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#1398 of 1867 1998 Metro lack of power AGAIN!
Sep 22, 2008 (12:04 pm)
I have been reading this forum for the last two hours (I found it very enjoyable) and I decided to ask a question I can't find the answer to.
I have a '98 Chevy Metro 3-cylinder hatchback with 80,000 miles. 5-speed. This car is NOT equipped with air conditioning.
Last May, my car would not accelerate over 45mph. If I tried to go faster than that, I smelled a burning smell, exactly like a burning rubber smell. I opened the hood and could smell it but I couldn't exactly narrow it down. Yeah, I could smell it by the alternator, but in other areas too.
A friend and I removed the alternator and it spun freely. Took it to AutoZone and it checked out OK. Pulleys are fine. During the same trip, I removed the battery and AutoZone put it on their tester. The battery was draining fast. I figured the alternator was working extra hard to keep the battery charged. I replaced the battery with a DieHard and the acceleration problem vanished.
Fast forward a little over two months later and the problem is back. On three ocassions in early August the car would emit that same burning smell and I could not drive past 40 or 45mph. After a couple weeks, the smell doesn't come back, and the power seemed OK for a few days (although I was only doing city driving). I had to make a 40-mile highway trip. This time, the car would not move past 55mph or the burning smell returned. So, I had to drive at 55mph. Since then, I was unable to get it narrowed down and I began college (which is 100 miles one way from home), driving the entire way at 55 with no problems. I tried to push it further, but I had to floor the accelerator just to barely get it to 60. But, no burning smell on that ocassion.
I have made two round-trips to home and back in the last three weeks, going 55mph, and the burning smell has not returned. But, it still doesn't want to go any faster.
Here in the college town, the car is sluggish going up hills (I often have to keep it in third gear just to have more power; I never had to do that before) and the problems persist. Acceleration is a hair slower, but the real problems come when trying to go faster than 40 or 45. The odor has not returned as of late.
So, the problem was solved for a little over two months when I replaced the battery. Then it comes back. It's not the clutch. It's NOT a sticky brake caliper in the front or sticking rear brakes. I had the automotive instructor at my old school (community college) go for a ride with me and I asked him if he thought it could be a plugged converter. He said he highly doubts it is the converter. I don't think it is either.
The air filter is only 1,000 miles old. The intake hose is not plugged. I changed the spark plugs to no avail. I checked the PCV valve just for the hell of it and it's fine. I had a battery shop test the battery while the car was idling and was told there is no problem, and the alternator is charging the battery.
From the day this started, the "CHARGE" light has never illuminated, nor has a "CHECK ENGINE" light.
For a 10-year-old car with 80K, what else could it be? I thought about the spark plug wires, but the car is not missing. The distributor is original. The ignition coil is original. I thought about the EGR valve, but then my mind goes back to thinking it's electrical related because of the battery replacement. The timing belt looks excellent as has not been touched. At 80K, I do not believe that to be the problem
I have to make a trip back home again in a month and I want to get this fixed permanently once and for all. I'm worried because I'm a poor college student. This car has not been neglected (I change the oil every 2,000 with 5W-30, flush the cooling system once a year). My friend and I who work on it are miffed.
Can any of you friendly Metro lovers help me?
#1399 of 1867 Lack of power again....
Sep 22, 2008 (12:18 pm)
Burnt smell: catalyst blocked or
clutch slipping, if you had a tach you would immediately know for sure....,
lack of compression....
Blocked fuel filter,
blocked air filter,
blocked muffler........you got me stomped. When you find our please let us know.
#1400 of 1867 Re: 1998 Metro lack of power AGAIN! [brokestudent2]
Sep 22, 2008 (6:50 pm)
When I first bought and began working on my 3 cylinder Metro, I soon discovered that this engine requires far more tension on the alternator belt than any other car I have ever worked on (and I''m a professional mechanic). It apparently is the result of the unusually high efficiency of this alternator design; which enables it to produce power at a lower engine speed than most alternators, combined with the short distance between pulleys on this engine. Because the belt tension has to be so unusually high, I found that many inexpensive (and some major) brands of fan belts will stretch under this type of service, and thus cannot maintain the tension at which they were originally adjusted. The one brand of fan belt that has proven to be durable is Goodyear. And that is now the only brand of fan belt I will use on a 3 cylinder Metro engine.
You may need to use a long bar or block of wood to pull as a lever against the alternator; in order to properly tension the belt. Be careful to not allow any metal object to touch the live alternator terminal where the power cable attaches. Tighten the belt to the point where it feels like a tightly strung rope, which will not move down when you try to press down on the midpoint of its longest unsupported span. It should feel much tighter than any other fan belt you have adjusted.
The faster you drive, the more resistance the alternator will produce against being turned by the belt. I believe the burning smell you noticed was created when the belt began slipping on the alternator pulley.
