I have just had the second transmission rebuilt on the 5 speed manual transmission. The first fell out at 55,00 miles no warning, out of warranty and the second recently again no warning at 98,000 miles. I kept up the service schedule under warranty and currently. The clutch was replaced as well both times. I was shown the parts and my current mechanics have never seen anything like this. It is the bearings inside both times. The transmission was rebuilt with new Toyota parts both times. This car is driven on road trips and errands mostly on freeways. I bike commute to work during the week. I was hoping it would last another four years until I retire, but now I am afraid to drive it out of the county. Bad luck, bad parts, a Lemon? I do not know what to do and can not afford a new car payment right now. Any suggestions would be helpful.
There Seems To Be Quite A Few People Unhappy With 2003 Vibe (Toyota) 5 - Speed Manuals. The Bearings Keep Failing, Apparently. I Haven’t Seen anybody With A Solution, Except Perhaps A Transplant Involving A 6 - Speed.
Consumers Reports Surveys (2010 Buyers Guide - Last Issue Showing 2003 Model-Year - Showing Six Years Of Vibes), Rate Minor/Major Transmission/Drive System Areas As “Much Better Than Average”, And The Surveys Also Rate These Vehicles “Much Better Than Average”.
These Vibes Are Not “Used Cars To Avoid,” But Rather Are Listed As “Reliable” Choices In The $8,000 To $10,000 Used Cars Section.
Good to know. It should help you sell it if that becomes an option.
" I bike commute to work during the week. "
Would it work if you sold this car now and replaced it when you were more able to afford it or buy something more reliable for now, perhaps not a manual transmission Pontiac/Toyota ?
I would imagine you are growing weary and wary. I would be.
This is a relatively common problem with the 03-04 Vibe/Matrix/Corolla.
Lots of discussion on the 'net, just search on google.
The best solution is a 6-speed trans, which is a bolt-in replacement.
This one has the same economical top gear as the stock 5-speed:
I’m hoping the 5-speed in my 2006 Matrix holds up, but if not I’ll get one of the above trannies.
Nice information to know. I have a 2008 Matrix 5-speed- flawless so far at 62K.
Perrye, Are You still With Us ?
What Are You Thinking Of Doing With This Vehicle ?
I’m still hoping somebody with a solution weighs in here.
“I’m still hoping somebody with a solution weighs in here.”
I guess I’m invisible…
@Circuitsmith, Sorry About That !
I Should Have Said A Solution To Keeping The Original 5-Speed Together So That It Didn’t Need Rebuilds Every 50,000 Miles.
Throwing that trans away and bolting in a 6-speed in its place is definitely a solution and I did see that one in one of the links I posted, too. It seems like a manufacturer should have a fix for the " . . . relatively common problem with the 03-04 Vibe/Matrix/Corolla. "
What’s up with no reference to this in any of my Consumer Reports mags or buying guides, that I could find ?
I would classify this as a serious (major) transmission trouble spot. What am I missing, here ?
Consumer Reports also doesn’t have any reference to stripped head bolt threads in the block on 2002-2006 Camrys with the 2AZ-FE engine. Not to mention all the other Toyotas with that engine that have the problem. CR pretty much lists those Camrys as very good all around. That won’t make you feel any better if you own one and have a bad block.
CR is not perfect. If you want to know the straight dope on any car, pay a few bucks and log onto the manufacturer’s technical information website. You’ll see the same information that the dealership guys see. TSBs, recall campaigns, service campaigns, special adjustment policies, etc.
What would be interesting to read and hear would be the number of emails, snail mails, and phone calls that CR gets each year from someone who states in one way or the other:
“You (fill in the blank)! I bought a (fill in the blank) because you said it was a good reliable car and it’s a total (fill in the blanK) that has been nothing but trouble from the start. Cancel my subscription!”.
CR won’t be coughing up info like that anytime in the future…
"What’s up with no reference to this in any of my Consumer Reports mags or buying guides, that I could find ? "
If 0.2% of the 50,000 owners have this problem, and 25% of those 100 owners get on the internet and make a lot of noise…
Would a 0.2% failure rate even register in Consumer Reports stats?
Paranoia led me to change my trans oil at 21,000 miles, and the old oil looked “dirtier” than the oil from my previous Hondas did at 30,000.
" If 0.2% of the 50,000 owners have this problem, and 25% of those 100 owners get on the internet and make a lot of noise…
Would a 0.2% failure rate even register in Consumer Reports stats? "
Where are you getting these numbers from ?
