Foreign-car mechanic needed?

As I wait for more replies to my “rear-wheel rubbing” post, I’ve read the “timing belt-age?” discussion. Uh-oh, a cold snap is coming and my Geo Prizm is 10 years old (71k miles) WITHOUT a new timing belt!

When I took in my elderly friend’s '92 Mazda Protege for a new timing belt a year ago, the shop screwed it up before getting it right. So I’m thinking: My Prizm is basically a Toyota Corolla inside, so maybe I’d be wise in finding a shop that does a lot of Toyota timing belts. Am I right?

Given the number of Toyotas on the road, I would think that any shop nowadays has experience with these cars. Rather than spend too much time looking for a specialist, I would just go to a mechanic who you know to be competent (foreign car specialist or not) in order to have the timing belt replaced before it snaps and winds up costing you big bucks.

Obviously, you don’t want to go to the shop that screwed up the timing belt on your friend’s Mazda, however!

Wouldn’t be a bad idea. Your Prizm is mechanically identical to a Corolla. For all intents and purposes, your Prizm IS a Corolla. There are many mechanics who do LOTS of Corolla timing belts, just because there are so many Corollas. It should not be difficult to find someone who can do this properly.

This ain’t the 70’s anymore-- a Toyota is not going to baffle any mechanic working in this day and age. Back in the day, foreign cars had things like fuel injection and proprietary ignition systems that your average wrench-turner down that the service station didn’t see on Chevy’s and Fords. Nowadays, there’s not that much of a difference on the whole between a foreign car and a domestic car. Also, most mechanics nowadays have better access to technical information and parts suppliers, which was something else that in the past required an import specialist.

I will say, though, that shops that still advertise themselves as “import specialist” tend to be shops that have been in buisness for a while, which is generally the kind of shop you want to be going to. My favorite shop in my town is an import specialist that started out fixing air-cooled VW’s back in the 70’s, but can fix pretty much anything nowadays.

First, find out if it even has a timing belt. It might be a chain and not need replacement or need it at 100,000 miles.

Good point pleasedodgevan. I could tell at a glance which it has, but I’ve not worked on any that new yet. I see Corollas and Prizms listed here , but not after 1997. It’s 2008 today. What year is your Prizm?

My Prizm is a '97–it definitely has a timing BELT. My Haynes Repair Manual covers all models of Toyota Corolla & Geo Prizm from 1993 thru 2002. I’m going to start a new discussion about getting the VALVE CLEARANCES adjusted & PCV VALVE replaced.