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:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
53,117 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.

2008 Toyota Matrix engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2008 Toyota Matrix:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2008 Toyota Matrix Owner Comments

problem #12

Nov 182015


  • 156,000 miles


I have a manual transmission car. When I started it in my driveway and put in reverse the car immediately when speeding backward out of control. I engaged the clutch while the car continued to speed in reverse then moved to 1 gear and the car started speeding forward out of control. I was able to put the car in neutral and turn it off to stop the acceleration of the car.

- North Prairie, WI, USA

problem #11

Nov 182015


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Matrix. While attempting to accelerate from park, the accelerator pedal was depressed and the vehicle accelerated excessively. The contact had to depress the clutch and shift the gear shifter in neutral in order to stop the vehicle. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 150,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- North Prairie, WI, USA

problem #10

Sep 152014


  • 166,000 miles
Engine over-heated to the point where the head gasket blew. Dealership said it was due to chronic overheating but temperature gauges never indicated any issue and the check engine light did not come on until 2 minutes before the car broke down. Potential problem with the monitoring system. Routine maintenance (oil change, fluids checked, etc.) was done less than 2 weeks prior to incident.

- Lake Jackson, TX, USA

problem #9

Mar 122012

Matrix 4-cyl

  • 42,651 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Matrix. The contact was driving 5 mph and attempting a left turn into a parking space when the vehicle accelerated unexpectedly and jumped a curb before crashing into a trash bin. The vehicle was not destroyed. There were no injuries but the police were contacted and report was filed. The vehicle was towed to a private mechanic and the manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 42,651 and the current mileage was 42,680. Updated 04/13/12..updated 04/18/12 the consumer was driving 5 mph. As he turned into a parking space, the vehicle suddenly accelerated unexpectedly and jumped the curb before crashing into a heavy concrete trash bin. The consumer put the vehicle in park, but the wheels continued to rev. By this time, smoke was created by the tires burning. The wheels did not cease revving until the ignition was turned off a few seconds later. The impact moved the concrete bin about 1 1/2 feet forward into the adjacent building. The air bags did not deploy. Updated 06/05/12 the consumer stated the vehicle was towed to a collision center recommended by the insurance company. The repairs were completed in nine days. Collision center did not find any broken cables or wires that could have caused the incident. Updated 06/15/2012

- Santa Clara, FL, USA

problem #8

Jul 162010


  • 6,000 miles
Sudden acceleration in 2008 Matrix automatic: First known failure. Car brought new in September 2007; odometer: 6000 miles. While driving approximately 35 mph on even straight smooth roadway, there was a sudden acceleration to greater than 70 mph. When brakes were applied, they depressed to floor without any effect. Car continued to accelerate rapidly. Shifted to neutral without success. Car slowed after being placed in reverse. Coasted to a stop. Placed gear in 2 and drove slowly home - approximately 1/2 mile. Floor mats were not near either pedal and were kept stationary by hooks designed to keep mats from shifting. Called Toyota service department: Told that floor mats were the problem; talked to service managers who stated that the sequence of events described were impossible, no problems were known to exist for Matrix and greater than 99% of sudden acceleration problems were due to driver error. After a discussion, the car was evaluated by the service department. The following was reported: Floor mats held in proper place no objects on floor normal brake pedal operation normal accelerator pedal operation health check - powertrain, chassis, electrical, network systems - ok computer codes - no abnormalities found normal throttle body inspection tires with normal wear & function problem was not duplicated on test drive. Was told that the car is functioning normally in all areas and has no problems. Implied that my experience was a misperception or misrepresentation. Assessment: There was a significant malfunction in the Matrix which could have led to critical injuries or loss of life. Only due to the traffic flow at precisely that moment, no one was injured. The Toyota service departments denied that the problem exists. Recommendation: Sudden unexpected acceleration should be investigated until an answer /solution is found. The findings should be shared with the public. The cost for repairs should be paid by Toyota.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #7

May 282010


  • miles
On May 28th, while pulling into my driveway as I've done with my 2008 Matrix hundreds of times, the brakes failed and my car ran into my house. I could feel the ABS firing, but the car failed to slow down. I have a short driveway, about a car and a half in length, and it is downhill. The approach to the driveway has me turning and braking while going over the bump of the curb. To add to that, it was raining the day this happened. Fortunately, my approach was rather slow and no one was injured. My car sustained some minor damage, and my garage sustained more damage from the force of the impact. Under the advisement of my auto insurance Agency, I had the car towed to the Toyota dealership for inspection. They informed me that they ran a complete diagnostic, and all of the systems were running fine. They reported to me that the brake pads were in good condition, and there were no hot spots. From their perspective, the car seemed fine. I advised them that while the diagnostics reported the car as being fine, the inability for the car to brake coming into my driveway, and the damage sustained, leaves me needing a better answer than that. They told me that when it next rained that I could come in and drive the car with one of their technicians to try and re-create the issue. It has been several weeks, and we have not had the proper weather conditions when they have been open and I have been able to get off work and get over there with our one remaining car. When I spoke to the dealer rep on Monday, he re-iterated how their software diagnostic showed the car was operating fine. I asked him how then the 2010 prius had a software update to correct a braking issue. He said that the prius situation was complicated, brought on by the combination of turning, going over a bump and braking at the same time. I told him that was what happened during my accident. There was silence, and a repeat statement that I could come in and test the vehicle with their tech.

