Toyota Corolla Transmission Problems

TaxiHack is reader-supported. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.

The Toyota Corolla is a very popular car, as it has been in production for over 50 years.

The model has been sold worldwide and is still one of the most popular choices for drivers looking for an affordable yet reliable car.

Being a reliable car Toyota Corolla does not come without its share of problems. Transmission issues are one of the most common issues that owners have had with their vehicles.

Toyota Corolla transmission problems are difficult to miss and normally come with many signs and symptoms. Let’s take a look at them:

  1. Loss Of Power
  2. Grinding When Shifting
  3. Transmission Slipping
  4. Burning Smell
  5. Noises When In Neutral
  6. Dragging Clutch
  7. Transmission Fluid Leaking
  8. Transmission Unresponsive
  9. CEL Turned On

Although any transmission problem or symptom should not be taken lightly, it is best not to get frustrated.

This article will discuss all the symptoms mentioned above, so you can know why they happen.

9 Signs Of Transmission Problems In A Toyota Corolla

what are the major issues of Corolla transmission? Read my guide to find out what those are

As promised, this section will start with the common symptoms associated with transmission issues found in Corolla.

1. Loss Of Power

If your Toyota Corolla is experiencing a loss of power, it could be due to a transmission problem rather than an engine one.

The transmission is responsible for engaging with the engine and transferring power from your engine to the wheels. So if it’s not able to do that, you’ll feel your car is losing power.

When you experience a loss of power, this can be due to an issue with the Transmission Control Module (TCM), or it may be due to wear and tear.

Both of them are pretty serious and can render the vehicle unusable.

2. Grinding When Shifting

When you’re driving, your transmission should be smooth and quiet. If you hear grinding when you shift gears, this can mean that your transmission has a serious issue.

Two main reasons cause this problem: a low transmission fluid level or damage to the gears in the transmission.

Suppose the fluid level is low, and the friction between the gears increases, which can lead to grinding.

A chipped gear means it cannot work properly in tandem with the others, leading to the dreadful grinding sound.

3. Transmission Slipping

If there is a transmission slippage, it could be a sign of a few different problems. First of all, it could be due to lack of enough fluid in the transmission itself.

A low fluid level can mean the pump isn’t doing its job and creating enough pressure for the next gear to engage.

It could also mean that the level of fluid has been decreased and needs to be replaced. Another possibility is that broken transmission bands are to blame for transmission slipping.

The bands wrap around the gear train and also connect to the housing. So, if they break, then the transmission slipping is a very real possibility.

4. Burning Smell

One of the common signs that your transmission is having problems is the smell.

A burning smell is a definite indication that either the transmission fluid level is low or it is broken down.

If there is no fluid, your transmission will overheat, leading to increased wear and tear on your Toyota Corolla.

The fluid level can reach a critical point if it has not been changed for a long time. It has not been designed to last forever.

There could also be a leak in the system, leading to the transmission not retaining the fluid.

5. Noises When In Neutral

This problem may be due to wear and tear or damage. If you hear a clicking sound when you put the transmission into neutral, it could be that your bearings are worn out.

A worn bearing will cause the gears to not spin at high speeds. Their worn-out state will also result in them producing a lot of sounds.

If the noises only occur when you accelerate or decelerate, the problem could be chipped gear teeth or stripped gears from excessive shifting.

This can happen if you shift gears too quickly or too hard.

6. Dragging Clutch

The problem of dragging clutch happens when the disk does not disengage from the flywheel.

This results in a gear clash, one of the most common symptoms of transmission problems in a manual Toyota Corolla.

A dragging clutch can happen if the transmission fluid has air trapped in it. This can lead to the transmission, causing issues such as the clutch not disengaging.

The inability of the transmission to shift gears could also be due this. Other possible causes for this issue are a faulty release system and a malfunctioning cable adjuster.

7. Transmission Fluid Leaking

If you’re facing leaking transmission fluid, it’s probably due to a failing O-ring or seal. Leakage can also be caused by a cracked transmission pan gasket or broken drain plug.

In either case, the result is a transmission that’s overheating. This can result in accelerated wear and tear of the system.

The worst part about this kind of leak is that it can happen without you even noticing it.

If you’re not checking your transmission fluid regularly, you may not notice the leak until it’s already caused damage.

8. Transmission Unresponsive

A Toyota Corolla car having a manual transmission could be due to a worn clutch.

The steel plates that make up the clutch may have worn down, which prevents pressure from being placed on the planetary gears.

The transmission control module could also be the source of the problem here. The RPM goes up while the gear is still locked to a lower one.

If it is not working correctly, this will lead to the synchronizers not working properly, leading to the transmission being unresponsive or too late to respond.

9. CEL Turned On

This may seem like an odd sign of transmission problems, but it’s the most common.

When there’s a problem with your Toyota Corolla’s transmission, the ECU will take readings from all sensors and make decisions based on them.

If the transmission sensors are reading incorrect data, this could lead to a check engine light turning on.

This is usually the earliest symptom of transmission problems. It must be clarified that the problem could be due to any other issue.

So, you should look for other transmission problems along with this one to narrow the source of the issue down.

