Common repairs for the Toyota Corolla and Matrix

Toyota Corolla and Toyota Matrix - common repairs


Sensor locations and such

toyota corolla repairs - sensors

Replace door parts (8th Generation Corolla)

fishexpo wrote: You can do many things without taking the whole door panel off (replace speakers, wiring, or switches, pop out a dent, replace inside door handles, etc.) The steps for replacing the inside door handles are:

For the exterior door handle, you have to pull the liner out to access the nuts holding the handle to the door. Watch the plastic clip, it can be tough to get off, if it falls off or you loose the control rod down the door, you will have to remove the liner to get it back. The hardest part of that is getting the armrest and power control switch (if P/W and P/L) otherwise, the window crank handle has to be pulled out (special clip removal tool or a rag or towel worked behind the crank will work as well). A trim removal tool or even a putty knive can be used to pop the clips around the perimeter of the door panel. They pull straight out. Just pry a little at a time, use a flashlight to take a peek there and you should be able to see the clips you need to pry out. Just be careful of the plastic vapor barrier - if you pull it off slowly and easily - it can be reused.

Funny engine noise (2000-2007 Corolla and Matrix)

“montreal” wrote: “[There] is a unique sound that our engines make during the second minute following a startup after the cars have sat in below freezing temperatures for a minimum of 6 - 8 hours. For the most part, this issue appears to be cosmetic. Neither drivability nor fuel economy are negatively affected. Nor do these cars pollute. Many dealerships have made honest, but unsuccessful, attempts to find a solution. The turning point for me was when I realized that I could pull the fuse on the engine computer and make this sound go away for 2 days at a time. I concluded that ... my engine components behaved in a unique combination so as to challenge my engine computer to its limit in order to properly manage the engine when cold. ... The sound you are hearing is when the engine software can no longer reconcile all its objectives regarding long term pollution control and keep the idle speed smooth at the same time. I received word yesterday from Toyota Canada that the fix would be delayed until early 2007, but it would be delivered in the form of a software (firmware) change to the engine computer in order to re-calibrate it.”

Engine oil

Many people change their oil far too frequently; General Motors, for example, reported that their research showed oil changes can often be done as late as every 10,000 miles! (GM vehicles have a built-in oil wear indicator system based on computer analysis of engine conditions). Shannon pointed out that intervals as far apart as 12,500 miles may be just fine with synthetic oil, and noted that you can have oil analyses done to make sure. Dan Stern reportedly ran a 2.2 liter Chrysler engine with 15,000 mile intervals using synthetic oil and found no appreciable wear or sludge after an extended period.

Unless you drive a lot in dusty or dirty conditions, 3,000 miles is probably too short an oil change interval. Follow the owner's manual - which last time we looked recommended every 6,000 miles.

Both four-cylinder and six-cylinder Toyota engines have been prone to oil sludging, according to recent reports. This can affect cars that are only a couple of years old. Before buying a used Toyota, it may pay to look under the valve covers for "sludged" oil. We recommend that you change the oil on your Corolla more often than recommended, e.g. at 5,000 miles, and use synthetic oil to avoid the problem (which has not yet been reported on Corollas). Blue smoke may be one symptom. Toyota refused to pay for engine damage for a while, though the company, while blaming owners for the problem, relented. Here is Toyota's new policy. The moral: keep your oil change receipts and use synthetic oil.

Engines past the break-in period should not be using more than about half a quart per 3,000 miles. (Even this amount is fairly high). Some companies use one quart per 3,000 miles as a benchmark for warranty action. Synthetic oil tends to disappear more quickly according to many reports. Some causes for losing oil quickly are:

Click here for oil filter test results at Corolland.

Engine light goes on

A loose gas cap will cause the engine to run rough, and may activate the "check engine" light.

Matt (fishexpo) wrote: EVAP problems are the most common ones for our years (1998-2002)- usual suspects are VSV, charcoal canister, and purge valves. Most are close to the tank. Sometimes a EVAP code is triggered by a bad catalytic converter - but usually you'll get a trouble code showing fuel trend issues as well. Bad grounds in sensors also causes issues - but those are generally much harder to find in an intermittent issue, unless you have some circuit that is completely shorted out. Sometimes these problems go away on their own or are fixed while checking on other components.

The same fault codes (e.g. PO 441, and PO 446) can cover anything from a bad gas cap to cracked or leaky vacuum lines to a flooded or cracked charcoal canister. If it is definitely the canister - you should be able to pick one up anywhere from $150 to $250 brand new. Getting to the canister could be an ordeal - it is tucked next the gas tank right next to the rear subframe.

Other engine issues

Failure to start? 

Rene wrote: "The new Corolla engines (2002) are noisy, and there seems to be a problem with the timing belt tensioners. The vibration problem will go away, but it would appear that you will need to replace an engine mount (not enough damping) or wait for the engine mount to loosen with time, thus providing more damping and hence less vibration intrusion into the gauge pod. Only time will tell what is your next course of action. Advice? Do not let the mechanics open up that dash. There are too many delicate plastic clips and the like that there is a high probability they will break something."[This has probably been corrected]

Ryan noted that the fan belt tension adjustment bolts are "under the alternator. It is not spring loaded like many American cars." Tensioners seem to be a problem.

