What a guy would do for a Geo Metro XFI !

Discussion in 'GM' started by billy, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. billy

    billy Well-Known Member

    Wow, what an experience! As many of you know, the Metro XFI (1989-1994) is highly coveted by hypermilers. It's a rare model of the base 3 cylinder Metro. It's EPA highway estimate of 58 is 8 mpg better than any other Metro. This increased mpg ability is due to only 2 rings per piston rather than 3, a different grind on the camshaft, and a slightly taller final drive ratio. The car weighs just 1615 lbs, and after stripping some of the interior 1590 lbs is common.

    For the past 19 years I've been aware of the XFI, but never pulled the trigger on buying one. Why bother, when I was driving a CRX HF, and then 3 different Honda Insights. But lately, with a possible return to high gas prices looming, I've wanted to have a backup car, so to speak.

    After lots of reading & studying, I got myself fully up to speed on the whole Metro XFI arena. I've memorized specs, stats, stories, and the like. There is one internet page that is excellent, in particular. Go to www.livesteaming.com/metro.htm and see a wonderfully modified Metro. This guy knows his stuff. His wheels and tires are too big IMO, but outside of that he's got it down well.

    Anyway, I found a used XFI near El Paso, TX and the used car dealer said it had only 4522 original miles. Amazing, I was excited to get ahold of this one! He told me it had a couple things wrong with it, but was a nice car. So I bought a ticket on Southwest Airlines and flew Seattle-El Paso. The guy met me at EL Paso airport with this ugly blue Metro on a trailer. Having paid for it in advance, I simply signed some paperwork and left on my journey back to WA.

    The car was far from perfect. It was obvious it had turned 100,000 miles or maybe even 200,000 + the 4522. Listen to this: it needed a new windshield, neither door would open from the outside, many small dents on ALL body panels and roof, drivers seat torn, no radio, cracked air vent, needs a new clutch very badly, transmission whines in 5th gear, driver's window needs to be replaced, fuel door missing. On the positive side, tires are brand new, and the engine appears strong with no leaks.

    It was 85 F leaving El Paso. I drove north on I-25 past Socorro and ABQ, and continued all night long. Between Cuba NM and Farmington NM (high elevation) there was a middle of the night snowstorm. Temp was 28 F and I was freezing because my window would not roll up more than 3 inches! Visibility was very poor, and I slowed to 20 mph. Finally I got to Farmington NM and stopped for breakfast. There I had a shop change the tranny fluid and motor oil (both synthetic). I continued on and drove day & night again, making it home to WA with no significant events.

    At times I drove 75 or 80 mph to check things out, other times I went 65 or 70 (speed limit) I was in a hurry to get home, but still made aprox 59.5 MPG.

    I intend to remove the rear seat, scrape off floor sound-deadoning material, replace the clutch, repair doors, replace windows, fix the body damage, and have it painted. I will change from 12" wheels to 13, and find some LRR tires 155 sr 13. It will take plenty of work, but I'm going to make a high efficiency, beautiful machine out of this baby. 75-80 mpg is surely in it's future! Fortunately, I did not pay very much for the car!
  2. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Sorry to hear they lied about the car. :(
  3. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    It's not an auspicious start, but I hope you'll achieve your goals with this car. They certainly seem achievable.
  4. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Billy, are you going to make this a showpiece like you did that '05 Insight?

    I look forward to plenty of pictures and some impressive mileage numbers! :)
  5. MT bucket

    MT bucket I want my MPG!

    Good find! sorry it is in such rough shape, but if you are already getting near 60 mpg in that condition imagine what you might get if you fix it up nice!
    I have looked for one here in minnesota but the road salt has done them all in I think.
  6. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I can only imagine how good it'll look after BILLY gets finished with it. Showroom, anyone?

    Congrats, and sorry about the ordeal.
  7. Taliesin

    Taliesin Well-Known Member

    Hmm... What would I do for a brand new 1991 Geo Metro XFI?

    Well... I don't have any kids, so that's out.
    I need all four limbs to drive a stick properly.
    One of the reasons I want it is that it will haul my fishing equipment, so giving up fishing is out.

    I would gladly trade my Ranger, but it's not worth enough.

    For a good used one I could trade the Ranger, but the only ones I find around here are souped up. :(
  8. MT bucket

    MT bucket I want my MPG!

    mabye find a cheap one that you could fix up, then only use your ranger for when you need a truck. all the money you save in gas and wear on your truck would pay for used metro pretty quickly I would think.
  9. Taliesin

    Taliesin Well-Known Member

    The main reasons for the small truck would be covered by the Metro, with the added benefit of protection for the stuff being hauled.

    When I really need a truck I still have the Ram.
  10. billy

    billy Well-Known Member

    ....This car is a 1992 model. And as far as I can tell, there is no rust anywhere. It was a southern New Mexico car. Yeah, I hope to make it a show-quality car with a beautiful base coat - clear coat finish.
  11. lightfoot

    lightfoot Reformed speeder

    Apparently both your car and the one at http://www.livesteaming.com/metro.htm are MT because both of you mention 5th gear? But he describes filling his transmission with ATF. I've never heard of an MT taking ATF (Auto Trans Fluid). Generally it's gear lube or (for many Hondas) motor oil. Maybe he meant MTF??
  12. drimportracing

    drimportracing Pizza driver: 61,000+ deliveries

    Good luck and post us some before pics. :D - Dale
  13. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    John, I've heard of using ATF in newer MT vehicles, but the seals have to be the right type to handle it. Otherwise that stuff will eat right through them!
  14. billy

    billy Well-Known Member

    ....Exactly right, Sean. All Metro XFI's are 5-speed, and indeed ATF is specified for the tranny. Red Line makes a super slippery synthetic ATF, and many of the other brands are excellent also. One can read up on it at www.bobistheoilguy.com
  15. lightfoot

    lightfoot Reformed speeder

    Thanks for the info Sean and Billy, I had never heard of MT's that specify ATF.
  16. drimportracing

    drimportracing Pizza driver: 61,000+ deliveries

    Geo Metros are notorious for having weak manual transmissions, damage is rarely caused by a too small end bearing at the input shaft. If you were to "race" this little engine and shift at 4K rpms often, within a few short months to a year you will be having problems with shifting. Before I hypermiled I used to "dog" my cars relentlessly and by shifting too late you transfer too much torque on this shaft too quickly causing it to "wander". I owned two metros before I stopped eating them up with race minded techniques.

