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Toyota Corolla Basic Maintenance Questions



  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    i have my 03' corolla now for exactly 7 days today and i just noticed this squeak coming from the rear this morning - it happens when i go over a badly paved road.

    about the engine noise, i guess i'm just used to the sienna's silky smooth v6 so i find the corolla a bit loud.
  • Folks,

    Just thought I'd let everyone know, my matrix exhibited this condition for the first few thousand kilometers. I'm now at around 1800 km (11000 mi)and the smells no longer appears. The smells been gone for a long time. I even drive hard (i.e redline whenever I can) and drop the clutch at around 4500 rpm whenever the coasts clear at traffic lights. The only concern I'm starting to run into is, my tires are wearing fast.
  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    I strongly agree with the first oil (and filter) change @ 1000 miles. I broke mine in by the book and changed to sythetic oil at 1K. The combination of completing break in and the synthetic oil worked wonders. The somewhat noisy engine got considerably quieter, had a lot more oomph, and the mileage went through the roof. On the current synth oil I will change @ 5000 miles and 7500 thereafter....perhaps longer with an oil analysis.
  • What type of gas mileage were you getting before the switch to synthetic oil and the gas mileage now? Thanks! What type of oil did you switch to? Thanks again! My 2003 Corolla LE has continued to go down in gas mileage even though I drive the same(conservatively) avg 28 mpg which is lower than most Corolla owners that I know. Mainly interstate also..
  • boiler,
    I think people getting ~40 mpg drive 55-65 mph on highway. May milage so far (2003 corolla s auto):
    27 (90% city), 27.5 (50% city), 29.5 (80% city). I only credit the last better milage to unusually light acceleration (RPM under 2750) I used recently to test the hypothesis that milage in corolla varies widely with driving style.
    Keep in mind that EPA tests milage at 55 mph (highway). I drive mine at 80-90 mph.
  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    Mileage prior to the changeover was about 25mpg. It now exceeds the EPA sticker for the 5 speed, both city & highway. I'm in Texas so A/C is usually on and I DON'T drive it easy...I've bumped that damn rev limiter (6450RPM) often. You've got to drive 70 or better here to get anywhere! In order to maintain your warranty I would recommend Mobil 1 SS 5W30 or 0W30. It's available practically everywhere, meets/exceeds warranty requirements and is reasonably priced for a top notch synthetic. The Mobil 1 filters are the best although expensive @ $10-12. I credit the synthetic oil for a great deal but the engine just won't be up to it's potential until after the break in...1500+. Mine has consumed zero oil from day one till now @ 2500 miles. Whichever oil you decide to use look for the API SL symbol on the bottle. "SL" is the newest oil designation and your car calls for it. "SJ" is the previous designation, stick with SL.
  • I just purchased an '03 Corolla LE (automatic) and had no choice but to take it on a
    long (450 mile and return) trip beginning with only 100 miles on the odometer. I also
    had no choice but to drive it at over 55 mph, actually 65 mph, most of the way. If I
    didn't, I would have been killed on the superhighways between Dover, DE and Buffalo,
    NY. I also had to maintain fairly steady 65 mph. All of this, of course, violated the
    owner's manual recommendation of 55 mph and variable speeds for the first 1,000
    miles -- a kind of driving which most people in urban areas simply cannot do.

    Sooo, my question is -- what, if any, damage have I done to my engine? I changed
    the oil and filter for the first time at 1924 miles, and plan to do my usual 3,000 mile
    servicing thereafter. Have I done something which will rob me of maximum life
    from my engine? Have I done something which will affect overall fuel economy,
    which, so far, seems to be outstanding?

    Quite frankly, I think any modern automobile engine which cannot tolerate a
    long distance, steady-speed highway trip from mile number zero and give
    maximum performance, economy, and reliability is somehow lacking. Am I
    right or wrong? In any case, I'd appreciate someone who knows telling me if
    I did my new Corolla any harm.
  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    For what it's worth every new car I've had since 1988 went through no break in procedure...I just ran the hell out of them and have not had one single problem related to break in or the lack thereof. None used oil, all ran perfectly and were sold at the high end of the scale. I did initially change the oil at 500 to 1000 miles in each. IMO you should be fine for many moons to come kemosabe.

