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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
95,378 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Toyota Corolla Owner Comments

problem #11

Jul 152011


  • 151,000 miles


Manual transmission must be rebuilt due to bearing failure (input shaft).

- Cleveland, GA, USA

problem #10

Jun 012011

Corolla 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 93,205 miles
140 000 km on board and the manual transmission is gone on my Corolla 2003.

- Quebec, 00, USA

problem #9

Dec 032010


  • 126,000 miles
I purchased this car used in 2006 with 76,000 mostly highway miles on it. I trusted the reputation of Toyota and thought I got a good deal on a dependable car that would last me until at least 200,000 miles with regular maintenance. This car currently has 126,000 miles on it. Last Friday, after getting off the highway, I noticed the gears/transmission running a little louder than usual. During the next 7 residential miles home, the gears/transmission continued to sound louder and more grinding in nature. By the time I arrived home, the car would not go into reverse. I took it to the dealership the next morning and learned that the transmission had failed and I would need a new one. After a little online research, I read that more than a few people had replaced with rebuilt transmissions only to have the rebuilt one fail. I chose to purchase a new transmission (at least it's under warranty for 3 years/36,000 miles) along with a new clutch and other accessories to the tune of $3,500. When I asked how my dependable little Toyota could possibly have a transmission failure, the service man told me something about the clutch beginning to show some wear, causing some parts (bearings?) to get into the transmission and wreak havoc. All I know is that I no longer associate Toyota with dependability.

- Cleveland Heights, OH, USA

problem #8

Aug 101976

Corolla 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles


2003 Toyota Corolla le with only 120,000 miles needs new manual transmission at the cost of $3800 for a rebuilt transmission. Car was making loud grinding noise when shifting and having convulsions which forced us to get off the highway and onto the emergency lane. There were no previous "warning signs" this was going to happen. All warranty maintenance has been kept up to date on this vehicle at the right time. Toyota needs to issue a recall on these transmissions since they now seem to be more and more a common problem amongst this particular model year Corolla.

- Cambridge, MA, USA

problem #7

Dec 172009

Corolla 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
2003 Toyota Corolla. Consumer writes regarding filing complaint with Toyota corporation for headlights melting and entire assembly needing to be replaced the consumer stated the driver and passenger side door would not unlock when she tried to use the remote. The dealer had to dismantle the door panel and install a new lock device. The transmission had to be replaced due to faulty work on the part of Toyota. The driver and passenger headlights continued to go out, until finally, the consumer had to pay to have the entire electrical portion of the headlights replaced.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #6

Aug 052010


  • 77,600 miles
While driving my car made a weird noise as I got on the freeway. Car was screaming until I got off of freeway. Parked the car and called aaa. Car would not go into reverse. Tow truck driver had trouble pushing car out of parking space. Got to transmission shop and car would not back off of tow truck. Transmission shop took apart transmission and states the pinion bearing went bad and that the vehicle had locked in 5th gear. They stated that the bearings have been known to go bad in Toyota's manual transmissions and rebuilt my transmission with a new aftermarket bearing kit. Repairs cost approximately $1800.

- Redding, CA, USA

problem #5

Mar 282010


  • 150,456 miles


Manual transmission failed on my 2003 Toyota Corolla and locked up. I have replaced the transmission already and it is my second transmission and is my second incident. It locks up and comes to a sudden stop.

- Palmdale, CA, USA

problem #4

Jan 012009


  • 130,000 miles
2003 Toyota Corolla transmission went out just like several other people with this model. Toyota should be responsible for this problem. To replace it will cost over $3000. I have owned 2 Toyota previous and never had problems like this.

- Diana, TX, USA

problem #3

Sep 062008


  • 63,900 miles
Vehicle lost power when exiting one highway to enter another. In addition, a loud sound started to come from the engine compartment. Moved vehicle out of traffic and drove very slowly. Prior to failure there were some sounds from the transmission but no loss of power or trouble getting the vehicle into to gear. Considered it lucky that the transmission did not seize up in the middle of traffic and cause an accident. I was able to drive the vehicle, slowly, to a repair facility before some of the gears became inoperable. Mechanic is in the process of replacing the transmission, there are many reports of transmission failures for 2003 5 speed manual transmissions on the internet, especially in Canada. Most failures are occurring after the warranty period expires but under 100,000 miles. My mechanic is saving the old transmission.

- East Setauket, NY, USA

problem #2

Jun 152005

Corolla 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 137,000 miles
Transmission went out, according to repair shop was defect from company. Less than 115 miles later the engine goes. According to service manager and master technician, engine looked great and could find no problem until discovered the cylinder head was warped and was a "common problem". engine and transimission gone within 115 miles of each other.

- Greenville, GA, USA

problem #1

Jun 042002

Corolla 4WD

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
The problem is. When I start my car I "must" press on the clutch very hard ( all the way inwards ) in order to start the car. I never had this problem with my previous manual transmission cars.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

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