Since 1966, The Toyota Corolla has been reportedly the best-selling car in history, having sold over 44 million units as of 2016 (though some will debate that the Corolla is several different models and shouldn’t all count). It has managed to build its reputation as an affordable car that you can depend on for years.
And while it lives up to this reputation, the model isn’t without any flaws. Some years have seen their fair share of issues, while others have much cleaner service records. So, if you are in the market for a used Toyota Corolla, CoPilot will let you know which model years to avoid.
Quick Answer: Avoid 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2014 Toyota Corollas
Throughout the lifespan of the Toyota Corolla, one of the most commonly reported problems is excessive oil usage in the engine. This was more common in the 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2009 model years, though it did appear in other years such as 2014. Meanwhile, transmission problems plagued the 2003 and 2009 models. 2009, in particular, had many complaints of water pump failure leading to cooling problems. More minor issues such as body/paint and interior accent issues are more common in these model years than others.
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Which Model Years of Toyota Corolla Are Safe to Buy Used?
As one of the best-selling cars in America and the world, no model year is without its issues, but there are plenty of years with fewer reported issues that should be safe to buy. Many of these models have been on the road for years now and should continue to do so for many more:
- 1984 Toyota Corolla
- 1985 Toyota Corolla
- 1986 Toyota Corolla
- 1987 Toyota Corolla
- 1988 Toyota Corolla
- 1989 Toyota Corolla
- 1990 Toyota Corolla
- 1991 Toyota Corolla
- 1992 Toyota Corolla
- 1993 Toyota Corolla
- 1994 Toyota Corolla
- 1995 Toyota Corolla
- 1996 Toyota Corolla
- 1997 Toyota Corolla
- 1998 Toyota Corolla
- 1999 Toyota Corolla
- 2004 Toyota Corolla
- 2005 Toyota Corolla
- 2006 Toyota Corolla
- 2007 Toyota Corolla
- 2008 Toyota Corolla
- 2011 Toyota Corolla
- 2012 Toyota Corolla
- 2013 Toyota Corolla
- 2015 Toyota Corolla
- 2016 Toyota Corolla
- 2017 Toyota Corolla
- 2018 Toyota Corolla
- 2019 Toyota Corolla
- 2020 Toyota Corolla
While production of the Corolla dates back to 1966, our data only goes back as far as 1984. But in that time, most years have had relatively few problems, and many of them are smaller issues such as body paint chipping. In fact, from 1984 to the turn of the century, there were less than 100 total complaints filed for the model, which is particularly impressive considering how well the model has historically sold; according to Toyota’s data, there were at least 10 million units sold in that time.
This isn’t to say that these models were all perfect. Occasional complaints of engines running rough or overheating and transmissions failing were filed for older models. But up until about 1998, the most common problems were just about things not running smoothly, leaks in the air conditioning units or door seals, and interior lights not working properly. While these cars aren’t all too common on the road anymore, the AE80, AE90, and AE100 generations from 1983 to 1995 were quality vehicles right off the assembly line and meant to last a long time.
And while 25-35 years might be too long to ask from a daily driver, these cars served their owners well for years and years. While they might be tougher to get a hold of, you might have a small treasure on your hands if you can find one. Even though issues with excess oil consumption started to pop up in the 1998 and 1999 models, before the 2000 model year, there were no Toyota Corollas to avoid in your search for a used car.
The models produced from the 2004 model year until 2008 were a much-needed return to form for the iconic Toyota traveler. Unfortunately, the models between 2000 and 2003 faced numerous problems with reliability. But we’ll go into more detail on why soon.
A few years had reports of strange noises from the engine, and there were some reports of acceleration issues either not working or surging aggressively on the 2006 model. Still, these problems came in reasonably small numbers for each year. The most common complaints from these years were the quality of the exterior paint and the check engine light coming on for no reason. While you don’t want to see these problems with your car, these few issues shouldn’t scare you away from these model years.
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And other than the 2009 model, most corollas since then have been pretty reliable rides. Since then, the only serious issue with Corollas has been with the accelerator going off without you telling it to. This leads to hazardous situations, so avoid the 2011, 2013, and 2017 models if you’re not taking that risk. But it’s worth noting that even in these model years, only a handful of reports of this issue popping up, which usually occurred early in the car’s life cycle.
Outside of this severe but very rare issue, the most common complaints of the most recent models have been grinding brakes, which can shorten their lifespan and problems with the cabin’s build quality. This entails more minor issues like dashboard cracking, trouble with locks, and rattling noises inside. The only model year where these internal issues were abundant and expensive was the 2014 model, which had several reports of the radio breaking down.
Which Model Years of Toyota Corolla to Avoid:
Despite its reputation as a reliable daily driver, there are a few Toyota Corolla model years to avoid, namely:
- 2000 Toyota Corolla
- 2001 Toyota Corolla
- 2002 Toyota Corolla
- 2003 Toyota Corolla
- 2009 Toyota Corolla
- 2014 Toyota Corolla
The one problem that plagued the Toyota Corolla more than any other has been excessive oil consumption. This was particularly bad from 2000-2002, a three-year period which saw 124 complaints of excessive oil use. This might not sound too bad, but it could be costly to repair, with an expected cost of around $2,500, with plenty of room to go higher. It is also a problem that, if not treated, could lead to other wear and tear if the oil got too low and you were unprepared.
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This problem reared its head again in 2009, and reports indicated a whopping average repair cost of $4,500. And while this wasn’t a big issue between those years, the 2003 model still had severe issues with transmission failure, which will cost you at least $1,000 to repair. And as stated earlier, the 2014 model Considering how common these problems were and how expensive they could be to repair.
Common Toyota Corolla Problems
Despite its legendary reliability, the Toyota Corolla has multiple issues across model years. Here are the top Toyota Corolla problems you should look out for:
- Excessive oil consumption - Corolla owners have reported that their engine consumes too much oil. The oil issues have appeared mostly prevalent with the 2002 and 2009 model years, even with a barely new vehicle. Typical solutions include using thicker oil, replacing the piston rings, and the most expensive fix: engine replacement – costing $2,600 to $5,000.
- Faulty transmission - Despite regular maintenance, Corolla owners reported that the transmission simply died on them. Many reports described clunking and grinding noises before their cars stopped. The 2003 Corolla seems to be the worst year plagued with transmission failure. The usual fix is to rebuild or replace the transmission, which may cost upwards of $1,200.
- Slow engine startup - Some Corolla owners reported that their car is slow to start. This problem is usually experienced at 100,00-125,000 miles. The usual culprit is a faulty starter, so a starter solenoid replacement should be in order. This issue is most common with the 2015 Corolla.
- Lit check engine light - Mostly common in 1998 to 2016 Corollas, this issue stems from the evaporative emission (EVAP) system which triggers the check engine light. Potential causes include a faulty gas cap or charcoal canister failure.
Toyota Corolla Problem Counts by Year
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