Toyota Corolla Problems: 11 Known Issues (Explained)

The Corolla is Toyota’s best-selling compact sedan vehicle, accounting for one out of every five Toyotas sold.

Despite this, there is no perfect car.

Following our research, we discovered some issues more common to Corolla models of various generations.

1. Excessive Oil Use

Starting from early 2000, there have been complaints about excessive oil consumption in different Toyota models.

The Toyota Corolla is not left out, with owners of different model years complaining about engine oil consumption.

The number one engine-related issue seems to be excessive oil consumption.

To address the high oil consumption in some models with the 2AZ -engine, Toyota launched the warranty Enhancement Program ZE7 for their 10th Generation Corolla Sedan.

Possible Causes and Solutions


Possible Causes


Check Oil Levels Take action if the “Check Oil” light doesn’t illuminate until oil is critically low, as this can be harmful to the engine. Monitor oil levels regularly. Utilize both the engine oil indicator and manual checks.
Replace Pistons and Piston Rings Symptoms include excessive exhaust smoke, poor acceleration, and poor vehicle performance. Excessive smoke indicates oil leakage into the combustion chamber. Poor acceleration and performance result from reduced combustion.

Fixing a piston ring can be costly (Piston: $30 to $150, Labor: $500 to $1,500).

mechanic charges on an average $80 to $200 an hour, and it takes time to dismantle the engine, fix the piston, and reassemble the engine.

Related: Toyota Corolla In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

2. The Engine Won’t Crank Due to the Starter

This problem occurs at about 100,000 to 125,000 miles.

Sometimes it is only the starter solenoid, but often the complete starter (including the solenoid) is affected.

The problem is widespread in Corollas from 1990 to 2015.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Issue Causes Solutions
Engine Won’t Crank Due to Starter The issue may stem from either the starter solenoid or the complete starter being affected. Check and replace the starter solenoid if necessary.

Consider replacing the complete starter, especially in the affected Corolla models (1990-2015).

Related: How Long Do Toyota Corolla Last? (Solved & Explained!)

3. Possible Transmission Problems

The transmission system needs proper care and maintenance to ensure lasting operation.

Here are some of the most common problems with the Corolla’s transmission:

  • Transmission slipping: A slipping transmission system can automatically switch from a higher gear to a lower one without the input of the driver. This will lead to a sharp deceleration and can be felt on the highway.

Based on our research, here is a commonly reported sign of a slipping transmission system of a Corolla: “The Corolla will stop without warning and while trying to depress the gas pedal, it jumps forward.”

  • Automatic transmission not shifting properly: You may experience problems with the automatic transmission not shifting properly between gears, which could cause shaking and lurching of the car.

This problem is common in Toyota Corollas with higher mileage, somewhere around 125,000 to 150,000 miles.

  • Vehicle shudders/vibrates at low speeds: Some Corolla owners have complained that their cars vibrate or shudder at low speeds (30-45mph). This is typically attributed to a faulty transmission system.

This is usually not a threat to your Corolla, as the vehicle will work smoothly at high speed. When the speed is low, it feels as if the vehicle is going over a bumpy road.

  • Car stalls because of transmission failure: When transmission problems persist the car may stall to a complete halt. A stalled car poses a serious safety risk, and addressing transmission issues promptly is crucial to avoid unexpected breakdowns.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Causes Solutions
Faulty Torque Converter Torque Converter Repair: Typically, fixing a damaged torque converter costs around $500 to $1000.
Shift Solenoid Issues Replace Shift Solenoid
Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) Calibration Recalibrate TPS

Related: 11 Toyota Corolla Statistics You Should Know (Facts & Numbers)

4. Front Suspension Rattle Noise

Front suspension squeaks and creaks are regular complaints from owners of 11th-generation Toyota Corollas. These sounds, which are typically heard when navigating bumps or turning at low speeds, can grow over time.

This problem is frequent in model years 2014 to 2019.

While lubricating the ends of the control arms will generally reduce the noise, if the creaking worsens, it may indicate worn-out lower control arm bushings.

Aside from being inconvenient, this circumstance may result in sloppy handling and uneven tire wear.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Possible Causes


Worn-out lower control arm bushings Replace the worn-out lower control arm bushings.

Spray the ends of the control arm where the bushing is located with silicone spray.

Apply grease to the control arm’s ends as an alternative solution.

