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Why Were The Corollas So Damn Reliable?



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I had a 2000 toyota corolla that I kept until last year. It was such a sweetheart. Never had any issues with reliability and i was so brutal in driving it, always shifted at 6000 rpm when merging on the freeway, every-damn-day. Just did twice a year oil changes, and transmission service every couple years. that's it.

Right before I sold it, I finally changed the spark plugs and rear drums (after 11 years!!). The spark plugs still looked good. The vapor sensor was the only thing that went bad on that car but my dealership had it replaced under good will. Another complaint I had was piston slap, which was very loud on this car. Otherwise the paint still shone, interior smelled like new and it was quite peppy for only 125 hp. It also had one of the best hydraulic steering I ever used, it was well weight (not light and not heavy) and it had lots of feedback. My 2012 corolla has horrible steering in comparison, the electric system is just so numb it's frustrating. The engine seemed to be getting stronger the older it got! I had no problem keeping up with my friend's 99 civic si when merging on the highway. I also had No oil burning issue that some complained about. Why did I sell that car? Because it was showing its age, and I needed something with power windows/locks, sun roof and more leg room. I wish I did not sell it though. It was worth so much more than what it got sold for.

So, just trade the 2012 for an 11th gen 2014.... I'll probably be changing my 2004 for a 2017. I hope the 2ZR-FAE 1.8 valvematic (or 3ZR-FAE 2.0 valvematic) will be available with 6 speed manual.

Since your '13 model is the last of the generation, it's pretty much cleared of known issues, such as the accelerator pedal fiasco, weird revs when letting up on the throttle, and so on. Took me awhile to get used to the electric-assist power steering, too, but now, I love it. That type of power steering is here to stay, and you will get the hang of it soon enough.

Many features we now enjoy with the 10th-generation Toyota (2009-2013) have been omitted in the 2014's, including an upper glove box, coin box (I think), room for your left knee beneath the driver's door arm rest, and an accessory tray in the trunk (a place to put a gallon of milk). Amazingly, those niceties are considered unimportant to those who think only of horsepower, handling, and "aggressive styling", but to those of us who embrace the simplicity, functionality, and neutrality of what we've come to know as a Corolla, those appointments mean a great deal.

I'd say that you should have faith that your car will be a friend to you for many miles to come!

I feel you, especially on the electric steering part. Jumping back and forth between the 2009 Rav4, 2009 Matrix XRS, and 2002 Corolla - completely mindboggling how vastly different they are. Granted - lots of difference between the curb weights, frontal area, purpose of the vehicle. But atleast comparing the EPS between the Matrix and Rav4 - Matrix is like dragging a stick through mud. No feedback, no strong sense of center, unnatural weight to steering wheel. Its a workout at all speeds. The Rav4 in comparison - domestic car, one finger effort in steering. Way too overboosted - no feedback, no tire limit warning, like driving a rear-steer forklift - you crank the wheel, the car turns. Sometimes it turns OK, sometimes it turns in so violently - it actually picks up the inside rear wheel. The Corolla - tad on the heavy side, as far as effort - but spot on feedback. I know when the car is starting to loose grip on the front end - I can add in a touch more or less steering angle to compensate. Not BMW or Porsche level feedback - but compared to the EPS models - the 8th gen Corolla feedback is BMW-level telepathic. Totally kills me - as Lexus also has EPS but is lightyears past the Toyota offerings, in terms of feedback, effort, steering accuracy. Maybe they save the good stuff only for the mega-buck models.

But other than that - the newer cars are safer, have more content (generally), and will still be Toyota reliable (least more reliable than some others - your mileage may vary). Once you get used to EPS feel, size of the car, its limitations - should be able to drive it just as spiritedly as your old 2000 Corolla. Replacement tires might help with that aspect. On the Matrix - replaced the OEM BFG g-Force tires with Pirelli PZero Nero's - night and day difference in ride, braking. Tire life is more than 2x more than the BFGs. On the Rav4 - replaced the OEM Yokohama Geolanders with Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia - same thing, the Bridgestones are a superior tire. More grip, smoother, less noisy ride - good wear so far. Though being a LRR tire - I didn't notice much in terms of MPG savings. Atleast it didn't get any worse after the tire change.

