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Matrix Transmission Problems



  • I don't know that ALL matrix's have this problem. It seems like the first few years do. We bought our 2004 in 2003, not being a car designer, I don't know what those differences would include. I didn't see any such posts on 2005 and forward.

    I must say that the car was great in all other respects...we actually were able to get an apartment sized refrigerator in the thing, so flexible in terms of usage, but that little problem with Toyota not admitting to what seems to be a problem is the issue here.

    I can honestly say that the way people drive on Long Island, had I been on the highway side of the divider that I would have been creamed. Even the man who towed my vehicle said the same. Breaking down in a lane when everyone is doing 70+ miles an hour will at least put you in the position of being rear-ended and then who knows what!

    And, when I called Toyota last week, the rep on the phone said that a failing powertrain would be considered a safety hazard.

    All said, I don't think I will buy another Toyota, even though they have always served me well. As with most companies, I think there is a definite de-evolution of quality as they get larger. Think Enron, Xerox, and GM.
  • marjomarjo Posts: 28
    By the way, the repair bill for a new transmission is $5000. Luckily i only had to bay $2000 because I had mine serviced at Toyota and my dealer called Toyota Canada directly.
    The problem seems to exist only with 2003-4. The transmission and engine was changed for 2005. So if you want a Matrix get a 2005 or later and you may be ok. I probably still won't get one unless Toyota gives me an awesome trade-in value.
  • Well, I posted around Sept about my 2004 transmission and clutch going out. I paid $2700.00 for a rebuilt transmission and new clutch. Last week, my car began making a terrible rattling noise, which I thought was the throw out bearing. Took it back to the same guy to fix (under warranty). He tells me the next day that it is the transmission and he was only given 30 day warranty !!!!! Remember this was suppose to be rebuilt. He told me he never said that. I have the receipt where he wrote 'rebuilt transmission $1425.00". Evidently, he bought a used transmission and it was time for that one to go. After I get my car back, I am suing him for fraud and now I'm pissed off enough to do SOMETHING about toyota. This has really changed my opinion about toyota - I won't be buying another one. I am already car shopping.
  • Do you have your website up yet? My Matrix XRS 04 is in the shop for the SECOND clutch I have had to put in! the first one went at about 30,000 miles and I had the same deal with Toyota that everyone else has had. "It's my driving, it's normal wear and tear, it's not covered under warranty. I changed it, and wrote a letter and never got a response and didn't do anything else. Now there are 75,000 miles on the car and the transmission went again. Called them again and got all the same responses. I really loved Toyota before and was very loyal. I am very disappointed in them now and really want to do something. I KNOW this is not normal wear and tear and it's a problem in the design. I really want to get together and do something about this, b/c they keep saying I'm the ONLY one with this problem. Obviously, I'm not.
  • marjomarjo Posts: 28
    I would love to get involved somehow to spread the word about this. I thought about writing to the Canadian show W5 or something. I know nothing will happen quickly though and I don't want to wait to pay for a 2nd transmission. I have been test driving vehicles and am trading that junk in for only $7500 (bought for $16500 in 2002) to buy a Nissan Versa or Honda Fit. It sucks because I don't like the size and style of those cars as much as the Matrix and I can't afford a car payment. But I can't give Toyota any more of my money until they DO SOMETHING!
  • kev15kev15 Posts: 3
    I guess I'm transmission lasted 160K, I owned a '91 Camry until I bought this Matrix used a few months back...should have kept the Camry - even though it had 350K it had none of the problems the Matrix has. I was told that the last guy "must not have maintained it" - I'm sure thats the standard statement for second hand car problems.
    I got off easy though...cost about $1500 to replace a bearing. After reading everything here I'm afraid there's more to come.
    Don't these cars have the same trany as the Corola and/or Vibe? Do those cars have similar problems?
  • Hi Sue,

