shrunk it seemed. I ran some valve medic through the oil and that helped the other two cylinders a smidge and now they are up to 130 or there about but the #2 is still at 15 warm. I dont and didn't hear any funny noises coming from the engine indicating any predetonation or a busted piston or piston skirt. and The car doesnt run hot at all though and there isnt any water in the oil or visa versa, so i don't think it could be a head gasket, i guess it's hard to tell sometimes because different cars react different ways. Actually, thinkin about it, it very well could be a head gasket. It wasn't pinging before this problem, and it runs a bit better when it's warm so when the head and block expands it would seal a smidge better. and the low compression on the #2 would cause the other 2 cylinders to lose compression also because it is in the middle of the 3 correct? I guess i won't know until i can do the flow test. I'll get to looking for that fitting i suppose. What do you guys think? You guys seem like you've had these cars for awhile. I love these things but they are just like Beetles and Corvairs, they have their personalities that you have to be in tune with or else basically. I love it lol. Thanks for your help fellahs.
  • drewkohlsdrewkohls Posts: 12
    Well, i am the one that has the issues with the compression on the #2 cylinder and i thought it was just hesitating. well. i thought i would try to find my flow test fitting but i cant, so i thought i would try to see if i can hear the air coming out of the throttle body while the car was running, so i took the air cleaner off, started the car and started to listen, all i heard was sucking, so i revved it up a smidge and then it backfired through the tbi while my ear was right close, that hurt lol. so on old cars, backfiring is usually because of bad timing or some other ignition source or poor carberation. is that the same? or is it just a valve? or is it there was too much fuel in the cylinder that wasnt yet combusted and then it popped from heat or what? im kinda stuck.
  • zendenzenden Posts: 62
    I will do my best to try to answer some of your questions, and give my input. As I stated before when listening in to the throttle body disconnect the coil wire first; at least I think that I stated that part; eather way, sorry about your ear! I don’t know what flow test your speaking of, or what kind of port you are looking for, I don’t claim to know it all, I have 3, 3cyl GEO’s I overhauled a few and love them all. have I have been a mechanic for 40 years and was rebuilding one today. With 15 lbs of compression it is time to take the head off! You will then find your problem unless you have a scope that you can put down inside of the spark plug hole to see the damage. Re building a GEO 3 Cyl is easy. You wont need to even take the engine out. Pull the head with the intake on it. Drop the oil pan. Unbolt the three rods push the pistons up out of the block. Send the head out to be rebuilt or I could walk you through it Maybe? Spend $85. for a head set. $75. For standard size rings, spend $9.00 for an oil pan gasket. That’s it. As easy as rebuilding a lawn mower engine.
  • drewkohlsdrewkohls Posts: 12
    i've got the rebuild part down for the most part but these could be different you know, its just the running part for these cars lol. I've had 3 beetles and 2 corvairs just in the last year, the body's were in great shape but they all had no motors or they were stuck so i can rebuild without a problem. I like projects and keep selling the cars to make a little profit and get another project. I'm stickin with the fuel miser this time though i think. The metro personality is what i'm not used to lol. When i was listening to the throttle body i had the car running, i had never done it that way before, i always used what i call a flow test. I couldnt find my fitting so i made another one, i take an old spark plug, take all the inerds out of it and then i take an air fitting and weld it into it and thread it into the plug hole of the desired cylinder when the cylinder is on its compression stroke and at tdc and turn the air on and listen and use some thin paper at the carb and exhaust to find the bad valve(s). anyways, I attempted to take the valve cover off of this beast today and it did not want to come off, is there some kind of trick, unless i am mistaken, there are only 4 nuts holding the valve cover on right? And i think i might just ask my neighbor tomorow to see if he has a scope, i have 2 mechanic shops less than a hundred yards away from me on either side, that can be a plus sometimes haha. Thanks again for any advice.
  • drewkohlsdrewkohls Posts: 12
    well, so it turns out, it was a burnt valve on the #2 cylinder. I still have only 150 psi on 2 of the 3 cylinders and 160 on the other. I think i will keep checkin and watching the compression on the engine and if it gets any lower then i'll just rebuild her. For the extra 35 dollars in a new top end gasket kit and 40 dollars or so for the bottom end gasket kid and then new rings at 20 bucks it's not bad at all. All the parts that i listed being from ebay anyways. New plugs and wires and it'll be just like new.
  • debjeandebjean Posts: 2
    This car has been a great car...but it's getting where it doesn't wanna get up and go....when I come to a stop and then mash the gas it goes real slow..I can even mash it to the floor and still won't hardly move...but finally and gradually it picks up you think this is the Catalytic converter or some thing more simple and less expensive???
  • drewkohlsdrewkohls Posts: 12
    i would say that it could be the catalytic converter but the only way to really find out is to cut the pipe and look in there.. well, the only way that i think is most accurate. then if it's ok then purchase adapters and muffler clamps and put it back together or just weld it if you have access.. Before you do anything drastic though, and probably the first thing you ought to do is to do a compression test and that could tell you everything you need to know. But if it is still within specs, between 150 and 195 psi then check the cat, then, if all that checks out then a tune up, could b weak spark but highly unlikely. just roll with the punches i reckon, keep us posted
  • 4_banger4_banger Posts: 2
    i have a 96 4 cyl. and i had the same problem. cut off my cat. converter and didn't help. ended up being the crank gear keyway broke. a new key and some jb weld took care of the issue. i know what it's like to try crossing the street with no get up and go
  • debjeandebjean Posts: 2
    was this exspensive? did you you fix it? and how did you do it? sorry..things have to be explained in detail for
  • pantharenpantharen Posts: 2
    Sometimes when I am sitting at a light. I release the clutch, and the car lurches and bucks like I am a new driver (I have been driving stick for 25 years). The air cleaner is new, The oil is due for a change, its got a new clutch (less than 5000 kilometres on the clutch). Weirdest thing today, I was sitting at a light on a steep hill, it went into first and bogged right down, no HP at all. For about an hour after that didn't matter if I was in 1st or 5th, I had no go juice at all.

