2003 Corolla - bad transmission

I bought a used 2003 Toyota Corolla CE, 5-speed, from a private owner (who was the second owner) in 2008 with 80,000 miles. At 114,000 miles the transmission went on it. The oil was drained at the service station I stopped at when the the trouble began, and it was full, but old/original oil, and they only found tiny bits of metal, not large chunks. On the 3.5 hour drive back to my mechanic I lost 5th gear and it kept popping out of 4th unless I manually held the stick into gear. I obviously will be replacing the transmission, but nonetheless, my question is, has anyone else heard of a Toyota of this young vintage having transmission problems? Also, any opinion as to whether its better to get a used transmission or see if this one is rebuildable?

I fear that this is a a non-answer to your question, but in my experience, Toyota manual transmissions are easy to work on and the parts are reasonably priced. However, in general, it is quicker and more cost-effective to find a junkyard transmission than to rebuild a manual transmission. I rebuilt the tranny in my Toyota at 175k miles, but all it needed was bearings. For my Volvo, I went with a junk unit. Still going after 8 years and 100k miles.

Most junk yards will give you a 90-day warranty on a transmission, and it will cost at least $100 to have a shop tear it down and evaluate the damage.

My concern with the junkyard part is you have no idea about the history of the car and why its in the junkyard, let alone how the transmission was treated, whereas a rebuilt one is, well, kinda like getting a new one. I figure if the price difference is $500, better to go with the rebuilt than with a used. Does this make sense?
I think the greater problem is that this seems to be an inherent problem with 2003 Corolla 5-speeds - the chat rooms brim with complaints about this model and year car having the transmission go from owners around the US and Canada.


1996-2000 rav4s have trouble with 5th gear poping out but can be fixed without pulling.
Check if you have same one