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Old 12-13-2007, 11:12 AM   #1
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2000 Chevy Prizm

some of you know i've been searching for a more efficient daily driver and have helped me w/ good info on corollas/prizms which are more in my price range than civics. well, thank you, but it's time for more help.

i'm going to look @ a 2000 Chevy Prizm on sunday. it has a 5 speed,a/c,anti-lock brakes, and 135k miles for $3300. it has been VERY difficult to find a civic or corolla in my area w/ anti-lock brakes and a 5 speed tranny especially in my price range.

first of all, what do you think? and, what do i need to look for as far as issues SPECIFIC to this vehicle. meaning, i know how to check out the basics(leaks, smoking exhaust, cv joints, etc), but what needs extra attention?

i have checked reviews on the car, but sometimes the "experts" don't see the everyday grind of cars and what we put them thru. looking for a hands on perspective.

found this car by accident. totally forget that GM dropped the Geo name ~'98(i think). and i didn't think a 2000 model would be cheap enough. if this car ends up mine, it would be appropriate--chevy background, hence bowtieguy.

BTW the owner says he gets ~40mpg, so i'm hoping to hypermile 45+

much thanks!
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:26 PM   #2
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Good deal! The 2000 was the first year with variable valve timing, which yielded an extra 1-2 MPG. Sometimes I also wished I'd gotten a stick as well, but it's too late at this point.

Mine's a `99 (same generation/body style) and had 102Kmi when I purchased it in July `06. I'm getting about 34.5 MPG in the winter, 48 MPG in the summer on a 15-mile commute with the 4-speed AT. Mid-40s should be a piece of cake with a stick, VVT-i and your warmer weather. Mine was $6K from a dealer; the extra money got a nice body and all the repair work done. The only thing it's needed in the last 1-1/2 years are front brakes, a new battery and other minor maintenance (fluids, plugs and wires).

Mine doesn't have ABS, and it's tough to find. You'll probably want to set it up with an injector kill switch so it doesn't reset the ABS every time you kill the engine.

As far as what to look for, the main thing is the trunk. All the Corollas and Prizms I looked at have rust in the spare tire well from someplace (I don't know where the water gets in). If you can pull out the spare (the wing bolt may be rusted in place), usually the back of the spare will be rusty as well. Check out underneath; mine has some rust around the rubber plug, but it's not rotted away. I recently put a belly pan under the trunk, so I'm hoping that will slow it down quite a bit.

I'd expect body would start to rot behind the drive wheels after a while as well. That's usually the case for most cars.

Some things to look for in general -- check the brake pedal cover to see how worn it is, compare right and left wheels to see if it's been bashing curbs, and check the radiator, hood leading edge and windshield to see how much time it's spent tailgating on the expressway. Pull up the rear cushion to find out if it's had kids in it (just pull up hard on the front edge; it pops out.)

The steel rims use 175s, the alloys (LSi) use 185s, so the stock setup with aluminum rims should give a slightly taller top end gear; I'd expect the speedometer is compensated for the different sizes that the car can come with.

I'd say it's probably the most reliable Chevy you can get for the money. Unfortunately, it's not really a Chevy...most of your money for OEM replacement parts will be going to Nippondenso.

The AC sucks for maintenance, but I guess it's a necessary evil where you are. Mine was running all the time, so I just unplugged the compressor. The ventilation works fine without it. I did manage 47 MPG on a highway trip the last time I used it, which seemed pretty decent.

You may want to get a copy of the Haynes manual to find out more about detailed specifications, maintenance, etc.
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:52 PM   #3
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Bruce,

if that "review" wasn't directed toward me, i'd think it was a professional one. thank you VERY much. notes will be taken from it.
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Old 12-13-2007, 02:42 PM   #4
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Thanks!

Some other things you might be interested in are the Prizm/Corolla differences...besides the body, the center stack was redesigned to take the taller Delco radio and the cooling system uses a slightly different thermostat temperature. I assume the latter was because the Prizm was factory filled with Dexcool while the Corolla was filled with Toyota's pink stuff. The OEM battery in the Prizm was also a Delco. I expect all the other fluids were GM parts as well.

Dexcool has a pretty bad rep on the web, but I've had no problems with it so far in the Prizm. There's a problem if you pop the cap and see corrosion or metal residue on it.

If the car still has the OEM Delco battery, it's due for a change at this point. If that's the case, I'd advise getting a deep-discharge model (e.g. Optima D35) so you can coast around with lights on and engine off to your heart's content.

The Prizms have daytime running lamps and automatic headlamps. Some people have spoofed the automatic headlamp sensor by aiming a battery-powered LED at it, but I haven't tried this. Keying back to IG-I kills the DRLs when coasting, but it takes a couple of seconds.

The Prizm was a much better deal than the Corollas I looked at. The Prizm was only $6K vs $8-9K for a Corolla with fewer options, and they're essentially the same car.

The car doesn't coast very long without help from a hill. Unfortunately, there aren't many of those in Florida. FE might benefit from some added weight if you're doing pulse and glide without many stops.

One other thing that comes to mind...you can check the rear shoe wear without removing the drums by pulling out a ~1/2" diameter rubber plug on the back side of the backing plate. The plug has a small slot in it. The shoes are due when they're down to 1/16" of material. You can also make a quick check of the rears (and ABS) by backing up on loose ground, slamming on the brakes and checking for skid marks. With the ABS, it should make skid marks but you should hear the ABS making noise and pulsing the pedal as well (I've driven a `96 with ABS a bit).
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Old 12-14-2007, 09:35 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by BIBI View Post
Ask for the timing belt, because at 135k miles, it should have be changed twice, if not, you will have to do it soon.
You shouldn't have to do it at all. AFAIK, the `98-02 Prizms have chains, not belts.
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Old 12-14-2007, 04:02 PM   #6
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Bruce,

looking @ your gaslogs, must say that's very impressive for an AT.
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Old 12-14-2007, 08:44 PM   #7
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personal preference, I'd use toyota coolant since it's a toyota engine and GM just generally sucks IMHO
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Old 12-14-2007, 11:27 PM   #8
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personal preference, I'd use toyota coolant since it's a toyota engine and GM just generally sucks IMHO
lol its all the same coolant.. either orange(dexcool(GM)) or green(generally ford but lotsa others use it). prolly all made at the same place. just use whatever the owners manual says OR whatever color is currently in there,(should be orange orange (not brownish) or kinda bright green(again not brown). u can run any color in any engine as long as the previous color is all flushed out DO NOT combine colors! makes some sort of jello like stuff that clogs the radiator....

all coolant is is mostly water with anti freeze/rust additives....

lol what u said sounds like if i were to say i only use GM brand washerfluid because prestone or walmarts brand sucks. its all the same stuff u can make your own using water+rubbing alcohal. they die it blue so people dont mistake it for water and drink it...
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Old 12-17-2007, 07:35 PM   #9
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The green stuff is only supposed to last 2 years.
Dexcool is supposed to last 5 years, but if it is not flushed after 5, it will blow the head gasket. This is what the repair shop said anyway....
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Old 12-23-2007, 10:07 PM   #10
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1zzfe oil consumption

My high mileage 01' Prizm uses oil.
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