Were there, in fact, 50,000 03-Vibes with manual transmissions sold ?
What percentage of Vibes had manual transmissions compred with automatic transmissions ?
What number of the owners of those vehicles took place in the survey ?
What’s your theory on why the repairs don’t seem to fix the problems ?
I don’t see any break-out of manual transmissions from the category "transmission."
They must be pooled together (?).
Of participants in the survey, could the folks with automatics and no major problems in that pool have blurred or skewed the entire category so that the number with manual transmissions and trouble was rendered less significant ?
I have been a Subscriber for many decades. I love the magazine, available everywhere magazines are sold. Get a copy today.
“Of participants in the survey, could the folks with automatics and no major problems in that pool have blurred or skewed the entire category so that the number with manual transmissions and trouble was rendered less significant ?”
While we are both speculating, what you stated mirrors exactly what I was thinking.
Because there is no differentiation in the stats between manual & automatic transmissions (plus the reality that many more automatics are sold, as compared to manual trans cars), a much-better-than-average record for Vibe automatics could potentially overcome some negative stats regarding the manual trans models.
Consumer Reports hasn’t split out manual transmissions from automatic transmissions for at least ten years. There used to be a category titled “Clutch” that isn’t there any more. As I remember the questionaire that I fill out from CR, the questionaire does ask whether or not the car has an automatic transmission. I suspect that since most cars are equipped with the automatic transmission, the manual transmission cars are omitted from the transmission category.
Many cars from the late 1950s through the mid 1960s had three speed manual transmissions that were troublesome. The transmissions were designed in the late 1930s and hadn’t been improved for the more powerful engines. In many cars, including my 1955 Pontiac and 1965 Rambler, the column shift linkages were terrible. On the other hand, my 1947 Pontiac, 1948 Dodge and 1954 Buick manual transmissions shifted very smoothly. The manufacturers were pushing automatic transmissions. When Pontiac introduced the manual transmisson for its 1948 model, 80% of the 1948 Pontiacs sold had the GM Hydramatic automatic transmission.
One popular item back in the 1960s was a floor shift conversion kit because the column shift linkages were so bad. Of course, the heavy duty 4 speed transmissions of the 1960s and later are a different story. These transmissions have a floor shift and were designed for the powerful engines.
My guess is that even today, the manual transmission on many low end cars may be a step-child. I don’t think a manual transmission is available on a Ford F-150 pickup truck any more.
“Where are you getting these numbers from ?”
I made them up. Rough estimate.
50,000 manual Vibe/Matrix/Corolla over 3 years.
I, too, am a long time subscriber to CR.
I prefer a manual transmission, but after my 1965 Rambler, I have only had automatic transmissions. I had a snap ring break in the Rambler transmission which damaged the main drive gear and main shaft. The repair was rather expensive for me at the time. Even locating a mechanic that would repair a manual transmission back in 1970 was hard to find. The mechanic had it working well, but advised me to stay away from manual transmissions as the companies had forgotten how to make them.
If I were purchasing a Mazda Miata or a Corvette, I would certainly go for a manual transmission. However, in most cars, I would “do as the Romans do” and buy the automatic.
"I suspect that since most cars are equipped with the automatic transmission, the manual transmission cars are omitted from the transmission category. "
What about cars sold with several different engine options ?
I think we’ve already seen this play out with recent comments.
So, When You Use Surveys As Recommendations, They May Not Accurately Reflect Reliability Of The Engine Or Transmission Option In Your Particular Vehicle And It’s Possible That Some That Are Rated Above Average, Aren’t And Some That Are Rated Below Average, Aren’t ?
That would explain why since I always check out vehicles, equipped exactly like the ones I’m interested in (same engine/transmission/wheel size, etcetera) and have not had any problems even with much below average vehicles.
Keep in mind too that there’s only a couple of percentage points separating much below from average and average from much above.
I use Consumer Reports but I also consult with our independent shop when I purchase a car. They see all makes and seem to know the trouble spots and which engine options are more reliable in a particular car. When I purchased a new minivan a couple of years ago, I asked our independent shop about them. I was going to buy a used GM minivan as I liked our Uplander, but we sold it to our son. My mechanic friend and my wife thought a new minivan was a better purchase and my mechanic recommended either a Toyota Sienna or a Hond Odyssey. He actually perferred the Sienna, and that is what I bought.