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Looking At A 2002 100K Miles Vvtl-I - What To Look For?


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Hi all,

New here, and not very clued up on the Corolla so please forgive me. I've been looking into insurance and running costs of hot hatches and decided that the T-sport 1.8 Corolla is for me - especially as there is one in the local ads a shade over £1200, and I'm looking to buy a car ASAP.

It has just over 100k miles on it, and according to the registration number is the VVTL-i T-sport model.

Sadly pre-facelift, which is a shame, as I like the newer headlights, and the side skirts on the facelift, but the cheapest facelift in reasonable condition I can find is £2000, and to be honest, at the moment for me the less I hammer my savings the better!

I understand the mechanical difference between VVT-i and VVTL-i, but which cars have which engine? Initially I thought the facelift cars had the VVTL-i engine, but it seems that isn't the case. I've read some bad things (if I remember correctly) about Oil use on the VVT-i engines, and that the VVTL-i engine does not suffer from this - which is the engine this car appears to have when you look up the registration number.

If anyone could explain the VVT-i vs. VVTL-i thing to me, and give me some things to look out for when I view the car that would be great.

Apparently the car has an advisory for an Oil leak on the MOT, but was quoted less than £50 to rectify. Where might this be? Is there a common place for Oil to weep from on these engines thats accessible and easily fixed? I'm handy with the spanners so should be able to sort it myself if so.

Car had a visual inspection (paperwork included) by a Toyota dealer in December. I have read it is wise to check that when the car is at operating temps there is an increase in power at 6,200rpm due to the valve lift, and to look for valve lift bolt replacement in the servicing invoices. Other than that i'm clueless as to problem areas on these cars.

Thanks in advance,

Matt.

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Do you have a link to the ad?

Without seeing the car for yourself you can't reallynguess where the Oil leak is coming from. If its only an advisory I would hazard a guess around gasket, possible cheap seal fix.

Ideally you want the lift bolts to have been replaced but I've heard its quite simple to do yourself and the bolts themselves extremely cheap.

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http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Toyota-Corolla-1-8-VVTL-i-T-Sport-3dr-1-Year-MOT-1200-ONO-/121646373199?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item1c52b0594f

The seller said the mechanic wrote down "remove 3x front engine casing bolts, seal and refit"

I'm going to look at it tomorrow with a view to buy if all is well, so any problem areas to look at, and info on which models have the VVT-I engine, and which have the VVTL-I engine would be hugely appreciated.

Am I right in saying this car would have the 2ZZ-GE engine?

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The Ad looks very genuine, clean looking car and apparently honest regarding the scrapes.

Am sure others can give you what to look out for with the 1.8 model and how to check it 'lifts' on a test drive.

Also check for smokey exhaust on start up and overrun once on a test drive.

Even though its relativley low cost, don't forget the basics, a HPI or similar check to ensure is not a write off or outstanding finance and that the registered keeper is at the address its for sale at etc etc.

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Just bought a 2003 T-Sport myself, on 98,000 miles. Oddly, also from Egham in Surrey! There must be a breeding ground near there somewhere!

That image clearly shows the VVTL-i cam cover and 'correct' engine, so just check it looks like that when you inspect.

That is the 190ish Bhp 2ZZ-ge engine. Completely different from the 1.8 1ZZ engine that had all the Oil consuption woes. The 2ZZ is a very robust little unit and with proper care they run out to good miles.

The way to be sure is to drive the !Removed! off the thing. So long as the temp needle is in the middle of the dial, once you hit 6,200 rpm the tone of the engine will change completely as lift kicks in, And it will go 'Bwaarrrrppp!' and really kick forwards.... until you hit the rev limiter at 8,200rpm. It's a proper jekyl and hyde engine. Do this test in 2nd or 3rd, 4th will get you into some seriously illegal speeds... It should rev cleanly, pull ok at medium revs, but go nuts at 6,200 rpm.

So long as Oil and coolant look clean, the engine runs and goes into lift, and sounds ok at idle under the bonnet, that's about it. Check also for clutch slip and that the gear shift is nice and positive. MInes a bit slack. IT may also sound a bit tractory/dieselly at idle. If it's ticking or rattling really badly walk away, but they do tick a bit and doing some cleaning of lift control valve filters should clear it.

Other than that, all the normal stuff to check when you check a used car:

HPI it for crashes/finance/reg changes.

Get the V5 document and check the Reg number against the VIN on the vin plate.

THe panels should all have paper stickers on them with the VIN on them as well, so you can tell if panels have been swapped possibly indicating a crash. Panel gaps should be niec and even. Check doors and boot lid too - they also have the stickers.

Check MOT history and milage to make sure it tallies. Not sure how easy thesea re to clock, but buyer beware.

