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: Automatic Transmission Problems

2003 Acura TL (Page 2 of 9) 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:
5 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
7 / 0
Average Mileage:
60,039 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Acura TL Owner Comments (Page 2 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #155

Aug 032010


  • 70,100 miles


2003 Acura TL sudden downshift from 5th to 2nd.

- Washington Crossing, PA, USA

problem #154

Aug 082010


  • 78,000 miles
A day before while driving my Acura's vsa light came on and within few miles engine light came on. By the end of the trip the car was having problem shifting gears especially in lower. Next day the problem worsened and the car just stopped while I was trying to make a turn in the middle of the busy intersection. I had to tow it to nearest dealer where they informed me that its the transmission. It has been fixed back in 2004 and it will cost me $4900 to fix it now. I asked them about recall and they said I don't have the warranty anymore so it is not covered. I have talked to Acura case manager about helping us but they only are going to assist with about 500 dollars that's not much.

- New City, NY, USA

problem #153

Aug 012010


  • 84,000 miles
Acura 2003 tn-S can turn off engine with car in neutral. I did and it rolled away. It is repeatable.

- Jasper, GA, USA

problem #152

Aug 062010

(reported on)

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2003 Acura TL jerks like the driver is pressing on the brakes even though she isn't. the consumer stated the vehicle would suddenly stop and then go again. Also, the engine light illuminated.

- Henderson, NV, USA

problem #151

Jul 152010

(reported on)

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Acura 3.2 TL. Consumer states problem with transmission slipping. The consumer stated the transmission has started to slip again for the second time. The consumer stated the vehicle was recalled for transmission problems, but she was never informed about it.

- Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #150

Jun 272010


  • 71,900 miles
TL-the contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving approximately 35 mph, the transmission began to slip out of gear without warning. The contact pulled over to the side of the road and turned the engine off. The vehicle resumed operation and the failure continued. The contact had driven with caution at an extremely low speed. The contact stated the failure was contributed to the transmission. The vehicle had not been diagnosed or repaired at the time of the complaint. The failure mileage was 71,900.

- Mukwanago, WI, USA

problem #149

Apr 162010


  • 88,600 miles


Purchased used Acura TL3.2 Feb. 1, 2010. Transmission failed. Slippage in 2nd and 5th gear. Car unsafe to drive because in traffic would not accelerate because of slippage. Contacted dealership where car was sold originally. Refused any assistance. Called Acura hot line and refused any assistance. Contacted 12 reliable sources regarding replacement. Contacted 6 reliable mechanics and paid for installation of rebuilt transmission. Sent letter to president of customer service and telephone call placed to me advising no assistance. Inferred because used car not purchased from Acura dealer and installation of new rebuilt transmission not done by Acura dealership would not offer any good faith assistance. Believe recall should be done on this vehicle. Already did one on 2nd gear and added something regarding oil and reheating. Also timing belt recall. Recall on 2nd gear obviously did not work. Would advise anyone not to purchase this model vehicle!! previously owned Honda Accord and Acura integra excellent vehicles. 3, .2 TL not excellent vehicle manufacturer needs to recall vehicles and reimburse customers for cost of transmissions.

- Canton, NC, USA

problem #148

Mar 012009


  • 104,000 miles
Replaced transmission 20,000 miles ago with the dealer and now is acting up again. I have a surging problem with the RPM's in which it goes up to 4,000 RPM's at times. This problems often occurs everyday while im driving in heavy traffic. I've had an accident in the past but nobody was injured, and almost hit a pedestrian on the streets. I replaced a couple of parts and have done work to the car so the problem could go away but has continued often and everyday and I still have the old parts with me. I've had service appointments with the dealer. The dealer replaced the transmission and gave me a lifetime warranty on the new one. I believe they don't want to put a new one in, but I am concerned with my safety and others who I put in my car.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #147

May 302010


  • 71,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2 TL. The contact stated that while driving at approximately 35 mph, the tcf light illuminated. The vehicle downshifted and began sputtering. The contact called the manufacturer and filed a complaint. The contact was advised to take the vehicle to an authorized dealership for repair. The contact was also informed that the vehicle was not included in recall 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission) and he would be responsible for repair costs. The vehicle had not been repaired at the time of the complaint. The current and failure mileages were approximately 71,000.

- Mukwonago , WI, USA

problem #146

Jun 022010


  • 71,000 miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6) Acura 2003 3.2tl common transmission failure codes PO740 and PO730. Shifts erratically like millions of others. VIN # is not on the list. We have learned this is the 2nd time in. Honda city in Wisconsin - dealer scammed us. Carfax did not list the repair!!! dealer is telling us to drive it in and risk our lives!!! !!! the dealer should drive it himself. Honda corporate is not taking any action. 1-800-422-2872 amanda case # [xxx]. why is the government not taking action !!!

