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.
Top Issues with the Toyota Corolla: 9th Generation (2002 to 2008)
1. Master Cylinder Failure
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
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
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
9th Generation Toyota Corolla Model Years
- 2002 Toyota Corolla
- 2003 Toyota Corolla
- 2004 Toyota Corolla
- 2005 Toyota Corolla
- 2006 Toyota Corolla
- 2007 Toyota Corolla
- 2008 Toyota Corolla
- Why Is There Moisture in My Headlight?
- What Type of Headlights Do I Have?
- How Long Do Headlights Last?
- Signs of a Bad Starter
- What Starters Are, the Different Types, and How They Work
- Timing Belts Vs. Timing Chains