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2002 Toyota Corolla Engine replacement

I need information. I have a 2002 Toyota Corolla with a 4 cylinder 1.8 litter engine that burns through a quart of oil every 3-4 days. I suspected and it was confirmed with a compression test that the rings were bad and I needed a new engine. Now the shop found a re-manufactured motor for about $2,100. I think I can do better however I’m finding the landscape of engines riddled with linguistic pitfalls - re-manufactured does not seem to equal rebuilt, etc. I am not in a position to just get another decent vehicle - we’ve just recently dumped all our cash and meager credit into purchasing an 07 Saturn - and dropping a few grand on a junk car is completely out of the question with the number of miles I drive every day. I need this car to last at least another 4 years with heavy driving. With that in mind a used engine seems to be out however would having my old engine rebuilt be a viable option? If so what price should I look for? Or would it be better to keep looking at re-manufactured motors? I’ve found one or two on ebay for between 1250 and 1500 bucks. Should I steer clear of online purchases and stay with some place local?

@KDorsey…I have tried the online route a few times with very little success. I believe the best course of action is to obtain your engine locally. Why can’t your engine be rebuilt? If you have a vocational school nearby…they are usually an inexpensive route to getting a complete overhaul. Burning oil means bad oil rings in most cases. I would suggest a second opinion from another shop.


I agree with @missileman

It might be better to have your engine rebuilt, versus buying an rebuilt engine of unknown quality

Have you priced a Jasper rebuilt engine? From what I understand, they are halfway decent

But if you got a Jasper, that would be an exchange

Bottom line . . . you have to visit some shops and make some calls

What I would NOT do is install a junkyard engine, if you were considering that

How would you know that thing doesn’t have problems?

Your motor should not be burning oil. It is. Sell car. Buy another car. U can tell buyer it burns il. They may not care. If u buy next car for same money, than u are only out time and effort.

I don’t have a problem getting a second opinion though I trust the mechanic I go to since I had a good idea that it was the rings before he even touched it. I’ll look into the vocational school option though the thought of trusting students give me pause.

I looked at Jasper and before a core charge redemption I’m looking at $3,200 for the engine alone. As I said I used engines are out. Rebuilt = possible. Re-manufactured = likely.

As I said I am in no position to get another car at the moment. The only ones I could afford would have a plethora of problem of their own that would likely end up costing me more. Devil I know is better.

I would get a second opinion too. Are you sure it is not leaking oil? Do you see any evidence of oil drops where you regularly park the vehicle? The reason I ask this is this engine has a history with the front seal. I just replaced on on an 03 that was loosing oil at about that rate and now it doesn’t lose any oil at all.

The front seal is pretty easy to change. Remove the serpentine belt, remove the passenger side wheel and plastic shroud behind the wheel. Then remove the crank pulley and pop out the old seal. grease up anew one and stick it back in and reassemble.

I made a crank removal tool out of a 1x4 and 2 ea 8 x 1.25 x 50 mm class 12.2 bolts. If you use class 8.8, get 4 bolts as they will bend and cannot be reused to torque down the pulley when done.

I’m certain it isn’t leaking any meaningful amount of oil. At the rate I have to fill it I’d certainly notice if it was leaking out onto the ground. About a year ago I did have the front seal replaced and that fixed the minor leak that I did have but didn’t fix the oil burning which has progressively gotten worse.

Had to ask. BTW, has anyone checked the PCV valve? How many miles on this engine?

PCV valve? Don’t think so. Is it difficult to check? Not a car guy. Do I need to rip anything apart to get to it? And we’re talking about 170K

PCV valve is at the end of the valve cover near the throttle body. You have to remove the plastic shroud that covers the engine first to clearly see it. It is horizontally mounted on the end of the valve cover, screws into the valve cover and has a 3/8" dia hose attached to it. Generally you remove it and shake it. If it rattles, it is good.

At 170k, the rings should not be worn down. This engine did have issues with sludge build up if the oil changes were not done religiously, and even then it could happen if you went the max on each oil change with 5w30 conventional oil. The fix in this can be as simple as removing the valve cover and checking the oil drain back holes.

If sludge builds up and blocks the drain back holes, then oil fills up under the valve cover and tops the valve guides where it gets sucked into the engine and burns. One quick way to check for this is to check the oil before start up and either fill to exactly the full mark or note the level somehow. Then start the engine and run for one minute, shut it off and immediately check the oil level. If it is down a quart or more, you have a drain back problem. A 1/4th quart down would be OK but it should come back to the original level within 5 minutes.

You can do this test hot or cold, but if you do it hot, make sure the engine has been off for at least 10 minutes before taking the first reading. If the blockage is severe enough, 10 minutes might not even be enough.

Another test if the engine is hot, check the oil level immediately after shut down and then every minute for about ten minutes, then again every 5 minutes for the next 20 minutes. If you see the oil level slowly rising (over a quart, 1/4th qt is normal), you have a drain back problem.

If you have a drain back problem, I would just remove the valve cover, use a screw drive to clear the drainback holes and maybe scrape out some of the easy to get at gunk, check valve clearances while your in there, put on a new valve cover gasket and change the oil frequently (1k intervals) with a good conventional 10w30 oil. After 3 oil changes, then go to 3k intervals for awhile, may 3-5 more and then to 5k intervals.

PCV and front seal wouldn’t cause the low compression, so they’re ruled out IMHO.

Don’t see any stats from the compression test or if the correct procedures performed. That is why I agree with getting a second opinion. He can check for drainback issues himself, just need to know how to read a dipstick, and since he needs to add a quart every three of four days, I assume he knows how to do that.

You need to understand the difference between rebuilt and remanufactured.

Rebuilt means the component is rebuilt to it’s original specifications. This can include inferior materials and/or design.

Remanufactured means the component is remanufactured with improvements to those materials and/or design so the component doesn’t fail from those inferior materials and/or design.

So you’re far better off getting a remanufactured component over rebuilt component because the remanfactured component has the latest materials and/or design that makes it last longer.


Stuck rings would explain low compression if the car has had a history of really short trips, but we don’t know how long the OP has had it. I once bought a Plymouth Duster with a 198 cube slant 6 that was owned by someone who lived a half mile from work. It trailed blue smoke but it was only $200.
The oil was the consistency of 90 weight gear oil. I changed it and it turned coal black as soon as I started the engine. I changed it again 500 miles later. As I drove the car it would occasionally give a lurch and a large puff of smoke and run better afterward. After all the rings freed up it never burned a drop between 3000 mile changes.

No idea what the original did to it - though I suspect the oil changes were neglected. I drive the crap out of the thing racking up roughly 350 to 400 miles a week. When I have a little time I’ll check that PCV valve and report back. I’ll also call my mechanic and get the exact readings for the compression test.

Just my 2 cents, but words like rebuilt, remanufactured, or whatever else is thrown into the mix may or may not mean much.

Proper engine building is very labor intensive and an assembly line remanufacturing facility is not likely at all to be doing anything other than putting them together and hoping any failure rate is in the low single digits.

In other words, bore a cylinder .010, drop an .010 piston into the hole with .010 rings and assume it’s all good.
Car makers do the same thing when the vehicle is new; except for the bore part…

Burning oil in this engine is a known issue, GOOGLE it. I believe the fix is replacing the pistons and rings with updated pistons with longer skirts that dissipate heat better, and that also have more and bigger oil drain back holes in the pistons oil control ring slots. So IMHO you would be best to have the engine rebuilt using new updated pistons and rings from a reputable mechanic.