5. Blown Head Gasket

As the 10th-generation Corolla matures, more owners are reporting head gasket issues.

The head gasket, which closes the space between the cylinder head and engine block, is critical for pressurizing the combustion chamber and preventing oil and coolant from mixing.

While head gasket failures are not unique to the Corolla and may occur in any car, they grow more often as the Corolla’s mileage increases.

As a result, owners should be cautious, especially if their Corolla has traveled 100,000 to 200,000 miles.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Causes Solutions
Overheating Regularly check and maintain coolant levels

Inspect the cooling system for leaks or blockages.

Address any issues promptly to prevent engine overheating.

Pre-ignition and Detonation Use high-quality fuel to minimize the risk of pre-ignition and detonation.

Ensure the ignition timing is correct.

Monitor and address any abnormal engine sounds promptly.

Abrupt Temperature Changes Allow the engine to warm up before aggressive acceleration.

Avoid sudden temperature changes by driving responsibly.

High Mileage and Age Follow manufacturer recommendations for head gasket replacement based on mileage.

Regularly service and replace aging components to maintain the overall health of the engine.

Incorrect Installation Choose a qualified and experienced mechanic for head gasket replacements.

Double-check the installation process and ensure all components are correctly aligned and torqued.

Test for leaks and performance issues after installation.

6. Airbag Issues

According to data from Car, a platform that analyses NHTSA complaints, problems with airbags are the most often cited issue among Corolla owners.

The Toyota Corolla is one of the cars affected by the well-publicized Takata airbag recalls.

Toyota has conducted recalls for practically every model year of the Corolla from 2003 to 2019.

The bulk of complaints are classified as follows:

  • Issues experienced when conducting the recall repair.
  • Instances where airbags did not deploy in the event of a collision.
  • Occurrences of the airbag light on the dashboard lighting up.

This is a real concern for you and your passengers as it poses a major safety risk.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Causes Solutions
Lack of Awareness of Recalls Check your vehicle’s VIN on the Toyota recall site to identify any recalls.

Verify whether the recalls have been addressed, especially if you are a used car owner.

Ownership Transfer Challenges For used car owners, independently check for any missed recalls, as original recall notices may not reach you.
Varied Recall Repairs for Different Model Years Be aware that different model years of the Corolla may have distinct recall repairs.

Keep track of the specific recall requirements for your vehicle’s model year.

Importance of Recall Compliance Understand that Toyota will perform airbag recalls at no cost, even for vehicles over 20 years old if part of a recall campaign.
Need for Professional Repairs Avoid attempting airbag repairs independently, as it can pose serious injury risks.

7. Check Engine Light

The activation of the Check Engine Light (CEL) owing to a lean air-fuel ratio is a common issue with the 9th generation Corolla equipped with the 1.8-liter 1ZZ-FE engine.

When a vehicle’s Engine Control Unit (ECU) is connected to an OBD2 scanner, it often generates a ‘System too Lean’ fault code, precisely P0171.

This implies an imbalance in one of the combustion chambers, with either inadequate fuel or an excess of air, which has a detrimental impact on engine performance.

Other symptoms, in addition to the CEL illumination, may appear, including:

  • Idling in a rough manner
  • Acceleration is limited.
  • decreased fuel efficiency
  • Misfires
  • Engine knock

If this problem is not addressed quickly, it can put additional strain on the engine, potentially causing damage to important components such as pistons and rods.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Causes of Check Engine Light – System Too Lean Solutions
Leaking Intake Manifold Gasket Identify a leaking intake manifold gasket as the most common cause.

Replace the original gasket with the updated orange silicone gasket, provided by Toyota, for improved durability and longevity.

Sensor Issues After replacing the intake manifold gasket, inspect and, if necessary, replace the following sensorsMass Air Flow or MAFSensor, O2 Sensor,  A/F Ratio or AFR Sensor
Sensor Maintenance Consider cleaning the Mass Air Flow (MAFSensor as an initial troubleshooting step.

Perform regular sensor maintenance to ensure accurate readings and prevent future issues.

8. Radio Related Issues

Complete radio failures are the most common complaint among owners, with the 2014 Corolla being the most reported model on sites such as the Car Complaints website.

Surprisingly, these flaws tend to be more prevalent in radio devices with navigation functions, whilst their simpler counterparts appear to be more reliable.

