2003 Toyota Matrix Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2003 Toyota Matrix as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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7
Known Problems

Drivers of the Toyota Matrix may notice excessive oil consumption between oil changes, even to the extent of the engine oil warning light displayed on the multi-function display.

This issue is known to be caused by infrequent oil changes causing engine sludge, or worn piston rings. 

The engine should be cleaned of oil sludge, and if oil consumption remains excessive, the engine may need new piston rings, or other internal components replaced. 

To avoid this issue, change the engine oil and filter every 3,000 miles, and ensure the proper grade of oil is used. 

The timing chain tensioner on the 2003-2005 Toyota Matrix is designed to use oil pressure to keep tension on the timing chain. When it develops a leak, it can no longer provide tension, and the timing chain will begin to make a slapping or rattling sound at all times.

If left in this condition, the timing chain may fail, leading to costly internal engine repair.

To correct this issue the timing chain tensioner must be replaced with the revised part.

The 2003-2008 Toyota Matrix 1.8L engine has a known issue with the valves that if left unchecked, will cause burned valves and engine performance issues. 

The engine ‘breathes’ through valves that are pushed open by the camshaft, and closed by springs. When valves are closed, they seal against a valve seat. In this vehicle, the valve seat is too soft, so after the valve contacts it thousands of times, it becomes crushed. Once it is crushed, the valve can no longer make a proper seal, and the valves erode due to extreme temperature (burnt valve).

Symptoms related to this issue:

To repair the burnt valves, the cylinder head must be removed and rebuilt, which is a costly internal engine repair, however, this issue can be prevented through inspection and adjustment of valve clearances every 40,000 miles.

The window regulator in the 2003-2004 Toyota Matrix were assembled using defective bolts that allow the window to fall off track during normal operation. The bolts stretch, loosen, and break, allowing the window glass to move freely inside the door, independent of the regulator. 

The solution is to either replace the electric window regulator, or just the bolts, depending on the amount of damage done to the regulator. 

The bolts attaching the front door window glass to the window regulator may come loose. This can cause the window regulator to become damaged and possibly causing the window glass to break. Some 2003 & 2004 models have been recalled for the issue.

The Check Engine Light may illuminate due to an evaporative emission (EVAP) system fault. Our technicians tell us these EVAP system faults can be difficult to diagnose but it is not uncommon to find a failed charcoal canister or a loose or worn gas cap.

Oxygen sensor failure may occur, resulting in the illumination of the Check Engine Light.