2021 Toyota Corolla Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Exterior lighting and speed control issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2021 Toyota Corolla follows in the footsteps of a long lineup of this sedan being one of America’s favorites. The automaker claims that it will “brighten up your future.” However, this car shows a significant decline in previous Toyota manufacturing standards, leaving customers wondering if the vehicle is going to leave them stranded. From defective exterior lighting to malfunctioning vehicle speed control, this Corolla is a big disappointment to many.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2019   2020   2022   2023

Most Common Problems with the 2021 Toyota Corolla

Complaints to the NHTSA about the 2021 Toyota Corolla relate to at least 16 components and/or systems:

  1. Airbags not deploying during a crash
  2. Electrical system, which includes a brake-hold malfunction that caused a fire
  3. Engine, including an engine where the RPM increased to dangerous levels when traveling downhill
  4. Exterior lighting
  5. Forward collision avoidance
  6. Lane departure
  7. Parking brake
  8. Powertrain, which recurred three times before the dealer acknowledged there was a transmission problem
  9. Service brakes
  10. Steering, including a problem that recurred 4 times after engaging cruise control
  11. Structure, including an incident that combined a steering and suspension problem that led to significant damage to the vehicle without a collision.
  12. Suspension
  13. Tires
  14. Vehicle speed control
  15. Visibility/wipers
  16. Wheels

2021 Toyota Corolla Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Air Bags
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Exterior Lighting
Service Brakes
Vehicle Speed Control
Seat Belts
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control

Problems with the Exterior Lighting

When driving at night, it’s essential to have exterior lighting that illuminates the road. Not only does this ensure the driver can see what’s ahead, but it also helps others see the vehicle. With the Toyota Corolla, customers regularly complain about the lack of visibility.

Here’s one complaint left with the NHTSA. “Traveling in the right lane. 18 wheel ahead was pulled to the shoulder. I moved over to the left lane. While moving over there was metal in the road (learned from State Police later from the 18 wheeler). Unable to avoid the object, the result was a blown tire. The design of the left headlight is made so on a two lane road, the oncoming traffic won’t be blinded. However, with an interstate, if in the right lane, the left lane has a blind spot. The headlights is ½ the length of the right headlight.”

It doesn’t seem that the engineers thought through the headlight design, but what could be expected after looking at the rest of the car’s design. With all of the manufacturing defects, the headlights are probably the smallest concern. For example, Service Bulletin #T-SB-0121-20 discusses how Corolla vehicles might have a splashing or sloshing sound that is heard when opening or closing the doors and turning at lower speeds. This sound comes from the water that gets trapped inside the doors because of poor manufacturing. Unless owners are hoping for a water ride experience, this is not a good quality for a car to have, yet Toyota has no problem thinking this car is going to somehow, “brighten” everyone’s future.

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Problems with the Vehicle Speed Control

Being able to accurately control the speed of a vehicle is a big deal. Without this ability, cars would be doing their own thing while heading down the road.

That’s the problem illustrated in this NHTSA complaint. “The contact owns a 2021 Toyota Corolla. The contact stated while attempting to park the vehicle when depressing on the brake pedal and the vehicle accelerated independently and crashed into a building. The contact stated the ‘vehicle was needing to be serviced’ warning light was illuminated. The air bags did not deploy. The contact did not sustain any injuries or seek medical attention. A police report was filed. The contact towed the vehicle to an unknown location. The contact called the local dealer and made them aware of the failure.”

Sadly, Toyota isn’t ready to discuss this complaint yet. To cover the company’s reputation, Service Bulletin #T-TT-0615-20 was issued that showed concern over the vehicle surge and hesitation. At this time, the automaker is simply looking to hear from consumers. However, this bulletin was issued more than a year ago, with no resolution yet. At this point, it can be assumed that it isn’t going to move any further, leaving customers without a fix. The only way to permanently “brighten” the driver’s future is to look for a new vehicle that’s more reliable.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Toyota pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Mel

    I own a 2021 Corolla es and having problems with transmission not changing gears. Does anyone have this issues?

  • Joe Z

    I own a driving school in Arizona. I bought 14, 2021 Toyota Corollas.
    I am have replaced 4 out of 14 corollas engines in the last 3 months. Toyota has no idea what is going on with all the corolla’s. Toyota says all 4 cars needs a new engines.

  • Cj

    Warning on the lane departure I have had an issue twice with it and both times it has taken me into the center of the interstate the first time I was able to steer myself out of it back up onto the road but the second time I wasn’t so lucky I went to grab my drink next to me and apparently was close to the line but instead of the car warning me it drifted more off to the side and I hit soft sand which took me down a 25 ft gully which then resulted in a broken back.

  • Erica L

    I’ve had my 21 corolla since September 2020 and I have experienced all of these complaints in fact one of them was my own complaint I filed………. and have a few too add, but I doubt it does and darn good cause Toyota never stepped up to the plate then and won’t now!

  • Evelyn

    What does it mean when I turn car off and it makes a odd sound?

  • Sam

    I am concerned about the car surging when applying the break as well. I have also experienced different burning smells one time it was straight gas another time sulfur like. Only once and a while. The surging happens often

  • Jeff

    I am driving a 2021 Toyota Corolla hybrid
    I am concerned about the air bag not deploying if in accident.
    I am concerned when the brake is deployed and the car wants to speed up.
    I did notice a burning smell like a hazard smell like something burning like the battery being used concerns me with the fumes
    If anyone is having same issues this please let me know

  • Thomas

    Although you sound concerned for the America Auto Workers Association, this article proves drivers must be more careful when on the road. To me, these are great examples of operator errors.

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