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Old 5th June 2023, 19:44   #1
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Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures

The beginning

Apparently when someone is not able to find a job these days, they resort to becoming a financial influencer commonly known as a finfluencer

Don't get me wrong, I love finance and credit where it’s due, finfluencers have definitely helped raise the financial awareness among the youth. However, like most of us here, I too love cars for as long as I can remember.

Enter the finfluencer. They swear by two commandments. First, to start saving from as early as possible. Second, to stay away from liabilities like cars.

It looks like both my likings contradict each other. It's like being a vegan who's favourite food is steak.

How do I manage my passion for cars while being mindful of finances. Two words - cautious indulgence.

Last edited by cefiljoseph : 6th June 2023 at 01:47.
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Old 5th June 2023, 20:47   #2
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Re: Coco's Adventures: life with a 9th Generation Corolla (E120)

Deciding to get a car and choosing the model

Here I am, a twenty year old who just moved to Mumbai for his first job. I always knew that the first thing to do after landing a job would be to get a car.

In my situation, the car was not just for enthusiastic reasons but also to commute to work. My office and apartment being in Thane, the public transport options were limited or difficult to get especially during the monsoons. This was the primary reason to get a car.

My father offered to get a car for me since I had only started earning. He was against getting a two-wheeler because of safety concerns. Since I would be buying the car with my parents money, I did not want to splurge and wanted to stick with the smallest budget possible. However, I didn't have to be conservative with maintenance or mileage as long as it was reasonable. This is because I would be taking care of upkeep and fuel largely.

After some thought, I decided to keep a budget of two lakhs and search for a car. This ensured that I don't end up with the bottom of the market and also get a decent car thanks to the endless options in Mumbai.

Once I decided the budget, it was time to zero in on the models. First rule I knew from years of watching videos and lurking OLX was to never buy the car at the upper end of the budget and to save 20-30 percent of the car's cost in immediate upkeep.

Therefore, I decided to search cars under 1.5 lakhs. The immediate choice that came to my mind was the Suzuki Alto K10. It was pocket friendly, fun and reliable. I thought this was the one to get and I shouldn't look any further.

On a later day, while going through OLX, I searched with a price filter of two lakhs and below. Suddenly, I realised the mistake in my decision when I saw other options like civics and corollas.

Civic was eliminated for two main reasons. One is that contrary to common perception, keeping a Honda running is kind of expensive once the car is of that vintage(~15 years). Second was the notorious bottoming out suspension which would be suicidal in Mumbai where speed breakers are as unscientific as it can get.

Fiesta was also something I liked in that budget. However, I wouldn't be getting the nicest fiesta in that budget needless to mention the worry of having something from a manufacturer who left the country.

The choice was obvious - 9th generation Corolla (E120). Arguably the best mass market corolla ever made.

Press photo of the ninth generation Corolla.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-corol2_720x540.jpg

I have a never ending list of great things to tell about the car. I never miss a chance to annoy every person I meet by telling about how good the ninth generation corolla is. In my humble opinion this is the best car someone car buy today with a budget of two lakhs. Give or take a little depending on the year.

Major W's for the E120
1. Toyota reliability - having seen a first gen Innova and a Fortuner perform daily in my home without breaking the banks for over a decade has given me first hand experience of the Toyota reliability and support. Therefore, I have reasonable trust in the brand.

2. After sales support of Toyota - unlike many other brands, Toyota supports and services older vehicles/imports without a fuss. I was partially wrong about this which I will talk about later in the thread.

3. Safety - this was a major win for the corolla against my previous choice, the Alto K10. Right from the base model the cars came with all-wheel disc brakes. From 2005 facelift, they came with ABS as standard right from the base models as well. I wish customers and manufactures today gave more importance like to having safety equipment as standard over gizmos like sunroofs and wireless charging pads.

4. Comfort and Luxury - I found it low key funny that someone shopping with a small budget would be getting a luxurious car with reasonable reliability. Well, that is the beauty of buying used cars. The H5 variant that I eventually got had factory leather seats by Stanley. Even a basic couch from Stanley today costs a bomb so this sweetened the deal.

5. Performance - Toyota generally tunes their engines for good low end torque be it petrol, diesel or whatever. The sweet 1ZZ-FE motor of the ninth generation corolla was no exception to this. I also choose this particular model for the tuning potential of the 1ZZ. Famously, the much loved lotus Elise had this same engine albeit with a supercharger. Some other cool models like the Celica shared this engine too which made it cool in my eyes. To be fair, the engine has mediocre perforce higher up in the rev range and has a diesel like performance. This is why I decided to get the manual so that I can capture most of the torque when driving. Admittedly, Mumbai traffic sometimes makes me question the transmission choice.

