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Old 09-30-2012, 03:00 AM   #1
AmyH
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Default Maintenance Question for High Mileage

We have two 2006 Toyota Corollas- one an CE and the other an LE that we bought brand new. They are both standards. My husband changes the oil/filter every 5-6k miles and checks and changes the air filter regularly and adds coolant as needed. The LE currently has 168k miles on it and the CE has almost 120k. Neither has had any issues at all with the exception of needing new bulbs for the headlights. He has also changed the brake pads on the LE even though they seemed to have quite a bit of wear left. Both are driven 70% highway/30% city. I would like to see them both get to the 250k mark if possible. Currently they are both running just fine and seem to have no issues, getting about 37-38 mpg. What maintenance would you suggest or what problems would you be on the lookout for? Honestly they have only seen a real mechanic when we had a recall and nothing was said about them needing work... but then again I did not ask either! Our closest Toyota dealer is a good 50 miles away and I don't know any local reputable mechanics... but will make the effort if it is warrented.

Last edited by AmyH; 09-30-2012 at 03:06 AM.
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:54 AM   #2
Scott O'Kashan
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It depends a lot on what maintenance has been done already or not, beyond what you have listed. It's a good idea to replace the fuel filter at least every 50,000 miles, along with new transmission fluid and filter at the same mileage. Spark plugs are important as are the spark plug wires, if so equipped. There will be a recommended maintenance list in the owners manuals of each vehicle that is a very good rule of thumb to go by.

In the, "Toyota Corolla Maintenance", section here, look for the, "Free Corolla Maintenance Records Website", post and this will help you out as well.

I hope this has been of help.
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:42 AM   #3
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Continue what you have been doing, follow the recommended maintenance for the rest, don't forget timing belt or chain. You could see 400,000 mi.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:16 AM   #4
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Uh oh... there is transmission fluid for a standard? Honestly I thought that was for automatics. We tried to replace the fuel filter, but were told it is in the gas tank and can't be changed unless you want to change the whole gas tank too. No- we have not changed the spark plugs (on my dad's advice) because the gas mileage is still great and the engine runs fine. But I guess a trip to the dealer is in order since I have no idea where the timing chain is to inspect it. I also didn't see anything in the maintenace log about a timing chain? Only a drive belt?
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Old 10-01-2012, 04:06 AM   #5
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Ah, I missed where you mentioned both cars being equipped with standard transmissions. Regardless, standard transmissions also have a lubricant that should be periodically replaced. In the case of the standard transmissions in your Corolla's the lubricant is a 75W-90 gear lube and that should be replaced every 50,000 miles for severe usage, to every 100,000 miles for normal usage. If it's never been done at 120,000 and 168,000 miles, it's well overdue. Old/worn out gear lube can allow a standard transmission to wear out, necessitating a costly rebuild.

I looked up your car on my companies Product Application Guide and to my surprise there is indeed no fuel filter listed, so apparently what you were told in regards to that is correct.

If the owners manuals for your cars are listing a drive belt, this means the engines are equipped with timing belts and not timing chains. The drive belt term is the factories terminology for a timing belt. Timing chains don't need periodic replacement, but timing belts do. Timing belts have various recommended replacement intervals from car manufacturer to car manufacturer ranging from 100,000 miles to about 150,000 miles and are a pivotal maintenance item. The timing belt is made of rubber and over time it will develop cracks, eventually snap and the engine will come to a stop. If you are driving in heavy traffic, this can be a dangerous thing to happen of course. The timing belt keeps the valve train and the crankshaft of the engine in time so the engine runs properly. Some engines are known as interference engines and what this means is that if the timing belt snaps, the valves and the pistons inside the engine can hit each other with catastrophic results, in many cases destroying the engine and costing thousands of dollars worth of damage. Of course, you don't want that to happen, so addressing the timing belt issue is tops on the maintenance list. Many vehicles have water pumps that are very easy to replace when the timing belt is replaced and water pumps don't last forever, so it is not at all a bad idea to replace the water pump as well, so you wont pay double for labor when the water pump eventually fails, (if it's not replaced at the same time the timing belt is). For example, if the labor for replacing the timing belt is $200 and the additional labor for replacing the water pump at the same time is $30, then the total labor cost for both jobs is $230. If you don't have the water pump replaced at the same time as the timing belt, when it eventually fails in the future, you'll have to pay the entire $230 labor again to have the water pump replaced, as virtually the same work that was done to replace the timing belt only will have to be done all over again. I hope I explained that so it makes sense? A typical timing belt and water pump replacement job is about $500 and the antifreeze will be replaced at the same time.

