The recall covers vehicles from the 2005-2008 model years sold in the U.S. and Canada. Three accidents and one minor injury have been reported, though Toyota said a link to the engine issue has not been confirmed.
Toyota's latest recall is one of its largest since it began recalling cars and trucks last October. The automaker has now recalled more than 10 million vehicles worldwide for problems that run from faulty gas pedals and floor mats that can trap accelerators, to problems with its Prius hybrid.
Toyota said Corollas and Matrixes equipped with 1ZZ-FE engines may contain a defective engine control module, the computer that regulates the performance of the engine. In some cases, a crack may develop on the module's circuit board, which could prevent the engine from starting or could cause harsh shifting or an engine stall.
Separately, General Motors Co. is recalling 200,000 Pontiac Vibes in North America due to the same problem, GM spokesman Alan Adler said. The Vibe is similar to the Matrix and was built under a joint venture between Toyota and GM at a now-closed factory in Fremont, Calif.
Both automakers said they will replace the engine control modules on the recalled vehicles at no charge. The companies will begin mailing notifications to owners of the affected vehicles in mid-September.
The engine control module with the possible defect was manufactured by Delphi Corp., a large auto parts supplier headquartered in Troy, Mich., according to documents filed with federal regulators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating the possibility of engine stalling in the Corolla and Matrix models since late November. On Tuesday, the traffic safety agency said it had intensified its investigation.
NHTSA spokeswoman Olivia Alair said Thursday that the probe is ongoing.
Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the automaker is cooperating with the safety agency on the probe.
Shares in Toyota Motor Corp. fell 46 cents to $68.60.
AP Autos Writer Stephen Manning contributed to this report from Washington.