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The Toyota Corolla is one of the most dependable names in the compact car segment. Moreover, the model’s latest lineup includes several versatile variants, like a compact SUV. However, not every model year comes with drama-free ownership; these four used Corollas have the most significant number of owner complaints, like the 2009 and 2006 Toyota Corolla.  

What years of the Corolla should you stay away from?

2009, 2003, 2002, and 2006 Toyota Corollas are among the most complained about in the model’s tenure, citing issues like excessive oil consumption and jerky shifts. Still, the used models’ complaints are few and far between compared to comparable cars like the Ford Focus

Regarding these model years, Car Complaints revealed reports from owners about engine and transmission problems. These issues could be more than irritating; they could lead to stranded motorists and dangerous component failures. Moreover, some issues could require an engine or transmission replacement, costing drivers thousands of dollars. 

Are there any problems with the 2009 Toyota Corolla?

2009 Toyota Corollas have over 323 owner complaints of engine problems, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Specifically, the most common issue is excessive oil consumption at an average of 100,750 miles. 

A silver 2009 Toyota Corolla poses in front of building.
2009 Corolla | Toyota

In several instances, owners replaced the engine to defeat the 2009 model’s thirst for oil. Unfortunately, the average replacement cost is around $4,570. In addition to an oil appetite, some vehicles will exhibit starter failure and a check engine light due to a faulty EVAP system. However, RepairPal reports that some Toyota Corollas’ instances of the check engine light could be as innocuous as a loose or failing gas cap. 

Does the 2003 Toyota Corolla have transmission issues?

The 2003 Toyota Corolla earned a “beware-of-the-clunker” badge from Car Complaints due to its most common issues, namely transmission problems. Owners report that their manual transmission could fail at over 100,000 miles and require a replacement unit or a complete rebuild

What issues does the 2002 Toyota Corolla have? 

The 2002 Toyota Corolla’s most common issues are engine-related. Like the 2009 model, 2002 Corollas may develop a thirst for oil. Moreover, its excessive oil consumption issue could occur at around 99,200 miles. Tragically, some more common remedies included a replacement engine, which could cost about $2,600.  

Does the 2006 Toyota Corolla have transmission issues?

The 2006 Toyota Corolla has documented transmission issues, like a failure or slipping out of gear. However, owners report that transmission issues are much more infrequent than engine problems. The NHTSA has 194 complaints on file about the 2006 Corolla’s engine issues.

A used 2003 Toyota Corolla parks on a flight line.
2003 Corolla | Toyota

According to the NHTSA complaints, vehicle speed control issues have led to around 39 crashes. Moreover, some models may have engine cooling issues, which could lead to overheating and potential engine seizing. 

What are the best model years for Toyota Corolla?

While 2009, 2003, 2002, and 2006 Toyota Corollas have issues, the Toyota sedan model remains one of the last words in sensibility and dependability. Still, potential owners who want a Corolla with the fewest owner complaints should consider a 2012 or 2016 Corolla. 

Both models earned a “seal of awesome” from Car Complaints for drama-free ownership.


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