1998 Toyota Corolla 1.3 from Italy

Summary:

Cheap car, cheap maintenance, feels like a modern car

Faults:

Almost nothing; there is some strange ticking noise on cold starts in winter time; after 5 minutes it goes away.

Idle is below 650 RPM. I can't remember but it seems it was 800 RPM when I bought it.

Anyway nothing serious, belts, brake pads, filters, oils.

General Comments:

Can't say much about the car because I have had it for 8 months only; got it from a woman with 130.000km.

The car was serviced well and is in good overall condition.

The interior is grey and boring, but of a good quality. After 18 years it still looks good, and seats are in a very good condition. The only bad thing about the grey interior is it gets dirty very fast.

Sometimes it thinks too much when you shift in 1st gear and reverse; other gears work very good. I changed the transmission oil, but nothing changed.

I was very impressed with the body; absolutely NO RUST!!!

One of the tail lights gaskets failed and I was getting water in the trunk. I think it failed before I bought it, so for at least a year there was wet in the trunk; surprisingly there is no rust at all, not even a bad smell!!

The engine is in good shape. I changed the oil two times already, every 9000km, and it does not consume oil at all.

Still, there are some bad things I'm worried about. I find every morning a drop of oil mixed with red coolant, and when you take off the oil cap it blows air pretty hard; that is a sign of a blown head gasket.

Anyway after 8 months and 14.000km I can say the engine never got hot and never stalled, so maybe it's not the head gasket, but something with the water pump?

It's got R15/195 tyres and the power steering seems to struggle a little bit with those.

Also I was impressed with how easy it is to repair that car, how it was designed. I can do all the maintenance by myself without expensive instruments.

Overall I like the car. It lacks power at low revs in some situations, but you can reach 175km/h with those 85hp.

The suspension is not bad at all. Hey it's a 1998 car, you get 85hp, OK suspension, A/C, powered windows, powered mirrors, airbag, ABS (not on mine), and low costs on everything. It feels like a more recent car by the way.

I'm thinking seriously to buy another Corolla E11, but 4 doors, a 1.6L SW or a lift back version with lower mileage and black interior. It is definitely worth the money.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th April, 2016

1998 Toyota Corolla LE 1.8 from North America

Summary:

It's not bad, but it's not great

Faults:

Struts/springs front and rear (50,000 miles), $300 (self repaired).

Airbag/seat belt sensor (50,000 miles), $0 (self repaired).

General Comments:

Exterior - This car isn't winning any contests here. It's got head lights, tail lights, model badges, and comes painted in a variety of vanilla options (and one red), including three variations of tan. My model is 'champagne metallic', the tannest of tans. Kinda silver, kinda brown, maybe orange, it exemplifies what this car is about, being everything to everyone.

Interior - The interior of this 98 Corolla is based on function rather than form. And it excels in this department. Everything is easy to reach, find, and operate so you can keep your eyes on the road and not on the radio. Quality is surprisingly decent for an econobox commuter of this era. There is a good attention to detail, and no squeaks or rattles or mystery thumps behind the dash. The upholstery is a study in why abstract patterns are no longer vogue. Noise control is good for a car of this size and class; there is some intrusive noise over the rougher California highways here. It reminds me a bit of my dentist's waiting room. It's a simple, well put together place that's not a bad place to spend your commute.

Driving impressions - The steering is a touch heavier than what I'm used to in a Toyota, and it would be nice if there wasn't so much body roll; I've installed stiffer struts and springs in my car to combat this, but it lends to a harsher louder ride. The car is light and feels easily toss-able and is nimble in city traffic, but can get tossed about by cross winds on the open highway. The 1.8L inline 4 engine makes 120 HP and 122 ft lb torque. This is more than adequate to propel the car in city driving, and in getting up to highway speeds, there is some effort required on more serious grades, and the Corolla certainly won't win any races.

Reliability - I replaced the struts at 50,000 miles as the car had been sitting since 2001 and the seals had dried up and leaked.

There was also a loose SRS sensor attachment, causing an ABS light at 50,000 miles.

Aside from regular maintenance and tire rotations, everything has gone fine on this car, and I hope its legacy of reliability carries on into the future.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th May, 2015

28th May 2015, 14:12

Very honest review of a pretty honest little car. One thing though... you've replaced the struts and springs for better ones to improve handling... on a '98 Corolla 1.8 auto?! I'd seriously think about just buying something that handles better anyway if it bothers you!!

29th May 2015, 23:06

Writer here. The struts were bad when I got the car, so since I was already replacing them, I went with a slightly stiffer set, but by no means a real 'performance' set of struts. Overall I'm happy with steering feel, but I wanted to reduce a bit of the body roll that was going on.