pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
89,800 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

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2001 Chevrolet Prizm Owner Comments (Page 1 of 5)

problem #83

May 222010

Prizm Stock 1.8L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


My 2001 Prizm has been burning oil since it had about 60-70k miles on it and it uses a ton of oil Chevrolet needs to fix this. Very costly.

- Cory A., Howell, MI, US

problem #82

Apr 012012

Prizm 4cl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

I bought this car in 2012 for 3500 from a private party. I needed a new car for college. My old corolla finally gave out on me. I heard the prizm had a toyota motor so I thought.. hey ill check those out along with corollas. I should have known something wasnt right. The guy waited patiently as I got lost trying to find him and he willingly let me pay 500 below his asking price. Why had no one else snagged this piece of gem ( or so how I thought at the time) ? Well right away I noticed it needed oil periodically. Id say a quart every 150-200 miles at LEAST. After a year I was putting in 2 quarts a week. Then the next year rolled around and I kid you not I was putting 2 quarts in about twice a week. I foolishly took a drive across my state. I filled her up and topped it off half a quart above the line knowing id burn it fast ( I know.. not recommend by mechanics) I had planned on checking it halfpoint. I had driven across state in that car twice and knew my limit. Well.. right before I hit that mark I heard that lovely noise my car made when it was very, very low. I looked out the back and I was not low.. I was OUT of oil. Smoke was pouring out the back. I had packed some extra oil, I figured id need 3 more quarts at least by the time I hit my half point. Long story short it drove me there and back and then some.. but by that time I was putting in oil daily. It was BAD and costly. So much grief from time of purchase to time of death. I took it to a mechanic. They said it needed a new engine. The pistons were no longer good. SHOCKER. please do yourself a favor and go for toyota or honda for fuel efficiency car. This car wasted so much time energy and extra money that I wanted to save. Just sharing this gets me somewhat worked up! I wish I had known this was a common problem. Sorry to those who have dealt with it and to those who are and will... its a nightmare ( especially adding it in the winter rain)! Stay far away!!

- worstcarever4real, Seattle, WA, US

problem #81

Jul 092007

Prizm LS 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,129 miles

We have had our Chevy Prizm since 2003 and it has been a good car up until 7 years ago. I had to put oil in once a week even though it did not burn oil or leak. I had the oil changed every 3000 miles like clock work and also tried several oil treatment products that were recommended by our mechanic but nothing ever worked. I found out that this year model the engine block was made from a softer metal and it wears down to the point that you have to replace the engine.

Today was the last straw with the car. Our 19 year old son had to drive to his college for a class and on the way back the car started shaking and knocking coming down the interstate. My son had put oil in it before he left since it was a half quart low and when he pulled off the road and checked it again there was no oil showing on the dipstick. He put a quart of oil in it and it still was not showing up so he added another quart and it was still not showing up so he call us to bring some more oil and explained how the car was acting. Needless to say when I got there I added another quart and it showed up full but the engine was knocking so bad that I told him that we would have it towed and that the motor is probably shot.

Like all the other complaints I feel that Chevy should be sued for this problem because they have had so many complaints and it is evidently a recall issue which was never addressed because they thought that they could get by with it. We have looked at replacing the motor with another used motor but even the used motors with a 100,000 miles on them are 1300.00 to 1500.00 dollars, the car only has a little over 115,000 on it. My 91 Prizm had over 350,000 mile on the engine when my wife totaled it because of a drunk driver and that is when we got the 2001 Prizm. There is no other solution other than scrapping the car or putting another engine in it that will do the same thing later on. Chevy needs to get their act together.

- Robert S., Floyd, VA, mexico

problem #80

May 152013

Prizm LSI 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles


Needs 1 quart of oil every 500 miles in the city, every 300 miles on the highway. Absolutely no leak, no black smoke. Engine appears to work fine, no apparent loss of power. Have tried without success various types of oil add-ons.

Update from Jun 22, 2015: FYI: This is not Prizm specific problem. It's a Toyota 1998 to 2002 engine problem. Not all cars have this problem, but it's safe to say at least 3 out of 10 do.

The problem is getting worse. The engine can barely run and is shaking badly. Just too much oil in the cylinders. The check engine light is on and the car does not pass emission inspection. It's completely useless now.