    With more responsible driving, the gear synchronizers will more often wear between second and third, this is the usual point of hardest shifting. I have had both of these problems separately and in one lucky Metro both the input shaft bearing and the synchro's were bad!

    To prevent unnecessary damage I have found that if I shift between 2 to 3k rpms I save fuel, prevent excessive work on the input shaft and also don't make the synchros work too hard. If you pull the transmission to replace the clutch you can check the input shaft play without opening the trans case. You can check end play and side to side play, there should be 0 to .002" of end play and 0 side play in my opinion...I'm too far away from a shop manual to give actual professional advice. If the input shaft is moving around you will hear it roaring like a bad wheel bearing, grinding both gears and synchros by misalignment.

    I use Pennzoil Synchromesh manual transmission fluid and it does amazing things to a car with 'bad" synchronizers. If you drain your fluid and find fine metallic particles covering the magnetic drain plug you can probably benefit from it's use. With two Metros I have used or recommended Pennzoil Synchromesh, both of them shift better than expected and mine gives zero indication of previous wear.

    I have never used automatic transmission fluid in a Metro. :D - Dale
  17. drimportracing

    drimportracing Pizza driver: 61,000+ deliveries

    Pictures taken this morning:

    Geo Metro manual transmission rebuild kit with synchronizers $170 shipped
    Notice the three toed sloth, that's me :D

    Input shaft bearing and synchronizer set

    Expanded view of trans internals

    Close up of the suspected culprit item #164

    I bought this kit months ago to rebuild my transmission but tried Pennzoil Synchromesh instead and now I can take pretty pictures of it whenever I want.:woot: :D - Dale

    Edit, adding link to seller of this kit on ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/GM-G...ptZMotorsQ5fCarQ5fTruckQ5fPartsQ5fAccessories
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  18. billy

    billy Well-Known Member

    Dale --- nice info, thanks. Where did you purchase the rebuild kit from?

    On my '92 XFI, the tranny shifts very well, but there are 2 problems: it pops out of 4th gear when under acceleration, and 5th gear makes a "whining" sound. Maybe I should try some Pennzoil Synchromesh? What is your recommendation?
  19. drimportracing

    drimportracing Pizza driver: 61,000+ deliveries

    Is the shifter an aftermarket or speed shifter? If it is then replace it with the stock one quickly. Jack up the car and see if the transmission is secure on all three mounts, does the transmission move towards the firewall and hit when hard shifting? Are the mounts torn or missing bolts? (I lost one bolt at the firewall bracket, 10 cent replacement, problem solved)

    Pennzoil Synchromesh probably won't help it from popping out of gear, that sounds like something is misaligned or worn.

    If you just had new fluid put in it and drained it into a clean pan and replaced it with Pennzoil Synch you could look at the fluid and see what you may have loosened up that was in the case. Just be sure to check the magnetic drain plug closely for very fine ground material (looks almost like babbit material) and the occasional slightly larger but still very small gear tooth chip from a missed gear shift or reverse at 40mph grind.

    Turn your radio off and listen when you shift is 5th gear really the only gear you hear whining or can you not hear it ever so slightly in each gear getting progressively louder?

    If you can hear it through all gears then first check your wheel bearings, I had the misfortune a few months ago of misdiagnosing a bad trans when it was really a wheel bearing, I still get ribbed by my friend Mark for pulling the trans on that one. The sound was traveling through the hub..CV axle..trans case..CV axle (other side).

    I bought a mechanics stethoscope for $1.99 and located it within 10 seconds after we swapped the transmission and it was still there. :eek: Now I have perfect transmission sitting on my work bench (not for sale).

    I've got to go to work but I can tell you what to look for lte tonight when I get home.

    Transmission kit is on Ebay, I'll get seller's name tonight but you won't want to tackle that one unless your really adventurous. :D - Dale

    I now call Mark up and say "Man, I think the (replace with something easier to change on a car than a transmission)windshield wipers are worn out, can you come over and help me pull the transmission? I always get a laugh from him then a string of bad words, great fun!

    I added link to seller of kit to the post with pictures. Gotta go!
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  20. zOdeac

    zOdeac New Member

    Hello all. I have a 1991 Geo Metro XFI and i was wondering will the speed up chip they sell on eBay get me better gas and performance? I get 60mpg now.

    I am thinking of ordering the wheel well covers and a new bumper because my friend that's got the same car said he gets almost 70mpg because of the way the air flows.

    I'm really interested in the chip but don't want to wast the money on it unless it works.

    How i got my XFI:) It was at a auto action no one wanted it because the window regulator was broken. the drivers class was in the back seat and both drivers and passengers door panels in the back as well. I put it all together now and i only paid $250 for the car 3 years ago. 120 in new exhaust and about 50 dollars plugs wires and stuff to make the car smell better. oh ya the regulator cost me $15 from another 2 door i found:)

    SO anyone that is looking for one check the auctions you will find them.

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