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:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
105,773 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Toyota Matrix Owner Comments

problem #5

Jun 012015


  • 207,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Matrix. The contact stated that while operating the vehicle, the air bag sensor light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who diagnosed that the failure was due to a fractured cable in the steering wheel. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 207,000.

- Tullahoma, TN, USA

problem #4

Mar 222013

Matrix 4-cyl

  • 146,864 miles
I went to change lanes to the left, and before I could spotted a car that had been in my blind spot. I veered back to the right to stay in my lane and all of a sudden it felt like something in the steering wheel clicked and the car suddenly jerked back to the left, the back to the right, and left again, swerving out of my control. I tried to cold on to the wheel and steady it straight but it jerked left harder and spun out of control, flying straight into the highway barrier. The car crashed into the barrier on the front bumper, bounced off slightly and I was able to maneuver the car the rest of the way off the road. Up until I crashed into the barrier I had absolutely no control over the steering at all.

- Mount Juliet, TN, USA

problem #3

Sep 242011


  • 134,000 miles
Traveling southbound on interstate 15 I changed lanes from the right hand lane into the right hand merge/exit lane to friar rd exit. I was on my way to church above mission valley. I was traveling at approximately 60 miles per hour, as I was changing lanes the steering wheel suddenly no longer controlled the wheels. I moved the steering wheel only enough for a lane change but the steering lost all connection with wheels. The front wheels appeared to have lost connection with the steering, the car lurched first left then right, I put my foot on the clutch to try to get it to slow down. I didn't hit the brakes while car was in uncontrolled movement. Then the car did at least one complete 360 spin, came out of the spin facing the curb at the shoulder, bounced over the curb. Apparently it may have gone air borne and sheared off a small tree. Went down the embankment on its wheels and ended up at the bottom still on its wheels.

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #2

Sep 062011


  • 24,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Matrix. The contact was driving 40 mph when the brakes were applied and the vehicle spun around four times. The contact stated that the ground was dry and there were no road hazards. The contact merged onto the shoulder for about twenty minutes and then drove home. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was notified and a claim was filed. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was 24,000. Updated 09/27/11 the consumer stated she applied the brake very lightly and the vehicle went out of control. It appeared either the brake locked or the accelerator locked. Updated 09/30/11

- Bristow, VA, USA

problem #1

Oct 152002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,000 miles
After purchase, complained of "'steering wander." not only did the dealer carmax Toyota not fix the problem, but returned the car with the power steering malfunctioning. After several more trips to the dealer, they finally replaced the steering rack admitting problems with some units. Upon being informed that this made no difference, and without further retesting, carmax and Toyota refuse to perform any more attempts at fixing either problem. So now I'm filing under Maryland's lemon law because I'm stuck with a wandering car without full power steering. In addition, I had carmax change the oil at 300 miles. Subsequently, I changed the oil at 400 miles and was surprised to see that it was black as coal indicating piston blowby. I just changed the oil at 3000 miles and the oil is a black as coal, as if the engine had closer to 90, ooo miles on it.

- Columbia, MD, USA

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