- sqtruong, Houston, TX, US

problem #79

Jul 012007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,000 miles

I bought this car used five years ago (at 67k miles), and it has always used excessive amounts of motor oil. When I first got the car and had only driven a few hundred miles, I became alarmed when I heard noises coming from the engine. The oil light never came on, but a mechanic saw that there was no oil left in the car. I had the car checked and determined that there was no oil leak. Ever since then, I checked and refilled the oil on a regular basis. As the car got older, it required more and more oil -- I had to put in about 1 quart of oil for every 100 miles. At about 95,000 miles, I prepared for a 400-mile drive; I checked the oil and filled it up beforehand, but did not make it to my destination. The car ran out of oil during the drive, made very loud noises when I was on the freeway, and by the time I exited the freeway, the engine had died. It cost nearly $3000 to replace the engine with a used Corolla engine (which gradually began to have the same excessive oil consumption problem, although not yet as extreme as the original engine).

- think4leafclover, San Francisco, CA, US

problem #78

Sep 052010

Prizm LSI 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Well, after I replaced the transmission at 76K, then the engine started losing oil a lot at around 85K. So, I take it to the dealer and they replace everything, PVC, filter, etc. Really it is the pistons or rings. I have been adding oil every week (or five days) for the last three years.

I am really upset that I have to purchase a new car, cause this was suppose to last to 300K. I currently have coxed it up to 112K. Do you think it is worth repairing? Also, the AC is out and the check engine light never goes off.

Since this is a Toyota engine, I really don't ever want to see a Toyota again.


- cmd, Nowhere, MD, US

problem #77

Jan 012013

Prizm LS 1.8L Vvti 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles


Do it yourself fix the oil problem


- Victor L., Cordova, TN, US

problem #76

Aug 012008

Prizm SLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I got my 01' chevy prizim in '02 with 19,000 miles on it and it was a great car for me. I had no problems, it ran great, always had the oil changed every 3,000 miles. In august of '08 I noticed that it started using oil, right around 80,000 miles and it hasn't stopped from there. In the beginning I would add maybe a quart a month, now it's more like a quart a week, and I don't drive much. I've noticed that it is much worse when I drive on the highway. I am very glad to hear that it's not just me, not something that I did wrong. The engine also makes a loud rattle that makes it sound like a diesel, I'm guessing from lack of oil. I wouldn't even think of fixing it, just hoping the engine won't blow before I get a new car.

- smccaul, Clarksville, MI, US

problem #75

Aug 012009

Prizm 1.8L

  • Manual transmission
  • 86,000 miles

Car is burning a lot of motor oil, it's been commented on by mechanics. Every tank full of gas now I have to put in a quart or so of motor oil. Not sure what to do about it.

- Carina I., Ann Arbor, MI, US

problem #74

Mar 012004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I bought my Chevy Prizm brand new off the lot in January, 2001. I love the car, it is very solid, rides smooth, and reliable. Today, I am still driving it with 214,000 miles. It started burning oil at 100k. Like a lot of the posts, the burn consumption slowly increases as the car gets older. I always added oil as the solution without any major issues with the engine. The only major repairs I have encountered are replacement of an air flow sensor (at 100k) and the charcoal filter (at 200k). I recently took a job the past three months that require me to drive my old Prizm 90 miles per day, five days per week. At this point with the car having over 200k miles, I realized the oil burning got worse. I was burning/using one quart of oil per 150 miles. I tried Restore and it helped reduce the consumption by half. Now I am burning one quart per 300-350 miles. My next attempt to cut the consumption is to replace the timing chain tensioner. I have a friend who owns a Toyota MR2 which has the same engine. He noticed over-consumption of oil around 60k miles. His mechanic determined that oil was coming out the sides of it and re-sealed the tensioner. The part costs $20 and appears to be a simple fix. I will be performing this in the next few weeks and report back the results. I listed the timing chain tensioner as a fix, but do not know if it will fix the oil thirsty Prizm. I hope it will. I would love to see this beater go another 100k before ghost riding it into the Pacific!

- matthewca, la Habra, CA, US

problem #73

May 012009

Prizm LSI 1.8L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


It has been three years that I have been feeding my car excessive amounts of oil. I thought I had a unique problem but obviously not (I should have done a search on the internet for this problem long ago).

The oil consumption has been going up over time, and seems to be worse in the summer. I am currently burning 2 quarts of oil between every gas up (a little over 300 miles) and the check engine light has been on for over two years now for cylinder misfires (typically cylinder 2 and 4).

