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:
99,913 miles
Total Complaints:
20 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (12 reports)
  2. change piston rings/replace engine (3 reports)
  3. Chevy needs to redesign engine (2 reports)
  4. class action lawsuit! (2 reports)
  5. replace engine (1 reports)
2002 Chevrolet Prizm engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2002 Chevrolet Prizm:

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

2002 Chevrolet Prizm Owner Comments

problem #20

Oct 122016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles


I bought this car off a relative that takes good care of her vehicles. I bought it fairly cheap and it never really seemed to cause her many problems. I went over the vehicle pretty thoroughly including changing the oil in the tranny and engine. I drove the car to work and back approx. 25 mile round trip for about a week and noticed that the oil was down about a quart.I added it and again, drove it another week to work and sure enough another quart low! I added another quart and after driving this car to a clients business approximately 210 miles round trip, I decided I better check the oil and It was barely on the stick! I knew there was trouble at this point and decided to check the Internet to see if anyone else had this problem and yes there are tons of complaints about this same problem. I don't understand how a company can have this many complaints about the same problem, and not fix it. Until there is a recall on this vehicle, I'll not buy any Chevy/ Toyota product.

- , Stoystown, PA, USA

problem #19

May 012015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 256,000 miles

I have a 2002 Chevy Prism. I bought it because I got a really good deal of paying $1,300 for it in 2013. For the past few months it has really been using a lot of oil. I have to check it on a very regular basis. If I go on a trip and use a tank of gas, I am certain I am gonna be putting in 1 or 2 qts of oil. Since it started getting really bad miles on a tank of gas, I had my niece replace the spark plugs. In one of the spark plugs there was a lot of oil collected. I have yet to see the oil light come on. The engine light has been on a couple of years. The back bumper gets black from the gas usage. All in All I cant complain too much since I have put very many miles on this car, and getting mileage on the car, I have made over $10,000 with it going on 2 years of driving it.

- , Poteau, OK, USA

problem #18

Jan 012010

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I bought a 2002 Chev Prizm May 2008 with 30,000 miles. By 60,000 miles oil consumption increased. One quart every 1000 miles. Now with 123.000 miles a quart every 400 to 500 miles. It appears from other posts bad engines were produced for a long time. From 1998 to 2002, five years of bad engines? I bought a 2003 Pont. Vibe new in Jan 2003. Has the same 1.8 engine, has 220,000 miles, never has used oil. Toyota must have fixed the engine for 2003. Why did we let these guys get away with this? Where is the class action suit? To late now I guess.

- , Wellington, OH, USA

problem #17

Oct 012008

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


I feel I am getting screwed my car uses 1 Qt. ever 150 to 200 miles no sign of smoke just oil blown onto the floor and garage door threw the tail pipe. Plugs look fantastic, lets see maybe Japan piston rings/chevy? Oh and guess what me neice is a proud owner of a 2001 chevy Prizm you got it same problem.

- , Paw Paw, MI, USA

problem #16

Aug 012005

Prizm LSI 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,300 miles

The check engine light came on. Had it checked out, basically was going to cost a bundle to fix, the mechanic told me to just keep driving. I've gotten 156,000 miles on it now. I can't believe the engine is still going, I've been putting 1-1.5 qts of oil in every week (250 mi). The engine makes a loud knocking sound, when idling and accelerating, gets worse when it needs oil, the back of my bumper is black due to excessive oil consumption. I've been driving the world's crappiest car for the last 5.5 years, but at least I didn't pay to get it fixed.

- , Rockton, IL, USA

problem #15

Feb 212006

Prizm 4 Door Cheapie Toyota 4 Banger

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,956 miles

although i am somewhat shocked everybody else is complaining about oil consumption, my tale of woe is different. i bought the Prizm (A-OK Chevy used car) April 2003 with 35K miles. never had any oil leakage problems/changed the oil every 3K religiously.

in 2006, MOBIL started offering Guaranteed (hohohoho) 15K synthetic oil:"Mobil 1 Extended"

poof! started using oil at the rate of a quart every 1K! finally gave up adding quarts @ five bux a quart and switched back to real oil. emailed a complaint to MOBIL: never heard ANY response. their word is as good as their guarantee: will NEVER use any Mobil product ever again.

did the initial spark plug change a few months back and the #1 plug has oil on/in it. to pass state inspection, had to change the original cat converter. have moved up to 10W40 oil which gets about 1500 miles before adding a quart.

yeh, my blame is on Mobil not Toyota not Chevy. perhaps it is just a coincidence, but i seriously doubt it.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #14

Feb 272010

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


2002 Chevy Prizm, Just purchased last week for 2500.00, 100 K on odometer,Beautiful little car great condition , 1.8 Litre Automatic ,Thats the good part........

