7 Most Common Toyota Corolla Problems (Solved & Explained)

The Toyota Corolla is one of the oldest and best-selling nameplates in history.

It’s renowned for its dependability and is the ideal vehicle for those who just want to get from A to B with very little drama.

Now in its twelfth generation, the Corolla has upped the ante in the styling department — making it less boring than its predecessors from decades ago.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of its most common problems.

1. Creaking Front Suspension

A common issue that affects many 11th-generation Toyota Corollas is creaks and clunks coming from the front suspension when slowly going over bumps or when turning.

This usually occurs in the 2014 to 2019 model years of the Corolla even at relatively low mileage.

Here is how one owner described the problem:

“I’ve been having some kind of squeak or clunk noise at the front side of my 2014 Corolla for several years. It happens randomly but seems to be getting worse. It started at maybe 20k miles. Now I have 60k.”

Noises coming from the suspension are normally a minor annoyance and don’t affect the vehicle’s drivability.

It can mean that there’s something broken in the car if the noises get progressively louder over a short period of time.

Solution

In a lot of cases, the creaking sound is caused by worn-out lower control arm bushings which will need to be replaced.

Bushings can be replaced at any repair shop so you don’t have to take it to the dealership if the car is already out of warranty.

A lot of owners have also been able to get rid of the creaking noise by simply spraying the ends of the control arm where the bushing is located with some silicone spray.

Packing it with grease will also work but is a lot messier.

The bushings start creaking when they get dried out over time and when the weather gets cold. Dirt and debris getting inside the bushing also makes the problem worse.

The noise will eventually come back as the lubricant works its way out, but the fix is simple enough that it’s not hard to do every so often.

2. Excessive Oil Consumption

The XRS trim level of the 10th generation Corolla was equipped with a 2.4-liter engine that was known to suffer from excessive oil consumption.

Oil consumption issues are more prevalent in the 2009 model year, but it’s also been known to occur in the 2010 models of the Corolla XRS.

The more common 1.8-liter engine can also suffer from oil consumption issues, but this is only due to poor maintenance rather than bad design.

Here are some unhappy accounts from a couple of Corolla owners:

“I bought my car in November of 2012 with about 70,000 miles and quickly noticed it burned a lot of oil. Shortly after that I received a notice from Toyota admitting they had a problem with these engines burning oil.”

“My 2010 Corolla has suddenly started burning (not leaking) oil at the rate of 1 quart per every 1500 miles. I noticed this happening a few months ago and have been carefully watching it. My mechanic said it is most likely a defective engine or piston rings.”

Other Toyota vehicles that used the same 2AZ-FE engine, such as the RAV4, Camry, as well as the Scion tC and xB, also suffered from oil consumption issues.

Oil consumption eventually occurs in all vehicles after logging higher mileages because of leaks and worn-out engine internals.  

But the problem in these engines is caused by the piston ring design failing to let the oil back into the crankcase and letting it get burned up in the combustion chamber.

Solution

To properly fix the oil consumption the pistons and piston rings have to be replaced using Toyota’s updated parts.

This is a very big job that requires removing the engine and tearing it down completely which might not be practical in an out-of-warranty vehicle.

A lot of people just stick to checking and topping up the oil regularly to make sure the engine never runs dry. Changing the oil more frequently every 5,000 miles can also slow down the degradation of the engine.

If the engine is too far gone, the engine block may need to be replaced or sent to a machine shop. At this point, it’s usually more economical to just replace it with a used engine.

3. Blown Head Gasket 

As the 10th generation Corolla goes up in age, more and more owners are reporting head gasket failures.

The head gasket seals the gap between the cylinder head and engine block. This seal helps pressurize the gasses inside the combustion chamber and also keeps the oil and coolant from mixing together.

People who have had head gasket failures in their Corolla often experience the following symptoms:

  • Rough idling
  • Misfires
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Engine knock
  • Overheating
  • Compression loss

Head gasket failures can happen on any vehicle especially as the miles pile up, so it’s not unique to the Corolla. But it’s something to watch out for if a car already has 100,000 to 200,000 miles on the clock.

Solution

A competent mechanic should be able to diagnose whether an engine has a blown head gasket.

Symptoms like poor fuel economy, misfires and rough idling can be caused by fouled spark plugs, faulty ignition coils or a dirty throttle body — all of which are very easy to fix.

A compression test and a leak down test will confirm whether there are severe issues inside the engine’s combustion chambers.

Head gasket leaks and failures in these 10th gen Corolla engines typically happen between the cylinders so it’s rare to see symptoms like oil and coolant mixing together.

If the problem is caught early, replacing the head gasket should get rid of the drivability issues altogether. 

