Toyota Corolla Transmission Problems [8 Common Issues]

As you probably know, Toyota Corolla is one reliable vehicle model that offers proficient handling and doesn’t compromise overall ride quality.

Toyota Corolla

However, your Toyota Corolla may sometimes develop issues, such as transmission problems.

This article covers the common problems with the Toyota Corolla transmission and what you can do to fix it.

Toyota Corolla Transmission Problems

1. Strange Noises

Strange noises emanating from your Toyota Corolla’s transmission is not something you should ignore. The noises could be thuds, clunks, hums, grinding or screeching, etc. Each noise represents a different problem that could be troubling your vehicle’s transmission.

A professional auto mechanic should scrutinize your Toyota Corolla’s transmission when you hear these odd noises. The mechanic will detect the issue and make appropriate moves to fix the faulty transmission.

2. Burning Smell

Several burning smells are associated with vehicles used extensively over a period. Many issues are behind the burning smells that come from vehicles.

However, if you notice a unique burning smell originating near your Corolla’s gear shifter while driving or coming from the center of your car, your transmission fluid could be burning.

Burning smells caused by a vehicle’s transmission shows that the transmission fluid is old and needs to be replaced. By changing your Corolla’s transmission fluid, the transmission will start shifting smoothly, and the burning smell will be eliminated.

3. Grinding Gears

Many issues can cause gears in a transmission to grind, whether manual or automatic. So, when the gears in your Toyota Corolla’s transmission grind noisily against one another instead of smoothly connecting between shifts, a visit to the auto repair shop is in order.

You will need to disassemble your transmission to uncover what is causing the gears to grind against each other. You can do it yourself if you’re a DIY enthusiast. But if you’re not, get a professional auto mechanic to handle this transmission problem.

4. Zero Gear Shifts

If you notice a lag between shifts, especially between the ‘Drive’ and ‘Park’ gears, or your Toyota Corolla’s transmission refuses to shift between gears, the gear system has a problem.

However, this could be a minor issue caused by low transmission fluid or the need to change the old one. It could also occur because of any of these:

  • Using an improper transmission fluid type.
  • Internal mechanical failure.
  • Incorrect shift cable positioning.
  • A defective clutch linkage.
  • Malfunctioning sensors.
  • A clogged filter.
  • Failing solenoids.
  • A malfunctioning computer system.

But the worst-case scenario could be that a damaged or broken component prevents your Corolla’s transmission from changing its gears.

Get your Toyota Corolla to an auto repair shop for proper diagnosis and repairs.

5. Rough Gear Shifts

Rough gear shifts are a sign that something is wrong with your transmission. If your Toyota Corolla’s transmission shifts gears unsteadily or violently, it requires servicing.

Get your Toyota Corolla to your auto mechanic to have its transmission serviced.

6. Leaking Transmission Fluid

A transmission is essentially a large case that houses several shafts, gears, etc. The transmission fluid is also part of the transmission.

The transmission is closed off using rubber seats and components. However, the rubber seals or a component can wear out. When this happens, the transmission fluid starts leaking from the case. At times, the transmission case itself may be cracked, and the fluid may also leak out.

If you notice a puddle of red fluid beneath your Toyota Corolla when you park it, something is wrong with the transmission.

You need to address this problem as soon as possible, since the transmission fluid lubricates several moving components within the transmission.

Get your Toyota Corolla to the nearest auto mechanic shop for a professional to look at the transmission and do what is needed.

7. Slipping Gears

Gear shifts are expected to be smooth for a transmission. But if you notice that your Corolla’s transmission hesitates between shifts or struggles to stay in a single gear, it means the transmission requires servicing.

Gear slippage can prevent your Toyota Corolla from accelerating correctly. It can also prevent the engine from applying its power correctly to the drivetrain.

You can avoid these issues by immediately getting your transmission serviced by a professional auto mechanic.

8. “Check Engine” Light

At times, when your Toyota Corolla’s transmission has gone bad and requires repairs, a “check engine” light appears on your vehicle’s dashboard. Check engine lights come up for different reasons.

But many drivers often ignore this early warning sign, which is not the best.

To be sure if the issue is from your vehicle’s transmission, run a diagnostic check and observe the code your Corolla’s computer is showing. It could be a minor issue you can fix immediately and prevent a costly repair.

The diagnostic code makes it easy to identify transmission issues, and your mechanic can fix whatever the problem is until the check engine light no longer shows on your dashboard.

Can You Drive a Toyota Corolla with a Bad Transmission?

Driving a Toyota Corolla with a bad transmission is generally a bad idea. However, if you want to risk transmission locked up while in motion, you can drive your Toyota Corolla with a faulty transmission.

But if you want to be safe, even when there is a transmission fail-safe, avoid driving your Toyota Corolla with a bad transmission at all costs.

This is because driving with a bad transmission may cause the transmission to develop worse problems. For example, your transmission fluid may run out, or vital components fall out of place while driving with a flawed gear system.

The outcome may be costly repairs or a complete replacement of your Toyota Corolla’s transmission. Both options will cost you a lot of money, so you should never drive with a bad transmission. This keeps repairs to the barest minimum while saving you lots of money for other things.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Toyota Corolla Transmission?

According to, the average cost of replacing a damaged Toyota Corolla transmission is at least $3,500, depending on the model.

The costs of related repairs, labor costs, and the prices of components are not factored in. In addition, the transmission replacement cost does not cover fees and taxes.

Does a Toyota Corolla Transmission Last Long?

The transmission of a Toyota Corolla can last up to 200,000 miles. However, poor maintenance can make your Corolla’s transmission fail long before this time.

This is why regular maintenance is highly recommended. Ensure the fluid levels are topped up occasionally for the smooth functioning of the Toyota Corolla transmission.

If you notice any faults, ensure you fix them right away. Delaying or prolonging the period of repair may damage other related components.

Tips to Make Your Toyota Corolla’s Transmission Last Long

Here are 4 tips that would help your vehicle’s transmission last longer:

  • Avoid slamming suddenly on your Corolla’s brakes, as it usually makes your vehicle’s transmission prone to severe damage.
  • Always use your parking brake, especially when your Toyota Corolla is parked on a slope. Using the parking brake eliminates any stress on your Corolla’s transmission.
  • Do not press hard on the gas pedal while driving. You will not only feel the impact of that action on your wallet with fuel costs, but also mount undue pressure on your Toyota Corolla’s transmission. Extreme acceleration often creates too much torque. If your transmission fails to cool off, it will eventually overheat.
  • You should never skip transmission maintenance, no matter how busy you are. Delaying it will result in the friction of some components within the transmission case and their eventual wearing down. In addition, this will cause more expensive repairs than would ordinarily be required.

You may also like to read about Chevy 6-speed automatic transmission problems and Toyota CVT transmission issues.

Wrapping Up

The Toyota Corolla is one of the most reliable vehicles today. However, it has its share of transmission problems drivers need to know about.

These transmission problems nearly always give warning signs before developing into something serious that could ground your Toyota Corolla.

Ensure you adhere to the warning signs and never drive your Toyota Corolla with a bad transmission. Get your vehicle to the nearest auto repair shop as soon as possible if you suspect your transmission is bad.