    I am in total agreement with you, with the number of postings on this website over the last 6 months it is quite obvious that there is an issue with the Matrix. I replaced my clutch at 113,000 km's plus all the maintenance - result is over $3500 in the last year including new tires. This car has turned out to be a money pit! I am all for going to the media. Here is my email if you want to get things started I am in for the long run if need be..:)
  • Kev15,
    I am scheduled for the bearing job for nextTuesday. I do not know this dealer and I wonder if they are using the right bearing. Would you be kind enough to review your bill and copy the bearing part number. They are talking about a $120 bearing and others say it is a $50 bearing - I looked it up on Carparts.cpm and it shows as a $10.65. - It is not the parts cost that I am concerned with as the bill will be 95% labour - but as the labour is being performed I want to make sure the right part will be used. thanks for the effort!
  • Add another 04 Matrix to the list. Story is typical of others posted on the board. I was just over 100K miles and started to hear the tell-tale grumble. Almost all the miles are highway and pretty mild conditions. I have to say that it had been a great small car up to this point. Of all the things to go wrong I would have never expected it to have been a manual transmission. Of course Toyota wants nothing to do with it although they readily admitted the parts had been upgraded and said they would be upset if it was their transmission that had gone out so soon. Especially a manual! Talk is cheap. Now staring at a $3625.00 decision for a new transmission. Rebuilt was offered, but was less than a $400.00 dollar difference.
  • I have an 03 Matrtix Xr 120,000 miles and the tranny/clutch is making noise. I have order a clutch kit but after reading some of these horror stories, I'm suprised mine lasted this long. In 04 Toyota rebuilt my tranny, it was explained to me that the 4th and 5th gears where in backwards and didn't have good oil flow. (right!!!!) This was covered by the warranty. I know I will never buy another Toyota again either. good luck to everyone against Toyota.
  • I had my output bearing replaced last week. Looking at the bearing and the exploding view of the transmission and speaking with an insider the following is observed:
    The bearing has a metal shield covering the balls on one side, on the other side it is held in to the transmission housing. The question is how is oil possibly getting into the bearing. It seems to be isolated from the oil. I am impressed that it actually worked so well for 63,000 miles. It must be a good quality bearing to have lasted this long without proper lubrication. We can only guess at this time how Toyota redesigned this flaw, but I am certain it has to do with making sure oil can reach the bearing. My feeling is that my bearing will last another 63,000 miles......
  • I have an '04 Matrix XR and the transmission just locked up on me at 160,000 miles. Just like the other stories, noise under the hood that couldn't be located, rattling, and then today the high pitched whine and the sound of metal grinding. $3500 for a new transaxle and clutch. I'm going to print out all these posts and take them to the dealer. this has been a great car. the only problem until now has been that it goes through tires...but when you drive 40k miles/year....
    I'm up for going after Toyota...sign me up
  • If you go to, do a site search and find "contact us. On the right you will see a link to "email us" This is what I just sent them. Everyone needs to do it.

    pf_flyer, "Matrix Transmission Problems" #1, 11 Jul 2006 8:32 am

    I, (along with many others) have had our manual transmissions FAIL at various mileages. I have driven manual transmission cars my whole life (I'm 50)and have NEVER had a transmission FAIL COMPLETELY. I have had to replace clutches but that's it. Apparently this is a major problem that Toyota will not acknowledge. I can assure you that if I am not given some satisfaction by Toyota over this problem that you have known about for some time, two things will happen. First, I will never buy another Toyota. Second, I will be sure to relate my (and everyone elses) misfortune in every conversation where the subject of automobles comes up. This is horrendous. $3800 to replace the transaxle and clutch? Please copy and paste the link above and see all the complaints.
  • Aside from the transmission problems, the Matrix is a great car. I liked the style, handling, utility, space, and fuel economy. But all that means Jack if your transmission doesn't work.

    At 157,000 km / 98,125 miles, my transmission is dead. The dealership that I purchased the car has quoted C$ 5,400 for the repair of the transmission. Which is absolutely ridiculous. I hit every serive point and did exactly what was recommended by the manufacturer.

    I have brought this issue up with Toyota and am hoping that they will pay for some or all of the repair. In the event they don't, I am going to pursue other means such as small claims court and get as much exposure to this problem as possible. :lemon:
  • Do you have any other technical information regarding the bearings wearing out? I am considering taking Toyota Canada to small claims court as the bearing in my transmission have worn out as well and I would like to assemble as much technical information as possible regarding this problem.
  • marjomarjo Posts: 28
    Well. I posted that I'd like to get rid of my Matrix with its brand new transmission at 83K km... and I did! Sold a base model 2003 for $9300 to a guy who is convinced that Toyotas are great cars and he isn't worried about the transmission. I now have a brand new 2008 Honda Fit LX ... AND am getting $1000 from Transport Canada from the EcoAuto rebate. After about 15min of driving this car, though it is a little smaller than the Matrix, about a foot shorter, it is MUCH nicer. Drives and shifts more smoothly. Has a/c, ABS, side airbags, cruise, power locks and windows for the same price as a base Matrix, $17,380Cdn MSRP.

