Which Toyota Matrix Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

Toyota Matrix is also officially referred to as the Toyota Corolla Matrix, and this compact hatchback series manufactured by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc.

Toyota Matrix models have ranked 4.5 out of 5 on RepairPal’s reliability ranking, which shows their excellent reliability.

Unfortunately, not all of its released year’s models brought the same quality to leave that solid impression.

Due to several real engines, power brakes, as well as transmission systems flaws models like 2003, 2009, and some other years’ Toyota Matrix became worth avoiding.

Read the following article to comprehend more about these compact hatchback models and wisely decide which one you should consider while purchasing. 

Toyota Matrix Years To Avoid: (With Reasons)

The first Toyota matrix model was introduced in 2002 as a 2003 model, and this series was originally a final result of the joint venture between Toyota and General Motors.

Most users adored these Toyota Matrix carsdue to their small yet practical appearance, good fuel economy, low maintenance, ample cargo space or capacity, solid safety features, and adequate reliability.

However, the manufacturer could not maintain the quality in all of its released years, and some models ended up having issues like transmission failure and excess oil consumption, which ultimately lead to engine failure.

Remember to avoid the following released years if you are looking for a used one:

  • 2003 Toyota Matrix
  • 2005 Toyota Matrix
  • 2006 Toyota Matrix
  • 2009 Toyota Matrix
  • 2010 Toyota Matrix

All these mentioned years Toyota Matrix models made Toyota rank in 20th position on the CarComplaints.com website’s Least Reliable Toyota Models category due to 218 received complaints and a 9.74 score on the PainRank™ scoring system.

These Matrix years models are infamous for major engine, brakes, and transmission problems.

That’s why let’s discover more about these particular year’s models to find out why they are considered the red-flagged ones-

2003 Toyota Matrix Problems

This is the first Toyota Matrix model introduced to the public in 2002 and also the first one afflicted with various defects or issues.

Most users reported the engine and transmission-related complaints against the 2003 Toyota Matrix.

Most 2003 users noticed symptoms like sudden unintentional acceleration, vehicle speed control defects, engine cooling not working, or complete engine failure.

They also reported transmission issues such as loud rattling noise coming from the transmission while engaged, grinding, significantly losing gears, or transmission erratically stopped working.

2005 Toyota Matrix Problems

Unfortunately, engine issues continued in 2005 released Matrix models too. 2005 Matrix model users claimed to identify the engine issue after noticing that the check engine light or CEL light keeps illuminating, and other potential symptoms were thermostat shot, speed control, and acceleration failure.

Another major concerning area was the seatbelts and airbags, where many users complained of encountering issues, such as faulty seatbelts, airbag lights erratically turning on, and broken belt buckle stop.

2006 Toyota Matrix Problems

According to the Carcomplaint.com website, most 2006 Matrix model users claimed to encounter issues like door handles cracking due to poor quality materials used by the manufacturer, or exterior body liners tend to fall off.

The 2006 model users also reported other notable issues such as rubber door seal popping out, paint very easily chipping on the vehicle’s front bumper and hood, ignition starter failure, vehicle stalls while driving, and sudden forced acceleration.

2009 Toyota Matrix Problems

This year’s models again came up with numerous engine-related issues, which was highly disappointing for the users.

Consumers claimed to experience various issues like excess oil consumption, loud engine noise while cold start, dead engine or engine firing, and the vehicle engine tend to stall or erratically shutting off while driving.

Many users also reported that the engine tends to turn over as it is supposed to but does not start, noisy engine valve makes driving uncomfortable, and sometimes they can notice rattling coming from the engine.

Other commonly reported issues against the 2009 models are excess rust, clear coat peeling, premature brakes wear, airbag light, and Abs light staying On.

2010 Toyota Matrix Problems

This year’s Toyota Matrix users were highly disappointed with the brakes and engine issues that often pop up.

According to Carcomplaints consumer reports, 2010 model users had to deal with several brake issues like premature brake wear, brake pedal tending to go down to the floor, Caliper failing to release, and stuck or failed Abs motor.

Other commonly reported issues against the 2010 Matrix were excess oil consumption, unintended sudden acceleration, not getting enough fuel to run, cleat coat failure, and paint chipping.

Worst Years of Toyota Matrix:

Let’s learn more about the three worst Toyota Matrix years that one should always avoid considering-

The 2003 Toyota Matrix

This year’s models got 387 complaints reported by consumers. Also, Eight Recalls were issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which also forced the brand to issue 152 TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETINS (TSBS).
The most highlighted symptoms of the 2003 Toyota Matrix are engine failure (average fixing cost $3,400), transmission tends to stop working (average fixing cost $2,800), and unexpected loud whining noise (average fixing cost $3000).

