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2003 Corolla dead engine

I bought a 2003 Toyota Corolla last month, it had 96,000 miles on it and the car fax report was clean. In the month I have had it, I checked the oil weekly, the car never over heated on me, but on a trip two days ago the engine died on the highway. I have a warranty for the car, but am afraid they will find something that could have prevented the engine from dying. I bought the car from a dealer, who bought it at an auction - and he told me the engine looked good, and changed the oil for me. Does anyone know of lemon laws that will protect me if the warranty doesn’t cover it? I have always driven older cars, and finally decided to invest in a more reliable car last month - only to have it quit on me…I’m not a car buff, and am not sure where to find reliable sites on the internet for answers.

Lemon Laws are statutes enacted on the state level, and thus, are different in every state. However, I doubt that any of them would cover a used car–especially one with over 90k miles on the odometer. If you want to see exactly what protections are provided by the Lemon Law in your state, go to:

Although the Car Fax report was “clean”, you should be aware that Car Fax reports probably omit as much information as they include, thus meaning that a Car Fax report is better than nothing, but it is very far from an assurance that you have a car that has been well-maintained or that has not been in an accident. That is why any potential used cars that you want to purchase should be checked by a mechanic of your choice prior to purchase. I know that it is too late for a pre-purchase inspection for this car, but at least you will know better for your next used car purchase.

All you can do at this point is to take the car back and press for repair under your warranty, which is likely a 30-day warranty. If the car has run normally since it died on the highway (and you did not tell us whether it is now running or not!), it is possible that there is a phantom electronic problem that could be difficult to find.

What you might want to do ahead of time is to take the car to Auto Zone, or Advance Auto, or another parts retailer in order for them to do a free scan of the car’s OBD2 system for trouble codes. Then, you can come back to this forum and report those codes (if any), so that some of the members can advise as to what those codes may imply.

Good luck!

Thank you for your reply! The car isn’t running - the engine is dead. Though it has run fine up until the minute before the lights on the dash came on, and a loud clicking noise in the front left part of the car started. I had it towed to a garage where they told me I need a new engine, and it would be at least 2,500. Thanks for your advice in future purchases. I’m naive when it comes to purchasing cars, as I’ve always purchased “hand me downs” from family members who keep well maintained cars.

The repair could be something very simple…as VDC suggested…how about the timing belt? Does the corolla call for its replacement at 90,000 miles? Toyota engines usually last more than 100,000 miles… good luck

What killed the motor? Does it have oil in it? Did the timing belt break? Did it throw a rod?

If it is a broken timing belt, then no recourse. Toyota timing belts are supposed to be changed at 90K miles or every 7 years.

If it has no oil in the oil pan then the dealer who did the oil changed messed up. Perhaps the oil leaked out of the drain plug that was damaged and/or stripped out. Perhaps the dealer is on the hook for your loss? It depends on how long ago you bought the car, since you said you checked the oil weekly you’ve had the car for a month or more and I doubt the dealer is going to honor any warranty.

If it threw a rod, that is just life. You bought a used car and if you got a warranty the dealer should honor it IF this occured within the warranty period. Most used cars from dealers have a 30 day 1,000 mile warranty at best.

Lemon laws apply to new cars. You would have to prove some sort of fraud to have a case against the dealer. For instance a car sold to you as a good car that had flood damage, or a “salvage title”. This kind of case is often hard to prove definatively.

I tend to think that mshugna is correct about this being a case of a broken timing belt.
If that is what happened, and if the Corolla engine is of the “interference” design, that will result in repairs in the $2k-$3k range.

Replacing the timing belt is a normal maintenance item that should have been done already. This is a perfect example of what a Car Fax report will NOT tell you about a used car.

And, unfortunately, even a mechanic’s inspection prior to purchase might not have caught this impending problem, simply because visual inspection rarely reveals anything substantive about a timing belt.

Personally, I think that it is foolish to buy a used car unless it comes with full maintenance records. Yes, this does limit one’s choice of used cars, but it can potentially save the new owner from thousands of $$ for repairs and a lot of headaches.

This car has a timing chain, not a belt.

Well, potentially that is good news for the OP. Of course, there may well be more to the story (and to the car’s background), but it is unlikely that the timing chain broke, so this may not be as bad as it appeared initially.

This vehicle has a timing chain and is NON-interference.

It’s unlikely that any warranty will cover something on a 7 year old car; especially one purchased through an auction.
Auctions are often a dumping ground for problem children so to speak. I’m not saying all auction cars are bad ones; just that it’s a place to unload and be done with questionable cars forever.

The dealer told you the engine “looked good”? That inspires confidence.

At 96k miles the engine should not be bad but that all depends on the previous owners. Many new cars are routinely abused into the ground. They’re then traded in and if it’s a creampuff the dealer may keep it around. If it’s on shaky ground off to the auction it goes.

Read the fine print on this warranty and you can probably forget about any Lemon Law issue. At this point do not blame Toyota for producing an unreliable car; any problems are about 99%+ owner inflicted.