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:
65,233 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Toyota Matrix Owner Comments

problem #14

May 012002

Matrix 4-cyl

  • 10 miles


Own a 2003 Toyota Matrix-1st owner of this car. This car was purchased with 9 miles in it. When it was first purchased within 2 days there was a noise coming from the transmission bearings. The vehicle was taken back to the Toyota dealer where purchased and the technicians said there was no noise. The noise never went away and the dealer just ignored it-never fixed it. Also, the back seat belt would get stuck for no reason, this was also brought to the attention of the dealer techs, but also "nothing was wrong" up to this date, the seat belts keep getting stuck and my kids use it that way. Another defective thing about this car were the sensor daylights, once the car was turned off, the lights automatically would go on and of course the next day the battery was dead. This was brought to the attention on the dealer and finally, they decided to fix something of this car. I was told that it was a defect from the manufacturer.

- Hammond, IN, USA

problem #13

Jul 292010


  • 135,000 miles
ABS, brake, & service engine lights came on. Took it to midas, they replaced speed sensors. When I got car back it shifted gears (automatic) funny & hesitated significantly shifting from 2nd to 3rd. Immediately returned car to midas. They re-diagnosed & suggested I take it to Toyota dealer (john elway's crown Toyota). They said it was speedometer cluster & replaced it which did not resolve my problem so declined to pay & asked them to put back my old speedometer cluster. They didn't & didn't charge me for the new one. Had car towed back to midas. They disconnected speed sensors & told me it was drivable. Got on freeway next day & car wouldn't shift from 3rd to 4th gear, engine revved to 6000 rpms, got off freeway & called midas corporate to complain. They said they would have franchise owner call me. He called but did not identify himself as the person I originated dealt with at midas shop, I know this because I called the number they called from & it was the midas shop. Went to midas, today (8/27/10), they asked me to bring car in tomorrow & they would put back old speed sensors & see what happens. They think it's the car's computer but in the meantime I'm out a thousand dollars.

- Guasti, CA, USA

problem #12

Feb 052010


  • 80,000 miles
My 2003 Toyota Matrix xr sometimes accelerates uncontrollably. Usually when I am cruising at highway speeds, when I let off of the gas pedal, the car's throttle still feels like it's in the open position, causing the car to speed up instead of slowing down. It almost feels like if the cruise control is turned on and the car is trying to maintain speed. My cruise control was turned off during each of these incidents, and there was no indication that they were turned on at the time of the incidents. This problem occurs once every few months and I usually don't pay attention to them. The car will accelerate for a few seconds then eventually the throttle will close and the car will slow down and then I will apply the brakes gently. I have informed my Toyota dealer of this but they usually just brush the complaint off and say they couldn't find any problems. I personally think it's an electronics issue where the cruise control system override the manual system without the input of the driver.

- North Potomac, MD, USA

problem #11

Oct 112009


  • 42,000 miles


I was pulling into a parking spot at an apt. Complex; I had my foot on the brake so as not to hit the curb; the car became airborne, jumped the curb and landed onto a children's playground stopping just short of hitting a tree. I still had my foot on the brake, now pressed to the floor. I asked my passenger to get out of the car, I then backed up over the curb and back onto the macadam.

- Souderton, PA, USA

problem #10

Dec 182009


  • 99,960 miles
Transmission went bad before 100,000 miles.

- Mohawk, NY, USA

problem #9

Oct 062009


  • 175,160 miles
My wife was driving on the interstate in our 2003 Toyota Matrix with two of our three young children in the car when she heard a loud bang and felt what she describes as the car jumping off the ground. She slowed the car down to a crawl, exited the interstate and limped it home. Presently it sits in the yard and will only move forward. In fact, even in neutral the car can't be pushed backward. Upon searching for answers on the internet I found a forum with what appears to be dozens of people who have had transmission failures with 2003 to 2005 matrixes. I am filing this complaint because my wife came close to going off the road when the transmission failed and it appears that Toyota is aware of the issue but won't take any action to remedy it. They had a recall on the windows because it was a safety issue but I can't imagine that a broken window would have scared my wife as much as the bang she described and the jerking of the car it caused. Thank you.

