Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
89,798 miles
Total Complaints:
83 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (40 reports)
  2. add oil when needed (17 reports)
  3. replace engine (7 reports)
  4. sell the piece of @#%t (5 reports)
  5. just add oil every 1500 miles (4 reports)
  6. replace the rings and complete head job (3 reports)
2001 Chevrolet Prizm engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2001 Chevrolet Prizm:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2001 Chevrolet Prizm Owner Comments (Page 2 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #63

Jan 272010

Prizm V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles


bought this car from a buy here pay here place. after finally getting it pass echeck.had to replace catalytic converter and oxygen sensors.noticed it burning oil like a b**ch. so far i replaced spark plugs, had an oil flush done twice, had the cooling system checked as well as a 101 point inspection, and nothing has worked ,dealership can not find out why it is burning a gallon of oil every two weeks. only thing left to do is to replace the motor, or pull it out and refurbish it. hopefully that will work.

- , Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #62

Mar 182010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

Bought my 2001 prizm last thursday (from a dealer), drove two hours and the oil light came on. Drove twelve hours since then and have added 12 QUARTS OF OIL!!! Its only dripping a drop or two, the rest is ending up carbon flakes and grime out the tailpipe!!!!

- , West Branch, MI, USA

problem #61

Apr 012004

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

Bought car in 2004 for 5 grand and learned 2 weeks later that it burned oil- about 1/2 quart per fill. Should have broken the purchase contract with auto dealer but did not know that I could. In Wisconsin you can return used cars, but are subject to Max penalty of 5% of purchase fee (work with dealer for lesser fee if you need to). Also probably should not have purchased a high mileage leased vehicle but the burning oil problem still may have occurred.

Catalytic converter was still under warranty so it was replaced, but oil problem just got progressively worse. Burns a lot more at highway speeds. Recently check engine light went on and vehicle can no longer operate at highway speeds safely - 111,000 miles now. Fair market value is $4500 and I agree with previous posters estimate of engine/converter repairs. So that makes this vehicle worthless.

Anyone want a piece of junk?

On the plus side: there have been virtually no other problems - pity to have trash this otherwise perfectly good car.

- , West Allis, WI, USA

problem #60

Mar 012008

Prizm LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,000 miles


We got the car because we had no choice, went to a buy here pay here(had too!). we got it home it ran it got us to work...then it started using oil then more oil! now its sitting at a shop because my husband took it to work and its burning oil like nobodys business!

- , Kouts, IN, USA

problem #59

Apr 202008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

no new message for me, just a new guy who has the same pain in the ass.

Hope somebody can come up with a plan to get the problem solved. It really sucks!

- , Ames, IA, USA

problem #58

Jul 012009

Prizm LSI 1.8L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

Car burning 1qt every 400mi. Highly excessive. Engine light continues to come on referencing the catalytic converter. Likely that is shot due to all the oil being dumped into it. No visible smoke so the cat-converter is likely burning it all up sufficiently I guess. Tried every kind of oil additive including transmission fluid & heavier weight oil. No change. Did engine oil flush with machine, didn't help either. No solution it seems at this point except to replace the engine since I can't imagine it'll pass smog come next year.

In the end, I believe this problem would cost around: $1200 - rebuilt engine $1400 - labor to remove/install rebuilt engine $1000 - catalytic converter

$200 - labor to replace catalytic converter


- , Somewhere, CA, USA

problem #57

Apr 302008

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles


Bought this car like most others - because of the supposed Toyota reliability. Well, soon after I bought it, HELLO oil consumption. The amount of oil it eats varies some - it definitely burns more when driving on the highway. When driving around the city it would burn maybe 1 qt. every 1500 miles. On the highway, it was more like 1 qt. every 800 - 900 miles. I found that using 10W-30 oil as opposed to 5W-30 helped reduce oil consumption some, but not much.