6. Practicality - An enormous boot of 430 litres sweetens the deal and makes it a great touring car. It comes handy when I pick someone from airport as it could swallow two check-in and cabin bags each with some small things. The same comes handy during road-trips as well. The back seat is a little compromised to achieve this boot space. In later generations, this has been changed from what I understand. Speaking of back seats, the lack of AC vents is one disadvantages in this generation of the corolla. Since, I mostly don't have people in the back seats, this is hardly a problem. I however, oddly like travelling in the back seat. Due to the lack of insulation and age, I love the sensation of speed and especially torque felt in the backseat. However, I can see someone complaining about the back-seat on longer rides. Speaking of practicality, the more than usual ground clearance of corolla makes it feel like Toyota predicted the future with this car. While it results in an MPVish driving position, I would take the peace of mind of ground clearance any day over a little more handling. It is interesting to see that Toyota tried this with Corolla back then and is now bringing the same feature to the current generation Crown. Truly future-proof.

7. Styling and iconic nature of corolla- Corolla styling has always been evolutionary in nature. While corolla is disregarded as a basic beater car in developed parts of the world, in India corolla it is seen as baller car. Especially someone who bough the ninth generation new back then would know this. It was mostly owned by successful professional like doctors and charted accounts of the day. I considered this to be an advantage since the elderly people who owned these generally took great care of the car. So, it was still possible to find a reasonable example even after 15 years. Also, when a brand name such as corolla survives for multiple decades and sells millions of units, it can't be by luck. There is something truly great about a good old 'rolla.

8. Global car - being a global car, it can be assured the ninth gen corolla has been designed and manufactured to global standards. This gives me peace of mind in the quality of engineering and thought that has gone in the car. Moreover, it also gives me confidence that the team would have spent their dollars in areas that matter like safety.

9. Unbelievable and mind-boggling value - whenever someone gets into the car, they are shocked by how good the car is for the money. They are also thoroughly impressed when I show features like power folding mirrors for a car of this vintage. For the money, like I explained using the above points, you are getting everything you need in a car - performance, practicality, reasonable economy, reliability, luxury, safety, and what not. This sometimes proved to be challenge when I took the car to office and people higher above my grade saw me in a 'better' car. This was also when I realised that cars are primarily positional goods in Mumbai unlike where I am from in Kerala where people have cars to reflect their passion.

Supporting article: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cl3MJ0iv7Pw/

Meh's about the ninth generation corolla

At this price, I can't really say anything as a major negatives about the ninth generation corolla. However, I do have some things that makes the ownership less nice.

1. Driving experience - the shifting of the car is rubbery especially in the first two gears. The clutch is also hard to my liking. The steering wheel is also thinner than I like it to be. Having a higher ground clearance hurts the experience as well. This is no match for an octavia or a civic. It's the price to pay for added reliability and repairability.

2. Expensive running cost relative to the cost of the car - Okay, here comes the catch. The large petrol engine with mediocre mileage, expensive insurance (because engine displacement is greater than 1500cc), high spare costs sometimes even comparable to small germans, green taxes and renewals. All of these add to some effort and cost. However, I was ready to take the hit considering it is worth all this effort.

3. Poor performance of the head-lamps - Lighting is something that shows the age of the car. Often times, I find the need to turn on the brights to have adequate lighting while driving through darker areas. Hence, this is something that I consider should be upgraded. While I like to keep cars as stock as possible, lighting being a safety concern, I want to make it as good as possible.

4. Visibility concerns - The mirrors are small. This often results in poor visibility and blind spots when driving. It's hard to see incoming autos and bikes which hampers with the safety.

5. Aged Audio system - while it had a brilliant audio system at the time, it is no match for a modern one. All the features in the system from the 6-disc CD changer to the cassette player are obsolete today. I don't want to mess with the system baby upgrading it to a newer one. However, in the case of finding a period correct looking system, I am open to exploring options here. However, I would be extremely careful in find a replacement for this.

6. Lack of power in higher end - While the engine is great at lower-end RPMs, the higher end performance is lacklustre. I find myself downshifting or wanting more power as the speed increases. This would be something that's harder to address than other issues and I think I will have to live with it.

7. Sound insulation - The noise isolation is rather poor inside the cabin. The poor NVH levels with a rudimentary engine result in this. While there are fixes to this, I don't want to add more weight and insulation materials by opening the doors and stuff for the sake of it.

8. Fuel Efficiency - Being a large petrol car with a large engine doesn't help here. It gets a reasonable 9-10 kmpl when driven on mixed routes like my office commute. On highways, during long trips it gets better economy upwards of 12 if driven sedately. However, I always end up with a heavy right foot and never been able to get this consistently.

On the whole, I can't really hold up these complaints considering the current price of the car. Nonetheless, these are inconveniences that comes with ninth generation corolla particularly at this vintage. I will detail more about the experience in my initial experience later in the thread. Please do read along

Last edited by cefiljoseph : 6th June 2023 at 12:51.
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Old 5th June 2023, 21:26   #3
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Re: Coco's Adventures: life with a 9th Generation Corolla (E120)

Hunting for a good example

In retrospect, this is once place where I could have done better. I made some rookie mistakes in the excitement of getting my first car but still ended up with a reasonable deal and car.