With the spark plugs, my personal recommendation is to at very least to remove them and inspect them at 50,000 mile intervals. If the spark plugs in your Corolla engines with 120,000 and 168,000 miles are the original factory spark plugs, they are way past due to be replaced, (look at the recommended maintenance list in the owners manual). With a vehicle, it's almost always less costly to be pro-active and replace maintenance item parts before they fail and cause further problems, such as the spark plugs. Old and worn spark plugs can't provide maximum fuel economy, easy starts, (particularly in cold winter temperatures), can lead to rough running, an increase in emissions, etc. Another problem with leaving spark plugs in too long is that the part they thread into, (the cylinder head), is aluminum, the spark plug threads are steel and leaving them in too long can cause corrosion between the steel spark plug thread and aluminum cylinder head to occur, making it very difficult to remove them. In some cases, so much force has to be applied to break them free that the threads in the aluminum cylinder head can become stripped and ruined. In the best case scenario, the threads can be cleaned up and a new spark plug installed and in the worst case scenario a new cylinder head will have to be installed, which can easily exceed $1,000. Considering a set of good spark plugs run around $30-$40 it can save quite a bit of money by simply replacing them on time and not leaving them in too long. With most 4-cylinder engines, (as with your Corolla's), the spark plugs are very easy to get to and might take about 30 minutes to replace.

Again, I checked the Product Application Guide for your car and fortunately for you it doesn't have spark plug wires, so you wont have to worry about that at all.

My Product Application Guide lists cabin air filters for your Corolla's and these filters filter the outside air of dust, pollen, etc., from entering the passenger compartment/interior of the car. If they have never been replaced, you can bet they are plugged up and are well overdue for replacement. A plugged cabin air filter not only restricts the amount of outside air that can center the car, but if so equipped it also puts extra load on the air conditioning system.

Brake fluid is another important but often neglected maintenance item. Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid and when you push on the brake pedal, a plunger inside the braking system master cylinder compresses the brake fluid so that the fluid then compresses the brake calipers, which then pushes the brake pads against the spinning brake rotors, thus bringing your Corolla to a safe stop. Over time, brake fluid can become contaminated with dirt, discoloring it from a clear color to brownish in appearance. This can cause moving parts inside the brake system to stick, not function smoothly and in some cases, not function at all.

Another problem with old brake fluid is that it can become contaminated with water, which lowers the boiling point of the brake fluid and in a panic stop situation can allow the brake fluid to boil, which can allow the brakes to malfunction with the brake pedal becoming spongy/unresponsive and/or drop to the firewall without stopping your car. Bake fluid is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and the more water it absorbs, the lower the boiling point of the brake fluid. So how do you know if the brake fluid in your car is in good shape or not? With a color coded brake fluid test strip you immerse into the brake fluid that will tell you if too much water is present in the brake fluid. These test strips are available from better auto parts stores such as NAPA, Carquest, etc. I'd be very surprised if the discount auto parts stores such as Autozone or Advance Auto Parts had these available. Last I checked, they didn't. Below is a link to various companies that offer these brake fluid test strips. Call around in your area -

http://www.nextag.com/brake-fluid-te...ps/stores-html

Antifreeze; if it's never been replaced, it would be wise to do so. Ditto with the cooling system thermostat in each engine.

Cooling system hoses deteriorate from the inside out and should be replaced every 100,000 miles or so. Cooling system hoses include the upper and lower radiator hoses, as well as the hoses going to and from the heater core, which have just as much wear and teat on them as the radiator hoses do. Those heater core hoses can burst, leaving you stranded alongside the road with steam pouring out from under the hood.