- Redmond, WA, USA

problem #6

Feb 282010


  • 32 miles


On February 28th I was stopped at the corner of vine and galbraith at a light. The car suddenly accelerated forward and when I pressed on the brake it kind of locked and did not stop the car- I pulled the emergency brake up and the car stopped. There was a pedestrain that was crossing the street that I nearly hit.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #5

Mar 302010


  • 27,500 miles
After purchasing gas at 6:30 a.M., I started my 2008 Toyota Matrix and was rolling slowly out a slight incline to the street. The car lurched forward and I jammed first one foot then both feet on the brake while pulling up the emergency brake. It felt like holding back a horse at the starting gate. I put the car in park and the engine began racing like it does during an auto emissions test. I turned the car off and it stopped. I finally got the nerve to start the car again and it performed normally as it has since. I took the car to performance Toyota in fairfield Ohio on April 3rd as instructed by the service department so they could try to recreate the situation and have it on record that I experienced this incident.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #4

Feb 142009


  • 6,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Toyota Matrix. The contact stated that while driving at approximate speeds of 35 mph in rainy weather, a vehicle ahead of him applied the brakes. The contact attempted to depress the brakes; however, the vehicle continued to accelerate. The vehicle proceeded to crash into the preceding vehicle and also a third vehicle. One of the vehicle occupants was injured. The police were called to the scene. The contact was not given a copy of the police report. The vehicle was driven to a local repair shop for an assessment of the damages. The failure mileage was 6,000 and the current mileage was 10,000.

- Newark, CA, USA

problem #3

Aug 012009


  • 30,000 miles
My 2008 Matrix engine races up, and reaches speeds of 90 with out my foot on the gas. It happened for the first time almost a year ago. I was told that it was nothing, could it have been the mats.... I didn't have mats in my car. I haven't been able to use my cruise control, the engine RPM goes really high, like it is going to race. My husband was driving the car over the weekend and it raced, he was able to stop the vehicle. Went to the side of the road. Every time I have brought my car in they say they can not duplicate the problem. It usually happens after I have been driving my car for 30 or minutes. I'm trying not to worry about it, but I'm sure that there are other people out there who are having problems with their cars, take them to the shop and are being told that they can not duplicate a problem. Any one who knows anything knows anything knows that 9/10 the mechanic can not duplicate the problem.

- Bealeton, VA, USA

problem #2

Dec 092009


  • 38,218 miles
I have had my Toyota Matrix for almost a year when it started having problems. The issue for me was coming to a stop light and the car wouldn't stop even though I was braking hard. It kept rolling forward. You could hear the acceleration. Putting it in neutral was not an option when you are sitting in traffic at a light. I could either rear end the car ahead of me or get rear ended by the car behind me. I had to stop the car by putting it in park. The car "bucked." It stopped the car and for that I was grateful because it just kept moving. I was on a cell phone call when it happened another time going into a garage. The car wouldn't stop again. My friend could hear the acceleration of the car through the cell phone. I couldn't stop the car with my brake. Again I had to put it into park and it bucked again. I reported it to the Toyota dealership on 12/9/09. I called the service manager after that date and he told me to bring the car back and I did on 2/19/10. The pedal was replaced on 3/4/10 and on week of 3/8/10 I experienced the same issue of the car not stopping and the accelerator sticking 3 times in one week. That's after the pedal was replaced. The dealership checked my car out on each occasion. I have documentation for all these visits and opened it looks like 2 accounts with Toyota of America #[xxx] and #[xxx]. they have repeatedly told me that they could find nothing wrong even after driving the car for 4 miles. The problem is intermittent and driving 4 miles is ludicrous in order to see if they can experience the problem. They have told me they have done extensive diagnostic workups on the car. They will not check the computer or electronics as they say it is not the problem. Help. I am in traffic everyday. I don't know when the failure will pop up on me. I now have to get rid of this car and I can't sell it to someone privately as I would be responsible for anything happening to that person. Please help. Thank you.

- Olney, MD, USA

problem #1

May 012009


  • 15,000 miles
2008 Toyota Matrix developed a grunting/rattling sound when the cruise control was activated about a year ago. Deactivating the cruise control didn't solve the problem but first disappeared after pulling off the high way, shutting off the engine and hence resetting the systems. Which problem has been fixed by Toyota newburgh NY swiftly, with the remark that this was something they had never experienced before. In the light of the accelerator problems that continue to plague us all this might be an item of interest on your behalf?

- Patterson, NY, USA

Not what you are looking for?