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Matrix Transmission Problems

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  • What year is your Matrix? I am looking for a good repair/shop manual and have only found Chilton's which is NO HELP AT ALL for anything more detailed than changing a lightbulb (at least for Matrix). So what have you used and your experience? Noted your comment on manual and interested in more. How about doing an Instructible (Instructibles.com) on tran repair -- haha! But you do write well and good pics.

    Thanks
  • What year is your Matrix? I am looking for a good repair/shop manual and have only found Chilton's which is NO HELP AT ALL for anything more detailed than changing a lightbulb (at least for Matrix). So what have you used and your experience? Noted your comment on manual and interested in more. How about doing an Instructable (Instructables.com) on tran repair -- haha! But you do write well and good pics.

    Thanks
  • jchan01545jchan01545 Posts: 3
    edited March 2012
    Mine is a 2004 XR with about just over 109K. I recommend getting a Matrix service manual (check out eBay). Below is the blog that I found very helpful in describing how to get the transmission out. Once out you can follow the directions on rebuilding the "Manual Transaxle Assembly" - starting on page 41-26.

    http://wehavescissors.blogspot.com/2009/12/changing-clutch-in-pontiac-vibe-or.ht- - ml

    Here's the original thread, useful tips from other user:

    http://forums.genvibe.com/zerothread?id=21943

    It's my understanding that the Vibe is a Toyota with different branding.

    If you're going to take on this major undertaking, you're going to need lots of tools and time. I've run into lots of issues that took way more time than I expected (some requiring purchasing specialized tools) to get past steps that the service manual and blogs make sound like a piece of cake (i.e., remove the transmission cover by tapping with a plastic hammer -- yeah, right). Harbor Freight and Amazon are very happy with me but my wallet is suffering. And there are steps in the service manual that can be skipped.

    Here are the trouble-spots that I ran into:

    * Removing the drive shafts. Now that I know how much pressure it takes to remove them, I'd just use a flat crowbar with a piece of wood against the transmission body to pry the driveshaft housing away from the transmission -- you don't have to pry all that hard, it comes out rather easily. I rented a puller from Advance Auto Parts to do this (no charge once you return the equipment).

    * Getting the transmission separated from the engine. There is a guide pin on the firewall side of the engine and transmission that refused to separate. Once I got some light on that side I was able to see the pin. I squirt some Kroil Oil on it and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Another 10 minutes later the transmission was finally off. I think that if I had pried the transmission away from the engine evenly it would not have hung up on that pin.

    * Getting the transmission cover off. Spent a couple of hours banging with a plastic hammer like the directions said. I tried heating the gasket and top cover with a torch, no success. Tried using a brass rod and hammer, still a no go. Finally found a spot that I could use a flat crowbar without risking any damage to the housing, about 30 seconds later the cover was off.

    * Getting the 5th driven gear off (to expose the output bearing). I needed to purchase a gear puller that had a narrow enough profile to get beneath the gear, ended up purchasing a Posi-Lock Model 104 puller from Sears (couldn't find anything else locally that would fit). It was *just* narrow enough to get beneath that gear and worked like a champ. The straight arm pullers that the service manual recommended were a lot more money.

    * Separating the bell housing from the mid-section of the transmission. Instructions say to use a brass bar and hammer. The instructions failed to mention that the input and output shafts and their bearings need to be coaxed off while splitting the housing before the sections can come apart. Don't do what I did, I split the two with the transmission was on its side to get more leverage and ended up spilling some of the gears and levers inside the housing, it was a huge mess with gears hitting other gears and parts falling out. Took me an hour figure out where things go.
  • kingkueikingkuei Posts: 1
    I've got a 2003 Corolla 5-Spd using the same C59 transmission. At 162,000 miles, my transmission gave up the ghost. At first, I thought it was just my clutch and flywheel since the clutch has been slipping for awhile now. I just didn't have the money to get around to replacing them right away.

    Three weeks ago, I suffered a sudden and catastrophic failure driving home on the freeway (thank God it was midnight and barely any traffic). I started to hear an usual whining from the transmission coupled with scraping and grinding noises and periodic screeching).

    Anyway, I was still on the original clutch and I had already ordered up a new Fidanza clutch and an MWR chromoly flywheel in addition to a TRD Japan clutch line. I was actually getting really excited, but after putting all these shiny new parts in, I've come to the realization that it was not the clutch that failed, but rather, something inside the transmission. I talked to a well-regarded and heavily-recommended gear shop nearby (3 out of 6 mechanics in my area recommended the same guy). As soon as I mentioned I had a Toyota 5-spd, he went on a rant about them and how many rebuilds he's done on these Toyota transmissions. He then proceeded to show me up a blow-up diagram of the transmission and started pointing out the bearings that have most often failed. He was even aware of the plastic cage inside that he thinks has probably shattered.

