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. 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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
109,534 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 Honda Accord drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 16 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #6

Apr 302003

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100 miles


Since purchase of the car, when I put the car into drvie or reverse, it takes off by itself, without my foot on the gas pedal at 15-20mph. The problem is worse in reverse. I have hit a rock wall, and this week, when I put the car in reverse from an angle parking slot and took my foot off the break, the car shot backwards and nearly hit a pedestrian. Again I did not have my foot on the gas. I have taken it it several times, with no success. Most recently was told it was a stuck throttle body, and that it was unsafe to drive. On replacing the throttle body, it is better in drive, but still bad in reverse. It is under warranty with 18,000 miles, and I am afraid to drive it, for safety reasons.

- Okemos, MI, USA

problem #5

Oct 012004


  • miles
Gear failure could result in transmission lockup, which could result in a crash. A clunking sound was heard by the consumer. Recall number (04V176000).

- Irvine, CA, USA

problem #4

Aug 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
Around 6000 km, whenever I step on the gas pedal, I would feel the car shake slightly..and an engine sound. At first, I thought I just needed an oil change, even though 6000 was a bit low km for a oil change...I thought maybe because I purchase the car in winter time, and it was now summer time. I took the car in for oil change, also tellign them the problem...and sure enough..after the examination, they told me there was oil leak bottom of the car...and the whole transmission needed to be replaced. The service centre also told me that this is a very rare incident, and it is consider a defect..and this kind of stuff only happens to cars over 600,000. Also that, if I had waited...all the oil could have dripped and would cause a whole engine failure. Either was not a good feeling to know that I needed to replace my transmission at 6000km.

- Toronto, UN, USA

problem #3

Sep 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,500 miles


Car developed a high pitch whistle noise at 1500 miles. Took to dealer who determined that there was an internal defect in the transmission. Transmission was replaced with a remanufactured transmission per Honda's warranty policy. American Honda was extremely curt in handling my complaint. Further research has shown that american Honda is currently suffering from a transmission failure crisis in its 1999-2003 Accord, Prelude, odyysey, and Acura TL/cl automobile lineup.

- Sandy Springs, SC, USA

problem #2

Sep 152003


  • Manual transmission
  • 23,240 miles
On one of my visit to the dealer to complaint about my the brakes on my car I also complained about the fact that my car makes noise when I am driving on surface that should not make my car sound like their doors are not put on correctly. I thought because it was new it was just a new car squeak but when I drive with the radio off I can hear this noise and I can just imagine what it will sound like when the car is not so new. When I drive in any other vehicle I listen for this sound and I don't hear this noise but as usual the dealer cannot find it. I will be taking in my car for the same brake problems again. On 9/12/203. This will be the fourth time. The first time was on Nov/6/2002, and they resurface the rotors. The second time was on Feb/1/2003, they replace both front disc. The third time may/01/2003, they replace brake pads. The pads are very high and the rotors are thick. There is no sign of warp or roughness that I can feel whem I inspect the brakes and I am some what familiar with brakes.

- Concord, CA, USA

problem #1

Feb 252003

(reported on)


  • miles
Vehicle did not shift into different gears, the gears jumped and hung up in gear, the gears hung up between second and third gears, also when putting vehicle in reverse, it would speed backwards without stepping on gas pedal.

- Bemidji, MN, USA

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