I put a new starter in it May of 2006.
The dashboard illumination has partially blown to where part of the gauges don't light up. I've been driving it like this for a couple years now.
Freak hailstorm beat the hell out of it in 2004. I refused insurance settlement.
I had to replace a ball joint and a half-axle in April 2007.
The headliner started coming loose around 3 years ago, and is tearing in places.
Brake lights gave out about two years ago.
Foam around steering wheel wore out about 4 years ago.
Driver's side inside door handle broke off from years of being outside in the heat.
Hood is starting to rust.
Discovered a transmission leak in June 2007.
Seat belt light quit working years ago, which I like because it was driving me crazy!
This model Corolla is, for me, not too big, and not too small, which is why I chose it in the first place. As a daily driver, and as an ONLY driver, it does quite well, and on slick days benefits from a bag of dog food in the trunk for extra weight.
I'm a big woman, and drive with the seat fairly far back. I have tilt steering, but don't mess with it. I have no trouble merging into traffic. However, going down to Texas with their short ramps, merging requires some thought, but there's nothing wrong with thinking while driving. I always push the AC off for extra power.
Stock radio is mediocre, which means it'll do the job. It's got, I'm sure, one of the last cassette players ever made. I never took it to get an upgrade because really my commutes aren't that long, and I don't need extra bass to listen to NPR.
Trunk space is sufficient for a single gal with a couple of bags to take to the airport. The backseat folds down for extra room if needed. I managed to get a peacock chair in the back seat with some creativity!
This Corolla has been reliable beyond words. For some reason, people look down on reliability, but for someone like me without a man around or the benefit of public transportation, reliability is as necessary as clean air and water. People seem to have no idea what peace of mind can do for your bottom line. I've never had to take off work to see about this car, at least not until the car had well over 100,000 miles. Until then, I had scant reason to take the car to the dealer for repair work.
I need a reliable car in my life just like I need reliable people in my life. Excitement isn't everything. All I need is to be able to turn the key and go, and my Corolla has more than fulfilled that end of the bargain!
For someone looking for a reliable second hand car, I would say that you could do a whole lot worse than this car especially if you have a daughter in night school and you want something that will get her home safely. My insurance costs are low, gas had been low until it started going up, and honestly, my gas mileage might be higher if I weren't using the original plugs still!
Another thing to consider is that all Corollas from the 8th generation (1998-2002) on use a timing chain rather than a belt. You don't have to take this car in at 60,000 miles, or play Russian roulette by trying to guess when this thing is going to snap. I feel that's an expense you shouldn't have to pay for what should be a part of the engine you don't mess with (one doesn't change the crankshaft, after all, does one? So why consider timing "maintenance"?). My car has over 125,000 miles, and I've never messed with timing belts and never will.
I'd like to say, too, that after 9 years of ownership I'm still running the original headlights!
All in all, I can say that my '98 in Sanddrift Metallic is easily the best car I've ever had. It's a car that hadn't given me any reason to be afraid of it. I haven't been the greatest at maintenance, but it's been very forgiving of that. I'm seriously going to miss it when it's time to replace it, and now that it's older and things are starting to need replacing one by one, it's time to consider what my next car will be. I've heard horror stories about the 9th Generation Corollas, having been built in America and starting to have quality control issues. But until they give me real reason for concern, another secondhand Corolla will be at the top of the list.
Like a good husband or boyfriend, boring and reliable is good!