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:
117,100 miles
Total Complaints:
4 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. new engine (2 reports)
  2. not sure (1 reports)
  3. replace o2 sensor (1 reports)
2009 Toyota Matrix engine problems

engine problem

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2009 Toyota Matrix Owner Comments

problem #4

Mar 052020

Matrix 1.8L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,381 miles


Engine just refused to start one day. Battery was good, starter firing, engine would feel like it would almost get going but then die. Checked ignition - good. Checked fuel - good. Checked compression - awful. My mechanic is telling me that the engine is likely done for (either pistons or rings). FML.

Toyota, shame on you.

- wild.coast, Vancouver, BC, Canada

problem #3

Aug 142019

Matrix 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 168,000 miles

The engine started rumbling at an idle really badly. Took it in to multiple mechanics because it stopped working. They all said the head gasket is blown, and they found moisture in the engine so the engine is blown.

- Chandler P., Eagle Mountain, UT, US

problem #2

Oct 172012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

The car randomly died or wouldn't start at least 20 times over the years. I took it to the dealership multiple times, and they kept saying there weren't any error codes and they couldn't replicate the issue. I got very good at popping it into neutral while on a major highway and restarting the engine. The dealership replaced the battery and took apart and tested the starter with no success. Until one time, it died while I was turning in a major intersection. I tried popping it into neutral and start it, but it wouldn't start. I tried coasting to the shoulder, but I didn't have enough momentum. A nice motorist helped me push it to the shoulder. I had it towed to my dealership, who told me that the O2 sensor was bad and that was causing all my issues. They replaced it and it started and ran fine. I drove it for a week more before deciding to sell it and replaced it with a v6 Camry. Best decision I ever made.

- clsinwv, Pottstown, US

problem #1

Feb 182017

Matrix 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

So my girlfriend bought a 2009 Toyota Matrix brand new in 2008. She purchased this specific brand because of their supposed reliability. Boy was she wrong. This car has always had service. Oil changed every 3000 miles in fact we just put a new set of tires on a few months ago. Now where to begin. If you own this car you know about the multiple recalls. So we still had the airbag recall to do as the light had come on a month or so ago. We planned on taking it in when the oil change needed to be done. Then the abs and brake light both came on about 2 weeks ago out of the blue but, that complaint is for another thread. Friday night I take a run down to the store less then a 1/4 mile from the house when I notice the tachometer is jumping. It would sink to about 400 rpm then shoot up to 850-900 then settle back down to 400. This would happen only in drive when at a stop in gear. I do know something about cars so I figured it was a dirty TPS or a dirty MAS. Boy was I wrong. I end up driving home and asking my girlfriend if the car was acting funny and she said it was since her drive home from work that afternoon. The next morning I go out to start the car and nothing. The starter worked fine but, the engine would not turn over. I start out by cleaning the throttle body and checking things like the air filter and spark plugs. They all seem okay though. I then call my mechanic and he suggests checking for a vacuum leak. Everything seem to be put together fine. I then have the car towed to his shop. The next day I get the call. They preformed their compression tests and the car failed terribly. I was asked if I had added oil which I had not. He came to the conclusion that the timing chain tensioner had failed and the timing skipped causing the pistons to smash into the valves bending them and causing the motor to fail. He could not believe that with the correct amount of oil that this would happen! It was truly a manufactures defect. My options he could take apart, and rebuild motor or buy one from the scrap yard. I chose the later because it was faster and I get a 90 day warranty on the motor from the scrap yard. I called Toyota and their answer was no surprise. " Sorry but, because your automobile is out of warranty there is nothing we can do for you. We will mark down that the part failed and if it happens enough to warrant a recall we will send one to you." Well thanks, that really helps! I will be trading this car in and will never buy a Toyota again. The worst part is this was my girlfriends first car she purchased brand new and is very distraught about the whole situation. I'm sorry but, a car that is 7 years old and has less then 115,000 miles should not need a new motor is all I'm saying.

- Cyle T., Cumberland, US

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