1992 Geo Prizm intermittent charging/drain issue

I am trying to diagnose a problem that a friend is having with their '92 Prizm (which is really a rebadged Corolla). It started when they went out to drive it one day and the battery was dead. So I checked it out, and it seemed like it had a dead cell. Bought a new battery and put it in, and everything seemed fine for a few weeks.

Then, the same thing happens. I take another look and notice that the positive battery terminal is very badly corroded. I replaced it with a new one and cleaned the negative terminal as well for good measure. I jump start the car, everything seems fine again for a few weeks.

This time, the car stalls out as they are leaving a parking lot. As in, they had driven somewhere with no problems, and then they started the engine again, and it died as they were moving at parking lot speed. So now I start thinking maybe it is the alternator or voltage regulator (I believe the regulator is inside the alternator on these, right?). I took the alternator to Autozone, and they tested it and said it was fine.

After that, I checked all the fusible links and fuses, all were fine. I checked the ground strap from the battery to chassis and engine to chassis, and they look fine as well. I have run out of obvious things to check. Has anyone else run into a problem like this?

This same thing happened with my son-in-laws’ vehicle. The problem was that the pulley on the harmonic balancer for the alternator belt was slipping. There’s a rubber ring between the pulley and the harmonic balancer and the rubber ring delaminated from the balancer which caused the pulley to slip.

Here’s your harmonic balancer. And as you can see it also has this rubber ring between the pulley and harmonic balancer. http://www.1aauto.com/1A/harmonic-balancer/Geo/89-97Prizm/1AEHB00130/215559

To find out if this is what’s happening, make a mark on the alternator belt with a piece chaulk. Start the engine and while watching the chaulk mark spin around rev the engine. If the chaulk mark doesn’t speed up with the engine the pulley on the harmonic balancer is slipping and the alternator isn’t spinning fast enough to keep the battery charged.


I went over and checked out the car again today. The harmonic balancer is not slipping, but I did discover a couple new things…

First, I found out that the A/C condenser fan had seized up after it started smoking as the car was sitting there idling. At the same time it started smoking, the car stalled out again. I am thinking that it was getting so hot and drawing so much current from being seized up that it eventually caused the voltage to drop so low that the car stalled (the battery was pretty much dead again at this point).

Also, I hooked up a multimeter to the battery in current mode and saw that it was drawing up to an amp even with the key out. I started pulling fuses, and when I pulled a fuse from the underhood fuse block marked ‘DOME’, the current draw dropped to near zero, so I imagine this is what was causing the battery to go dead after sitting for a while. It seems to be the fuse for the dome light, radio, and cigarette lighter, as none of them work when it is out. I pulled the radio and cigarette lighter fuses from the interior fuse block, but the current draw stayed the same. Now I just need to figure out exactly where that draw is coming from…

One thing to be aware of in casr you aren’t aware of it is things need time to go into the sleep mode after power is connected and being checked. Usually after 30 seconds is enough time for that to happen but some vehicles require a longer period. Usually current needed to keep things running while in the sleep mode the current draw is less than 50 milliamps. A one amp draw is pretty bad and will drain a battery fairly quick. The trouble could be due to an added accessory or something located under the hood. You should really get a wiring diagram for the car. You might be able to get one at a library.

Was the issue every fixed?

From 8 years ago I doubt if we will ever hear from hart . Do you have a 1992 GEO Prizm ?

Might be best to start your own thread by clicking on the NEW TOPIC button state your vehicle and problems .

Thank you.

No, we never figured out what was causing it. Sorry!


You have a 1992 Corolla

This discussion seems to have your name all over it :smiley_cat: