really awful
Crashes / Fires:
6 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
44,290 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Toyota Corolla Owner Comments

problem #13

Mar 092012


  • 153,000 miles


The contact owned a 2003 Toyota Corolla S. the contact was in a crash. The contact stated that while attempting to stop the vehicle, after driving approximately 30 mph, the brake pedal and steering wheel seized. The contact lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the vehicle in front. A police report was filed. There were no injuries. The vehicle was destroyed. Neither the dealer nor the manufacturer were notified of the failure. The failure and current mileages were 153,000.

- Statesboro, GA, USA

problem #12

Jun 252010


  • 180,000 miles
Exactly appearance as in consumer complaint: ODI case number: 10311317. I am writing to let people know that I have resolved an issue myself because I know that nether dealership nor private mechanics would not have sufficient time to properly troubleshoot an issue. I would guess that there is a design flaw in tolerances between guides of brake pads and cylinder slots. Pads are too tight sitting in cylinder, causing excessive force to brake and getting them almost get stacked close to rotor. This causing uneven rotor worming, vibration and humming sound. It is really dangerous. Using grinder I have reduced the size of pad guides. 2 minutes of work. Issue is gone and never recurred.

- N/A, 00, USA

problem #11

Jun 122010


  • miles
2003 Toyota Corolla sedan brakes VIN# [xxx] brakes are surging forward. Have taken to mechanic garage and twice to Toyota dealer and nothing can be identified. Brake issue happens once a week or every so many miles. Very dangerous when driving as there is no indication as to when or where this will happen. All of a sudden when stopping the car at a stop sign or red light car jumps forward. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #10

Feb 172010


  • 104,000 miles


My daughter was driving our 2003 Toyota Corolla this morning when she reported that the cars brakes didn't appear to work properly. This resulted in a property damage crash into a guardrail. It was a frontal crash into a guardrail at low to moderate speed, the airbags didn't deploy.

- Troy, NY, USA

problem #9

Jun 012007


  • miles
I bought a brand new Toyota Corolla 2003 model in Nov 2002. Around a year and a half ago, it started producing an unusual sound whenever I hit the brakes. It has since progressed from a barely audible (except to the driver) "knocking" sound to, at some point, a very nerve-wracking "the car is going to break apart" kind of sound whenever the brakes were applied. I called the dealer to check if it was a common complaint and they said they never heard of a similar case. I also asked a former Toyota mechanic, now running his own private shop, to look at the problem; his only answer was that it was a common complaint for Corollas from 2003, since they re-designed the car that year. Even his own assistant mechanic had a later Toyota Corolla with the exact same issue, and they have given up trying to fix the problem. I have had several mechanics assess the sound, open up the brakes, recommend and changed pads, even rotors. The sound disappears when the brakes have been newly "opened" and taken down for cleaning, but after a week or so, the sounds return, although the mechanics have repeatedly told me that the car brakes work well and are safe. But don't the sounds indicate a problem in the brake system maybe? I only write now because of a news item this morning that said Toyota plans to recall Corollas for a brake-related problem.

- Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #8

Jun 132007

Corolla 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
The rear brakes on my 2003 Corolla have been replaced several times within the last 6 months and had been adjusted. Still when you brake, it still making a grinding noise. Pads have been change several times and temporarily the grinding noise will go away and after about 3-4 weeks it returns. About 2 months ago someone fixed the problem, now its back again.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #7

Jan 122007

Corolla 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Vehicles infront of me stepped on brakes suddenly. I applied my brakes with no response. Tapped several times again and tried holding down with no response again. Tried to swerve into suicide lane to avoid hitting car that was 30 yards in front of me and was forced to hit car as vehicle would not stop or even slow down. Brakes completely failed.

- Ballwin, MO, USA

problem #6

Jul 012005

Corolla 4-cyl

  • 29,919 miles
I bought a 2003 Toyota Corolla from a certified car dealership, and was sold a car that was involved in a major accident and was not reported. The whole front of the car has none of the original parts to the car which depreciated the value of the car, but it was still sold to me as slightly used in great condition, low mileage and suppose to have never been in an any accidents, I also found out the this car did not pass inspection at the time of purchase, I had to bring the car back to the dealership numerous times starting five days after I bought it. I tried giving the car back and they said that there is nothing that they could do because the contract is already signed, and because of the extensive damages to the car they will only give $6,000 for the car when in fact they sold it to me for over $15,000.

- Jamaica, NY, USA

problem #5

Jan 072006

Corolla 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles
On January 7, 2006 at about 2:30 a.M. my daughter, [xxx] drove back home to san mateo from santa cruz in a Toyota Corolla le of 2003 with a[xxx] and [xxx]. as she drove on highway 17 near san jose she tried to step on the foot brake to maintain safety control at the speed limit of 35 miles per hour while going down the winding slope. However the car seemed to have no brake and started spinning with the left side of the front first hit the central concrete divider then the tail also hit the divider and the car finally stopped. No third party was injured and no property was damaged with the exception that my daughter got some bruises on her left thigh and the car ended up with a total loss. My daughter then unbuckled herself from the car seat and called the police with her cell phone through which she was advised to call a tow truck. When the tow truck arrived at the scene the driver said to my daughter that the car got no brake and he had to put additional chains and stoppers to secure the car while towing. Surprisingly none of the airbags in the car was deployed in the accident. According to my records, the car was fully serviced by the dealer, Toyota 101 in redwood city just a couple of months ago and as recent as a week ago that I had the car's engine belt changed also by Toyota 101 before the accident occurred. In view of the foregoing I suspect that there must be some defect in the car safety system including the airbags and foot brake. I and my insurance adjuster tried to contact the manager of Toyota 101 by phone for numerous times but to no avail. I sincerely hope that your department can help and bring this matter to the attention of Toyota 101 who should be responsible for such an incident due to the defect. Updated 07/17/2012 information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6)

- San Mateo, CA, USA

problem #4

Nov 262004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,950 miles
Brakes malfunctioned. Consumer was concerned since the brakes failed once before, causing a rear end collision.

- Oakland Gardens, NY, USA

problem #3

Sep 232003

(reported on)


  • miles


2003 Toyota Corolla had excessive brake dust from day 1. the brakes and rotors were out by 15K miles. (the consumer owned the vehicle for only 6 months.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #2

Oct 202003

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 900 miles
Brake shoes, rotors and pads had to be replaced due to premature wear.

- Kingshill, VI, USA

problem #1

Jan 142003


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Rear-end accident resulting from insufficient braking ability of 2003 Toyota Corolla le, purchased in April 2002. During a normal morning commute to work, I was involved in a slow-speed accident, in which I "rear-ended" the vehicle in front of me, when traffic abruptly stopped in front of me. Prior to braking, traffic in my lane, was traveling at approximately 25-30 mph and I had ~2-2.5 "car lengths spacing between myself and the front vehicle. When the traffic in front suddenly stopped, I also immediately applied full pressure on my brake pedal. However, the braking system of my 2003 Toyota Corolla le was insufficient to stop the vehicle and prevent collision with the vehicle in front of me, resulting in $2700 in damage to my vehicle and subsequently higher insurance rates for myself, for failing to avoid the accident. Since I had Toyota repair the Corolla, I also requested they check the braking system. They stated that all the damage was strictly cosmetic and that they found nothing wrong with the brakes (as I expected they would). However, even at lower speed of 10-20 mph, I find that my 2003 Toyota Corolla takes considerable longer to come to a complete stop (under normal braking force) than I've come to expect from any previously driven vehicle (during 24 years as a licensed driver). Note: The exact date of the accident is approximate.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

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