Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.

10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
10,137 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Toyota Corolla exhaust system problems

exhaust system problem

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2003 Toyota Corolla Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #30

May 102005

Corolla

  • 50,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I purchase my Toyota pre-owned with 46,000 miles on it odometer. A short while after the purchase the engine light came on. I called the car dealership to find out why the engine light was on. The agent stated that my gas cap may not be tight enough. I tightened my gas cap and the light when off for about 20 minutes. It never caused any problems in the performance of the car. However, when I went to get it smogged for the first time, it would not pass smog. The mechanic at the Toyota dealership stated that it needed a catalytic converter and that it would cost around $1,800 to replace. Therefore, I had to go the referee to get a 2 year waiver on my smog. I am a single mom with 2 special needs kids, I cannot go without a car. My car will be going on the next year soon. I would like to know if there is any funding to help with repairs when the problem is due to manufacturing defects. I know that this is a factory issue because I have read many complaints from other Toyota customers who have had the same exact problem with the same model year car.

- Njipomo, CA, USA

problem #29

Mar 052007

Corolla

  • 80,000 miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6) purchased 2003, Toyota, Corolla, VIN: [xxx] with daughter. Veh was purchased from Toyota of orange in ca. Two days later a hit and run driver forced veh to skid across five lanes on interstate 10 in Ontario, ca, and landed atop center divider. The vehicle was sent to repair shop and "repaired" after approximately 5-8 months. However, the car was never properly repaired, and I complained to both Toyota, and to the insurance company, allstate, but Toyota adamantly stated the veh was without problems. The car was continually in the shop for the brakes. Eventually the carpet caused the accelerator to become stuck and the car went out of control. I was forced to reach down while the car moving and pull the carpet with both hands to release the accelerator. Stepping on the brakes did not help. Neither Toyota repair nor allstate would help resolve our complaints since 2003, we were simply told that the veh was fine. Additionally I believe the frame is bent, lack of interlocking brakes causing skids, brakes are soft and drop to floor, and poor steering column. This car is dangerous and is impossible to drive without involving near miss accident episodes. The car skids if going as little as 5-10 miles per hour. I offered to give the car away to anyone who was willing to investigate my complaints, all to no avail. I just recently learned that one of the problems I heard in the brand new car was a hole in the exhaust system. Toyota continually denied this for 5-6 years, then by accident a very young newly employed staff at Toyota of orange, informed us that our complaint about loud air sounding noise was a hole in the exhaust, which had been continually making the noise, and burning of eyes (migraines). The brakes were repaired every 2-4 months or less until I just reported less frequently. The car is now no longer under warranty. Currently it needs some brakes, rotors, drums, calipers, and shocks as always.

- Aliso Viejo, CA, USA

problem #28

Aug 142009

Corolla

  • miles
I purchased a used 2003 Corolla. Vehicle came with all service records and it had been well maintained. I also checked all fluids. Mileage was 133,065 at the time I purchased it. I thought this was good because Toyota are suppose to last forever, right? a week after I bought it I noticed a knocking in the engine. I checked the oil and it was out. I have to put 3-4 quarts of oil in my car every 7-8 days. It does not leak, it burns it. The engine needs to be replaced. The emissions light stays on and I have also lost a hubcap cover. I've noticed that every other 03 Corolla I pass on road is also missing at least one. After reading the complaints on here, I am very concerned and know I will never by Toyota again.

- Taylors, SC, USA

problem #27

Sep 152009

Corolla

  • miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The check engine light came on, the diagnostic said it was the O2 sensor which was replaced. The light went out and came back on again the next day. A mechanic checked it and said it was the catalytic converter. I read where catalytic converters don't go bad by themselves, therefore the problem has to stem from a manufactures defect and we should not have to pay for continual repairs.

- Lithia Springs, GA, USA

problem #26

Apr 012009

Corolla

  • 90,000 miles
2003- Toyota Corolla - check engine light came on about 2 years ago and was reset, just recently came on in April 2009 and not the catalytic converter needs to be replaced. Currently has 119,000 miles on it and needs to have the catalytic converter replaced.