Once I finalised on the ninth generation corolla, I started searching for a car primarily though OLX. Many of them were converted to CNG which ruined the car. I wanted a relatively clean stock car. Cars in good shape were lesser in number than I thought. Many examples were cosmetically and or mechanically abused. Many were also not taken care of presumably owing to the high cost of parts. Then, I saw a car with a Toyota Utrust in Wasan. It was a single owner car with about 170k kms on the odo with company service records. Seeing the high mileage I decided to move on. Later I saw cars with lesser mileage in worse shape. Therefore, I decided to go see the car in Wasan Utrust.

I was really shocked to see the car. It had some minor dents and scratches which is to be expected. Barring that, the car was extremely clean. The interiors were the most impressive part. Generally, the leather wears out in cars of this vintage but this one had it in top shape even with this high mileage. I tried to follow the team BHP checklist when evaluating the car. However, I did make some mistake due to the lack of experience coupled with my naivety. Since I was buying directly from Wasan, I didn't really do a thorough checkup and do the due diligence on my part. Moreover, I didn't examine the service history thoroughly either. I ended up paying a premium as well. Due to my busy schedule then of moving in and settling at the office, I could only go see the car at night which wasn't ideal either. These were definitely some mistakes and I hope everyone reading this could learn to avoid it.

Seeing the car, I was instantly in love. The old world charm sold me on the car. Right from twisting the key to unlocking the car to having a basic engine, it has just the right amount of things you needed in a car. Even being a Mercedes lover, I truly didn't want anything more than this corolla at that moment. It made me content and needless to say I was sold.

First look of the car at the dealer parking lot..

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_6604.jpg

Rear three quarters show how the later generation clearly evolved from this.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_6602.jpg

The interior were relatively well kept for the age. The storage lid on the dashboard which often breaks in these cars were broken in my car too.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_6608.jpg

Rear seats offering reasonable space and has luxurious leather. The wide arm rest also helped in a better rear-seat experience.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_6609.jpg

The engine bay was relatively clean but not upto my standards and I would like to have professionally detailed in the future.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_6605.jpg

End of day, I was happy to get the car directly from Utrust since it would give me that added peace of mind. They also gave it a fresh service with oil change before handing over the car. Also, me being new to Mumbai, I didn't want to risk buying from an unknown party or dealer hence played it safe even if I had to pay some premium.

The damage including green tax, insurance and documentation was 1.4 lakhs for the car. I think a fair value should have been 20 k less. Anyways with the massive savings on depreciation and the value offered by the car, it is really hard to get a bad deal here. After all, money can always be made again but I can't be twenty again with a ninth gen corolla . Moreover, contrary to popular perception, I feel dreams like this motivate us to work harder and earn more. In today's day and age, it is far easier to make 20k than to save 20k. So, in the grand scheme of things, I knew everything would be work out fine and it did.

I did all the payments and stuff and on the coming Saturday, I went to take delivery of the car.

Buying from a dealer had some benefits. They gave it a wood wash and interior detailing before delivery, put on a pair of new number plates, an OEM car cover from the previous owner and put ribbons on it to make the experience pleasant.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_6646.jpg

Finally, getting a corolla after all the research and hunting for one.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-3.jpg

Little did I know then this corolla would later become a pivotal part of my life.

Last edited by cefiljoseph : 6th June 2023 at 09:14. Reason: As requested. Removing duplicate image.
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Old 5th June 2023, 22:59   #4
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Re: Coco's Adventures: life with a 9th Generation Corolla (E120)

Observations, Experience and christening Coco

Although I didn't buy it on my own, a first car is always going to be special. Therefore, I find it really hard to stay objective about the experience and caution the audience to read this review as something coming from an overexcited man-child. I will try my best nonetheless to communicate my experience without exaggerations.

Thanks to depreciation, it feels unbelievable to own a car like this at a young age like twenty. I really have to thank my parents here for getting me the car and not letting me have any liabilities to be taken care of like education loans and stuff.

The car is not a refined one for sure especially by modern standards. It holds up well though. Even touching a hundred is felt strongly in the cabin. The acceleration is probably my favourite part about driving it. The torque hits your face and makes you grin every time. Shifting the gears late aids in an enjoyable driving experience. More importantly, I find the sensation of the speed to be biggest contributor in this fun. This is great because even at legal speeds it offers tons of smiles.

The 1ZZ-FE while a beautiful engine is also a bit of a dinosaur at this day and age. It makes a fair amount of noise and vibrations. However, I will happily trade it for the reliability. My weekday driving was mostly limited to office commutes where it fared well. However, an automatic transmission felt like a major missing during these commutes and bumper to bumper traffic. As mentioned earlier, the clutch is really hard. For all the fun the right foot haves, the left foot suffers - a small price to pay. I feel an automatic would be better option for many people who don't prefer to drive it enthusiastically.

During city driving, the fuel economy also takes a hit. I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers went as low of 7 kmpl at some point. However, there's no way to know live numbers in this rudimentary console. All I know for sure is that it gets at least a 9kmpl in mixed driving.

The gear shifting is rather boring in the car. The throws are long and gearing is tall. First gear is very rubbery and second gear is rubbery as well. Thankfully, the cruising gears 3-5 are decent. Not the most entertaining transmission unit out there but gets the job done.

Storage options are decent but it misses on some essentials. For instance, the front cup holders are placed in the centre console and it's doesn't hold the most common cup shape - circle !

