I have a 2003 LE with 180,000 miles. I've had all maintenance done at a dealer and have been very satisfied with their work. I like the car and intend on keeping it for several more years.
For the last year or so, they've told me my rear struts are leaking and recommended replacing. Back when they began telling me this, my service advisor, who I've been with for several years and is excellent, told me he didn't think it was a priority to replace them yet. So I didn't. When I took my car in for service a couple of weeks ago, I had to see a different advisor because the appointment schedulers screwed up and gave me an appointment with my regular guy on a day when he was scheduled to be off.
The advisor I ended up seeing took a look at my record and noticed the leaking struts. He told me the leak was a "Level 1" leak, which he said is the most severe (he said there are 5 levels, with "1" being the worst). I don't know if all dealers use this same scale and I have no idea whether he was telling me the truth about the severity since I had never met him before. It's an expensive repair--he said each strut was about $100 and the labor was $500, so it was a $700 repair. I had not noticed any lack of control in the rear of the car, but since this could be a safety issue, I decided to have it done since he characterized the leak as the most severe there is and said that all the fluid in the shocks was pretty much gone.
One of my biggest regrets is that my regular guy didn't get the commission on this big sale. Would it have been safe to have gone another four months before replacing the struts so he could get the commission?
In driving the car with the new struts, I don't notice any difference in the ride or handling of the car. Does replacing struts usually make a noticeable difference?
Are rear struts on 2003 Corollas any kind of a known weakness?
Thanks for any thoughts you have.