What would cause my Geo Prizm not to start when it is cold or damp?


Asked by Sep 04, 2011 at 10:37 AM about the 1994 Geo Prizm 4 Dr STD Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Hi, I have a 1994 Geo Prizm 1.6L automatic. It runs and drives well. However, when
it is below 60F or damp/humid outside (like after a heavy rain during the night),
my Prizm will crank and crank but won't start. One time I got it to start by pumping
the gas pedal, but I think the problem is electrical. It doesn't sound like the engine
is getting enough fire/spark. It starts without hesitation when it's hot outside. I
have a 1996 Geo Prizm 1.6L 5-speed as well; it's extremely reliable, but now it's
starting to take a few tries to start it. It cranks fine, but it doesn't start on the first
try any more. I always use fuel cleaner and synthetic oil. The battery is old, but has
plenty of juice in it. Is this a bad ignition coil? All the plug wires seem good and
tight as well as the cap on both cars.

2 Answers


It sounds like your distributor cap is arcing...this is a known problem with the toyota distributors in wet or damp weather. I've heard of people just replacing the gasket and that fixing the problem, but I would replace the whole thing just to be safe. Either way I would replace the whole thing or gasket soon because you don't want the car to stall in the middle of traffic and get into an accident. Also it could just be the plug wires...they're cheap and easy to replace so I'd try that route first...I doubt it's the ignition coil from the sounds of it, but ignition coils are pretty cheap if you still wanna replace it. How long has it been since you changed your spark plugs? they could have a lot carbon build up on them...but i think they're OK since you said it starts fine in warmer weather. hope that helped.

4 of 4 people found this helpful.
Best Answer Mark helpful

Have a 95 Corolla with the same issue. Appears to be a moisture problem with the connection on top of the distributor. Pull the wire off and spray both contacts with electrical moisture spray. Wait about 15 mins and it should start. Has worked for me....with regard to the connector, it may be a defect on the wire harness as the wires are exposed and will allow moisture to penetrate. Wrap with electrical tape if you notice the exposure.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

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