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Matt Mallard
Matt Mallard, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 8
Experience:  15 years auto mechanical repair, 8 years auto insurance estimating, repair shop negotiations
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Metro: my 1994..emission..lost power..power and sluggish acceleration

Resolved Question:

Took my 1994 Geo Metro in for an emission test and passed. Upon leaving test site the Geo suddenly lost power and sluggish acceleration. What happened and what needs repair?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Matt Mallard replied 8 years ago.
What type of testing do they do in your state? Was it a probe in tailpipe only or was it put on a dyno (treadmill type thing)?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
It was put on a dynamo teadmill. Dyno. I wondered if the timing belt slipped a notch during test.
Expert:  Matt Mallard replied 8 years ago.
The most common though still rare issue with Dyno testing is that the vehicle is being operated at road speed while sitting still. This does put an extra load on the cooling system as the only air flow through the radiator is from the electric cooling fans.
Do you know if the car overheated during or after the test?
Expert:  Matt Mallard replied 8 years ago.
You asked if the timing belt could have slipped a notch. This isn't likely. However, it would not be unheard of for the emissions guy to retard the distributer timing in order to make the car pass.
This would result in sluggishness as you describe.
It should be very easy to bump the timing forward a bit at the distributer to see.
Also notice if there are any fresh tool marks on the distributer hold down bolt.
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I talked to my son. He said cooling temperature was normal when he left the test. Also, they did not open the engine hood during the test. They also used the tailpipe test. Is timing belt the likely problem now?
Expert:  Matt Mallard replied 8 years ago.
It possibly could have jumped a notch but if so, I'd have to chalk it up to coincidence.
Advancing the distributer timing to see if it makes any difference will help determine if this has happened (without having to take anything apart). That will also allow you to make sure that the distributer hold down bolt has not gotten lose.
If it has jumped time, it could be from a worn belt, tensioner or oil/coolant leaking on the belt.