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.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.

NHTSA — Power Train Problems

2003 Acura TL (Page 1 of 3) Seal Of Avoid Like The Plague Notes: The 1999-2003 Acura TL has a known & widespread defect with the transmission.

Honda fixed some vehicles with a recall in 2004 by changing the oil cooler return line. To settle a class action lawsuit in 2006, Honda extended the transmission warranty on some of these Acura TL's to 93 months / 109,000 miles.

Now these vehicles are past the warranty limit, so buyer beware.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
91,380 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 TL drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Acura TL Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #50

Oct 152015


  • 202,134 miles


My car's check engine light and tcs light came on. Had my car scanned at my local obii service center and recieved code P1676. Still experiencing same problem after, I then took my car to the local Honda dealership service center to get a verification of this code and saw a flyer for recalls. I review the information, (I own an Acura, Honda was unable to provide the recall repair service) and found that recalls pertaining to the code generated from the initial scan for when the check engine light came on pertained to the code. I called in reference to the recalls posted on the website. I was informed that a recall repair for the transmission/power-train (04V176000) and timing belt (02V226000) were made to my vehicle however I am still having the same problem including excessive vibration & hesitation during acceleration especially between 50-60mph), cruise control has shut off without warning/notice while driving, and inability to pass nc emissions inspections. I contacted the NHTSA and was informed with 2 different reasons why my vehicle was not eligible for repair. (1) vehicle batch number was not affected and then (2) the repair had already been made in Feb 2005 by previous owner. All these problem started occurring after I took my car to leith Acura of cary, nc for the recall on the tarkata airbags(15V320000). I have been denied safety repairs to my vehicle. Leith Acura of cary, nc is requiring me to pay $131 inorder to do a diagnostic scan only that I already have proof from several ase certified inspection stations (which were free of charge). I does not include the amount that may be required to fix the problem pending it is not totally a recall repair. I believe that the repair was done incorrectly or the current transmission is not the one that replaced the original transmission after the recall repair. If so, I should be allowed repairs.

- Rocky Mount, NC, USA

problem #49

Mar 252016


  • 196,000 miles
My check engine light came on. I took 2003 Acura TL to (2) local auto parts store (advance auto parts and autozone) to have it scanned using the diagnostic tools provided by technicians on site. Was given an exact recall diagnostic error code (A/T. when I call the recall center they said that this repair had already been done in 2005. This obviously could not have been done properly. I called again when I started having other problems with my car including hesistation during accelaration. This time I was told that my vehicle's "batch" number was not affected by the recall. I called my local Acura dealer (leith Acura in cary, nc) to get an estimate of the repairs which was more than the value of the car which did not include the "official diagnostic test" which was $131 alone. Then was told I would have to pay for the test even though I already had 2 scan reports from my local retail store B/C the store only scans only gave a "general" scan and that their scan was more specific. I asked how can it be more specific when it shows the exact recall description. I was then told that if that was the case then I would be reimbursed..

- Rocky Mount, NC, USA

problem #48

Feb 012016


  • 68,000 miles
Recently purchased an 03 Acura TL. 64000 miles at time of purchase. I drive it using the slap stick and mostly highway driving. I notice when shifting from 2nd to 3rd gears, at approximately 20-25 mph the car seems to jerk, or jump in the front end. Also between 3rd and 4th gears. Depending on how fast I accelerate and change the gears, sometimes there is more lower speeds....and less jerking when accelerating at a faster rate. The vehicle now has 76000 miles on it and I am concerned there are going to be transmission issues soon. This is my second Acura TL, the first one having over 205K miles with no issues with transmission, that was replaced by dealer @ 55K. Is there anything that can be done with this issue that I am not aware of. There are no other issues with this vehicle. Did I miss the recall cut off date, was there never recall, or did Acura miss group of VIN #S? if this is truly a safety concern, from Acura, they should stand behind there products, correct the "known issues" with the transmissions, for there drivers to be safe, so they are there for future purchases.

- Youngstown, OH, USA

problem #47

Jan 012003


  • 153,000 miles


When I put the car in gear and turn off the switch, the car keeps rolling and does not provide any hindrance due to engaged gear from rolling it. I think this is a problem, as my other cars don't do this. On my Mazda cx-9, if I put it in gear and turn off the switch, the gear stays engaged and prevents the car from rolling. I think my Acura has a manufacturing defect in the transmission since it lets the car roll even when it is in the gear and engine is off. I have asked my dealer in fremont to take a look at it, and he says there are no recalls. But my mechanic said that there are recalls for this defect. I will appreciate if you can please help me with this. This problem is constant, and it has not been resolved. I am afraid this can cause accidents.

- Fremont, CA, USA

problem #46

Mar 252016


  • 112,000 miles
This car has always hadd scheduled maintenance and recalls performed asap. Transmission was shifting erratically so it was taken to transmission place before due and it was flushed and inspected. It still shifts incorrecly but intermittently. I decided to do some research and found numerous safety issues with the transmission. I bought this because it was rated as such a safe car for my teenager. I am beginning to rethink my original decision. All the scary results of this symptom have happened after the purchase. We have had it since Sept 2014.

