6 Common 9th Gen Corolla Problems

9th Gen corolla

The Toyota Corolla is a popular model that has existed for a long time. While Toyota is known for its reliability, every car model has its own common problems, including the 9th gen Corolla. Here are the top problems with the 9th generation Toyota Corolla, years 2002 to 2008.

Fix your 9th gen Toyota Corolla yourself with quality auto parts at 1aauto.com

Top Issues with the Toyota Corolla: 9th Generation (2002 to 2008)

1. Master Cylinder Failure

Master cylinder

Symptoms of Master Cylinder Failure

  • Low brake pedal/spongy brake pedal
  • Low responsiveness when pressing the brake pedal

Causes of Master Cylinder Failure

The master cylinder is located underneath the hood, and it contains the brake fluid. Sometimes the parts in the master cylinder clog and can prevent pressure from reaching the brakes. The push rod in between the master cylinder and the brake booster can also fail or may not have been adjusted when replacing the master cylinder. If the push rod has not been adjusted before installing the new master cylinder, there will not be proper adjustment on the brakes.

How to Fix Master Cylinder Failure

Replace the master cylinder if it’s defective. With the master cylinder off, adjust the push rod.

2. Timing Chain Tensioner

Symptoms of a Bad Timing Chain Tensioner

  • Rattling noise near the timing chain, underneath the valve cover

Causes of a Bad Timing Chain Tensioner

The timing chain tensioner uses oil pressure to work. An oil leak can reduce the oil pressure. Lower oil pressure makes it harder for the timing chain tensioner to work, which can manifest as a rattling noise.

How to Fix a Bad Timing Chain Tensioner

The timing chain tensioner is located in the engine on the passenger side at the rear of the engine. It is held on by the nuts and the plate that can be seen from outside the engine. If the tensioner is not fixed, it can cause internal damage to the engine.

Purchase a new timing chain tensioner like an install kit on 1aauto.com, install a new timing chain tensioner, and complete an oil change once finished.

3. Variable Valve Timing Issues

Symptoms of VVT Issues

  • Engine idle issues like high RPMs or a rattling noise

Causes of VVT Issues and Idle Problems on the 2002 to 2008 Toyota Corolla

VVT timing issues can fluctuate the revolutions per minute (RPMs) at idle. A drain plug can clog if maintenance/oil changes are not kept up.

How to Fix VVT Issues

VVT solenoid is on the front side of the engine on the passenger side.

Steps for fixing Variable Valve Timing Issues on the 9th Gen Corolla

  1. Check the Oil Condition and Level

    – Park the vehicle on level ground and let the vehicle sit to let oil collect at the bottom of the engine
    – Remove the oil dipstick
    – Clean the dipstick
    – Reinsert the dipstick
    – Check that the oil level is between the high and low markers
    – See if the oil condition is an amber color like in the picture below. Oil in bad condition will be dark brown or black.

  2. Check the Drain Plug Near the VVT Solenoid

    Access the drain plug near the VVT solenoid, which looks like a bolt. Remove it and confirm the oil can seep out. Remove the screen and clean it. If there is oil deposits or metal debris, replace the screen.

    Change the oil and see if the car runs better. If the screen is in good condition, change the oil and see if the engine runs better.

  3. Test the VVT Solenoid

    If the engine doesn’t run better, you can test the VVT solenoid by adding power or ground to it and seeing if the engine stalls out, but this is a detailed diagnosis problem.

  4. Inspect the Camshaft

    If the VVT solenoid is in good condition, the next step is to inspect the camshaft.

4. Starter Failure

Symptoms of Starting Problems on the 2002 to 2008 Toyota Corolla

  • Engine not starting or clicking/clunking when trying to start
  • Whirring noise, which can be heard at 6:13 in the video above, that appears after the engine starts

Causes of a Bad Starter

Bendix drive in a starter
Bendix drive in a starter

The starter won’t usually have a problem until after driving 100,000 miles, but they commonly fail on the 9th gen Corolla and won’t start the engine. If there is an issue with the starter solenoid, power will not get to the starter. If there is a whirring noise after the engine starts, the Bendix drive in the starter is beginning to wear.

How to Fix a Bad Starter

Temporary Fix: Tap the Starter with a Hammer

Have an assistant start the vehicle and tap the starter with a hammer, which might fix it. This should start the vehicle temporarily, but a new starter needs to be installed to fix the problem permanently.

Replace the Starter

Check the wiring for green corrosion or build-up that could cause an issue with power. If the starter is defective, replace it.

5. EVAP System Leak

Symptoms of EVAP System Issues

Check engine light for EVAP codes like code P0456

Causes of EVAP System Issues

Charcoal canister on a 9th gen Toyota Corolla
Charcoal canister

If the gas cap is in good condition, usually the charcoal canister on the 9th gen 2002 to 2008 Corolla fails.

How to Fix EVAP Systems Issues

First, fix the gas cap’s condition. Remove the gas cap and inspect the gas cap seal for dry rotting, cracking, looseness, or torn and missing pieces. Replace the gas cap if the seal is bad or it has trouble tightening.

The charcoal canister is underneath the car on the driver rear side. Check the charcoal canister hoses for damage like cracking or tearing. Disconnect the lines and check for moisture and debris. If the issues persists, and the other parts are in good condition, replace the charcoal canister.

6. Cloudy Headlights

Cloudy headlights on a 9th gen Corolla
Cloudy headlights on a 9th gen Corolla

Symptoms of Cloudy or Worn Headlights

  • Headlights are cloudy

Causes of Worn Headlights

The headlights can cloud overtime from condensation. This can diminish the amount of light emitted.

How to Fix Cloudy Headlights

Headlights can be restored, but we recommend replacing the headlights if they are cloudy and don’t light up the road as well.

Fix Your Own 9th Gen Corolla

Fix and inspect your own 9th gen Toyota Corolla and other makes and models with install videos on 1aauto.com covering many repairs and diagnostics.

9th Generation Toyota Corolla Model Years

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The Most Common 9th Gen Corolla Problems | (2002 to 2008)
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The Most Common 9th Gen Corolla Problems | (2002 to 2008)
This post reviews the most common problems with Toyota's 9th gen Corolla, years 2002 to 2008, like starting and idle problems.
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1A Auto
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