Brake lines; as cars accumulate a lot of mileage, brake lines can many times rust and burst, (particularly in regions that have snow), causing the brakes to fail. Have them closely inspected for rust/corrosion and replaced if needed. Brakes are nothing to cut corners on.

Power steering fluid; this is another hydraulic fluid and it's at the heart of the steering system of your Corolla. It's another fluid that is commonly neglected. This is a shame, because power steering fluid also lubricates the rack and pinion unit which is the backbone of the steering system of a front wheel drive car. When and if they wear out, they typically cost $500++ to replace. Changing the power steering fluid with a $5 turkey baster to suck out the old fluid, and pour in new fluid from a $5 can of new power steering fluid is very cost effective. Do this a few times over several weeks and virtually all the fluid is replaced. You can have this professionally done at an auto center with an expensive flushing machine for about $80-$100. You pick. lol

Rust; have the car thoroughly looked at for undercarriage rust that will eat away at the major structural components of the car. Most cars hold up well against rust these days, but if rust is starting to appear and the issue is not addressed, it will eat the car from the inside out and long term will destroy the car when everything else on the car might be in fine shape. Most people don't address this issue as they only keep their vehicles for 100,000 or so miles, but for the long-term goals of 200,000 + miles that you want, rust shouldn't be ignored. Undercoating can be purchased in cans at most auto parts stores and sprayed onto any area's that are showing rust. Rust needs two things to spread; air and water, deny it either of these and you'll stop it. Sealing the frame/undercarriage with undercoating will prevent rust and also make the car a bit quieter as the undercoating helps to insulate against road noise.

So there you have it, a fairly complete list. Feel free to print it out and reference it for future use. Helping people's cars to run better, more reliably, at lower cost and lasting longer has been my profession for the past 25+ years. I hope this helps you out. If you have any questions, feel free.
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Last edited by Scott O'Kashan; 10-03-2012 at 03:56 AM.
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Old 10-01-2012, 06:53 AM   #6
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What Scott O'K said: Good advice. It may sound expensive, I once spent $1200 on one preventive maintenance visit - timing belt, water pump, etc. But that was my only maintenance expense, just gas and oil changes and tires. If one day you ever sell, it can show up on Carfax that you mainained your cars, adding value.
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scout706 View Post
What Scott O'K said: Good advice. It may sound expensive, I once spent $1200 on one preventive maintenance visit - timing belt, water pump, etc. But that was my only maintenance expense, just gas and oil changes and tires. If one day you ever sell, it can show up on Carfax that you mainained your cars, adding value.
Regarding maintenance costs, I once had a customer who owned a 1979 Pontiac Grand Prix with bucket seats, console and T-tops. The car was blue with a white interior and had only 38,000 miles. It was gorgeous! The only problem was that the car had been sitting in storage for many years and every single rubber component on the car had serious dry rot cracking; all the belts, tires, hoses, shock absorber bushings, spark plug wires, etc. After sitting for so many years, all the fluids, oil, transmission, gear lube, brake fluid, and power steering fluid needed replacing. A complete tune up was in order and the rear springs were sagging. The car needed a lot of maintenance work to be roadworthy again. The owner had inherited the car from their deceased Grandfather and so it meant a lot more to them than just the monetary value of the car.

I spent about 2 hours working up an estimate for all these items and afterward showed the customer all the various items that needed replacing on the car and why, so they could see for themselves and make an informed decision. Then I showed them the estimate; $3,100. I pointed out that yes, the estimate was more than the retail value of the car, however if they had this maintenance work done, they would have a car that was literally almost new and provide them many years of service, which is less costly than purchasing a new car. Plus, the car had real value as a family car and would be something they could keep in the family for many, many years. The customer said they wanted to talk this over with their father of course and would contact me the next day with their decision.

The next day came and the customer showed up at my auto center, handed me the keys and said, "Please go ahead and do the work". By the end of the day my technicians had the car completed and when I drove the car up for the customer and opened the door for her so she could hop in, she had a smile on her face that was absolutely priceless. She had a wonderful car and I truly envied her as she drove away.

