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Matrix Transmission Problems



  • 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)
    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 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.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    You must work for Toyota..

    The trans FAILED at 50000 miles! and theirs wasn't the only one to fail that early. What part of that has to do with changing trans oil? First change isn't even due by then. Now if they all failed at 300+ k km (180000 miles) and never had an oil change, then maybe you'd have a point.
    Come back and try to defend if you want but if you feel you must, please do so AFTER you have researched this DESIGN FLAW first. You will find out that the MANY failures have nothing to do with neglected maintenance.

    Perhaps you could also tell us why replacement trans didn't last any longer than the first one..or if they did was not much longer.

    To save you some time...there is a bearing that is in a bad spot that goes oil starved due to design. If it was just a bad batch of bearings, the replacements would last longer wouldn't they?
  • More noise but no answer to my question.
    I'm looking for information, not bluster.

    Often (not)changing the oil has EVERYTHING to do with failure.
    You ASSume I'm trying to blame the driver.
    Maybe Toyota should spec trans oil changes every 30k miles like my previous 3 Hondas did.
    Many companies now claim "lifetime" trans fluid in their automatics.
    Honda once claimed 105k mile valve lash adjustments in the CRV that led to failures.
    Big mistakes to make the cars seem cheaper to maintain.

    Do these transmissions fail if the oil is changed like in days of old?
    I still have no answer to that question, your venting not withstanding.

    I changed my trans oil at 21k miles after reading about the failures.
    It looked "dirtier" than the oil from one of my Hondas at 30k miles.
    Maybe there's some break in wear particles that need to be cleared out early on.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited January 2013
    "I changed my trans oil at 21k miles after reading about the failures.
    It looked "dirtier" than the oil from one of my Hondas at 30k miles. "

    And there ya go, you answered your own question. Dirtier oil at fewer miles means more wear than its competitor. Excessive wear is due to either inferior components or poor design of the package. I too change my oil prematurely when I buy a new (or used for that matter..first thing I do is swap fluids if I buy used) but you can't deny (not if you have researched as I still haven't said) that instead of an averaged neglected trans (representing the masses) lasting 200k miles, these ones are crapping at even less than 50k. What's so hard to understand? For comparisons sake a Fiesta calls for an oil change at 150000 miles. It's first change! And far be it from me to defend Ford as I am no fan.

    It is not a reasonable expectation to have to change your manual tran oil only twice fewer times as you change your crankcase oil in order to get 200k out them.
    Anyway, not going to debate with you further..have last word if you want.
  • I changed my trans oil at 51k, still at 60k got dreaded torque converter, stuck solenoid.

    Car was always hard to get out of first gear. When changed ts oil -> oil was dark black.

    Called toyota, support claiming they never heard about this problem. What kind of car has transmission issues at 60k 2012? The worst junker transmission would last longer.

    Oh but they gave me case number if I want to complain: 1301222774.

    This company does not stand by they products.

    People buying Matrix are stupid. They are not quality cars. :mad:
  • Just thought I'd add a little to this discussion. I had two hondas that's both made it to 200,000 miles and I never changed the trans oil. I also never changed the clutch as they both lasted until I sold them. I also put 50k miles on a Subaru 5 speed in two years and no problem there either. Would it make it to 65k I don't know but no problems after 50k.

    I bought my 03 matrix with 65k miles and it already had a weird sound when I bought it. The shop said it was a clutch so I negotiated $950 off the price. Upon further diagnosis it turned out to be the transmission. I had it completely rebuilt and it lasted another 65000 miles. The fluid was new when it was rebuilt. I changed it 30k miles later. Still, the exact same problem came back 30k miles later. So blaming it on the lack of trans fluid changes is BS. I did answer your question about whether fluid changes affect it. As others have stated it is a bearing lubrication failure. You can change the fluid every day and it won't make a difference. It won't help.
  • I've had over a dozen vehicles with manual transmissions, but have never had a transmission problem until I bought my 2005 Matrix. Next week I will be replacing the transmission for the second time in 2 1/2 years. This is ridiculous and the LAST time I buy a Toyota.
  • My advice is DON'T go for the AWD in a Toyota. I just bought a used one, only 7 years old, and the transmission failed almost immediately. It was an internal problem that no amount of inspection could have uncovered. Then the rear differential failed completely. I have had the car less than 2 months and it has cost me over $4,000 in repairs and I have been without it many days while it is in the shop or transmission place.
    I don't think Toyota did the AWD thing right. I am horribly disappointed.
  • Has there been any movement with another lawsuit against Toyota for the faulty transmissions? I just had a failed one and then the rear differential went out immediately. What I saw online was that Toyota lost a lawsuit about the RAV4 transmission. Makes me wonder if there is hope to get a class action suit going....What do you know?
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    I find your subject line curious. To my knowledge, Matrix only used an auto tran with the AWD model. Also, this is the first I have heard of a rear dif issue. I wonder if your car was the victim of a flood at some point in its life?
    In any event, please clarify, if you have a manual tran Matrix and AWD, it's a very rare beast indeed.
    Sorry to hear of your troubles with it though.
  • Surprise, Those are Toyota normal standards.
  • Transmission failure at 56k after hearing noises and Toyota kept selling me stuff that didn't fix the problem now the transmission grenaded to a point where the car does not roll at all front wheels are locked. Bad design transmissions by TOYOTA.
  • I have been a Toyota owner for years and years. I think my 1st one was 1982. I have a 2009 Matrix with 90,000 mls on it and now the transmission compressor is going out. I put my foot on the gas pedal and..nothing...then, my tires screech because I am going so fast. I am soon to be unemployed. How much is this going to cost me? After reading your posts, I want to join in the class action. I have never had a car with 90,000 miles have the transmission go out.

