Notes: The 2003 Honda Accord suffers from widespread transmission failure & problems with the stereo backlight failing. We recommend avoiding this model year like the plague.

The transmission begins slipping & eventually has to be replaced, typically soon after 90,000 miles & with a repair cost of over $2,000. Transmission failure has been a huge problem for the Accord & several other Honda models all through the early 2000s model years. Honda extended the transmission warranty to 93 months/109k miles for the 2000-2001 Accord as a class action lawsuit settlement, but owners of other Accord model years with transmission problems are out of luck.

The stereo backlight problem has been an issue since these Accords were only a few years old. Honda eventually issued a recall which covered the repair for 7 years/100k miles, which was nice while it lasted but now that period is over. Honda initially was replacing the entire radio ($800) but eventually began replacing just the PCB which at ~$300 is much cheaper. That sounds like a deal, but keep in mind we're talking about a backlight bulb that costs $2 to fix in most other cars.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
97,727 miles
Total Complaints:
65 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. Honda should fix it (34 reports)
  2. needs repainted (23 reports)
  3. not sure (8 reports)
2003 Honda Accord body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 1 of 4)

problem #65

Apr 012008

Accord EX 3.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles


The clear coat continues to come off. It first started in one spot and then continued to other spots. Now the car is peeling everywhere. This is definitely a manufacturer defect. I take good care of my car. Honda needs to recall this car. This is very unfair. I have 75k miles on this car and it looks like it is 20 years older with 300k miles on it.

- , Yonkers, NY, USA

problem #64

Jan 012015

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Car has become very unsightly, and I fear for the long-term duration of the exposed paint. Very surprised at Honda's lack of information

- , Belmont, MA, USA

problem #63

Nov 022010

Accord EX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,565 miles

Peeling paint and clear coat says it all..Looks like a piece of s--- but runs great..Wish Honda would offer some kind of fix!!!

- , Calgary, AB, Canada

problem #62

Apr 012010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles


I've had my car since 2003, and have been the only owner. I've never had any major bodywork, but a recent accident did occur and had part of the vehicle painted. However, the major paint issue is to the roof, hood, front fender, and trunk. The damage that was recently repaired was the driver back panel and part of the driver door.

- , Lomita, CA, USA

problem #61

May 052013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,653 miles

click to see larger images

clear coat coming off clear coat coming off clear coat coming off clear coat coming off clear coat coming off

the fact that honda has done nothing about this is absolutely disgusting, what does it matter that your honda is reliable if the paint is going to make it look like a piece of sh*t clunker! I will keep harassing Honda Canada until they agree to fix this.

- , Hamilton, ON, Canada

problem #60

May 052014

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,000 miles

We bought a black 2003 Honda Accord EX for my son in 2014. It had only one owner before we bought the car in about May 2014. It has the characteristic fading paint on the roof and hood. I was hoping that Honda would do the right thing and pay for the car to be painted, but when I spoke to them tonight, there was nothing they could offer. Since we bought this car, I now notice countless older Hondas that have these paint problems. It is so widespread and is obviously a Honda problem. It's all over Google. Honda should take responsibility and rectify this. If anyone knows of any current class action suits, or any other information to help us, please let me know. This is just wrong..

- , Rolesville, NC, USA

problem #59

Jun 012014

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


When I reported to service managers at both Honda service center and auto body shop they referred me to that repainting is required. However, service manager failed to reply back to me what he claimed he had to wait for corporate office of Honda to reply whether to cover painting job. I asked him for paperwork to prove that he had contacted the corporate office. He said he will email me but he never did since last June. Only thing I emerge red he took pictures of peeling on the top back area and claimed he will send it to corporate office for review . I never get any paperwork to prove that his claim he made the report. Last August, I asked him again to pls fix it for free and he said no we have not hear from corporate office. It made me mad. My car is less than 100,000 miles! What can I do now? Where to file complaint to federal govt?

- , Auburn, NY, US

problem #58

Mar 012015

Accord EX-L 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,992 miles

The clear coat on these cars is junk. Has started to come off all over the car. The complete car is pealing from top to bottom. The clear coat just flakes away. Was suggested to me that only fix was to sand car down and redo the paint over again, because it will just keep getting worse. The manager of the auto body at my local Honda dealership suggested that I buy paint pens and go around the body of the car and try to fix as much as possible before it peals. He also suggested not to buy a Honda! Will remember that next time I'm looking for a new vehicle!

