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My Corolla's dead engine at 68000 miles


seePyou
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Very disappointed with the situation. Bought a used Toyota Corolla 2004 at 56000 miles and have been driving it for 3 years now. Always going to Toyota garage for services and MOT and repairs, and two weeks after a full service Toyota did, at 68000 miles, I drove from London to Edinburgh, where 40 miles out of Edinburgh it started producing metalic hitting noises. No Oil in the engine, no coolant in the tank. Filled both at a gas station nearby (that was lucky) but the car would overheat within a minute of driving.
Recovery truck hired and sent back to Toyota, who said that I need a new engine because:

"checked for vehicle using Oil on ingestion
Found that it is being burnt passed piston rings
Also suspect headgasket as no signs of leaks
For cutting in and out after coolant topped up"

How they checked and found Oil past piston rings but only suspect headgasket problem (and don't know) is beyond me.

I'm very disappointed. I bought a used Toyota because they are reliable. I don't know what to think... 😞

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Oh well, sorry to hear that happened, it is a bad luck and frustrating experience. If the car service been neglected previously even at low miles can have consequences. Regular checks under bonnet helps prevent exactly that. Main dealer service, one owner or low miles car means not much IMO, there is always a risk with cars., these are machines and machines does go wrong, even Toyota. 

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Hi,

For a total loss or Oil and coolant without any obvious serious signs of water or Oil leaks externally would suggest a blown head gasket, though it does make us wonder if you had any clue as to what was happening, either from steam or smoke from the exhuast, high temperature showing on the dashboard or the Oil warning light coming on ?

Generally Toyotas are bullet proof, and though its 17 years old seems you have been unlucky.

Might be worth getting a second opinion in case its just a head gasket and nothing else has been damaged ??  though it does sound terminal from your description.

Fitting a second hand engine is another option, some places advertising them with a fitted price.

Depending on what the rest of the car is like, finding another  Corolla or Auris etc  might be a cheaper, simpler option ....

 

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Presume you lifted the bonnet and checked Oil and water levels some time before you started off on that long journey, and levels were ok ?
Obviously something has gone wrong with your car, and it could have been any make of car, BMW ,Mercs, Ferrari, Porsche, and Ford alike, this type of failure could happen to any one of them.  I remember there was a known problem with Triumph Dolomite Sprint in the cylinder head/water radiator area some 40/50 years ago. The Dolomite Sprintcar had a reputation for it. Toyota Corolla, as far as I know, does’nt.

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Thank you all for your good comments!
Unfortunately, I did not check Oil and coolant levels before departing. I'm not laying the blame, I probably should, I just trusted that the Toyota garage did what they said. I'm not claiming they did not, I'm not trying to lay blame. This is not that. I wish I had checked, and believe me I will be checking these things myself from now on every month or prior to any large trip.

There were no indications about the car though before. The temperature was right in the middle throughout the journey up from London. Also did a stop for an hour half way through for rest and lunch. No problems. The first indication was the metallic ticking right as I got off the freeway which was almost immediately followed by the Oil warning light. Temperature was till in control. It only got up right after I drove off having put Oil and coolant in.

The car seemed fine for the two weeks I was driving it to work before my trip. Same temperature, no warning lights, was even driving better, probably because of the new tires!

Garages I've spoken to all say that the headgasket sounds like the main culprit. They all agree that the value of the car doesn't justify an engine repair/replacement. It just completely surprises me (because I have no experience or mechanical knowledge) that such a fault can develop without warnings. I know I'm generally unlucky, but that was just insanely bad luck!

If there is one thing though that I don't appreciate is that the Toyota Garage are evasive. Maybe they feel they should have caught it. Maybe they feel that I will be unreasonable or aggressive, or whatever. But I don't understand why they don't know what happened! How can they claim that there is Oil burning in the engine past the cylinder rings and only suspect the headgasket? I'm not at all interested in litigating this or making a fuss anywhere else, and I will accept that I'm unlucky. But how do you check and know that the Oil is being burned in the cylinder without knowing that the gasket is gone? It's just a lost trust at this time, and even if I do get a new Toyota, I'm not going back to that garage.

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Ioannis, it would be good to get into a routine of checking essentials under the bonnet, checking tyre pressure and condition too, at frequent intervals. 
My car had its service just 3 weeks or so ago (even though due to lockdown it only done just over 2,000 miles since last service). Even so, last week I was under the bonnet checking Oil and water, also tyre pressures, as we travelled just over 200 miles last Saturday to start a weeks holiday in Norfolk.

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You don't know the history of the car before you owned - if the Oil light come on the Oil pump could have failed,

no Oil pressure = no lubrication = metal on metal contact = high temps = blows the head gasket - goodbye engine

 

unless you are attached to the car, it's pretty much scrap as an engine is likely £800+

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You can ask to speak to the mechanic directly and have them walk you through what they did and how they came to their conclusion; I did, after the very expensive work they did on my previous car's AC system turned out to fix nothing.

