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 4 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #246

May 152014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 79,895 miles


2003 Honda Accord with under 80,000 miles. V6 with automatic transmission. Transmission started slipping while making turn in neighborhood. While turning, pressing the gas only raised the rpms, but the car was not moving. I thought I was going to get hit by oncoming traffic. After trying to re-create trouble, it appears if the car tries to downshift into a low gear and gas is applied heavily, the car red lines and does not shift gears. This was a bad moment for this to happen. Very dangerous to think pressing the gas pedal has the potential not to move. Slow acceleration and the transmission shifts fine, but if you need to get out of the way, you can't accelerate hard.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #245

Apr 012013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 136,500 miles
The transmission is well on its way out slipping only use official Honda dw-1 fluid still no help Honda needs to fix this problem they have a defective transmission and they know it.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #244

Mar 012014


  • miles
2003 Honda Accord. Consumer writes in regards to transmission problems. The consumer stated prior to purchasing the vehicle, the transmission was replaced. The transmission was replaced in March 2014. The consumer wondered if the transmission was properly replaced by Honda. The consumer stated this will be the third transmission.

- Amelia, OH, USA

problem #243

Apr 212014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 122,205 miles


Car has dark transmission fluid and is not shifting into 3rd gear. Car has 124,062 miles on it and won't shift into 3rd gear transmission ports are made too narrow not allowing fluid to cool transmission causing fluid too burn over time clearly a recall is in order Honda knows this year has issues with V6 automatic transmission and won't stand behind their product.

- Fortuna, CA, USA

problem #242

Jan 162013


  • 189,134 miles
Transmission problems have happened ever since purchasing the car. At 144000 miles the transmission was replaced. At time of purchase, fluid was changed, January came, and once again needed another fluid change. I changed the fluid after purchase out of fear and transmission went from hard shifts to normal, even shifts. Problems raised again in January, I have two cases of Honda transmission fluid at hand right now. Now, it's maybe two weeks before it shifts hard again. I deal with it knowing the cost to fix the transmission, but yesterday was the point where it starts to affect my safety. Going 30-45, shifting from second to third, there is delay in shifting when at 3000 RPM, at 4000 RPM or higher shifting is very violent from second to third as of yesterday, April 23, 2014. Also at 55 mph on my way home, the car jolted during shifting while accelerating causing me to almost lose control. If this happened just three seconds before as I was turning a corner on this road it could have caused me to crash. Transmission feels distant at times, as if power is not being properly applied to the wheels during slow medium and hard acceleration from first to second gear. The transmission deteriorates with time and mileage. Car is 100% different than when we acquired it. Complaint after complaint and not one thing being done by Honda nor NHTSA. The oil jet kit was a cheap and limited fix to this problem and only delayed transmission failure. Why is there no recall for this" several people are on the highway when these transmissions fail and are lucky to avoid accidents and death. Does it have to take someone traveling 70 mph with violent down shifting, being rear ended and killed for this to reach headlines for someone to acknowledge the danger" it's a real problem that affects safety, people's lives including my own.

- Yulee, FL, USA

problem #241

Apr 112014

Accord 4-cyl

  • 120,804 miles
After driving at highway speed for just over an hour, the car's transmission suddenly and unexpectedly down shifted. Both my wife and I found ourselves flying forward, thank goodness for the seat belts. I am not sure which gear it down shifted to, but it might have been 1st or maybe 2nd gear, but it was a huge lurch forward on our part. The car was running hotter than normal, but less than 1/2 way on temperature gauge. No indicator lights on the dash. Took the car to our mechanic who said that the transmission requires replacement (~$6,000). The current blue-book is in the $6,000 range and we expected it to last for several more years an a whole lot more than 121,000 miles... the car now has the orange triangle with the explanation point inside and the tcs light is on and the tcs switch has no effect. The car has been well maintained, is excellent mechanical and physical condition, except for this transmission issue and I believe that we followed the recall id 62639.

- Los Altos, CA, USA

problem #240

Apr 152014


  • 46,930 miles


I pulled out from a gas station accelerating to mix into the traffic flow. I only got to 20 mph and then, even though the engine was turning at 3000+ RPM and the car was in drive, I started to just coast. Traffic approaching at 40+ mph had to hit their brakes and swerve to avoid me as I coasted ever more slowly to the side of the road. It is truly amazing that someone was not injured or killed. The transmission had totally failed in the blink of an eye with no warning whatever. I have looked this up online and there are hundreds of complaints about this problem. "why have you not made Honda recall these models?" seems to be the general question people have. 2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission

- Canandaigua, NY, USA

problem #239

Apr 152014


  • 46,930 miles
I pulled out from a gas station accelerating to mix into the traffic flow. I only got to 20 mph and then, even though the engine was turning at 3000+ RPM and the car was in drive, I started to just coast. Traffic approaching at 40+ mph had to hit their brakes and swerve to avoid me as I coasted ever more slowly to the side of the road. It is truly amazing that someone was not injured or killed. The transmission had totally failed in the blink of an eye with no warning whatever. I have looked this up online and there are hundreds of complaints about this problem. "why have you not made Honda recall these models?" seems to be the general question people have. 2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission

- Canandaigua, NY, USA

problem #238

Apr 122014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 85,500 miles
Sudden and violent RPM shifting, from ~2500 to 5000, no warning, severe lurching for several miles until we could exit highway. Subsequent failure to shift into correct forward gear, as well as failure to shift into reverse. A dangerous situation on a 65-mph road, which could have resulted in a fatal accident, involving either multi-vehicle or single. We are in touch this morning with the dealership service dept, who so far are feigning surprise at the story, even though it is a known issue.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #237

Mar 282014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 131,300 miles
While driving with around 35 mph the vehicle start shifting gears violently random which made me pull over and turn off the car. Luckily I was very close to home and I decided to start the car and drive it to my parking lot. The transmission would not shift up from 1st gear and I was going with 20 mph for more than a mile. On the next day I tow the car ($130) to a shop and the mechanic there told me that my transmission is done and I either need to rebuilt it or get a new one!!!! so far $200, $130+$70( diagnostics). The estimated price for rebuilding the transmission that I got was $2700 after the accident I searched and realized that I am not the only one with the exact same problem, not even close to be the only one, but nothing has been done regarding that particular issue so far and basically everybody who has 2003-2007 Honda Accord is suffering from the same problem. It is unbelievable how no recall procedure was initiated, yet! this is a serious problem which can cause the car to get into an multiple car accident! I am writing this complaint hoping to change something in that forever postponed problem! I also would like to ask is there is a way to get some kind of compensation for the repair cost? one more time I really hope someone reads this complaints and they are not left in the general pile of paperwork on some forgotten desk in the corner covered with dust! ps: I am E-mailing to the manufacturer's headquarters and I am calling everyone who is reading this to do the same!

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #236

Feb 282014


  • 190,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated while driving 75 mph, the transmission locked and there was a sudden increase in engine rpms without any warning. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 190,000 and the current mileage was 195,000.

- Mena, AR, USA

problem #235

Mar 162014


  • 170,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6. Going approximately 70mph on a major highway and the car violently downshifted as if I had slammed on the brakes. Almost hit by other cars on multiple occasions as the problem persisted. Also heard a whining noise/rattling under the hood while driving in 2nd gear. Once I smelled burning I knew it was time to give up. Had to get car towed an hour away.

- Morrisville, NC, USA

problem #234

Apr 062010


  • 62,000 miles
NHTSA recall #04V!76000 car was evaluated oil jet kit installed. No proof that the gears were actually discolored; which would have required a replacement tranny. Quite a money saver.for Honda. Transmissions are expensive. Honda replaced the tranny cost to me 2,100. I still have car; running fine at 88,000 oil jet kit was installed 4/2004. The failure at 62,000 miles, with the fix is still pre-mature tranny failure.

- Boca Raton, FL, USA

problem #233

Dec 012013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 160,000 miles
This is a 2003 Accord exl 6 cylinder with automatic transmission. Under normal driving conditions we noticed in the later months of 2013 that the transmission seemed to slip when it shifted from 2nd to 3rd gear. As of February 23rd it has gotten worse. We have taken it to the Honda dealer who told us that it was indeed a transmission problem. This was confirmed by a 3rd party mechanic who also told us that the transmission fluid was turning brown and showing signs of turning black. As we live in the country, this automobile has been driven on the highway for well over 50% of the time. We have always come to a complete stop before shifting the transmission from or to another gear. The car has not been abused. This is a known problem! there are many complaints about this on the internet (same year and same engine). Even consumer reports lists this 2003 6 cylinder vehicle as one to avoid due to transmission problems.

- Black Earth, WI, USA

problem #232

Aug 012013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
Transmission will not or struggles to move in or out of second gear.

- El Dorado, AR, USA

problem #231

Feb 192014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 55,317 miles
Driving along and transmission would not shift up. Stayed in a low gear, slowed down to see if it would shift into higher gear and wouldn't. pulled over and put shifter into park. Waited a couple of minutes and put it back into drive. It took a minute for it to engage. Pulled onto road, and again, it stayed in low gear, refusing to shift higher. Pulled over again, tried the same thing and even turned the car off. Pulled onto road and began to drive, still would not shift, then it began to stop moving intermittently. It would move slightly, then stop moving while in drive. All I would hear is the engine revving, but car not moving. Acted like I was going from drive to neutral but car was still in drive. It finally quite altogether on a very narrow, dangerous steep uphill road. Had to have it towed.

- Raton, NM, USA

problem #230

Jan 232014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 177,200 miles
Driving car at 35 mph on feeder road, went to enter freeway so accelerate, car did not accelerate and a big thunk like a brick fell into engine, car stalled, rpms accelerated, car did not. Now drives fine up to 35 mph but that's it.

- Spring, TX, USA

problem #229

Jan 302014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 108,056 miles
The car transmission has engagement issue and had to be towed home it barely made it into garage 2003 Honda Accord I thought it will last a bit more than 108000 miles.

- Edgewater, NJ, USA

problem #228

Apr 152013


  • 116,000 miles
We driving on 35W -South at around 60 miles an hour and the vehicle turned itself to 1st gear. Had to pull over to shoulder and called aaa. Was told that solenoid to be replaced. After the replacement, car was ok and again, after few miles, has a similar incident on 494, where the gear shifted back to a lower gear at 60 miles an hour and missed a fully loaded walmart truck by inches! I had to spend 1800$ to get the transmission fixed.

- Eden Prairie, MN, USA

problem #227

Dec 122013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
I was driving my 2003 Honda Accord ex, V6, on the freeway at 70 mph when my car went into a front wheel locked skid. The duration of the unsuspected skid was less than one second, but I almost lost control of my car. Several seconds later, at 50 mph, my vehicle again went into a unsuspected front wheel skid, with a duration of less than a second. There was no warning light notification. The cause of the front wheel locked skid was the transmission clutch was burned out on gears #5 and #3. my vehicle transmission fluid and filter was changed every 30,000. This notification is for public safety. American Honda corporation was notified and they felt I should investigate this incident at my own expense.

- Irvine, CA, USA

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