1991 Geo Prizm

Electrical problem
1991 Geo Prizm 4 cyl Two Wheel Drive Automatic 100000 miles

I have a 1991 Geo Prism, automatic transmission, with about 100,000 miles on it.

I typically use the car for an 18 mile commute each day, with the car sitting for many hours between each use. During this pattern of use I never experience a problem starting the car.

However, If I would make a stop after driving the car for a little while, even a 10-15 minute drive sometimes, the car will not restart. When you turn the key you hear a 'click' sound, but nothing else. The starter does nothing, as if the car has lost its power. I should add that if the car is restarted very quickly after it is shut off it will usually restart without a problem. But if I drive it, shut it off, leave it for a few minutes, then attempt start it will not go.

After the car sits for anywhere between 10-45 minutes it usually will usually start just fine.

Repeating these results for a mechanic has been difficult. My mechanic actually let the car run for an hour and then shut it off, let it sit, and then attempt to start it in order to get these results. However, the car has started every time for him.

Your thoughts are much appreciated.
August 21, 2010.

I would replace the starter, I have seen these Denso starters develop a " dead spot", where if it stops in a certain position it will not start.

Aug 22, 2010.
Thank you very much, I appreciate your help!

Your answer sounds very plausible but I'm curious about two things.

Why would the car would eventually start after waiting for 30+ minutes, could the " dead spot" eventually move after waiting?


I just realized that I failed to include what might be a critical piece of information. When the car fails to start, jumping the car will get it going again without waiting.

I apologize for not mentioning that in my first post.

Aug 22, 2010.
Had the same problem with a 91 Prizm, replaced starter and it has run fine.

But, yes, this car would eventually start.

And I don't want to rush to a conclusion on this. Could also be a ignition switch, neutral safety switch.

Remove starter and have it bench tested at most autoparts stores for free.

During one of these events, put car on stands and measure voltage at small connector on starter, if 12V is there, then starter is problem.

Aug 25, 2010.