3 Common Toyota Corolla 1.8 Liter 4-Cylinder Engine Problems

The 2ZR-FE, Toyota’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder, began production in 2007 and the manufacturer still plants it in modern Toyota models. It remains a common engine used in the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Prius, and Toyota used it in models from years back like the Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe, and Scion xD. Vehicles using this engine are among the most reliable, trouble-free largely because of the 2ZR engine.   

All engines have trouble spots and occasionally need repairs. The three most common problems with the 2ZR-FE engine are relatively minor but worth checking out. 

Shown is the 2018 Toyota Corolla, in blue.
2018 Toyota Corolla | Toyota

Toyota 2ZR-FE specs and info

According to Tuning Pro, the 2ZR-FE engine is still in production. Displacing 1.8 liters, it’s ideal for smaller cars like the Toyota Corolla and related vehicles. It produces between 132 and 138 horsepower and around 127 lb-ft of torque. 

3 common Toyota Corolla engine problems

Front angle view of white 2023 Toyota Corolla, cheapest new Toyota and one of world’s best-selling cars
2023 Toyota Corolla | Toyota

Even though the 2ZR-FE four-cylinder is a dependable, long-lasting engine, there are three problems to watch for. 

1. Oil consumption 

As engines get older they either leak oil or burn oil and the 2ZR engine is not immune. The engine has a history of oil consumption due to piston rings which allow oil into the combustion chamber. Then the oil burns along with the normal air/fuel mixture and can produce blue-colored exhaust. 

The 2008-2010 Corolla model years seem to have the most problems with oil consumption, which tends to get worse over time. However, this issue is minor compared to engines from other manufacturers and rarely fatal for the engine. The key thing to do is check your oil regularly and top it off if it gets low.  

2. Engine pump failure

Coolant leaks are another fact of life with older, high-mileage engines, but the 2ZR engine has also encountered problems with the coolant pump as well. Again, it’s an uncommon occurrence, but one that Toyota recognized and later included in their factory warranties. 

The biggest issue is with the pump leaking coolant, and it’s very rare that the pump fails completely. However, should this happen, the engine will overheat if it isn’t shut down quickly. The best thing to do is find a safe spot to pull over, shut off the engine, and have the car towed for repair. 

3. Valvematic reliability issues

In 2007, Toyota updated its VVT-i variable valve timing with a new way to control intake lift volume. This change helps the 2ZR engine develop more power with less fuel consumption. The Valvematic system met those goals but also had some teething issues when it first came out. 

The problems stem from the complexity of the system which can cause more issues than the original VVT-i system. There isn’t one main problem or root cause of Valvematic issues. The problem is that they tend to get fouled by dirt that makes its way into the intake manifold. Like the other issues on this list, the Valvematic problem isn’t serious or fatal, but is something to watch for.  

Should you buy a Toyota with a 2ZR-FE engine? 

Like most Toyota engines, engineers designed a reliable and well-built engine in the 2ZR. Longevity and dependability are its hallmarks and the list of problems is short and fairly minor.

All cars eventually have problems and need repairs, but if you need a low-cost way to get places, it’s hard to beat. These common Toyota Corolla Engine problems can occur, but they can also be dealt with. The model overall has a rock-solid reputation for reliability. It’s also known for being frugal on gas and cheap to operate. So if you find a car with this engine, and the car is in good condition, the chances are you’ll have cheap, reliable transportation for years to come. 

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