By on August 28, 2015

Toyota Odometer Stuck

Owners of some Toyota cars in Canada say that the Japanese automaker is asking them to foot the bill for replacement odometers due to a glitch that won’t allow the gauges to roll over after 299,999 kilometers, CTV is reporting (via AutoFocus).

The glitchy odometers are found in 2003-2008 Toyota Matrix and Corolla models, and some 2004 and 2005 Toyota Prius models.

There are a few videos on YouTube of people expecting to hit 300,000, but they never do.

We reached out to a Toyota spokesman in the U.S. but haven’t heard back. According to the CTV report, Toyota is replacing the odometer but asking owners to pay for the replacement (for now).

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71 Comments on “Toyota Wants $500 From Canadian Owners To Fix Odometers (Video)...”


  • avatar
    WhiskeyRiver

    Seems like a very bad PR position when Toyota could fix it for free in then celebrate the dependability of their cars. A fine example of stinkin’ thinkin’.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    The odo records distance as km’s but temp as F? Mind blown.

    In all seriousness… yeah, a 100% obvious design defect that will eventually be hit by every owner? Not something you generally foist on the buyers. This isn’t a weak suspension part or something; it looks like a guaranteed failure. Most people do not consider instrument clusters to be maint. items. (Not to mention that in the US anyway, that’d be an instant TMU title, drastically reducing the car’s resale value.)

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Cheap bastards. They even saved on digital impulses

  • avatar
    infinitime

    We have a 2003 Corolla in the family, and myself having owned a 2004 Vibe (NUMMI plant Matrix clone) in the past, I can personally attest to the lower grade materials used in Toyotas of this generation, compared to my early 90s Tercel, and various mid 90s Camry, Corollas, 4Runners that I’ve come across. Parts like the radiator enclosure, interior plastics and even weather stripping in the 2003 – 2008 Corollas were of a considerably lesser quality than before. I sat in a 2014 Matrix the other day, and it is even worse.

    Perhaps Toyota no longer expect their vehicles to exceed 300,000kms?

    As an aside, I remember the 1985 Hyundai Pony that I owned only have five-digits on the mechanical odometer. Did not bode well for confidence about longevity. Oddly, that car were three cycles on that odometer, before the oil leaks on the Mitsubishi engine put an end to it….

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Comparing an 89 Tercel and a 06 Scion xB I dont see the drastic quality difference, the xB uses better trim and thicker interior plastics, the xB seems to combat rust better.

      Camrys are a bit different though, driving an 86 first gen was more pleasent than a late 00s, lots of neat touches on the old car along with a handy liftback.

      At the same time the newer Camry wont rust in 5 years, uses decent brakes, actually gets up to 60 mph, and itll protect you in a crash.

      That being said Ive never tried the well loved third gen, I can only assume its better than the later stupid triangular rear door models.

    • 0 avatar
      SteelyMoose

      My ’06 Vibe did the same thing. Now I use the Trip A counter to add the additional miles and time my maintenance milestones. It just turned 350,000 miles. May not be the most thrilling vehicle I’ve ever owned (I have a motorcycle for when I need to satisfy a kinesthetic craving), but it most certainly wins the TCO trophy.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      …1985 Hyundai Pony that I owned only have five-digits on the mechanical odometer….

      It should be noted that 100,000Km is only 63,000 miles. That’s why European cars had the six digits; they were simply re-calibrated to read miles. At some point other cars added the sixth digit because of the mindset that the extra digit meant extra life. Of course since the mid nineties or so, pretty much anything could make 200K miles with decent care and high daily use.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    And I thought Volvos $20 gears were a bit pricey!

  • avatar
    BCalgary

    This must be affecting American Toyotas as well as the video is of an American vehicle (mph spedo and deg F temperature).

  • avatar
    SnarkyRichard

    The lower grade stuff on Toyotas is due to outsourcing to the lowest bidder . Leave it to the global economy to tarnish a top brand . But they did replace my Tacoma frame last year while providing a free Enterprise truck rental , so I believe they will eventually step up and pay for this odo issue also .

  • avatar
    mchan1

    Is it really that expensive to fix the odometer so that it reads more than 299,999 (regardless of km or mls)?

