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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
141,500 miles
Total Complaints:
4 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. rebuild transmission (3 reports)
  2. not sure (1 reports)
2003 Toyota Matrix transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Toyota Matrix Owner Comments

problem #4

Aug 212016

Matrix XRS

  • Manual transmission
  • 213,806 miles


click to see larger images

transmission stopped working transmission stopped working

had the cluth replaced four month ago. and one rear engine mount was replaced. when I picked it up from mechanic, it drove so bad that I thought the tires were going to break off. i had to drive back down the street to mechanics other shop to find out that the guy who installed the clutch forgot to tighten the bolts on the swaybar. The clutch installed did not feel any different from before I brought it in. I kept smelling a burning smell. When accelerating after third gear, somewhere I could hear a strange whinning or humming sound. I took the mechanis with me for a ride, and of course he didnt' hear it. Said my car was fine. Now four months later and after several complaints to the mechanic, my car went kapootz. It made terrible noises. When I stopped and then tried to turn it back on, the gear wasn't going in. If finally did and it sounded like metal grinding and crumbling and then it made a horrible sound whenI went in reverse, and then I paarked it and called tow truck. Took it to same mechanic and they said the transmission is shot. or gearbox. I asked it it had anything to do with the clutch and they said no. I am going to file a complaint with the NHTSA website, because this is not an isolated incident with this make, model, and year.

- Robin L., Glendale, CA, US

problem #3

May 292015

Matrix XR 1.8L

  • Manual transmission
  • 112,000 miles

Driving 35 mph w/2003 Matrix 1.8 L manual and suddenly heard loud sound. Total transmission failure. A mechanic neighbor did a bit of web research and discovered that I'm hardly the only one with this issue on this make/model/year. $2,800 repair. Failure occurred May 29, 2015. I'm on the phone w/National Transportation Highway & Safety Administration to also register this event in hopes that more data forces a recall.

- sue e, Royal Oak, MI, US

problem #2

Dec 072011

Matrix XR

  • Manual transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Manual Transmissions, especially those sold by Toyota, should not fail. They especially should not fail at only 120,000mi. Mine started off by just being loud, which I didn't even notice for a while. A friend pointed it out. Then it started making a whirring noise that would start when it was in gear and I gave it some gas. The whirring got more and more frequent, and finally I got it to the mechanic where it summarily died. He could not even get it into gear. After taking apart the tranny, it was clear that the 5th gear bearing just completely fell apart.

- David S., Oakland, CA, US

problem #1

Feb 252013


  • Manual transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I had the 2003 Toyota Matrix for 10 years and it has about 120,000 miles on it. We do immaculate service and maintenance. This year I noticed more noise when accelerating in 4th gear. The mechanic replaced the clutch. The noise was still there. Then it died at a very dangerous location and thank goodness for the police when they arrived to keep drivers from rear ending me.

The transmission needs to be rebuilt. I am told by a transmission shop it will cost over $2,000. I have put a lot of money into this car in the past year and the problems keep coming.

- Beth M., Farmington Hills, MI, US

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