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

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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
114,798 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Toyota Matrix engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Toyota Matrix Owner Comments

problem #9

Nov 072016


  • 145,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Matrix. While driving 15 mph, the engine stalled and the check engine warning indicator illuminated. The vehicle was able to restart on the second attempt; however, the failure recurred. The first time the vehicle was diagnosed the dealer was unable to determine the failure and disengaged the check engine warning sensor. The failure recurred and the vehicle was taken to a second dealer. It was diagnosed that the seal on the fuel cap failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The VIN was excluded from NHTSA campaign number: 10V384000 (engine and engine cooling). The failure continued. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 145,000.

- Livingston, NJ, USA

problem #8

Aug 252016


  • 107,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Matrix. While driving, the check engine sensor indicator illuminated and the vehicle experienced hard shifting. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the ECM was faulty. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 107,000.

- Bethesda, MD, USA

problem #7

Apr 122016


  • 171,580 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Matrix. While driving approximately 65 mph, the vehicle lost power and stalled without warning. The vehicle failed to restart. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. Prior to the failure, when the vehicle was started, an abnormal knocking sound emitted from under the hood of the vehicle. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 171,580.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #6

May 292015


  • 112,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Matrix. While driving at 35 mph, a very loud noise emitted from the engine. The contact stated that the vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for diagnostic testing. The results of the diagnostic were unknown, but the vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 112,000. MA 10/14

- Royal Oak, MI, USA

problem #5

Mar 072015


  • 147,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Matrix. While driving approximately 30 mph, there was a loss of power steering without warning. Additionally, an unusual burning odor emitted inside the vehicle. The steering wheel became extremely difficult to turn. The vehicle was maneuvered to the side of the road for a few moments where the engine was turned off. After restarting the vehicle, the failure persisted. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic from the residence. The mechanic discovered that a bolt fractured and the fragments remained in the engine. The manufacturer was not notified of the issue. The approximate failure mileage was 147,000.

- Randolph, MA, USA

problem #4

Oct 012014

Matrix 4-cyl

  • 182,000 miles
I was approaching a stop light and all of a sudden the engine started to accelerate; this has never happened before. I pressed on the brake as hard as I could but the brake wouldn't go all the way down and it was very stiff. Since I was going slow I was able to get the car to stop but the engine was revving as if I had the gas pedal to the floor. I decided to put the car in neutral so it wouldn't accelerate while I was at the stop light (the whole time the engine is revving to its max and the brake was stiff; I also used the hand brake. When the light turned red I placed the car in drive since I had to move and the car wanted to take off so I kept my foot planted on the brake this was at full strength. I was able to get the car into a parking lot and then home an hour later. I was driving the car locally so I was about one mile from home. I have never seen a car do this in my life. I did call Toyota about it and they said it wasn't sudden acceleration and said what do you want from Toyota which I thought was extremely rude. I feel if I was going faster say on the highway I would have lost control of the vehicle.

- Clarksburg, MD, USA

problem #3

Nov 252013

Matrix 4-cyl

  • 16,600 miles


I have received several different recall notices from Toyota regarding this vehicle. I have also had several problems with the vehicle since purchasing it. It is currently not running at all and immediately after I paid the vehicle off, things like door handles and interior fixtures began breaking off. I work full time and have a very strict budget which does not allow me to take time off of work to have to take my car to the dealership with every recall notice I have received. I just want my money back. I paid more than three times the vehicle blue book value but I believe it is still possibly worth $3500. Your help would be greatly appreciated in trying to facilitate a deal with Toyota wherein they pay me the $3500 and take the vehicle back. I would be satisfied with that and will not contact an attorney until I get a response regarding this request. Thank you very much and god bless.

- San Marcos, TX, USA

problem #2

Jan 232014

Matrix 4-cyl

  • 34,000 miles
I was exiting on a ramp from the highway. I stopped the car before coming off the ramp on an incline when the engine suddenly revved up with my foot on the brake. I immediately put the shifter in neutral and it returned to normal rpms. This is the second time that this has happened in three weeks.

- Templeton, MA, USA

problem #1

Apr 302008

Matrix 4-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
This is a very dangerous issue. Car engine randomly shuts off while driving. Check engine light will not go off. I cannot drive car because I cant pass smog either (due to check engine light). I have filed two formal complaints with Toyota. Toyota refuses to take responsibility for the manufacturing. Defect. I am expected to pay over $2000 to replace a catalytic converter that they know is defective. (excerpt from one complaint I filed) there was a recall on matrix and corolla: Toyota issued a recall for 2005 to 2008 model year corolla's and matrixes, equipped with the 1zz-fe engine and two-wheel drive. The recall notices states that an improperly manufactured engine control module (ECM) can develop a crack in its circuitry, potentially causing the "check engine" light to illuminate, harsh shifting, and stalling and/or failure of the engine to start. I have a 2003 matrix xrs with a 2zz-ge engine with a continuous check engine light, harsh shifting, stalling and random failure of the engine to start. I have had multiple diagnostics and repairs done on the vehicle to pass smog inspection over the past 5 or 6 year and have spent thousands of dollars. The light stays off just long enough to pass the smog test and is then returned to me with the light still on. I have paid a Toyota dealer $95 to run diagnostic also. They said the ECM is corrupt and can't be flashed and the cat has to be replaced for over 2K! I would like information from you're quality department as to why Toyota will not replace the ECM being replaced on the engines stated in your recall notice and not on my type of engine. Which has the exact same problem as detailed in the recall listed on your site. Toyota stated after both complaints that they cannot help me or fix the problem. I must pay for solution myself. Does someone need to die in a crash before this is addressed?

- San Diego, CA, USA

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