4th Feb 2006, 14:11

I drive a 1989 Corolla DX with 205,000 miles on it. The engine has been very reliable, gets decent mileage, and still doesn't use much oil.

Right now I do have a problem with the electrical system that sounds similar to what the original poster reported. About three weeks ago, the brake light and discharge light came on together. I drove it like this for a week, not having much choice at the time. During that week there was one day when the warning lights went out. Finally the battery ran down, so I knew there was an alternator problem. Put the battery on trickle charge and it recovered. Checked all fuses and fusible links: all were OK. No apparent problem with a relay. Pulled the alternator and took it to a local Autozone store. They checked it and said it was good. (Most Autozones will do this check for free.) Put the alternator back in and got it to charge the battery on first startup. After that it was back to the problem condition.

My best guess at this point is that it's an intermittent connection somewhere in the alternator field coil circuit. I've examined the wiring and connectors, but I can't spot anything wrong. No one has replied to my various postings asking for ideas on the problem. I suppose it's one to take to the dealer -- which I will do once the paychecks start flowing again in about a week.

6th Feb 2006, 22:42

Addendum to my previous comment about the 1898 Corolla DX with 205,000 miles: Yesterday I pulled the alternator again and removed the brushes, thinking they might be making poor contact. But they looked good, so I put the alternator back together and reinstalled it in the car. From that point on the alternator has performed perfectly. I'm not sure what I did, but it seems to have worked.

7th Feb 2006, 18:09

I'm the review writer for the '87 Toyota.

I have let the car sit all winter. The battery is now dead.

That is because of the mysterious electrical problem.

I have been getting the alternators from Auto Zone. I have the lifetime warranty on the alternator, but yet it is frustrating because they do not last long.

Someone told me that these alternators from Auto Zone are cheap and do not last long; others say to have my wiring harness checked. Any ideas, anyone?


2nd Apr 2006, 18:57

To the previous commenter: I am the review writer of this review.

I, too, have a little black wire by the alternator that looks like it plugs into something. Because this wire is short it seems obvious that it would plug into something close by, but no one has found it yet.

After my Corolla sat all winter I started it up this week. I bought a new battery and it also has a new alternator.

It started right up after I sprayed cleaner on the carb.

The charge light is not on. Perhaps I have been getting bad alternators from autozone?

Hopefully I won't have any more trouble.

18th May 2006, 22:55

I have a 2002 Toyota Corolla. A couple of months ago, the headlights would come on in the middle of the night. My car was "dead cold" - I didn't leave the keys in the ignition overnight, and when I locked up my car for the night, the headlights were off, everything was dark as it should be. One day my right headlight bulb went out so I replaced it. A few days later, both headlight bulbs went out. I replaced both bulbs on April 13. Today is May 18, and the right headlight bulb went out. What is wrong with my car? Is it some sort of electrical problem?

5th Jun 2006, 21:57

Today, my 90 corolla has the same problems described above - both brake and discharge warning lights come on. So far, battery and alternator are both fine. Is there anyway to fix this problem?

6th Jun 2006, 10:11

Yes you are correct on the alternators from Auto Zone. I myself have had them be bad right out of the box. Yes, the lower price and lifetime warranty is great, but who wants to change it again and again every time you turn around.

29th Dec 2006, 19:26

I have a 1997 Corolla DX, and I am in love with it. It's my first car, yes, but it's the most reliable, non-gas-hog I could find when I was 17 (21 now). I bought it with around 140,000 miles on it, and I've only had three problems with it. First, I had to replace the starter motor (owner of the older Corolla, might this be your mysterious electrical problem?) after the turning over of the engine slowed bit by bit. Second, when I start it on a cold day, and keep my foot on the brake while switching from park to drive, the thing lurches forward like it's trying to run away! Lastly, the inner right brake light works at random. The problem is in the connection from bulb to "socket." One of the little knobs on the bottom of the "socket" has melted, and the corresponding connector on the bulb does not touch this 100% of the time. Anybody familiar with this and know how to fix it?

22nd Jan 2007, 14:44

Owner of a 1990 Corolla.

The brake and battery lights coming on together is a sign of a bad alternator 98% of the time. It is possible that the alternator tests good (as in it puts out 14 volts) yet still has internal problems (IE. brushes).

I agree that Toyota produces engine that you really have to want to kill. They hold up even without oil sometimes. However, the electrical problems are enough to boggle the mind.

I have replaced the starter, battery, and alternator (all within the last 4 months). Each of these parts died independently so I just assumed that they were isolated events caused by general aging and wear. Now, the car refuses to start even with a jump. I'm looking into possible fixes for the neutral safety switch, ignition starter switch, ignition lock cylinder, and/or something completely different.

Great car, shame about the headaches.

22nd Oct 2007, 01:50

Owner of a '88 Corolla.

Replaced: Carburetor, alternator (twice), brakes, and similar items.

The car has 300000 miles.

I have been told not to spend too much money on the car, but it is all I can afford and has never, ever left me stranded on the freeway even when the gas tank was completely dry!!!

If you take care of this car, the car will love you and cherish you. God Bless Japan!!!

27th Nov 2007, 09:27


So I'm having kind of a similar problem with my Toyota Corolla 1993, DX. My alternators fine, my batteries fine. The only problem is the first isn't charging the second. I know by this either a.) The wiring from the battery to the alternator is messed. or b.) the wiring somewhere else in the car is messed.

Knowing my car it could be either. But what prompted me to post is that mysterious little short wire off the alternator, it seems to go to the engine, it was unhooked originally, and my uncle hooked it back up... cause why not, and then the car started having this problem... so we unhooked it, and for a while it was fine... then the car had the problem again. Then we checked everything, plugged everything back in and the car still has the problem. Anyway I'm working on it. My point was that it goes to the engine, but It may be better left unplugged.