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Toyota Matrix Brake Questions

phil_bphil_b Member Posts: 2
OK, so I've done a VERY stupid thing. I put power steering fluid in my brake reservoir. The brakes seized up and now the dealer tells me that I have to have my entire brake system replaced.

Couple of questions:

1.) Does that sound reasonable? I mean, I know I have to replace the rotor on two of the wheels because they were really scratched, but the entire system?

2.) What should I expect to pay? They're telling me $3300, which includes a rental car for 3 days. That sounds like a lot, but I've never had anything like this done before and it's at the dealer instead of at a regular mechanic.


  • floorshiftfloorshift Member Posts: 2
    Just had to replace warped rotors and pads on 2005 Matrix at 39,200 miles. Dealer stated I had 60% of my pads left, but the rotors were warped. I recently had all 4 tires replaced and do not ride my brakes. Anyone else having brake problems?
  • scrappydscrappyd Member Posts: 27
    Yes, mine was at $28,7. Took it in when I first bought the "used" car. Mine were down almost 50%. Even though it was used - I'm very surprised "it" happened so quick. They had to replace rotors and pads. I didn't have to do this with my toyota camry until almost 143k - very odd. At least the warranty covered it 100% since I'm under 36k. While they did that I had them order (for free) the plastic covers (I didn't realize some were missing) that is above the tires. The body shop guy also notice that the rubber on all the windows was installed backwards. So they are replacing not redoing all of those tommorrow. (again for free). Still these odd events are making me wonder about the long term status. :confuse:
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Member Posts: 470
    Two questions, scrappyd. (1) What model year is your Matrix? (2) What do the plastic covers look like?
  • floorshiftfloorshift Member Posts: 2
    My Matrix is a 2005 (purchased in May, 2004) XR, AWD. I found it very disturbing that my brake problems happened very shortly after I had all four tires replaced (by the Toyota dealer). Ichecked with another mechanic who told me it was entirely possible that the lug nuts were overtightened when they replaced the tires, causing the rotors to warp. Toyota is denying any culpability, as usual. I am really sick and tired of dealing with their "Not Me" attitude. As soon as this car is paid for, I am replacing it with a non-Toyota car.
  • scrappydscrappyd Member Posts: 27
    Matrix 2005 Base Model. The plastic covers are under the inside top of the wheels. There is a clip that holds them in place. The mechanic yesterday said it is to cover something with the abs, and many people have reported their's missing. ???
  • scrappydscrappyd Member Posts: 27
    There is a tire problem recall with the 2005 Matrix. I found this on another site. I've asked this question before and I've had many different answers - if the tires have 44psi (I know that is the max) but the dealership says it's best to keep them at 32 psi - doesn't that hurt mileage and the tire itself? I'm gonna go to tirerack to see what the deal is. With gas at $3 plus around here - anything that can save gas$$ is something I'm gonna do.
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Member Posts: 470
    Are the plastic covers shaped like little tiny cups or water glasses? We have the 2003 AWD model (with ABS). When it was new I found one of those little black cups under the car in the driveway. Toyota technicians claimed it didn't come from the car, and that they had looked all over under the vehicle and found nothing like it. Then a couple months later I found another of the little black cups under the spot where the car had been parked. At that time people in this forum speculated that these were plastic pieces used when the cars were being transported and that they should have been removed prior to sale. I'm still wondering almost 40 thousand miles later ....
  • scrappydscrappyd Member Posts: 27
    Cups? The part that holds it may look like that. The part number they used to replace them is call a well housing liner 8.153 # 88969696. The mechanic said all matrix's with abs should have 4 in total.
  • redmaxxredmaxx Member Posts: 627
    44 psi is the maximum the tire can withstand, no matter what vehicle you put them on. 32 psi is what Toyota found gives the best ride/mpg/contact patch for that car. Putting it at 44 psi will increase your mpg, ruin your ride and give you an awful contact patch, compromising your handling ability.
  • scrappydscrappyd Member Posts: 27
    Thank you redmaxx. This is the most technically concise data :) I've received.
  • sgmsgm Member Posts: 23
    Not saying it was the cause, but if when you had your tires replaced they over tightned the lug nuts or tighten them the improper way, that can easily do it. I always ask the tech to hand tighten them with a tourqe wrench. Since I have begun doing that have had no more warped rotors. Also, when it comes time to rotate the tires, I do it myself!