    mine is a 1995 2dr with 300,000 kilometres
  • victorh61victorh61 Posts: 3
    I have a geo metro 3 cilynders1995, can l change my eeprom for another one with same serial code or no matter if It belongs to another geo metro 3 cilynders with a different serial code?
    B regards
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    I guess this depends on what you mean by "eeprom." The actual eprom chip is a part which plugs into a circuit board in the engine control computer. But what most people would mean by that term is the whole computer assembly. The computer assemblies are made in several different models; some of which were used on California emission spec cars; others used on federal emission spec cars; some were used on manual transmission vehicles; and others were used on automatic transmission vehicles. There was also a computer used on the XFI model; which was only made through 1994. This model was calibrated for maximum fuel economy. And the computer in the 1988 to 1991 base model Metro and the 1988 to 1990 LSI did not have electronic spark timing; so it would not be compatible with the later cars ignition systems.

    So if you want to find a computer which can be used to replace your 1995 model; it would have to be from a 3 cylinder car, with the same type of transmission as yours. It would be an even better match if it was also made for the same type of emission spec (either federal or California, or Canadian) I would also recommend not using a computer from a convertible in a sedan; or vice versa. Beyond that, most of the other differences would not be important.

    The same would apply if you just wanted to change the eprom chip; but I believe this chip is not removable; like it is in some larger American vehicles.
  • victorh61victorh61 Posts: 3
    Hi zaken 1
    Thank you for info..what eeprom means is engine control computer,and what I understand,according to what you said is that I can change my engine control computer keeping in mind the same characteristics: 3 cylinder, transmission and type of emission spec. Am I rigth?
    thanks for your help.
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