Print this page Notes: There must have been something in the water at the plant where they built the eighth generation Corollas, especially the 1998 and 1999 model years.

Outside of airbag problems being reported to NHTSA, this is about as dependable a car as you’ll find. But good luck finding one; owners say they want a new car, but can’t justify trading in their Corolla because the darn thing just keeps rolling.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
120,850 miles
Total Complaints:
11 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (8 reports)
  2. 25 % marvel mystery oil with shell rotella t (1 reports)
  3. need new pistons and rings; wrong size from Toyota (1 reports)
  4. new engine (1 reports)
1998 Toyota Corolla engine problems

engine problem

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1998 Toyota Corolla Owner Comments

problem #11

Oct 212012

Corolla VE

  • Manual transmission
  • 54,000 miles


Bought this 1998 Corolla brand new, has less than 55,000 miles and now suddenly has no oil reading on the dip stick. No signs of anything else wrong, doesn't leak any oil, no lights on dash board, runs fine even up steep hills. Maybe I shouldn't complain this car has never had repairs. Just change the oil every 3,000 mile and drive, also gets good mileage. I expected to drive this car forever, still looks new inside and out including the engine. I am very disappointed that it may be time to put her out to pasture or constantly check the oil. I couldn't believe the oil stick was completely dry until I read all the complaints. Just wanted to add my corolla to the list of mysterious oil eaters. Wish Toyota would do something about this problem, our large family all own toyota but will share this information and discourage buying anymore.

- Mary I., Bereea, KY, US

problem #10

Jun 132012

Corolla CE 1,8 V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,137 miles

I recently bought a corolla as my first car, as toyota has ran in the family for generations and i wanted to carry on the tradition with the name held high. But to my surprise i started running into a lot of issues with the car, and one right after the other. the car had about 170,000 KM on it when i started having issues with it sounding bad and running horribly. i chalked it up to the owners before me driving it into the ground. So i went ahead with a full motor transplant - personally participated in- then the trans went on it, so 3000 grand in parts and all she has a new motor and trans with only 50,000K each. Until it started burning oil faster then on open pit of flames. I have yet to uncover the issue at hand, but i do know the motor is the normal 1,8 V4, and it came out of a 2000. from what i have read it seems that the oil is simply disappearing into thin air. although I can see why this issue should be addressed by toyota, or at least looked into the the least they could do is give the loyal toyota owners a cheaper and better solution to this apparently reoccurring issue that troubles so many!

- ghost, Kingston, Ontario, canada

problem #9

Sep 012011

Corolla VE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

When the car was sold to me, I was never told about the oil problem. Make a long story short, there is no smoke coming out of the exhaust, and NO LEAKS. I'm almost positive it has to do with the pistons, and reading others' complaints have reaffirmed my beliefs. I spent $600 total taking it to 3 different mechanics and no one has fixed it!!!! Grrr! Don't buy this car. It's such a pain in the butt. I have to check the oils every two days or so. When I drive for 45 min for my commute and back home, it takes half a quart. I'm buying oil almost like I'm buying gas. It sucks.

- samantha b., Fort Lauderdale, FL, US

problem #8

Jan 012010

Corolla 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles


Toyota knows that the supplier made the pistons too small and put larger rings on to compensate. At about 60 to 90k they rings fail and the oil seems to disappear - no leak and no smoke, but takes a quart every 800 miles. Many complaints on line but Toyota acts like they never heard of this problem.

- Joyce B., Woodstock, GA, US

problem #7

Apr 142010

Corolla DE 1.6L

  • Manual transmission
  • 210,000 miles

I love Corollas, but after 1997, they just seem to have gone downhill. This 98 ran fine until last April. I heard, what sounded like a little snap from the engine and then the #3 cylinder started leaking oil. Currently, it's leaking about 1/2 quart every 300 miles.

I highly recommend avoiding any Corolla manufactured between 1998 and 2002 - I understand that this is a common problem in these cars, along with the oil seal on the timing chain.

- shadeclan, Bennington, VT, US

problem #6

Mar 012005

Corolla CE 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

These cars are so overpriced yet all burn oil at extreme rates. about 1 quart per week.

there's no point on fixing it. all engine have this. Just check oil level frequently.

- ichakad, Buford, GA, US

problem #5

Jul 012009

Corolla VE 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 183,000 miles


The 1998 Toyota Corolla VE had the oil consumption problem when I bought it from a private party in July of 2009 with 183,000 miles on it. The oil problem was not revealed to me. It uses 1 quart of oil every 60 miles. I'm guessing it needs piston rings, but I'm not sure. Based on what I've been reading, it seems a waste of money to have a garage repair or replace the engine because the problem will just happen again. So why are these Toyota Corolla's supposed to be so popular (best selling car in the world and fifth best selling car in the US)? The car originally got 36 mpg. It now gets 25 to 30 mpg. I'd guess it needs piston rings, but I'm not sure.

- David K., Hartford, WI, US

problem #4

May 052003

Corolla LE 1.8L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

The engine knocks when cold and quiets down as it warms up. It seems to be a common problem along with the oil burning. This engine has issues with the pistons and their rings. The car now has 120,000 miles and oil usage varies between 1000-1500 miles per quart. I am running Shell Rotella and so far have used about a pint in 700 miles. On hard acceleration I can smell burnt oil and see blue smoke in the rear view mirror. In normal driving no oil smell or smoke. Does soot up the tailpipe though.

The exhaust has a leak up front, most likely the doughnut gasket. Another common Corolla problem. The car is cheap transportation, I keep the oil up and do the usual upkeep such as spark plugs and fluids/filters. The only repairs it has needed were the cup holder and the turn signal flasher. Car runs exceptionally well but uses a little more gas than before, probably the O2 sensor as I can smell exhaust that's like that from a lawnmower. Stuff like that lasts me practically forever, my snowblower started on the first pull after sitting all year. Weedeaters, stereos, computers etc for me outlast most other people's.

Update from Jan 10, 2010: I had some improvement in oil useage with the Marvel Mystery Oil both in the crankcase (1 quart out of 4), a top cleaning with Marvel, and Shell Rotella T. So far in 1100 miles I've used a pint or so which is respectable. I still smell oil smoke with hard acceleration but at 121,000 miles it's not brand spanking new anymore.

- nivicoman, Warren, MI, US

problem #3

May 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

Same as my buddy in Gainsville, Florida... it consumes oil at an alarming rate. Other problems besides needing to stay on top of that.

- Sean F., Portland, OR, US

problem #2

Sep 062008

Corolla Corolla 1.6sr

  • Manual transmission
  • 114,000 miles

i was driving along on a Saturday night when noticed ticking engine sound.... thought it was from the low petrol (dirt at bottom of fuel tank) unfortunately it wasn't... the next morning going round a corner the oil light came on.... the noice persisted on the way home from work that day so i said i better get oil refilled and engine sorted out... long story short the mechanic said my engine is gone,,,, in disbelieve i brought it to another mechanic... broken piston more than likely or the main crankshaft... engine is a right off... this hurt me and left me speechless as my car is my pride and joy... my insurance wont cover it so now what do i do.... pay 450 for an engine for it and try to fit an engine myself... pay like 2000 to get it fixed by toyota or do i crash it into a wall and make the insurance company give me a new car but pay it back to them over the next few years in insurance.... now what do i do though... will it run with this knocking noise for 1 mile or 1 thousand miles please help me!

- scannell, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland

problem #1

Jan 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Consumes one quart of oil every two weeks. Can not find a leak. Do not see blue smoke.

- Mark C., Gainesville, FL, US

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