It is normal for any new fan belt (including a Goodyear) to stretch some during the first few miles it is used. So you will need to recheck and adjust the belt tension once or twice during the first week. After that; it should remain stable.
The one other factor that could hamper your car's performance (and possibly cause burning smells) is ignition timing that has been set too far retarded. Sometimes during an emission inspection; if the car's emissions are too high, the mechanic may retard the timing in order to make it pass. Retarding timing beyond factory specifications is a cheap way to make a car pass smog; but it has major consequences of causing excessive heat, reducing power, and potentially damaging the engine; particularly at high speeds.This can also happen if the mechanic does not follow the proper procedure that is required in order to check the timing on this engine. Sometimes it is necessary to first disconnect an electrical connector at the distributor, before checking the timing. The procedure should be listed on the emission information label attached to the underside of the hood.
I hope this helps!!!
#1401 of 1867 Re: 1998 Metro lack of power AGAIN! [zaken1]
Sep 22, 2008 (9:34 pm)
My friend and I tightened it in May to the point it was pretty taut, but right now you can take an index finger, push the belt, and there is about a centimeter or so of play. Having too tight of a belt...wouldn't that damage the alternator sooner than later?
Having that much tension on a belt, is it more prone to wearing sooner?
I do not think the ignition timing has been altered/tampered with at all. I am the third owner. The first owner bought it new in Ohio, and the second and current owner (me) live in Michigan (I know, bad for the "A" frame, but thankfully it's not rusting).
Do you think the distributor, coil, or anything else could be a possbility in your professional opinion?
My friend and I did replace the drivebelt back in February because it was squealing pretty bad. Two days after winter semester ended (first week of May), the problem began. My question still is this: Why would replacing the battery solve the problem for two-and-a-half months??
#1402 of 1867 Re: 1998 Metro lack of power AGAIN! [brokestudent2]
Sep 22, 2008 (11:30 pm)
Thank you for following up! The new battery probably had more of a surface charge on it than the old one; which enabled it to supply additional power to the ignition system when the alternator belt began slipping. So that gave the car a stronger spark; until the belt started slipping more. At that point, the battery was no longer able to make up for the deficit in what the alternator was producing, so the spark became weak again; and that's when the car lost power.
I have run the alternator belt on my Metro at proper (very, very tight) tension for over 271,000 miles. I am still using the first Goodyear belt I bought for that car; which was installed at least 120,000 miles ago. I am also still using the second alternator which has been on that car; that I also installed about 120,000 miles ago (and I bought it used, at a wrecking yard). I finally replaced the original water pump a few months ago. It had over 265,000 miles on it, and the bearings were still tight. The reason I replaced it was because coolant began seeping through one of the seals. I think this should answer your concerns about the likelihood that the tension required to prevent belt slippage will create premature wear on belts, water pump, or alternator!!!
Like yourself; when I first encountered a Metro, I had been used to the fan belts on older American vehicles. The belt on my 1971 Dodge runs just fine with about
2 1/2cm of deflection in the middle of its run. But Japanese alternators are a very different animal.When their field winding is energized, they create far more resistance to being turned by the belt than do American alternators; and their bearings are engineered to carry the additional load. Metros are not the only alternator that needs a tight belt. Toyota alternators also do the same thing. And I have had to become used to tightening these belts to tensions that I wouldn't dare to have done to an American alternator. But that is absolutely necessary in those cars; and it doesn't hurt a thing when it is done there. On the contrary; if you don't tighten them to those levels; then the belts start to slip and burn.
It sounds like the belt in your Metro is stretching, if it has loosened again. As I said, I haven't seen any brand except Goodyear and original equipment Japanese belts which will hold up in this service. The American belt manufacturers are still using materials intended for turning American alternators; and they just don't cut it in a Japanese engine.
I also need to point out that the Metro, along with many other Japanese cars, now use a different design belt than the old "V-belts" that were on American cars. The earlier Metros use a belt with a series of parallel ribs running lengthwise along the inside face. These ribs fit into grooves on the inside face of the pulley. Your year Metro has now gone to a wider serpentine belt; IF YOU ARE USING A BELT INTENDED FOR AN EARLIER YEAR METRO, IT WILL BE THE RIGHT LENGTH, BUT IT WILL BE TOO NARROW; AND THAT COULD CAUSE IT TO SLIP AND WEAR RAPIDLY.
I looked up the proper alternator belt for your car. AC Delco lists one which, since it is a serpentine style, probably would be sufficiently durable. The part # is 4K320, and the dimensions are 9/16" wide by 32 3/4" in length. Is your belt that wide?? I would recommend buying an AC Delco belt at a local parts store.
I do not think the distributor, coil, or anything else warrants consideration in this situation. For now, try using the correct belt and tighten it properly. Once you have the right belt, at the proper tension, I expect you'll see the problem is gone.