Check brake, tyre and wheel condition.

Check for smoke from the exhaust when warm at idle and with revs - White smoke = potential head gasket, blue smoke = Burning Oil somewhere.

HAve a look for general condition underneath - CV boots, shock absorber condtion, springs not missing coils or overly rusted.

Check the windscreen for chips and scratches.

Check all the electrics work - windows, mirrors, central locking.

Check all dash lights illuminate and go out as they should. People sometimes pull bulbs from Check engine lights and ABS or Airbag warning lights to fool carefree buyers! Cycle the ignition a few times and make sure they're all there and go out when they should.

When driving:
Brake gently, check it stops straight and true without pulling at the wheel.

Drive over some speed bumps, check for knocks and bangs from the suspension.

Accelerate hard in 4th/5th if possible, check speed increases linearly with engine revs. If not, slipping clutch.

Check the handbrake holds on a hill.

JUst think 'Am I happy to fling this car about? Does it feel safe and solid?'

They're not the most inspiriing of cars to pootle about in. They feel like... a corolla.... but the steering and suspension just feel a tad firmer than you might expect. Brakes should feel solid too. It's when you beat the ever-loving crap out of them they really come together and they WILL surprise you with handling, road holding, and of course that impressive engine when you're reviing the nuts off it. As I said, Jekyl and Hyde!

I have a checklist for buying cars, it reminds me waht to look like. It's just a word document I always take a copy of with me. I have one prepped for corolla T-Sport shopping, so if you'd like it just pm me an email address and I'll get it to you.

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Superb, thanks for that! Some obvious things there but also some things I would have glossed over potentially!

I am inexperienced in car buying, having had many motorcycles between 17 and 22 but only one car, a classic mini, which was written off in an accident before I even got to drive it on the road :crazy:

I'll PM you my email address now.

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They're pretty easy to buy. I'm not aware of any major killers like hidden rust spots, and parts are cheap and freely available so if it's not perfect you can haggle rather than walk away.

Forgot to say, just throttle off/on a few times to check engine mounts. It shouldn't shunt too badly if it's all tight. It's a 13 year old car but it should feel mostly ok. Mine does, suspension is remarkably good and the car doesn't feel baggy or loose.

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Does look like its worth a look to me.

Pretty sure like Celica the vvtli Corolla's have red Toyota Badge on back, vvtli on engine cover and of course 9k rev counter.

Let us know how you get on tomorrow!

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It does look like a pre facelift Toyota Corolla T sport. Check the V5 when you see it. 1.8 VVTL engine. Robust when looked after.

Check all brakes as this is a weak spot. Suspect you will have to replace either front, or rear, calipers, pads, discs at some point or other.

Check lift works as people say over 6200rpms.

Check clutch play....this clutch is rubbish actually but check the biting point is not way up the action.

Test drive it and drive it hard, brake hard, corner reasonably fast. Try and get a test drive alone...leave your bike or some other form of collateral (your mother, girlfriend, dog whatever) so that you can take it out by yourself.

Welly it.

It is a Toyota Corolla and should be pretty solid. Ask to see all old MOTs, work receipts etc to see what has, and hasn't, been changed.

If you do buy would do a full service, Oil, filters, plugs, lift bolts and maybe even brake disc pads so that you know it's starting from a clean slate.

....after all that....just enjoy driving a Q car......little wee man in a Toyota Corolla....just disappeared miles ahead of me.... lol

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Gutted... It was a state! Covered in dents and scuffs and was smoking hot when we got there, but the seller skirted around this completely. My step dad reckoned either the valve stem seals or head gasket were on their way out. Headlights were far cloudier than any headlights I've ever seen. Lots of amber things on the Toyota visual inspection sheet, including EML light and another light or two if I remember correctly on during the inspection which happened to be off today. Seller acted completely ignorant about anything mechanical but i'm not so sure. Rear tyres were very low too, and there was some odd long narrow welding under the driver seat.


Seller would not let us drive it further than up and down the block of garages as supposedly it was uninsured and untaxed. A this point I told him it wasn't for me and left.


A shame as I actually have become to like them and insurance is reasonable, and I did a £15 RAC check! Should have bought a bundle of HPI checks for £20 as it seems i'll use them!


It looked a lot worse in person. As soon as I saw it I decided it wasn't what I expected or wanted, then mechanically my stepdad said nah too, he had concerns about the engine.


I have a habit of buying the first motorbike I see and generally very clean examples and this just wasn't it. Not like me to walk away from the first I see, have usually almost decided before I'm there based on carefully studying the pictures and the vibe from the seller - hence why I did a proper HPI check before visiting and took a cash deposit with me.


I wasn't expecting immaculate for £1200 but it was too much a state for me.