Proper maintenance on a car can virtually make it last forever and is always less costly than replacing that car with a new car.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:54 PM   #8
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Well I have an appointment on Thursday at the dealership to have them look the car over and give me a prioritized list of what needs to be done. Not only have we been slacking on the maintenance on the two corollas, but also haven't done much to our 2000 Chevy 3500 gas engine with 75k miles on it. It too has an appointment at the dealer.... looks to be an expensive month but hopefully well worth it in the long run.
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Old 10-03-2012, 03:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmyH View Post
Well I have an appointment on Thursday at the dealership to have them look the car over and give me a prioritized list of what needs to be done. Not only have we been slacking on the maintenance on the two corollas, but also haven't done much to our 2000 Chevy 3500 gas engine with 75k miles on it. It too has an appointment at the dealer.... looks to be an expensive month but hopefully well worth it in the long run.
Maintenance bills are steadier than repair bills, but they are always less costly.

Be forewarned, they don't call them, "stealerships", for nothing. They are well known for charging top dollar if not more. Get a written estimate and then shop around. Also, they should not be charging you anything for looking the car over and giving you an itemized written estimate. (This is called a courtesy inspection). If they are, in my personal 25+ year experience in the automotive industry opinion, they are ripping you off. Don't stand for that. There are many other competent auto centers to choose from. The per hour labor rate of new car dealerships is almost always the highest around. Ask what their labor rate is per hour. If for nothing more, when you ask this question they are going to recognize you know what you are doing and wont be an easy target for a rip-off. Also, ask if they employ ASE Certified technicians and where the credentials for this are posted. ASE stands for Automotive Service Excellence and it is a governing body for monitoring the skill level and competence of automotive technicians where they take yearly exams in various aspects of automotive maintenance and repair. If they don't employ ASE Certified technicians, or say they do but don't have a sign on the wall stating they do, that's not a good sign at all and you'd be best to go elsewhere. Both of your Corolla's are well out of warranty and you are not required to take them to the dealership. For alternatives, look in the yellow pages of your phone book and make some phone calls. Generally, the larger nationwide auto centers will be the best vs small independent auto centers. The price you pay for the same maintenance/repair work can be as much as 30% ++ lower than the, "stealership". Again, please beware.

Another drawback to dealerships is the warranty is usually only honored at that dealership and not nationwide. So if you have a problem with the car and any of the repair/maintenance work done and you're out of town on a trip, you're up the creek. Nationwide auto centers such as Firestone, etc., honor the warranty for their repair work nationwide, so you're covered. Many motorists assume that the dealership is owned by whatever car company. This is not so. Dealerships are independently owned franchises. Some of the most incompetent and un-knowledgeable personnel I have ever seen have been at new car dealerships. Just because they have a fancy shirt on with the car makers logo on it doesn't mean they are competent. Please beware.

I sent you a private message to help you out with your vehicles.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:07 AM   #10
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By the way Amy, I have run multi-million dollar auto centers and I'm very good at what I do. I'd be very surprised if the automotive technicians that look at your car were as thorough as the list I gave you. If you're going to do something, you might as well do it right so I recommend that you make notes from the list of preventative maintenance items I listed for you and specifically state you want each and every one of those items inspected. If you don't, it wont get done. I guarantee it. Another thing that should be inspected are the MacPherson struts. Over 100,000 miles on the original struts, (a modern term for shock absorbers), is a lot and they typically need replacing around 100,000 miles or so. The brakes should also be checked, but that should be included in any basic courtesy inspection.

I wish I could personally help you with your Corolla's. I feel like I'm throwing a sheep to the wolves! The majority of auto centers, be they a new car dealership, a major chain or an independent, in my opinion are not honest, don't know what they are doing or a combination of both. I've also read studies to this effect that came to the same conclusion. Please, please be careful. If you wish, you can even call me and I'll steer you in the right direction and help you to avoid being ripped-off. If you'd like me to do this for you, it's my pleasure. Send me a private message and I'll send you my phone number.
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