Manoeuvring the car can sometimes be challenging in tight spaces. Toyota cars generally have a higher turning radius among all cars. I have observed Mercedes to have the least turning radius considering its size. For comparison the W211 we have is easier to navigate and turn than the corolla which is multiple segments below the e-class.

Suspension tuning of the car is decent. It is a rudimentary setup and often lets you feel bumps and potholes. However, it offers a good solid feeling that gives confidence to take it to less nice roads. Despite having all-wheel disc brakes, I found the braking to be mediocre.

One great thing about my particular example was that it was reasonably maintained. The previous owner was a Navy man and was the only owner before me. So, I am guessing it must have been the family's first luxury car and they cared for it with love.

The great condition of the original interiors are a testament to this. Generally, exteriors can be easily repaired and painted. However, in my little experience, interiors of a car truly reflects the level of care that has gone into it.

It is almost impossible to find an 18 year old car with original leather interiors in top shape like this. Also, mind you this is not some high end sports car or luxury car but a regular family sedan that saw daily abuse and fared about 180k kms.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-adce22e219f24a9591347921311bc4a5.jpg

Back seats generally wear out much slower due to less usage. Still impressive to say the least.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-a809132dbf5a47e3a9ccf217b18dce4c.jpg

Being an enthusiast I didn't pay much attention to fuel economy when choosing the car. However, I later realised why people often pay so much attention to "kitna dete hai". With my driving I was getting around 9-10 kmpl. The problem with this is that now that I have covered about 10k kms in the car and I have ended up paying around the same cost as of the car in fuel. (100 litres x Rs.106= Rs. 106000 oops). However, enthusiasts don't care about that right? It's all smiles per gallon

I wanted to have music in the car but didn't want to mess with the stock setup however old or outdated it might be. Therefore, got a Bluetooth FM transmitter by Portronics. It connects instantly with my phone and works flawlessly. This and air fresheners are the only accessories I have put in the car. I don't want to change literally anything from stock in the car except maybe add the factory supercharger from the lotus Elise one day hehe. One can always dream.

I will let some of the more closer shots do the talking. Kindly excuse that dirty parts of the car since the interiors haven't been detailed recently.

The old school features like retractable antenna and a cassette player adds to the charm.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1610.jpg

Nothing beats the romance of turning a key to unlock the car. Admittedly, it's a pain to not have remote locking.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1612.jpg

The OBD port helps in easy diagnosis. This must have been among the first cars to have an OBD port. The lever to open the Bonet is also next to it. It's a good design choice to keep the OBD port here where it is easily accessible yet out of sight. Germans generally have it buried under the steering which sometimes makes it hard to locate.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1650.jpg

Three pedals and a dead pedal. I quite like the pedal arrangement and it does not have any offset like some cars. I have seen some offset in the pedals for our W211. Didn't expect a corolla to do better in terms of ergonomics than a Mercedes.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1651.jpg

Most Corolla's of this era have a black dial. However, this being the highest end variant, came with white dials. Toyota calls them moonlight dials. It's quite pleasant to look at while night driving and I prefer it to the basic black ones.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1613.jpg

Mirror Controls, Security alarm, headlight levelling switch and a coin holder. Back in the days, tolls must have been collecting coins. How times have changed. Placing coins in this often results in clinging sounds in the cabin so this is kind of useless. It should have been felt-lined and allowed individual coins ideally. There is also a small storage space under the controls on the driver side. I have never used it but it's a good thing to have. It is not felt-lined either which would have been something nice to have.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1614.jpg

Storage unit on the centre console is reasonably deep and has a felt lining on the bottom.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1631.jpg

Top part of the storage unit can be opened and has a small shallow space which can be used to store some documents or a smartphone.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1633.jpg

Power window controls with central locking button and a disable switch for the power windows.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1617.jpg

Sadly, the door pockets won't fit any human-friendly sizes of water bottles. It's a huge miss.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1618.jpg

To make up for it, there is a cup holder in the centre console except for the fact that it has square inserts. Again a bummer. Aloe juice bottles are the only ones I have seen to fit here. Does Toyota expect the ninth generation corolla owners to just drink Aloe juice?

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1620.jpg

Automatic climate controls in a car of this vintage truly impressed me. Again, a feature for the top end vehicle. It has worn out over the time and sometimes the buttons needs to pressed firmly to change the temperature or fan speed. This is the problem with electrical things versus mechanical things. Mechanical things break and can be fixed but electrical things degrade and can't be fixed easily.
The lid for the storage below it have broken. I don't mind it since it's useful to quickly store the phone especially while charging since the AC keep it cool.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1637.jpg

Seat belts come with height adjustability which is a nice touch and came handy a couple of times.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1626.jpg

Casette player with a 6 disc CD changer. I can imagine how a kid back in 2005 would have drooled over this feature and told their friends about how insanely cool it was to have it in their car. Times have changed and today it's just an obsolete piece of tech. I quite like the charming nature of it and even bought a cassette to see if it was working. Unfortunately it doesn't. I really wish if someone can guide me in repairing this. It would truly be special to see that happen. The FM still works albeit with horrible sound quality. It can also be observed the AC vent housing around it is coming out probably to non-professional opening and fitting of the unit sometime during the ownership. I am looking to replace this part.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1625.jpg