  • gmanpumpsgmanpumps Member Posts: 1
    I have to replace the front brake pads on 2003 Matrix. Done many others but my first on the Matrix. Any suggestions/tips appreciated. Can I use ceramic pads? Are the rotors tough to take off if I have to turn them. Thanks
  • paperdahliapaperdahlia Member Posts: 2
    Hi, I bought a 2005 Matrix XR in Dec 2004. Right after I drove it off the lot, the gas pedal started making a creaking sound when it was depressed. Think of like a sort of dry plastic sound. The next day I took it back to the dealership, they said the gas pedal wasn't properly lubricated on the assembly line.. and they properly lubricated it, and that has been the end of the issue. Now, fast forward to around November 2005. Suddenly, the Brake Pedal starts making the same creaking sound when you press down on it. and it mostly is heard at mph 5-15, esp when coming to a stop or when full stopped and releasing the brake to begin moving. I know the ABS can create a Clicking sound, but that is not the sound i'm hearing/ experiencing. I have several friends with matrix's ranging 2003-2005 model year, and none of them have experienced this problem. I've taken it to two different service centers and both said "they could not find and/or replicate problem".. "funny" because all three visits, as i was driving away, it started up again. I've done a lot of research, and based on what I have found, It would seem it could be one of 2 things...
    either the return spring is bone dry and desperately needs lubrication OR it could have something to do with some sort of plastic clips associated with the brake pedal that i've also seen discussed quite a bit (not sure what that is..could that be what are referred to as the bushings?). I've seen other people talk about this problem in a Toyota Tundra, but not the matrix. am i the only one!? does any one know what can be done? thanks for your help :) till then i'm just driving around moderately annoyed...
  • greenearth2greenearth2 Member Posts: 5
    My new matrix which is less than 500 miles is giving squeek sounds when brakes r pressed. Looks like the brake pads r worn Out!!!!

    Will take it dealer soon.
  • paramedic5329paramedic5329 Member Posts: 4
    not 100% sure of the rotors but from experience with brakes int he last 10 or so years the rotor are getting thinner and made of softer material that you really can not cut them. I did a brake job on my 99 Quest , early so no damage to rotors only to get a bad pulsation so I waited and replaced the pads again but replaced the rotors. $15-20 to cut rotor yet to purchase the "cheap rotors" $30. Do the math, change brakes due to pulsation and go for another $20.00 for pads or do the rotors when you do the brakes. My father has a 2002 Impala that recently needed brakes and the shop that did it said they will not waste their or the customers time cutting rotors just repalce them as the metal seems soft and not too strong.
  • rpgropperpgroppe Member Posts: 24
    I have a 2003 base model. Have had no real problems of any kind with it, had to replace the tires last spring at about 55k, but that's it.

    One thing is freaking me out a little bit though. Whenever I brake moderately hard-(thankfully I have never had to make a full out panic stop), I get a slight rattle from the middle of the dashboard. It sounds like BB's inside a tube or jar. It only lasts as long as I am braking, a second or two.

    Any ideas what it could be?

  • jaqfirejaqfire Member Posts: 9
    My Matrix is an 06 XR...from day One, I notice when I hit the brakes, it's like they "apply" in 2 stages...you can Feel the rear ones engage a moment after the front does. It isn't an every time thing but, it is most of the time. They recently told me the pads were at 70% in front and 80% in rear...which is ok, they said. That was at just over 10K miles on car.
    My tires, when 10K miles on them, were wearing weirdly. I had them rotated at 10K and when I drove away, got on highway, I felt the vibrations. I called them the next day, scheduled Another appt to see what's happening. Was told they would align front end (free) as it was just to the one-year date of purchase that very day! They re-rotated the tires, stating they puyt the "best" ones back on the front. What was now, again, on the rear has worn on the inside row of tread. I am now getting a louder tire noise than before. Now, I will not be told it's my imagination....I know a thing or 3 about cars and this isn't right. Tires should not wear like this on a ($22K)car this "young" unless there is a Problem with manufacture. Back to the dealer....again.
  • ericamericam Member Posts: 2
    I have a question related to this. I just had my right front brake totally replaced, calipers, pads, and rotors due to the piston in the caliper failing. What I am told is that the piston for some reason stopped retracting all the way putting constant pressure on brake until it heated up so much that is cause the caliper to seize up and I had to have the whole system replaced (an $850.00 job!). This is on a 04 matrix with only 67K miles on it. I too just had the tires replaced by Les Schwab. Has anyone heard of something like this happening before? Could it have been the new tires that affected this?

