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Toyota Corolla Maintenance and Repair



  • I have a 7 month old 2003 Corolla LE and have been getting the rattling noise in various places on the dashboard. Like the far right part of dashboard, the middle area near where the compartments are and on the left upper part of the dashboard. Lately it's been in the steering wheel. The vibration was worse during the summer for me. The hotter the weather the worse it's been. Now that the weather is cool I barely get it. I'm planning on having my car serviced in a couple of days. I'm not too sure if I feel comfortable having dealership take apart the dashboard. Especially since I haven't been getting the noise lately. Should I wait till it gets warm again and I'm getting the noise? Or should I have them just go in and try to find what is causing it? Has anyone had it successfully fixed? Unsuccessfully?
  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    Mine had squeaks coming form those same places and they eventually went away. Since you can't duplicate the noise in the cooler weather you should explain the situation and make sure it gets on record at the dealership. Desribe the noises and locations as precisely as possible and get a copy. I would be leary of anyone taking apart the dash unless it was driving me crazy. Next summer if the noise reappears it is on record and they just might have a factory fix by then.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    question for those of you with a 03' corolla.
    if you look down your gas filler neck, do you see a flap covering the hole?

    i thought i had one when i bought the car but i can't remember if there is a flap there covering the hole.
  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    Negative on mine. The gas cap is what makes the seal. If not completely tight it can cause the check engine light to appear.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    thanks. i guess i'm used to my sienna having a metal flap there and i thought the corolla had one too! :)
  • I got my Matrix in mid-July and it currently has about 2,400 miles on it. The weather has recently become colder and rainy. We had the car out and noticed a "clunk" noise every time I would brake. You can feel it just under your feet as you drive. Brake, and when the pedal is about half way down you hear and feel the "clunk". It is pretty loud. The dealership says that they have had this a lot with the '03 Matrix and that it is just the brake pads slipping in the cold. He said "we would probably just have to live with the noise." Sound right? I hate to have to "live with it" when it doesn't even have 2500 miles yet. It is a pretty annoying sound.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    do you have ABS with your car? if you do, could it be your ABS kicking in? in my sienna, each time i brake and hit a patch of leaves or ice, ABS will sense the slip and i would get a big thud.

    on my 03 corolla, when i go over railroad tracks and i brake or accelerate - i would get a clunk or thud as well coz the cheap uniroyal tires are slippery!
  • We have had our 03 Corolla in 7 times since we bought it in May. They have replaced the Catalytic converter and the O2 sensor, along with the entire rest of the exhaust system. Toyota admits that they know of only two other Corolla's other than ours that is having this problem. Maybe everyone should contact the dealership AND Toyota that has this problem. We were eventually told it is the gas. The only problem with that is that we drive this car across the country every month. Lots of different gas, from lots of different places. All have the same problem. Overall, we love Toyota's.
  • tja2tja2 Posts: 5
    My 03 Corolla has also suffered intermittent episodes of rotten egg smell. Occurrences were rare until the last month when the weather turned much cooler. Most frequently it happens about five minutes after start up when the car has not been in use for some hours. It might be coincidence but usually it happens when the car is at idle or stopped at a light.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    I would do something brazen:
    * Contact your State Consumer Protection Agency
    * Ask them if they have had any complaints like yours on new Corollas.
    * Tell them that you are concerned that the gases are harmful to you and your family and would like to get them tested
    * You would hate to be overcome by something like this
    * Tell them that you understand that many other Corolla owners are having this problem and you can show them documentation (from Edmunds)
    * Ask politely that they let you demonstrate it to a Supervisor and make an appointment to see what they think

    * If you get an appointment, call the local TV stations with the most aggressive Consumer Advocacy Reporting
    * Drop by to show the consumer advocate reporter the problem (sniff test)
    * Ask him/her to accompany on your visit to the State agency for the test

    * When this is all set, call your dealership, Toyota zone and Toyota NCAC and invite them to send a rep to be there.

    Perhaps they might want to be responsive.
  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    Although my '03 does not emit the rank aroma (yet) I agree with footie. As a member of four Corolla boards I read this all too often. Something has got to be out of whack, there are far too many complaints out there. Changing brands of fuel has not helped to delete the aroma in a single post I've read. GO FOR IT!
  • laksjlaksj Posts: 19
    I'd appreciate posting the URLs of the other Corolla boards you are a memeber of. I've been reading/posting problems here, but I didn't always get the answers I wanted.
  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    I posted them not realizing it was a no no. By doing so I violated house rules and the addy's have been deleted...sorry.
  • laksjlaksj Posts: 19
    Well, in this case, would you mind emailing me the URLs? My email address is

  • It turns out that the vibration was caused by the alarm not being installed properly. The dealer quickly fixed the problem, and rebuilt the front strut housing as well, as this apparently was an "alert" (recall?) issued by Toyota.
  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    I'd like to know more about this! I'm glad they got it repaired for you.
  • I bought a 2003 Corolla last August. Before break-in, the gas mileage for a full tank was almost 400 miles. After the break-in period of 1000 miles, the gas mileage dropped to just 250 miles/tank. Is this normal? I am driving this car here in San Francisco and Daly City and observed that average gas mileage is only 250 miles/tank sometimes with a heater or aircon. My car is S model and automatic.

    Another observation: I hear a noise on the right /front ball joint everytime I hit a bump as if something is loose. The noise is tolerable as if some air is pumped to it. Is this coming from shock absorber or what?

    I had my car checked after a month it was purchased and the oil was in low level. Was it consuming lots of oil or the dealer didn't put exact amount of oil. My friend who has same car got too much trouble with her car...problem with heater/ac, steroe and fog lights are not working.