Our 1999 model had all four fuel injectors replaced when one misfired. This is apparently a common problem, but it is only mentioned when you bring the car in.

We have also heard of some head gasket issues, where antifreeze leaked into the spark plug chambers, causing rough running.

Hesitation: David Fain noted that many things could cause hesitation, including a bad or clogged PCV valve; defective EGR sensor; dirty air filter; worn plugs or plug wires (on older cars, worn distributor caps or rotors); fouled injectors or clogged fuel filters. "Most of the stuff you can replace on your own. Fouled injectors can be cleaned with fuel injector cleaners. If none of the above fixes the problem, then it's time to bring it to a professional mechanic. The sum of all these parts will cost you under $100 except for the EGR sensor. The EGR should last up to 100k miles and would be the last thing I'd replace. Use quality aftermarket replacement components or Toyota factory parts. In the long run, its worth it. The average mechanic's rate is around $45 - $75 a hour. When they replace parts, they charge you straight retail if not more. ... Get the parts yourself, put them in yourself and if all else fails bring the car to a mechnic and tell him what's been replaced so he doesn't wind up replacing it a second time."

Older engine codes

Code Description
12 Engine speed sensor: no signal
13 Engine speed sensor: no signal at high speed OR incorrect signal
14 No "IGF" signal to computer, four times in a row
21 Oxygen sensor voltage remained between .35 and .7V
continuously despite feedback correction
22 Open or short circuit with coolant temperature sensor circuit
24 Open or short circuit with intake air temperature sensor circuit
25 Open or short circuit in main oxygen sensor circuit
26 Strong variation detected in engine revs during idle-switch-on
and feedback condition (air-fuel ratio rich)
27 Open or short circuit in second oxygen sensor circuit
31 Open or short circuit in manifold pressure (MAP) circuit
41 Open or short circuit in throttle position sensor (TPS) circuit
42 Vehicle speed sensor output doesn't reach the computer
43 No starter signal sent to computer
52 Open or short circuit in knock sensor circuit
71 EGR open circuit OR EGR gas temperature too low


Failure to start due to your inability to turn the ignition key may be caused by the steering wheel lock. Muscle the steering wheel to the center of the "free turning" area and try turning the key again. (This problem seems to afflict Toyota more than other makers).

Swaying in the wind can be aided by upgrading the tires (base tires are fairly poor). A second-generation shock-strut assembly may be installed in prior-to-1999 models.


While there are automatic headlights in American Corollas, they do not come on for about ten seconds (this may not be true for 2003+ models). The switch is on the end of the left-hand stalk.

Anne noted that the running lights on a number of Corollas appear to come on unexpectedly. "I called Toyota Service national, and they were of no help beyond giving me the numbers of dealers...The service foreman at Bell Road (Phoenix) said the headlight switch had to be replaced, and they've replaced it for more than one owner."

Other Issues and Tips

2003-2005 Corollas and Matrixs may have wind noise from the door glass in the front or back. New parts have been made to fix it; if you have the problem under warranty, a dealer will verify and fix it (if you don't have the problem, they will not fix it!). It takes about half an hour to fix. If you are interested in doing it yourself out of warranty, the dealer can look up service bulletins NV006-05 (Corolla) and NV005-05 (Matrix) and provide part numbers to you (they'll need your vehicle ID number to get the right parts). 

Getting a popping noise on your 2005 Corolla or Matrix with a JBL audio system? The problem could be the amplifier staying on even though the ignition is off; it could kill your battery over time. The dealer can replace the amplifier if it happens to you. (It was fixed as a running change in the 2005 model year.)

When fully extended, the antenna can make a rattling noise during ordinary driving, as it moves with the wind. There does not appear to be a fix for this problem, which seems to affect all 1998 and 1999 models.

Squealing brakes (when backing up) can be quieted by adding a special grease; this is now added when the cars are built (a running change made in 2005). Affected cars are 2003 and 2004 model years, and early 2005s. The dealer can take care of this under the three-year warranty.

Rene noted that steering wheel vibration while braking can be the result of warped rotors. We note that vibration when not braking is often caused by one or more tires being out of balance, an easy condition to fix. It may be worth having a tire shop do the latter rather than wasting your time at a dealer.

David Fain posted the process for removing interior doors (e.g. to upgrade speakers):

  1. Remove the recessed interior door latch "plastic cup" held in place by 1 phillips head screw. Remove the 2 phillips head screws recessed in the door handle.
  2. Starting from the bottom of the panel, gently pull on panel until one of the plastic retainer clips pops loose from the metal frame. Keep working around the panel popping off each clip one at a time.
  3. After all retaining clips have been removed, disconnect the power cord line connected to the panel.

We hope to add to this section through your postings in the forum.

(Note: click here for performance tips)

You can sponsor this site and Toyoland to remove all but your own ads.

Corolland - for owners of modern Toyota Corollas

This Toyota Corolla-focused site is copyrighted © 2000-2023 Zatz LLC.