Front passenger and driver gets a shared removable ash tray that blends quite well. The fake wood trims does a decent job in my opinion to elevate the richness.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1622.jpg

Rear sun-shade and 60-40 split seats that fold down in the rear. Note that the headrests needs to be removed to fold the seats down.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1629.jpg

Unmarked lever opens the boot and the smaller marked lever open the fuel lid.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1648.jpg

Both the sun-visors come with ticket holders and mirror under them.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1642.jpg

A good attention to detail is that the mirror extend to the top of the rear-view mirror to block that little part of the sun which might enter in. Mercedes W124 has a small visor here which does the same thing. There is also a sun protecting shade at the top of the windshield as well. Toyota has overall done a god job to protect the sun from entering. The Japanese surely knew a thing or two about global warming back then.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1643.jpg

There is seat height adjuster available on the front seats and these have to adjusted manually.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1646.jpg

All my friends and my family unanimously loves the car. I have taken it on some road trips and had great times with it. One of my closest friend christened it Coco. It was the perfect name for the corolla.

I loved Coco more by the day and our relationship got better.

On the weekdays, we went to office together and on weekends we kicked back doing airport runs and road-trips alike.

Coco proudly joining the independence day celebrations and doing one of the man y airport runs.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_7350.jpg

Road-trip to Lonavala which was the first time I took Coco for a long drive and had so much fun and made memories for a lifetime.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_7524.jpg

Roads or no roads, Coco is always ready for an adventure

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Coco has a drinking problem admittedly and likes it on the rocks

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At Mahabaleshwar overlooking the mountains.

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After some time, Coco briefly got company from the W211 until it recently left for Kerala. Good while it lasted and hopefully they will see sometime in future.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_8997.jpg

Chasing the sunset with Coco at Waghbil Creek, Thane. A peaceful riverside right behind the Hiranandani Estate.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_1576.jpg

Waiting for newer cars to catch up

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_7135.jpg

Last edited by cefiljoseph : 6th June 2023 at 12:49.
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Old 5th June 2023, 23:24   #5
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Re: Coco's Adventures: life with a 9th Generation Corolla (E120)

Initial niggles and issues faced

Right when I got out of the dealership, the first issues came up - the indicators were not working. Wasan Utrust fixed it for free. Apparently, the washing guys weren't careful and broke the relay during delivery. Hope they paid more attention to such stuff.

On the second week, a noise was coming from the suspension. I called Wasan to check on this and they told they can't be responsible for any complaints after the sale especially since this was an 18 year old car. This isn't really acceptable since they give a certified report for every car they sell. However, since it was easier to get this fixed on my own than fighting it legally, I realised that Wasan would be useless going forward.

I took it to the nearest Toyota workshop in Thane (Lakozy). The service manager assigned a guy to drive the car around and we took a test drive together. Without much inspection they told me to change all the four suspensions and all related child parts. Furthermore, they also told me to change the clutch and engine mounts. All of this including amounted to over two lakhs. This was truly shocking to me since it's common sense that these don't cost as much. Heck, even changing the W211 suspension doesn't cost 1.5 lakhs. Lakozy was trying to rip me off. Therefore, I decided to get it changed at an independent garage outside using OEM parts. They changed both the front struts for less than 10K.

It is truly shocking to see these service mangers inflate the bills like this. From the little I have learned, these managers have large targets to be met and they have to do it for sustenance.

This is furthermore supported when recently Coco was about near 180k kms, I asked Lakozy for an estimate for basic oil change and they send me an inflated estimate of 14k just for the oil change. They do this by adding unnecessary cleaning products and stuff.Since I had recently taken our fortuner back in Kerala for a service, I knew this was an inflated bill. I am truly disappointed by Toyota here especially since their after sales is what made me go to the brand in the first place.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-screenshot-20230526-12.08.16-pm.png

Moving on, the battery was also required to be replaced which I feel was also something that Wasan conveniently hid during the sale. It is not about the additional 3k needed to be spent on the battery but about the transparency and trust during the sale that matters. I wish these dealers understood this sooner than later.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-0a3bccdcc52d4c59aec856a6fbdc09ae.jpg

One serious problem I faced with Coco is that the fuel gauge sometimes doesn't work properly. It often shows incorrect readings and leaves me stranded on the road. This has happened twice so far and I learned it the hard way to not trust the fuel reading. So, I reset the trip meters every time I refill now. Something that I need to fix. Luckily, both the times auto guys have come to rescue. Since petrol pumps don't allow to buy fuel in bottle anymore, the auto guy filled his auto first and then transferred it to a bottle which was then filled in the car. I was just returning home this time and it was an interesting experience. Can forgive Coco here.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_8215.jpg

I got to used the warning triangle for the first time in a car and I was so excited despite being in a disaster.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_8216.jpg