    Having said that I broke my '03 LE in by the book. Why? I can't really say, maybe it's that aging thing. BTW the little 1.8l Yota engine responds well to synthetic oil. Aside from better protection and longer change intervals it quiets down considerably and the MPG rises. Try it. I'm glad I did and won't go back to the 3K crawl under the car regimen.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    for under-55 driving and varying speeds is to give the various internal oil seals in the engine a better chance to seat properly...this will reduce internal blow-by, and other unpleasant oil-burning problems, particularly as the engine ages. You have certainly not harmed the engine, but you may have sliced a few miles off the end of its life, in the second or third 100K.

    If you do not keep your cars that long, then it will not affect you at all!

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • I had my first oil change on my '03 Corolla LE done at Jiffy Lube. I chose the Pennzoil dinosaur oil, 5W30, I don't know the service grade (SL or SJ?). Is that oil OK for my Corolla? Should I dump it now and go to a synthetic? Or am I at least good for 3,000 miles? The first change was at 1924 miles, I'm at around 3,000 now, with next change scheduled for 4924 -- which will be quite some time with my typical short commute city driving style. Most of the time the car will be driven barely 10-15 miles a day. I'm seriously thinking of changing to a synthetic and maintaining the 3,000 mile severe service drain/filter change interval. Is this a waste of money, or will it payoff in the long run? My goal with this car is to drive it the long way around from the dealer lot to the junkyard. Then again, I may trade it in two years like I did my '01 Corolla. In any event, I want to do what is necessary to make this machine keep ticking. I love this car and I should be happy with it for a long time to come, but want to make sure I can capitalize on that legendary Toyota reliability and dependability!
  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    They most likely used classification SL but you should make sure next time. Petrol oil changes at 3K are likely overkill but will assure the engine runs well. If you are going to sell/trade the car in two years I can't see any advantage to go synthetic. If you're going to keep it and go synthetic, first change @5000 miles and 7500 from then on will be just fine. Longer intervals are possible but only with oil analysis. Mobil 1 0W30 or 5W30 would be fine and maintain warranty requirements
  • fgf001:

    OK, thanks for the recommendation. I guess what I'll do is stick with the dino oil, but make sure it's service grade SL (the highest). I'm gonna call Jiffy Lube and ask them what theirs is, and if it's not SL, out it goes as soon as I can arrange it. Since my driving is what I'd call "super severe" i.e. very short commutes and mainly city driving, I think I'll maintain the maximum 3,000 mile service interval. Oil is cheaper than an engine (or a car!). I've done this all my life, and have been criticized for throwing good money down the oil drain, but then again, I've never had a lubrication-related engine problem with any car I've owned. In fact, about the only engine trouble I've had is a bad head gasket on my '91 Taurus 3.8L V-6, which came about way after 100K miles.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    if you plan to change your own oil/filter, make sure you use a funnel when you fill up your motor oil! i got lazy and poured the oil straight from the bottle - spilled a bit! with the big plastic piece covering the valve cover, i had to take off the plastic piece to wipe off the spilled oil.

    i broke the 2 plastic screws holding the plastic cover! take it easy when removing those two plastic screws, very easy to break! good thing i had two spare plastic screws that fits! :)

    next time, i know better! :) this was my first oil change at 5000kms. for my 03' corolla
  • Worked for Mobil when Mobil I came out. That time, tests were done on cabs with 25K mile oil changes. Great engines on teardown.

    Guess what. No automaker would allow their warranty to remain in effect with Mobil I extended change intervals. As the previous member mentioned, the cabs run 24/7 burning off most of the oil's impurities.

