Maintenance for a Toyota Corolla

by Doug Desjardins

Though not as popular as the Toyota Camry, the Toyota Corolla is a less expensive and reliable alternative that is great on gasoline and extremely durable. You can easily get more than 200,000 miles out of your Corolla by following some simple maintenance tips.

Change Oil Regularly

The best thing you can do for your Corolla is change the oil regularly. That means every 7,000 miles for most cars and every 5,000 or 6,000 miles for an older engine. Most newer models are equipped with a light on the dashboard that will turn red when it's time to change the oil. You can change the oil yourself --if you have a wrench to remove the oil pan bolt to drain the old oil and an oil filter wrench to remove and install a new filter--or you can spend $25 or $30 to have the oil changed at a Jiffy Lube or your local garage. Whichever way you choose, keeping fresh oil in your engine will keep the parts well lubricated and make them last longer.

Check your Tires and Brakes

Keeping your car safe should be your No. 1 priority and that means maintaining your tires and brakes. If your brakes make a high-pitched squeak or a grinding noise when you come to a stop, have them checked out. It usually means you need new brake pads, which are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. Letting the pads wear out completely can damage the brake drums or rotors, parts that are expensive to replace. Always check your tires for wear and replace them when the tread begins to wear thin and show bald spots. Tires tend to wear first on the outside and inside edge. To make tires last longer, rotate the back tires to the front so that they wear evenly (front tires tend to wear out quicker than rear tires). Also, have your front-end alignment checked if you notice your front tires wearing out faster than normal. Excessive tire wear is a sign that the front-end is not properly aligned.

Keep Fluids Topped Off

In addition to changing your oil regularly, check on other fluids such as engine coolant, transmission fluid and brake fluid. To check engine coolant, take off the radiator cap when the engine is cool. If you don't see the green fluid pooled near the top, add more until it tops off. If your coolant keeps disappearing, check the radiator for leaks or the water pump (a leak from the water pump usually means it needs to be replaced). Take the same approach to transmission fluid, which you can measure with a dip stick the same way you check your oil. If you're low on transmission fluid, add some and measure it again to make sure you have the proper amount. Brake fluid is stored in your brakes and in a clear, plastic reservoir near the back end of the engine compartment. Check the fluid and take your car in to have the brakes inspected if it keeps running low. Your car's "dummy lights" will come on when any of these fluids run dangerously low but it's best not to wait that long, since damage can be done to the engine, transmission or brakes by the time the lights flick on.

About the Author

Doug Desjardins is a journalist and research analyst. He has worked for more than a half-dozen newspapers, magazines and websites and hiswork has appeared in a number of publications including the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Magazine.

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