Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

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NHTSA — Power Train Problems

2003 Acura MDX (Page 2 of 3)


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
116,477 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Acura MDX drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Acura MDX Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

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problem #22

Jun 092013

MDX 6-cyl

  • 187,585 miles


Husband drove car, came home, parked the car in driveway. We found car at the bottom of our driveway attached to the front bumper of our neighbor's car. Our neighbor's car was damaged. I definitely believe and quite frankly expect Honda to refund us our deductible for our insurance company. The exact wording of your recall notice is exactly what happened -- "removal of the ignition key when gear selector with transmission has not been shifted to the park position can allow vehicle to roll away." And roll it rolled us into paying money we didn't expect to have to pay.

- Bowie, MD, USA

problem #21

Apr 242013

MDX 6-cyl

  • 85,800 miles
For the last two days after driving the car for 5 minutes while driving 30 mph the car would not accelerate and revs at high rpms instead of going into gear. Transmission failure. When trying to go up hill at low speed the engine will just rev and not move forward. Appears this is an ongoing known issue with the transmission of 2003 MDX vehicles. Have contacted Acura for assistance.

- Lynnwood, WA, USA

problem #20

Mar 042013


  • 120,000 miles
Took my 2003 MDX to orland park, il Acura dealership for oil change and noise under vehicle. The service tech checked the noise and suggested the transmission need to be at $120,000. The vehicle has been properly cared for. As I read thru many blogs I see that Acura/Honda is totally aware of this issue however when I called Honda they would not offer any assistance other than $500 off for an issue that is known by Acura that is affecting every 2003 MDX out there. Justice need to service and its time for Honda to be held accountable for this product they have out on the streets. This is unsafe and can cause death not only to Acura customers but customers from other vehicles.

- Glenwood, IL, USA

problem #19

Jan 152013


  • 90,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Acura MDX. The contact stated that while parked, the vehicle rolled away into a nearby lawn and came to a stop. There was no property damage or injuries. The contact was a certified mechanic, who replaced the gear shift cable himself, which corrected the problem. The manufacturer was not notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 90,000.

- Bayville, NJ, USA

problem #18

Feb 272013

MDX 6-cyl

  • 149,000 miles
Torque converter shudder or vibration between 35 and 40 mph. ****also transmission slipped while driving on the highway. The SUV acted as if it was in neutral and wouldn't move even though I was pushing the gas and the rpms went up. I was almost rear-ended by the driver behind me but he was able to quickly switch into another lane, then miraculously my SUV started to go again. It also happened again in the middle of an intersection while I was driving. Luckily the oncoming traffic was far enough away and the transmission picked back up in time and I was able to get out of the way. I had my children in the SUV, a 6 month old baby girl and a 6 yr old boy. Its a seven passenger vehicle so it should be expected that children may be in the SUV. I don't think Honda/Acura should wait until someone is killed or seriously injured to issue a recall. Its not even just about the cost of repairs, what about the value of people's lives" does it need to be on the news first for a change to occur" owners of the 2003 Acura MDX need to know that there is a potentially deadly safety defect with this vehicle and repairs need to be made asap!

- Laurel, MD, USA

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problem #17

Apr 092012

MDX 6-cyl

  • 125,264 miles
Transmission failed suddenly on highway traveling at 65 mph. There was no indication of a transmission problem prior to this incident. This transmission issue seems to be a well known problem with this vehicle, why aren't you helping us?

- Springboro , OH, USA

problem #16

Sep 242012

MDX 6-cyl

  • 151,000 miles


On this date I could not hear an approaching emergency vehicle due to a shudder vibration noise from my power train auto transmission. The emergency vehicle almost crashed into my vehicle and in so doing causing a potentially very serious traffic accident. The shutter noise was the result of a long standing MDX mechanical problem with the transmission ( perhaps torque converter). I have attempted to survive the cause of a recurring mechanical problem by very frequent tran fluid changes over the years but the problem has kept occurring since 40000 miles in year 2007. I remain very afraid that the transmission will fail or hinder me again causing a more critical problem the next time. Law enforcement officials considered the noise and shutter as a Acura product defect. I respectfully seek goodwill consideration and repair of my transmission malfunction.

- South Windsor, CT, USA

problem #15

May 152012

MDX 6-cyl

  • 145,000 miles
Car began to shudder at 40 mph, then goes away. Recurring more frequently now. Took to dealer. Car would not shudder when he did test drive. Said nothing seems to be wrong. Began researching on my own and there are numerous complaints about this problem. Torque converter.

- Folsom, CA, USA

problem #14

Sep 032012

MDX 6-cyl

  • 82,202 miles
Entering freeway from on ramp vehicle acted like it was in neutral even though it was in drive. As I accelerated from 40 mph the RPM's raced but the car slowed as if it were in neutral. I was almost rear ended thankfully I let off the gas and the tranny then grabbed and I was able to accelerate to freeway speed. I have been told by dealer that both tranny and torq converter are no good. Vehicle has been serviced per Acura recommended service at same dealer since bought new.

