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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
58,075 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 #10

Oct 012012

Matrix 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles


It's been almost a year since the first time the cil turned on. It stays on for a couple days then stays off for like a month. It has been doing that since 2012. I had my check engine light checked by a tech and he said that he has seen the P0770 code many times for the matrix and corolla. He printed out the tsb ( and advised me to take it to a Toyota service center. I took it to carson Toyota in ca and they pretty much said the only thing I can do is fix the issue out of my pocket which was almost $1500! he said the issue is the R & R engine control module and if that doesn't do the trick that I have to replace R & R speed sensor. I purchased my car used so it didn't qualify for the manufactures warranty. I personally think that this should qualify as a recall. There is so many report about this issue and so many other Toyota customers that are very unhappy. Allot of the consumers are saying they have bought these parts and installed them and the cil is still lighting up. I would really like to resolve this issue. I refuse to pay $1500 to replace the ECM and the speed sensor for it to not fix the problem. Now I have to have my car registered with the requirement of a smog check. And of course that is an automatic fail. This is my second Toyota and I don't think there will be a third. Very unhappy customer!

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #9

Mar 292013

Matrix 4-cyl

  • 76,820 miles
I went to the Toyota dealer to have my check engine light check and found out the I need to replace my catalyst converter and ECU replace. Dealer says that I need to pay $3000 plus tax. The reason why I need to replace the catalytic converter and the electronic control module because they have a new module. I own my car since 2003. This is Toyota's fault, I should be inform when a new module comes out in the market and I should not have to pay for that. This is a safety hazzard. If I don't get it fix, my car will not start and I am not able to renew my tab because of the check engine lights.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #8

Aug 162011


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Matrix. The contact stated that the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was inspected by a mechanic, but the mechanic was unable to locate a failure with the vehicle. The contact had the engine replaced but the failure recurred within one year. The vehicle was then taken to the dealer were it was found that the engine control module needed to be replaced. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #7

Dec 272010


  • 105,000 miles


2003 Matrix engine quit working while driving. Took to repair shop and they stated the engine has ceased up. Puzzled because clean oil, taken extreme care of, regular oil changes. Frustrating.

- Saginaw, MI, USA

problem #6

Aug 052010


  • 101,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Matrix. The contact stated that while his wife was at a red light the check engine light came on and the vehicle stalled. It was restarted and then driven about eight miles and it stalled again. The vehicle would not restart and was towed to the dealer. They advised him that the ECM needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The current and failure mileages were 101,000.

- Kenner , LA, USA

problem #5

Dec 152008


  • 45,398 miles
Re: " Toyota usa case #"S 20812220115, 200812310223, etc.. on November 29, 2008 I bought a 2003 Toyota Matrix with 44,598 miles on it. The check engine light came on, it was over a quart low on oil. This happened again which Toyota has a letter from me. After this, I drove the car 50 miles and it used around 2/3 a quart of oil. I called the Toyota experience center and told them the problems I was having and they told me to take it to the local dealer to have it checked. The person I talked to, looked up the VIN # and told me that the engine on this car had been rebuilt at 41,459 miles, in November 2007 at headquarters Toyota, in miami, Florida. He also told me that Toyota would probably pick up the repair since it had less than 4,000 miles on a rebuilt engine (currently the car has 45,398 mile on it). I took the car to my local dealer L&S Toyota, in beckley, wv on December 23, 2008. They did a compression test on the engine and it failed. The service manager at L&S Toyota told me the engine block should have been replaced when headquarters Toyota rebuilt the engine, but hadn't been. After about 10 calls to Toyota corporate and numerous case numbers the verdict was in. Terr, the service manager at L&S Toyota said they will not fix the engine unless I pay for the repair myself. John lino from headquarters Toyota, miami told me they would take care of the repair but I would have to bring the car there, which is 950 miles away. The Matrix engine has blown twice within 45,398 miles and Toyota is offering no assistance. Both of these dealerships are governed by Toyota motor sales, usa, so how can the one get authorization to do the repair but the other one can"T" the 2003 Matrix that I am referring to is the 8th Toyota that I have owned, because of their reliability.

- Beckley, WV, USA

problem #4

Apr 122006

Matrix 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles


Factory defect on engine part. Had to spend over $4,000 for engine replacement & repairs.

- Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #3

Aug 242005

Matrix 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact stated the check engine light came on constantly. This started 3-4 months ago. The dealer has had to reset the codes several times. The light will stayed off for only a couple of days and then the light came back on. She said the car died O 4 times, and she has had to reboot it. The battery was good. No one was able to tell her why the car would not start. She said the car was running good.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #2

Jun 042005

Matrix 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,079 miles
While driving my car, it will start to miss out and then stall. Upon restarting, the engine light comes on. I took it to the dealer where they replaced the computer. That helped for about 6 months and then problem recurred. I took it back to the dealer and we then replaced the ignitors. Once that was complete the car ran fine for 2 months. Now it is happening again, and is very dangerous. It happened to me today for instance while I was in the middle of an interstection making a a turn. When the car stalls, I have limited steering. This also happens to me while I'm on the interstate. Clearly there is a severe problem with this car that goes beyond the computer and ignitors. It is very dangerous to drive, but I have no choice since it is the only car that I have.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #1

Sep 082003

Matrix 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,450 miles
I took the Matrix in twice shortly after I bought it because the car would unexpectedly lunge forward while at a complete stop. I also complained that the brakes felt "loose" and did not "catch" as they should. I was advised both times by the service manager that they could not duplicate the problem and that nothing abnormal was found with car. While I was beginning to look into "lemon laws", in September of last year I was at a stop light with the brake pedal fully engaged. Due to my previous experiences with the car lunging forward, I would keep several feet between me and the car in front of me to avoid an accident. This time the car not only lunged forward, but it was like the accelerator stuck-I had my foot on the brake but could not stop the car after it lunged forward and I hit a car that was in front of me at the light. My car did not stop until I was almost parallel with the other car on the passenger side! I have had the case looked at by Toyota, and their legal department has advised that nothing is wrong with the car-their only explanation is that the vehicle operates to "normal" specifications. They have advised that the car will lunge forward while the air conditioner is as when the ac compressor cycles, it increases the engine RPM and the vehicle will move forward. My air conditioner was not on at the time of this accident, however.

- Franklin, TN, USA

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