Engine Died

CarComplaints.com Notes: The Pontiac Vibe is the mechanical twin of the Toyota Matrix.

Both models were a joint GM-Toyota venture, manufactured together at a NUMMI production facility in Fremont, CA. Only the heating & A/C systems are different.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
122,000 miles
Total Complaints:
1 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace or rebuild engine (1 reports)
2004 Pontiac Vibe engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Pontiac Vibe Owner Comments

problem #1

Jan 082011

Vibe 1.8L I4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles


My wife, son and I took my wife's car for a drive this last Saturday. The road we were on was closed so everyone was having to turn around. Due to the ice/snow everyone in front of us was getting stuck, finally everyone in front us cleared out and we became stuck. In the process of getting our vehicle unstuck by pushing it off the ice we accidentally rev'ed the engine too high and the engine immediately began ticking. We stopped within 15-minutes of this at the first available gas station and checked the oil, it was full (a little over full) and clear in color, did not smell burnt or anything. I checked everything under the hood for anything they may be causing the ticking sound and checked all hoses, belts all the fluids, the electric cooling fan, etc just in case something happened or came off the road while we were trying to get it unstuck. I found nothing, but with the hood up and the engine running I could clearly hear the engine ticking. We left the gas station headed home as no repair shops were open due to weather and we were out of town, at first the ticking became better but after 5-miles or so it started slowly but surely becoming louder and louder, an with each additional mile the car started hesitating, losing power, sounding worse, trying to die at stop signs/red lights, etc. The car finally died in the parking lot of a closed repair shop that we were able to limp the car into. They have been closed due to weather, but will be checking it out soon. We bought the car used with 44,000 miles on it from a Pontiac Dealership in July 2005 as a GM Certified Preowned Vehicle with extended warranty. When the problem occurred we had about 122,000 miles on it. After first buying the car I had the oil changed every 3,000 miles or every 3/months which ever occurred first, often taking it to the local Ford Dealership which used the Ford MotorCraft Premium Synthetic Blend 5W-20 oil, as the car became older and had almost 100,000 miles on it and we moved a couple of years ago it became increasingly hard for me to maintain the car as I had in the past as I had to go out of state for work and that left my wife to take care of it since it was her car. With me barely driving her car anymore on the weekends she let it run below full on oil between a few oil changes, sometimes 1/4 of a quart, sometimes a 1/2 and sometimes a full quart. I think I always caught it soon enough when I came home on the weekends, but it bothered me as I always check my oil every time I buy gas. Anyway, with my wife in charge she would sometimes let the oil changes go closer to 6,000 miles or 6 months, but since we finally got moved I have been really checking it every couple of weeks and having the oil changed again every 3,000 miles. The car never leaks oil, I have placed newspapers under it where we park at and it only smokes a little bit when you first start it in the morning, so I was really surprised about the engine going so suddenly with barely no warning at all on the same day within minutes of the first noticeable symptoms. After Googling Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix (Identical to Pontiac Vibe and made on the same assembly line) and the Googling the Toyota Corolla which is the car that the Matrix and Vibe are based on the and they all have the same 1.8L engine and transmission I believe this problem would have happened even if I had not accidentally over rev'ed the engine while trying to get it free of the ice. I believe if anything I was lucky to get 122,000 miles off of it with no more oil than I have been adding between oil changes and with no repairs until now. Most people on the Internet are basically saying that had to start adding oil at around 50,000 miles and were adding 1-3 quarts every 1,000 miles or less and had engine failure at 100,000 miles or less, so all and all I guess we did pretty good considering how many times my wife let the oil get low and how many times she put off the oil changes until it had been 6-months or 6,000 miles. The Vibe never left me feeling confident in it from early on after we bought it, as you could change the oil yourself and use a GM oil filter and high quality synthetic motor oil and sometimes you could go 3,000 miles without adding a drop of oil and then other times you could change the oil and have to add an entire court after only 1,000, it was very odd, constantly changing, never being consistent or predictable, not like any other car I have ever owned. I always chalked it up to letting a oil change shop change the oil instead of me doing it myself and them using low quality (cheap) bulk economy oil from a 55-gallon drum that would burn up sooner than what I would buy and use at the local Wal-Mart when I changed the oil and filter myself, but now I am not so sure, I mean I drive a 1999 Honda Accord with a 4-cylinder also. I drive it pedal to the medal when merging onto highways/interstates, I drive it loaded down with weight, I drive it in extreme temperatures, on dirt roads, ice and snow, in the mountains, etc. I use the same oil in it and have it changed at the same oil shops as the Vibe, but the Honda has 145,000 miles on it and is a full 5-years older than the Vibe. I routinely go 6-months or 7,500 miles between oil changes in it as recommended by it's owner's manual, so maybe using better oil and changing it better often would have extended the life of the Vibe and yes it did not help over rev'ing it for the little bit getting it unstuck, but all those things just sped up what was going to happen anyway, in my opinion. It was just a matter of time, no matter how good the oil was, how often I changed it or how much I babied it the Vibe was going to have major engine failure. I have not heard of anyone getting over 150,000 miles on a Vibe without any engine work being done or having the engine replaced or it running very poorly and using oil like crazy, so I really think Toyota and GM need to at the very least put out some type of TSB on the cars that have this engine. I can't say they should repair/replace for free, especially if your warranty has expired, I mean if the warranty is for 3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper and 6 years/60,000 miles powertrain it is really not fair to ask them to give you a new engine at 100,000 or more miles especially if the car gave you no problems until then as mine did.

- , Knoxville, TN, USA

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