If the car has been running for a while with a blown head gasket, the cylinder head could get warped and the top face of the engine block might get damaged, both of which will need to be sent to a machine shop to get resurfaced.

4. Radio Issues

One of the more common complaints owners have with the 11th generation Corolla, which includes the 2014 to 2019 models, has to do with the radio.

On the Car Complaints website, which is dedicated to collecting car owner feedback, complete radio failures are the most commonly reported problem for the 2014 Corolla.

These failures only affect radio units that are equipped with navigation features. The basic radios are much more reliable.

A lot of Corolla owners have experienced issues with the radio suddenly getting stuck on the boot screen. Sometimes, the radio will get stuck on an update screen and will no longer reboot or function at all.

Radio failures aren’t as prevalent in later model years, so the issue is likely isolated to the earlier head units. 

But there are still other issues in modern units such as:

  • Radio keeps rebooting
  • Unresponsive touchscreen
  • Unable to connect Bluetooth
  • Slow infotainment system

Solution

Some people have been able to revive their radio by resetting it, which can be done by either:

  • Holding down the power button
  • Disconnecting the battery 

If the radio still won’t turn on properly, it likely needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, a replacement from a Toyota dealership can cost over $1,000.

In such cases, it’s much more practical to get an aftermarket head unit that has CarPlay and Android Auto which should only cost a couple hundred dollars, including installation.

Related: Toyota Corolla: 12 Common Problems (Solution Guide)

5. Check Engine Light – System Too Lean

A common problem with the 9th generation Corolla’s 1.8-liter 1ZZ-FE engine is a CEL (Check Engine Light) caused by a lean air-fuel ratio.

When hooked up to an OBD2 scanner, the car’s ECU will usually throw a ‘System too Lean’ P0171 trouble code.

This means that there’s either not enough fuel or too much air in one of the combustion chambers and is making the engine run poorly.

Along with the CEL, other symptoms can include:

  • Rough idling
  • Lack of acceleration
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Misfires 
  • Engine knock or detonation
  • Other trouble codes

If the issue is not addressed in due time, the extra stress on the engine could damage major components like the pistons and rods.

Solution

The most common cause of this issue is a leaking intake manifold gasket. 

The original gasket that came with the 1ZZ-FE engine is prone to failure. When it gets worn out, it lets more air into the combustion chamber which is then detected by the ECU through different sensors.

Toyota updated the original black rubber gasket to a more durable orange silicone gasket which typically lasts the entire lifetime of the engine. 

If you’re going to replace the intake manifold gasket, make sure you’re using the updated part which you can easily tell by its color.

Faulty or dirty sensors can also cause incorrect air-fuel ratio readings. 

Check and replace the following sensors if the car continues to throw a CEL after replacing the intake manifold gasket:

  • Mass Air Flow or MAF Sensor 
  • O2 Sensor
  • A/F Ratio or AFR Sensor

Cleaning the MAF Sensor is also a good initial troubleshooting step since it’s fairly easy to do and doesn’t require you to buy any new parts.

7. Airbag Recall Issues

Looking at the data on Car Problem Zoo, a website that tracks complaints reported to the NHTSA, airbag issues is by far the most common problem among Corolla owners.

The Toyota Corolla is one of many vehicles that has been affected by the infamous Takata airbag recalls.

Toyota has issued recalls for pretty much every model year of the Corolla from 2003 to 2019.

Most of the complaints can be categorized into the following:

  • Issues getting the recall repair done
  • Airbags failed to deploy during an accident
  • Airbag light on the dash

Solution

The first thing you should do is check your VIN on the Toyota recall site to see if it has been affected by any recalls, and then find out whether these have been addressed.

Original owners will likely receive recall notices in the mail, but if you bought your Corolla used, you’ll have to check it for yourself just to make sure you didn’t miss any recalls.

Toyota will perform airbag recalls free of charge even if the vehicle is over 20 years old as long as it is part of the recall campaign.

Different model years of the Corolla will require different recall repairs. But some of the more common ones include:

  • Fixing airbag explosion risks
  • Addressing under inflation issues
  • Correcting airbag ECU issues

Airbag issues should always be addressed by the dealership or a qualified mechanic since performing repairs on your own can lead to serious injury.

Toyota Corolla Model Years With the Most Problems

To get a better idea of which Toyota Corolla has the most problems the fairest way is to compare models based on the number of vehicles sold in relation to the number of reported problems.

We’re using Car Complaints PPMY index which means problems reported per thousand vehicles per Year.

For example, newer cars will have fewer complaints simply because they’ve been around for less time.

