Toyota Corolla sedan 2014-2019: pros and cons, common problems

Updated: February 04, 2023.
The Corolla is a relable car with a comfortable interior and a smooth ride. The 2014-2019 Corolla sedan is larger than the previous generation and offers more interior space.
2017 Toyota Corolla interior 2017 Toyota Corolla.
From 2014, the Corolla comes with a continuously variable transmission or CVT. For buyers looking for a conventional automatic transmission, the 2014-2016 Corolla L (CE in Canada) still offers a 4-speed automatic.

Toyota Safety Sense (TSS-P) that includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, is standard from 2017.

  • The Corolla is one of the most reliable cars.
  • Bulletproof engine that can last long with good care.
  • Fuel economy.
  • Low maintenance costs.
  • Easy driving experience, comfortable ride.
  • Well-designed interior.
  • Holds its value well and is easy to sell.
  • Issues with the infotainment screen.
  • The seat fabric stains easily.
  • The engine feels a bit underpowered.
  • The lower portion of the front bumper is easy to scrape.
Toyota Corolla Problems: Most of the problems are minor and include Check Engine light issues, a failed alternator, corroded tire valve stems, bad ignition coils, failed rear oxygen sensor and a bad water pump. There are reports about the infotainment touchscreen failing. Overall, the Corolla is a reliable car and can last for over 200K miles if maintained regularly. Let's look closer at some of the problems:

There are complaints about some areas of the infotainment screen not being responsive or that the audio system is rebooting or freezing.
2015 Toyota Corolla 2015 Toyota Corolla S (E170).

If out of warranty, replacing the screen or the unit is expensive. When buying a used Corolla, test if all areas of the touchscreen are working consistently.

If your screen is not working properly and repairing it at Toyota is too expensive, one option is to check with your local auto electronics shop if they can fit an aftermarket unit that may be cheaper. Another option is to replace the screen part (Touch Screen Digitizer). Watch this video. The screen part is sold online for $40-$60.
For phone pairing and other questions related to the infotainment system, check the Toyota Entune support website.
The Check Engine light with the trouble code P0138 is often caused by a bad rear oxygen sensor (B1-S2). The cost to replace it in a repair shop is around 1.0 hour of labor plus the part. An aftermarket sensor costs from $60 to $90, an OEM part is more expensive (up to $300).

A bad ignition coil can cause the engine to misfire (shake and lack power). The Check Engine could stay ON or flash ON and OFF. Further diagnostics may reveal the code P0301 to P0304 (the last digit is the number of the cylinder). Replacing an ignition coil is easy and the part is not very expensive. If spark plugs are old, it's a good idea to replace all the spark plugs at the same time.

The code P0171 can be caused by a dirty or bad mass airflow sensor or vacuum leaks.

The bulletin T-SB-0086-16 explains an issue in the 2014-2016 Corolla where the fuel tank filler neck that is out of position might cause the gas cap not to close properly. As a result, the Check Engine light might come on with the code P0455 or P0456. The repair procedure involves repositioning of the fuel tank filler neck.

A noisy or leaking water pump might need to be replaced ($290-$480). It's not a very difficult job.

If you have a smart key fob and the fob battery fails, you might need to hold the fob close to the start button to start the vehicle. Read more: Why a car won't start when you push the Start button? The battery in the fob lasts for about 3 years. It's easy to replace.

A failed starter motor may cause the car not to start. When turning the key, the vehicle would click but won't turn over. When this happens, the battery needs to be tested too. Replacing a starter motor costs $380-$510. Read also: 3 reasons Car won't start: 3 common causes. Steps to diagnose. Troubleshooting tips.

An alternator can fail and cause the battery warning light to come ON and the battery to be low on change. Your repair shop may charge about 1.0 hour of labor plus the cost of part ($140-320).

Various Toyota Safety Sense (Dynamic Cruise Control, Lane Departure, etc.) warning lights can be caused by snow or dirt blocking the front sensor or the camera on the windshield. This is a common problem in all modern cars with this type of system.

According to the owner's manual for the U.S. 2017 Corolla (page 211), the radar sensor is located behind the front grille emblem. The manual advises, "Keep the radar sensor and front grille emblem clean at all times." The same goes for the camera sensor installed on the windshield. The manual says, "If the windshield is dirty or covered with an oily film, water droplets, snow, etc., clear the windshield."Overall, the number of reported problems is small compared to other cars.