The radio being unresponsive and stuck on the startup screen is a common issue. Some customers report that the radio becomes stuck during upgrades, leaving it inoperable.

Notably, radio failures appear to be less common in subsequent model years, suggesting that the issue is likely limited to early head units.

Ongoing troubles continue in modern units, including problems such as:

  • The radio constantly restarting.
  • The touchscreen is unresponsive.
  • Problems with Bluetooth connection.
  • Performance issues

Possible Causes and Solutions

Causes Solutions
Radio Unresponsiveness Reset the Radio: Hold down the power button or disconnect the car battery to reset the radio.
Persistent Radio Failures Replacement: If the radio continues to malfunction, it may need replacement.
Cost-Effective Alternatives Explore Aftermarket Head Units: Consider aftermarket head units with CarPlay and Android Auto features.

9. Brake Problems

Toyota Corolla brake problems have been reported on a regular basis, making them one of the most common issues with the vehicle.

Two different braking-related recalls have occurred since the year 2000, emphasizing the importance of these concerns.

Premature brake failure, grinding sounds from the brakes, and squeaky noises are all common complaints

Fortunately, later model developments have solved and alleviated many of these braking concerns.

While modern Corollas are less likely to have similar faults, it is still critical for owners to be aware of potential concerns and determine whether they are covered by warranty.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Causes Solutions
Poor-Quality Materials Switch to high-quality brake pads and rotors for long-lasting brakes.
Excessive Braking Consider using high-quality brake pads and rotors to address premature wear.

10. Drop in Fuel Efficiency

Despite the fact that Corollas are known for their excellent fuel economy, some drivers have seen a considerable decrease throughout the course of ownership.

A blocked or faulty fuel pump can disturb your engine’s smooth running, causing it to operate irregularly owing to a lack of fuel being supplied.

As a result, gas mileage may suffer.

If left unchecked, these problems can worsen, resulting in rough idling, sputtering, and engine stopping.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Causes Solutions
Dirty Fuel Injectors Include cleaning fuel injectors as part of routine service.
Clogged Air Filter Replace the air filter periodically to ensure optimal airflow to the engine.
Underinflated Tires Regularly monitor and adjust tire pressure to maintain optimal efficiency.

11. Malfunctioning Water Pumps

As the most common symptom, owners frequently notice steam coming from beneath the hood.

Checking the engine temperature light is a reliable sign of this problem, albeit it may fail to activate in some cases, leaving owners unaware until steam is evident.

Given the possibility of engine damage from water leaks and high temperatures, resolving this Toyota Corolla issue as soon as possible is critical to avoid further issues, including the chance of full engine failure.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Causes of Engine Overheating Solutions
Low Coolant Level Inspect for leaks and promptly address any coolant loss issues.
Faulty Thermostat – Replace a malfunctioning thermostat to ensure proper coolant flow and temperature regulation.
Cooling System Leaks Identify and fix any leaks in the radiator, hoses, water pump, or other components of the cooling system.
Malfunctioning Radiator Fan Replace a faulty fan motor or repair wiring issues if necessary.
Clogged Radiator Perform regular radiator flushes to prevent the buildup of debris and sediment.

General Pros and Cons

Here are the pros and cons of the Toyota Corolla:

Pros Cons
Impressive Reliability and Durability Car Consumes Excess Oil
Cheap to Maintain and Run Engine Won’t Crank Due To Starter
Benchmark Rear Seat Space Recurrent Transmission Problems
Different Trim Levels Airbag issues
Attractive Features

What Do the Reviews Say?

“The Corolla sedan is fuel-efficient, but the new styling, with its lower stance and curvier body, has compromised the rear-seat room and made it harder to get in and out.”

“What the Corolla sedan lacks in performance and comfort it makes up for in tech and efficiency. Its standard driver-assist features are a plus, and the hatch skips the sedan’s loud, underpowered base engine.”

What Is the Resale Value of the Toyota Corolla?

Year Mileage (Miles) Price ($)
2005 75,425 $7000
2006 81,298 $8995
2007 66,448 $7900
2008 88,042 $9800
2009 25,148 $11695
2010 88,050 $6995
2011 30,099 $15590
2012 40,813 $15590
2013 32,571 $15590
2014 16,377 $16990
2015 49,096 $15990
2016 43,204 $169900
2017 72,777 $16560
2018 21,417 $18990

Go Back: Problems for each Toyota model.

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ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSArecall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSAreliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.