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Sputtering Geo Prizm

Took my geo prizm 1.6l in for timing belt, and all that gos with it one year ago at 110,000 miles. Car is in excellent condition! Well maintained. After picking it up it just never felt the same, like it was lacking power. Now, one year later it just suddenly starts to sputter, no power. Drove strait to same garage. Today he called and said needs new distributor, plugs were black. Two months before the timing belt job I put in new plugs. The old ones were clean. Could these new problems be the result of the timing belt job done wrong? Before then this car always ran perfect!

You lived with this for a year… and now you want to blame the timing belt job? On a car that is what, 22 years old? Geo Prizms, especially the 1.6 haven’t been made since 1997

The answer is no, the timing belt is not the problem, the age of the car is the problem.

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If this was my car I would want someone to verify the cam and crank pulley marks line up properly. The OP says it lacked power after the belt was changed. could it run with one mark off a tooth? Also , would running like that foul the plugs?

maybe someone with more knowledge than me will weigh in.


I also question if the timing was off after the timing belt work. This car should have gone back right away, not a year later.


Have you checked for engine diagnostic codes? That’s step 1.

With a reduction in power after a timing belt job, next I’d verify that the ignition timing and idle rpm remains correct. If those are ok, next I’d double check the valve timing is correct. It could be a sprocket or two off, esp if the tech who did the job had no experience on that particular engine. I have an early 90’s Corolla w/4AFE engine (1.6 L). On that engine I believe it is possible to verify the valve timing (i.e. camshaft-to-crankshaft orientation) by only removing the upper timing cover. That wouldn’t take much time. You’d then manually rotate the crank pulley to place the crankshaft at exactly TDC on the compression stroke, then verify the camshaft sprocket timing mark lines up.

If that’s tests ok, next is a compression and fuel pressure test.

Note that it’s entirely possible the only problem is that it needs a new distributor and spark plugs. Ask your mechanic to show you why he thinks that is the cause. If you concur w/his explanation, might as well do that part first, as it has to be done anyway, and might well solve the problem.