How to Identify a Geo Metro XFi

The XFi model metro was made from 91-94. So actually finding one does not guarantee it is still an XFi in anything other than name.

The main way to identify it is it has MS in the VIN instead of MR. All normal Metros and LSI models had MR as the 4th and 5th digit. There are some other ways to spot them but they are not always reliable. Both sections of the bumper are unpainted on the XFi model. Some cars depending on the state had no passenger mirror. A lot of the XFi metros say XFi on the hatch decal.

Once you have found a car that started out life with the right components you still need to check it out to make sure it is still stock. If the car is a one owner car they can tell you if the car is stock or what parts have been swapped over the years. If the owner has no idea then you are going to have to do some work to figure it out. If the car now has an automatic transmission then you know for sure it is not stock, there was no automatic transmission option for the XFi.

All XFi’s have a 5 speed with 3.79:1 differential ratio. So to test this the easiest thing to do is put the car in 4th gear with the timing mark of the engine on top dead center. Put a mark on the tire on the bottom so you know how far it has moved. Now turn the engine over by pulling on the car slowly watching the timing marks. Turn the engine 4 full revolutions. Now look where the tire is and it should have made slightly less than one revolution. 4th gear in the car has a 0.914 ratio so adding that to the 3.79 differential ratio means the engine should turn 4.1 times for each revolution of the wheel.

Now for the engine the only real way to tell is to pull the valve cover off and measure the cam. Nobody is going to let you do that to their car so really you are kind of out of luck with an easy to spot way to identify an XFi engine. The best you are going to be able to do is to check the engine carefully for signs it has been rebuilt or swapped out. Look for bolts that don’t look like all the rest of the fasteners in the engine. Stuff like missing bolts or wrong bolts in the bellhousing, exhaust mainfold, oil pan, and the other engine covers can give you a clue to what work has been done to the engine and if it looks like someone has swapped it out. Remember these cars are getting old so just because some of the covers have new gaskets doesn’t mean the engine has been swapped out. It could just be normal wear and tear.

Even if the engine has been swapped as long as it still has the XFi camshaft then really it doesn’t matter. The XFi engine had 2 ring pistons instead of the normal 3 rings. That and the camshaft are the only differences. The cam is the most important part though, the rings don’t improve the mileage as much as the cam, and you can always leave the second compression ring off a normal 3 cyl engine to copy the XFi pistons. If the engine has a normal metro camshaft and the XFi cam is gone there is really no way to replace it other than watch ebay and teamswift to see if one shows up for sale. They usually aren’t cheap though so try and find the right cam with the car if possible.

No Responses to “How to Identify a Geo Metro XFi”

  1. How is the cam measured, and what should the specs be for the xfi cam?

    Bill Shannon

  2. Hi, I have a question….I just purchased a 1992 Geo Metro XFI. The car is a one owner with a one owner title and only 78000 original miles.My question is could you give me a suggested selling price? I can’t find any on the internet for sale to give me a starting point.This car is very much original with NO modifications,,,,I just purchased it to resale………..thanks, Johnny

  3. A good XFi usually brings anywhere from $1000-2000. Sometimes they go higher on ebay but the listing is usually just fake bid up higher to make one of the other auctions look better. Most of them I have seen in really good shape sell for just under $2000 but it really just depends on how much someone is willing to pay for it I guess.

  4. Where is it?

    Bill Shanon

  5. I am looking at an XFI and want to know how do I tell if it is the original engine and not a regular engine, by the serial numbers of both engine and transmission?

  6. I will get a measurement of the XFi and stock cam this weekend. If you open the oil cap you can see one or two lobes on the cam so that will be the easiest way to get a measurement. If the cam is an XFi cam then the rest of it being stock XFi or normal metro is not as important since the cam and differential gear ratio are the main things that give it better mileage.

  7. I am looking for an XFI. You can call me at 660-734-2575

  8. Hi. I’ve recently purchased a ’96 Metro and am interested in swapping it’s cam with that of an XFi. Is there any place you can recommend where I could find one, aside from a junk yard or dealership? I know these cams must be rare.. Thanks!


  9. […] How to Identify a Geo Metro XFi– __________________ Mechanic by day – Gamer by night […]

  10. Hi I just wanted everyone know that Delta Camshaft in Tacoma, Wa 253-572-2474 can regrind your stock base or non xfi can to Exact XFI cam specs for around $50.00. I gained 8 mpg with it.

  11. Johnny Farmer, is your vehicle still for sale? And if so where are you located? Thanks,

  12. Hi guys,

    My ’95 LSI has developed a bad, low speed miss. At speed it isn’t bad. I’ve
    ‘heard’ that the head will warp, the block will burn out on the middle piston, asymetric cooling will kill you, at about 200,000 miles (I have 209,000). A tuneup didn’t help and gas mileage has dropped from 45 to 35mpg. Is it time for a new block?


  13. The head and block are probably fine. 99% of the time it is a burned exhaust valve. They are easy to change. Just put all three exhaust valves in it new, leave the intake alone they are fine.