Once you get used to EPS feel,

Glad to see this discussed as at some point soon I was going to make it a topic. Have had very good luck with our 2005 Corolla LE....still runs great...burns no oil...excellent fuel mileage at 140k. But I need something thats not so bright red as I cant go anywhere and not have someone ask me..."was that your car parked there?". Also its time for something different.

I was rushing back to the same model....like the looks of the newer ones. But I've seen/heard alot of complaints over the EPS. Funny how almost 17 years ago I test drove one of the first cars experimenting with it. Anyway not sure if we'll move up to the Camry or stay with the Corolla. I got for a loaner a 2012 Corolla and I didnt notice anything wrong with the steering...BUT...it was all country road(55mph or less) or city driving...no highway. Need to test drive alot more esp on the highway.

So, just trade the 2012 for an 11th gen 2014.... I'll probably be changing my 2004 for a 2017. I hope the 2ZR-FAE 1.8 valvematic (or 3ZR-FAE 2.0 valvematic) will be available with 6 speed manual.

I cannot stand the looks of the new corolla. While the prev gen themselves would not win any awards in that department, they lacked the goofy looky at least. Yes the engines are getting fancier and contain more parts than ever before. Even with all these new parts and techs such as direct injection, the cars are still getting the same mileage as twenty years ago, it's just they make more power. But I can't use all these power even if i wanted to, with city traffic and cops and all that.

I feel you, especially on the electric steering part. Jumping back and forth between the 2009 Rav4, 2009 Matrix XRS, and 2002 Corolla - completely mindboggling how vastly different they are. Granted - lots of difference between the curb weights, frontal area, purpose of the vehicle. But atleast comparing the EPS between the Matrix and Rav4 - Matrix is like dragging a stick through mud. No feedback, no strong sense of center, unnatural weight to steering wheel. Its a workout at all speeds. The Rav4 in comparison - domestic car, one finger effort in steering. Way too overboosted - no feedback, no tire limit warning, like driving a rear-steer forklift - you crank the wheel, the car turns. Sometimes it turns OK, sometimes it turns in so violently - it actually picks up the inside rear wheel. The Corolla - tad on the heavy side, as far as effort - but spot on feedback. I know when the car is starting to loose grip on the front end - I can add in a touch more or less steering angle to compensate. Not BMW or Porsche level feedback - but compared to the EPS models - the 8th gen Corolla feedback is BMW-level telepathic. Totally kills me - as Lexus also has EPS but is lightyears past the Toyota offerings, in terms of feedback, effort, steering accuracy. Maybe they save the good stuff only for the mega-buck models.

But other than that - the newer cars are safer, have more content (generally), and will still be Toyota reliable (least more reliable than some others - your mileage may vary). Once you get used to EPS feel, size of the car, its limitations - should be able to drive it just as spiritedly as your old 2000 Corolla. Replacement tires might help with that aspect. On the Matrix - replaced the OEM BFG g-Force tires with Pirelli PZero Nero's - night and day difference in ride, braking. Tire life is more than 2x more than the BFGs. On the Rav4 - replaced the OEM Yokohama Geolanders with Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia - same thing, the Bridgestones are a superior tire. More grip, smoother, less noisy ride - good wear so far. Though being a LRR tire - I didn't notice much in terms of MPG savings. Atleast it didn't get any worse after the tire change.

I have all those symptoms you just mentioned, but i'm still on OEM tires. I cannot stand EPS either. If I drive my impreza for a week and go back to my corolla, It makes me want to cry on the twisties. But the EPS is a godsend in parking lots. You would not believe how heavy the subaru steering is. It's like driving a truck and it only gets tolerable with speed. But it has tons of feedback and its sharp, thing I also like.

once I made a pact to not to buy an electric powered steering car...ever. But I don't know i just bought the Corolla S anyway. Either way the guy who bought my 00 corolla got a deal. It was probably the cleanest corolla in my town.

It also had one of the best hydraulic steering I ever used, it was well weight (not light and not heavy) and it had lots of feedback. My 2012 corolla has horrible steering in comparison, the electric system is just so numb it's frustrating. The engine seemed to be getting stronger the older it got! I had no problem keeping up with my friend's 99 civic si when merging on the highway. I also had No oil burning issue that some complained about.

I hear you on the EPS in new Corolla. It's radiculously numb. I test drove 2010 and said, no, thanks, and bought Prius instead. Everyone picks on Prius not being driver's car, yet it has the best EPS I've seen.

