22nd Feb 2003, 18:46

I bought a 2003 Matrix and immediately noticed a problem. After CARMAX failed to fix the steering wander, I wrote them the following and included it in the service order. "The vehicle came with the steering assist reduced at low speeds, which is why I didn't notice the twitchyness when I tried it out. Currently, the vehicle pulls slightly to the right most of the time, except when it's pulling to the left. The only direction the car doesn't pull in is straight ahead.

You will notice that the steering wheel is off center counter-clockwise and does not return to center after cornering at low speeds. While cruising at speeds below 50 mph on flat roads, the vehicle darts left and right with no apparent cause. It feels as if the rear suspension is doing the steering as it travels with road camber.

I don't care if the vehicle is: "similar to like vehicle in handling, meets manufacturer's specifications, or meets manufacturer's alignment specifications." The vehicle must 1) pull in the straight-ahead direction, 2) return steering wheel to center after cornering and 3) go in the direction it is pointed. If that means you have to put aftermarket caster and camber adjusters on the front and/or rear suspension, than that is what you are required to do. The vehicle must steer like a normal vehicle, and this car doesn't."

Several months later and after they finally replaced the rack, the problem persists. Now not only do I have steering wander, but 1/2 the power steering assist the car came with. Toyota's response is "Too bad, we ain't gonna fix it!"

21st Dec 2003, 14:43

I test drove a Matrix and noticed the same problem you are talking about. The steering wheel feels "loose", it is not pointing straight on the road. I was hesitant to buy it, it has $25,000 Ks on it. Now that I am reading your review I am double-concerned. I also rented an Echo and noticed the same problem. When on the highway, it is hard to keep this car straight on the road, you need your whole attention to do it, it is hard to keep a conversation. I could tell the difference getting back to my husband's Civic which has awesome steering, but it is not as comfortable to drive.