really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
116,059 miles
Total Complaints:
43 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. Replace transmission (34 reports)
  2. not sure (5 reports)
  3. rebuilt transmission (4 reports)
2003 Toyota Corolla transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Toyota Corolla Owner Comments (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #3

Aug 152008

Corolla S 1zzfe

  • Manual transmission
  • 120,000 miles


The transmission on my 2003 Toyota Corolla Manual started making some "rubbing" noises in 3rd - 5th gear. After getting worse and worse I took it to a shop where they tore it apart and showed me how the bearings felt like they had sand in them, and various other components were worn out to where they didn't know how I was even driving the car. Now I am no ripass, not to mention that I am rather versed in driving a manual, so thanks a lot Toyota for another 2k dollars out of my pocket. They should bite the bullet on this one....

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #2

Apr 012009

Corolla CE 1.8L

  • Manual transmission
  • 147,000 miles

I am the original owner of a 2003 Corolla with a 5 speed manual transmission. I have personally preformed all maintenance on the vehicle, exceeded the recommended service interval and used synthetic fluid exceeding the required standards. My car has 147k miles and the transmission growls in all 5 gears. (not the gear whine while in reverse due to the straight cut gears).

The noise started as a slight roughness in 3rd gear, and for about the last 20k miles occasionally the third syncro would allow some gear clash. The noise has been getting progressively worse for the last 10k miles. It is now the same in all 5 gears under positive AND negative load (the growl goes away if feathering the throttle to remove the load). About 3k miles ago I changed the fluid not because it was time to, but because I wanted to inspect for metal chunks (none found -- only a light black dust on the drain plug -- no shavings in the oil).

We are on a business trip in Colorado, and took it to a Toyota dealer in Greeley -- they said worst case it will cost $3,800 to replace the transmission with a new one, and another $270 to also replace the clutch at the same time.

After seeing from all the posts on this forum that this is most likely a design issue -- I called Toyota CS at 800-331-4331, and they denied any design flaws and said there was no recall or replacement assistance program-- but gave me a case number (0904105149), saying that I would be reimbursed IF any program would develop in the future.

I purchased this car because I was assured that it would last at least 300k miles if I took care of it. I am VERY disappointed in Toyota for not owning up to what is obviously (from a basic Google search) a design flaw with this otherwise wonderful car. I have had a few Toyotas, this is my first new one -- and likely my last one. I am looking to trade for a new Honda, or perhaps a Versa.

For the record I do not abuse my car -- as evidenced by the OEM tires lasting 50k miles, and my 1st set of Yokohama tires lasting 90k miles -- also still have 25% brake linings left on the OEM brakes. The engine burns no oil -- and runs like new -- fuel economy is down to about 36-37 from an average of 38 over the first 125k miles.

- , Crystal River, FL, USA

problem #1

Mar 122009

Corolla LE

  • Manual transmission
  • 106,000 miles

I see this all over the web. I'm registering my complaint with the dealer and everyone should. I noticed a "growling" noise around 70,000 to 80,000 k miles and today the whole trans locked up. I'm getting repair estimates, but its not going to be cheap. Brand new trans from Toyota (plus a clutch...might as well do that) is going to be $3,600. I have no idea what to do. My Honda CRX racked up 214,000 miles before I had to get rid or it (had to because it is a two seater and I was now a family of 5).

- , Denve, CO, USA

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