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Matrix Transmission Problems



  • I was able to do the job with an engine hoist, a floor jack, a LARGE Breaker bar, a large torque wrench (for peace of mind) a beefy pry bar, a few jack stands a couple ratchet straps, some blocks of wood, and a basic metric socket set, including the 33mm socket for the axle nuts. (a pickle fork would have been helpful as well). I used the engine hoist to support the engine obviously, I had a buddy help me with the removal but I was alone on the install. I ended up putting two ratchet straps from the hoist to the engine and offset the hoist so that I could add a third strap and slowly ratcheted the tranny into position. I wouldn't recommend doing this if you're not mechanically inclined :)
  • neo9neo9 Posts: 3
    Hey all. I bought my Matrix around two years ago almost new (11k miles). Now it has around 43K miles and the last few months my transmission has been showing increasing symptoms of unwellness. At first, the clutch just felt a bit mushy, and to what extent this feeling was real vs. my paranoia I do not know. However, now it is hard to shift gears any time the engine is cold to the point where sometimes I have to double clutch to get it into first. Also, I have noticed a sound a bit like loose metal scraping around whenever I first start up the motor on a cold day. The sound is irregular and not real imposing. It goes away whenever I push the clutch in and returns when I let it back out. Both these symptoms for the most part disappear once the car is warmed up.

    At the moment I am guessing a bad throw-out bearing but I wonder what the apparent temperature sensitivity implies. This is a 2005 Matrix with only 43K on it. I've been scanning this forum and it seems for the most part these tranny problems are only supposed to occur in '03 and '04 models. Is my car proof Toyota hasn't rectified the problem?
  • neo9neo9 Posts: 3
    Any automatic transmission is supposed to shift on its own. That is what the word 'automatic' implies. Normally, if you are climbing a hill or trying to accelerate rapidly, the car will downshift into a lower gear in order to give you more torque. You do not need to shift out of drive in order for this to happen. The purpose of the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st gear settings are to give you more control over when the car shifts. For instance, automatics often won't automatically downshift to provide engine braking when you are descending a steep grade. This is why you have to sometimes put it into 2nd manually. Unless the car is downshifting into 2nd at times when it should not, such as when you are driving at constant speed on a flat stretch of highway, it doesn't sound like you have a problem.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    From the symptoms you are listing I would say your first guess was right: bad throw-out bearing. That kind of sucks at 43K though. Sorry to hear it. :-(

    I wonder if they will cover it for free under the powertrain warranty - after all, it is not the same thing as a worn clutch. They really should cover it.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • I was very excited about my search for buying a used Matrix, 2007, 2008 model and was not sure on getting a manual or automatic transmission. After reading the forums, I am discouraged about buying a matrix all together.

    I need advice: What transmission should I get? Is Automatic better than the Manual in the later models? I pay cash for cars, so I have been saving for a long time for this vehicle....should I even consider a Matrix anymore? I want something to last for a LONG time like my current car, which is a Toyota Camry that is 19 years old.

    Thank you
  • My Matrix is parked in my driveway until I find out what is happening with that transmission issue. I am happy I found that forum, it helps me understand what happened to me today. Since french is my first language, excuse the mistakes please...

    For a few days, I was hearing that distant grinding sound from the motor and I finally stopped to a small neighborhood garage to have it test driven by a mechanics. His diagnostic was very clear: transmission bearing failure. He called me an hour later telling me transmission had to be opened and bearing replaced for about $1200.

    So I decided to take the car to the dealer where I bought it and have always have it serviced to know how much they would charge me. And to tell them I was quite surprised with such an important failure at 170,000km.

    When I told the service manager what my problem was, he looked at me with the same surprised expression I would have expected from him if I had told my car was able to fly. As if it was the first time he heard of such a problem on a Matrix. Coincidence, a mechanic entered the client area from the garage, saw his face and asked what was happening. He had to tell him I had a problem with my transmission bearing. «Oh, I'm not surprised, we have changed quite a few of them».

    Isn't that funny? It looks like they don't give the mechanic the same training they give the front desk people!