Owning to the never-ending Mumbai construction, I have also got some nail punctures on the way. Once a puncture guy even scammed to deliberately making a pinhole which was such a disgusting experience. I sincerely wish these people had better way to earn than scamming people and collectively ruining the reputation of tyre workers.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_8406.jpg

The rear left door has some problem which results in the door being jammed sometimes. I got a temporary fix from an independent here at Hiranandani estate. However, the entire lock system needs to be examined properly at a later stage.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_8378.jpg

One day during an office commute, a guy rear ended us but luckily the damage was minimal. My colleague was also with me in the car and we both appreciated the built and safety of the car that day. The guy admitted his fault and paid for the repairs as well.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-img_8666.jpg

Have completed about 11 months currently and there are a few more things to be taken care of in the car. So far, apart from the suspension and the battery, haven't come across any insane expenses. Touchwood. I have done some regular maintenance like changing front rotors and pads, wiper blades, clutch cylinder etc. Going forward, I will need to get a new clutch sometime soon and change the engine mounts since some vibrations are making its way into the cabin. The middle AC vent assembly is loose as well. This also adds to the cabin vibrations. The AC flaps on the either sides have also worn out in time but lesser of an issue than the middle assembly.Will need to get this fixed along with the other items. Sometimes the windows act a little weird and this would need some overhauling in the near future.

It is fair that someone might see these list of niggles and think that a corolla isn't as reliable as people say. I want to offer my two cents here. Reliability is just one side of the coin. The other side is repairability. This is where Toyota shines. It is incredibly repairable. Even if you have an accidental car, you wouldn't need to worry much since it would still continue to do its duty fairly normally with proper replacements. Being an 18 year old of course some things break or need some tweaking here and there. However, it is almost alway easily fixed. I dearly love Coco and plan it to keep it through this decade if not for a lifetime. No worries about the car as such. Hopefully governments corporate as well.

I was thinking of giving it to Wagenwerkz where we gave our W211 for servicing as well. If someone can recommend other options in Mumbai/Thane, open to suggestions as well.

The 180k kms servicing is also due soon so planning to get it done as well.

After about a year here in Mumbai, the car does have some battle scars as well mainly from careless bikers. I am not sure if I need to fix it right away since those marks will make its return sooner than later if I keep driving in Mumbai.

Overall a great experience with Coco and I highly recommend anyone looking with a small budget to consider the ninth generation corolla before all of it goes into the wrong hands. Will keep the thread updated with new developments.

Thank you for reading it so far and wishing everyone many more happy miles here

Last edited by cefiljoseph : 6th June 2023 at 12:44.
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Old 7th June 2023, 06:00   #6
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Re: Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 7th June 2023, 08:00   #7
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Re: Coco's Adventures: life with a 9th Generation Corolla (E120)

First, let me congratulate you for picking up the world's most reliable car. Having said that, it is time for a few insights which will help you in understanding this car better, optimising your effort in keeping this car, plus help you make the car look better

1. The shade viz. Pearl White is the finest for the E120 of this vintage. Given the age of this car, I'd not be surprised if many panels have been repainted
2. Be prepared to see corrosion at the point where the roof meets the front windscreen (the right hand side) and where the roof meets the rear glass (the left hand side). I see something on the front door under the outer handle.
3. Your car is a H5 1.8E that came with leather seats. The seats in your car have been done up hence you see them looking all nice. Nothing to be alarmed about - leather weathers with time, use and UV radiation, and so nothing wrong in the seats having been done up. The door inserts are original, though.
4. The H2 and H5 variants came with the moonlight dials. Only the H1 was black.
5. Your car needs the wheel hub center caps and a TOYOTA monogram on the boot to at least bring back some "originality"
6. Aftermarket brake pads have resulted in a lot of dust generated on the wheels. Please keep cleaning the wheels periodically to keep them nice n silvery
7. The broken dash flap and the vent housing around the stereo - please leave them as is. One of my first criteria for giving a thumbs up to a Corolla is that the flap should be intact. It comes off when the dash is removed to service the AC unit inside
8. Fuel gauge not working - unacceptable. I've never heard of this problem in any Corolla
9. Dealers are out there to make money - selling a car and that's it. UTrust is no different. Yes, the only plus with them is one can see the service history, but even thr history can be questionable, and can't be an indicator for future peace of mind.
8. There are plenty of aftermarket parts available - going the OE route on a car this old is not required as Toyota parts are generally priced 3x to 4x of aftermarket. Also, Toyota service centers have enough new and rich cars to handle, on which they do a wash, basic checks and turn the car around in 60 mins. They won't have the time, and interest in an old car like yours. Please find a good FNG for all your work. This is a very simple car to work on.
9. The FE that you've reported, 9kmpl, is about what this car would return in heavy traffic in Mumbai. On highways, at 80kmph, expect no less than 15kmpl. This car is way more fuel efficient that some 1.2 liter engine cars - FYI.
10. The driver seat height adjuster has poor range. Unless you're a tall driver, you'll need a thin cushion even above the max setting to see the road well. The ORVMs are small and the hood is long. Please get used to the long dimensions. They aren't the best out there for a driver in B2B traffic.
11. Fix the fuel gauge issue and I think you're good. Get a cabin air filter fitted ASAP (if it's not been done yet). Whenever it's time for a tyre change, go with MRF Perfinza which is the best value out there. Next best is the Yokohama Earth1/ Continental.
12. Lights - please upgrade to OSRAM Night Breaker Laser on the low beam and see. Then upgrade on the high beam. Very recently I did this on an Altis (Laser on the low and OSRAM LEDriving 50Wx2 on the high).