- Mukwonago, WI, USA

problem #145

May 082010


  • 102,000 miles


Was traveling on I-20 with family and transmission in 2003 Acura type S just blew out with no warning traveling seventy miles an hour. Coasted to side of interstate and had to get out and push car further out of harms way. Hot transmission fluid created smoke from engine compartment and left us stranded sixty miles from home. New transmission was installed in this vehicle in 2007 at dealership with 50,000 miles on it and now it goes out again with about 50,000 miles on it. Dealer would only give ten percent towards goodwill fix paid thirty two hundred out of pocket. This year and model was involved in a lawsuit in California but the VIN number on my car as well as numerous others was not included but should well have been. Acura service manager told me this is a weak product but that was putting it mildly after getting on the internet and reading all the consumer complaints on this exact model and year across the country. These transmissions are still defective and should be replace by Honda for free. Consumers are trading and getting rid of the cars because they feel they are a safety threat to their family. My daughter was driving us to a graduation when this happened and it scared her to death happening at that speed on the interstate. This product is well documented as being a piece of crap but consumers like me have no recourse but suffer the loss and hope for the best out of the next transmission. When people have to put three and four transmissions in a car with a hundred thousand miles on it somebody needs to step in and protect the consumers. I would like to know what difference was made during the VIN number on my car and same models before it that were covered under the lawsuit. Evidently the same transmission problems still existed in all these models. Just read all the threads on

- Augusta, GA, USA

problem #144

May 302010


  • 98,200 miles
There was a sudden downshift in gears while driving in the vehicle and changing freeways late at night. The car, as a result, decelerated quickly in fast moving traffic almost causing an accident. The car was pulled over to the side of the freeway and was rendered inoperable due to transmission failure. The car was part of the Acura 00-04 cl & TL A/T recall (automatic transmission second gear inspection). As part of the recall, if the car was over 15,000 miles, the dealer would inspect the gear for heat discoloration. If they found discoloration, a new transmission would be installed. The car was over 15,000 miles at the time but the dealer reported no discoloration. As a result, only an oil jet kit was installed only. Due to a large number of cases of transmission problems with the TL and a class action lawsuit, Acura extended their transmission warranty for model years 1999-2002 and included only some 2003 depending on VIN number. My vehicle is a 2003 model, but did not fall within the VIN number cutoff. Therefore, my car does not qualify for the transmission extended warranty. I have a found a large number of other complaints on this website, as well as others, regarding 2003 Acura Tls that did not make the VIN number cutoff but still suffered from transmission failure. Obviously, there is a safety issue regarding these cars and their transmissions that was not addressed in the initial recall. (the appropriate repairs were not made). The second recall, with the extended warranty, also does not appear to cover all vehicles effected by this transmission problem.

- Redwood City, CA, USA

problem #143

May 162010


  • 83,000 miles
My 2003 Acura TL-S transmission, 83,000 miles. Based on the research I've done online. It seems that there are major problems with this model.

- Wantagh, NY, USA

problem #142

Apr 272010


  • 128,000 miles
I own a 2003 Acura 3.2tl, the transmission failed while I was driving it home the other day. I almost caused a major accident on the highway I was traveling on. If it wasn't for the other driver on the road I would have been in a serious accident. After finding thousands of Acura TL owners all across the country who have experienced the same. I think it only fair to have this mater investigated by your company. Acura needs to accept that they designed a poorly functional transmission that should be replaced regardless of vehicle mileage.

- Baldwinville, MA, USA

problem #141

Apr 182010


  • 72,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. The contact stated while driving at approximate speeds of 60 mph, the vehicle shifted from drive to neutral without driver intent, causing the vehicle to stall. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic and testing. The dealer advised the transmission would need to be replaced. The dealer would not offer any assistance. The vehicle had not been repaired. The approximate failure and current mileages were 72,000.

- Erie, PA, USA

problem #140

Apr 112009


  • 55,189 miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6) 2003 Acura TL 3.2, [xxx] mileage: 55,189 after driving for a few minutes, auto transmission does not pull, similar to the transmission being placed in "neutral". Acura taken to leith Acura, cary, nc on 4/14/10. Dealer service dept identified the following computer codes: P0740-torque converter clutch, P0730-gear incorrect ratio, & P0700-shift malfunction. Based on these codes, dealer recommended transmission & torque converter to be replaced (total cost approx $ 3400). Dealer contacted the regional Acura office, which provided a 45% adjustment to the original cost. Net charge by dealer $ $1,783.19. This vehicle was subject to a recall in 2003-04 (NHTSA campaign id # 04V176000). The modification to this safety recall was completed on 9/10/2004 by tischer Acura, laurel, md with mileage @ 8,426. Per the invoice from tischer & since the mileage was less than 15,000, the recall instructed the dealer to "install an oil jet kit", which was completed. Note, if the vehicle had more than 15,000 miles, the safety recall instructed the dealer to "replace the transmission". based upon the history of this particular Acura, I believe the dealer in 2004 should have replaced the transmission instead of installing an oil jet kit. Many Acura manufactured prior to the 2004 model had serious "transmission problems" which were included in other "recalls".

- Hyattsville, MD, USA

problem #139

Aug 142009

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Ltr regarding problems she is experiencing with her 2003 Acura 3.2tl. She would like a thorough investigation into this matter. The consumer stated the vehicle would hesitate when accelerating. On August 14, 2009, the vehicle stalled. The consumer was able to get the vehicle to the dealer. The problem was thought to be the battery and timing belt and the consumer was charged $ $1,371.49. On December 12, the vehicle started jerking into gear. The vehicle was dropped off at the dealer. The consumer received a call from the dealer stating the vehicle needed a new transmission.

- Port Chester, NY, USA

problem #138

Feb 182010


  • 70,646 miles
Complete failure of the automatic transmission in my 2003 Acura TL 3.2 with only 70,000 miles.

- Tampa , FL, USA

problem #137

Jan 202010


  • 99,500 miles
2003 Acura TL transmission suddenly failed car had 99,500 miles, was towed to Acura dealer, told $4300for new transmission because I didn't fall with-in VIN # for 105,000 mi free replacement (early 2003) I feel problem was not fixed in mid 2003 and I should be covered.

- Smithfield, RI, USA

problem #136

Jan 152010


  • 81,700 miles
When I shift gear I notice the car pulling forward. It's becoming more of a problem it happens constantly.

- Brockton, MA, USA

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