    Toyota should just do and make it a news piece that the vehicle is durable to have reached that mileage point!
    It’s nickel and diming something that it can use for Free publicity for itself!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      $500 isnt nickle-and-diming, and I do think a cheaper solution must be possible. Using this to advertise that their car can make it to 186k miles isnt really worth it. I suspect that if you changed the timing belt regularly, a Kia Rio or Hyundai Accent would make it to 186k, not to mention everything above them.

      Besides, making it to 186k isnt something you can really brag about if you cant claim the engine, trans and other major parts are original. Anything will keep running as long as you keep fixing it. I saw a late 1990s Corolla on craigslist a month or so ago with 153k on it, said “needs engine”. Ive also seen several later model Prizims (same car) in a similar state with less than 186k.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Ya, by mid-2000 I would say with a handful of exceptions, most cars that saw regular oil changes and the most critical regular maintenance (e.g. replace a timing belt and water pump when required) will make 200K without much drama.

        If anything, 250K miles is then new 150K miles today.

        A story on Car Talk today about a person owning 3 Azteks had me wondering what used ones were going for. I found about a dozen local examples for sale, none of them under 160K miles.

        If GM U-Body Dexcool 3.4L V6 vehicles that have had questionable ownership facing their last owners on the used car lot can gimp to the equivalent of 260K to 300K+ kilometers – anything can. (one example for sale had 240K miles!)

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        We’ve had an 93, 99, and 2004 Corolla. The 93 was definetely on another planet compared to the others in terms of quality and materials. If it wasn’t totalled in 2002, we would definetely be still happily driving it. The 99 had cheap plastics and started leaking oil from its head gasket down the back of the engine at 80,000kms. The 2004 is meh. So so interior better driveability but agricultural engine. The old ones are definetely better than the new ones.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        You don’t change timing belts in new Rio’s or Accent’s. They have a timing chain.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        The 98-02 cars with the 1.8 1zz engine, as well as the earlier 1.8 7a engine (in post-OBD-2 format) tended to burn oil as they aged due to sticking piston rings. Negligent owners that didn’t check the oil often enough (the same ones that changed it infrequently causing the sticking rings in the first place), ran the engines low and that’s what you saw on craigslist. That’s about the only Achilles heel on that era Corolla that comes to mind. I also see many of these cars with well over 200k miles on original engines and transmissions.

        As I’m sure you well know, your namesake transmission is absolutely notorious for premature failure, and the bodies on the original ovoid tauri are rather rust prone, as are the rear suspensions (broken springs). Yet the one you drive, with careful upkeep, sounds like it’s doing just fine. I’d argue, however, that Toyotas overall are better able to thrive (especially their Aisin transmissions) while neglected.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Ford had a similar issue with early Aerostar digital clusters (mid-late 1980s). After 199,999.9 it would reset to 0. They worked it out by the 1992 model year when all Aerostars got digital odometers. Having owned several with over 200k, I can personally varify that fact. :)

    I wonder if its just a programing glitch? I wouldnt put it past Toyota to charge $500 to replace a cluster that could be fixed. I bet if they were liable for every Corolla, Matrix and Prius affected, theyd magicly find a cheaper solution.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      Aaah, but the early 90’s Ford digital truck odo’s, with their 7-segment displays, only used 6 segments in the 100,000’s column. The upper-left vertical segment was not included, as it was not needed to display 1, 2, or 3 (and that column never displayed 0). When these trucks hit 400,000 miles, they would just loop the 300,000 mile readings endlessly. Some of the earlier digital models, even though they *had* the hardware to display a “3”, would loop at 299,999 anyway.

      Not an issue for most owners. But when I was much younger I serviced a lot of fleet trucks that were used and abused well over the 400,000 mile mark. Those of us in service would have to keep track of how many times the odo had hit 2 or 300,000 miles for each vehicle.

      I have to wonder exactly how much money Ford saved by leaving one LCD segment off of those displays. Even spread over several million trucks, it can’t be much.

