Key Takeaways

  • Toyota Corollas are one of the most popular cars on the road today, in large part because of their reliability and affordability.
  • You can expect a well-maintained Toyota Corolla to last you well over 150,000 miles.
  • Unfortunately, some of the more common Toyota Corolla problems have been with the engine not starting, excessive oil consumption, and minor but concerning transmission problems.

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If you are thinking about buying a Toyota Corolla, you may want to consider some of the problems and complaints others have had before you decide.

Some of the problems and complaints that may not make the Toyota Corolla worth buying are problems with the engine not starting, excessive oil consumption, and minor but concerning transmission problems.

I have owned many Toyotas in my life. The Toyota Corolla was my first car, and I drove it until it hit 220,000 miles - not a big deal for this reliable vehicle. I recently sold my minivan and was in the market for a smaller car again and spent a good deal of time researching what was going to work best for me and my family in this new stage of our lives. In the end, I ended up purchasing another Toyota Corolla, despite some of its problems and the concerns I hear. I hope my findings help you determine if this car is going to be the best for your next ride of choice.

Table of Contents

Toyota Corolla Problems and Complaints: Are The Issues Worth Buying?

Most of us are no stranger to the Toyota brand. In fact, worldwide Toyota is by far one of the best selling car and truck manufacturers and there is a good reason why.

Toyota learned a long time ago what it takes to retain loyal customers. Not only do they make reliable and safe vehicles, but they also have a corporate culture that encourages design innovations and heavily stresses customer satisfaction.

Toyota vehicles may not be the snazziest ones on the road. But when you purchase a Toyota, you know what you are getting - reliability, safety, consistency and a brand that stands behind its products.

The Toyota Corolla has been on the top of the bestseller lists for years in the car industry world. Known for not only the signature Toyota reliability, safety and consistency, the Corolla is also priced at a point where many consumers can afford it and don’t feel as though they are sacrificing quality or comfort for cost.

Sure, the Toyota Corolla is not the fanciest car on the market. In fact, some say its modesty is what makes it so great, as it doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as some of its competition that make them cumbersome or expensive to fix.

A new Toyota Corolla can be purchased for $20,000 to $28,000 depending on the trim package you are looking for.

A used Toyota Corolla can be found for anywhere from $5000 to $15,000 and - because these cars are so popular, there are lots of used ones on the market.

Having said all that, the Toyota Corolla is not without its problems. Even a newer model may have some issues that make it unappealing for you to consider when purchasing a new car.

As I said earlier, I just purchased a new Corolla after doing some pretty extensive research on what I wanted my next car to be. Despite its issues, I still felt a loyalty to this vehicle and maybe you will too.

Let’s dive deeper into some of the problems and complaints that past and         present owners of the Toyota Corolla have experienced.

1. The Toyota Corolla Has Been Known to Have Problems with the Engine Starting

One of the disappointing issues that some Corolla owners have had to deal with is the car having engine issues when first starting.

Seems like a big deal for such a reliable car, right?

The good news is that this problem isn’t usually seen until the car hits about 100,000 miles. So in fairness to the Corolla, that’s a lot of miles that have been put on the engine before this problem starts.

Having said that, Toyotas are often bought because of their longevity and reliability. So, an engine that won’t crank after 100,000 miles can still be pretty frustrating.

The problem lies with the solenoid.

The solenoid is the mechanism that is responsible for starting the engine. It usually sits right on top of the engine shaft and is what engages when you turn the key or push the starter button on your vehicle.

When a car’s solenoid is faulty, the engine won’t get the electric charge it needs to crank, or turn over. What will result is a clicking sound when you try to turn it on.

The good news is, solenoids are relatively easy to replace and reasonably priced, too. A typical mechanic will probably charge you between $150 to $400 to remove the bad solenoid and install a new one.

If you are fortunate enough to get 100,000 miles out of your Corolla before you have to replace the solenoid, you are probably still coming out ahead. There have been cases of the solenoid needing to be replaced sooner than that, but these are rare in the Corolla.

2. The Toyota Corolla Tends to Have Excessive Oil Consumption

Though switching out the solenoid when your engine won’t crank is a bit of a drag, a bigger issue might be this one.

The Toyota Corolla has been known to have excessive oil consumption on certain year models, particularly those that were manufactured in the early 2000s.

Though this problem seems to have been rectified in later years, if you are looking to purchase a used Toyota Corolla that was manufactured sometime between 2002 and 2010, you may want to think about whether this is an issue you want to take on, or if it’s one that you can deal with.

Having to remember to check your oil constantly may be something that is too overwhelming for you. I had a car for a few years that constantly leaked oil and I eventually sold it, since the problem couldn’t seem to be solved and I had gotten tired of dealing with it all the time.

(The person I sold it to didn’t seem to mind, and said it was a small annoyance, but worth it, for the good deal I gave him on the car!)

Some mechanics may be able to rectify the oil problem in your Toyota Corolla. Sometimes it’s simply an issue of a faulty piston ring that needs to be replaced or a piston itself that’s gotten damaged or maybe just needs to be readjusted.

If you are considering buying a Toyota Corolla between the years of 2002 to 2010, you may want to take it to your local mechanic before you sign on the dotted line. If they think the problem is easily solved, then the car might be worth it.

On the other hand, if they can’t seem to locate the problem with the oil consumption, you might want to keep looking for another car that is going to better meet your needs.

That said, I’ve known people who have had cars with oil leaks and it hasn’t been a big deal. If checking your oil levels frequently doesn’t bother you, then buying a Toyota Corolla that needs oil added more often than normal may be a fine choice for you.

3. The Toyota Corolla Has Had Minor, but Concerning Transmission Problems

Finally, one of the other top problems that Toyota Corolla owners have complained about is the transmission problems that are often seen with certain models of the car.

For most vehicles that are manufactured today, drivers can typically expect their car to last for 280,000 to 300,000 miles before a transmission needs to be replaced or rebuilt.

But certain models of the Toyota Corolla have had transmission problems well before that.

The transmission is one of the most important - and expensive - parts of your car. Without a fully-functioning transmission, your engine won’t be able to properly function with the rest of your car.

Think about it this way…the transmission is what helps your engine communicate with the rest of your car.

Owners of Toyota Corollas that have had transmission problems have complained that the transmission has started to show problems as early as 100,000 miles. Some of these problems have been minor, like a belt wearing out or a slipping gear.

Others have reported bigger problems, such as a Corolla not shifting into reverse or the clutch wearing out prematurely (in cars that have a manual transmission.)

With most Toyota Corolla transmissions, making sure to get regular oil changes and inspect your belts and filters frequently will keep your car running smoothly for long after 100,000 miles.

But for many of the cars that were manufactured between 2002 and 2005, transmission problems have seemed to occur, even when the owners were maintaining a regular maintenance schedule.

Personally, I think a car that’s exhibiting transmission problems would be a dealbreaker for me. Whereas some issues are relatively easy to fix, dealing with a malfunctioning transmission is a much bigger deal.

Toyota Corolla Problems & Complaints: Are The Issues Worth Buying?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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