    By the way, my Matrix sat for about 2 months, which I'm sure didn't help the oil not getting to the bearing. The mechanic at Clark Toyota, Fredericton acually ASKED ME if it had sat, like as if he was fully familiar with the issue. You have to talk to mechanics willing to talk about the design of this transmission to get the details. Obviously Toyota changed it in 2005 knowing there was a problem. Recalls would have never happened because they would have had to replace every transmission AND engine since the 2005 transmission doesn't work with the 2003/4 engine. Still not sure why the VIBE doesn't seem to have the same complaints in forums. Built in California not Ontario, but should have the same parts shouldn't it??
  • marjomarjo Posts: 28
    Call Toyota Canada first to file a complaint. THen call teh dealer you bought it from and they can help to get teh cost reduced under Good Will program. Being at 157K already could be a problem. Mine was only 82K and they covered 60%. If Toyota Canada trys to claim that they have had no other complaints, they're lying. I filed one in Oct.
  • I also filed a complaint in October...Toyota has never heard of this problem. LOL :mad:
  • The Vibe has the identical drive train. They are both shipped from Japan i believe. The Vibe has the exact same problem as the matrix. Coincidentally, the transmission shop that I took my car to was working on 2 vibes while my trixie was there.
  • I spoke too soon, the tranny is bad. I'm not sure but AAMCO just called me to tell me the clutch and bearing are good. Checked the tranny and its inside it. He is checking on prices and I have called the dealership too. Crossing my fingers but knowing its gonna cost me..
  • I just bought a 2005 Matrix XR FWD, automatic yesterday. I have the option of buying an aftermarket warranty from Great Lakes Warranty Company. Cost is $1300 for 4 yrs, unlimited mileage. It isn't quite bumper-to-bumper, but it's close.

    I wasn't going to do it because I bought a Toyota! They are supposed to be as good as my old beater Hondas that I've driven to 200K miles and never had to do anything to but brakes and exhaust.

    What do y'all think? Get the warranty? It's going to raise payments $30/mo for 60 months.

    Have you seen problems in the 2005 and newer cars?

    And, by the way, I sympathize with everyone here. I bought a used 2002 MINI Cooper and the tranny went out 4wks after I bought it, 34K miles. $4000 repair. MINI was as pathetic as Toyota. "Oh we never heard of that before" even though I found as many posts about that tranny as you have on your 2003-04 trannys. WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER MINI even though they also upgraded their transmissions (hmmm... wonder why they needed to upgrade if there wasn't a problem???)

  • I also just bought an '05 last Friday 12/07. I did get the aftermarket warranty, just because it seemed to be more "bumper to bumper" and after a year of seeing my mechanic far too often with my other car, I wanted the security. Hope it wasn't a mistake! My BF thought I was a sucker, as the '05 is Toyota Certified. I was a bit bummed that it boosted my payments to just over $200. when I wanted them less, but did it anyway. I look fwd to hearing feedback here from others.
  • kev15kev15 Posts: 3

    Sorry for the delay...I guess it's too late for you now, and I'm in Ottawa at the moment w/o the car so I don't have the part number. I had the service done at aToyota dealership in BC, and they showed me the tranny once they had it apart...I don't know much about transmissions but it was obvious that there was something wrong with the one bearing (output bearing apparently). The dealer quoted me $30 or $40 for the bearing and after seeing it, it was clear that there wasn't much to it. Anyway, Toyota sold be the bearing for $40 so that should be the absolute most you should pay for it. I was lucky, it hadn't blown all apart so nothing else needed replacing...sorry I can't be more help.
  • The bearing may be $40 but how much was the labor to remove the transmission. And of course you need a press to remove the bearing which is typically something you need to go to a transmission shop for. And why is it that Toyota dealers are typically recommending new transmissions when all that it needed is a new bearing? TOYOTA MATRIX 5 SPEED = JUNK
  • kev15kev15 Posts: 3
    ....agreed. Unfortunately for Toyota they have an opportunity to admit to, and rectify, this particular problem. If they did my recommendation of the company to others would remain positive (I realize that even a company like Toyota can design some poor components....often it's not the initial problem, its how it is handled, which in this case seems to be absolute [non-permissible content removed] (denial)). Too bad, I guess they don't put too much stock in word of mouth.
  • Hi, Just got our matrix back from the dealer. The biggest problem we had was getting the warranty company to sign off on the repair. The dealer got on the repair pronto as soon as they ok'd it. However the service people at the dealer were impossible to get a hold of, so didn't know what was going on with the car. Took a week and a half. Now the transmission won't click into gear , reverse to forward, without double clutching. So will take it back to have adjustment made. Hope they can fix it.
  • bought an '05 XRS with 35k on it 3 weeks ago and got the Toyota factory warranty extension to 7 yrs./100k for $1,095, a decent price for fairly complete coverage. On the CPO program you only get 3 mos./3k miles of equivalent coverage.