    Hopefully someone will help me with this. I also have the electric system do strange things (dark lights/bright lights) Toyota has really gone downhill. My whole family are Toyota owners. This is a game-changer.

  • circuitsmithcircuitsmith Posts: 117
    edited August 2013
    Transmission compressor? Is this an automatic?
    The numerous complaints on the web are about the 5-speed manual.
    Here's another thread about the issue: - x-early-transmission-failure-corolla-also-2.html

    I've found those with the failure either never changed the transmission oil, don't think it's necessary to change transmission oil, or get defensive and prefer to blame Toyota rather than their lax maintenance habits.
  • canonlawcanonlaw Posts: 20
    Not sure where you found this info but the transmission is most definitely defective. You can't just blame peoples maintenance habits. I bought my 2003 matrix with 65,000 miles on it and the transmission was already starting to go. So maybe the prior owner didn't change the fluids. I still think that is crazy to have it fail at 65000 miles. I had it rebuilt and then I babied the heck out of it. Got fluid changes every 30,000 miles and it failed again at 125,000. So maybe you want to say I am hard on my cars. I am not. I'm an average driver who put 150,000 miles on my 1993 civic i had before and it is still going strong at 200,000+ I put 65,000 miles on my legacy gt and the transmission was fine. I also put about 45,000 miles on an 88 4runner and it was fine (had 200+ when I bought it.) Re read the posts and you will find many people who followed the maintenance to the letter and had the problem.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited August 2013

    Works for Toyota.

    Post 550 might be of interest. This particular quote was ignored before and is still being ignored.

    "I had it completely rebuilt and it lasted another 65000 miles. The fluid was new when it was rebuilt. I changed it 30k miles later. Still, the exact same problem came back 30k miles later. So blaming it on the lack of trans fluid changes is BS. I did answer your question about whether fluid changes affect it. As others have stated it is a bearing lubrication failure. "

    And there are a few posts prior too, that would suggest he just likes to stir up a few of these newer owners/victims. When they come here for answers, they don't need some unsympathetic poster posting repeat nonsense every 7 months.
  • sprispri Posts: 1
    Last year bought a 2003 Toyota Matrix 2005 and thought was an excellent first...the man I bought from had just had the transmission replaced and I thought it was uncommon for a Toyota, but I reasoned that I had the benefit of a new transmission - NOT TRUE. Am a single mom and work multiple jobs and now the cars transmission just stopped working and had to be towed- am not knowing what to do, have only driven the car less then 50 k's just sitting there with a broken transmission...PLEASE any suggestions would help... God Bless.
  • The 2003 and 2004 5-speeds did have a real problem.
    I just like to tweak the people saying "Toyota is junk".
    You can get a 6-speed transmission for $2,000 and have it installed:
  • My daughter took delivery of her 2013 Matrix on 22 Aug 2013. It is a standard and she had to learn how to drive standard. She had it pretty much aced within the first 12 hours. At hour 13 the check engine light came on. Service told her due to learning how to drive standard and reset computer??
    On Tues the 27 of Aug 2013 she said she could hear grinding in 4th gear. She was working and did not have time to bring it in so it was Friday before she got it there. Long weekend, loaner car, and a phone call on Tuesday telling her they have to replace the transmission!!!! The car had 185 klms on it when she took delivery, she had 900 klms when she brought it to service!!!!!!! I contacted the dealer and Toyota Canada and they pretty much told me too bad that is what we are doing!!! I have contacted the Consumer Affairs and Market Place by email, have not had a response yet. Interesting to see all of these troubles with this vehicle!!!!
  • My daughters 2013 Matrix, 5 speed transmission failed, 6 days and approx 750 klms after she purchased it new. Took delivery Thursday 22 Aug 2013, at service 30 Aug 2013. Can anyone top that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • My daughters transmission failed within 6 days and approx 750 klms, 2013 Toyota Matrix 5 speed!!!! Who do you blame for this!!!!
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