What do you need to know before you buy a used Toyota Corolla?

Where Can I Find the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)?

The vehicle identification number (VIN) is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. A VIN displays the car's unique features, specifications and manufacturer.

The VIN can be found in a couple of places including on the car's registration label (1), on the compliance plate in the engine bay (2) or on the passenger side windshield (3), or on one of the door posts (where the door latches when it is closed) (4). See the image below:

Look for the VIN in these other locations:

  • Insurance card/Insurance policy
  • Vehicle title and registration certificate


The Toyota Corolla was launched in 1966, and has since been one of the best-selling cars of all time. There have been over 44 million sales worldwide1, and that doesn't look like slowing down, with updated models coming out every year. Buying a used Toyota Corolla in Australia is a popular option for anyone who lives or works in the city, or for learner drivers who want something reliable and safe while they're getting their bearings on the road.

Even one of the most popular cars in the world can hide some damages that turn an affordable used vehicle into a financial nightmare.

Buying a used car comes with some risks, though. Even one of the most popular cars in the world, and one of the most reliable in recent history, can hide some damages from previous drivers that turn an affordable used vehicle into a financial nightmare. That's why you need a CarHistory report before you buy - it will provide you with registration details, check stolen status and financial encumbrance, potential odometer windback, sales price comparison, and if it has ever been written off.

What to look for in a used Toyota Corolla

The ninth generation Toyota Corolla was released in 2001 and ran through to 2007. It came in three variants - a hatchback, a sedan and a station wagon. It was an improvement on previous models because of the size and comfort of the cabin, and it was reliably built.

However, these older model Corollas have likely done more travelling, meaning they are likely to have higher odometer readings and will need more regular servicing. This might not bother people who only use them for commuting or learning to drive, but for anyone who expects to be on the road a lot, cars with high kilometres on the engine pose more of a risk. Newer models are favoured in that case, but these are more expensive. That being said, if you can find a ninth generation Corolla with low kilometres, in good condition, and with a sound CarHistory report, it is likely a great buy because it will last a long time (as long as you look after it, of course).

Later models of the Toyota Corolla feature upgraded performance and better fuel efficiency thanks to an updated CVT transmission. Prior to the tenth generation models, a four-speed transmission was standard across the range which didn't offer great acceleration or fuel efficiency at highway speed, but was still comfortable. Before you buy a four-speed Corolla, make sure you take it for a test drive and feel happy behind the wheel.

An updated CVT transmission on newer Corollas means better fuel efficiency.


What can go wrong with a used Toyota Corolla?

Any panel damage not repaired properly might show ripples in the metal, or incorrect paint matching on small spots.

Buying a used Toyota Corolla is the same as buying any used car - you need to thoroughly check it has been looked after and that any repairs have been done professionally. For example, any panel damage not repaired properly might show ripples in the metal, or incorrect paint matching on small spots. Inspect the exterior of the car closely.

The Corolla is a classic small car for younger drivers, and that means the one you're looking at has likely been subjected to heavy wear and tear. Check the interior and the boot for signs of this, including any seat covers or blankets that might be 'innocently' left in the car to hide a major tear in the fabric.

An engine check by a mechanic and a test drive will tell you everything else you need to know about how suitable the car is for your driving needs - you need to be comfortable behind the wheel. Beyond that, a CarHistory report is a vital part of making an informed decision on the Toyota Corolla you're interested in. For more information about buying a used car, get in touch with CarHistory today.

1 Toyota Global Newsroom. Corolla by the Numbers. Accessed September 2017.

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