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CarComplaints.com 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.

9.0

really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,849.00
Average Mileage:
114,370 miles
Total Complaints:
21 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace (15 reports)
  2. not sure (6 reports)
2003 Acura TL transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Acura TL Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #21

Oct 012011

TL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I bought my 2003 Acura TL brand new. At 90,000 the transmission failed and left me stranded. Acura of Bellevue, WA replaced it with rebuilt transmission. Acura headquarters in California paid half so my half was $1500. At 130,00 the transmission started doing the same thing (slipping between 2nd and 3rd). Before it left me stranded, I took it into a transmission shop who told me my best bet was to buy another vehicle. I informed him that I could not afford it. He referred me to a transmission shop in Dryden, WA. This shop did a two part transmission flush in which the first flush was with a cleaning fluid and the second flush was a conditioner. I HAVE NOT HAD ANY FURTHER PROBLEMS! Happy in Wenatchee, WA

- , Wenatchee, WA, USA

problem #20

Jan 232013

TL TL 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

Engine light came on about 2 days before I took it into the Acura dealer who told me the transmission needed to be completely replaced. Acura would not help with any of the cost despite the fact that the transmission issue is a known issue. I ended up taking the car to a local reputable repair service who has developed a good technique of repairing the transmission.

- , Trophy Club, TX, USA

problem #19

Feb 122013

TL TL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

Went into Acura due to idiot light coming on dashboard. Learned it was due to transmission problem.

I phoned Acura and told them of the problem and asked for assistance. They were very polite, but of no help.

They even acknowledged that many who own my Acura year (2003) are having the identical problem.

They called back the next day and informed me that there was nothing they could do. I told them that I have had three Hondas plus this Acura over the years and that the dealer wanted $4800 to replace the transmission and i needed their help. I also let them know that I just retired and was planning to buy a new Acura TL. I asked them to reconsider. They called back the next day and reaffirmed that they would do absolutely nothing. I told them that perusing the internet, numerous individuals had my identical problem and Acura knew/knows that these transmission were/are faulty. It didn't sway or move them. So, I told them the following and I ask you to do the same.

Share your story of Acura in your community by writing letters to your local newspapers and how they treat their customers. How Acura knew they were selling cars with faulty transmissions. Call local and national radio car shows and tell the public about Acura. Go to Acura dealerships and waste their time by telling them you want to buy and no matter what price they offer, tell them it's not good enough. When you do buy another car, call Acura and tell them that you bought another car because of Acura's poor customer relations. Personally, I'm very irritated about Acura not taking any responsibility. I also found out if I had my transmission replaced by Acura, the service man would have made a commission on me. Acura should have done the right thing by those who have been affected and by those who will in the future be affected by their faulty transmissions. Just go through and Consumer Report Auto Magazine and you will see where transmission problems for a period of several years on the Acura has and is the norm. Goodbye Honda and Acura. You fooled me once, but not again.

- , Calabasas, CA, USA

problem #18

Apr 112013

TL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,604 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I was not aware of this transmission issue with 2003 TL. Thanks to carcomplaints .com it is pretty accurate. A car to avoid.

- , Brampton, ON, canada

problem #17

Apr 102012

TL

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,000 miles

I purchased my vehicle in 2002 with approximately 30 miles on it, have serviced it according to the manufacturers suggestions; only allowed Acura technicians to do any service to the vehicle (oil change, replace wipers, etc.). They replaced the tires and within a month I begin feeling a difference in the vehicle. It took two months before it began jerking, so I thought that when they replaced the tires that they had damaged the brakes and the brakes were slipping (this was my first automatic transmission, I normally purchased manual transmissions and had never had a transmission problem). Once I hobbled to the dealership, I was informed that the transmission would need to be replaced. I will credit the dealership with their very professional handling of the situation, they provided me with a loaner for the time necessary for repair of my vehicle at no cost to me and they (supposedly) paid 50% of the cost; I was not convinced that a re-manufactured transmission should cost, after 50% adjustment, $3000. However, after reading the various complaints posted, I should consider myself Blessed. The dealership has continuously tried to convince me to purchase a new vehicle with them and trade my TL, but I have informed them that it is not likely that I will ever purchase another Acura, I no longer have trust in their reputation for quality. I agree with the postings listed that as a good faith effort on the part of the Honda Premium vehicle brand that the transmission problem, which is a defect in manufacturing of the product should have been handled in a much better way than they have. I, previously owed a Civic for more than 6 years and thought that I would continue to have Honda as a family brand car, now, unfortunately I will be required to do research to get another car brand, maybe Cadillac can maintain there brand name. So long Honda........