    Plaese advise if this is one of the defects in 2003 Corolla. I should have just bought a Honda Civic or Nissan Altima considering the engine of this car is noisy like an old car. I used to own a 1992 Corolla and its engine was a lot quiter consideing it was almost 10 years old.

  • Maybe its just your opinion of noisy but if your car sounds like an old noisy car then I would say you have some kind of big problem. I have an 2001 Corolla and it is as quite as could be. Also, I have tested the new 2003 Corolla and I thought that the car new 2003 was very quite also, as it should be.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    the engines are noisy like an old car. My Matrix engine is the same, as is every '03 I have driven. I can't think why they have made this engine noisy and "loose" sounding, but I will bet there is a reason, and I would doubt that the reason is cost-cutting, simply because one of the things Toyota is well-known for is quiet.

    When you get this engine above 3000 rpm it sounds raspy like an engine that has been driven 150K already.

    OTOH your gas mileage is very low - too low - unless you are driving the car like two miles at a stretch, then shutting it down. Don't forget, Daly City is hilly, so gas mileage will not be like that of someone in San Jose or L.A. or something. But if you can't get it into the 30s I would be surprised. Make sure you are letting the gas level drop before re-gassing. If you are only putting in 8 gallons at a pop, then you are getting about 31 mpg, which would be within a normal range.

    Keep an eye on the oil level and check it at a standard place each time, so that you get a true reading. Always give the oil a few minutes to settle back into the pan before checking the level.

    Your friend's car just sounds weird - haven't heard of anyone having any of those problems, perhaps it is a lemon, or perhaps he/she broke something? Maybe someone ought to check the fuses. Is there an aftermarket stereo or other electronic stuff?

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

  • fgf001fgf001 Posts: 98
    I switched mine over to synthetic oil @ 1000 miles. The engine noise was quieted immediately. Try it. For what it's worth Mobil 1 is the only true synthetic that can be purchased over the counter. There are others but they (as a rule) are mail order/internet purchases.
  • I bought a new Matrix XRS last Thursday night. I had a hard time adjusting to the 6 speed clutch and stalled it a few times even though I have drive a Tercel stick for 15 years. But it also appeared that the Matrix engine just stopped in very heavy rush hour traffic last Friday night on my way home from work.

    I did not have the problem again until last night on the way home from work. This time it was at a street signal and I was going slow but put one foot on the clutch and the other on the brake to stop. The engine RPM's just dropeed to ZERO with no other noise or warning. I must have flooded it because I could not get it to start for about 30 seconds and had to use the emergency flashers.

    I am afraid this is going to get me killed and has really made driving my new Matrix a scary event. Any ideas or suggestions?

    Thanks a bunch, Perry
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    i suggest lots of practice!
    i have a 03' corolla 5 speed and for the first 1-2 weeks, i had a hard time adjusting to driving the corolla 5 speed. i find the clutch and gas real sensitive compared to other 5 speed vehicles i drove. for the first 2 weeks, i was like you... scared and so careful when i drive my corolla. from the time i bought the car in august until now, car stalled 3 times. :) the first time was i forgot i was driving a 5 speed and i just let go of the clutch when i was parked! :)

    no idea why your matirx would just die suddenly. only thing i could think of is that maybe you didnt step on the clutch all the way.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    i noticed on my 03 corolla that the black plastic frame around the cd radio seem to have popped out a bit at the top (just above the slot where the cd goes in). i assume it's coz of the cold weather.

    anyone else notice this?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    I agree, it sounds an awful lot like you hit the brakes while the car was at least partially still in gear, so that you stalled it. When you stall it in that way, with the ignition still turned on, it can sometimes take a few seconds of cranking to get it to start up again.

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

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    you could practice hitting the clutch first so that the revs drop to idle, then hitting the brakes. Then when your timing gets better, you could let it coast down in gear before disengaging.

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

  • boggseboggse Posts: 1,048
    Actually, Mobil 1 uses Dino Oil as a base as of a couple years ago. There are other Synthetics out there. I use Castrol Syntec. Pennzoil makes one as well. Valvoline used to offer one, but I haven't seen it lately. That said, Mobil 1 is a VERY good choice. I personally like the Castrol becuase it is a little cheaper for the same benefit.
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    it's more like a blend of PAO and synthetic esters.
  • bja4bja4 Posts: 67
    I too have blown-up the engine on our 98 Corrola (5spd.) with 43K miles on it. For some reason this engine did not like being down-shifted into second gear at 65 mph. Actually, I thought I had put the car into 4th gear while slowing down for a construction zone. The transmission never even made a sound (smooth). Before I took it out of second gear, the damage was all ready done. The valves had floated, knocking holes in the #2 and #3 pistons. I guarantee my 2000 Dodge Dakota would have bit your hand off and locked up the rear wheels in the same situation. Engine was replaced some-what under warranty. The dealership only provided a rental vehical for a week, even though the repair took over 5 weeks. I decided not to push the issue since they were replacing the engine under warranty. The 60k mile drive train warranty states that a rental vehical is to be provided during a extended repair times (over 24 hours). Some thing like that. I went ahead and paid for a new clutch out of my own pocket since they had it apart ($110). The technician found the old clutch worn, but not abused. I had complained about the clutch since it was new (very weak).

    The car now has 57K miles on it. The clutch is a hell of a lot better than it ever was. I am convinced there was problem with the clutch sine day one. This might have been why the transmission went into second gear so eaisally at 65 mph. in the first place.
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