- Pleasant Hill, CA, USA

problem #13

Feb 082012

MDX 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
The locking mechanism that secures the key in the ignition until park is engaged did not work. Therefore I unknowingly removed the key from the ignition without having park engaged. The car rolled back from the parking spot into a tree. Fortunately, no one was injured and there was no damage to the car. I have reported this problem to Acura. It seems similar to the problem currently being investigated for Honda Odyssey's and Pilot from 2003 and 2004 by NHTSA. Note that I do not remember the dates/mileage when this first occurred but it is an ongoing problem. I have tried several keys in the ignition and the problem persists.

- Gainesville, FL, USA

problem #12

Aug 012012


  • 110,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Acura MDX. The contact stated that while driving 65 mph the transmission shifted out of drive. The contact had to merge to the side of the road to restart the vehicle. After restarting the vehicle it failed to accelerate over 30mph. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer to have a diagnostic performed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 110,000.

- Bayville, NJ, USA

problem #11

Sep 182012


  • 163,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura MDX. While driving approximately 30 mph, the contact noticed fluid leaking continuously onto the road. Once the contact reached their destination, it was determined that a large quantity of transmission fluid had leaked from the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer who advised the contact that the failure was contributed to a faulty part within the radiator causing coolant to leak into the transmission. As a result, the transmission was damaged. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 163,000.

- Dewitt, MI, USA

problem #10

Jun 062011

MDX 6-cyl

  • 105,180 miles
The ignition park-shift interlock has failed, allowing the ignition key to be removed from the ignition switch without the automatic transmission being shifted to park.

- Des Moines, IA, USA

problem #9

Apr 012008

MDX 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
Automatic transmission shudder or vibration between 35 and 40 mph.

- Normal, IL, USA

problem #8

Jan 102012

MDX 6-cyl

  • 105,080 miles
While crossing an intersection, the transmission suddenly shifted to neutral and the car won't move anymore. Me and my family were trapped in the middle of a busy intersection and were almost hit by a truck because of our unexpected stop. We are lucky that the truck missed us. I can't imagine if this happens on a railroad crossing. This problem keeps happening from time to time, all in low speed like coasting to a stop sign or traffic light, also on highways when slowing down for traffic, then the vehicle won't move anymore. I heard that the Acura/Honda transmissions have serious defects, from lubrication to material used to make gears. Especially the material used for 1st gear, which fails prematurely and causes the transmission to malfunction. This is a very dangerous defect that could endanger not only the passengers' lives, but also a public safety issue.

- Ellicott City, MD, USA

problem #7

Dec 162011

MDX 6-cyl

  • 97,500 miles
Car just died while I was driving. Ended up stopping in a dangerous spot. Transmission fluid leaked out of front of car. No warning light came on.

- Ramsey, NJ, USA

problem #6

Oct 032011

MDX 6-cyl

  • 99,600 miles
Torque converter and transmission failed at 99600 miles, not to mention two motor mounts. These repairs are between $6-7K. This is unacceptable for a higher end car. Car would vibrate and shudder around 40 mph a few years ago with only 35K miles on the car, and of course Acura could not replicate. Now that it's out of warranty, they hear it. This car is a total lemon- please help protect consumers- Honda/Acura greed has stopped them from stepping forward and owning a problem they have known about all along. Consumers should not be paying for Acura's flawed design, that should be coming straight out of their profits.

- Newark , DE, USA

problem #5

Jun 262011


  • miles
Driving on highway at 65mph and car goes into neutral. Had towed and it was a tranny. Car had 97K miles. Acura said it would not cover the repair and that it would cost me 6K to repair. I had it taken to a local shop and repair cost me 4K.

- Warren, NJ, USA

problem #4

Nov 012006


  • 35,000 miles
My car along with many other Acura between 2001-2005 have a problem with a very significant shudder vibration that lasts a few secs, usually at speeds between 35-40. If you read the blogs you will see hundreds of other consumers say the same thing: Acura says they can't replicate the noise. When the car is out of warranty, then suddenly they can replicate it and they say they have to replace either the torque converter or the entire transmission, charging $2000 +. this is a major problem and should have been a recall, please help us hold Acura accountable for this known problem! these cars are too expensive for such a big problem so early on.

- Newark , DE, USA

problem #3

Jan 142010


  • 126,000 miles
As I was bring my husband home from major back surgery our 2003 Acura MDX started to slip into neutral as we were leaving the hospital. This was one hour away from our home! in shifting through the gears, I finally got the transmission to catch at D3. This happened several times to us as we were traveling through a city and had to stop at several stop lights. Every time we stopped, it was the same scenario. D3 seemed to be the 'ticket' gear to get it to catch. I came home and made an appointment at a local garage. Thankfully I went to drop it off two days early, as the car completely stopped moving on our way to the garage and I had to call and have the vehicle towed. For a luxury vehicle, I am sadly disappointed as I love everything else about the car. I can't wait to see the price tag on this repair and for the number of complaints with the transmissions going bad, I would think that there would have been a recall by now.

- Elmira, NY, USA

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