If your looking at a Geo Metro from the 1989-2001 time frame you have a one main duty before any other duty CHECK THE FRAME HORN FOR RUST. It's not an option, the killer of these cars is the frame horn, if you don't know where it is on the Metro, look under the car, near the wheel connected to the control arm, its rusted out hop back in your car and leave. There are mechanics and welders online who do the complete replacement of the horns but your looking an easy $500 bucks. If you have a desert or southern car and the rust is very minimal go further and check out the car. Issues which bother you on other cars ignore. Ignore the handles on doors, ignore the windows not going up, you can even ignore the some minor engine problems as an eventual engine rebuild is doable yourself. In fact you can pull the engine out yourself no lift, serious! Parts are dirt cheap, the complete exhaust runs about 170, try that on a CRV and your talking 1K. Brakes, dirt cheap, clutch dirt cheap, radiator dirt cheap. Today's enviro conscious person cut the car a brake, its had to start somewhere, that somewhere was the Metro. It weighs about 1700 pounds, a guy 6'5" may be longer then the car. It's 3 cylinder and 49 horse is quite meek. Avoid the automatic its a 3 speed and takes forever to get up to speed limit they also have a huge issue with the control unit. The manual is the way to go. Sorry no power steering unless you count your arms getting a workout. No RPM gauge, drives me nuts, I keep finding myself looking for a magical gauge to show up. Instead they have this goofy up arrow to say shift gears. Eventually you get its speed range and just ignore the whole instrument panel. So you say why waste time on this stupid little car? Fair question, your rich and can avoid these modern enviro cars and their 10-15K luxury tax they apply to them go for it. I can't. I bought it because I wanted to shave a few miles off my main ride. I also wanted it there when the crazies decide to blow up the middle east again and gas hits 4 bucks. It's not a car for the novice, you can't work on cars, buy a civic and pony out the extra coin. It's the cheap car that always stays cheap, buy it and don't know what to do your not going to make money selling. Another note its not a highway car, its a city car, a rural back street car. Keep the car on 55 mph roads you'll be fine. This car also has niche clubs, owners and summer get togethers sort of a beater annual reunion lol, their are also gurus of these little three squirrels under the hood beaters. I'm not going to kid you its a beater with a heater thats fixable, unlike the other beaters.
Keep in mind that I am writing this in 2016 and it is a 23 year old car now. There is not enough to be said about it. Here's the deal--this car, by today's millennial entitlement standards, is a piece of crap. There are no power windows, no power steering, no air bags, there's lots of road noise and wind noise. A remote keyless entry system? Never. Air conditioning? Probably not. At idle, the engine shakes the car. Anti-lock brakes? What are those? It is not the speediest thing by any means. It is tiny. The wheels are 12 inches in size. Most people are embarrassed to drive it or even be seen in it. It is a dinky tin can on wheels. But if you are a realist and the type that would rather not rely on government hand-outs and don't care about impressing your buddies, and don't want to live out your life in constant debt, and want something very reliable, this is the car for you. Also, when gas hits $3-$4 per gallon, it suddenly doesn't become very embarrassing anymore. It also helps if you do not let fear run your life, because if you get hit, you may be better off on a motorcycle. Due to the fact that it is a 22 model year old car as of 2016, it is *very likely* to have problems unless the previous owners maintained it well. Almost any car this old will have such problems. It is just the fact of life with old cars. Visibility is absolutely great. Tight parking spots are never a problem. You can throw all sorts of stuff into the hatchback. The turning radius is great. Repairs are the simplest of simple. The timing belt can be replaced in 45 minutes in an apartment parking lot. If said belt breaks, no engine damage is done. Wheel bearings can be replaced with simple ordinary hand tools. Parallel parking is awesome because it will fit into spaces that 99.9% of the vehicles out there have to pass by because they will not physically fit into them. If it is a REALLY tight spot, you can pull forward into it, and you and your buddy can get out and dead lift the rear end of the car towards the curb. If the battery goes COMPLETELY dead for whatever reason, I was able to Macgyver my cordless drill batteries through the cigarette lighter outlet and then push-start the car all by myself. Common problems include a frame that rusts out and breaks at the front suspension. I would recommend buying one of these where road salts are not commonly used if at all. The engines burn up valves, which contrary to popular belief, is ultimately caused by the neglect of oil changes--the reasons are technical. 1st and 2nd gear manual transmission synchronizers wear out, making it tricky to downshift to those gears while the car is moving forward. Interior door handles break, but are available aftermarket for not a ton of money. Otherwise, that is all for the common problems. Considering that these cars were like $7,000 when brand new, there is actually great value to them as they will get you to where you need to go and you would have only lost $6,000 in depreciation if you bought one new. They are highly reliable. The 50 mpg is no joke, at least it is not during the summer months. Head room is no problem for someone 6'4". You want to get one with the 3 cylinder engine and manual transmission if you want the fuel economy. Automatics seem to chug gas. The 4 cylinders really compromise fuel economy as well. The odometer is deadly accurate. The old cable driven speedometer is deadly accurate. The car just works.
