Last post on Jul 26, 2013 at 4:27 PM
You are in the Toyota Matrix
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Toyota Matrix, Engine, Wagon
#15 of 74 idle hunting in matrix/vibe/corolla when cold
Jun 20, 2006 (8:15 am)
Hello, this is my first post.
If you have been a member of any of the following forums: matrixowners.com, genvibe.com, corolland.com, toyotanation.com, then you may have already been made aware of an issue that has occurred in nearly 14% of Matrix/Vibe/Corolla owners (2003 model and up) according to my unscientific polls. Naturally 14% is an unrealistic high ratio since many owners without this problem are not members of internet forums or don't always vote in every poll they read. Nevertheless, hundreds of posts in several threads have been logged and since I stumbled across the EDMONDS forum by accident, I wanted to take the opportunity to invite any of the uninitiated here to be privileged with the information posted elsewhere.
So far we are 20 owners who all share the same 1800 cc engine, be it Matrix, Vibe, or Corolla, and have exactly the same symptom. In a nutshell, a very small number of these cars came off the assembly line during all of the last 3 years with some particular engine actuator or sensor which behaves in an unusual manner so that the engine computer slowly makes changes to the fuel tables or timing over the course of several days during the cold of winter.
The net result is that the engine idle speed which in a normal car is about 1800 rpm during the second minute following a cold start, becomes 2300 rpm in cars with this issue, and only in cars with manual transmissions. Reseting the computer makes the problem go away for a few days.
The excessively high rpms is probably due to the engine software having altered on purpose the amount of fuel, air and timing being admitted to the engine. But within the engine software appears to be a built in safety routine which independently decides that 2300 rpm is too fast a speed for the predicted amount of fuel and air, and the engine gets momentarily shut off until the rpms fall back into the safe zone which is below 1500 rpm. Once the engine is turned back on before stalling, it quickly revs back up to 2300 rpm, and the whole cycle repeats over and over 10 to 30 times during the second minute. The colder the weather, the more cycles. This cycling ends when the engine enters an new phase (probably when the heated oxygen sensors begin to function) and the idle then drops to a normal speed and all is stable.
Once this event has occurred at the start of the day, the computer never lets it happen again for the rest of the day. The car must sit outdoors overnight for the problem to repeat the next morning.
What does Toyota say? As you can imagine, it has been frustrating for many of us 20 owners because by the time we get the car to the dealer, the problem has disappeared for the day. However, I was able to leave the car overnight at my dealership's outdoor parking lot, and the blessed event got recorded on the dealership's scan tool.
This scan took place in January 2005 and following two failed attempts by my dealership to fix the problem, Toyota Canada, after some prodding, acknowledged the issue is so complex that that a solution would have to come from their engineering team in Japan. I was promised that research would start in the fall of 2005 (when it would be cold again) and any updates would be communicated through my dealership. Winter 2006 came and went without any notification or responses.
I should add that many mechanics across North America who have had to deal with this issue approached the problem with varying solutions, all without success. We have examples of changing the computer, the MAF sensor, the idle air valve, the O2 sensor, and it goes on and on.
Normally when there is an engine sensor that is grossly out of calibration, the engine computer generates a CEL warning and logs an error code. But should a defective sensor or actuator be just within the level of tolerance of the computer, then no error code will be generated, but the long term adaptive antipolution strategy might nevertheless be upset enough to unwittingly increase the cold idle rpms above a safe limit. For this reason I have to blame in part the engine software for not being more intelligent in monitoring when there is an instability occuring due to a slight mechanical defect in the engine. The problem is that the computer normally communicates using the OBD-II protocol and this protocol does not include a provision for such an instability. Engine software is assumed to be bug free.
I am providing the following link to one of the forum threads I set up elsewhere. You can listen to a MP3 audio recording of the engine during its unstable state and then judge for yourself if this issue applies to you. You can also link to similar threads at other forums where a comment can be posted or a vote can be cast for the vehicle (Matrix/Vibe/Corolla) which concerns you.
To hear the recording, you have to re-link to the Vibe forum where the recording is hosted.
I look forward to reading any comments posted in this thread or elsewhere.
Lastly, it surprises me that this issue has remained so invisible to organizations like the AAA and the like who would want to flag this issue as part of their reviews of second hand Matrix/Vibe/Corolla cars.
And even more surprising is that Toyota appears to be in no hurry to get to the bottom of this. I would have expected their engineers to have strapped a monitor on my car's computer so that they could gather all the data available in order to ensure that this problem is not carried into their next generation of engines.
