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03 Corolla Engine Noise?

by 03toyola, January 16, 2005 in Performance, Engines, Engine Swaps, Cornering

the engine seems to be kind of loud for a 4 cyl, not sure if it's normal? i only have 25k miles on my 03 le, don't remember if i recall the engine was loud from the start, but it's definitely loud for a 4 cyl, thought little sedan wouldn't be as noisy...this is engine noise i am talking about, hear it when you rev it up...or accel under load,

Depends on the kind of noise - rattling, pinging, knocking, grinding, buzzing, etc.?

Does it happen at startup or when engine is cold - or when fully warmed up?

Outside temp when this is most noticable, octane of gas used (same or different brand).

Just need a bit more info on the noise.

just loud engine rambling noise, thought there would be more sound dampening...

at cold it is definitely loud at idle, but when warm it's quiet at idle, however, when i step on the gas then you can totally hear the engine working,

outside temp in CA is like 40-50F recently, i've been trying to use 89 octane gas,


Is your Corolla your first small car? Or 4 cylinder?

Although the Corolla is well insulated for a small car, it is by no means a Lexus, far from it.

The engine in my 05 is quite noisy beyond 3000 rpm. Doesn't have that Honda purr.

And it is VERY noisy upon start up when VERY cold outside. But in CA, that is definitely not your problem.

i've had many 4 cylinders, it just seems that the corolla is well built and shouldn't be as noisy...hmmm, maybe i am expecting too much huh?

Most of my four cylinders tend to get more noisy as the miles rolls on - but yours at 25K seems too new to have that happen. If still under warranty - I'd have the dealer diagnois the problem, thay may have a few solutions for you under warranty or tell you that the noise is normal.

From what you described - louder when cold but quiet when warms - sounds normal to me. As far a the engine really "working hard" at speed - it should be louder to a certain point. If it is pinging badly - higher octane of gas will help. If the engine is thrashy (lots of valvetrain noise) could be a problem with the VVT-i system.

Good Luck.


i've had many 4 cylinders, it just seems that the corolla is well built and shouldn't be as noisy...hmmm, maybe i am expecting too much huh?

It is a part of the character of this car, the 1ZZ-FE engine is noisy, period. The car reviewers often described that as an "agrarian" sound, not pleasant at all. Not every 4-banges is like that, the one I have in Subaru (2.5L boxer) has a very pleasant tone, even when redlined, but the exhaust of boxer is different from that of inline engine.


But I like MPG in Toyota much better, just can't have it all.

You don't have to look that far, the camry's 2.4 is dead quiet compared to the corolla's engine. You can barely know it's running from the inside at idle and it's very quiet on the road as well. It's fairly efficient too.

But the corolla isn't all that well insulated so unless you're driving madly, road noise is probably going to be a bigger issue than engine noise (it is for me anyway).

I have an '03 LE with about 32K on it and have always thought of it as pretty quiet. That's a subjective thing, I guess, so hard to say how yours compares with the norm.

You shouldn't have to use 89 octane, though. I hate to see you spend the extra money--this is supposed to be an economy car!

If you want to compare with other '03 LE's, you might go test-drive a couple of used ones, either at a dealer or a rental car sales agency. I bought mine at Hertz Car Sales, and they often have several Corolla LE's. All of the cars Hertz sells have between 25K and 30K miles, so it would be equivalent to your mileage. Go to and you can put in your location to see if there's a branch near you. You can search their inventory to see if they have any '03 LE's.

The Corolla also uses a timing chain instead of a timing belt. It makes a bit more noise with the chain, but you don't have to replace it every 60,000.

See if your dealer has a similar unit on the used car lot that you can try.

My 03 is noisy warming up but purrs when warm on 87 octane.

If yours is noisier than the used car, perhaps a run up on the lift to check exhaust system for leaks.

Guest goldeneye

I have an LE05 and I must say that I found it louder than I expected it to be. The "vroom" noise that it makes only occurs when I accelerate or at cold start. When the engine is idling or when I am crusing, the engine is quite and smooth. There is no noise. Also, I hear the "vroom" noise when I'm driving up a hill.

To me the noise is normal, possibly a limitation of Toyota technology.


-22C when I left from work this afternoon.

Engine sure had that "agrarian" sound again. But a fairly nice little tractor soundtrack, if you don't push it and let the revs low. Which I always do when this cold.

Guest tbailey264

I have a similar issue with my 05 corolla. Recently it started droning very loudly at around 30mph. Not only that, but the drone gets worse at exactly 70 mph, but over 70 it dies down a bit. It’s an automatic, and it’s not like the tachometer is ever going above like 4000 rpm let alone anywhere near the redline, but it sounds like I’m rolling in low gear, at least from inside the cabin 

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