The car now has 86,000 miles on it, and I've found a way to reduce the oil consumption. I add 1 can of "Restore" engine oil treatment with each oil change. I've found that this cuts oil consumption about in half. It still burns an excessive amount of oil IMO, but it is more manageable. With using Restore, the car tends to burn about 1 quart every 1,500 - 2,000 miles, depending on how it is driven (on the highway, burns it faster).

I've basically decided to just keep on checking the oil constantly & use Restore - seems to make a noticeable difference. I don't think the car is worth enough to bother paying thousands of dollars to fix. I wish GM would stand behind this, but they've probably got bigger fish to fry right now. I just hope that the engine won't take a dump in the next year or two until I can afford to buy another car.

- , Evanston, IL, USA

problem #56

Apr 042009

Prizm V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

This car has been burning oil for the last 3 years. Yeah the gas mileage is great but it doesn't add up when it goes through so much oil. I was surprised reading the reviews and wish I would have known when I bought it 5 years ago. It seemed like such a great deal being similar to a Corolla. Now at 105,000 I have to replace the engine or dump it. The thing was going through 2 quarts every 100 miles and now finally kicked the can.

- , Appleton, WI, USA

problem #55

Jan 222005

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

2001 Chevy Prism 1.8 oil hog. At about 40-50,000 miles the engine started using 1 qt every oil change, 3000 miles, Castrol 5w30 synthetic blend. By 70,000 3 qt every 3000. Now at 130,000 2 quarts every tank of gas, which has dropped from 400 miles (35mpg) to 300 miles (28-30 mpg). No leaks, no sign of burning, but it must be going out the tail pipe. Catalytic converter caused check engine light to come on. Going up a hill of 7 % or more for more than a minute will cause a LOUD exhaust leak, probably pressure trying to escape in front of Cat. Back to quiet after hill. I started recycling my oil from other vehicles to burn in the OIL HOG Prism. How about a Toyota 1.8 engine recall?

- , Franklin, PA, USA

problem #54

Nov 172008

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

Well guess what, i have a prism and i get to put oil in it as often as i put gas in it.... i purchased it from a place and get free oil changes for life, they look at me like an idiot as i show up every 7-14 days to get my oil topped off again.... It all blows out the tailpipe.... well at least this explains why Chevy needs an economic bailout to stay in business because as everyone else has seen toyota addressed the issue and chevys response::: all engines naturally burn oil ::: yep you have it, naturally burning gallons of oil a months like it should. If I replaced the rings as suggested i would maybe have a shot at saving the car, but really then it cascades into everything behind the engine as well because they were built to pass oil by the gallon and work properly... best solution has to be to send it to a junk yard and try something else....

- , Wayland, MI, USA

problem #53

Dec 312008

Prizm 1.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles


I am not adding anything new concerning this problem of oil consumption other than the engine codes I have encountered. #1 code PO171 which is basically lean fuel mixture and #2 code PO420 the catalyst system efficiency is below threshold. I believe these codes are a direct result of the valve guides dumping oil into the exhaust system. The worn rings, I believe is a manufacturing defect on tolerances or just defective material, which I have discerned based on all the information I have read regarding this problem. I also have a 1999 corolla which uses no oil between oil changes whatsoever. The Prizm, however, is highway driven for the most part but started using oil at approx. 60,000 miles give or take. It now has 150,000 miles on it and uses approx. 1 Quart per 500 on the average depending on the type of driving. I also get very poor gas mileage in city driving. After investigating my engine codes I learned that my ox sensors are probably faulty causing my air to fuel ratio to be imbalanced. Also my catalytic converter could be performing poorly because of oil being dumped into the exhaust system via valve guides or worn rings. The car therefore runs very rich at low speeds which explains the poor mpg in the city. In my opinion, to repair all the problems caused by the engine burning and/or dumping oil into the system, including changing both ox sensors, catalytic converter and rebuilding the heads and worn engine rings, it is not worth it. The car runs fine but at this point adding oil is the best solution for me and may be yours also. I also want to say that I purchased this car thinking it was as good as the corolla but something is different. I highly recommend using the consumer reports on purchasing vehicles as this I believe is a good guide to comparing vehicle reliability. I really don't think it is biased in any way, shape or form, it just reports the facts about vehicle repair history. Auto makers would do good to do the same!! I hope this has been helpful. Will Chevrolet step up to the plate and make this right? I hope so.