  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    Sure, very common in all makes.

    Brake fluid absorbs moisture, and if you don't have the brake fluid flushed every couple years what happens is the moisture collects in the caliper and actually rusts the inside of the piston cylinder. As long as the brake pads are wearing the piston continually moves outward, and isn't effected by the sludge. At some point the pads need replaced, and when you do that you push the piston back into the cylinder (to make room for the added lining thickness of the new pad). When that occurs, the piston now sticks. Putting on the brakes creates sooo much pressure that it forces the piston out (and puts on the brakes), but the piston is not free to float back when you take your foot off the brake. The result is the brake is continually on, you wear out the brake pad real quick, the rotor becomes overheated and/or warped, and everything needs replaced.

    You should have had your other front caliper replaced at the same time, I suspect you will have problems shortly with that.

    I normally just replace the front calipers every 2nd brake pad change as a maintenance item. They're cheap and relatively easy to do (for someone who works on their own vehicles).
  • nuclearmannuclearman Member Posts: 4
    I highly recommend the ceramic pads. I put them on all of my toyotas including the matrix. Better braking and vurtally no brake dust. I would also recommend replacing the stock rotors with a better rotor slotted or cross-drilled. That will really give you some braking power and you'll find they last longer.
  • nuclearmannuclearman Member Posts: 4
    Replacing rotors is easy. Remove the wheel, pull off the caliper (two bolts), slide the old one off and the new one on. It took me about an hour to do both front wheels. Replace with quality rotors. Spend a little extra and get a pair of quality slotted and/or cross-drilled rotors. Then replace the brake pads with a good semi-metallic or even better ceramic. You'll really notice the difference.
  • nuclearmannuclearman Member Posts: 4
    Welcome to my 2003 Matrix world. I have always been a Toyota man, but this Matrix is proving to be a piece of engineering crap. At 85K miles my catalytic converter went south. Of course it was only warranted for 75K. Now, I have the same problem as you, my right front caliper is frozen. One day I'm driving down the road and a loud roar from the right front tire followed by horrific shaking of the steering wheel. I pulled over immediately, checked the front tire and noticed the wheel was extremely hot. After a lot of checking, found the caliper frozen in place. It sucks too because I had just replaced the rotor and ceramic pads. Now in addition to a new caliper, I have to replace the pads and rotor again. The rotor got so hot it warped pretty good (tire dealer didn't do a good job of torquing lug nuts). Doing a little search on these types of blogs, I find the catalytic converter and calipers to be a common problem on the 2003 Matrix. Of course Toyota says they haven't really had any complaints. My next car will probably be a Subaru. (Funny how they stopped making the 4WD Matrix like I have. I wonder why?)
  • nuclearmannuclearman Member Posts: 4
    Good point about the brake fluid and need to bleed/replace on a regular basis. Based upon research on the web and talking to several mechanics, it's a bigger problem than you would think and can lead to costly repairs. One other issue that I found, the boot will sometime crack (with heat and age) and the salt from winter road treatment will get into the boot and corrode the piston from the other side. Also a good point about replacing both calipers at the same time.
  • ericamericam Member Posts: 2
    So in addition to my brake going out the first time... I just got the car back from the dealership, with a new brake system, I had the car for less then 24 hours and it happened again to the same brake. This time though, I was driving for about 5 blocks when the right front brake seized up again and the rotor was extremely hot again. Any comments or suggestions on this one... I have brand new calipers, rotors, pads, the works and the problem is still not fixed. My next though was the master cylinder, but the dealership said that they checked that the first time and everything was fine. And I was under the impression that if the mast cylinder goes out, it affects both brakes.
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    Well this is simple, take it back. You paid to have it fixed, and they didn't fix it.