    That's why the oil needs to be changed frequently even with synthetic oil if a lot of the owner's driving is short trips.
  • I have a 2001 Corolla LE - it's been a great little car so far - no problems - my next scheduled service is for the 15,000 mile service - the manual does not recommend changing the air filter or fuel filter but a website (not for Toyotas specifically) recommended changing these filters at 15,000 miles - should I ask at the dealership for this to be done or is this not necessary? Thanks
  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    To change them that early is premature unless there is a problem indicating change is needed. Go by the manual and you'll be fine.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    does not recommend any routine fuel filter changes on its fuel injected cars. Air filter is at 30K unless you have severe driving like always on dirt roads.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • alkoalko Posts: 13
    I just changed oil in my 2003 Corolla for a first
    time and noticed that if I use the amount of oil recommended by User Manual (that is, 3.9qt)
    the oil probe stick (or whatever they call it) shows oil level _WELL_ ABOVE the upper limit mark.
    Looks like this engine actually requires 3.1qt (for oil level to be approximately in the middle between the low/high marks).

    Now I wonder who should I trust - User Manual or the Oil probe stick?.....
  • alkoalko Posts: 13
    Does 2003 Corolla really requires a gasket for the oil drain plug? There was not any when I un-screwed the plug... If it does require a gasket
    - what type of gasket should it be (metal, fyber, other?).
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    the amount of oil shown in the manual is what you should believe, end of story.

    By the way, that amount will include the oil in the filter, so if you just drain and refill it, the level will be too high. If you also change the filter, but do not run the engine before checking the level, it will also appear too high. You should change oil and filter, then refill, then run engine, then stop it and wait 2-3 minutes for all oil to drain back to the oil pan, then check the level. If it is STILL wrong, your dipstick may be marked wrong - they occasionally are - you can have it checked at your local dealer.

    Yes, there is a drain plug gasket - it is hard rubber if memory serves. You can get a bunch from the dealer for about $0.80 apiece.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • alkoalko Posts: 13
    Here is an answer I got from TOYOTA.COM -

    > In response to your first concern regarding the oil level on
    > your dipstick when adding oil to your Corolla, it is important
    > to remember that the amount listed in the Owner's Manual should
    > be treated as a reference, and you should alwayd go by the
    > dipstick level. When maintaining your oil, before putting
    > last 1/2 quart we recommend that you start the engine so that
    > the oil will also be circulating and filling the filter.
    > You should then turn the engine of, measure the dipstick,
    > and pour in the last 1/2 quart gradually.
    > In response to your second concern regarding whether or not
    > the 2003 Corolla requires a drain plug gasket, the Corolla
    > did come equipped with a fibre plug from the factory,
    > so if you can not find it we suggest you contact your
    > local dealer and purchase another one.
  • LuzerLuzer Posts: 119
    Earl changed for my Vibe.
    About 3 qts, plus a little.

    Started by putting in 3 qts.
    Ran around a little, check dip after a little cool down.

    Needed to add about a quarter quart max.
    I usually do not add if it's in the upper third of the low and high markers.
  • rmui1rmui1 Posts: 48
    From what I understand, too much engine oil can be very damaging. If oil level gets above crank rotation path, the crank will beat on and aerate the oil causing lubrication problems. At least that's how I understand what was explained.
  • I'd like to change the oil/filter myself, but how will you prove you did it for future warranty claims (hopefully not needed)? Only the certified shops would give you appropriate documentation. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    keep the recipts for the filter and oil and write the mileage on them when I do the change.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • LuzerLuzer Posts: 119
    toss everything away as I buy the filter and earl way in advance - on sale etc...I must change my ways...
  • grttgrtt Posts: 2
    Anyone have any thoughts about the various protection options/package they offer you?

    - undercoat
    - paint
    - seat covers
    - rust
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    undercoating/rustproofing are good options to get. i got mine from an independent shop and not the dealer. dealers always rip u off! if u plan to keep the car for a long time, seat covers are also good. i have them on all my cars.

    paint protection is a waste. wax the car and its the same thing!
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    is not a 14-year-old 4Runner had perma-plate installed when it was new, and the paint is still lustrous today, and I figure will last at least three or four more years...that is not typical of a Toyota product that has been parked outside.

    HOWEVER, if you will most likely sell the car in ten years or less, and will at least somewhat regularly wash and wax it while you have it, then the only person you are benefitting with paint protection is the next owner, so then it might be a waste! :-)

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • Does anyone know the lubrication points on a 2003 Toyota Corrola. I was told by a service rep at a Toyota agency there are just two points. The service manual suggests oil change intervals but nothing about greasing. Thanks.. -VLanman
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