Maybe I'll have to up my budget a bit but I'll keep looking around that money for now and see. It's a great engine from what i've read, and reasonable to insure so I think I might stop looking for around 1k cars and hunt for one of these... but i've not turned up anything nearby in good condition, for up to £1500 or so, and really want a car ASAP now! :disgust:

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Doh! Well done for walking away though. Better that than buyers remorse!

I bought a decent example for £900 - Visually it's tatty but that doesn't matter for my plans, but I'm surprised how mechanically solid it is. I've been thrashing it for fun as well as sat in london traffic and just daily driving. It does everything well and with no issues so far. I just serviced it properly and actually, it looks like it's been taken care of and had nice Iridium spark plugs etc in it.

Don't worry, you can get decent ones. Keep looking. Don't rush though, I"ve found that's fatal when car shopping.

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Try Gumtree....that one you just looked at is on there as well - well it was this afternoon!!

The one in Belfast looks good!! Might be a user of this forum as well. Save the search and it will tell you when new ones come on.

Good luck!!

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Walking away is difficult sometimes especially when the model you want is right there!

Chances are there are much better examples within 100 miles from you and within your budget (if you add in the petrol home).

So don't be afraid to travel, having AA cover and sat nav for the drive back is reassuring.

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Seller just responded - £1250.

Car has a small odd hole in the rear bumper, and after a small bump the front bumper is pushed in slightly, and scuffed. Seller is including a matching PFL bumper. If the bumper matches putting this right would be a small job I think.

Having never removed a bumper before i'm unsure - would getting the new one to line up be simply a case of fettling and bending the mounts/bumper bar slightly, or is it not this simple? Bike fairings are often mounted on metal brackets so easily tweaked.

Sadly OZ Ultraleggera alloys not included in the price - does anyone know what would these be worth?

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Seller just responded - £1250.

Car has a small odd hole in the rear bumper, and after a small bump the front bumper is pushed in slightly, and scuffed. Seller is including a matching PFL bumper. If the bumper matches putting this right would be a small job I think.

Having never removed a bumper before i'm unsure - would getting the new one to line up be simply a case of fettling and bending the mounts/bumper bar slightly, or is it not this simple? Bike fairings are often mounted on metal brackets so easily tweaked.

Sadly OZ Ultraleggera alloys not included in the price - does anyone know what would these be worth?

Re holes in bumper......just treat it as a project for your car. You may find a good body shop garage that will swap it over for £50.

OZ Ultraleggera wheel and tyres and depending on condition £500 to £700. Depends if anyone else will wants them.

Worth a punt to go and see if it is not too far away. Reading his modding thread he has looked after it but remember any mods, especially a nice set of OZ wheels, will need to be insurance declared and will probably increase insurance costs.

Edited by KenMavor
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Thanks for that. I'm thinking the same. I would probably leave the hole in the rear bumper, scuffed front bumper, and the parking scrapes as I have very little car experience so my parking skills are somewhat lacking anyway, after years on motorbikes! The seller says a bodyshop he spoke to reckoned the bumper would pull out. He also said the headlights polish up okay

I just want bodywork that will polish up nicely and doesn't have too many dings I suppose!

Wheels wise, I reckon they're worth probably £500, so a bit rich for me on a £1200 car. Maybe in the future I'll hunt eBay for something cheaper.

Sounds well looked after though, and the leather seats and quickshifter are nice additions, as are the lowering springs - something I would do to make it look a little less 4x4 had it not been done anyway. He said he has some better Speakers for the front and rear he would include too.

He's going to clean it tonight and send me some more pictures - fingers crossed it's in decent condition bar the rear bumper hole, and front bumper marks and the odd parking scrape.

Only concern is that it's only MOT'd until September, but i'm able to work on it myself so wouldn't be the end of the world if it needed anything.

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Thanks for that. I'm thinking the same. I would probably leave the hole in the rear bumper, scuffed front bumper, and the parking scrapes as I have very little car experience so my parking skills are somewhat lacking anyway, after years on motorbikes! The seller says a bodyshop he spoke to reckoned the bumper would pull out. He also said the headlights polish up okay

I just want bodywork that will polish up nicely and doesn't have too many dings I suppose!

Wheels wise, I reckon they're worth probably £500, so a bit rich for me on a £1200 car. Maybe in the future I'll hunt eBay for something cheaper.

Sounds well looked after though, and the leather seats and quickshifter are nice additions, as are the lowering springs - something I would do to make it look a little less 4x4 had it not been done anyway. He said he has some better speakers for the front and rear he would include too.

He's going to clean it tonight and send me some more pictures - fingers crossed it's in decent condition bar the rear bumper hole, and front bumper marks and the odd parking scrape.