Made first 300 mile trip 1 day after purchase , Well surprise surprise ,only used "1 Quart" of oil on my 300 mile trip . Next day 70 mile trip ,only used a "1/2 Quart" .There are no leaks, all oil slips past the rings with no signs of smoking. How efficient is that ? Stunned is the best I can come up with, After doing a little internet home work I discovered CARCOMPLAINTS.COM and there it was and inherent design flaw in 1.8 engine, I HAVE PLENTY OF COMPANY! Needless to say this car is up for sale the minute I get my title in hand

- , Lititz, PA, USA

problem #13

Oct 222009

Prizm 1.8L Vvti

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

click to see larger images

excessive oil consumption excessive oil consumption

i got a good deal on this car....yes, my other Prizms had used some oil....but as i was to find out, this car has been using more than two quarts in 450 miles...the oil does not reach the dipstick, the low oil light has yet to come car has 126000 miles now...122000 when i bought it 10/22/09....sux to know i trusted Toyota....why does Toyota not admit this is a manufacturing/design defect?....i was gonna give this car to my daughter....not a safe car that runs itself out of oil.....i will prob have to sell it,,,,hopefully i can get a fair price...i will find a Honda loyalty to Toyota has left the building...

Update from Jan 30, 2011: now at Feb 2011, 140,000 miles car is running rough possibly fuel pump...bought a new coilpack, didn't help wherever i put it...discovered these have the same fuel pump as previous body style as i have two parts cars...they went out as early as 130k miles...will try a known good pump before i put too much money in this car, i was going to re-ring it very soon as it uses a quart of oil every one-hundred miles...thanx to walmart 5 qt container for $10...f*ck buying a new Toyota...whoever sells it...

- , Athens, AL, USA

problem #12

May 012009

Prizm 1.8L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Pretty much the same as all the other complaints - burns a quart every 600-700 miles.

- , Fort Edward, NY, USA

problem #11

Oct 152008

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

So the car started burning oil at 70k or so last year 10/08. i just kept adding oil, and it did get a little better in how much oil it consumed, but now at 85k on 11/09 i am just deciding to replace the car. It is a big hassle, and I don't trust this car to go any further. It's not really Toyota's fault with a poor engine design, but more the transmission. It mostly happens on the 3-speed ones. There are way too many RPM's at high speeds, that it causes the piston rings to wear out and let oil enter the combustion chamber. My advice, if anyone buys a prizm/Corolla make sure it's a 4-speed auto/ 5-speed manual.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #10

Oct 222006

Prizm 1.8L Vvti 1zzfe

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles


Now it uses 1 quart of oil per 100 miles! Otherwise it runs well, and it's a good car, and there is no cloud of smoke, but it burns a lot of oil like they all seem to. I bought it three years ago from the original owner at 105,000 miles, and it used a quart per thousand miles then. Now I have to add oil every other day. I purchased a used engine today with 63K miles, and I'll install it and hope for another 100,000 miles. If the new engine doesn't use oil yet, I may try synthetic oil, since some say that helps.

- , Mayville, MI, USA

problem #9

Jun 112008


  • Manual transmission
  • 101,000 miles

Have a 2002 Prizm, bought it a year ago with 98,000 miles on it. In June I took it in for a regular oil change, they called me telling me there was less than 1 qt. of oil in it, and that I needed a new engine (which I did not do, as i could not afford!)

As everyone here keeps saying, the oil light never came on, the check engine light never came on, no oil ever leaked, and wasn't burning oil. I've been just checking the oil monthly since then and refilling as needed. A mechanic friend suggested that I put in this engine restore stuff in and that helped me go a little longer between oil top-ups, but I just tried this again tonight, and now the check engine light has come on and it's making strange sounds and feeling weird. Help!!

Why has GM not done anything about this???