Last edited by vigsom : 7th June 2023 at 08:11. Reason: Added two more points
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Old 7th June 2023, 09:56   #8
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Re: Coco's Adventures: life with a 9th Generation Corolla (E120)

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
First, let me congratulate you for picking up the world's most reliable car. Having said that, it is time for a few insights which will help you in understanding this car better, optimising your effort in keeping this car, plus help you make the car look better
Hi vigsom,

Thank you so much for your wishes. I am really grateful for your insightful comments and I have learned a lot in the short time reading it. Most of what you have told me is new information to me which I haven't seen anywhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
1. The shade viz. Pearl White is the finest for the E120 of this vintage. Given the age of this car, I'd not be surprised if many panels have been repainted
You are right here. Many panels are indeed repainted in the car. Some of the work I find questionable as well because of colour discrepancies. The dealer did disclose that the front and rear bumpers were repainted but didn't say a word about the other panels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
2. Be prepared to see corrosion at the point where the roof meets the front windscreen (the right hand side) and where the roof meets the rear glass (the left hand side). I see something on the front door under the outer handle.
Yes, this is something I plan to address going forward. Thank you for the inputs. So far, I haven't seen any paint bubbles or rust but keeping a close watch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
3. Your car is a H5 1.8E that came with leather seats. The seats in your car have been done up hence you see them looking all nice. Nothing to be alarmed about - leather weathers with time, use and UV radiation, and so nothing wrong in the seats having been done up. The door inserts are original, though.
I see. I was of the impression that thety were original since there was some light wear. Anyways I don't mind if it was replaced or not since it looks good and original.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
4. The H2 and H5 variants came with the moonlight dials. Only the H1 was black.
Learned something new here. I thought only the H5 variant which I have came with the moonlight dials.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
5. Your car needs the wheel hub center caps and a TOYOTA monogram on the boot to at least bring back some "originality"
Absolutely, I have been looking for the hub caps. Will get the monogram done as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
6. Aftermarket brake pads have resulted in a lot of dust generated on the wheels. Please keep cleaning the wheels periodically to keep them nice n silvery
Yet another insightful information. I didn't know the pads were aftermarket and causing the dust. Will get this sorted at the coming service.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
7. The broken dash flap and the vent housing around the stereo - please leave them as is. One of my first criteria for giving a thumbs up to a Corolla is that the flap should be intact. It comes off when the dash is removed to service the AC unit inside
Yep, the unit was definitely removed sometime. I was thinking of replacing it if I can find a used one otherwise leaving as it is. It's annoying tho.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
8. Fuel gauge not working - unacceptable. I've never heard of this problem in any Corolla
This has been very inconvenient. Definitely getting this rectified in the coming service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
9. Dealers are out there to make money - selling a car and that's it. UTrust is no different. Yes, the only plus with them is one can see the service history, but even thr history can be questionable, and can't be an indicator for future peace of mind.
True, almost all dealers have such absolutely pathetic and disgusting methods. Learned the hard way in my case. I would highly caution all readers to do their due diligence with dealers and service centres no matter how reputed and authorised they are. Nothing called being too careful these days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
8. There are plenty of aftermarket parts available - going the OE route on a car this old is not required as Toyota parts are generally priced 3x to 4x of aftermarket. Also, Toyota service centers have enough new and rich cars to handle, on which they do a wash, basic checks and turn the car around in 60 mins. They won't have the time, and interest in an old car like yours. Please find a good FNG for all your work. This is a very simple car to work on.
Yes, I was planning to do all the works from a competent FNG. Open to suggestions as well. As of now thinking about Wagenwerkz since I have had good experience with them on our W211.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
9. The FE that you've reported, 9kmpl, is about what this car would return in heavy traffic in Mumbai. On highways, at 80kmph, expect no less than 15kmpl. This car is way more fuel efficient that some 1.2 liter engine cars - FYI.
I think the ageing clutch is holding back on the efficiency right now. Maybe post the clutch change which I plan to do with the coming service, I can get numbers in that ballpark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
10. The driver seat height adjuster has poor range. Unless you're a tall driver, you'll need a thin cushion even above the max setting to see the road well. The ORVMs are small and the hood is long. Please get used to the long dimensions. They aren't the best out there for a driver in B2B traffic.
Agree with you. However, with my height, I haven't found a problem here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
11. Fix the fuel gauge issue and I think you're good. Get a cabin air filter fitted ASAP (if it's not been done yet). Whenever it's time for a tyre change, go with MRF Perfinza which is the best value out there. Next best is the Yokohama Earth1/ Continental.
Really helpful advice. Will keep this in mind in time for the next change. I too feel that the tyres can be better. The ones right now have decent life left so this will mostly be the last thing to be done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
12. Lights - please upgrade to OSRAM Night Breaker Laser on the low beam and see. Then upgrade on the high beam. Very recently I did this on an Altis (Laser on the low and OSRAM LEDriving 50Wx2 on the high).
Again, super helpful advice. I think I'll do this in the coming service.