- , Elyria, OH, USA

problem #52

Dec 012008

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

Bought a Chevy Prism after looking at the glowing recommendations in the Consumer Reports and wish I had found this site before purchasing. I now have a Prism that's developed a thirst for oil, 1.5qt/500 miles; it does look like I will have any luck getting it fixed so, if this complaints are correct on this site. My son has this a college and I thought it would be a good solid car (Toyota) it appears as if I will be just another unsatisfied customer of our American Car Industry - let's just all spend a few billion and bail them out.

If I happen to find a solution I will update this post,

- , Rockledge, FL, USA

problem #51

Jul 112006

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Soon after purchasing this 2001 Prizm, I too, found it used oil (qt every 500 mi). I assumed former owner did not take care of car. I took it to a mechanic that told me that the rings were bad. I purchased another used engine and hired a mechanic to install it; Shortly thereafter one of the Denso spark plugs disintegrated and took out the valves so I purchased another used engine and had it installed only to find out this one burns oil at the same rate as the first engine. The car now sits in my garage and I don't know what to do with it. I am sure that this is a factory defect and GM should stand behind it.

- , Panama City Beach, FL, USA

problem #50

Aug 202008

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

I too have an oil usage problem...but with my Corolla, which has the same engine as the Prism. I just bought it, and the gal even told me it uses a lot of oil. No problem, I figured. I'm a mechanic. So, I got it home, looked it over, changed the oil, was going to drive it and monitor the oil. I noticed it wasn't running smooth. Checked compression, #2 cylinder only had 10 pounds, vs. the other 3 cylinders having 125. So, I did a cylinder leakage was coming out the tailpipe. I proceeded to remove the head, the exhaust valves in cylinder #2 did not look like they were seating. I took the head in to a shop, they replaced all the exhaust valves, seals, and exhaust guides. I put the head back on, figured...problem solved. Started driving it...check engine light was on. After checking everything, determined the catalytic converter was faulty, probably due to the oil going through it. But the oil continues to disappear. I filled it up, took it on a drive totaling 100 miles or so, put it in my garage. In the morning, I checked the oil, already down 1 quart. in 100 miles!

So, after talking to other mechanics, I have decided to install new rings, and hope for the best. I do believe this is a common problem with this 1.8 engine, after reading forums about both Corollas and Prisms (that use a Toyota engine). Not sure why, but I'm going to proceed on. I will add a post later when I see if it does any good or not.

- , Ames, IA, USA

problem #49

Jun 082008

(reported on)

Prizm 1.8L

  • Manual transmission
  • 125,000 miles

Bought my 2001 prizm new, first oil change i went with valvoline 5w30 full synthetic, change the oil and filter @ 7,000 mi. never lost a drop of oil. average 36 miles to a gallon. check engine light is on but runs great. had lite fixed once came back.

- , Atlanta, MI, USA

problem #48

Jun 032008

Prizm 1.6L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

This car is a piece of ka.

We noticed by about 20,000 miles that it was (burning, eating, farting?) oil, poof and it would mysteriously be over a quart low by the 3000 mile oil change.

By 50,000 miles it would be a quart low only 1,000 miles after an oil change.

Last week low and behold terrible knocking- checked oil and sure fricken enough, dry as the proverbial bone- only 1,500 miles from the last oil change!

No oil in the driveway, none around the valve covers, none ANYWHERE we can see. I guess the Chevy oil fairies took it. (actually it is probably burnt to a sludge and has killed the engine with the rest coming out into the exhaust, which by the way looks normal).

