98 1Zz-Fe W/210K Miles. Worth A Rebuild Or Run Till She Dies?


New member
Hi All,

First post here. I'm the proud owner of a 98' with 211,680 miles on it. The car has received basic preventative maintenance as long as I've owned it (since college, 2006), fluid changes, tuneups, whatnot. The car has certainly seen better days. Living in the city for the last 6 years had done its share of cosmetic and suspension damage. Over the last 15k miles or so I've noticed the normally noisy motor has grown in noise to the point where it sounds like pebbles in a coffee can. It still runs strong, however, shifts smoothly, and only consumes about 1qt of oil every 3-5k miles.

I'm at a crossroads now with what to do with the car. I subscribe to the ideal of maintaining and using vehicles through their effective life. But, its coming time for a complete suspension rebuild, and with the mileage getting up there I feel at least a timing chain, water pump ect service is in order.

My question being; is the 1zz-fe known to run well into the upper 200s without needing a complete rebuild? I can justify the cost of new strut assembly's and ball joints all around if she's got another 70-80k in her without serious servicing. At the pace I drive it that's another 5-10 years. As it stands it's our spare car that serves the purpose of taking me to work to save on gas and to take the dogs to the park.

Any other opinions? I figure my options are (1) rebuild the suspension, service the timing chain, replacing the water pump and keep driving (2) rebuild the suspension and wait till it blows up, then either get rid of it or put a junkyard motor in it (3) just keep going till to pops and get rid of it.



I know Karate, Kung Fu, and 47 other dangerous wor
The timing chain and water pump do not have a set replacement age/mileage, Just replace the water pump when the pump dies / starts to weep coolant. The timing chain should outlast the car, as long as you stay on-top of general maintenance. Excessive engine noise could be any number of sources - could be valve clearances running out of spec, bearings getting wiped/worn down, clogged oil passages, piston knock, possible overheated condition / ran low on engine oil, that happened before you got your hands on the car, etc.

Suspension - have to look at it to see what sort of work you need. This car is fairly lightweight - so it could take quite a bit to significantly damage the suspension to the point of looking at a complete replacement - unless you knowingly drove on a bad suspension. Could be as simple as a couple of bushings and struts.

As for mega-mileage 1ZZ-FE engines - there are quite a few out there, in both the 8th and 9th gen generation cars. 300K+ miles with all original sensors, engine, and transaxle is possible with good maintenance and if you are fortunate enough to have the 1ZZ-FE that doesn't seen to be affected by excessive oil consumption (yours is good at this point).

If it is worth pouring money into it - that is a pretty loaded question. From what you indicated - I'd tackle the suspension, get that fixed, and drive it into the ground. Engine chatter is pretty common with the 1ZZ-FE - 1 quart every 5K miles is pretty good for this mileage. Suspension - you can get KYB quick struts (spring, strut, bellow, upper mounts) for about $150 a corner. If you mark the positions of the old strut and find no eccentric bolts were used originally - you don't even have to get an alignment.

Example, my own 2002 is over 205K miles, all original - as I purchased the car new. I've driven it through places that would test even an AWD vehicle. Suspension is shot (struts), body rubber bushings are all dry rotted, valves on the tank are dry rotted, and the body and paint is pretty rough (couple of parking lot hit and runs, crazed teenager beat the hell out of my car with a bat (long story), etc.) - but the car still idles well, A/C works perfectly, I still get the same MPG on my commute as it did when I first got it, interior still looks mint, starts right up and runs great on the highway. Insurance in my area with this car is dirt cheap, and I pay very little on my yearly property tax assessment. I can park it on the street and not worry about people breaking in / see where a neighbor kid ran into it with his bike / scratched the paint, etc.

Though I can see the other side as well - most people generally get tired of a car and the appeal of a "new car" is pretty hard to beat. Your resale value is middling, trade-in value is pretty low. From a cost standpoint - cost of maintenance to keep it going for a couple of years is way less than the cost of getting a newer or new replacement car. But with of the aggressive incentives that are popping up from time to time (2 year lease on a new Corolla for $99/month!, APR rates are the lowest ever, sometimes see 0% financing promo as well) - makes this choice even harder.