  • avatar
    wibigdog

    Ford had the same problem with the digital odometers in the ’92-’96 Econolines my old courier company used. Once those vans hit 300k the vans’ odometers reset to 0. Made life difficult for our two mechanics trying to determine mileage for maintenance and refurbishing. I remember my ’94 in 2002 rusted and battered with only 40 miles showing. When Ford redesigned the dashboards in ’97 they used analog odometers.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    On an unrelated note; I was prevented from moving from the homepage to this page for three full minutes while a crude cartoon of a gold-brick truck punctuated a series of video commercials I could not bypass. Worse, it was done at my expense on a mobile device that does not have an unlimited data plan. Simply infuriating.

    As for the odo’s, but a Fiatsler and you’re guaranteed never to have this problem.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I’ve noticed similar stuff with TTAC’s ad system in the past few weeks. One of the worst bits has been Chrome’s getting pegged at full CPU whenever I try to select text or click on a link; something back there is going nuts with the script engine and making the whole site almost impossibly slow to use. I’ve ditched any number of comments because I can’t even type.

      That and having certain articles almost unreadable until you click away 20 or 30 images’ worth of overlay ads, and big stacks of ads showing up in the feet erroneously… I know TTAC doesn’t have direct control over its ad network’s code, but they really need to be raising a stink. It’s getting so the site will be unusable unless I use adblock, and I’m pretty sure that’s not in TTAC’s best interest.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        I don’t know if there is something analogous for a mobile. On a laptop I’m using Mozilla and have disabled flash – must ask to run, and I also start it up in it’s own safe mode. Did so after monitoring resource usage – worst was 3.5Gb memory and 50% CPU. i7 dual core and 16GbRAM so system is reasonably quick ordinarily. Yikes, I can do real work with that amount of computing power.
        These ads must be created by the programmer equivalent of ex-Yugo line workers. Abysmal programming skills.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Privacy Badger (eff.org/privacybadger) is a decent way to block the worse ads. It only blocks ads that violate your personal privacy, but that list coincides with ads that use huge amounts of memory and CPU.

      • 0 avatar

        Re: Chrome full CPU usage.

        I reported this last week. It’s incredibly frustrating for me as well. I typically have a TTAC tab always open. It seems to be an issue with one of the video ad blocks. The ad will cycle, a new Google Chrome Helper process is started, and the old one doesn’t terminate gracefully. It just sits there and consumes memory/CPU.

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          @Mark Stevenson, glad you’re trying to address it; I know your options are limited. But it *is* really bad. I tried to watch that video of the Ford GT and couldn’t change the volume because the site hung as soon as it started; I had to kill the browser and start it again, and it instantly saturated a core. While I’m typing a comment it’ll be fine, but if I click in the box or try to select text, wham, hangs for dozens of seconds or maybe indefinitely.

          If I were you I’d be screaming bloody murder about this to the people who can change it, because I’m sure there are plenty of people who have already given up visiting without mentioning it in a comment. I’ll stick around because the content is worth the aggravation and I know you’re trying to fix it. But if it gets much worse, I may not have a choice in the matter.

    • 0 avatar
      JD23

      This site is unusable without Adblock Plus or similar ad blockers. Consequently, I have stopped viewing the site on anything other than my laptop. TTAC management should be aware that their overly intrusive ads are reducing viewership.

  • avatar
    dartman

    tonycd- Don’t know if it’s available for your mobile device, but adblock plus (free) does a fantastic job on Firefox (Win10) and Safari (ipad Air2)

  • avatar
    Chan

    I don’t see how it costs $500 per unit to flash some software, unless the old firmware cannot be flashed.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Its probably not firmware. The 100,000 digit in the display does not have segments to make a 3 (save two of nine segments). I’m surprised it didn’t stop at 199,999 if Toyota were cheapening the instruments. That would have saved seven of nine segments. There is no cheap fix other than rolling back to zero and starting over. This however would violate odometer roll back laws. All in all Toyota could be forced to fix them based on odometer roll back laws.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        It made a “1” for 100,000 miles, so we know the lower right segment worked; therefore it has all the segments you need to make a “3”. We don’t know if it could display “5”, “6”, “8” or “9”, but I’m betting it could. Just no savings to be had specifying an oddball display without an upper left segment.

        My money is on a software glitch.