#16 of 74 Re: idle hunting when cold on Matrix/Vibe/Corolla [montreal3]
Jan 29, 2007 (1:00 pm)
My car "corolla 2003" also has the same behavior. Have you fixed the problem?
Mar 22, 2007 (8:25 pm)
Besides my clutch and transmission problems there seems to be a problem with my engine idling erratically and of course has not done it when left at the garage. I was told by the mechanic that all the sounds coming from my engine are all 'normal'....this came from a guy who took me for a test drive in my car and popped the clutch at a red light and stalled it, started from second gear for the first ten minutes, scraped the bottom of my front bumper on the pavement because the incline from his shop was too steep and acknowledged a 'new' noise from my engine, couldn't tell me what it was from but said it was 'normal'....
#18 of 74 Re: idle hunting in matrix/vibe/corolla when cold [montreal3]
Apr 17, 2007 (12:16 pm)
My wife and I bought a used '04 Vibe in May '06. When the weather turned cold in late fall, it started doing this idle surge as the engine would start to warm up. It drives me nuts. Had I known about this issue with this car, I would not have purchased it. I suppose that's why it was sold during the warm weather.
I have alot of trust in my mechanic who conducted a wild goose chase, only to conclude that the problem was beyond them. Reportedly, neither Toyota nor Pontiac would acknowledge any reports of such problems.
I bought this car specifically because of the positive experiences I have had with Toyota products in the past ('04 pickup from same NUMI plant is still going strong). Although this car has a Pontiac nameplate, I feel very let down by Toyota and disinclined to give them the same unconditional faith that I have in the past. I wouldn't have expected great thing from a Pontiac product, but a Toyota?
#19 of 74 Re: idle hunting in matrix/vibe/corolla when cold [badvibe]
Apr 19, 2007 (12:19 pm)
I think they finally fix my problem... They reload a firmware of my computer's car. They did that a st-basile toyota... Near Montreal... Now it comes back to normal...
#20 of 74 Re: idle hunting in matrix/vibe/corolla when cold [dorvalp]
Jul 23, 2007 (10:06 am)
I have the same problem with Corolla S 2003. Patrick, it's been 2 month that the reloaded the firmware, does the problem reapeared?
Thanks very much for your help
#21 of 74 Re: idle hunting in matrix/vibe/corolla when cold [lamarcho]
Aug 06, 2007 (2:07 pm)
Until now it is OK... I hope it will still OK this winter too...
#22 of 74 Odd knocking noise
Aug 07, 2007 (4:39 pm)
Hi all. I have a 2005 XR with an auto trans. I absolutely love my Matrix - I think every family needs one of these and a truck.
Anyway, I'm posting because although I absolutely love the car, I encountered something odd around 30k miles: a strange rattle-like sound started coming from the top of the passenger side of the motor. Now, being from a family of mechanics and having built numerous American muscle cars in the past, I knew that a knock was serious bad news. It seemed to happen most when the engine was *almost* fully warmed up, but not so much when cold or warm. It honestly sounds a little like somebody is shaking a spraypaint can under the hood.
I took it to two different dealerships; one said they couldn't hear it (in his defense, it was a lot quieter at that particular time) and the other dealership said that the only thing they can figure is that it's the tensioner (which is around that area anyway).
I now have over 110k miles on the car, and *I drive this thing hard* - like it was a Subaru WRX STI. The noise has not gotten any worse or any less since its inception (though sometimes it varies a little without reason) - but I have grown accustomed to using higher octane fuel in an attempt to combat the problem.
Does this sound familiar to anybody out there? One time it was so prevalent that my father-in-law walked past his driveway and asked what was wrong with my car...
EDIT: I have done all maintenance myself - every 5k miles like clockwork. I have replaced the plugs recently and I am still using 5w-30 Castrol GTX or Valvoline at every oil change. I installed headers onto the car around 75k miles, but they didn't affect the noise at all.
#23 of 74 Engine Heat Issues
Sep 03, 2007 (5:52 pm)
I'm a newbie here, but couldn't find anything on this. just purchased on '08 Matrix xr, and today after about 35 mins of stop/go driving around town, I popped the hood to make sure the fluid levels were right (going back to the dealer for a few things tomorrow). when I tried to prop up the hood, the black spindle that props the hood was really really hot. facing the engine, it's on the left side of the engine bay, and it did seem all the metal I touched around that area was really hot. too hot to touch.
is this normal?
is there any sort of "fix" for it?
thanks in advance for any/all help....
#24 of 74 Re: Engine Heat Issues [moontom]
Sep 04, 2007 (11:07 am)
It is normal for anything metal under the hood to be very hot to the touch immediately after driving around. You should be able to use the hood prop, however, but not to hang onto it for several minutes.