- Norwalk , CT, USA

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problem #25

Feb 252008

Corolla 4-cyl

  • 59,000 miles
I bought my 2003 Toyota Corolla from a Toyota dealership, took it home, and it began stinking like rotten eggs. I called the service department and they told me to buy more expensive gas that contains less sulfur. Four years of buying expensive gasoline, and I find out my catalytic converter has burned up and I need a new one for $1200. I found out that catalytic converters can be damaged if fuel is being mixed to richly, evident by a sulfur smell. I began researching this and found a Toyota technical bulletin (www.autosafety.org/Toyota%2003-04%20corolla%20catalyst.pdf) that states my specific model 2003 Corolla had a manufacturers error all along. The ECM was set incorrectly to mix fuel too richly, and that if a customer complains of an excessive sulfur smell, the ECM and catalytic converter should have been changed under warranty! the catalytic converter failed while I was still under a 60,000miles warranty, however I was on vacation in California, and called a local Toyota dealership service department, they told me my warranty did not cover the system, so I waited to get it fixed. The check engine light went off after returning to Colorado, and didn't come back on for 15,000 miles. At 85,000 miles, I finally took my car to be fixed by a dealership in denver. Afterward, I found out about the Toyota bulletin, and an "emissions warranty" that would have covered the problem up to 8yrs or 80,000 miles. Now, Toyota refuses to pay for the work to fix the real ECM problem, because I found out 5000 miles after this secret warranty ran out that the Toyota service department was lying to me or incompetent! if you search online, there is a plethora of other Toyota consumers whom were lied to about the cause of this problem! this excessively rich mixing of fuel leads to defective catalytic converters.

- Littleton, CO, USA

problem #24

Nov 012005

Corolla

  • Manual transmission
  • miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Consumer complaint regarding fumes entering through the air vents. *** no answer required*** updated 11/7/2005 - the consumer has had this problem since the vehicle was purchased new. The manufacturer instructed the consumer to take the vehicle to the dealer. The vehicle was taken to the dealer several times but they refused to fix the vehicle stating that fumes entering the vehicle was normal.

- Fort Washington, MD, USA

problem #23

Jan 012003

Corolla

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Fumes entering the inside of the vehicle through air vents. This problem is with the vehicle from the beginning when it was bought new and until now. The manufacturers instructions were to bring vehicle to dealers. Vehicle was brought to dealers for repair but dealers could not fix the defect.

- Fort Washington, MD, USA

problem #22

May 062005

(reported on)

Corolla

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Toyota Corolla heating system emits a rotten odor when activated. Since purchase of vehicle when the heating system is on there is an intermittent sulfur (rotten egg) odor emitted. Consumer stated, thought this was something that would eventually burn off, but it continues to happen. Was told by dealers to change gasoline, but this has not solved the problem.

- Oak Lawn, IL, USA

problem #21

Dec 202004

Corolla

  • miles
Rotten egg smell and many structural defects in this car.

- Springfield, MO, USA

problem #20

Apr 262003

Corolla 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 362 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Since leasing my 2003 Toyota Corolla in March of 2003, I have experienced a rotten egg smell whenever the car is used. I brought it to the dealer (plaza auto mall) where I leased it from to have it checked out on 4/26/03. Technician found "no problems, everything operating normally at this time". on 6/2/04 I called Toyota customer assistance and explained the foul odor smell. I was told the problem stems from a gasoline issue and that new Toyota are so efficenient at burning fuel that they also burn up contaminants in the fuel that were normally released into the atmosphere. They in turn forwarded my complaint to corporate customer relations.(complaint #200306020751) on 6/3/03 my dealership called to explain again what I had been told by customer relations and that there was nothing they could do at this time. He suggested trying a different brand of gas which I have done several times with no success with the foul odor smell.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #19

