Corolla sound like a diesel

My girlfriends Toyota Corolla, starting that we know of this last winter, has started to sound like a diesel. There seems to be a general lack of power, a slow response, and the car is noisy as heck! This has surprised me for the car is an '02 with just over 100,000 mi. on it! Finally the sound comes even after the engine is hot (1 1/2hr trip), so I don’t think the problem is just cold starting. My current thoughts include: time for tune up, timing “chain”, and possible just dirty then all get out. If any of you know, or have any idea, what is causing this that would be great.

I should add that no lights have come on except for the check engine light that came on just today. Lack of oil problem???

Could be a timing chain. If it’s that loud it might have slipped which could account for lack of power. The noise could also mean the engine is toast. That noise could be bearings. You need to get this checked out soon.

“Lack of oil problem???”

Have you checked the oil? If so, what was the level?

Has it been run in the past with very little oil?

“time for tune up?”

When was the last time that the spark plugs, air filter, fuel filter were replaced? For that matter, when was the last time that the oil was changed?

If this problem has been going on for several months without being checked by a mechanic, you could have transformed a relatively minor problem into a major one. Please give us more information.

The oil was just changed 2 weeks ago. The car has had maintenance, and when I was internet searing for why it was making the noise I was told repetitively that it was the cold. A mechanic didn’t find anything wrong with it this winter and as well blamed it on the cold. The spark plugs, and fuel filter are org. and I just replaced the air filter this prev. fall. This winter all that I consulted blamed the condition on the cold, and now even in nice weather the sound persists.

“The spark plugs, and fuel filter are org.”

Do yourself a favor and see what the factory maintenance schedule specifies for replacement of the spark plugs and the fuel filter. I find it hard to believe that replacement of at least the spark plugs isn’t listed for a lower mileage. And, even if the manufacturer does specify, let’s say, 100k for spark plug replacement, the spark plugs can be very close to impossible to remove when they are left in place for that many years/miles.

At the very least, have the spark plugs changed a.s.a.p. and see what the replacement schedule for the fuel filter is also. Even if these two maintenance procedures don’t fix the ongoing noise problem, they are still vital to the longevity of the engine.

Also, new spark plugs could likely result in improved gas mileage and could be related to the CEL being illuminated.

I’d change the fuel filter before you add a bad fuel pump to your problems.

You might want to check for a cracked exhaust manifold.


And stop by AutoZone and ask them to pull the codes and post them here. That way we might be able to tell whether the problem is related to the CEL or if you have multiple problems.

You and your girlfriend should sit down and read the manuals for both your cars. Compare the maintenance schedule (probably the severe schedule, since most people fall under it) to your records and see what work should be done on both your cars.

That is good advice, as usual, Tester. However, I question just how much maintenance this car has actually had, so I also think that the OP and his girlfriend should do what hoffmalr, jsutter, and I suggested.

Your girlfriend needs to bring th ecar to a reputable local shop, show them the noise, tell them about the other symptoms including the CEL, tell them honestly about the long term lack of maintenance, and let them go over the car thoroughly and give her a good overall assessment with cost breakdowns.

The noise, lack of power, and CEL could be a simple no-longer-firing cylinder, or it could be a more serious problem brought on by maintenance neglect, but unless the car gets a good going-over it may be not long for this world. You cannot neglect the things forever. They will begin to fail.

And have the entire car gone over, not just the engine. Things like brake systems and chassis should not be neglected either. If you can’t start a car it will ruin your day, but if you can’t stop a car it can ruin the rest of your life.

Well-said, mountainbike. Like you, I seriously question the OP’s statement, “The car has had maintenance”.

I’m sure that it has had maintenance during its 100k life so far, but it is clear to those of us who are responding that it has not had anywhere near enough maintenance, based on the other information provided by the OP.

It is a wild thought, but we had a 98 Corolla that had a leak at the exhaust manifold gasket and this description sounds very similar in its sound…

I should add that no lights have come on except for the check engine light that came on just today.

That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here.

Regarding warning lights:

  1. if the coolant temp light comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

  2. if the oil warning light comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

  3. if a FLASHING MIL/CEL comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

    ASAP means driving to the berm of the highway right now and not waiting for the next exit.

But if the MIL/CEL is not flashing, then it’s not an urgent indicator.