- , Marion, IA, USA

problem #8

May 302008

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

I bought this car for my daughter from a dealership May of 2008 and within 2 weeks the engine was making knocking noises. The oil didn't even register on the dipstick. It was driven 700 miles and needed another 2.5 qts of oil. We still owe 6000.00 on this car and am very disappointed in Chevy for not owning up to this problem, My last 2 cars were Toyota's so thats why I decided on this car, but now wondering about Toyota! If there is a class action lawsuit, I will definitely be there. This is CRAP! Gas is expensive enough and now adding oil every fill up is ridiculous. Would appreciate any feedback on people who have paid for repairs, what was done and the cost. This car was so well taken care of and I was very proud to get it and now just sick about it, please help!!!

- , Burnside, IL, USA

problem #7

Mar 282008

Prizm 1.8L Vvti

  • Manual transmission
  • 67,000 miles

Bought new. Overall, a good car, except for the motor. Original brakes and no rotor warping, 5-speed shifts better than almost any other car I've owned, excellent fuel economy, but definitely a problem motor. Here's the description, from start until now.

1. Changed the oil/filter every 3k. At 9k, noticed the oil started draining black, not brown. The oil that was changed at 3k in other cars almost looked like new. Hmmnnn.

2. At about 9k miles, an engine knock, pinging problem developed. It would ping in hot weather - more so in stop and go driving, with greatly diminished pep. Running too lean? Cold weather, no ping (???) Seemed to happen at certain speeds, 15, 25, 35, and I'm guessing this is when the vvti changes the exhaust cam. Just thought that someone forgot about the i (for intelligence) in their vvti, that maybe Toyota didn't quality check the fuel management programming.

3. Towards the end of the 3k oil change cycle, the pinging would get worse. Simply shifting gears below the above speeds helped at first, but this wasn't fun. And then it couldn't be driven on the highway between 60 and 65 due to constant pinging.

4. At about 15k, noticed that only 3 quarts of oil drained and 4 quarts went in. This stayed fairly consistent until about 48k.

5. Also from 9k on, odd noises would emanate from the motor until it warmed up - metal to metal type noises.

6. Thought it might be the oil I was using, but changing from 50/50 synthetic blend to straight non-synthetic, increased consumption.

7. Now, I don't know if I even need to change the oil. In the last 5k miles, added a quart at 1500, then at 3000, and now it's at 4700 and needs another quart. Maybe I'll just keep adding fresh oil, since there's less and less to drain out.

Also, from researching late '90's early '00 2.4 Camry motors, they had some type of oil related sludge problem due to the way the oil was distributed. As I'm not a mechanic, the techno jargon is "some type of oil distribution worm gear 'crushing' the oil" rather than distributing it. Maybe this is related to the 1.8 design.

To end on a positive note, apparently the 1.8 in the 2009 Toyota/GM models is completely new. Wonder why. But thanks to this problem, I'm not sure about spending 16k on a new Vibe.

If GM would back this problem, even though it's a Toyota motor, they would earn/keep my loyalty. Mistakes happen. How about taking the price of a new engine (from the figures on here $3500 - $5000) and adding it to a rebate that can be used on any new/used GM car. That might do it.

- , Na, MO, USA

problem #6

Feb 102007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

My son brought me his 2002 prizm in Feb 07 saying it was using quite a bit of oil. I gave it a quick going over and found no leaks or any apparent reason for the oil use.Two days ago, he brought me the car and said it was using about a quart of oil a day.I pulled the engine apart and noticed a lot of play from piston to cylinder on three holes. I pulled the pistons and took measurements. The pistons show almost no wear but the cyls show about 5 thousands taper. This, matched with the pistons having very short skirts, means the pistons are rocking excessively. When this happens, the oil rings cannot stay seated, causing a lot of ring blowby and the heavy oil use.Reboring and new pistons rings etc. would fix it for a while, but because of the very short skirts, this is a short life engine. This is my opinion ( 43 years twisting wrenches ) and I could be wrong, but I doubt it. I am going to patch this one by honing the cyls straight and knurling the pistons to fit if I can find some rings. It may be a throw away engine as parts seem to be very hard to find. Good luck with yours. Rbuck.