I'll be honest tho', the general reputation for all dealers is they're okay for servicing, but terrible for diagnostics, and my experiences so far have mirrored that.

Sucks about the Corolla tho', those things are beasts! We used to have a load of T-Sport owners on here who were constantly going on about 'Lift' and snapping their 'Lift' bolts :laugh: (The T-Sport Corollas were some of the only cars that had Toyota's version of VTEC, and had extra cam lobs for higher valve lift north of 6000rpm. They were a hoot to drive, but thirsty as heck!)

My brother had a 2.0 D4D and that thing had so much torque it felt like it could tow a house! :laugh:

Ahh good times!

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Gradual Oil loss or sudden loss of Oil by burning it past the rings or Oil seal let go. Age of car is old. Previous user could of thrashed it every day and not maintained it properly.

My Aunt bought a 1988 Volvo 240 GLT estate in around 2001. 1 owner, good history, but using Oil. They bought it and one day around 7 months later, driving along the conrod went through the block where they lived in France. Huge hole in block and Oil everywhere. Car had around 180,000 miles. Car scrapped and I got the full length Roofrack for my 1986 Volvo 740. A Volvo redblock engine is unusual to fail like that but can happen. Suspect poor maintenance by original owner.

I have a 1996 Volvo 940 and check fluid levels weekly or before a long journey and carry oil/coolant in the car.  Hope you find another Toyota.

James👍

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To all the comments about the previous owner, was 3 years ago. In the three years I have it, it's been seen 6 times by the same garage. If there was a problem that would have killed the car, would it has not been found after all this time?

This was just no warning! It was not the garage that said "this is a car that will probably die in a few years", they even had told me last year that it's solid and just needs some repairs here and now because it's old.

For a Toyota engine to die at 68000 miles it's almost unheard of, as seem here by some of the responses of surprise.

Anyway, as I said, this is done, and I think it's a shame.

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Don't know what engine you have, but there was known problem with 1.8 (mainly) and 1.6( rare) petrol engines from this period around 2001-2009.

Those engines had cylinders that where not exactly round (circle) but we're kind of oval.

Usually around 100 000km - 150 000 the engine started to eat a lot of Oil and if you didn't noticed that ....

Under warranty Toyota replaced  almost one half of engine, which just delayed the problem for another 100 000km.

Problem was solved with next generation of this engine. 

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Yeah that really sucks, it's quite unusual for it to go with no signs at all.

Were you checking the Oil with any kind of regularity? If you were and it wasn't using up Oil then that's super unusual.

One 'weakness' of chain cam Toyota engines is they need to have good Oil and regular Oil changes as they use timing chains instead of belts; It was one thing I checked for when I was Yaris hunting as, although the engines were generally bullet-proof, if they didn't get regular Oil changes with quality Oil, it would really shorten the life of the chain and engine.

Without some sort of autopsy on the engine to find the cause there's no easy way to know what caused it, but it's definitely not a common thing - Even with the old T-Sport owners on here thrashing their cars six-ways to sunday back in the day, I don't recall any of them having an engine failure like this!

I can only guess some debris got in and caused something like an Oil channel to wear through.

On the bright side you can probably replace it for less than getting it repaired :laugh:

 

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Hi, as flash22 explained something has failed that likely couldn’t be noticed on regular service or very difficult to spot on. Oil pump, main seal or blocked thermostat etc, something made your engine to overheat and burn the Oil and got damaged, definitely needs autopsy to find out the true cause. Regular checks are the most as preventative measures.
One more thing: many cars that usually are only used for short town trips has hidden failures that are non prominent until you get the car on a long trip, this is also a reason why there are so many broken down cars on motorways, when cars gets to work temp and engines run longer then if anything is not ok you can notice as is gonna get worse., perhaps something like that has happened with your car. 

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Thank you TonyHSD. the car was driven for commute daily, but then at least twice a month it would drive for 2 hour trips to friends away from London, and last year we also took it to Edinburgh (and back).

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Very sorry to hear what happened with your car. I'd be angry too having taken it for regular services. This sort of thing is why I learnt to do more stuff like this myself, peace of mind knowing the right oils/filters have been used plus a good chance to look the engine bay / under tray over for signs of leaks and wear. Hope you have better luck with your next car and as others have mentioned keep an eye out on fluid levels etc yourself to reduce the chances of similar happening again. 