The hydraulic PS in the previous generation was excellent, that was one of the things that sold me on the car.

How did you avoid oil burning in a 2000 Corolla? Any tips on oil used, intervals, etc?

BTW, this is my honest review on my 2003 Corolla. I like the car even though it was not problem free:

http://www.epinions.com/review/auto_Make-2003_Toyota_Corolla/content_622415351428

 

It also had one of the best hydraulic steering I ever used, it was well weight (not light and not heavy) and it had lots of feedback. My 2012 corolla has horrible steering in comparison, the electric system is just so numb it's frustrating. The engine seemed to be getting stronger the older it got! I had no problem keeping up with my friend's 99 civic si when merging on the highway. I also had No oil burning issue that some complained about.

I hear you on the EPS in new Corolla. It's radiculously numb. I test drove 2010 and said, no, thanks, and bought Prius instead. Everyone picks on Prius not being driver's car, yet it has the best EPS I've seen.

The hydraulic PS in the previous generation was excellent, that was one of the things that sold me on the car.

How did you avoid oil burning in a 2000 Corolla? Any tips on oil used, intervals, etc?

BTW, this is my honest review on my 2003 Corolla. I like the car even though it was not problem free:

http://www.epinions.com/review/auto_Make-2003_Toyota_Corolla/content_622415351428

My corolla just didn't have any oil burning issues. i think same with fish and his 2002. I used any high mileage oil like valvoline synthetic blend or castrol gtx-hm. I used german castrol 0w-30 winter times here. no burning ever.

 

 

Yup - no oil burning here, just the other issue that plagues some 8th gens - EVAP leaks and overly sensitive OBD2 threshold levels.

For the oil consumption, or lack off it, I attribute it to: 1) probably lucky I got a decent version of the engine and 2) run the nuts off the car every chance I get - never babied it, bounce it off the redline on every highway entrance.

For break-in, I made sure that I mixed it up and had as varied driving conditions as I could, from the first moment I drove off the lot. A couple hundred miles of varying throttle positions, speeds, etc.- not shy of the rev limited either. Then a 800 mile road trip to round out the break-in - first oil change immediately after the road trip.

Car only saw conventional motor oil for first 20K-30K miles (free oil change service negotiated when I bought the car) - then synthetic and/or synthetic blends afterwards. After another 10K in synthetics - I started an extended oil change plan, as my commute put a huge number of miles on it daily (250+ mile commute daily). That was only a year, but I put close to 66K miles on that year. 5K OCI would mean that I'd have to drop under the car 14 times that year - I ended up running 11K OCIs for a total of 6 changes. Oil analysis showed that I could run well over 14K miles, but opted to say "safe". After that - I dropped it down to 7500-8500 mile OCI - as the commute dropped and the car seemed to get better gas mileage on the slightly shorter change. Most of the oil I ran was on the thin-side of 5W-30.

I'll also add that sometimes (every 5th oil change or so) I'll add some Rislone with the oil change. Its a well known motor oil supplement that has an additive package of mostly calcium and zinc, not as much as the current formulation of a quality SL conventional oil, but the stuff is really thin - less than a 20 weight. Works wonders on older cars with stuck rings - possible that the thin oil ate away at some deposits before they got bad.

Planning on tearing it down once it hits 300K miles. Just to see what it looks like, and to start an engine project with my son, see if he enjoys the mechanical aspects of working with cars as I did with my father, though I'm not holding my breath.

it will probably look good. aluminium doesn't rust ... it corrodes so as long as right coolant and oil was used it will shine like new with some cleaning. I have however seen aluminum spotting sometimes (dark spots). nothing can be done about that. the wear also depends on how it was driven and grade/lubrication of oil. the valves should be very clean so long as it had some injector cleaning fluids once in a while in the gas tank (ie seafoam). I wonder how long head gaskets last though on corollas. on my subaru its already seeping/leaking slightly after 60k miles. ans the intake plenum was full of gunk.

no kids here so I do all my engine work alone.

Toyota headgaskets usually hold up pretty well - assuming that the gasket doesn't have any manufacturing defects and the engine never overheated.

I think Subaru has really cracked down on the head gasket issues they've had in the past - like those late 90's DOHC engines (internal leak) and the early 2000's SOHC engines (external leaks). I don't remember hearing about excessive leaking rates on 2003+ models - but then again, I haven't trolled the NASIOC boards in a while either.