(updated December 2017, still daily driving) Back in the 90's when I first saw these cars, I laughed...hard. They became the butt of most of my auto-related Jokes. Then gas prices went up. In July 2013 I broke down and bought one because it was cheap, and the lady said it got around 43 mpg. SHE LIED. I've driven this thing over 95,000 miles since then, and the worst MPG's I've achieved are 46. It averages around 50 or so per tank. This is the most reliable and easiest car to work on I have ever owned, and could turn it inside out and back again if I wanted too. (I don't want to) Parts are cheap, too. Besides the reliability and MPG's, I think my favorite thing about this car is it's honest, bare-bones simplicity. The car has no power steering, no power brakes, (you don't even notice!) manual transmission, manual windows. It hearkens back to the days when cars were just...cars, not overweight luxury liners for a spoiled society . You feel very close to the road (literally and figuratively) in one of these. This car makes the daily commute an experience. I know why they stopped making these cars, though; they were TOO good. When you bought a Metro, you were set for 20+ years with proper maintenance. This is not good for auto companies trying to sell a new model every year or two. If you can find one in decent shape, and want honest-to-goodness transportation for the most bang for your buck; BUY A GEO METRO. the biggest problem with these cars though is body/subframe rust. The death blow for this and most Metros will inevitably come due to that terrible cancer. The engine and other components will still be going strong after the body has rusted to dust. Find one that has been preserved and prevent the rust. If you are even remotely mechanically inclined you should be able to keep it going for a long time. (side note, I am over 6 feet tall, and I have no trouble getting in or out of this car, and it has wonderful front seat legroom.)
I bought it used in 1998 with around 65,000 miles on it. Traded it off in 2006 with 200,000 miles. In all that time, I think I replaced an alternator and had a tune up. Period. Great car. Worth twice the price. And the darned thing got 52 mpg on the highway! I live in Denver and I took several road trips to Las Vegas in that car that cost all of about $60.00 in fuel (at the time). This car spoiled me for other cars. Every car I've had since then has been a lemon in my eyes because they need repairs occasionally, and need to be re-fueled now and then.
I absolutely love my '94 Geo Metro XFi. My grandparents bought it used around '94; I acquired it in '05. After 18 years of life, it might finally be time for me to say goodbye to this car, due to some substantial subframe damage lately. But even now, the only issue with the car is rust; the engine, the transmission, etc. are all perfectly fine. After 18 years, and a low 74,000 miles, the only major repairs were replacing the MAP sensor (around 65-70K), replacing the exhaust and muffler, and replacing front CV joints and control arms (this year and last year). This car is amazingly reliable. I've driven it in every harsh condition, as well as across the country. surprising cargo capacity too.
This car is incredibly reliable.
In 18 years, no issues other than the war against rust.
Gas mileage at or exceeding 40mpg, 35mpg at the lowest.
Handles well and small enough to park almost anywhere.
And there is a relatively large amount of cargo space with the back seats down.
The car is also very cheap to maintain, however occasionally it can take awhile to get parts.
(Mechanics are baffled by 12" tires and the 3 cylinder engine.)
The Xfi is stripped down to the bare essentials a car needs to function which, in my humble opinion, is a good thing.
This car is spartan practicality.
Not a car for the luxury-minded.
Also, probably not a car for tall people, though I have had passengers exceeding 6' who weren't terribly uncomfortable (as long as they were in the front seats).
Only wish they continued to make cars like this.