Only concern is that it's only MOT'd until September, but i'm able to work on it myself so wouldn't be the end of the world if it needed anything.

Get him to put it through another MOT and if he is happy to do that then he's comfortable it will pass. £50 or so for a MOT and can be done cheaper

and sounds like this guy knows a few good garages. Check the last MOT and see if any advisories and fails and see what he had to put right. Have a read through of his modding journey as he has done a lot of good work......

Headlights do scrub up well but it is a weakspot on these cars. I have done the ones on our T sport twice but brand new headlights are only £60 each so easy to do yourself and fix the problem permanently.

But as previous car if it doesn't look right, feel right, sound right then walk away.

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I am about to polish up my Corolla Headlights for practice... a but of 600/1000/2000 grit and then a spray over with UV stable laquer and they come up crystal again.

And I got a set of 4 Ultraleggeras 4x100 16" 7J rims with acceptable tyres and 500 miles use for £250 on ebay... they're silly light. OK, that was a bargain, but I reckon he'll be holding out a while at £500, Offer him £400.

A decent condition bumper will come up soon enough for £50 and these things are designed to be easy to whip on and off. As you say it's just a bit of bracket massaging to get the fit right.

The corolla alloys themselves aren't bad - The ultraleggeras are 13.6 Kg with normal tyre, the T-sport rims are 16.6kg with budget tyres which tend to be heavy. For OEM alloys that's not terrible.

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Yeah the standard alloys are alright as standard wheels go, but the OZ wheels are stunning. I'll see what he's after but to be honest I think it will tip me well over budget.

Thanks for the tips on the headlights - please let me know how you get on! I've only ever heard mates using plastic polishes.

A decent bumper is included in the sale apparently, so if I buy it I can practise my parking a bit more and perhaps fit it in the future ;)

Awaiting some pictures of the car once cleaned.

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Bought the car yesterday! Picking up tomorrow! :D - drove very very well and did not show it's age or mileage. Seller was immensely honest - too much for his own good perhaps!

I got it for £1100 with some parts thrown in - but not the wheels, too rich for me at the moment! Decent price though considering last service was done 10k miles ago and was expensive being main dealer. Heater matrix replacement alone cost £900 two years ago!

I've got a few jobs planned to tidy the car up a little - there are some niggles bothering me as a real perfectionist. I've never had a vehicle with mileage anywhere near as high (being motorcycles!) and usually buy immaculate examples so will have to sort a few things when I get paid.

Small jobs to do soon:

  • Oil and filters will be done as with anything new to me - Haynes chucked in free so thats handy!
  • Quick-shifter gear linkage becomes disconnected somewhere beneath gaiter when shifting aggressively 3rd to 4th - appears an easy fix
  • Headlights need polishing (whole car would benefit too from a good polish and wax actually)
  • Window rubbers deformed and bunched up near mirror - new ones thrown in - will fit
  • New Team Heko wind deflectors thrown in - will fit with the new window seals
  • Centre console cubby hole door broken - replacement console thrown in - will swap. Arm rest loose - needs a look at.
  • A few chips and tiny marks to sort with a touchup pen
  • Small hole in rear bumper (air gun pellet?!) - parking sensors (hole not in ideal location!) or a tasteful sticker to cover up?
  • JBL Speakers thrown in with the car - one fitted - seller didn't find the time to do the others - will sort myself when I find time!
  • Won Alpine iDA X305s headunit on ebay last night - will fit that ASAP w/ new centre console when fixing gear linkage :)

Some bigger jobs for the future - first need some more parking experience!

  • Rear spoiler wobbly - god only knows how to rectify that sadly.
  • Bonnet sits slightly high NS - gas strut mod could be cause - wing okay so hopefully not caused by sellers minor bump into car but may be?
  • Bumper pushed in slightly after small bump into stationary car (mentioned) - matching bumper thrown in - will tweak mounts and fit sometime

Possible things for the future:

  • PFL side skirts thrown in - primered, so may paint and fit one day
  • Would like to recover arm rest part of doorcards sometime - drivers side stitching loose.
  • Would like facelift sporty metal pedals
  • Hole in drivers T-sport mat bugs me - may replace
  • May invest in some nice wheels one day if I grow to love the car and intend to keep.
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Awesome stuff.

They're good cars. I've been thrashing the **** off mine recently. I did a service, flush, (so 2 Oil changes inside of an hour on top of the Oil it came with looking relatively clean!) and OCV clean on mine on tuesday, then took it to Santa Pod and did 8 runs, plus 200 miles on the motorway there and back.

Oil is still looking lovely, completely clear! You can hardly see it on the dip stick, you have to hold it sideways to see the Oil on it to check the level! And the car performed without fault.

So now it's nearly ready for phase II....

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