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A used Toyota Corolla is a nearly infallible way to get into a reliable, sensible car. However, not every Corolla model is as reliable as you might think. Here are four of the most common issues owners run into with used models throughout its generations, like burning oil in the 2009 Toyota Corolla and airbag issues in the 2003 model.  

How many generations of Toyota Corolla are there?

The Toyota Corolla has been around for 12 generations, spanning back to 1966. According to Autoweek, the last four generations cover all models back to 2000 and 2003 in the United States. 

A used silver 2009 Toyota Corolla, which could have airbag and oil burning issues, poses next a high-rise building.
A tenth-gen Corolla | Toyota

Of the most recent generations, not every model offers the Corolla’s famous dependability. For instance, Car Complaints reports that the 2009 and 2010 models have around 379 owner complaints between the two for engine problems and body issues.  

What are the most common problems with used Toyota Corollas?

Four common issues could have owners scratching their heads from the last four Toyota Corolla generations.  

  • Excessive oil consumption or burning
  • Airbag issues
  • Transmission issues
  • Vehicle speed control problems

While the Toyota sedan model is famous for its sensibility and reliability, not every car is perfect. Of the 11th, 10th, and 9th generation cars, the 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2014, and 2015 models have substantial owner-reported complaints from oil burning to vehicle speed control issues. 

What is the most common problem with a 2003 Toyota Corolla?

In ninth-generation Toyota Corollas, like the 2003 model, some vehicles may exhibit airbag issues. Specifically, the NHTSA has around 311 complaints on record regarding possible airbag failure, including a warning light. 

Still, ninth-generation models could be named in the expansive Takata airbag recall, which means airbags that detonate could shower occupants with fragmentation and cause injury or death. If you suspect your Corolla is covered by warranty, check with the NHTSA’s VIN lookup tool. In addition to the airbag issues, ninth-gen Corollas could have transmission failure at around 116,950 miles. Moreover, transmission failure could require a replacement unit, costing an average of $2,830.

A blue used 2003 Toyota Corolla shows off its fascia.
2003 Corolla | Toyota

What problems does the 10th-generation Toyota Corolla have?

The 10th-generation Toyota Corolla covers the 2006 to 2012 models, and the most common issues are excessive oil consumption or burning. For instance, more owners complained about the 2009 Toyota Corolla than any other 10th-gen model, with 323 NHTSA complaints about engine issues like oil consumption. 

What issues does the 11th-generation Corolla have?

Some of the most common complaints in the 11th-generation Corolla pertain to vehicle speed control issues. Specifically, the 2014 model has 29 NHTSA complaints of speed control inconsistency that could lead to loss of vehicle speed. 

Does the relative infrequency of these problems mean these models are a safe bet? Or would you steer clear of models like the 2003 Toyota Corolla and its airbag issues? Tell us in the comments below!


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