    And the training they give them doesn't look very good either, because when I asked if it would be better to install a used transmission instead of fixing mine, he answer me that a used one would be likely to break again pretty soon...

    So Toyota people seem to have humoristic aptitudes. And according to what I just read on tha forum, I guess I will receive that kind of answer to the mail I sent to this afternoon: «We have received quite many complains about that bearing failure on 2004 manual Matrix, but we maintain our point: there is no reported problem with that transmission.»
    I'm really looking forward to reading their real answer...
  • neo9neo9 Posts: 3
    Yea that was the diagnosis of Pep Boys when I brought it to them. They actually recommended I essentially run the bearing into the ground if I can't get the warranty to cover it. My power train warranty goes to 60K, claims to cover the clutch casing but not to cover the clutch lining. It says nothing about the throw-out bearing. My pessimistic prediction is that the dealership will try to tell me the throwout bearing is another wear-&-tear item, (I know it can go for some of the same reasons a clutch disk can) and isn't covered under warranty. I am wondering if referring them to this forum, and in general pitching the case that people buy Toyotas for their reliability, might make them reconsider their verdict. We'll see.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    If I were you I would push that angle to the max. I don't consider a throw-out bearing to be a "wear item" in the same way a clutch lining is, that's for sure. If the dealer won't go to bat for you, you can contact the regional rep for Toyota independently and try to get satisfaction that way.

    Good luck!

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • njs1972njs1972 Posts: 1
    I purchased my Matrix last year. The manufacturer's warranty expired January 09, and TADA the following week my transmission was hemorrhaging fluid. Apparently yes I need a new bearing and there is some give in the axle. A sweet mechanic replaced the seals hoping that would solve the problem. WRONG! I purchased this vehicle for the fact I have trusted in Toyotas, and now this. I am a single girl and barely making ends meet as the state of CA has robbed me blind. I have tried every road possible to get this resolved and people look at me like I am stuck on stupid. My Matrix currently sits in front of my house.
    If any of you find any sort of recourse for this.. please let me know. I am tired of mooching off others to get places.
    Ironic they replace the bolts in the windows but obviously there are issues with the tranmissions (which they deny when I emailed Toyota). :mad:
  • Anaheim Gear in Anaheim, CA sold me a rebuilt tranny with a one year warranty for $1000 out the door after core charge. so far I've put 3k miles on it and is seems to be fine. they also list the trannys on E-bay too. I replaced mine myself, not sure how much it will cost to have someone else do it, it's kind of a big job.

    Good luck!
  • aa262aa262 Posts: 1
    Have a 04 Matrix standard that is shifting from 4th gear
    to neutral on itrs own Any ideas Only has 67k miles
    out of warranty
  • keilsekeilse Posts: 16
    Hi Tim,
    I have a 2003 5 speed matrix and the tranny failed at 102,000+/- miles. I am in CA, so rebuilding mine would be pretty hard to do unless I somehow ship it to you...I was you sell overhauled trannys for this model car at all? I need to have my mechanic here look at what's left of the tranny before I can safely say that it's shot completely, but I bet money it is.

    If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

    Thanks in advance.
    Sara Keil
  • jamesimcbjamesimcb Posts: 13
    After going through this expensive experience once, the guy at Mr. Transmission told me that there is a revised kit and that I shouldn't have the problem again. The first time the tranny failed was at 130,000 km's....well I put another 25,000 km's on it and guess what...the sound is slowly creeping back. Not sure if it was fixed properly or not...but beware...once you spend 2500-3000 fixing the POS it may come back. My transmission was fixed at Mr. Transmission in Peterborough...I would highly recommend against using Mr. Transmission!!!!
    Is this really a Toyota? I could get better reliability out of a chinese engineered look alike! JUNK
  • Follow up with my first message #284:

    The reply from to my question about their responsability with that transmission problem was as expected: «We are not aware of any common problem with the Matrix transmissions».

    So I reply to them telling my thoughts about their attitute. And went to have my car fixed. It has finaly been done by an independant mechanic, because my Toyota dealer asked too much and insisted to change the clutch as well (it was finaly only 25% worn).