The 2006 Toyota Matrix

A total sum of 285 complaints was reported, and NHTSA officially issued Eight Recalls. Also, Toyota officially released 144 TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETINS (TSBS).

2006 Toyota Matrix’s most highlighted complaints were unexpected or unintended acceleration (typical fixing cost $3,000), rubber door seal tends to pop out where it bends at the corner, and hubcaps fail to stay on.

The 2009 Toyota Matrix

This particular year’s Toyota Matrix got 384 complaints, including Eleven Recalls issued by NHTSA. Also, Toyota officially had to issue 329 TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETINS (TSBS). 
Most 2009 Matrix consumers highlighted symptoms such asengine’sexcess oil consumption, dead engine or tends to abruptly die without warning (average repairing cost $2,300), and engine rattles (average repairing cost $4,800).

Most Common Problems of Toyota Matrix:

Let’s learn more about the most common Toyota Matrix problems that make some of its released models worth avoiding- 

1. Brakes Problem

According to the TOYOTA MATRIX BRAKES PROBLEMS report published on the Carcomplaints.com website, several brakes problems are commonly available in Toyota Matrix 2003, 2009, and 2010 released models.

But things got seriously disappointing with its 2010 models, where several users claimed that the brakes prematurely wear off, and in some cases, users had to replace both their vehicle’s brake pads and rotors after only 27,000-37,000 miles.

Also, the average repairing cost to fix the most common Toyota Matrix brake problem is $500.

Besides that, users also complained about noticing other issues such as Caliper failure, ABS motor failure or malfunctioning, and brakes slipping randomly.

2. Engine Problem

According to the TOYOTA MATRIX ENGINE PROBLEMS report published on the Carcomplaints.com website, engine-related problems are commonly available in Toyota Matrix 2003 and 2009 released models.

Reportedly, the most common engine problem occurs after 120,000 miles of operation, and the average repairing cost is around $3,700.

The most commonly highlighted engine complaint is the excess oil consumption problem, and one particular 2009 Toyota Matrix user even mentioned that he had to add 250 ml of oil for every 1000 km operation due to severe oil consumption.

Some users claim that they had to replace piston rings to fix their vehicle engine problem.

3. Transmission Failure

According to the TOYOTA MATRIX TRANSMISSION PROBLEMS report published on the Carcomplaints.com website, transmission-related issues are common in Toyota Matrix 2003, 2004, and 2009 released models.

Reportedly, the most common transmission problem occurs after 114,000 miles of operation, and the estimated repairing cost for fixing the problem is $3,100.

The report claim that the transmission issue is mainly highlighted in the 2003 Toyota Matrix models and the most common symptoms are losing gears, loud rattling when engaged, grinding and transmission stops working.

Which Toyota Matrix Years are Safe to Buy Used? 

According to the TOYOTA MATRIX MODEL YEAR COMPARISON, following years’ models have been considered safe by most consumers and auto experts-

  • 2008 Toyota Matrix
  • 2011 Toyota Matrix
  • 2013 Toyota Matrix

The 2008 Toyota Matrix has high headroom and flexible seating positions for providing better interior space. Other notable features of the 2008 Toyota Matrix are the typical Hatchback body style, Versatile interior layout, electronic stability system, and six-CD stereo.

2011 Toyota Matrix is a five-seater hatchback, which can also carry plenty of cargo and is available in both Base as well as S trim versions. 2011 model was also built with incredible interior and safety features along with a 2.4-liter engine to deliver excellent acceleration and cornering performance.

The 2013 Toyota Matrix is a five-seaters compact hatchback that can easily carry plenty of cargo. Besides that, this year’s Matrix models got 4 out of 5 consumer ratings, and according to the users, it features great economy, enough room for stuff, and is super reliable.

Which Year’s Toyota Matrix Have Most Engine-related Problems?

Toyota Matrix’s 2009 released models have the most engine-related issues based on the Carcomplaints. Even 51 complaints were reported against this year’s released vehicle’s engine.

Which Year’s Toyota Matrix Have Most Brakes-related Problems?

According to the Carcomplaints.com reports, Toyota Matrix’s 2010 models’ have the most brake malfunctioning issues and 15 complaints were reported against 2010 released Matrix vehicles.


Some Toyota Matrix models indeed came up with notable flaws and defects to be considered the worst compact car models. But some Toyota Matrix models released in particular years are still considered the best used compact hatchback option.

Thus, all you need is to know which one is the safe and beneficial Toyota Matrix car model.

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