Once again, thank you for the brilliant inputs and insights. It has been really helpful. Immediately, I plan on doing the oil service for 180k kms, clutch replacement, engine mounts, fix other minor stuff, hub caps, brake pads, lights and any other mechanical work that needs to be done.

As of now I have quit my job and will be going for higher studies from August. Hence, planning to do major cosmetic stuff like those once I come back next year. I thinking of things like attending to rust, replace hardened seals, maybe getting an even coat of paint so the car looks nice.

Will keep on updating the thread for any future developments on Coco
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Old 8th June 2023, 11:54   #9
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Re: Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures

First congrats on the car.

Recently had an opportunity to work on a 2006/07 model Corolla. A lovely car it surely is. The car was on original clutch at 163000 kms. Attaching a picture for reference.

Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures-corolla.jpg
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Old 8th June 2023, 13:07   #10
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Re: Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures

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Originally Posted by nkrishnap View Post
First congrats on the car.

Recently had an opportunity to work on a 2006/07 model Corolla. A lovely car it surely is. The car was on original clutch at 163000 kms. Attaching a picture for reference.

Attachment 2461268
Wow, that's a sweet looking corolla. I am assuming it has been repainted and got new lights. Kudos to the owner for maintaining it so well!!
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Old 8th June 2023, 14:15   #11
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Re: Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures

Congratulations, that's a great example and should serve you for years if you treat it right. You're bang on about not adding unnecessary mods and make it look what it's not. This car should be enjoyed in stock form imo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cefiljoseph View Post
I tried to follow the team BHP checklist when evaluating the car. However, I did make some mistake due to the lack of experience coupled with my naivety.
Don't worry about it, we all have been 20 and excited to pick up the first car. I decide with my heart and that has given enough heartburns when it comes to car purchases. Even after a decade and half dozen cars later, I still need someone to keep me grounded before I make stupid decisions ( my wife does it beautifully these days)

Quote:
The OBD port helps in easy diagnosis. This must have been among the first cars to have an OBD port.
You'll be surprised to know the OBD has been there forever, some VW cars had it in early 70s IIRC and it was standardised from 90-91 atleast in the west.
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Old 8th June 2023, 14:43   #12
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Re: Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures

I just loved reading about your COCO. I am also contemplating to get a similar model Corolla. The article will be definitely useful. These cars are built like tanks and there are no cheap cost cutting tricks. Wishing you all the best.
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Old 8th June 2023, 15:00   #13
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Congratulations, that's a great example and should serve you for years if you treat it right. You're bang on about not adding unnecessary mods and make it look what it's not. This car should be enjoyed in stock form imo.
Yes, absolutely true, and thank you for your kind words

Quote:
Originally Posted by turbowhistle View Post
Don't worry about it, we all have been 20 and excited to pick up the first car. I decide with my heart and that has given enough heartburns when it comes to car purchases. Even after a decade and half dozen cars later, I still need someone to keep me grounded before I make stupid decisions ( my wife does it beautifully these days)
Haha, nice. Yes, it was definitely a good learning for me. After all, getting a fun car involves shutting down on the logic part of the brain to some extend

Quote:
Originally Posted by turbowhistle View Post
You'll be surprised to know the OBD has been there forever, some VW cars had it in early 70s IIRC and it was standardised from 90-91 atleast in the west.
Wow, I did not know this. Quite interesting and thank you for sharing this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Knight View Post
I just loved reading about your COCO. I am also contemplating to get a similar model Corolla. The article will be definitely useful. These cars are built like tanks and there are no cheap cost cutting tricks. Wishing you all the best.
Hey, thank you for reading. I would highly recommend getting it. I too am from Thrissur and have noticed that there are quite a few examples that are well kept over these years without changing many owners. Especially, I see many professionals there like doctors, advocates and charted accountants who bought them new and cared them like a puppy. Wish you all the best!!

Last edited by libranof1987 : 8th June 2023 at 15:42. Reason: Merging back-to-back posts. Kindly use the Quote+/Edit functionality to quote multiple posts.
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Old 8th June 2023, 19:46   #14
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Re: Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures

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Originally Posted by cefiljoseph View Post
Wow, that's a sweet looking corolla. I am assuming it has been repainted and got new lights. Kudos to the owner for maintaining it so well!!
Yes repainted and the clutch overhauled. Headlamps and Tail lamps replaced. Foglamps will be replaced soon too.
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Old 9th June 2023, 12:29   #15
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Re: Life with a 9th Generation Toyota Corolla (E120) | Ownership Review | Coco's Adventures

Wow, a fellow 9th gen enthusiast. I own one too , it's far from stock now, but I have owned it from new, mine is a manual though.

Please go to the madhuban Toyota in kurla , they are the best .

Spares for this gen have become considerably more expensive than what they used to be.

Enjoy the car.
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