#1403 of 1867 Re: 1998 Metro lack of power AGAIN! [zaken1]
Sep 23, 2008 (1:46 pm)
I'm glad someone is finally listening when I repeatedly state the battery solved the problem for awhile. When I told many others about the battery (it is a good clue, isn't it?) situation, none of them took it seriously into consideration. Most stated it's the fact I have not had a muffler on my car for almost a year and that there are cracks in the exhaust between the manifold and converter. I know I have to replace this because I should have some backpressure. However, many told me right away I should do a compression test and check for "burned exhaust valves."
Here is some additional information (relevant) that I failed to include in my last two messges:
1. When my friend and I replaced the squealing belt in February, we noticed the belt did not look terribly worn. It started squealing in October of 2007 when leaving for school (it also started to get colder). It would go away after a few blocks. My friend sprayed some belt dressing on it because it didn't look that bad. The belt dressing didn't help. I decided to live with it for a few months. When it squealed, the lights obviously dimmed a little. I replaced it in February because it got so bad, it wouldn't go away after a few blocks. So, when we took the belt off, we went to AutoZone and I bought the cheapest belt: A $5 Valuecraft. That's the same belt that's on it today.
When we took the old belt off, I immediately noticed all the pulleys were VERY shiny. Nonetheless, we put the cheap Valuecraft on.
When the belt started squealing again the next morning, we took the belt off. The pulleys spun freely (I haven't heard of pulley problems in Metros). We decided to take a wire brush and dull the glaze on the pulleys a little as we both were clueless at this point. The belt was tightened even more, and then the squealing went away. If I remember right, I expressed concern about the belt being too tight, as that may put stress on the pulleys and alternator. I think a few days later it was loosened VERY slightly. The squealing still didn't come back. However, my friend stated the Valuecraft is a cheap belt and he did recommend a few times I should get a better quality belt. As I stated, the Valuecraft is still on there.
Today (Sept. 23) I was under the hood and looked at the alternator pulley. It is very shiny/glazed. When I had the battery shop check the battery and alternator while the car was idling last month, the service guy noticed the glazed pulleys as well and made a statement about it. After revving the engine a few times, he said the alternator is charging the battery properly and the battery is fine.
Do these revelations make you even more confident the belt is at fault?
A couple final questions on this issue before I addreess the belt in November (or possibly late October) when I go home:
1. How long did the distributor and coil last on your Metro with 271K? What are some signs to indicate it's bad? The coil? Is there a common problem with these on Metros? I know the obvious: Engine misses throughout the driving range; starting problems.
2. Are EGR valves a problem on these cars? What are signs that show it's going bad (besides loss of power)? Is yours original? How do you check to see if its functioning properly?
3. Did you have any burned valves on your Metro? I've heard this is common. I now wonder about this due to my exhaust woes. In the last month, I've taken one 80-mile round trip on the highway and two 200-mile round trips on the highway at 55mph. Three people told me this is not what I should be doing.
Finally (I'm sure you're getting tired of reading by now), as I think I mentioned in the first message, I am very attentive to scheduled maintenance. Maybe too attentive. I don't travel 3,000 in three months. I travel about 1,500. In the winter, I travel about 1,000 miles in three months. With this Metro, I am in the practice of changing my oil every two-and-a-half months regardless of how many miles driven. I use Valvoline conventional 5W-30. Yearly, I also change the plugs, air filter, coolant, and washer fluid (just kidding).
What are you doing to your car that has resulted in almost 300,000 miles? I can't get over that. You've got the 1.0. My last Metro (a '96 sedan with an automatic) was falling apart at 140,000).
I know I've asked a lot, but I have researched this as much as I can and it's frustrating. Reading the Chilton's manual doesn't help with this troubleshooting. I appreciate your help and patience. If you can send me an e-mail so I have your e-mail address, I'll also let you know in a month or so what happens after the belt is replaced and tightened: vtec1980yahoo.com
#1404 of 1867 Re: 1998 Chevy Metro parts [stobar]
Sep 24, 2008 (8:04 am)
you can get it at schucks or auto zone for between 5 and 10 dollars, and is simple to replace. just be sure to use the proper size screwdriver, the screws become tight and strip very easily.(both have web sites if you dont have one locally)
#1405 of 1867 Re: TheLorax [TheLorax]
Sep 24, 2008 (2:43 pm)
i have a 2000 metro 1.0L 5 speed 2 door hatchback.it runs really good have not had any major problems with it although it doesnt pull hills very well at 238,000 miles on the car
Sep 25, 2008 (8:18 pm)
I am thinking about buying a 2000 Metro 5 spd with about 140,000 miles. Asking price is 1,800. First of all, regardless of price, what do you think of the car? Second, what price do you think is fair?
Sep 26, 2008 (2:13 am)
Good car, heavier than the earlier ones, more aerodynamic.
If it's not rusted price is okay, you can do worse and you can do better.
Prices are going up.
Judging a car strictly on a price is not the way to go.