20th Jun 2012, 20:04
My Corolla now has around 69,000 miles. I have not had any issues with it. The miles are racking up slowly because I have recently acquired a company vehicle, which I use for work, so I only drive my Corolla to and from work (I'm the chief mechanic for a small, local shipping company. I use the company car to make roadside visits, and for traveling to the yard to pick up a truck for service or repair, so it gets most of the driving). This is a good thing however, because I work in the city, and city miles are hard on a car; I'd rather let my company vehicle take the beating.
My college plans have changed, and I will not be attending a college away from home, but instead will be attending a college that I will be commuting to and from daily. It's still a 120 mile round trip ride, plus up to work, and down to a second job I will be starting very soon. So, the mileage is quickly going to rack up once all of this starts up.
Now, about the car. The hood mask ended up marking up the paint on my hood slightly. Not the car's fault, but rather the cheap mask I bought. I buffed out the scratches from the mask and bought what I should have bought in the first place, a hood deflector. Works great, keeps my hood protected and keeps the bugs off my windshield.
I've switched over to 89 octane fuel. Never had any issues with pinging in this car, but my brother's old Corolla began to struggle on the 87, and when my mom's '09 Camry even started to ping a bit with 87, we all switched to 89. No issues with pinging in any of them since, and I would say it added some low end power in each of them. I average 38-40 MPG.
We had temperatures in the 100's today. My A/C? It works great.
I had a bit of an issue with not having cruise control. This was the first car I've ever owned without it (out of 6 in total) and ironically, this is also the newest. I spoke with the dealer I bought it from about possibly having it installed; they told me it wasn't possible. I didn't agree with them, and instead went online and found out that all Corolla's since 2003 come pre-wired for cruise control from the factory. The only thing that gets added on a Corolla WITH cruise control? The switch. I did some more research, and found that many people have installed their own cruise control in about 30 minutes. I bought the same cruise control switch that would normally be used in a Corolla with cruise control, and installed it. The most difficult part is cutting the hole in the side of the steering wheel case for the switch to come out of. You also have to move the ground wire for the horn out of its original plug, and put it in the plug coming from the cruise control switch. After that, the plug for the cruise control simply plugs right into the clock spring. Mount your switch with some self tapping screws into the pre-drilled holes for the switch, and voila! Cruise control! In total, it cost me about $30 bucks and took about 30-45 minutes to install. Probably would've been less if I was better with the Dremmel tool.
I've also decided to install some performance upgrades as well. This is new to me, I've never installed any sort of upgrade on any of my own vehicles. But I want to put a bit more spring into this Corolla's step. I've purchased a TRD Front Strut Tie bar and a TRD Rear Sway Bar. TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development by the way. Silly in a bare bones, stock 1.8L, automatic Corolla I know. But I got some money from my high school upon graduation, and decided to treat myself and my car. I haven't installed these upgrades yet, but will be sure to report on how they perform once I do.
26th Jun 2012, 16:45
Installed the TRD strut brace and TRD rear sway bar. Noticed the difference in handling and ride comfort right away.
The car stays much flatter in the corners than it used to. Normally, even gradually entering a corner would cause pretty much all the car's weight to drift towards the outside front wheel, which would then cause predictable but dramatic understeer. Lifting from the throttle during this state caused very slight lift-oversteer, even at lower speeds. Now, the weight is much better controlled from the stiffened front end. It still understeers if pushed, but the threshold is definitely higher. The steering also lost some of it's Toyota "vagueness" and feels slightly more responsive.
The rear sway bar really tidied up the rear end. It's much more eager to follow the rest of the car now, and doesn't move around as much. Much better planted and stable feeling.
The ride comfort was not adversely affected by these upgrades, surprisingly. I did not expect large performance gains or a serious reduction in ride quality. But I really didn't expect the ride to actually IMPROVE from these upgrades, and it most certainly has. The suspension seems to absorb smaller consecutive bumps much better, and large bumps don't cause the car to become very unsettled like it used to. It just rides and performs better overall.
Did not expect much from these small upgrades (especially for what I paid). But I actually got a lot more out of them than I thought I would. In my opinion, they were totally worth it.
26th Jul 2012, 21:21
71,000 miles and I had my first problem: a blown tail light bulb! HA!
But since a blown bulb isn't really a problem, I still haven't had any issues with my Corolla.
I installed a small, class I trailer hitch. I do not intend to tow anything with my car, but I mountain bike quite frequently, and had been using a trunk mounted bike carrier on my old Corolla, but I did not want to use this same carrier on my new one, since it does scratch the paint. So I bought a hitch mounted bike carrier that doesn't touch any painted surfaces, and keeps my bike far enough away from the car so that it cannot come in contact with it (thus preventing damage). May I also add that this hitch was EXTREMELY EASY to install. The frame rails come with pre-drilled, pre-threaded holes to install a hitch onto. The threads on my Corolla took about an hour and a half to clean out (thank you New England winters), but the hitch went on in about 5 minutes.
I absolutely HATE the tires the car came with. They are new (however the front and rear do not match), but they are very cheap brands. Overall wear isn't an issue, but despite re balancing, I cannot get rid of that "thumping" noise associated with an unbalanced tire. All suspension components are functioning properly, and the tires are not scalloped or feathered. The ride is smooth and there are no vibrations, but still I can hear the slight "thumping" noise at highway speeds.
I can't bring myself to replace a set of new (albeit crappy) tires that still have another 50,000 miles of life in them at least. But, when these do wear out (and I CAN'T WAIT for that) I am going to purchase a set of custom rims and summer tires (I am sticking to the stock 15" rim size, and will only upgrade the tire size to 195/65R15 instead of 185/65R15. Installing large rims and skinny tires is a poor decision. Messes up ride quality, acceleration, gas mileage, etc.), and then purchase a winter tire set to mount on the stock steel rims the car came with.