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On 7/14/2021 at 6:32 PM, seePyou said:

If there is one thing though that I don't appreciate is that the Toyota Garage are evasive. Maybe they feel they should have caught it. Maybe they feel that I will be unreasonable or aggressive, or whatever. But I don't understand why they don't know what happened! How can they claim that there is oil burning in the engine past the cylinder rings and only suspect the headgasket? I'm not at all interested in litigating this or making a fuss anywhere else, and I will accept that I'm unlucky. But how do you check and know that the oil is being burned in the cylinder without knowing that the gasket is gone? It's just a lost trust at this time, and even if I do get a new Toyota, I'm not going back to that garage.

Maybe because there is no sign of Oil leakage, and it would make a mess, they assume the Oil must have burnt and escaping past the piston rings is a very logical thought.  On the other hand, water loss will not leave a mess like Oil, so water loss could be from various points but if they know of history of head gaskets going then they could suppose that’s what it could be.            
Must my thoughts.

ps.  You could get a good 2010 Auris hybrid, rock solid hybrid engineering, and remember if it’s doing say 40% of journeys on Battery (no engine use) a 60,000 mile car will only have engine use/wear for 36,000 miles. Road tax is £0 (that’s zero) and you should get good mpg, the wife’s Auris hybrid is doing low 60’s in the summer and about 8mpg less in the winter.

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On 7/14/2021 at 4:49 PM, seePyou said:

Very disappointed with the situation. Bought a used Toyota Corolla 2004 at 56000 miles and have been driving it for 3 years now. Always going to Toyota garage for services and MOT and repairs, and two weeks after a full service Toyota did, at 68000 miles, I drove from London to Edinburgh, where 40 miles out of Edinburgh it started producing metalic hitting noises. No oil in the engine, no coolant in the tank. Filled both at a gas station nearby (that was lucky) but the car would overheat within a minute of driving.
Recovery truck hired and sent back to Toyota, who said that I need a new engine because:

"checked for vehicle using oil on ingestion
Found that it is being burnt passed piston rings
Also suspect headgasket as no signs of leaks
For cutting in and out after coolant topped up"

How they checked and found oil past piston rings but only suspect headgasket problem (and don't know) is beyond me.

I'm very disappointed. I bought a used Toyota because they are reliable. I don't know what to think... 😞

Can you not ask the Toyota Garage which has serviced your car since you have had it to support a request to Toyota GB for a Goodwill Payment towards a new engine ?

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On 7/15/2021 at 9:22 PM, john p williams said:

Can you not ask the Toyota Garage which has serviced your car since you have had it to support a request to Toyota GB for a Goodwill Payment towards a new engine ?

I did not know this was a thing. I will ask them. Thank you!

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16 minutes ago, seePyou said:

I did not know this was a thing. I will ask them. Thank you!

Good luck. Be respectful and look a little sad and you might just be surprised. It has worked for others(but not all)

Do let us all know how you get on.

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On 7/15/2021 at 9:22 PM, john p williams said:

Can you not ask the Toyota Garage which has serviced your car since you have had it to support a request to Toyota GB for a Goodwill Payment towards a new engine ?

It’s a very long shot, John. The car is 17 year old, and Ioannis has only had it 3 years. Ok, he has had it serviced at Toyota for those 3 years, but is the history known for the previous 14 years.

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7 hours ago, Catlover said:

It’s a very long shot, John. The car is 17 year old, and Ioannis has only had it 3 years. Ok, he has had it serviced at Toyota for those 3 years, but is the history known for the previous 14 years.

No, the history is not completely known, aside from the MOT record of course.

That is one of the things that are too different in the UK; the cars don't have a history book. UK is a civilized country and in a lot of ways far better than Greece (which is also why I live in the UK) which is why I find it surprising that Greece has mandatory car history book, and the UK doesn't.

In any case, as John Williams said, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Thank you all!

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On 7/14/2021 at 7:51 PM, Cyker said:

You can ask to speak to the mechanic directly and have them walk you through what they did and how they came to their conclusion; I did, after the very expensive work they did on my previous car's AC system turned out to fix nothing.

I'll be honest tho', the general reputation for all dealers is they're okay for servicing, but terrible for diagnostics, and my experiences so far have mirrored that.

Sucks about the Corolla tho', those things are beasts! We used to have a load of T-Sport owners on here who were constantly going on about 'Lift' and snapping their 'Lift' bolts :laugh: (The T-Sport Corollas were some of the only cars that had Toyota's version of VTEC, and had extra cam lobs for higher valve lift north of 6000rpm. They were a hoot to drive, but thirsty as heck!)

My brother had a 2.0 D4D and that thing had so much torque it felt like it could tow a house! :laugh:

Ahh good times!

I've only just joined and my daily is a 2002 T Sport with 195,000 miles on it.  Still goes like stink and the MOT place can't believe it has never been welded 🤣 the car is standard and only ever needed tyres, bulbs and brakes with a service) in my 4/5 years of ownership.  Previously had a Celica 190 vvti (pre face lift) and that was on 160,000 miles.

Early 00s Toyota reliability at its finest 💯🙂

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