- , Regina, SK, Canada

problem #57

Jan 012015

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

2003 Honda Accord Nighthawk Black Pearl. Owned this car for many years, regular Honda service, always kept clean, garaged, waxed, ect.....NOW the paint looks horrid! Started on trunk lid, now it's starting on rear quarters, sun roof area. Checked the WWW and see many complaints, I hope Honda steps up.

- , Lincoln, NE, USA

problem #56

Nov 142012

Accord EX V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 98,000 miles

click to see larger images

clear coat coming off

I have red Honda accord 2003 and I see that my car clear coat painting peels off drastically. The car looks very bad .I asked the quote from one the body shop and they told it cost to paint 3500 bucks. Spending these much money for painting that too 10 year old car is not good and they told that it is a Honda factory painting problem and they used bad quality of clear coat.Ideally paint shouldn't be fade or clear coat peeling should not occur for ever.If not alreast 15 to 20 years .I called the Honda warranty customer care for this issue and they don't have answer to justify the issue and ignoring the call from customer for this kind of issue.

It is Honda paining issue which should be fixed from manufacturer or they need to arrange partial expanse coverage would be good to maintain the customer loyalty and satisfaction.I see othat other top brand car manufacturer like toyota nissan and hyundai fixing this kind of issue where they stand top on customer satisfaction.

- , Parkville, MD, USA

problem #55

Oct 012009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles


I would like my Honda to be able to pull up next a Korean car and not get laughed at. My Accord is wonderful running and handling, but the paint is so embarrassing. I don't understand how Honda can afford that kind of bad PR. At this time I would NOT buy another one..its such a shame Honda cares so little. If Honda would make effort to help the owners they have now all would work out great for everyone....if NOT I'M GOING KOREAN!!!

- , St Louis, MO, USA

problem #54

Dec 012009

Accord EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

I see so many Hondas with the same paint problem and I feel their pain!!!!! I LOVE my car but I HATE the way it looks and it's just getting worst!! I actually look forward to it raining or snowing so I'm not as embarrassed about how bad my car looks! It would be great it Honda took care of this problem and helped the people who picked a Honda to purchase over anything else! It's not a good look for Honda to have so many people with bad paint jobs...does not look good for business! My aunt recently purchased a new Accord in black... After I said auntie, do you see how horrible my car looks? She brought it back and got white!!!

- , Warwick, RI, USA

problem #53

Oct 152014

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,000 miles

The paint is fading to white on a black car, roof looks horrible.

- , Oakville, Ontario, canada

problem #52

Jan 012014

Accord EX 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

So disappointed - I just got off the phone with American Honda Corporate to complain about the clear coat peeling off. The clear coat is peeling off the roof and trunk. I have seen may Honda Accords with the same issue. They have recalled the Civics, but not the Accords. Since I am so far out of the 3/36 warranty, there is nothing they can do. What happened to customer loyalty? I own 3 Honda's! It looks like my next vehicle may be a Toyota!

- , Woodstock, GA, US

problem #51

Jan 012010

Accord EX 4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Just want my car repainted! Think Honda did a terrible job on letting the customer know about the recall because I surely wasn't notified.

- , Sebastian, FL, USA

problem #50

Dec 012013

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I read where there was a class action suit I California staring in 2003 on Hondas. My paint stated fading and was told it was a defect in the clear coat use by Honda. My car has always been garage kept so no reason for the paint to be fading regardless the age of the car which is in very good condition.

- , Rochester, IL, USA

problem #49

Feb 012014

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

My 2003 Accord with only 87k miles has gone from a beautiful car with low miles to a hooptie. The paint looks horrible, the value of the car has dropped significantly due to Honda's inability to manufacture a car that will look as good as it runs. In addition to the Honda, I have a 2003 Dodge Stratus with 200 K+ miles that looks like its straight out of the showroom, I am at a loss as to why Honda would not fix this issue.

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #48

Jan 312014

Accord LX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

Started as two very small areas where the clear coat was disappearing - on top of the rear window and on top of the trunk. Within six months it looks like the car has leprosy! This is my first and probably last, Honda.

I've never had this problem with any other cars that I've owned in over 45 years of driving.

- , New Providence, nj, USA

problem #47

Feb 122014

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles

The front edge of the hood, front edge of the trunk lid, and around the tire wells has started to rust and bubble out.

- , Madison, WI, USA

problem #46

Oct 102011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

There is a significant amount of clear coating coming off, this makes the car look terrible! I just want it fixed.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

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