Based on this index, the most problematic years are:

  1. 2009 – 0.37 PPMY
  2. 2010, 2011 – 0.27 PPMY
  3. 2019 – 0.25 PPMY

And the least problematic years are:

  1. 2001 – 0.03 PPMY
  2. 2000 – 0.04 PPMY
  3. 2002 – 0.05 PPMY
Toyota Corolla
Model Year
ProblemsSales Vehiclen AgePPMY Index
202211
202149231,21710.21
2020104305,81320.17
2019142187,35630.25
2018150233,29140.16
2017223317,48050.14
2016259400,40060.11
2015257368,20570.10
2014320333,70280.12
2013244308,96290.09
2012474194,800100.24
2011663223,369110.27
20101,525478,364120.27
20091,744363,515130.37
2008365170,356140.15
2007959309,550150.21
2006959340,795160.18
2005941368,744170.15
2004551272,301180.11
2003843330,420190.13
2002141147,983200.05
2001162230,246210.03
2000172187,996220.04
199918523
199827324
199714825
199615026

Source: Car Problem Zoo

Toyota Corolla Pros and Cons

If you’re considering a Toyota Corolla as your next car you might be wondering what its strengths and weaknesses are…

Pros

  • Industry-leading reliability
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Lots of standard safety features
  • Good fuel economy
  • Excellent commuter vehicle
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Interiors can have rattles and road noise
  • Base models have uncomfortable seats
  • Lacks performance and driving dynamics

Toyota Corolla Reliability Compared to Similar Cars

Consumer Reports rankings detailed below is based on the model’s newest three years, the Toyota Corolla sits near the top, with a relatively good score of 75/100.

Make & ModelConsumer Reports
Reliability Score
Subaru Impreza77
Toyota Corolla75
Honda Civic55
Hyundai Elantra55
Nissan Sentra54
Volkswagen Jetta47
Mazda346
Nissan Kicks45
Mini Cooper37
Toyota Corolla Hatchback27
Kia Soul23
Kia Forte7

Source: Consumer Reports

Toyota Corolla Used Value

We’ve taken a look on Car Gurus to gauge the resale value of a Toyota Corolla, below are typical asking prices for each model year.

According to Car Edge, a Toyota Corolla will depreciate 21% after 5 years and have a 5-year resale value of $19,177.

Note: Used model prices will vary depending on trim level.

Model YearMileage (miles)Resale Price 
20229,215$24,000
202121,853$19,795
202057,558$20,599
201952,789$19,595
201896,469$15,758
2017127,722$14,998
201641,641$17,700
2015121,312$12,995
2014122,180$10,995
2013149,178$8,990
201271,023$11,749
2011114,091$9,990
201086,961$9,900

Source: Car Gurus

Related: How Long Do Toyota Corolla Hybrids Last? (12 Important Facts)

What Do Owners Like and Dislike About the Toyota Corolla?

Based on owner feedback from the Kelley Blue Book site here are what real-life owners love and hate about the Toyota Corolla.

Likes

  1. Fuel economy
  2. Design
  3. Comfortable
  4. Quiet
  5. Fun to drive
  6. Sporty look

Dislikes

  1. Space
  2. Sensitive to bumps
  3. Underpowered
  4. Loose steering

Owners Reviews

“Very fuel efficient car (even on the sport version), excellent technology on the car considering the price.

Source: Kelley Blue Book

“Great MPG in a great car. Excellent entertainment setup, easy-to-use interface. Assisted driving features are nice.”

Source: Kelley Blue Book

“I really like the look of the new Corolla SE. I like that it comes with all the safety features. I don’t like the noisy engine and that it only comes with one USB port in the front. It’s a great vehicle for everyday commuting.”

Source: Edmunds

How Reliable Are Toyota Cars?

According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, Toyota are ranked the 3rd most reliable car manufacturer out of 28 brands, with a score of 71/100.

RankingBrandScore
1Lexus76
2Mazda75
3Toyota71
4Infiniti69
5Buick66
6Honda66
7Subaru66
8Acura64
9Nissan63
10Mini60
11Hyundai56
12Chrysler54
13Porsche52
14Chevy48
15Audi47
16Cadillac47
17BMW45
18Ford44
19Kia43
20Volvo42
21Ram40
22GMC37
23Mercedes-Benz34
24Volkswagen31
25Genesis30
26Jeep26
27Tesla25
28Lincoln18

Source: Consumer Reports

Sources

https://www.consumerreports.org/cars/toyota/corolla/

https://www.carcomplaints.com/Toyota/Corolla/

https://www.carproblemzoo.com/toyota/corolla/

https://www.kbb.com/toyota/corolla/

https://www.edmunds.com/toyota/corolla/

https://caredge.com/toyota/corolla/depreciation

https://www.cargurus.com/Cars/l-Used-Toyota-Corolla-d295