    Meanwhile, I received another message from Toyota. They replied to my second message telling me they opened a file for my case.

    Two weeks later, a phone call from them: they offer me the parts, I pay the labour. I asked how much was the part: $2800CA they said. So I guess it was a new transmission. But when I finaly said I had my car fixed with an independant, they said they can't do anything for me. Bye, file closed.

    So clearly, they know there is a problem even if they deny it first. To me, it looks like a strategy to wait that long before admiting their fault and compensate for it.

    I have transmited my whole case to the APA. They were very interested and mentionned they receive many complains regarding those transmissions. And they were not surprised Toyota did their offer by phone. And as they predicted, Toyota did not reply to me by writen, even if I asked for it and even if they said they would.

    If you hear your transmission start to make a very faint and distant noise, act fast with Toyota so they will have time to answer before you fix everything...

    And by the way, I have friends that work in different media dedicated to automobile and for sure, I will manage to have that story reported so people know what to do. And who they deal with.

    One last thing: I have two friends who followed my case closely. Both have old Toyotas, a Tercel and an Echo. One will switch to Hyunday, the other to Honda. That doesn't put a cent in my pocket, but it doesn't put any in Toyota's either!
  • zbadrexzbadrex Posts: 4
    I know this is a Matrix forum - but I have pertinent information as I have been dealing with the same issues on my 2003 Pontiac Vibe (same lovely Toyota drivetrain). I too had a bearing disintegrate the week after Christmas at 124,000mi that wallowed out my housing to the point of replace rather than fix. Good luck finding a good 5-speed! I have been researching other options, and just yesterday purchased a used 6-speed Matrix tranny. The castings are identical except for the end one that houses 6th gear, and I have found only that my Vibe speedo gear will need to be used - I haven't swapped it yet, and will post if there are any problems. From what I have seen, and what I have been told, the 6-speed is a direct replacement. I am including the website where I found my info and purchased my clutch kit: They were very helpful to answer my many questions. I have been watching this forum hoping that someone would post a better solution, or that Toyota would finally issue a recall, and I had read where someone else posted that the castings were different between the 5 and 6 speeds - but so far I don't see any difference, except what I already mentioned. I will post again if I run into any problems installing unless someone gets ticky that mine is not technically a Matrix - but consider, if this goes well, it will be partially a Matrix! I hope this info will be helpful to someone else out there going through the same ordeal I have been. Thanks, April
  • zbadrexzbadrex Posts: 4
    Just a quick update - no snags at all. Dropped my 5-speed speedo gear into the 6-speed's bell housing, new clutch assembly(ordered for 6-speed), same old axles, a wire loom holder from the old tranny(not necessary, just picky), and buttoned it all back up. Added synthetic gear lube as recommended, and an oil change too from sitting since December. After charging the dead battery, runs and drives great again!
  • cassadcjcassadcj Posts: 4
    Wow! After reading this entire thread, I feel that I've been very lucky. I purchased a 2003 Matrix XR with 5 speed manual transmission in March 2002; so, a very early Matrix. For over 7 years, it had no significant problems other than the windshield cracking immediately when hit by a rock; rocks are sharp around here and the car now has its 5th windshield! I finally had the air conditioner relay problem at about 195,000 miles. Fortunately, that was only about $100 to fix and I had an oil leak fixed for $150 at the same time. There were also two accidents with extensive body panel damage but no mechanical damage. The passenger side was wiped out and cost $9K to repair in December 2004 and the rear was caved in and cost $8K in May 2005. But, neither of those accidents were the fault of the Matrix--and they weren't my fault either. The most annoying thing is that the body shop had trouble getting Matrix parts and I was without my car for 7 weeks in the first accident and 8 weeks in the second. (And, after never being in an accident in over 30 years of driving, two stupid accidents that weren't my fault in less than 5 months began to make me feel like I was driving around with a "Hit me!" sign on the Matrix. :sick: )

    There were no transmission problems until at 205,000 miles in May 2009 a rattle developed when the car was moving and in gear. It went away when the clutch was pushed in. Two shops thought that it was the flywheel going bad, so I had the flywheel and clutch replaced for $1K. That didn't stop the rattle and the suggestion was a bad bearing(s). With another 1,000 miles of driving the rattle was getting worse, but the car still drove OK. After reading about the 2003 Matrix manual transmission experiences on this thread and elsewhere, it began it began to look like this could cost about $2-3K more and be time consuming. :cry: I'll be driving a lot this summer and needed a car right away. So, I traded in the 2003 Matrix for a 2009 Honda Fit. (I love the Fit, although its seats aren't as comfortable as the Matrix.)