    Any aftermarket exclusionary service contract (covers only named parts) should be viewed with extreme caution; aftermarket "bumper-to-bumper" contracts slightly better. Remember that these are not warranties, this can really matter if you have a major failure, as I'm dealing with now on another brand of car.

  • Just purchased a 2008 Matrix XR with 5spd. Love the car. I think the reports of manual transmission problems are unusual. Same drive train as the Corolla and no reports of problems with the stick there. Also, Consumer Reports would highlight a widespread problem like some people are asserting. Worldwide the 1.8L Toyota engine/transmission combination is hugely popular. Wikipedia states that the 1.8L in the Matrix/Vibe (2ZZ-FE) was installed in the following:

    Toyota Corolla
    Chevrolet Prizm
    Pontiac Vibe
    Toyota Matrix
    Toyota Avensis
    Toyota Wish
    Toyota MR2

    I have a 2001 MR2 Spyder with 73k miles. That engine is a slight variant (2ZZ-FED) and built in Japan. Not sure if the trans is the same due to the rear mount of the engine.

    At any rate, no manufacture makes a 100% perfect product every time. There are some risks involved. The testament to Toyota quality is the cost of the exteneded warranty. I declined the coverage, but was offered a 6yr/100k mile Toyota Platinum warranty for $615 (Additionally, they would have knocked off some of the processing fee to bring the cost closer to $450).

    Bottom line - the 5 speed is the most economical way to go. You save $1000 off the bat in MSRP, you get a heavier discount out the door because nobody wants a stick except me, and you'll get about 3 mpg better real world mileage (that's about $750 over a 100,000 mile period. I bought my 2008 Matrix XR (Moonroof, ABS, all power + cruise) with 282 miles on the odo due to dealer transfer (MD to VA) for 15.5k (stickered at 18.9k). So, in my experience I'll save nearly $3000 vs the comperable automatic over the first 100k miles (resale isn't that important to me because I'll drive it into the ground). So if the tranny goes, then it will be a wash, but since I like stick better (Slush boxes are boring) I still come out ahead.

    Try to beat that with a Toyota Scion XD (made by Daihatsu by the way).

    For me the Vibe was the best combination of sport, economy, and interior volume. I'll post more as I build miles on the odo.
  • I just had the clutch in my '03 Matrix XRS replaced at only 70K miles. Some people tried to tell me this was reasonable??! Used to be a Toyota would run for over 100,000 miles before a major repair like this was necessary. At least that was the case with both my mother's '84 Camry and my father's '80 truck (both ran for almost 200,000 miles with only one clutch replacement and no transmission replacements). I called Toyota USA at 800-331-4331 and was told they haven't received enough complaints at this time to warrant any kind of notice or recall and that since I didn't have my repairs done at the dealership (because they wanted 2 - 3 times the money) they could not provide any kind of compensation to me. I'm ready for a class action suit! :mad:
  • Clutch life expectancy will depend on the driving style of the driver plus the type of driving you do (i.e., how often you use the clutch). In city driving you can expect less life expectancy for your clutch - similar to any wear item such as your brake pads and rotors. 70k miles is a good life expectancy for a clutch. If you exceed 100k miles you should be ecstatic. I have a 96 Tercel with 211k miles with the original clutch. The car has been used mainly on the highway for commuting - so it stays in 4th gear most of the time (it's a 4-speed manual). I still grin from ear to ear when I break 40 mpg at fill up.

    Even the Toyota Platinum extended warranty doesn't cover clutch friction disc and pressure plate. So if you are that concerned with a clutch wearing out - then you should buy an automatic transmission. Automatic transmissions cost more ($1000), get less mpg (about 3 in this car), are slower, and are no fun.

    If you want to save more money - you could learn to change the clutch yourself. For example, you can replace your brake pads for about $50, but a shop will charge you $300. I have never heard of anyone filing for a class action suit for brake pads wearing out.

    You need to have realistic expectations. Toyota cannot defy the laws of physics. For perspective, I was in the Toyota dealership recently and a womon was having the automatic transmission in her Sequoia replaced at 80k miles on her dime (likely didn't change fluid and filter regularly). So a clutch is a much lower expense than replacement of an automatic transmission.

    I hope your mileage has otherwise been trouble free in the Matrix. We just broke 500 miles on the car and love it!
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