- , Chugiak, AK, USA

problem #5

Jan 122005

Prizm LSI 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

2002 Chevy Prizm bought new in 2003. I owned an '89 Toyota Tercel before this car and, while it had less horsepower than your average riding lawnmower, it was absolutely bulletproof. I actually tried to kill the thing toward the end and did end up blowing the head gasket but that Tercel limped all the way to the VOA lot. So when I bought the Prizm I thought, "great, Toyota's quality with Chevy's bells and whistles." Wrong. The first omen of trouble to come was the transmission failing at 52,000 miles. Now I'm certainly no mechanic but I do know that a transmission - especially an automatic - should not be outlasted by the car's second set of tires. Chevy must have thought it was ok, though, because all I got from them was a sympathetic "too bad" and the standard line about being out of warranty. $3,500 later I'm back on the road. I had no more significant problems until about two years ago when I noticed the car "consuming" (my new least favorite word) an exceptional amount of oil. It started out losing around one quart per month or about every 500 miles. I didn't realize just how pronounced the problem had become until I started commuting 70 miles round trip to my new job each day. Now the damn thing sucks down at least one quart per week, or every 300 miles. You'd think the car would be showing this somehow: plumes of white smoke or large black puddles in the lot. Not so. There is some smoke visible while under hard acceleration at highway speeds and the bumper does have a slight coating of greasy soot right above the muffler but come on, four quarts of oil per month? Where is it going? Narnia? I'm stumped here. I've got too much left to pay on the car to consider junking or short-selling it but the thought of another expense like the transmission makes me want to drive the thing off a cliff. My garage and trunk are littered with empty oil containers and I feel like an idiot standing out in my company's parking lot once a week monkeying around my open hood making sure the engine won't seize on the way home. I live in Michigan, Land of the Big Three - where one can be legally beaten for driving a foreign car. But I'll tell you this, I'd rather take a whipping from the local goon squad than buy another GM. If a company isn't ethical enough to correct its mistakes then they don't deserve customer loyalty. HELLLOOOOOO HONDA!

- , East Lansing, MI, USA

problem #4

Sep 012007

Prizm LSI 1.8L Vvt-I

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Using oil mysteriously as the other reports indicate. I am a fairly competent backyard mechanic, but I have so far been unable to find where the oil is going. The car is garaged and no oil leaks / drips on the concrete floor. If I wipe the tailpipe with a clean rag it comes up dry. There is no visible smoke during start-up or under acceleration. TI will be checking the PCV valve in the spring to see if it is maybe stuck open. I am really not interested in replacing the motor as the car is getting up there in mileage. I would be very interested in finding out the resolution others with this problem have arrived at.

- , Chisago city, MN, USA

problem #3

Apr 202005

Prizm LSI 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

This car has used oil since i bought it in 2005 with 45k miles. No smoke and no leaks , yet I have to add 1 quart every 500 miles. Very annoying. At 130,00 miles an exhaust valve burnt up, cost me $1500.00 for a used head installed. Now at 170,000 miles it still burns oil and again I have no compression on the same cylinder.

- , Kokomo, IN, USA

problem #2

May 262007

(reported on)

Prizm 1.8

  • Manual transmission
  • 57,000 miles

I have an '02 Prizm with the Toyota 1.8L that I purchased new. The car now has 57k miles. The car has always used about 1/2 quart between 3000 mile changes. Now it is using 1.5 quarts in the last 2500 miles. There are no leaks and no smoke.

- , Temperance, MI, USA

problem #1

Dec 012007

Prizm 1.9 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 184,000 miles

Well I was doing an Internet search to see if there were others that have experienced my problem and found this site and am amazed at all the same complaints!! I purchased this car in 2002 with 14,000 miles on it on the recommendation of my brother-in-law who owns a used car dealership. Same car as the Corolla yet $$$ less. Absolutely no problems until this past summer. I commute 700 miles per week , all highway driving and noticed I was down oil, about 1 quart per 1k miles. Didn't think anything of it but as the months passed the amount increased to 2 quarts every 1k. Engine light would go on and I was shocked to find the oil level down below the dipstick indicator. Then I became aware of the engine noise which indicted no oil. Catylitic converter went and my mechanic found that the PCV valve was loaded and thought that this had something to do with the excessive oil consumption. Well I had the converter replaced , PCV valve and oil change. Drove 1100 miles and was down 4 quarts and was on the verge of blowing the engine.

After reading this web site I find it hard to understand how this problem escaped GM and Toyota and why there is not a recall or compensation. A class action suit should take place.

- , Springfield, MA, USA

Not what you are looking for?