    Luckily, my rebuild is going to come out to around $1300-$1400 (that includes labor to remove and reassemble the transmission back on my car), which I think is an incredibly good deal. I've heard of people spending twice as much on parts and labor!

    Anyway, just wanted to post my experience. After reading this thread, I almost feel like one of the lucky ones. My original clutch lasted 162,000 miles, as did my transmission. While I would have liked this transmission to keep humming for another 40,000-90,000 miles, it seems unrealistic to expect any vehicle component to last that long. I suspect that the bean counters at Toyota figure an average person will keep a car for max 10 years and drive about 15,000 miles a year. So shooting for component life of around 150,000 miles is probably expected. It's a mechanical device, and I know that there are going to be plenty of other things that will break down as I start getting closer to that 200k mark. It's just inevitable.
  • We had to replace our five-speed manual transmission at 98,000 miles! I sent a certified letter to the president of Toyota Motor Corp. North America. I was told since there is no recall, I would not be compensated. The cost was $3,100!

    Please sign my petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/unbearable-transmission-bearing Hopefully if there are enough signatures, Toyota will do a recall.

    Thank you!!
  • We had to replace our five-speed manual transmission on our Toyota Matrix at 98,000 miles! I sent a certified letter to the president of Toyota Motor Corp. North America. I was told since there is no recall, I would not be compensated. The cost was $3,100!

    Please sign my petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/unbearable-transmission-bearing Hopefully if there are enough signatures, Toyota will do a recall.

    Thank you!!
  • We had to replace our five-speed manual transmission on our Toyota Matrix at 98,000 miles! I sent a certified letter to the president of Toyota Motor Corp. North America. I was told since there is no recall, I would not be compensated. The cost was $3,100!

    Please sign my petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/unbearable-transmission-bearing Hopefully if there are enough signatures, Toyota will do a recall.

    Thank you!!
  • Hi all,
    I plan to buy a 05 XRS Matrix. I'd like to ask your opinion about that year with XRS 6 speed transmission problem. I'm interesting in a 05 XRS with 125K miles, just replaced OEM clutch . Do you think that is OK to buy it? or maybe not? Thank you for your recommendation.

    Eric
  • Eric prior to buying the '05 Matrix, I suggest you do extensive research on it to see if the same transmission problem exists. If so, I would not buy it. It is a very expensive repair.

    I have also heard that the clutch on the Matrix is not suitable for the weight of the car. I had to replace the clutch at the same time as the transmission! Big bucks! Both of these were replaced at 98,000 miles.

    On the Matrix petition site, several people posted they had the same transmission problem with their Matrix. Definitely do your research.
  • Thank you for fast reply. Your advise is definitely make me think twice about Matrix. I'll looking for something else. Thanks again and good luck with your class action.

    Eric
  • canonlawcanonlaw Posts: 20
    I posted here back in 2007, after my 2003 Matrix 5-speed transmission died at 65,000 miles. At the time, I thought it might be faulty bearings or something else, so I had it rebuilt for $1800. Well, it lasted a little longer this time. It starting failing a year ago, and now the grinding is really bad again, at 142,000 miles. So, I ordered a 6-speed from a wrecking yard and it is going in hopefully this weekend. But if I have any other major problems, I am basically through with this car. See the list of repairs below.

    Catalytic converter $600
    Starter $400
    Brake rotors warped at 70,000 miles ($300)
    AC Relay stopped working $10
    Transmission $1800
    Transmission 2 $1600 hopefully with new clutch
  • canonlaw, it is terrible that you have had to spend so much on your car! You should not have to replace the transmission twice. I really think this car has a defective transmission.

    So far, over thirty people who signed the petitition have had this happen with their Matrix (and one with a Pontiac Vibe which has the same transmission). I wonder how many others there are.
  • Noooooooooooo! I bought a Matrix!

    I've always been a Toyota person, but after dropping $7,000 on a 2003 Toyota Matrix with 100,000 miles on it, and only getting 2 years and 15,000 miles of use before the transmission and clutch went out, I will not buy Toyota again! Wow... my stomach turns to think that I blew $0.50 per mile on that piece of (expletive). Who would have thought that driving downtown, my biggest expense was not parking, but simply owning an F'ing Matrix.

