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Toyota Corolla Maintenance and Repair



  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    I hear this from all sorts of folks. Mileage will improve, mileage will improve. I understand the theory behind it, but no car I have ever owned new has had better gas mileage after the first 5K miles...having said that, I have a suspicion that this Matrix is getting slightly better mileage now (maybe 1 point) than it was new (it now has 4000 miles), but I have not been tracking closely enough. Either way it hovers right around 33/37, and yes, I DO stick to the speed limit as a gas-saving measure...

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...with disagreement, and the amount of improvement varies a lot by make and engine. However, most modern engines from Toyota and Honda are not REALLY fully broken in [rings seated, no extra friction points] until somewhere between 4k and 7k miles. Depends on too many variables to go beyond this rule of thumb.

    Having said that, measuring fuel consumption can only be done religiously with a log book and a commitment to doing the calculations on every fillup. I do and have always done. If you do, then you've got accurate figures. And NOTHING varies from car to car and driver to driver like fuel use - that's why the EPA tests are just benchmarks. Most people will have a hard time matching the EPA figures [which is where I got my 10-15% over the city number from], and there will be the occasional cotton-foot who can consistently beat the EPA numbers.

    An automatic '03 Corolla that averages 30-35 mpg is "in the lane" ... I was merely reacting to the claim that it should somehow be dramatically better.

    For a good real-world benchmark, the fuel consumption that Consumer Reports publishes with their road tests has, in my extensive experience, been VERY close to my overall annual average for most cars I've owned [and I've had 50 new cars in the past 37 years].
  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    The chrome lug nuts that come with the aluminum wheel package on '03 Corollas (and perhaps Matrix) are not a one piece unit. The chrome exterior that you see is merely a cap that is glued on to the lug. While having the Firestone recall done several of these caps just came off, no fault of the technician. If they are not damaged, a touch of super glue makes it look new again. I believe I will order real chrome lugs for this car. Every time the tires are rotated it will be the same thing and only a matter of time until one is damaged or lost.
  • jmc13jmc13 Posts: 5
    I just bought a 2003 base model Matrix and I've noticed a relatively loud metallic "ping" or "clunk" when shifting from park to reverse. The car drives fine when in gear but I'm concerned about the sound its makes. Unfortunately, it does'nt do it every time I shift so you know when I take it to the dealer it won't "clunk" on cue and they'll look at me like I'm crazy.

    Anyone else have the same problem?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    are parking on an incline and not setting the parking brake, but just letting the car rest on the 'park' gear, a clunk coming out of park would be perfectly normal.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • jmc13jmc13 Posts: 5
    No. The car is parked on a level surface, parking brake off, brake pedal depressed. Shift from park to reverse. I would characterize the sound as more metallic - like banging two steel rods together. It is very noticeable; not subtle at all. Something is not right.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    it could be your tranny just needs to be adjusted. some tranny from old hondas and caravans
    would give this big "clunk/jolt" when you shift from park to reverse.

    did you check your tranny fluid just to make sure it's on the right level?
  • jmc13jmc13 Posts: 5
    No I haven't checked the fluid level but I will tonight. Thanks for the suggestion.
  • The response by jrct9454 seems to assume that this is my first new car and/or first Toyota. It is the same speech I have been getting from my dealer. The truth is this is my 6th new Toyota, so I know what to expect from my vehicle.

    As for fuel all 5 previous Toyotas, I have consistently gotten 2-3 MPG above the highway rating on trips, and that is driving with the flow of traffic on interstates. On a trip 2 months ago, I got 29.5 MPG from my 1998 Camry V6 which is rated at 27. If the dealership can produce 37-38 MPG on a fuel diagnosis scan of the 2003 Corolla, it means my car is capable of getting that kind of MPG. Yet I haven't been able to reproduce that MPG on several tanks of fuel, no matter how I drive. I disagree with you when you say there is absolutely no relationship between the smell and fuel economy. The sulfur smell is intermittent. I believe that when the car emits the odor, it also delivers very poor fuel economy.

    As for the sulfur smell being caused by the gasoline, and not the the past few months my family has owned a 95 Corolla, now replaced by a 2003 Matrix, a 96 Tercel, replaced by a 2003 Corolla LE, a 98 Camry V6, and a 2001 Echo. We each use 2-3 different brands of gasoline in each of the vehicles. Why is it that the only cars emitting a sulfur smell are the 2003 Corolla and Matrix?
  • As you know well, milage is a very relative thing. Depends on type of transmission, driving style, AC usage, and traffic. My AT 2003 S just delivers 26-27 MPG in my city traffic commuting. Sounds poor, but this is an improvement for me from 20-22 MPG I experienced with Mazda Protege and 18 MPG with Subaru Legacy in the same gruelling traffic.
    Re egg smell, I have seen many complaints about it on this forum. You may want to search in this or similar board. It sounds like a small percentage of Toyotas has this problems and it may be difficult to repair. Someone had to replace converter to get rid of it.
    Good luck and keep us posted.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...have it your way. Call in the regional service rep if you don't trust the dealer, or find another dealer.
  • behhppbehhpp Posts: 51
    My corolla stinks too. Didn't notice it when car was new and ran AC on the recirculate mode, but I smell it now as outside air gets in the car. It is really bad. Makes no difference what brand of gas I buy. Is there a fix for this that anyone has found?
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    I will repeat: depending on where you live in the nation, this can be an ongoing problem that varies with the source of the crude that was used to refine your gasoline. It is a common complaint across all makes of cars, not just Toyota [I follow many makes online, and this happens all the time].

