Is it normal for a car to drive differently from one day to another?

I’ve had my car for almost five years now and my experience with it changes from day to day. There are times when the engine is a lot more eager to rev, when the throttle response is much quicker and it feels like it’s handling a lot better, the steering wheel feels easier to turn. Then, there are those days when it feels less responsive and sluggish, and unable to handle as well, the steering wheel is harder to turn.

Ok, so these two are the extremes, Jekyll and Hyde. Usually, it’s in between. When I first got the car, it was more of the latter, and I was very unhappy. These days, I get more days when the car is responsive (this makes me happy.) However, neither extreme has gone away. There are those sluggish days too.

I can’t seem to correlate this behavior with anything, is it the weather/temperature (humidity?)

The best, the closest, I have come is the GAS I put in. This is not definitive but I find that I get the best results when I use a local full-service gas station. So I keep going there.

Did I start getting more “good” days when I started putting 0W20 oil in it? Not really. Manufacturer recommends 5W30.

Anyone else find this to be true?

BTW, the car is a 2007 Corolla CE with 65,000 miles. As I mentioned, it’s better now than when I first got the car. Has it finally “broken in”?

First I suggest you use the oil recommended for your car by Toyota.

Does Toyota call for high test fuel for your Corolla? Are you using regular or high test fuel?

  • When was the last time you changed the oil?
  • Do you have any CELs (check engine lights)?
  • Are the spark plugs original?
  • How about the wires?
  • Have things changed with the cooler weather (assuming it has gotten cooler where you are?
  • Do you have any automatic or manual transmission? Have you ever changed the fluid?
There are many possible issues.  I would have someone with a little experience check the belts.

A 2007 Corolla CE with that many miles should behave flawlessly, provided it has had regular maintenance. We have the same car, and it never failed to start, warm up properly and have the same amount of power while driving.

The things to check are the fuel system, and the ignition system. The type of oil, such as 0W20 SYNTHETIC! or normal 5W30 should not make any difference.

The original spec for your car was 5W30, but the dealers are stocking (and pushing) mostly 5W20 and synthetic 0W20 since that is specified for NEW Toyotas. Personally I would stick to the 5W30.

I’m guessing that the answer is “no.” This is not exactly normal.

Either that, or a I am a head-case. I don’t think I am but would a head-case necessarily know that he is one? Anyways,

  1. I change oil twice a year, every 5,000 to 6,000 miles.
  2. No CEL
  3. Plugs and Wires are original
  4. It’s an automatic 4spd, I changed the ATF at 30K and then at 60K (per Cartalk advice.)

The weather seems to have no real effect, although when it’s humid out, I’m more likely to get one of those “sluggish” days, nothing scientific here.

I don’t think I’m crazy.

Have you changed the gas filter?

I suggest new plugs and wires.  I strongly recommend OEM wires (or at lease OEM spec.)  It may not be spark related but after over 65,000 miles it should be suspect and it is due.

“It may not be spark related but after over 65,000 miles it should be suspect and it is due.”

Maybe, but many cars these days don’t need to have the spark plugs changed until at least 100,000 miles. I don’t know if the Corolla also requires new plugs around 100K, but it would tell us in the maintenance manual that’s in the glove box.

Asking if you are a head-case is definitely a sign that you are NOT a head-case!

This engine has coil-on-plug. No need to change the wires, but you may want to check with the dealer and see if there’s a recall for the coil units. Toyota has had a very good track record with coils, so I don’t hold out much hope there.

Fuel filter is a strainer attached to the fuel pump, internal to the tank.

You’d have to check the manual for plugs, but 65K may be right if they’re not Iridium. If you pull one to check, don’t re-install it, just replace them all, and make this your new starting point.

Some humidity usually results in better performance (or so is my experience). Cooler is better, too. Heat will normally lead to reduced performance, but in order to actually be able to feel this difference, you have to be very sensitive to it. Either you are, or there’s something else going on.

I don’t think you’re a head case, but there’s something unusual happening. Check the usual things to be cleaned or replaced: MAF, air filter, air intake plenum, spark plugs.

Good luck!

OP…do you think it might be you. Depending upon our mood and what’s going on in our life, our perception can change. Unless the weather changed dramatically from one day to the next, my guess is that it’s you.