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:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
19,829 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments

problem #14

Mar 042014


  • 140,000 miles


I purchased a Honda Accord ex about 30 days ago, used, of course. The ignition switch is locking. I can turn the car off but it takes me about 10 min to wiggle the key out. I have to turn car on or halfway on and off in hopes of getting the key out. The gear shift indicator on the dashboard reads as though the car is in park and drive at the same time. Honda doesn't have a recall for this but per my research it happens to a lot of people and has to be more than a user error. I may have to pay allthis money to get something fixed that is faulty in the car and should be replaced as the key should be able to come out with no issue.

- Dorchester, MA, USA

problem #13

Jun 282013

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
On June 28, 2013 I got into my car and tried to crank up my car. My ignition switch would not turn over to crank the car. I found this to be surprising when I didn't have problems with my switch in the past. I called Honda, they indicated that it maybe my key, or my ignition switch, and to bring it in for an inspection. After the inspection Honda stated that I needed a new ignition switch that would cost $1000. After I was told what I had to pay for the repair, I asked was there any recalls on the ignition switch, the dealer said "no" I later called an attorney for the matter he ask for my VIN # and he would look into it. After looking into the matter he indicated that my car was not under warranty and to call 18009991009 Honda services. I called Honda they informed me that I had an inspection for the ignition switch in 2010. I think Honda is not telling the truth, I feel I was over charged, for the repair.

- Prichard, AL, USA

problem #12

May 062010


  • miles
My 2003 Honda ex Accord is experiencing ignition issues that fall under this known recall: NHTSA campaign id number: 02V120000 recall data: 05/16/2002 components: Electrical system:ignition:switch units affected: 1000000 1999 Honda Accord electrical system:ignition:switch recall date: 05/16/2002 when I called Honda and shared my VIN number [xxx]they said that my particular vehicle wasn't covered under the recall, but I believe that it should be since the issue that I have been experiencing perfectly fit the issue outlined in the recall: NHTSA campaign id number: 02V120000. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #11

Jul 192008

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the key could be removed from the ignition when the vehicle was shifted into any gear. The gear did not need to be placed into park. There was no warning prior to the failure. The vehicle was not taken to an authorized dealer for repair. The contact was concerned of the safety risk involved. The failure mileage was 27,000 and current mileage was 28,000. Updated 09/25/08 updated 09/26/08.

- Manlius, NY, USA

problem #10

Feb 112007

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles
The ignition key stock in the ignition switch in accessories on position, twice I called to Honda relations and to the dealer for service.

- Edison, NJ, USA

problem #9

Apr 052003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I purchased a 2003 Honda Accord in November 2002. In April 2003, as I reported to my insurance company on the day of the accident, I was not in my car when the accident occurred. I was in the grocery store. A page came over the loudspeaker stating that the owner of a gray Honda parked in the side parking lot should come to the manager?S office. As I was parked on the side, I spoke to the manager. The manager and I walked out of the store together and I saw that my 2003 Honda Accord was at rest in the side of another car. The door was locked, the car in reverse and the emergency brake on. I had the keys with me in the grocery store. Not knowing how this could have happened, I filed a police report on the theory someone may have tried to steal the car and also took it to the Honda dealer to see if it was a mechanical problem. The dealer could not "replicate the problem" and at no point acknowledged that this was happening in 1999 - 2002 Honda vehicles. The accident caused more than $3,000 in property damage, cost me my deductible, and initiated a raise in my insurance rates of 32% (which after much time, inconvenience, and $27, I appealed and won). Since the accident, the same problem has happened two more times. I have the keys in my hand and the car is not in park. I do not have the paper work with the eact date of the accident so I am entering the "5th" to allow me to file the complaint.

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #8

Oct 122004

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles


My 2003 Honda Accord ex was in neutral and rolled in to another vehicle causing damage to my vehicle and another vehicle in my parking lot. Either I was able to remove the key while the automatic gear shift was in neutral or the gear shift was able to jump from park to neutral after the car was turned off and the key was removed.

- Pompano Beach, FL, USA

problem #7

Nov 292002


  • 20 miles
Electrical system: Ignition: Switch - key gets stuck in the ignition & cannot get it out of the ignition for hours.

- North Arlington, NJ, USA

problem #6

Feb 282004


  • 45 miles
Electrical system: Ignition: Switch- my key gets stuck in the ignition even after being fixed by the dealer.

- North Arlington, NJ, USA

problem #5

Feb 052004

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
The consumer was able to remove the key from the ignition although the vehicle wasn't in park. The vehicle rolled into a trailer which caused damage to the vehicle.

- Danville, KY, USA

problem #4

Nov 082003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,440 miles


I was able to remove the key from the ignition while the transmission selector in "drive". I can easily repeat this and I can also insert the key while the selector is still in "drive". the car rolled backwards out of my almost-level driveway and came to a stop after it struck a tree across the street.

- Destin, FL, USA

problem #3

Jul 012003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Key is extremely hot after removing from ignition. This happens in both hot and cold weather. The dealer checked out and said that it's normal.

- Tewksbury, MA, USA

problem #2

Jun 262003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Key is extremely hot after removing from ignition--enough to leave a small burn on my skin. This happens in both hot and cold weather, both with and without the A/C or heater on.

- Whitefish Bay, WI, USA

problem #1

Jun 232003

(reported on)


  • 100 miles
Keys are extremely hot when removed from the ignition switch. The entire unit also gets hot even if the vehicle is turned off.

- Deland, FL, USA

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