    We have never had this problem since going to RFG in our CA cars, including our '03 Corolla. Your profile gives me no clue as to your location, but I will bet it is not in an RFG state.

    The catalytic converters in these cars [to achieve ULEV certification] do NOT like sulfur at the levels that some refiners can still legally get by with. Complain to your Congressperson about the ridiculous amount of leeway that the current law gives the oil companies to get the sulfur out of our motor fuel. This issue was settled in Europe many moons ago. We will have to wait years more for the current law to solve this problem nationwide in the USA. It is also why we can't use the clean diesel technology that is widespread in Europe - the crap that gets sold as diesel in most of this country is poison for the emissions systems.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636

    In order to validate this as a 'it's the gas' problem per jrtc9454 suggests, go to your Toyota dealership where you bought your car and go test drive about 3 or 4 used Toyotas on the lot. Tell them you are shopping for your college kids, or if you are too young, you are shopping for your Mom.

    If they stink with the windows down like jrtc says, hey, then maybe it is the gas in your area.

    You can also try Toyotas at another dealership to cross check.

    If the cars you test drive don't stink, then your car has a problem. If the dealership doesn't deal with it and fix it, put them and Toyota on a lemon law "3 strikes and you are out" plan.

    Hydrogen Sulfide is a culprit the stink. It's chemical formula is H2S. It mixes with H20 (water vapor in the air) to give H2SO3 and H2S04, which are known as sulfuric acid. Long exposure to it isn't probably very good for you or your car. In areas of the country where high sulfur coal has been burned, it creates what's called acid rain.

    Good luck!
  • Because none of the other cars in our family, besides the 2003 Corolla and Matrix, are experiencing this problem, I'm convinced it is a design flaw within the car itself, and not a problem with the gasoline.

    As for going to another dealer to resolve the problem, I believe the dealership is saying exactly what they have been instructed to say. I don't believe they have been given any kind of notice from Toyota Motor Sales USA as to a way to correct the problem. And, until a number of displeased Corolla customers go on record, there won't be any effort to correct the problem.

    Right now, I am communicating with Toyota Motor Sales USA. In the past, they have always come up with a solution for me. I'll keep you posted.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    to those of you who owns 03' corolla and this may apply to matrix owners too...

    if you look under your steering wheel, sort of under the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock position - you will see a hole on each side. do you have plugs covering these 2 holes? if look closely, you will see a screw/bolt inside. i just find it strange that toyota didnt put plugs to cover the holes.

    my dealer said they dont know if those holes are left open on purpose or supposed to have plugs there.
  • H2S has an extremely strong rotten egg smell. However, H2S does not react with water to produce H2SO3, SO2 does this trick. H2S is water soluble, though. Because most cars do not stink like rotten eggs, sulfur in the fuel is usually burnt to SO2, which contributes to acid rain indeed. Only rare cars (and not just Toyotas as jrct noticed) emit significant amounts of H2S. Interestingly, H2S is a flammable gas, so it should be burnt to SO2 and H2O in the cylinders or catalytic converter. The central issue is what conditions of engine, converter, or exhaust allow for this incomplete combustion of sulfur/sulfates?
    And this is where I have no idea.
    Based on an anecdotal story that converter replacement helped a previous poster here, one could assume that defective converter is the culprit. I bet that the converters are made by part suppliers and not by car manufacturer (but I don’t know for sure). Since converters contain precious metals (palladium I believe), it is easy to assume that the makers try to put as little of the good staff as possible to cut costs. But again, this is a speculation.
    One more disclaimer: my chemistry knowledge bases on a high school course, so do not quote me in you correspondence to Toyota (and no, my 2003S does not smell like rotten eggs, not yet ;-)
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    do you mean where the cruise stalk comes through? That is what is at the 3:00 position on my steering wheel, just under it. At 9:00 there is a little plastic cover on a hole.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • I am sorry, but I personally have problems with your advice Re: sulfur and milage.

    There is a guy with only one car (of many) with H2S emission problem. He is being blamed for buying wrong type of gas with high sulfur content, even though he tried different brands and his other cars using same fuel do not stink. If lax US fuel sulfur regulations are to blame for H2S emission problem, how come our roads don’t stink like rotten eggs? Don’t get me wrong, sulfur in fuel and acid rain are big problems, but would not account for the fact that same cars stink regardless of fuel brand and others just don’t.
    You almost sound like a doctor seeing a psychotic patient and saying “it is just in your head.”

    The other issue. Nowadays, most people do not see any difference in mileage after break in period. I didn’t, other posters didn’t. Unless you experience clearly indicates otherwise, I see no sense in repeating this old truism, which is apparently not true anymore. Perhaps it was true in the past when the first oil change was needed after 500 miles and the used oil was full of metal shavings.

    Irct, do you work for Toyota? You advice sounds exactly like the advice people are getting in the dealerships.

  • zukhovzukhov Posts: 34
    I've owned a cosmic blue XR Matrix for 3 months now. Overall, a fine drive that I highly recommend. I have noticed very annoying creaking sounds from the dash area. It seems to happen with the cold weather. Looks like the cold weather caused materials to contract/expand etc...I can't quite figure out whether it's the dash or the windshield yet. Very annoying as I said. Any bumps or ruts in the road, and the creaking/cliking sound emanates from the dash area.

    Do any other Matrix owners share this problem?
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