    Please excuse my disgust and frustration.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited December 2012
    While I sympathize with your experience, and I feel it is criminal that Toyota does not acknowlege and not only reimburse all owners of these transmissions, and CHANGE the design of the tran so it does not just go prematurely again, but the clutch going out is unrelated to the starved-for-oil bearing location design. There is no reason that a clutch being used properly (the previous owner may not have) should not outlive at least two or even three of these crappy OEM Matrix standard transmissions. Poor clutch habits can actually kill a clutch in a brand new car in the same day it is driven/abused off the lot (as an extreme example). It is also a fact, though, that some cars have more hardy designs than others. 300 to 400k miles is not uncommon on a clutch owned by an owner with good habits.

    The other day I watched a guy in a Chev full-sized P/U hold it at a light on a steep hill. Just with the clutch...rocking it back and forth, back and forth, for about 90 seconds! I could smell that poor clutch and had to close the recirculate door on the HVAC. And that guy will wonder why he gets so few miles out of a clutch. Buying a used stick can be risky business if you cannot confirm the previous owner's habits, and it doesn't just end with the clutch either.
  • The clutch started to slip on my 2006 Matrix at just 32K miles.
    Only going up hills ~3500rpm, near the engine's torque peak.
    The previous owner must have dogged it in the 8,100 miles they had it.
    Unfortunately no way to know that time bomb was there.

    Got the car back today. (Excellent indie shop in College Park MD)
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/jungs-auto-service-college-park
    The flywheel and pressure plate had blue color from overheating.
    The flywheel had to be resurfaced.
    The friction disk was not worn down much.
    The pressure plate springs apparently were weakened from the heat.
    I can really feel the difference.
  • Hi,

    I purchased a Matrix or specifically a Toyota because I thought they would last forever. I also took the vehicle to the shop where I purchased the vehicle, and the shop guy said yeah they tend to do that at 100k.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    edited January 2013
    well, I would totally disagree with that simplistic logic from your dealer. What I hope he meant was that it is a very bad idea leaving the original fluid in the transmission (automatic) to the mileage outlined in the owner's manual. Many transmissions, to include Toyota's, are indeed failing around that point because owners don't believe they need to exchange the fluid until sometime around the 100,000 mile mark and beyond. I had the same thing happen to me in a Hyundai. Fact is, leaving the second most important fluid in your car "forever" will ensure a premature transmission failure. Exchange the fluid at 60,000, not at 100,000 or even worse, leaving it in "forever."
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    I think he meant they all "tend to blow up" around then. But I have read of many failures long before 100k. It is a bad design flaw and Toyota (surprisingly to me as I guess I always had placed them on an undeserved pedestal) simply won't acknowledge the flaw.

    In fact, I am recalling this as I shop for a car now. Also remembering Mazda screwing loyal owners of rusted Proteges, Honda with their autos in Oydessy and Civics, Hyundai with their auto in Santa Fe and some Elantras, Chrysler and Ford with their sketchy autos and all the other non tranny related issues etc as almost all brands seem to have their issues in one way or another.

    I didn't know what to think when I first learned of GM not having a drain available on their "sealed for life" auto trans in their Malibus etc many years ago now. I suppose it helped idiot-proof them by ensuring that no one puts engine oil or something else in there or overfills etc. but it still seems like a drastic solution to that.

    But at least there is one big difference between oils/fluids in an auto tranny vs an engine...at least in a tranny there are no by-product contaminations from combustion, so helps in not having sulfuric acid etc eating away at bearings...but there are still sources of contamination from gear wear and clutch pack debris.
    And also, I suspect that there must be additives in an auto trans fluid that assist seals in the tranny to keep their shape and pliability to resist leaks and ruptures.

    I used to think that if you bought a standard, you're set for 400k + if you didn't abuse it and replaced the gear oil every 60k or so. But not so..there are good standards and poor ones. Same with autos..there are good designs and poor designs. Pays to read up before a car purchase.

    If you use heavy trucks/buses etc as an example, standard transmissions last easily 3 to 4 times longer than a similar torque-capable automatic in the same application. This tells me that the standard will always be capable of greater longevity, providing the original design is good to start with.
  • marjomarjo Posts: 28
    If you are suggesting that these manual shift Toyotas are failing due to something the owners did or didn't do, then your logic is the one that's simplistic and flawed. I feel sorry for those that still believe that Toyotas are anything like what they were 20-30y ago. I guess you must live and learn on your own.
    ps-my standard 2003 Matrix died in 2007 with 84,000km
  • Did you ever change the gear oil?
    No one with these failures seems willing to answer that question.
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