How To Prevent Your Toyota Corolla’s Transmission Issues

If you drive a Toyota Corolla, you should be aware of the potential for transmission problems. Many people don’t realize that there’s a way to prevent them.

Here are four easy ways to keep your Toyota Corolla’s transmission in good shape:

1. Change Your Transmission Fluid Regularly

Normally, the best way to do this is to replace the fluid every 30,000 miles.

This will ensure that your vehicle has enough lubrication, which will help keep the gears from wearing out as quickly.

If you’re not sure when to change your fluid, check the owner’s manual for advice.

2. Don’t Shift Gears Rapidly

Don’t try to accelerate quickly by shifting down several gears at once. Shifting too fast can cause damage to components in your transmission system.

It may lead to problems like slipping or jerking when driving at higher speeds. This can also lead to chipping the gears, which is certainly not good.

3. Don’t Overload The Transmission

Don’t overload the transmission by driving with too much weight in the car (like carrying passengers) or driving over steep hills with too much cargo on board.

It can lead to premature wear-out of parts like bearings and seals, which could cause problems down the line.

4. Don’t Overlook Symptoms

If you are noticing the symptoms listed in the previous section, it may be time to get it checked out.

Your Corolla’s transmission is a complex system that can fail if not properly maintained.

If you’re noticing any of the symptoms above and want to avoid costly repairs, getting your vehicle inspected as soon as possible is important.

It is also imperative to not drive the car at all so further damage is not done.

How To Fix The Toyota Corolla’s Transmission Problems

In case your Toyota Corolla is having transmission issues, there are a few things you can do to fix them.

Is the transmission overheating or producing a burning smell?

Then replacing the transmission fluid is the simplest solution.

This is an easy fix that can be done in under an hour. You’ll need to drain the old fluid and replace it with new fluid before driving again.

Moreover, if the car has shifting issues, check whether the clutch has a manual transmission. The clutch may need to be adjusted or replaced if it’s not working properly.

However, if the transmission is grinding or clunking, then the transmission needs to be rebuilt or replaced.

Both are expensive options but the only thing that can be done to get the Toyota Corolla back in drivable condition.

Which Year Did Toyota Corolla Have Transmission Troubles?

With Toyota Corolla being in the market for over 50 years, many models have had transmission issues. This section will look at them, so you can avoid them.

2004 Toyota Corolla

With the oldest model on this list, the most common problem was that the transmission would fail on users.

2007 Toyota Corolla

The 2007 Toyota Corolla’s transmission would vibrate in the fourth and fifth gears. It would also jerk when reversing or when driving in lower gears.

2010 Toyota Corolla

The 2010 model of the Toyota Corolla was known to have a transmission that would fail. The system would also shift harshly in warm weather conditions.

2013 Toyota Corolla

There were not many complaints about the 2013 Toyota Corolla. There were isolated reports of the transmission shifting.

2014 Toyota Corolla

The transmission was known to not shift into gear in 2014 Toyota Corolla. A complete transmission failure was reported a few times.

2015 Toyota Corolla

The 2015 Toyota Corolla model had no complaints regarding the transmission. A very few issues reported but nothing to be concerned about.

2016 Toyota Corolla

2016 was another great year for the Toyota Corolla’s transmission. There were little to no complaints about the transmission causing issues for owners.

2017 Toyota Corolla

The 2017 Toyota Corolla’s transmission was known to have a jerky shift. It would also produce a whine when being operated.

2018 Toyota Corolla

The 2018 Toyota Corolla model had zero transmission issues, not even isolated ones. This is a pretty rare but remarkable feat.

2020 Toyota Corolla

With the 2020 Toyota Corolla, the transmission would shift harshly when the temperature dropped. It would also have trouble shifting into first gear.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Much Does A Toyota Corolla Transmission Replacement Cost?

The price of a Toyota Corolla transmission replacement will vary based on the year of your car. On average, the replacement will cost you around $3500.

Labor costs may be separate from the price of the part itself. It is better to get the job done from Toyota, as this is a delicate procedure.

Q2. What Is The Lifespan Of A Toyota Corolla Transmission?

The lifespan of a Toyota Corolla transmission is easily over 200,000 miles. If you take care of it and maintain it well, it can last even longer than that.

The key to keeping your transmission in good shape is to change the fluid every 60,000 miles or so (or sooner if the transmission has been overheated).


Q3. Is It Safe To Drive A Toyota Corolla With A Bad Transmission?

The answer to that question is no; driving with a bad transmission is unsafe.

Driving a car with a faulty transmission can be so dangerous because the vehicle may not shift properly or might slip out of gear while driving.

You are not only risking damage permanent damage to the transmission but could also be putting your life at risk.


Well, I have done my research, and I am here to tell you that the answer is “yes.” Toyota Corollas do have transmission problems. The problem is that they’re not always easy to spot.

Sometimes, it takes months of driving before it becomes clear that there’s something wrong with the transmission—and by then, the damage could have been done.

When pointing out a transmission problem, you need to be aware of the symptoms to act on it as soon as possible.

Although they cannot be avoided, these problems can be delayed for as long as possible using the preventative measures listed in this article.

I hope you got all the information you were looking for.