2000 Toyota Corolla has bad cylinder

My 2000 Corolla has been a dog from the day I bought it, a few years ago. It struggles up hills or speeding up on the highway. I took it to a local garage and was told that one of the cylinders was fouling a spark plug with oil. The owner said the cylinder would need to be machined to correct the problem. The total cost of repairs would be about $1800. My question is, would I be better off purchasing a rehabbed cylinder and having him put it in? Is this even possible? BTW, the car only has 132k miles on it, which is not a lot for a Corolla.

No, it’s not even possible. A cylinder isn’t “a part.” You have 4 of them next to each other all machined inside of the same big chunk of metal. An engine block looks like the pic and the cylinders are those big holes. Clarify as best you can what the shop said that it intends to do because fixing a problem with one cylinder especially if this involved “machining” something would be odd. And the methods would be suspect. The shop should be talking about a complete rebuild - which would be more than $1800. Or they have determined that the problem is in the cylinder head (the pic is the block) and they will have the head rebuilt. In that case, the price makes some sense, but I’d be more skeptical that it’s the cause of the oil fouling.

They must have checked the compression and done a cylinder leak down test. Get those results and post them along with the specific diagnosis and work that has been quoted.

The cylinder is an integral part of the engine block, so a cylinder cannot be replaced.

It sounds like the engine has low compression in at least one cylinder and is burning oil to boot. I wouldn’t waste a lot of money trying to recondition this engine. You might be better off selling it as is and buying a better used car, and having a mechanic go over your “new” car thoroughly before purchase.

Sinking $2000 into this car won’t change the fact that it’s a 14 year old car with not many years left. Sell it while you still can.

I’d want to get a second opinion and find out exactly what’s causing the fouling in that cylinder. It may be that the oil rings in that cylinder are simply gummed up and a few treatments of an additive might free the rings. The “oil rings” are a set of 3 rings that wipe oil from the cylinder walls, and it they’re stuck and unable to do so properly oil will be allowed into the combustion chamber and will burn and gum up the sparkplugs.

If the cylinder is somehow scored, and he verified that with a borescope, you’re stuck. The only solution is a rebuild or a replacement engine. I should add that it’s unusual for this type of failure to manifest in only a single cylinder. Typically that happens because the engine has been run dry of oil, and typically it affects all cylinders to varying extents.

It’s also possible that you have a bad valve, or bad valve lash, that’s allowing leakage of the combustion chamber pressures.

Your guy might be right. But before assuming that, I think two things are warranted. I think it’s work trying “Gumout” or some similar additive from the parts store (follow the directions on the bottle), and I think it’s worth a second opinion… each in the order I’ve listed.

It must be the cylinder head the mechanic said need to be re-machined. And I think you’re right, it’s probably not worth the money to fix it. The mechanic said he’d buy it for $1,000. Maybe I ought to sell it to him. He fixes cars up and sells them to customers. I’d feel awful about selling it to any individual in the shape it’s in, unless they knew exactly what they were getting into. Thanks so much, everyone.

Whether it’s worth repairing or not depends on the car’s overall condition and on your budget. If it’s otherwise in good shape and you’d end up replacing it with another used car anyway, I think it’s worth repairing. Where else are you going to find a car in good shape for under two grand?

But I would definitely want a second opinion first. And I would definitely want to try the parts-store additive. It could be that of the oil ring gets freed up the car’ll have many more years of good life in it.

Unless, of course, you can afford something new and the shiny new Huppmobile is calling your name…

I agree; spending that kind of money on a 14 year old car makes no sense. This is the perfecrt sale to a mechanic who can put a used engine in and have a good car for his kid going off to college.

I also think a second opinion is in order. If the source of the oil leak is the cylinder head, it would likely be valve stem seals. Valve stem seals can usually be replaced without taking off the cylinder head.

Put some plugs in the car and sell it. The cash value of the car is not worth engine work. Besides burning oil is a pattern failure for this engine.

Since he has offered to purchase the car, the mechanic has a conflict of interest. You might want a second opinion.

Here’s what I’d do if I were in this situation. If I trusted $2000 would be all that is needed to fix it, and it was in otherwise good shape (little to no rust) I’d just get it fixed. $2000 is a lot less than buying a new car.

If I didn’t think $2000 would get the job done, that more repair bills would be in the waiting (and this would indeed be a concern if this car has an automatic transmission that hasn’t recently been rebuilt) then I’d donate it to my local junior college or high school auto shop class. Let the students there learn from it.

You state the car has been a dog since the day you bought it several years ago. Odds are the prior owner neglected it into the pavement and an existing problem just evolved into a much worse one.

The complaint as worded is very murky and apparently a lot is lost in translation. If the plug is being oil fouled then it’s likely because of a piston ring and/or cylinder wall problem.

I agree with Rattlegas except I’d just buy a dozen plugs and keep changing the one fouled one every month or so when it fouls. A couple bucks for a plug versus ?

An anti-fouler could also be added to that plug to help things a bit in regards to plug fouling.

That might keep it wheezing along until the bitter end.

I believe every cylinder has a cylinder liner that could easily be replaced.


Sorry, but you’re wrong

That might be the case with some large heavy duty diesel engines found in class 8 trucks

But that is certainly not the norm in passenger vehicles . . . at least not anymore

I would shop around for a junkyard engine, if the rest of the car is in good shape.

If not done to your knowledge, add a set of new factory spark plug wires. I’ve seen this cure fouled plug issues (assuming compression is good).