Mar 152002

Corolla

  • Manual transmission
  • 100 miles
This model is a 2003 bought in March 2002. There a strong smell of sulphur/rotten egg when engine cold or car climbs a hill. Duration about 5 minutes. Toyota's explanation: It is caused by the sulphur in gas, problem will vanish over time, no remedy exists, catalytic converter build as per specs and standards. The smell persists today a year and a half later. Any technical reasons you know, anything that Toyota could do and is not doing ? thanks

- Montreal, UN, USA

problem #18

Jan 152003

Corolla

  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
My wife purchased a 2003 Toyota Corolla. She purchased it because of its implied economy. But despite the owner's manual claims that the car can use 87 octane or higher, such is not the case. In two words, rotten eggs. In two other words, hydrogen sulfide. As we decelerate to a stop light or sign, if the windows are open, or the ventilation system is set to intake outside air, the odor of rotten eggs is overpowering. (note that if the airflow pattern control is turned to either partial or total windshield defrost, the control will automatically enforce fresh, outside air intake.) when I took it to the dealer, the service manager didn't bat an eyelash. Just opened a drawer and pulled out a sheet of paper which states that tmc assumes no responsibility for the problem, and will do nothing to remedy it. The paper further suggests that I should change brands of gasoline (we had already tried that) or change to a higher grade of gasoline. The dealer refused to write up the problem on a report. I can attest, the rotten egg odor doesn't abate if 87 octane fuel is used - even amoco which purports to be better than the rest. Searching these topics via google, I found a discussion suggesting that the cause was/is a catalytic converter running too hot - probably due to its proximity to the exhaust manifold. Sure enough, this vehicle has the first catalytic converter (there are two, in tandem) is coupled directly to the exhaust manifold. Further, there is no room to move the unit back, and, since the entire exhaust system is welded, any modifications to it would probably negate my warranty. My '88 Corolla uses the same 87 octane fuels, from the same brands (that we've tried on the '03 Corolla) and does not have this problem. Consumers deserve a better product than this. My son's '02 Honda civic doesn't seem to have this problem. Why should we - and our fellow road users behind us and to the sides of us - be forced to tolerate this deplorable stench?

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #17

Nov 152002

Corolla

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,500 miles
Purchased car new on 10/4/02. Within a month noticed a very significant sulfar odor expecially when coming to a stop at traffic lights particularly when the engine is cold. I have taken it to the dealer twice and they tell me that nothing is wrong. Their explanation is that some gas stations put additives in their gas that create this odor.. they have done nothing further to solve this problem.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #16

Aug 152002

Corolla

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,000 miles
Rotten egg smell- poor gas mileage (29 mpg- mostly highway/interstate) we have a problem with a rotten egg smell. We have complained and were told the following: 1) there's nothing wrong- it operating correctly. 2) you're running the wrong type of gas (we've tried all types) 3) you need to run the car on recirculation all the time so that you won't smell it.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #15

Sep 212002

Corolla 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100 miles
(1) rotten-egg smell from day 1 (purchased 9/2002) w/ cooling or heating system function. Dealer told me to switch octane and do not use recirculation - no improvement. (2) in 11/2003, daytime running lights came on in middle of night, drained battery. Dealer said tsb had been released - part ordered & installed to correct problem. (3) in 1/2004, leaking oil from under car, right front passenger's side - dealer said right front strut leaking & "completely blown." Had to be replaced & car required subsequent alignment.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #14

Aug 012003

Corolla 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I own a 2003 Toyota Corolla le that emits a rotten egg smell when the engine is on and the car is idling.

- Centreville, VA, USA

problem #13

Nov 282003

Corolla 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
Consumer stated while driving at any speed smelled strong chemical fumes. Dealer inspected vehicle and could not duplicate or correct the problem.

- Potomac, MD, USA

problem #12

Nov 122003

Corolla

  • miles
Have noticed a strong sulfur/rotten egg smell from the exhaust that enters the inside of the car. I took it to the dealer and was told to change my brand of gas. No changes have been noticed.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #11

Nov 102003

Corolla 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Car emits a rotten egg smell while at idle when heater is on.

- Decatur, GA, USA

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