- Bangor, ME, USA

problem #8

Oct 252008


  • 75,000 miles


Toyota differential failed at 100K. According to the mechanic, the problems must have been existent for a significant amount of time.

- Windsor, CT, USA

problem #7

Aug 092008


  • 66,000 miles
I had my '03 Toyota Matrix xrs serviced on 08/08/08 at a Toyota dealership in berkeley, ca. They told me everything was fine, and I have never had any problems with my car. The next day (today, as I write) I was driving on I-80 eastbound past reno, nv and my speed dropped 20mph for no reason. My car then began to smoke, and I pulled over to find a trail of transmission fluid behind my car and my engine service light on. After the tow back to reno, the Toyota dealer service station told me they weren't receiving any response from my transmission and that it would be upwards of $6,000 to repair. I have never had one, single problem with my car and have had it serviced regularly. It has 66,000 miles and was serviced yesterday. I find this outrageous, unsafe, and deceptive.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #6

May 012008


  • 58,000 miles
I have a 2003 Toyota Matrix auto transmission, that has 58,000 miles on it. A month ago the 1st and reverse gears started to slip and was hard to get into gear. I took it to the Toyota dealer and they said they couldn't find anything wrong. I left the dealer and it started again. 2 days later I was not able to get it in to reverse at all. I took it to a transmission shop since the 'check engine' light came on and they checked the codes and looked at the transmission. The engine needs to be rebuilt now and will cost me $2400. I love this car. I baby it all the time. I change the oil regular and always keep up on the maint. I don't understand how a transmission can go out on a car that is only 5 yrs. And 4 mo. Old and only 58,000 miles on it ! I did call Toyota and they said nothing was reported and all was fine. I asked them to pay for the fix and they said the warranty was only 5yrs. 60,000 miles. I'm over by 4 mo. I found a website that has about 10 other people with this same yr and make car that had transmission issues.

- Harrisburg, PA, USA

problem #5

Mar 182008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles
2003 Toyota Matrix, 64000 miles and the transmission went out, bought it used 10/2007 certified Toyota and thank goodness we bought the extended warranty. Just took it into the dealer and they stated the transmission fluid was dirty and had metal shavings in pan also hydraulic went out and had a faulty sensor in trans axle. Dealer will replace it but thank goodness we had the extended warranty and will we have the same problem with the replacement"??" we purchased this car for our daughter because Toyota is suppose to be reliable, but we have never had a transmission go out in any of our other cars and we usually keep them for 10 years.....

- Palmdale, CA, USA

problem #4

Nov 092006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,057 miles


Purchased used 2003 matrix in Oct 2005, paid for quality guard plus deluxe through Nissan dealership where I purchased the car to cover mechanical problems. By April 2006 it was missing gears and car just died. Took it to Toyota dealership after calling Nissan because I was pointed there. Toyota had it for 5 days fix it supposedly then November 10th, 2006 transmission gave up on it again needing it to be towed from friends place to home. Noises heard under the car before it stalled. They fixed problem before with remanufactured trans. But problem recurred. Being shuffled back & forth now that I am claiming for what I paid for with quality guard plus. Toyota don't have quality guard, Nissan does but my car is not a Nissan car. Should have called before they will cover anything such as towing and car rental. Too much red tape and hassles in asking to provide coverage I paid for and only one phone line 1-800-888-5245 that places you on hold for 30-50 minutes, talks to you briefly then place you on hold again.

- Van Nuys, CA, USA

problem #3

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 #2

Jun 182004

Matrix 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving 20 mph vehicle stalled. Vehicle was towed to the dealership, and mechanic determined that automatic transmission failed. Automatic transmission was repaired, but the problem recurred.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #1

Feb 112004


  • miles
While shifting gears a noise was heard coming from underneath the vehicle. Transmission would down shift on its own. Consumer was able to drive the vehicle home. The next day, vehicle would start up but the transmission would not engage. Consumer had vehicle towed to the dealer for inspection, and mechanic determined transmission needed to be replaced due to worn out parts.

- Burlington, 00, USA

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