- , Orlando, FL, USA

problem #16

Apr 082012

TL

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

Let me start by saying that I have never had any major problems with my Acura for the couple of years that I have been driving it. I have self maintained my car and repaired every minor flukes I have encountered before it could do any serious damage to the car. However this is a MAJOR issue and I am still quite in shock about it. About a week ago my car started jolting when it would shift gears every once in a while and I noticed it was driving a little less smoothly. However it must have declined at an extremely rapid rate because a few days later (before I even had the chance to voluntarily take it in for a check up) as I was driving on the highway the "maintenance" light switched on and the transmission started to act up. Acceleration was difficult and it stopped shifting past 2nd gear. So I took it to the local Acura dealership and had it go through a diagnostics. To my surprise, I got back a $4,500 bill for a new transmission and a few other minor issues slapped on to it too. As a student I cannot afford to buy a brand new transmission, so I am (until further notice) car-less. I am only now (as I research) learning about Acura's infamousness for poor handling of a, what seems to be, major product failure. I am quite frankly appalled at amount of people who are in the same position as I am. Acura should be owning up to this mistake and lending a solution to the hundreds and hundreds of people they have indirectly robbed. I can honestly say that I used to have a lot of respect for the Acura company but after this terrible experience I have lost trust and respect for this company. It goes without saying that I don't feel comfortable buying any product from them again, and I will definitely encourage my family, friends and co-workers to think twice before trusting the Acura company as well.

- , Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #15

Aug 082011

TL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

When we purchased this car in 2007 with 55,000 miles on it for $ 17,000 at Baierl Acura, Wexford, PA. During the test drive, the transmission seemed to shift oddly... almost like it was studdering. We asked the salesman about it and he said "the transmission in the 2000-2003 TL's has what we call a 'hard shift' ". I told him I was buying this vehicle for my daughter and obviously, didn't want her to have any problems. He assured me the shifting was normal. He said the car was in mint condition. I asked him for a copy of the service records since the car was serviced at the same dealership before we bought it. What he did NOT tell me was that the transmission had been recalled in 2004, and that the 2003 Acura 3.2TL inherently has transmission problems - exactly the kind we questioned him about during the test drive. He also failed to include one service record in the packet that he provided to me - the one that was for the transmission recall - the one service call that they say the checked the transmission, but actually did nothing. Because this car has broken down so many times (it feels like the transmission gets stuck in gear and it studders, then stops running for a period of time., I decided to call Honda National Service 800#. I found out about a month ago from Honda/Acura National Customer Service that there actually was a service record on file in their system at the dealership where I bought the vehicle. Honda/Acura National Customer Service then sent me to the Acura Regional Manager (Anthony). Anthony was very rude - when I tried to explain the problem, he indicated it was too late to do anything about the problem. I advised we had reported this problem a number of times, and we were told there was nothing wrong with the car. In a follow up conversation with Baierl Acura in Wexford PA, the new (hired Sept 2011) service manager said he thought Acura would do something about replacing the transmission (we now have 90K on the car), but after he spoke to Anthony, he said they could do nothing. Anthony reported that I wanted to get a lawyer to address the issue - the new Baierl service manager told me verbatim that Anthony said he knows how expensive it is to get an attorney, they'll take their chances that I can't afford to get one. My family has purchased 4 Acura vehicles over the last ten years - I will never buy another unless Baierl and Acura address this matter. I feel I was lied to at the point of purchase. Did I mention that the service department also wrecked my 2003 TL last summer while it was in for an oil change ? When I called to ask when I could pick it up, they kept telling me it wasn't ready. After several days, they fessed up to the fact that the car had been wrecked by one of the service technicians. They did fix this part. I am so frustrated with Acura, I don't know what to do. HELP !! O$#($$Y(T@##

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #14

Dec 222011

TL TL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

It came with almost no warning. I was on the freeway with stop and go rush hour traffic. There was a surge in engine rpm but the car doesn't accelerate. It's a bit dangerous. I don't know what's happening for a couple minutes until I realize the transmission is slipping badly. I was able to limp a few more miles to my mechanic by staying in low gear, restarting the car when it cannot get in gear. Luckily I have a trustworthy mechanic. He only charged me $1,600 for a installing a rebuilt transmission. Up until this point I had high praises on the TL and Honda. There was no problem at all for 8 years. Compared to my Camry, it had engine sensor, idle, and window motor issues. They were annoying but I never died on the road. An internet search for "Honda" and "transmission" received lots of hits. So I don't think mine is an isolated case.

- , Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #13

Dec 012011

TL S Type V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

as with others acura and acura customer service suck. they know their transmissions can't handle the power in their engines. they screw you over by claiming "out of warranty' but it is a common typical issue. anyone who buys an acura should have their head examined. wish i knew of your site before i blew the $$$ on this lemon.

- , Syracuse, NY, USA

problem #12

Oct 242011

TL ES 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,658 miles

We bought the Acura new and it has been a good car up to now. The TSC light came on one day and the next day I took it in for repair-still running good. I scheduled the repair for two days later The next day my wife drove it two miles and it failed. It seems to go into neutral, one can restart the car and drive it for another 3 or 4 blocks and it goes into neutral again. I took the car back in and was told the transmission needed to be replace. When it failed with my wife she left it at her friend's house and her husband told her that he also had a 2003 Acura TL that the transmission went out. He told her that Acura has a problem but does not want to recognize it. I did not think our transmission was out but I was proven wrong. We also own an Odyssey which I bought over a Toyota because of our experience with the Acura. Now I wish that I had the Toyota.

- , Boerne, TX, USA

problem #11

Dec 222011

TL TL 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I have only 60k gentle miles on this TL. It had rough shifting a week ago. I excused it as a one time problem. Then couple days ago the car lurch forward and loss power suddenly during rush hour freeway traffic. It went on for a few miles. I realize it's transmission problem given my manual transmission driving experience. At one point it wouldn't engage any gear. I was concern as I was driving my kid to pick up my wife. It's already dark. Luckily I made it to my mechanic. I couldn't believe the transmission had to be replaced. This is worse than American and European cars that I have owned. I was going to get a Honda van in a month, but now I am looking to Toyota again. I had two Camrys each with over 200k miles. They had minor problems, but nothing like this. Luckily I wasn't on a long trip. Very surprised about Honda until I saw so many transmission complaints across all models on the net.

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #10

Dec 222011

TL TL 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I never have any problem with my 60000 gentle miles TL. It was driven lightly in mild CA weather, garaged and well maintained. I liked it so much that I was convinced to buy a Honda van. I used to be a Toyota fan after two Camrys with over 20,000 miles with no major problems. It was far better then my previous European and American cars which required towing every year.

Back to the TL... I thought I felt the engine surge about a week ago. Then I recall reading about rough shifting issues. So I excused it. Then two days ago the car lurched forward followed by engine rev high intermittently during rush hour on the freeway. It persisted for a couple miles. I realize it's a transmission problem, relaying back to my manual transmission Camry experience with a worked clutch. I was lucky to make it off the freeway, jerking and slipping on the street before reaching my mechanic. At one point it stayed in neutral. Cars are honking at me of course. Restating the car got it in gear again.

At first I thought it could be sim

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #9

Nov 112011

TL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

After my transmission failed, I read all the blogs on the internet, the # of transmission failures skyrocket right around 120,000 miles. Much earlier, Acura knew they had a serious failure rate, they extended the transmission warranty to 100,000 miles or 6 years, whichever first. In addition, knowing they had a very serious failure rate, Acura redesigned the transmission to correct the problem. So, all those people that fell into the 120,000 range when the transmission failed were just left in the cold having to pay about $4000. to replace the transmission. If my transmission failed at 118,000 like it did, I was just unlucky because that happens when dealing with a manufactured product. No-one wants it to happen but it does. We get mad but get over it. The real problem I now have that I will not get over is Acura KNEW the failure rate was at around 120,000 miles and the PREMIUM car company did nothing to correct their error except to extend the warranty below where most of the failures occurred. Their poor design was left to all the many, many people that have taken the hit for their lousy work. Their answer: buy an new redesigned transmission. And from all the internet blogs, I have joined a rather large club of Acura transmission failures. For a PREMIUM manufacturer to knowingly do nothing where most of the failures occur, it no longer deserved my business. I babied my car with the Acura dealership doing all the maintenance. Customer Service always complimented me because my 2003 TL was immaculate. Leather conditioner, 2 coats of advanced polish twice a year, maintenance was impeccable. I thought I was taking care of a PREMIUM car. Acura's action was not the action of a premium car company and showed the absolute minimum amount of concern for its customers to continue to allow a KNOWN problem to manifest itself. In essence, I was fooled into believing that Acura cared about their reputation, concern for their customers satisfaction, and the need for repeat customers. Needless to say, when the dealership tried to sell me a new Acura upon learning of their KNOWN problem, they tried to sell me a new Acura. I politely said no thank you. Although the market value of my car was only $6400 as it was in exceptional condition, the cost of the transmission at over $4000. was not worth the expense. I would rather have put the $4000 toward a new car, so I did, a Lexus. I shall never own another Honda or Acura product and I will be very outspoken to all my friends about AcuraHonda's lack of judgement.

- , Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #8

Jul 232011

TL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

If there was a known problem with the transmission, then I don't understand why Acura/Honda did not inform all car owners about the problem. Having this problem when you are on vacation only compounds the frustration and ruins your vacation. We will see how the Acura dealer resolves this problem.

- , San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #7

Oct 312011

TL S Type 3.2L

  • Manual transmission
  • 197,895 miles

I brought this car in 2006 with 70K miles or so on it. Love the car!! Never had any issues, always kept it maintained. One Friday, the check engine light came on along with another light that looks like a triangle with an explanation point inside of it. There was also a VGA or some other crappy light that came on as well. I'm like, ok, I'll get it checked on Monday -- maybe the 02 sensor or something. Come Sunday, directly after Church the Heffa stopped! I don't know about anyone else, but the worse thing that can EVER happen to me is to break down in the street! Luckly it was not at night and if anyone knows where Dallas, GA is, then you'd know it's dark as hell!! Had to pay $140 to tow it all the way to the Acura dealer in Marietta and found out that it would be a grand total of $6,200.00. I only have 2K left to pay on the damn thing!! I'[m pissed off now that I have to get another car. I'm planning on seeing how much I can get for the broken heffa - then switch to something else. I just wanted to vent and let others know of my anger with this situation. I feel better now -- thank you!

- , Dallas, GA, USA

problem #6

Nov 192010

TL 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,623 miles

I bought my 2003 TL new in July, 2003. I did respond to the recall and had it serviced at the Acura dealer for that recall item. Last summer (2010) I had the transmission serviced at approx. 117K at the local Acura dealership with no reported issues. Then at 126,623 miles the transmission starts slipping and I took it to the local Honda dealer because the Acura dealer is 35 miles away. They said the transmission needs replacing to the tune of $3,661.31. I had it fixed and when I ask about any other reported transmission issues with the car, I was told they did not know of any! (-:

I think of Honda/Acura as a VERY dependable vehicle but this is definitely shaking my confidence in the Brand!!

- , Norman, OK, USA

problem #5

Oct 222010

TL

  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,000 miles

I'm pissed that I was uninformed about the bad transmission on my car prior to the transmission failure.

- , Sicklerville, NJ, USA

problem #4

Sep 182010

TL S 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,000 miles

Bought the car certified pre-owned in 2003. At 23,000 miles the first transmission went. It was replaced under Warranty. Dealer said it was replaced under the recall. Now at 139,000 just out of the 7 years and out of warrantly 2nd transmission went. Acura Client Services told us to got through the Service Mgr, he escalated to Factory Field Rep who declined to offer any "goodwill assistance."

Now we're stuck unable to pay for repairs, unable to buy a new car. A 7 year old vehicle with 139,000 should not need a 3rd transmission. Acura Client Services was not a pleasant "service" by any means. They were absolutely useless. Honda Motors is not helping the customers with these bad transmissions in any way. We're the ones stuck with the bill.

- , Hillsborough, NJ, USA

problem #3

Apr 242007

TL Type S V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

My car was purchased from Procotor Acura in Tallahasee, Florida in 2007, inwhich the Transmission was slipping @46,000 miles and had to be replaced in Tallahassee, Fl @ Proctor Acura at no cost and under warranty. Here is 2010,I take my car for a routine oil change @ Orange Park Acura in Orange Park, Florida.. I told them the car was doing some shaking while driving. The results came back the Transmission had to replace. At first, they told me I had to replace the Transmission at my own expensive at the cost of 4,581.89. Needless to say I was NOT paying that and I called Honda Headquaters and they took down my complaint. After calling back and fouth to Proctor Acura and Orange Park Acura to get this transmission fixed. Neither dearship agree to fix at 100%. I was told they would pay 75% and I would have to pay 25% inwhich the cost for me would be 1,225.65 plus tax. I have aslo put in another complaint on different web site. This is LEMON CAR Honda has sold to many people when they knew how bad the transmissions was on this year and model. I very upset and plant to file a suit...

- , Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #2

Feb 012010

TL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

My 2003 Acura transmission failed utterly at a little over 70,000 miles. Honda of America admitted to a recall on this model--the subject of a Class Action Lawsuit (settled) in California in 2006--but offered to compensate me only one quarter of the $4,500 cost. This is my last Honda ever. I'm done.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

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