Toyota Matrix with 250,000 miles

Hello! I have a 2005 Toyota Matrix with 250k on it. It has run like a champ so far, with the only problem being an ECM recall last year. I have noticed a few problems recently; the heat blows cold air for quite awhile, and the temperature gauge, while not reading hot, sort of fluctuates between normal and a little warm. When the ECM was being replaced, the dealer said the serpentine belt was overdue for replacement, and I know he’s probably right about that. He also said the water pump needed replacing, although I have never seen any signs of leaking. This car has been a champ, and I’d like to try and get another 100k out of it if possible. I’m pretty handy around a car, I’ve replaced an alternator and radiator before, and I’m working on a limited budget, so if any of this is doable by me, I’m up for it.
Any and all help is greatly appreciated!!!

Does this have a timing belt? Has it been replaced as specified in the owners manual? That’s usually the time to have the water pump replaced, even if it’s not leaking.

As for the cold air and the temp gauge behavior, it sounds like a bad thermostat which isn’t hard to fix.
Edit - it could also be a plugged heater core, but that shouldn’t cause the temp gauge behavior.

Do you have a repair manual for it (Haynes or Chiltons)? That’s the best way to learn about doing some of the more involved repairs and maintenance.

This car has a timing chain.
I would replace the serp. belt and thermostat (both are not expensive) and see how it goes.
Does the belt feel tight? The belt tensioner has been known to go bad. That’s a bit more $$.
What happened to the radiator?

p.s. My 2006 Matrix has 29K miles.

I would also replace the thermostat. Its probably not opening as fast as it should.

Replace that serpentine belt AND the tensioner. They have had a lot of run time. Retire them both.

I am not sure if this is an interference engine - but that timing chain may also need replaced soon.

If you have an interference engine and the timing chain breaks for whatever reason - you pistons smack into an open valve and the whole engine is dead.

If you have a non interference engine - the pistons will come close to the open valve but not hit it - meaning you will stall out - and the engine wont run until you have a new timing chain, but it wont be ruined.

Check into this - if you have interference engine - a timing chain now may save an engine later. If non interference - fix it when it breaks.

(Although there may be a timing chain tensioner that would be a REALLY REALLY good idea to replace - IT WEARS THROUGH THE (usually made of) PLASTIC OVER TIME AND WILL EVENTUALLY CAUSE ISSUES. At least crack it open and have a look at the tensioner.)

I’d order the parts yourself.

you could pay someone to do just the thermostat.

Or you could do the belt, thermostat and timing belt tensioner your self for the same price. get a repair manual (haynes, chilton, whatever) and it will tell you how to do all 3 of the above.

It sounds like your T-stat is hanging up. Your symptoms are textbook.

This engine does not show up on any of the interference engine listings that I was able to find, so it’s safe to assume that it’s noninterference.

Your water pump does not need to be replace prophylactically. Your car has a timing chain, and the water pump is external to the engine (actually, the impellar is in the engine and the pump is mounted from outside the engine) and can be changed if it begins to fail or leak.

The tensioner can be tested…or changed. I’d an advocate of just testing it, but cannot fault anyone for suggesting changing it at this mileage.

The chain tensioner when it begins to wear out will let you know whith a rattling noise similar to a bad lifter. I’d leave it unless it begins to get noisy. It’ll probably last the life of the vehicle.

“He also said the water pump needed replacing, although I have never seen any signs of leaking.” Did you get under the car and check the weap hole in the water pump? Most Toyota water pumps I’ve replaced don’t leak enough to drip onto the ground. If your water pump has been leaking since last year your coolant level is probably low. A thermostat that is stuck open will show below normal (cold) on the temperature gauge and a check engine light. (P0125 insufficient coolant temperature for closed loop fuel control)

And keep changing the oil regularly if you want to see 350k.

Thanks for the help guys! I guess a Chilton’s manual is going to be the first step. Then, if I’m following correctly, the most important should be the serpentine belt and tensioner and possibly the thermostat…?

Water pumps are not bad unless they leak, spin a bearing, or the impeller drops off…other than that its fine and still pumping.

Follow the guys advice about the T stat…

AND more important…find that leak at all costs…because now you probably have air in your cooling system and if not properly bled out or burped you will have constant probs and possibly fry your Head gasket…Air bubbles in the system are VERY BAD…make sure you burp it now that the levels have dropped bec that’s how you get an air pocket…


You can also access your repair manual ONLINE FOR FREE at Autozones website… I use them all the time and dont buy a book for every car I buy just to flip…its the way to go in my useage… However a book for the one car you drive and will keep is a fine investment.

“You can also access your repair manual ONLINE FOR FREE at Autozones website”

Can you give some guidance on how to navigate their website for this? I couldn’t find it.

You would have to create an account, I have done it for free.;jsessionid=C8F618306FDACC37B12C82A72D5C3607.diyprod4-b2c14?intcmp=sz_1&myZoneLanding=myZone