    This is a little hard to diagnose further without looking at it, but I'll give you my thoughts of what come to mind...hopefully others might chime in as well.
    - first thing that comes to mind, is that they didn't get the caliper and brake pads (or the wrong brake pads) put back correctly, and something is binding
    - second thing that comes to mind, is that you might actually have a frozen piston on the left side caliper (you didn't replace this, right?), which isn't doing any braking whatsover, in which case all of the front braking is done by the right side....and it is getting hot under what one might consider normal braking. If you let go of the steering wheel when you put on the brakes, will the car continue tracking straight? or does the wheel and car turn to the right?
    - might be a crimped brake tubing/hose in the front right.
    - starting to get less likely, but might have a blockage of some sort in the brake distribution circuit. I don't have the Matrix service manuals to know exactly what is included with the Matrix.
    - Assuming the master cylinder is like almost every other vehicle, you'd have a front and back fluid circuit. No problem there would effect only one wheel.
  • lmacmillmacmil Member Posts: 1,758
    Anyone know the torque on the front and rear caliper mounting bolts on an XRS? My son replaced his pads but didn't have a manual and I'm not sure if he even had a torque wrench. I would like to torque them to spec. Thanks.
  • gdhagleriiigdhagleriii Member Posts: 1
    Hello, I have a 2004 Toyo Matrix. I'm going to be replacing the rotors and brakes on it. Before i get started wanted to know if there is a special tool i need to take off the rotor when i first took tire off to inspect rotors i noticed a nut holding on the rotor which i suspect is connected to the half-shaft. Im asking because the new rotors i have seem different than the old ones. Any help would be great, thanks for the help in advance.
  • davidostranderdavidostrander Member Posts: 2
    I have the same question, on the 4wd XR is there a special tool needed to replace the rotors? I took off the caliber and can still not get the rotor off. It looks like it is held to the shaft.
  • chaileschailes Member Posts: 4
    We have a 2005 Toyota Matrix and the ABS brakes have a terrible grinding noise which the dealer says is normal as the brakes have to pulsate and consquently a noise.
    However this is an excessive noise that grinds when the brakes are applied during snowy or icy conditions.
    Any suggestions to fix the problem.
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Member Posts: 470
    Is this your first experience with ABS? ABS should kick in if you are skidding. There is pulsating, and you should hear a grinding sort of noise. Take a technician for a ride and put the car into an intentional skid. See if he/she says it's normal.
  • RavenMesaRavenMesa Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2008 Toyota Matrix XR w/ 14,500 miles. I'm having what sounds like the same problem expressed by "chailes" in # 31. In snowy, icy, or slushy conditions - especially if the road is rough - I get a terrible grinding noise and severe vibration in the brake pedal when the brakes are applied. In addition to the noise and vibration, the brakes fail to stop the car. I pump them, but it does not seem to help. So far this has only happened at slow speeds on local country roads, but I'm afraid it will also happen at higher speeds where similar brake failure would be disastrous. I'm spooked about driving the car in anything but clear dry weather. Any ideas what is causing this? Also, any ideas as to the fix? It is an hour&half drive to the dealer and they tend to say "it is supposed to do that" a lot. Besides, this only happens in snowy, cold conditions so I likely could not recreate it for the dealer.
  • sinistermindsinistermind Member Posts: 12
    Maybe the brake master cylinder is malfunctioning in cold and damp conditions. Try replacing the brake fluid.
  • danitdanit Member Posts: 1
    We purchased a pre-owned 2007 Matrix with 12K miles on it and managed to add an addition 17K miles in the span of 6 months (do LOTS of commuting for work and also did a trip to Florida to and from NYC). Lately, I noticed that every time I stop at a read light my car starts vibrating. Also, notice this when I'm braking the car. However, when I put the car in neutral the vibrating stops. Before I bring it in for servicing, what o you good folks think? I suspect it may be breaks, alignment, or just the tires (I heard the tires are poor on the Matrix). Thanks.
  • motwnbromotwnbro Member Posts: 6
    i have an 08 matrix.....i had my brakes checked and were said to be good....but i have a noise that comes come on intermitently...mostly after when the car has been sitting...i'll apply the brakes and get a click clack sound....one frome each bracke...some time only one will sound....does this have something to do with abs system....thank you....martin
  • jim_watersjim_waters Member Posts: 1
    I have the same year and exact same issue. My garage (today) say, 1 the brakes *are* safe and 2 it is a known issue and 3 there is a Technical Bulletin on it (I have been unable to find it so far) it, they say is due to normal wear and slight misalignment and will be a 1/2 day fix and should be covered by warranty. My garage took the brakes apart, lubed some bits and put them back together and the noise has gone but they say I should expect it recur
  • kathychungkathychung Member Posts: 4
    I had similar problem and Toyota dealership service persuaded me to have some kind of belt change. But it did not stop the vibration after spending a few hundreds more.
    A few months later, the battery died. And amazingly the battery change fixed the problem. I have a more powerful battery though. Maybe you can try it.

