Steps to get 2002 Chevy Prizm Up and Running Again? Engine Related

Hi all,

In November my 2002 Chevy Prizm’s (105K miles) engine started making ominous crackling sounds, check engine light came on, and an individual interpreting the code on my behalf informed me I should try changing the spark plugs.

I went back to school and the car sat for around one month. Upon trying to start it in December I was unable to-- the engine would make weird sounds as long as I had the key turned on start and would stop when I let go. I changed the spark plugs, but the problem persisted.

I am back home again, and now the battery is dead (haven’t tried jumping yet). My usual mechanic informed me to change the battery before coming to see him.

What steps can I take myself to see if this car is salvageable?

Put a new battery in it, or borrow a known good one and bring it to your mechanic. He will give you the low down.

The crackling noise you heard might have been the plastic timing chain guide/tensioner being chewed up.

If that’s the case, you’re not going to be driving this vehicle to the mechanic.


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I own a 1999 Corolla and know these cars pretty well.I replaced my starter last year because it would work interminently.The culprits are the copper contacts inside the solonoid housing that get worned with age.You can get a set of contacts from ebay for $15 and install them yourself…a 10 minute job.Don’t be tempted to get another starter because some of them are junk.The Denso starter should last another 20 years with this simple repair.

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I realize it won’t start now, but did the noises you were hearing only occur during cranking (key in start), or did you hear them when the engine was running too? Did you hear them when driving down the street? Weird noises only occurring during cranking generally have completely different causes than noises when the engine is running.

Hello. Thank you all for the replies.

The sound was very present even when the car was running. Further, the engine also was burning oil.

EDIT: didn’t see final post from OP

I have a 2001 Chevy Prizm and it’s making funny noises - and it just might be the plastic timing chain guide. Thanks, everyone, especially Tester, for the idea.

Thank you everybody for the input.

Upon bringing it to my mechanic I was informed the engine had poor compression and needs to be replaced.

RIP my Prizm

Keep adding oil because its cheaper than replacing the engine.

105k is very low mileage for this type of car. I frequently see these for sale, still in running condition, with well over 200k miles. If the rest of the car is in good condition, and there is no rust or body damage, it might make sense to repair/replace the engine.

If the timing chain is stretched out, or the tensioner and guides have worn, that could certainly result in poor compression and poor performance. That should be repairable for a lot less than replacing the entire engine.