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My 1999 Corolla Engine Died

5413 Views 3 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  GarrettC
I'm not clear about what the problem is, and I was referred here in order to get some expert advice.


Used Automatic 1999 Toyota Corolla
160,000 Miles
Oil Changes Every 5,000 Miles


At no point during this ordeal did any of my warning lights come on.

Driving on the freeway, I started to hear a light, rapid, regular knocking sound - almost a coffee-maker kind of sound. I'm not sure if I would call it a knocking or a gurgling, but knocking is probably right. The engine was definitely struggling.

So I got off of the freeway onto a residential street to stop the car. As I decelerated, the sound got louder with every downshift and the car eventually stopped accelerating altogether. Then, the engine stopped completely just before I got to the curb. At that point, the ignition was completely non-responsive (no noise, just lights).

I got a tow to an auto repair shop. By then, the ignition was responsive again, but the engine obviously wouldn't start. It just made a bad grinding noise with some extreme knocking behind it. And that description hardly does it justice. It was the worst sound I've ever heard an engine make.

Just by ear, the guys at the shop immediately said the engine would need to be replaced. The sound was definitely bad enough that I believe it. Even so, I want to be cautious.

I called later to get the list of codes from a diagnostic. The shop told me no codes came up, and there was no history. I've heard conflicting things about diagnostics results (I've heard that results ALWAYS come up, and I've heard they only come up when the light is registering a problem), so I don't know what to make of that either.

I just had the oil changed, and we triple checked at the shop to make sure the oil in there was clean. It was. The filters, plugs, and fluid levels should have been fine. I had them checked about 10,000 miles ago.

I live in a different city from where the car is now (waiting at the shop) and the car can only move if it's towed. So I'm pretty limited about getting it to other shops cost-effectively.

I'm really at a loss. Is the car gone? It's not worth the cost of an engine replacement. Would it be worth the cost of trying to locate and repair a specific problem? I need to make some decisions by the weekend because my well-being depends on having personal transportation available - and I can only rent for so long.

Any help, suggestions, or thoughts are great. Thank you everyone in advance.
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Based on what you've heard, it definitely sounds like the rod bearings in your engine are gone. If that's truly what you're looking at, a complete ardent overhaul of the engine or an engine replacement will have to be done, for the car to be in good working order again. Drain the motor oil into a pan and unscrew the oil filter to see if shavings emerge in the oil. If you see them, then that's a clear sign the engine is dead.

You could buy a replacement engine at a junkyard or at a pick-n'-pull. That's probably one of the most inexpensive ways of getting another motor. Are you mechanically inclined to take on the task yourself or do you know anyone with experience in tearing down or replacing engines?

Thanks for the reply. Really, really helpful information.
Oh, and to answer your questions: It's not a project that I'm capable of taking on myself, and definitely not in the short time I need it done. I don't think I know anybody who can help either.

I'll be able to get a little money back for the car. It's sounding like the most efficient solution for me right now is to take the cash and put it toward a replacement.
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