Toyota Corolla Problems: 3 Known Issues (Explained)

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

It is the best-selling nameplate in the world with sales of over 44 million in its 12 generations of production, earning it the name “global favorite “.

The car is well accepted for its:

  • safety,
  • comfortability,
  • durability,
  • affordability,
  • and reliability.

Despite this, there is no perfect car.

The Corolla has faults that may question its reputation as a reliable vehicle. In this article, we will discuss some of those faults.

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

1. Car Consumes Excess Oil

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.

Possible Causes and Solutions

The problem is typically related to faulty oil pistons and piston rings.

You can fix a faulty oil piston or piston ring to avoid further damage to your Corolla’s engine.

Here are some suggestions for possible maintenance and solutions:

1. Check Oil Levels:
Assessing the level of your engine oil is crucial to prevent engine damage. It is advisable to check the oil levels regularly to keep the engine lubricated at all times.

The engine oil indicator light is your tool for monitoring the level of the oil, but it is advisable to monitor it manually also. The “Check Oil” indicator light will typically not come on until there is little or no oil left in the engine.

The oil level getting that low might be dangerous for the engine and can affect or damage it.

2. Replace Oil Pistons and Piston Rings:
Another major cause of excessive engine oil consumption in your Corolla might be faulty oil pistons and rings.

It is usually accompanied by other symptoms, which include:

  • Excessive Exhaust Smoke:
    If your vehicle is producing thick and dark gray and blue smoke, this could be a sign of a bad piston. A faulty piston could cause the leakage of engine oil into the combustion chamber, leading to excessive thick smoke.
  • Poor Acceleration:
    Apart from excessive oil, a faulty piston leads to reduced combustion in the engine, which can cause loss of power. Therefore, you need to speed up more to get to the desired speed.
  • Poor Vehicle Performance:
    This is an extreme condition when the piston is totally damaged and the engine loses all its power. In this situation, acceleration is impossible and overall performance will be very poor. Before it gets to this stage, it is recommended to get your piston fixed.

To fix a piston ring is quite expensive, but the bulk of the cost goes into the labor charges. The piston costs about $30 to $150, while the labor charges are approximately $500 $1,500.

A 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. Engine Won’t Crank Due to 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 solenoid) is affected.

The problem is very common in Corollas from 1990 to 2015.

Possible Causes and Solutions

1. Faulty Starter Solenoid:

The starter solenoid is the device that engages the starter motor. Most starter solenoids are installed directly on top of the starter.

The solenoid is an electromagnetic device that transmits electrical current from the battery to the shift fork to engage the starter motor’s drive assembly.

As a result, the starter drive assembly turns the engine over to start it up.

When the starter solenoid is faulty, these problems can arise:

  • Engine Doesn’t Crank or Start:
    When the Corolla starter solenoid is faulty, the starter motor won’t work because the current from the battery won’t get to the motor. And that means the engine won’t start when you engage the ignition.
  • No Clicking Noise When the Ignition Is Turned:
    That clicking noise you hear when you turn the ignition key won’t come up at all when the starter solenoid is faulty. If this is the case when trying to start your car, you may have a bad starter solenoid.

2. Faulty Complete Starter:

Trying to start your Corolla and it won’t start⁠ might be frustrating. This is a common complaint for Toyota Corolla’s owner.

Poor maintenance or simply wear and tear can cause problems with the starting system.

Even with decent maintenance, major components get a lot of wear during their service life. This applies to the Corolla starter system.

Here is how you know if the car starter is faulty:

  • Grinding noise:
    When your Corolla starter system produces a grinding noise that is like the one that is heard when your engine is on and you accidentally turn the ignition switch. Then know that your Corolla starter is bad and it should be fixed.
  • Freewheeling:
    It describes what occurs when you crank the Corolla engine and simply hear a whining noise and your car won’t start. This simply means that the starter is not engaging with the flywheel. The freewheeling means that you have to replace the complete starter.

It is important to note that there are several problems that can mimic a bad starter solenoid or starter motor.

Here are the most common problems:

  • Problem with the starting circuit
  • Weak or dead battery
  • Loose or corroded battery terminals/cables
  • Seized engine

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:

1. Transmission slipping:

This will cause the transmission system to select and deselect gears in your Toyota Corolla. 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.”

2. Automatic transmission not shifting properly:

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

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

3. 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 when, in fact; the road is free of obstacles.

4. Car stalls because of transmission failure:

When transmission problems persist the car may stall to a complete halt.

Possible Causes and Solutions

There are a few potential causes of the various transmission problems discussed above. The fault may arise from a faulty torque converter.

The transmission will malfunction if the torque converter’s solenoid, needle bearings, clutch, or seal is damaged.

A shift solenoid may need to be replaced, or the throttle position sensor may be out of calibration after so many miles of driving.

Typically, fixing a damaged torque converter costs around $500 to $1000.

Most of the cost is attributed to the workmanship as it is a complex and time-consuming job.

If you need to repair the transmission you have three options:

  • Replace the entire transmission
  • Rebuild the old transmission with new parts
  • Buy a used transmission

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

General Pros and Cons

Here are the pros and cons of the Toyota Corolla:


These are some selling points of the Corolla:

1. Impressive reliability and durability:

The Corolla is undoubtedly one of the most reliable and durable subcompact vehicles. It stands out as the top shot and has a high rating on reliability.

RepairPal rated it 4.5 out of 5.0. Also, the frequency of repair is lower than other compact vehicles in the same category.

2. Cheap to maintain and run:

With the Corolla, you won’t experience any major mechanical problems with proper maintenance. Its maintenance costs are not quite expensive in the long-run compared to other compact sedan vehicles.

This is because of the sophisticated engine design and start-of-the-art quality. Therefore, it has a high resale value.

3. Benchmark rear seat space:

The corolla has a sufficient and comfy rear sit with over 40 inches of space. This makes it quite adequate in contrast to its competitors.

4. Different trim levels:

Corolla has different trims to suit the desire of its customers. These trims include LE Eco model, L and LE trims, SE and XSE trim.

  • LE Eco trim:
    If you are looking for a classy but fuel economic vehicle, the Corolla LE Eco model suits you. The Toyota Corolla LE Eco model offers great fuel economy with attractive standard features.
  • L and LE trims:
    These are the entry-level Corolla models with the highest popularity among buyers. They are favorites thanks to their reliability and affordability.
  • SE and XSE trims:
    Unlike the L and LE, the SE and XSE are quite distinct. The SE model has a very sporty design, with enhanced shocks. The XSE has the luxury touch on both the interior and exterior design. This makes it stand out as the top trim level for the Corolla model.

5. Attractive Features:

The recent Toyota Corollas come with some sophisticated features such as:

  • keyless entry,
  • push-button for starting and hand brake,
  • navigation system,
  • auto-dimming rear-view mirror,
  • heated seats,
  • an eight-way power driver’s seat,
  • and a sunroof.


Here are some downsides of the Corolla:

  • Car Consumes Excess Oil
  • Engine Won’t Crank Due To Starter
  • Recurrent Transmission Problems

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 (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.