I have wasted a lot of time and money taking my car to mechanics to get oil flushes, fuel system cleaning, and spark plug/wiring replacement with no success. I have added oil additive (used to help stop leaks) and ended up with misfiring cylinders and a car that barely chugs down the road until I replace my spark plugs and do a fuel system cleaning. None of the mechanics know what the problem is and end doing the same pointless things over and over to no avail. The last mechanic one I took it to told me I would have to replace the engine, but now that I am at 150,000 the car is worth as much as putting in a new/used engine.

There is no leaking on the driveway so my assumption has been that it is leaking at high pressure and or burning in my engine (although the exhaust doesn't seem to show burning oil). I have had to replace my spark plugs about three times over the last year when the chugging starts happening (cylinder misfire) but this last change (tonight) didn’t seem to fix the problem. The spark plugs previously have been frosty white (running lean I believe) showing no signs of burning oil. But tonight cylinder 4 was black and tar covered (burning oil). I have been using hotter burning plugs as I was told that it would help burn the oil and make the spark plug last longer but my last set only lasted 4 months.

Even with all of the supposed oil burning I have had no problems passing emissions in Utah. To kill my check engine light (required for Inspections) I replace my spark plugs, add some fuel system cleaner, and pull the battery terminals (to kill the check engine light). Immediately I take the vehicle to get emissions and inspections done (this has worked the last two years).

I am sick of spending extra time buying cases of oil (searching for oil deals), filling up my car with gas and oil, swapping spark plugs, and wasting money on oil additive, gas additive, spark plugs, mechanics, and especially oil!

I am not a big fan of sewing people or companies, but Chevy/Toyota needs to stand up for an obvious design/manufacturing flaw and correct it. This deserves a class action law suit. I recently purchased a mini-van and was looking at a Toyota Siena and a Honda Odyssey. I chose the Honda after my sour experience with Toyota/Chevy. One more lost customer to Toyota/Chevy not to mention my spreading the word to friends and family of my terrible experience with Toyota/Chevy.

- Craig D., Bountiful, UT, US

problem #72

Sep 172011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles

I had the issue that many others had with the Prizm for a long, long time. I got so used to putting oil into my Prizm that, once, I opened the hood latch with the intention of putting in oil, got distracted and forgot, then had the hood fly open on me while driving down the street.

I'd estimate that I had this issue for upwards of three years. Over time, the frequency I had to add oil gradually became higher. By the end, it was a quart every 150 miles, or about half a tank of gas, to keep the idiot light from coming on.

Finally, on a long trip to Detroit from where I live in the Milwaukee area, I apparently didn't appease the oil gods enough and found out what happens if you don't keep up with this car's oil-guzzling ways. I started to hear a repeated, rhythmic popping/clanging sound coming from the engine on the freeway. I limped the car to a gas station and instinctively put in three quarts. Things seemed fine for about a mile, then the popping returned. Limped the car to a parking lot, then tried to limp it to a repair shop, but one loud 'pop' and there was no more popping to be had as the engine just died. My understanding is it threw a piston rod. At that point, it was better off dead.

My personal opinion is that the best use for this car would have been to throw it in the Gulf of Mexico to help clean up from the Deepwater Horizon accident. The way it eats oil, the Gulf would have been clean in no time.

- pfightingpolish, Brookfield, WI, US

problem #71

Aug 102011

Prizm LSI 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 161,000 miles

I did not know others were having this problem until I was researching this tonight. Twice within 6 weeks, the engine has emptied the oil pan. I will hear the knocking in the engine, and sure enough, the oil is GONE! No leaks, no showing of excess burning,,, the oil is gone! Same "check engine" light as others spoke of and I have not found one mechanic that can determine why. If there's a class action recall, count me in! Not to mention the plastic around the doors and windows is peeling like a bad sun burn.