- Hot Springs, AR, USA

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problem #45

Feb 072016


  • miles
Transmission. Recall. Transmission died while driving at high speed on interstate 76 West. Acura should replace under recall.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #44

Feb 082016


  • miles


The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. When the contact placed the gear selector from reverse to the drive position, the vehicle would not shift into gear. The vehicle hesitated and then finally went into gear. The vehicle was sluggish and rough as if it were shifting into the neutral gear. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic where it could not be diagnosed. The failure recurred. The vehicle was taken to a dealer, but the vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Lake Waccamaw, NC, USA

problem #43

Feb 012016


  • 139,000 miles
I am having trouble with my transmission slipping between 2nd and 3rd gears. When I bought the car new in 2003, I got a letter from Acura informing me that they were going to warrantee the transmission for an extra 12 months and 12,000 miles because they were having trouble with them. Now that I am, Acura refuses to help me with repairs.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #42

Oct 082015


  • 173,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving at 30 mph, the vehicle hesitated and violently shifted gears. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the torque converter clutch circuit failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 173,000.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #41

Mar 062015


  • 142,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving at 15 mph, the transmission started hesitating and jumped into gear. The transmission was repaired under a manufacturer's recall in 2008, however, the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 142,000.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #40

Oct 222014

TL 6-cyl

  • miles


2003 Acura 3.2tl. Consumer writes in regards to a defective transmission. The consumer stated his wife experienced the following while driving the vehicle: Three lights illuminated; two unknown and the engine light, there was a delay of 30 seconds when taking off from a stopped position and the gears jerked and when she stop and took off, it felt as though the vehicle had no power. The consumer was informed by a local repair shop, the transmission needed to be replaced.

- Severn, MD, USA

problem #39

Dec 032012


  • 65,000 miles
NHTSA recall number: 04V-176 I bought this car in 2012 and have been having issues since. I have had issues with my transmission under 40 mph. It does not act up all the time, but I an concerned that it could cause an accident. The prior owner noticed the same issues from time to time. It does not act up all of the time. The Acura dealer said there is nothing wrong and that my model did not need the 2004 recall for transmission issues. That is the same info on Acura and your website, but I am concerned about the accuracy. Could you check if my exact VIN needed the recall? and if repair was needed, confirmation that the recall repair was completed. I am the 2nd owner of the car and I know the 1st owner of the car. All maintenance since the car was purchased new have been done at the same Acura dealer in St. Louis and I have all the records from the dealer since 2003.

- Ballwin, MO, USA

problem #38

Jun 282015


  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving approximately 55 mph, the vehicle hesitated, jerked forward, and the check engine warning light illuminated. In addition, the contact stated that there was an abnormal noise coming from the gear shift. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 04V176000 (power train). The failure mileage was 62,000.

- Santa Rosa, CA, USA

problem #37

Jun 292011


  • 76,334 miles
Sudden and premature transmission failure at highway speeds

- New Richmond, WI, USA

problem #36

Mar 062015

TL 6-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
I was leaving work at about 7pm. I noticed it took the transmission an extra few seconds to shift into drive but it was cold so I let it warm up and things seemed to be fine. As I started to get on to I-93 I noticed my tachometer spike to about 4K RPM. I couldn't catch 3rd gear and the car behind me had to veer around me as I started slowing down. After I pulled over on the side of the on ramp for a minute the car seemed to be safe to drive so I headed home slowly in the breakdown lane and it slipped at about 35 again. I've always felt comfortable driving my car, but this made me second guess buying it in the first place. People could've gotten hurt and on a transmission with less than 125K this shouldn't be happening. I purchased it in 2013 from my uncle and put less than 10K on the odometer. He had purchased it in 2008 certified from an Acura dealer. Neither of us were aware of the recall on those models of Honda and I would think the dealership would've taken care of the issue.

- Methuen, MA, USA

problem #35

Jan 262015

TL 6-cyl

  • 149,000 miles
Vehicle was driving at 65 miles on highway and suddenly shifted to lower gear withot prior warning. Looks to be a trans torque converter.

- Troy, MI, USA

problem #34

Jun 252013

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Acura TL transmission slipping the dealer stated the transmission was not sliiping. However, the did service the transmission. A year later, the consumer took the vehicle back to the dealer because the engine light illuminated. It was then, the dealer informed the consumer the transmission needed to be replaced.

- Saint Louis Park, MN, USA

problem #33

Aug 292011


  • 122,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving at unknown speeds, the transmission seized while shifting between first and second gear. The failure recurred multiple times. The contact was made aware of NHTSA campaign number: 04V176000 (power train). The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and offered to pay for part of the repairs. The failure mileage was 122,000.

- Westampton, NJ, USA

problem #32

May 162014

TL 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
Transmission failure/transmission lock-up while driving at about 40 mph. Luckily I was able to avoid a very close call collision when the transmission locked up. Someone could have been severely hurt or even died due to this known issue. What is it going to take for Acura to issue a full recall" how many people need to experience this issue and how many people need to die" something needs to be done and an investigation needs to be opened. Acura and Honda are not standing behind their product, even with the fact that there is an open campaign. Extending the warranty does nothing for a car that is only driven a few miles to work daily. I have just over 80,000 miles on my 2003 TL. I guess it is shame on me for not driving 15K miles a year. Had I been driving the national average the transmission would have seized up many years ago and it would have been covered by the extended warranty. What a scam. Thanks for nothing Honda/Acura.

- Whittier, CA, USA

problem #31

Apr 022014

TL 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
I was pulling off the interstate and came to a red light on a hill right before haywood road. I had to stop because the light was red and when the light turned green I pulled onto haywood road and the car went through 1st gear, 2nd gear and right before it went into 3rd it slipped out of gear and just revved to around 4000 RPM. When the car went into 3rd and started sipping I had a pile of cars that bunched on my behind. I had two guys in a truck scream and yell obscene gestures.

- Easley, SC, USA

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