So anyway, something is horribly amiss in the engine now, it sounds like someone threw a bunch of marbles in a coffee can. I called Chevrolet and they basically said "uh huh, uh huh, sorry, that sounds bad." and gave me a reference number- so basically they told me to go fart in the wind.

Oil light never went on, check engine light never went on.


- , Wenatchee, WA, USA

problem #47

May 282008

Prizm 4D 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 300,000 miles

Well, of course, same problem. Though from what I have read, I think I may have it figured. It may very likely be a combination of material issues on the rings/seals, a mismatched filler cap, and mismatched ring/seal size. If anyone tries replacing these (I warn y'all, it might be pricey) and it works, then awesome!!! Just my idea to check out, hope it helps. I'm looking into trying this myself on my fiancee's mother's Prizm. Will update if it's a fix, and where to acquire the parts.

- , Reno, NV, USA

problem #46

Feb 122003

Prizm Model 1.8L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 16,000 miles

I bought a 2001 Chevrolet Prizm in 2003 with 16,000 miles. I soon found out that I have to add 1 quart of oil between 3,000 mile oil changes. I brought the Prizm to the dealership many times for an oil consumption check while the care was under warranty. i was always told no problem found. I called the regional Chevrolet toll free number about the problem. I was told it is normal for a Prizm to need 1 quart of oil added between oil changes that I have done every 3,000 miles. This was hard for me to believe. I called Toyota since the Prizm & Corolla have the same engine. I was told that it is normal that a Corolla uses 1 quart of oil between oil changes done every 3,000 miles. After reading comments on this website that Toyota fixed the problem on the Corolla's; I am wondering if there is a class action lawsuit requiring the problem to be fixed? I'm worried that this problem may lead to a serious problem. I've read mention of oil sludge on this website. What does it mean/cause?

- , Wixom, MI, USA

problem #45

May 222008

Prizm LSI 1.4L

  • Manual transmission
  • 66,000 miles

This is absolutely ridiculous. My car's check engine light came on so I took it to a Toyota dealer since the thing even says Toyota under the hood. They call me today to let me know that the car had run out of oil, I never had any warning lights come on before today though. They estimate the cost to be between $2,800 - $3,500 to rebuild the engine or $3,800 for a new engine.

I have had to put three transmissions into this junker with only 66,000 miles on it and now the engine has burned up! Toyota may have a fabulous reputation for reliability but it seems this car escaped quality control.

Stay far away from a used one of these!!! Don't be enticed by the 38mpg highway because the cost of constantly fixing it far outweighs the fuel savings.

- , Milford, OH, USA

problem #44

Oct 132006

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Like so many others, I bought the Chevrolet Prizm mainly because I was really getting a Toyota. I don't have much against Chevrolet, I have owned several in my life, but obviously this oil consumption problem has been known about by both Toyota and Chevrolet for a long time.

Toyota and Chevrolet both know that everyone in the world knows that a Prizm is a Corolla. When Toyota lets Chevrolet put it's Prizm model name on a Toyota Corolla, Toyota expects Chevrolet to do what is right by it's customers. Toyota has offered it's customers relief from the cost of fixing Corolla (and other models) oil sludge caused engine detonation. Chevrolet, on the other hand, has not.

Perhaps Toyota has not offered Chevrolet any way to at least share the cost of replacing/repairing the 1.8L engines that have detonated, more than likely it's in their contract for Chevrolet to take care of problems. It is a shame that Chevrolet/GM won't own this issue and offer relief to it's customers. Chevrolet/GM could really set itself apart from all of the other (domestic AND foreign) car companies whom are having the EXACT same problem with oil sludge caused engine breakdown.

It is sad to think that Chevrolet doesn't realize the good reputation they could GAIN if only they would OWN this hugely expensive problem that they have dropped into their customer's laps.

- , Loveland, CO, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?