Transmission rebuild on 2004 Toyota Matrix?

So, I have a 2004 Toyota Matrix with about 104K miles on it, regular oil service and general maintenance. A few weeks back, my check engine light came on, took it in for diagnosis. The code was for the TCC, indicating a recent failure to shift properly. I’ve noticed no unusual behavior before or since the light came on, but I’m told that this is an indication of a failing transmission. My local transmission repair shop took it for a drive and said that this was probably the case as well. Estimates for a rebuild run in the 2200-2400 range. That said, I’ve also seen that it could be that I just need new transmission fluid. I had the fluid replaced, again, no noticeable shifting problems or unusual car behavior.

I’m wondering if a) I should just drive and maintain the car as usual and if the light returns, then consider a rebuild or b) begin to make preparations to get rid of the vehicle. Bluebook estimates this in the 3-3500 range, so I’d assume it’s sale value would be quite a bit less (perhaps less than the cost of a rebuild) for obvious reasons.

Thoughts? Advice? Suggestions?

Before you start spending a lot of $$$, take the car to an independent transmission shop and have them take a look. Without symptoms and with just one incident of a CEL you may not have a major problem here. What did the fluid look like before you changed it? Was it nice and pink, or brown with a burned smell? If it was still pink you may be OK here.

Did you take the car to a chain tranny shop? Chains have shaky reputations and their competence varies widely, and unfortunately mostly to the low end.

The TCC is the torque converter clutch . Do you remember the exact codes? Are they written on your copy of the shop order?

I absolutely agree with the recommendation to avoid a chain shop… any chain shop. Find a reputable independent tranny shop. While the torque converter is considered a part of the tranny, it’s really the fluid coupling device that connects the engine to the tranny. A TCC problem may not require a total tranny rebuild.

If it were mine, I’d keep driving it and maintain it. I don’t believe that any TCC failure would cause further tranny damage, and it might just keep runnin’ fine for a long time.

Normally the only time I have overhauled a transmission is when it didn’t go any more. I did preemptively overhaul my Buick at 350K because I was driving all over the state when it was cold out, but otherwise just waited for it to fail first. I guess I would service it and keep driving. One word of caution though is that if the converter goes it can send debris through the transmission and require an overhaul. But if it is already showing symptoms it would be too late anyway.

Often when the code sets the torque converter clutch is gone, sometimes a converter will fix it other times not. Most shops will know about this issue and go with the rebuild/reman.

So is the light off and the car is driving just fine?

Wow, thanks for the great input. Light is off. car is driving normally. It was code 0741. I first went to my local shop where I always go and then went to a local, non-chain transmission shop down the street from me. I trust both of their opinions, but neither actually did any looking around near the transmission. First shop pulled the code and changed the fluid, the second one just asked a lot of questions and then drove it around to see if he could tell if it was doing anything odd (no charge, of course).

NEVER spend three grand because a dash light blinked on and off…Either trade the car now or drive it until it will drive no more…

There is a forum for the Corolla/Matrix on ToyotaNation.
A search there and you’ll find several people who have cured P0741 by changing the fluid.
I think you’ve solved your problem, but in the future don’t wait 100K+ miles to change the ATF.
30-60K, depending on how conservative you want to be about it.

+1 to @circuitsmith 's suggestion.

If a proper transmission service (not a flush) fixed the problem of the light coming on, I’d just continue to drive and enjoy the vehicle. At 104K this car should have a lot of miles left if the routine maintenance has been kept up to date. Even if later on the transmission needs to be repaired or even rebuilt. Automatic transmission rebuilds have become almost routine maintenance items for cars these days equipped with automatics, at least from the number of posts about that topic here.