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The Toyota Corolla is the best-selling nameplate in the world, with over 50 million vehicles sold since it was first introduced. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular. Small yet practical, it’s inexpensive to buy, and frugal on gas. 

It also has a reputation for dependability, generally getting top marks for its reliability and low cost to own. But like all cars, the Corolla has a few trouble spots. According to RepairPal, an online resource for car maintenance and repair, four areas stand out. These problems were reported by hundreds of real Corolla owners on the RepairPal website.    

Check engine light due to EVAP system

  • Model years affected: 1998 to 2016
  • Average mileage: 107,050
  • Average cost (diagnosis): $88 to $111

One of the most common reasons the check engine light may display on a Toyota Corolla is due to a malfunction in the evaporative emission system (EVAP). These issues are hard to diagnose and can be caused by everything from a clogged charcoal canister to a loose or worn gas cap. 

The issue itself is not serious and unlikely to harm your engine. But it is worth getting checked out to make sure your Corolla’s emissions controls are working properly. 

Automatic shift may not shift correctly at high mileage

Rear angle view of black 2023 Toyota Corolla driving at night in the city
2023 Toyota Corolla | Toyota
  • Model years affected: 1990 to 2016
  • Average mileage: 169,682
  • Average cost (diagnosis): $142 to $884

Higher mileage cars may have issues with the automatic transmission shifting correctly. This may be an issue with the throttle position sensor or the shift solenoid. In many cases, the transmission doesn’t need to be replaced or rebuilt, but the cost of the repairs can still be expensive.

This issue will need to be diagnosed to determine the cause of the problems and if the issue needs to be fixed. 

The vehicle won’t crank due to a faulty starter

  • Model years affected: 1990 to 2015
  • Average mileage: 150,392  
  • Starter replacement cost: $316 – $427

Older cars can be hard to start, and one of the most common causes of this issue is the starter. The starter is used to crank the engine, getting it turning until it catches and begins running on its own. Starters typically last about 10 years and over 100,000 miles but can wear out sooner. 

If the starter malfunctions or goes out completely, it must be replaced. In most cases, this is a reasonably inexpensive repair costing less than $500.  

Reports of daytime running light problems

A white Toyota Corolla Hybrid, which is the best small car under $30,000.
2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
  • Model years affected: 1993 to 2015
  • Average mileage: 133,863 
  • Headlight bulb replacement cost: $73 -$85

Another common problem is with the headlights or daytime running lights. On most Corollas made between 1993 and 2015, the headlights and daytime running lights are the same. The most likely issue is a burned-out headlight bulb which can be easily replaced. The headlight bulb itself usually costs less than $20. If a repair shop replaces it, the cost typically ranges from $73 to $85 between the part and labor. 

How bad are these common problems for the Toyota Corolla? 

The most common Toyota Corolla problems on RepairPal’s list are fairly minor in terms of cost or severity. They aren’t exactly what most would call deal breakers. Even the problems with the automatic transmission shifting correctly are relatively inexpensive compared to a transmission rebuild or replacement.   

On average, the cars suffering these issues all have over 100,000 miles and are at least six years old. That’s a real testament to the reliability and longevity of the Corolla. The saying that “50,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong” can also be said about the Toyota Corolla because of its popularity.  


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