Hello everyone! This is my first post, but I've used the forum quite a bit recently. If I should split any of this into another thread, please let me know!
A little background first: I have a 2001 Prizm, bought it with 147,000 miles (it's now at 152,000), had it for a little over a year, and it's the first car I've owned. I live in Utah (Provo) and have just started a new job in Salt Lake City, so I commute 50 miles each way (sometimes I'll drive, sometimes take public transit). My dad is a pretty handy mechanic and has helped me out a lot but I've got some questions he either can't answer or I would just like some other opinions on. Here are my questions:
- CEL came on last week and I got P0300 and P0302 codes. I accidentally cleared the code and the light has not yet come back on again. After talking with my dad and searching the forum/Google I decided it would probably be a good idea to change the spark plugs since I have no idea when they were last changed. I've also read about switching the coil packs if the light comes back on to see if it's a coil. See the next item about a possible oil leak.
- In searching for causes of the misfires I checked the oil. There was no oil on the dipstick. I was at about 2,100 miles on the oil that was going to change it at 3,000. I added about a quart of oil and the dipstick read halfway between the bottom and low-mark. Should this be telling me I need to check a gasket or seal somewhere for leaks? Since then I've done an oil change and transmission fluid change at the recommendation of my dad in relation to the above codes.
- I plan to change the plugs when I get some time off work this week. I talked to a guy at Pepboys who says he's owned a couple of Prizms in the past and he recommended I stick with ACDelco basic plugs (like $2.50 a piece) that are not iridium despite the fact that the engine is a Toyota. Would any Prizm owners recommend something different? If so, why?
- When changing the plugs, what would be the best way to clean everything up? My engine bay is pretty dirty, including around the coil packs. My dad recommended using some brake cleaner, wiping that off with rags, then blowing some compressed air to get everything else out. Any other/better suggestions? Also, how would y'all clean up the engine bay in general? It would be nice to be able to work on my car without all the nasty grime that looks to have accumulated over 150,000 miles.
- After I found out how low the oil was, my dad recommended I get the oil and transmission fluid changed, which I had a shop do on Saturday. How long should I go between getting the transmission fluid changed? Would the transmission fluid have anything to do with the codes that I got?
- What type of oil would y'all recommend running? Since I've owned the car I've had a shop do the oil changes (I don't have jack stands) and they've been using Kendall Synthetic Blend. Would y'all suggest running something different?
- The shop I've taken my car to has said a few times that my power steering fluid is dirty. My dad said I could just suck out as much of the fluid from the power steering reservoir as I could, then fill it back with the same amount of clean fluid (the mechanics manual I got said to use Dextron III). My dad said to do the same thing again in a couple months to get more of the dirty fluid out and more clean in. I did that on Saturday but was wondering, is that really okay to do?
So, if anyone would be willing to give me any answers, hints, tips, etc to any of the above questions I would be VERY grateful to you! And if you need any more information from me, please just ask!
Thank you all for the wonderful wealth of information this forum has!