    The vibration at stop used to drive me nuts, especially when the A/C is on. Now no more vibration. Good luck to you.
  • kathychungkathychung Member Posts: 4
    Anyone has similar experience and can give any advice? Thanks.
  • circuitsmithcircuitsmith Member Posts: 117
    How old was the battery? Did it ever need water added?
    Sometimes an old battery will draw a lot of charge current due to worn out plate separators. The alternator would have to supply that extra charge current. That increases alternator drag and makes the engine work harder, especially at idle.
  • kathychungkathychung Member Posts: 4
    The battery is almost new. I just had it replaced a few months ago. The shaking happens at high speed braking not at idling. Thanks.
  • canabearcanabear Member Posts: 1
    I bought a brand new Toyota Matrix 2006 FWD from the dealer for my brother. He has been behind the wheel for more than 10 years, good records as I did. He told me he could feel that the brake doesn't response quick enough, but I though he possibly just needed some time to get used to it. Last Winter he made a left turn on a snowy day, about -20 degrees, he found the brake responsed wierdly and he lost the control, and the car hat the curb and bent the front wheel. I thought he possibly just careless driving, and we switched our car. This winter I encounted almost the same problem as he did. I drove on a snow day for about 60KMH with about -20 degrees, found a car stalled at least 20 meters in front of me, start to brake but my car shaked uncontrollably once brakes are applied, and it turned almost 90 degreees and slipped on the car in front. Well my car didn't have an ABS and snow tires, however, I had driven cars without them for more than 10 winters and never ha such a bad situation. Could anybody explain to me what might be wrong with the brake system?
    Thank you in advance!
  • circuitsmithcircuitsmith Member Posts: 117
    You need to find a good mechanic at an independent non-chain shop check out the brake system. You're due to have the brake fluid changed anyway.
    I don't think anyone can offer more specific help sight-unseen.
  • jimkatzjimkatz Member Posts: 2
    2003 Matrix XR. Is this normal? I thought brakes systems had 2 separate circuits to avoid it: This has happened twice to my car: I started off with the handbrake engaged. After about a kilometer, I noticed it and released the handbrake. All seemed normal and there was braking. About ten minutes later, total brake failure. Luckily this happened in a place where I could coast down to a safe stop. When the car cooled down (about an hour later) braking returned to normal. Dealer check said nothing was wrong and that I boiled the fluid into its reservoir and this is normal. Same thing happened to my wife a year later now. (Not so lucky, but only car damage, happily.)
  • circuitsmithcircuitsmith Member Posts: 117
    You overheat the rear drums then it takes time for the heat to reach the slave cylinder and boil the brake fluid.