    I only got a $2,500 trade in on the Matrix due to its transmission problems and some minor body problems. But, that was about what I expected based on the used car price calculators here at Edmunds. My Matrix was a great car and I got my money's worth from it! I'm sorry that many of you have had transmission problems and feel fortunate that mine didn't happen until high mileage.
  • Hi, I guess I want to add my woes to this thread. I need some advice from people who have had similar experiences with their 2003 5 Speed Toyota Matrix. My car recently broke down about 2 and a half hours from where I live. My car was towed to the dealership where I was informed I would need a brand new transmission. The car has 103,000 miles on it. This isn't supposed to happen. It couldn't come at a worst time financially and I don't know what to do. I JUST decided to sell my car a week ago after I realized the car payments just weren't in my budget. Ironic? Yeah. The dealership is quoting me $2900 for a new transmission. They said they can get a used tranny in there for $1900-2100, but I would like to avoid that if possible. Jasper Engines doesn't have a transmission for that year, so I think I might be stuck with putting in the new transmission. I am waiting on quotes from shops in the area, but it is a very small town and I think that is going to be the standard price. My question is: if this whole thread is dedicated to defective transmissions, what will happen if I put in the same transmission again? Will it just go out again in another 100,000 miles? I still owe $3000 on the car, so selling isn't an option because I will come out at a big loss and I don't want to screw someone else over and I wouldn't have enough money for another car. I would really appreciate any advice or stories of how people resolved their issues. Any tips on contacting Toyota directly to see if I could get a discount on the part? Thank you!
  • jamborskijamborski Posts: 7
    I bought a rebuilt transmission from Anaheim Gear, in Anaheim CA, they warranty their tranny for one year and said that toyota just got a bad batch of bearings, and that I shouldnt have a problem with it. the tranny cost me $1000 after trading in the old one. I recommend looking them up. I swapped the tranny myself, whcih is no small task but new tranny and clutch and misc expenses cost me about $1200. but it took some work.
  • Thanks for the response, jamborski. Since the car is 2.5 hours away from me, I decided to just get the dealer to replace it for 2900. I was just passing through that town, so if it breaks down again I need to be able to take it somewhere local.

    A note to other victims of this crackerjack transmission: I just got off the phone with Toyota's national customer service line. The woman I spoke with said that there is no documentation of a similar problem with the 2003 Toyota Matrix 5 speed, so there was nothing they could do to help me. I know that there is an acceptable amount of complaints that they will field before acknowledging the defect or issuing a recall, but she told me that it was confidential how many complaints there have been so far. Because I haven't taken the car to a dealer to be serviced (and pay twice as much), they were unwilling to offer any help through their "goodwill" program. I am in law school and told the woman that in two years I will be an attorney and have nothing better to do with my time than spend the next two years researching this and mounting a case. I was hoping that would have had a more dramatic effect, but she just cheerfully thanked me for calling Toyota. Oh well. I encourage everyone on this site to call Toyota and lodge their complaint. While there will likely not be any immediate relief, at least there will be a record. Maybe one day we can file a class action suit for the defective bearings. I am not imagining anything big or dramatic, but if there are enough people with the same problem, we could at least collect what we have paid on the part and the service. That number is 1-800-331-4331. In the meantime, everyone should keep a copy of all service records and detailed accounts of conversations with any Toyota employees and what they have said.

    The other consideration is that if the transmissions are giving out at or around 100,000 miles, there may be a lot of Matrix owners who have yet to reach that mileage. So, this could just be the beginning of a huge problem for Toyota.

    Good luck to everyone.
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