2002 Chevrolet Prizm Consumer Review: Worst car ever made

2002 Chevrolet Prizm - Consumer Review

Average Consumer Rating

48 Total Reviews

Base Sedan (1.8L 4-cyl. 5-speed Manual)

Build Quality
Reliability Value
2 of 5 people found this review helpful
Worst car ever made
By Lash on


2002 Chevrolet Prizm 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M)


I bought this car used for about $3,000 with 120k miles on it. 2 weeks after I bought it the brake calipers went out, then out of nowhere the car wouldn't start. I checked the starter and it was bad so after I replaced that it still wouldn't start. I rewired the ground and hot wire from the battery to the starter and still nothing. I replaced the starter relay and finally the ignition switch and it started again. Now not even a month later and I threw a rod in the motor. I have had 2 oil changed in the 4 months Ive owned it because I drive out of town to visit my mother often. It's gonna cost over $1500 to replace the motor so I'm just junking it and buying something else.

Best Features

Nothing at all. Why would you offer a 2002 with manual everything? It was next to impossible to work under the hood because everything was so cramped together. Even the inside of the car was cramped for a 4-door sedan.

Worst Features

Go back to the drawing board. Redesign everything. I know Toyota makes good motors and transmissions but they apparently weren't made for this design of car because its terrible. No hp, no leg room, no power anything, and not reliable. I've had 20 year old cars that lasted longer
Recommend (2) (3)

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By gadgetdan
on 04/08/12 19:51 PM (PDT)

This guy sounds upset. A thrown rod is a big deal, but highly unusual for any Prizm/Corolla. This kind of thing usually happens AFTER an aoi pressure failure, so if the oil light was either on or didn't come on at startup, so you don't know the oil pressure is bad. Always have a potential purchase checked out by a mechanic. He needs to function check all the features, safety inspect the brakes, do compression and leakdown tests on the motor, check the computer for trouble codes after a test drive, and pull a vehicle history report. This $100 service is well worth it, when it keeps you from buying a car with one cylinder not working (no HP). You're taking a $3k loss now, put the $1,500 motor in it and list it for $4,000 with the new engine...that way you only lose $500. Another good option is 1-800-donate-cars, or a local charity that will fix it and resell it for the greater good. As for the rest... Brakes happen. That should be caught at the pre-purchase inspection, but calipers are pretty cheap...so that wouldn't turn me off. I've only had one caliper failure in over a million miles of driving, and that was simply because the bleeder broke off due to corrosion. Shops LOVE to replace these, because they are cheap parts with expensive labor. Most "bad" calipers can be reused by cleaning them, honing the bore, cleaning the sliders, and putting new seals in them. About 2 hrs of labor and $20 in parts. Ignition switches fail with heavy keychains. The starter, wiring, solenoid, etc. were all unnecessary repairs caused by poor troubleshooting. Lastly, complaining about manual everything...like door locks and windows? Again, if you want PW/PL, don't buy a car with crank handles. I've made this mistake, but I accept it as MY fault, not the car's fault.

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By gadgetdan
on 04/08/12 19:54 PM (PDT)

PS: my with had a 1986 with power everything, and although it was a hair low on power, it got 35-37MPG overall. I didn't fit in it with the factory moonroof, so we sold it after we married and got her a 2003 Escape. I never laid a wrench on her Geo Prizm in the 25k miles I knew it, it was solid.

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