  • avatar
    wmba

    CTV issued this fatuous warning: “Used car buyers considering purchasing these models should be wary of the odometer readings on prospective buys, particularly if it seems suspiciously low for the condition of the car.”

    Suspiciously low? Ha. ha, ha. Yup, Sure, you nitwitz. It’s 299,999 km in all the cases we’re talking about here! All of them. What kind of condition would YOU expect, CTV experts? There are about no Matrixes left anyway. Once common, now clogging boneyards. Those still panting faithfully around are worth about zero dollars on a trade-in, so why would Toyota give a free upgrade?

    CTV also say: “A working odometer is required by law in most provinces.” Say what? This is pure fabrication made up out of thin air by the reporter. Google it, CTV. No such law(s).

    And as for the latest Canadian Federal Standards 2007, I quote a passage from the Requirements:

    “An odometer or trip odometer shall indicate distances in kilometres or in miles. If the distances are indicated in miles, that unit of measurement shall be identified at a location adjacent to the odometer or trip odometer.”

    So maybe Toyota can just turn the thing into a miles display and get a 120,000 mile extension, along with a peel-off back “Miles” sticker.

    At least six dozen owners of elderly Toyotas would thereby be delighted and might even buy new timing belts in celebration.

  • avatar

    Is anyone going to spend $500 for an odo to record miles 300k ?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Well, when my old K car turned its first 100K, I was disappointed it did not have the sixth digit. So I bought a six digit head out of a wrecked Chrysler that did, and attacked my speedo head with a dremel and cut in the space for the sixth digit and added the extra wheel and longer shaft. Presto! six digits that when over 250K miles.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    An entire dash cluster doesn’t cost $500, something underhanded is afoot I suspect.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The solution is to design the engines and transmissions to fail at 299k miles therefore the owner does not have to worry about spending $500 to replace the odometers and Toyota can sell a new vehicle to that owner instead. In the next model redesign they can make the odometer only go up to 199k and eventually reduce it to 99k. Toyota can sell this to the faithful as expiration mileage to alert the owner to when it is time to replace their Toyota with a newer one and Toyota could charge an extra 1k for this added feature.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Shame on you, Toyota!

    You’ve already allotted 6 character spaces in the ODO field, so why stop accumulating them at 299,999 units (whether they be miles or Km)??? This makes no sense! It’s YOUR software problem, and you know fully well it’s trivial to fix.

    If people were complaining about not being able to go over 999,999 units, then that may be different. Even then, there is a guy with a Volvo P1800 who has just completed 3M miles, and all his ODO did was reset to zero after each 999,999**. Think you can handle that, Toyota, or is it too much for you…?

    And you want to charge $500 from the customer, who had nothing to do with your deficiencies? Please. Maybe you’re getting too big for your britches, and forgot what customer service is all about.
    Too bad: I was considering getting your new Tacoma, but with the attitude you’ve shown, it’s going to be another Nissan Frontier.

    ———
    ** http://www.autoblog.com/2013/09/18/irv-gordons-volvo-p1800-has-hit-3-million-miles/
    ———

    =======================

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      There is nothing that says this is a corporate decision. More than likely it played out like this:
      Owner shows up at a dealer, says the cluster stuck. Dealer looks on their system, doesn’t see an extended warranty or TSB on it. Dealer says they can replace it, but they have no grounds to warranty the item so the owner will have to pay. Owner raises a stink and calls the local news channel rather than calling corporate. News.google.com algorithm picks up the news piece. Aaron Cole boots up his computer, navigates to google news, reads, and then writes article without figuring out if it is the dealer or corporate making the call. Guy on Internet buys truck based on bizarre reasoning.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    We’re talking about the poor Canadians losing their odometers at only 186k miles, but I’m thinking that Toyota likes a news story about US buyers being ticked that their decade old Corollas are having odometers fail at three hundred thousand miles. It’s better than any ad campaign.

  • avatar

    A friend of mine in Southern California has a 2005 Prius that he racks up miles on like crazy driving for his job. Sure enough, his hit 299,999 miles and just stopped there. He drove it that way for quite some time before getting the cluster replaced and that new one now reads around 125,000 so the car probably has close to 400,000 miles on it, still on the original hybrid battery I might add.

