How to Troubleshoot a Toyota Matrix Engine That is Not Starting

Written by tammie painter Google
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How to Troubleshoot a Toyota Matrix Engine That is Not Starting
An engine which fails to start may stem from several possible causes. (automobile engine image by palms from

When your Toyota Matrix's engine won't start, it becomes both frustrating and frightening. You can't simply live with the problem until you can get to a mechanic; you need to find a solution quickly. You can use a few tricks and tips to determine the cause of the problem. You may even be able to solve the issue yourself or at least describe the nature of the difficulty when you call for help.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Deduce the year of your Matrix. If you don't know the year of your car, the owner's manual will have this information. The 2005 to 2010 Matrixes may possess a computer problem that prevents the engine from starting. In this case, you need to tow the car to a dealer to have the problem fixed.

  2. 2

    Check how long it has been since the car last started. A Matrix that sits for a period of time (even a week can be enough in some cases) can lose power to its battery and will require charging ("jumping"). A decrease in fuel pressure may also occur in a Matrix which sits for a long time. Turning the key to your ignition's RUN position allows pressure to build after a few minutes. If this pressure loss happens often, consider having your fuel pump replaced.

  3. 3

    Check the battery. Batteries can die for other reasons than lack of use. If you left your headlights on or an interior light stayed on because a door didn't close all the way, it may drain your battery. Signs of a dead battery include dashboard lights coming on but the engine not being able to start or a clicking sound when you try to start the engine. You can determine this by turning the headlights on; if they don't light up, your battery is probably drained and you will need a jump or a new battery.

  4. 4

    Try to start the engine again. If the engine starts and dies or if it tries to start but can't turn over, it may indicate a serious problem requiring a mechanic's attention. An engine that starts and dies signals a bad carburettor. An engine that can't turn over may suffer from a fuel supply problem or an electrical issue.

  5. 5

    Check the local weather. If you park your car outside and it won't start after it has been raining, your distributor cap may be wet. Refer to your owner's manual to find the distributor cap in your engine. Check to see if it feels damp or appears wet. You can dry this yourself by removing the distributor cap and spraying mechanic's solvent in it, then drying the cap well before replacing it.

Tips and warnings

  • Take your Matrix to a Toyota dealer for maintenance to keep up to date on any engine recalls or notices for your vehicle.
  • If you need to jump your battery, read your manual and follow the directions exactly to avoid injury.

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