Wish we all had crystal balls to look into our futures - but as it is, will never know with any certainty what tomorrow will bring. Car could run just fine as is for 5-10 years, could spend a decent amount of money to fix it up and have the engine let go soon after, or could get into a car accident and total the car, just don't know. The bottom line is from what you posted, the car seems to be pretty reliable, just needs some maintenance work due to its age/mileage. I'd say just drive it, start putting money away for a "fix it" fund, and by the time you get enough there to fix it - make another call to keep and fix the car, or dump it for another ride.



New member
"crazed teenager beat the hell out of my car with a bat (long story)". Yikes, my rolla' has at least avoided that scenario. It's certainly seen its share of hit and runs though with years of daily parallel parking.

I don't think the suspension needs entirely rebuilt, but, it at least needs struts/associated all the way around and some bushings. Lots of popping over bumps and pretty "smooshy" in general. The ball joints seem easier to do than on most vehicles so I'd figure it's worth it while I'm in there. The rest of the parts would be "as needed" replaced.

As far as engine chatter; it definitely is all isolated to the top end of the engine. It sounds like excessive valve clearance; but, from what I've read around on the internet it's rare that they get out of spec. Just noisy normally. I've been thinking of maybe switching to 5w-20 on my next change to see if the thinner oil may work its way into the "noisy bits" and quiet it down some. At the least it would clean up the internals a bit. There's no internal drive for a "new" car for me. We have a 2012 and two other cars aside from this one. So, if anything I'd be downsizing my fleet by getting rid of the corolla.



I know Karate, Kung Fu, and 47 other dangerous wor
Sounds like you got a plan for the suspension. Not too bad to replace - depending on which direction you go (separate strut and springs or get a quick-strut). I agree - since you are already working on it - might as well tackle the lower ball joints, redo the bushings for the sway bars, replace the end links, maybe even look at the tie-rod ends. That should tighten the suspension up for you. Should be able to do all this yourself for under a grand, easily - about double that if you take it to a shop.

Replacement engine and transaxle mounts might be able to cut down on the audible noise from the top end - but drawback is that they tend to transmit it as excessive vibration into the cabin and especially to the steering wheel.

Thinner oil might be worth a try - I read that many owners found this engine tends to perform better with thinner oils anyway. May actually run a lot louder until those deposits get cleaned up. Exactly how I do it on my own car - use a thin oil to clean, then move back to your usual oil - seem to automagically reduced valvetrain noise, atleast for a short time. Already pulled the valvecover off and check clearances for grins - clearances were well inside of spec.

From what it sounds - definitely more cost effective to just fix what is broken / worn out and drive the car into the ground. Some like to bash on this particular generation, especially with the changes to the powertrain. But this is a pretty tough car - just give it attention every once and a while, change out the filters and fluids and it will keep running.

Similar to you, I've got two other "newer" daily drivers + my ongoing project/nightmare car + then my 2002 Corolla mainstay. Trying to hold on to all of them, as it keeps the wife from repurposing the garage as extra storage space. My plan is to hand off my 2002 to my son, as his first car - get him used to driving and learning the maintenance aspect of owning a car. I'd be shocked if I don't get another 100K / 10 years out of this car. Even it if dies tomorrow - I still would feel like I got a good run on the car, my moneys worth. Always started and never stranded me anywhere - more than what I could say for some other cars I've had in the past.


ramon rod

New member
ok hear me out i have a 1998 toyota corolla le its has 316,589 miles on it it makes a lot of noise click clank sound .when i pump the brakes it idels down and gos away for a bit ,. then it comes back ...so i wanted to know if a 2001 toyota corolla vvt i would fit in my 1998 corolla .?



I know Karate, Kung Fu, and 47 other dangerous wor
The 1ZZ-FE engines (both VVT-i and non-VVT-i) are pretty noisey even when running correctly.

Pumping the brakes and it causes the idle to get pulled down - sounds more like a vacuum issue than engine related. Could be as simple as a stuck check valve on the brake booster.

Sounds more like the car needs a comprehesive tune up more than anything else. I'd do a compression test to make sure the engine is still tight. If compression is bad - then a rebuild or swap would be more likely the case.

As for swapping an 8.5th gen engine (2000-2002 1ZZ-FE VVT-i) in place of an 8th gen engine (1998-1999 1ZZ-FE non-VVT-i) - it is possible. Look at the reply I put on your other post.


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