    I know the MK III Jettas would hit 299,999 and go back to 0 but the ‘total’ LCD would blink to indicate it had rolled over. Another odometer oddity I remember was the most recent Thunderbird which had what appeared to be a five-digit digital odometer showing the display as 12345.6 until it hit 100,000 at which point the decimal would vanish and it would become a six-digit odometer.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Toyota is starting to look more like the old GM everyday so why not build in extra planned obsolescence. I am not saying Toyota’s are bad but they are not what they once were and they have been resting on their past reputation while the competition has improved their quality and either meets or exceeds Toyota’s quality. Toyota also needs to phase out Scion.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Toyota has always been the GM of Asia. Become the largest manufacturer in your region. Spend money to make the best cars (GM 1945 – 1965; Toyota 1980 – 2000); become arrogant about your customer; build to the lowest common denominator; become irrelevant with a loyal older customer base while becoming a shadow of their former selves. Maybe redeem yourself or pass the crown onto Hyundai.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree pragmatic. Hyundai and Kia have both vastly improved their products and are every bit as good as the Japanese manufacturers. Ford and GM have also improved their products as well.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Not sure I agree. I’ve found that 4-year-old Hyundais and Kias are in noticeably worse shape than 4-year-old Toyotas and Hondas. That’s reflected in used prices as well.

      I’ve helped a lot of people buy cars over the years (I’m sure most TTAC readers are the “car guys/gals” in their group of friends and family), and things often go this way: “this Hyundai is so much cheaper than the Accord/Camry/Civic I was looking at, and it looks just as good!” “OK, so take it for a test drive,” and finally “It just doesn’t feel as solid to me.”

      One tech I know thinks it’s 50% because Hyundai uses cheaper components on the assembly line, and 50% because Hyundai owners are always willing to cut back on quality parts to get a better deal. It doesn’t matter if Hyundai’s OEM rotors are cheaper than Toyota’s, they still want you to install the cheapest aftermarket parts you can find.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeesh. I’ve learned over many brands that OE at minimum, and if you go outside, get the better replacement part. Cheap parts are NEVER worth it unless you are selling the car next week. Your friend is right…if you want to see scary, reddit has a subreddit “just rolled into the shop”, and unlike “us”, these cars get no love, and when, not if, they break, “can you fix it free/cheap”.

        Sadly, we share a road with them….

      • 0 avatar
        macmcmacmac

        Agree to a point..

        I recently guided my friend through a flex pipe replacement on her 2010 Sonata. OEM Hyundai flex pipe was $630! An hour of Googling got it down to a mere $145 with gaskets included, which Hyundai wanted $23 apiece for. The local Midas guy could not source aftermarket flexpipe from his supplier, nor could any other car parts depots here in town. From the OEM quoted total parts price of over $1200 with tax included (in case of non-salvageable O2 sensor which Hyundai wanted $400 for), I got the repair done, all-in for just over $300. The flex pipe looked every bit as good as the OEM pipe, which I feel should have lasted a damn sight longer than 4 years/75,000km in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      If things keep going as they are I expect in the not too distant future we will see Hyundai offer a MT in a RWD sedan.

  • avatar

    This is a feature, not a bug. Do you know how much shady car dealers pay to have odometers rolled back? And here Toyota is doing it for free!

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I dont get this “90a Toyotas were so much better and nothing ever went wrong” attitude.

    I see early 90s Camrys throw their automatics regularly before 200k, v6s that guzzle gas and sludge up, RUSt RUST and RUST, oil leaks, and Im sure we all loved automatic seatbelts.

    Newer Toyotas have their odometer big ip at 300k? Sure beats a 1000 transmission job.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    My dad’s ’92 Cutlass Supreme had the same problem, only 100k sooner. After 199,999 km, the digital odometer read “Error.” Switched it to miles, and it displayed the mileage. Clearly GM didn’t think the cars would hit 200k miles and didn’t bother to set the clusters up for it.

    • 0 avatar

      I had an 86 6000-STE that hit 200,000km, and it just stopped at 199,999. the car had about 140,000 miles on it when I got rid of it, and I knew the digital odo could physically only read up to 199,999 of any distance just due to the cheap-ass leading 1 digit.

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