Summary: The Corolla is one of the most reliable compact cars and it won't cost a lot to maintain. The number of complaints on the NHTSA website is relatively small. NHTSA awarded the 2014-2018 Corolla sedan with a 5-star overall crash-test rating. The Corolla will hold its value well and you won't have trouble selling it.
Among competitors, we recommend the Mazda 3 and the Honda Civic. Read also: What mileage is OK for a used car?

Related articles:
Honda Civic 2012-2015
Mazda 3 2014-2018 review
Toyota Corolla 2009-2013 review
Chevrolet Cruze 2011-2015 review

Engine: The 2014-2018 Corolla comes with the 132-hp 1.8L 4-cylinder 2ZR-FE double-overhead cam engine.
Toyota Corolla 2ZR-FE engine Toyota Corolla 2ZR-FE engine.
It's a simple low-maintenance naturally aspirated (non-turbo) engine with a conventional fuel injection. Toyota has used this engine for many years and it's known to last for over 200K miles with good care.

The Corolla LE Eco is equipped with the 140-hp 2ZR-FAE engine that has a continuously variable valve lift system called Valvematic installed on intake valves. It controls how much the intake valves open depending on load, rpm and other factors.

Timing belt or timing chain? Both the 2ZR-FE and 2ZR-FAE engines come with a timing chain, there is no timing belt. A timing chain only needs to be replaced if it's stretched or worn out. If oil changes are done regularly and the engine always has the proper level of oil, a timing chain can last for the lifetime of the vehicle.

Fuel economy: The EPA rates the 2014-2016 Corolla with a CVT transmission at 29/37 mpg. The Corolla LE Eco gets 30/40 mpg. The 2017-2019 Corolla with a CVT gets 28/36 mpg city/highway on regular gasoline. This means that on a long highway trip, the automatic Corolla can go for up to 449 miles (723 km) on one tank (13.2 US gallons or 50 liters). The 2014-2016 Corolla with a manual transmission is also rated at 28/36 mpg.

Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT: The 2014 Corolla is the first Toyota in North America to use a mechanical belt-driven CVT. The electric CVT or eCVT used in the Prius and other hybrids has a completely different design. Nissan, Subaru and other manufacturers also equip their cars with the mechanical CVT, but Toyota uses a different supplier for their CVTs: Aisin AW.

In 2018, Toyota announced Special Service Campaign JSD to address some issues with the CVT transmission in certain 2014-2017 Corolla models. The bulletin describes the inspection and repair process. Possible solutions include updating the software (reflashing the ECM) or replacing the valve body or the whole CVT transmission unit and updating the software. Check with a local Toyota dealer for more information. There are several discussions about this campaign on various forums and on Reddit. Google 'Special Service Campaign JSD' for updates. Read also: pros and cons of the CVT transmission.

Does the CVT transmission need fluid change? We checked the maintenance schedule in the Warranty and Maintenance Guide for the 2018 Corolla that you can find on the US Toyota Owners portal under 'Resources'. It recommends changing the CVT fluid every 60,000 miles if the vehicle is operated under Special Operating conditions that include 'Extensive idling and/or low speed driving for a long distance such as police, taxi or door-to-door delivery use'. This basically refers to conditions that can cause the CVT fluid to overheat, so if you think that your CVT transmission has been working too hard, check with your dealer if they can change the CVT fluid.

Maintenance tips: At higher mileage, an engine might consume some amount of oil between oil changes, which means it's a good idea to check the oil level regularly (see how) and top up if needed. Spark plugs need to be replaced at 120,000 miles ($170-$220 in a repair shop).

An engine air filter needs to be changed every 30,000 miles or earlier if dirty ($25-$45). A drive (serpentine) belt needs to be inspected regularly after 60,000 miles and replaced if cracked or damaged ($85-$140). Read more about the serpentine belt.

Engine oil capacity: The oil capacity for the 2ZR-FE and 2ZR-FAE engines (Drain and refill with filter) is 4.4 US quarts or 4.2 liters according to the owner's manual. SAE 0W-20 is the recommended oil grade. Read also: Illustrated maintenance checklist.