  14. XFi’s were built from 89-94. Many of the 89’s were XFi but not marked as such. The 1st half of 89 they were built in Japan, then Canada onward. Beyond the cam and 2-ring piston, the computer is different and most important to MPG, the final drive gear. There is a shop in Washington that will turn a base model cam into an XFi for around $50 bucks. I’ve had a dozen XFi’s so far, 67mph is my personal record so far. Amazing vehicles. Oh, and I sell XFi’s on eBay, and disagree with the “fake mark-up” now, when gas prices are low, a good XFi might be found for 2K, but by next summer they should be back up to 3-6K

  15. Just towed home a 1994 XFi Metro. Advertisement said XFi and when I got to the seller after a 150 mile trek… I was concerned when there was no XFi decal on the back hatchback. Looking on the title there was no “XFi model” listed either and now I was a little frustrated.

    Seller said his wife wrote up the advertisment, and he was not sure where the XFi part of the ad came from, we didn’t have the registration card to check further. The car ran well, has some bad frame rust and I bought it anyway for parts as the deal was decent. Plan is to part the car out and use the proceedes to finance a few more parts cars. Am working on a small fleet of Metro’s to use for our local used auto parts delivery service….

    At a rest area I took some time and read your nice notes you’ve listed here for ID, and then things began to clear up quickly… walking back to the towed GEO, I saw it had no passenger mirror. Then I looked at the vin and that’s when I began to smile again…. vin was 2C1MS… and I was happy…!!!! Tomorrow we’ll jack her up and check the front wheel rotation. Anyone want a XFi engine/tranny/computer dream package ? Enjoy, Ramblin Randy

  16. I have an x.f.i. for sale call me at 503-665-4710

  17. By the way my x.f.i. has 102,000 miles on it.

  18. Where are you located$

  19. Am I to understand that just by grinding the cam on my 92 Geo to XFI specs, that I’ll improve gas mileage by as much as 10%, leaving everything else alone?

  20. Yep just installing the cam will normally get you about 5mpg. It depends on how you drive though. It moves the power range to a lower range so the car drives much smoother as long as you are not trying to race off a stop light. Some have gotten better mileage and some worse but I would say it averages about a 5mpg gain.

  21. Thanks, Rick. I have accumulated all the parts, I hope, to convert my automatic to a 5 speed, again hoping to greatly improve my 37mpg – I’m a careful driver. Anything unusual or special to watch out for before I dig in?

  22. With a 5spd and the XFi cam you should be around 50-55mpg with easy driving. Swapping stuff on these cars is really easy. Probably the easiest car ever made to work on so have fun.

  23. Hello Rick,
    Let me start by saying how much I (we) appreciate this web site. Like some of us, we got our GEO’s as a hobby/practical venture. It’s fun to see how many mpg we can get on these remarkable cars. But as a person on a fixed (retired) income but with a real interest in engineering and with one eye on the cost of gas, my car (92 convertable) has allowed me the freedom to continue to get around. OK, enough of that. I think I have an XFi head with cam. I think you’ve addressed this before, but how do I distinguish a standard cam from an XFi cam? Something about looking at the lobes? Can you ellaborate please? Many thanks.

  24. I have a 1991 XFi. The vin # is ms and the trans is original. the engine looks rebuilt so I’m not sure about the cam.
    Is there any way to tell if the computer is an XFi original.



  27. XFI Model
    Standard camshaft lobe height is 39.628 to 39.788 mm
    (1.5602 to 1.5665 inches).

    Base and LSI Models
    Standard camshaft lobe height is 40.415 to 40.575 mm
    (1.5911 to 1.5974 inches).

  28. Are you sure that’s right?

    In less I made a mistake, my calculations say that in 4th, the engine rotates 3.464 (3.79 * 0.914) times per wheel rotation. And the wheel rotates .289 (1 / 3.464) times per engine rotation or 1.15 (.289 * 4) times for 4 engine rotations for the XFi transmission (3.79 gear ratio). Although the standard transmission (3.95 gear ratio) will rotate 1.11 times, which is pretty close to 1.15 times for the XFi. Would be pretty hard to tell the difference, especially without some trigonometry.

  29. I just spoke to Delta Camshaft in Tacoma, Wa 253-572-2474

    He he can sell you an xfi spec camshaft for any metro from 1989 to the most recent for $72. He said people report that the fuel economy increase i from 8 – 12 mpg.

    He seemed very knowledgable.

  30. Is there any downside to having an XFI camshaft? A thousand bucks is quite bit to blow on an experiment like this.

    Somebody said there was a greater risk of floating heads… is that true?

  31. My Haynes repair manual(24075) says that Metros older than 1991 have the same lobe height than XFI models Is this True?


  33. Hi, I have a white 1994 Geo Metro Xfi 2 dr 5spd. Ive had it since purchased new in 1994 in El Cajon California. Since I live in CA the sun beats down on all parts of the car all day, the Xfi logos have all but faded and I need replacement Xfi logos. Do you know where I can find new Xfi decals, thanks…Aaron

  34. if you remove one of the rings would it affect the life of the moter?

  35. Can a 1.3L 4 cylinder have an XfI specification cam ground for it. I am going to call delta tomorrow.

  36. 4 cylinder cams can be ground smaller and to different profiles but mpg gains are theoretical. worth a shot.