really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
133,165 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Toyota Corolla Owner Comments

problem #11

Mar 182016


  • 135,000 miles


While driving the car, noticed bad smell. Stopped and came out from the vechicle and it started on fire from the engine compartment.

- Sparks, NV, USA

problem #10

Oct 082015


  • 152,000 miles
Catalytic converter failed and replaced by dealership under service campaign at 69,811 miles has now failed again at 152,000 miles. Toyota notified at they declined to provide repair again at there expense. I had a Honda go 250,000 and never have a problem with the converter. There has to be an inherent problem in the one in my Toyota Corolla !! also other recall on airbags they do not have parts to fix.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #9

Aug 272015


  • 199,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Corolla. While driving 45 mph, the engine warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to a dealer but was not diagnosed or repaired. The VIN was included in NHTSA campaign number: 15V043000 (air bags) however, the part needed to repair the vehicle was unavailable. The contact stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 199,000.

- Laguna Woods, CA, USA

problem #8

Aug 132015


  • 158,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Corolla. The contact stated that while driving at 65 mph, the temperature gauge went to hot and the engine stalled. The vehicle was able to restart after several attempts and the check engine warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the bolts for the motor mount needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 158,000.

- Eagle River, AK, USA

problem #7

Sep 052007


  • 126,857 miles
In 9/2007 the transmission and clutch went out on my manual 2003 Corolla. Conveniently, it was beyond the warranty period. I spent a significant amount of $ repairing. Again, in March 2015 the transmission and clutch are going out on my manual vehicle. After researching, I found numerous owners experiencing the same problems. There is a serious defect in the 2003 manual Corolla that was apparently fixed in the 2004 version. I have contacted Toyota several times. They will do nothing. They told me to email the NHTSA and your Agency would determine a recall. Please, please, please put this problem on the recall list. I (and numerous other owners) have been stranded along the highway and it is not safe!

- Eyota, MN, USA

problem #6

Jan 072015


  • 103,154 miles
I experienced a stuck accelerator pedal in my 2003 Corolla.I tried to kick the pedal loose and could not.I ended up grabbing the key and shutting the engine down to avoid losing control on the snow covered road and hitting traffic in front of me.I later determined that the throttle linkage had lost normal freedom of movement in the cold weather, even though I had cleaned the inside of the throttle body some months earlier.I believe most people would have had an accident in my situation.the only thing that saved me from an accident was my mechanical knowledge of cars enabling me to make the right decisions to avoid an accident.

- Cuyahoga Falls, OH, USA

problem #5

Oct 122014

Corolla 4-cyl

  • 105,000 miles


I was driving to go to school and I noticed my engine making a loud knocking sound. I took it to a mechanic and they told me that the engine is burning oil due a ring or rings torn up. One mechanics mentioned that he has had several Corollas 2003 coming with the same problem and now I am stuck with a car that burns a lot of oil and the engine is in critical condition.

- Fulton, MO, USA

problem #4

Sep 062014

Corolla 4-cyl

  • 160,000 miles
I was driving my father's car. After driving car approx.14 miles home from a restaurant, I parked it in the carport. Less than 15 min later I heard an explosion and saw the car was filled with smoke and smoke was pouring out from under the hood. A closer inspection revealed the right front tire was blown and flames were seen underneath the engine compartment soon followed by flames coming out the topside of the hood. After realizing it was out of control, the fire department was called. I had no indication of problems from lights on the dashboard panel, no difficulties driving the car, I did not run over anything on the trip home or any other time I can remember. All recalls received were responded to at peterson Toyota in ftcollins, Colorado. Oil changes were done regularly. Brakes were inspected the last oil change in may or June and we were told they were still ok.

- Loveland, CO, USA

problem #3

Jul 092003


  • 100 miles
Vehicle was hit on freeway and knocked up onto center dividing wall of freeway, approximately 2 days after purchase. The vehicle was twisted and unable to be driven. Insurance company refused to total vehicle and original factory replacement parts were denied. Aftermarket parts not related to vehicle were placed on vehicle including wrong steering, frame, wrong brakes, wrong everything, and many other fraudulent parts including ABS removed from vehicle for which I paid extra about $5600. All complaints to repair company, allstate insurance, and Toyota of orange were denied although vehicle was not operating properly. Example brakes never worked, and locked and skidded at 2-5 miles per hour which was extremely dangerous on road. In may, I took vehicle for smog test and was informed vehicle would not pass visual inspection test due to non approved after market parts on vehicle not related to Toyota. At this time specifically catalytic converter is not an approved part. Only Toyota dealership worked on this vehicle until 2012 when visit to Arizona. No one will help me regarding this matter, and I cannot get tags and registration. I am disabled and immediately need my vehicle. Can you please assist me in this matter as not only is vehicle unsafe, but I have no recourse and no place to turn.

- Ontario, CA, USA

problem #2

Sep 052011

Corolla 4-cyl

  • 125,700 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Corolla. The contact stated that while driving approximately 25 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The contact mentioned that the vehicle was unable to be restarted. The vehicle was towed to a private mechanic where it was diagnosed that the engine needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage and current mileage was 125,700.

- Larkspur, CA, USA

problem #1

Apr 242013


  • 200,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Corolla. The contact stated the check engine light illuminated. The contact took the vehicle to a local mechanic who stated the check engine light illuminated due to a hole in the socket for the solenoid E. the contact called the manufacturer regarding the check engine light and they stated there was nothing they could do. The failure mileage was 200,000.

- Palm Bay, FL, USA

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