- scaldwell, Inman, SC, US

problem #70

Nov 062010

Prizm LSI 1.8L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

Bought my 2001 Chey Prizm knowing the owner. It had 69000 miles on it and was in immaculate shape. Being it has a toyota motor in it and we all know toyotas are famous for getting over 200,000 miles thought for sure it was a great investment for me. Boy was I dead wrong. Worst car out there I've ever owned.They said never was a problem. Loved the car for the first month or two of owning it than started having to add oil. First only a quart after every gas fill. Now I add 5quarts of oil per week. Have had it to 4 mechanics and all are baffled. The car does not leak oil any where and does not blow blue smoke and no leak or splattering out the tailpipe either. Gas mileage has gone from 32mpg to 23mpg on good day. Now it won't even go over 40mph down the highway. I've replaced everything they've said to do and still no change.I don't live in town but out in country, so now having to drive a 4x4 back and forth 80 miles round trip daily and we all know they only get about 12 to 15 mpg. Can't afford another car. So if anyone starts this class action lawsuit let me know I'm in.

- ahond, Carpio, ND, US

problem #69

Nov 232010

Prizm V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,705 miles

My 2001 Chevy Prism uses more oil than she should be. I was told to check the oil, so every week I check the oil and pour a quart in about once a month. It stinks after driving on the freeway. The car runs good besides the oil and the air conditioner went out.

- kathylue, Houston, TX, US

problem #68

Jun 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles

I bought the car in 2004 from the dealership where I worked. IT was checked by our techs and my husband. At the time it was in great shape. Aside from it having a transmission with no overdrive. It had 30K on it then. About 6 months after my last payment it started burning oil. I asked the dealership where I worked about the excessive oil consumption and they told me it is normal blow by with a vehicle with high miles. I did not accept this as my family has owned other cars well over 200k without issue. But no one would do anything to help me... So I have gone from a quart of oil for every tank of fuel... to 2-3 quarts per tank. I cannot afford to replace the car right now so I tolerate it. Wish someone had helped me back then, but that is just life. Is there a real reason why these leak/burn oil? This has also killed my Cat converter twice now. the blow by is killing the sensors. Can anyone help?

- jglock, Hampstead, MD, US

problem #67

Oct 202001

Prizm 1.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles

Since the first oil change in October 2001, oil consumption has gotten steadily worse until it now uses a quart of oil every 500 miles. No blue smoke or leaks, but the tail pipe is black. I started putting Mystery Oil in after every oil change and so far no problem other than the excessive oil use. I only use the Prism to travel back and forward to work and the mileage is not even 100,000 miles yet [that's about 2000 quarts] . After the last oil change the Check Engine light came on and stayed on. I have used 10/30 synthetic oil since day one and I'm wondering if it's been worth the extra cost as there is now a huge sludge build-up in the engine according to the mechanic. Chevy/Toyota won't acknowledge the problem so I guess someone needs to start a class action suit to make them recall/repair this engine. How many complaints do they need before they do the right thing and address this problem?

- bostonhansomcabs, Walpole, NH, US

problem #66

Jun 062005

Prizm 1.8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

I bought this car in 2003 after returning from iraq for my spouse. I purchased it because of its tovota similarities. It has then turned out to be a piece of junk. I constantly have to check the oil and add oil. The check engine light comes off and on and its hard to pass emissions here in arizona. Ive replaced oxygen sensors, temp sensors, had fuel injectors cleaned and replaced on cylinder 4 and it still continues with the same problem. Oil consumption and check engine light. I'm constantly fighting with gm dealership on this car and am glad to hear I am not the onlv one. When is the lawsuit going to start against GM ? I'm all in when it does and will never buy another GM vehicle.

- mijefe1villa, Mesa, AZ, US

problem #65

Sep 082010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,000 miles

didnt know that many people had the same oil issue/ i had the seals and gaskets done and 1000 miles later ....the car is running horrible now. the tail pipe emits smokes and planning to sell to junkyard . it has been burning oil at about 50,000 miles mark and i had to add tons of oil since then .....it finally died october 2010 at 141,000 miles. besides the oil consumption never had any issue. but after reading autobeef..i'm not putting another defective engine in there !! its going to the junk yard for sure.

- cooden, Fort Worth, TX, US

problem #64

Aug 072008

Prizm 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Please don't use Consumer Reports for anything. They recommend the 2001 Prizm as a best buy. I consulted the Buying Guide as a resource to find a dependable vehicle for my wife. Every Buying Guide and individual issue of CR highly recommended the piece of crud. I got in contact with them about their rating and they said all they could do is report what their respondents reported to them. Beautiful. Blame goes to us consumers for not reporting our problems to CR. Yet, they still continue to recommend the piece of crud. Sure wish I would have searched the internet instead of trusting a supposed respected magazine.

- Chad H., Indianapolis, IN, US

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