    Brake fluid attracts and absorbs water, which lowers its boiling point.
    You should replace the brake fluid every 3 years for this and other reasons.
    If you don't have ABS it's a moderate DIY job:
    siphon out and refill reservoir then bleed brakes (and clutch if manual).
  • mw20mw20 Member Posts: 1
    My 2009 toyota matrix has an awful grinding noise when brakes applied in snowy, icy conditions. It sounds like throwing it into reverse while going 40 mph down to road. I rode with my local technician a very short distance and applied brake going only 10 mph and the horrible grinding noise was there. He told me that the grinding,slamming sound was normal not to worry about it. He said all matrix's do it and it was coming from a pump in ABS system. Not sure whether to believe him or not though. Anyone else have any input on this?
  • laserbluelaserblue Member Posts: 313
    I don't own a Matrix but plan to buy one in the near future, that's why I come here often.

    In the past all my vehicles that had ABS system made a funny sound (grinding noise) or other sound depending on the model.
    Those where a 1991 GMC Safari, the sound resemble a mooing cow, I called my Safari "my big cow" because of this, it was my first with ABS, I freaked the first time I heard that sound.
    Then a 1994 Chevrolet Blazer, this one had a grinding sound but I knew it came from that ABS system, after that a 1999 Chevrolet Venture, this one I'd say a "humming sound" almost like a organ note and presently I own a 2005 Equinox and the ABS system produces a very soft grinding/humming sound.
    It seems that the sound comes from the brake system computer adjusting the wheel so they don't stop turning giving them the same pressure on all 4.
    That's what makes you steer your vehicle while applying the brakes.
    Weird isn't it. Four different vehicle, four different sound.
    Your grinding sound seems pretty normal to me.
  • RavenMesaRavenMesa Member Posts: 2
    mw20, You are the first person who has adequately described the awful ABS brake noise I get with my 2008 Matrix. I've tried to describe it here but no one seemed to believe me or thought I was exaggerating. I too have been told this noise is "normal" both by people in this forum and by others. It may be "normal" but it should not be acceptable! I think Toyota trying to pass this horrible noise off as "normal" is insulting. My main question to you though is, Do you think it is safe? I have had this happen a number of times and I think the there is virtually no braking power when this noise occurs. I think the brakes basically fail whenever this noise occurs. The noise is bad enough, but thinking the brakes have failed is really scary. It is so bad that we never drive this car if the roads are snow covered or snow is threatened. Therefore, the car sits unused for about 3 months every year here in Colorado. I'm really disappointed in Toyota on this one and we will sell the car this summer.
  • laserbluelaserblue Member Posts: 313
    Like I was explaining to "mw20" there is nothing wrong about the noise that you are hearing. It's totally normal.
    I've been hearing that noise since 1991 when applying the brakes on every vehicle I've owned, every time I apply the brakes on a icy or snow covered surface and even on dry or wet surface every time the brakes are applied hard I hear that (grinding/humming or ever) sound that you hear.
    By the way...not an accident since I started to hear that sound.
    It doesn't even come from the brakes, it's from the ABS system.
    Don't worry, it has nothing to do with the recalls that Toyota came out with recently.
  • transfertransfer Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2009 Matrix and I too have a brake problem. When I apply the brakes it's more than the grinding noise but the resistance of the brakes bouncing back against the foot pedal. I just called Toyota to put my car in and they told me two weeks and no guaranteed that I get a loaner. I'm very disappointed with Toyota and now that the dealer is making no effort in working with me. I believe I made a wrong choice now. In the past I had only owned Honda cars and never had a problem.
  • laserbluelaserblue Member Posts: 313
    By the year of your car it must still be on warranty.
    I had a similar problem (not a brake problem) but a problem with the service at the dealer where I had bought the car and I simply went to another Toyota dealer across town and they where extremely nice and polite with me far better than the dealer that had sold me the car.
    They gave their 100% for my satisfaction.
    Any Toyota dealer can, will and are supposed to take care of you with respect and loyalty.
  • mwc979mwc979 Member Posts: 1
    Changed the rotors and drums and pads. Bled 2x and still have pulsating on slow breaking. And wheel shake on fast breaking. Checked vacuum at assist canister..seems good...anyone have an idea??
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