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CarComplaints.com 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:
109,336 miles
Total Complaints:
53 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (23 reports)
  2. check their oil level very often (20 reports)
  3. replaced engine (5 reports)
  4. replace piston ring (2 reports)
  5. replaced timing chain (2 reports)
  6. add oil (1 reports)
2003 Honda Accord engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #53

Aug 132015

Accord EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles



Apparently, HONDA knows ALL ABOUT this problem, and will NOT be issuing an expensive recall...and they have a procedure full of un-meet-able requirements for you to prove your oil maintenance.

They'll also make ridiculous talking-points of it being 'normal' for a 4 cylinder with only 4.4 quarts of oil in the engine to burn through 1 quart every 1,000 miles or so...since you're expected to have oil changes every 10,000 miles...You'll be empty and seize up your engine 2/5 of the way to your expected oil inspection.

Our 2003 Honda Accord with the 2.4L 4-cyl was apparently consuming excessive oil for the last year or so, after reaching 120k miles or so. Only driven locally for short distances, however, so didn't really put it together since I had occasionally added 1/2 quart at a fill-up during normal check, as-in every gas-tank fill-up, and had noted was about that much low at spring and fall oil changes, so didn't really realize it was 'excessive' just yet.

Until a couple of weeks ago, first really long cross-country road trip in the Honda to Florida and back...it ate 3+ quarts during the trip!

Last weekend, saw a sale and bought a round of the regular 5W20 fully synthetic I've been using, and this time a container of the dual-chamber oil treatment specialty stuff that is supposed to clean sludge and seal up rings to prevent oil consumption... ...but we didn't make it.

Earlier this week, wife mentioned that the engine stuttered at idle and quit while sitting at a stop-light at idle. Said the transmission was trying to push the car forward a bit while she held foot on brake, so I figured that's what caused it, and bought some Lucas Transmission oil, intending to drain a bit out and replace with the slip-fixit stuff when I changed the oil this weekend... ...but we didn't make it.

Yesterday, wife tried to go to work, and said the engine wouldn't start on first try, as it always had before. Tried again and it 'sounded like the starter just spun instead, like it wasn't engaging...' ...so she didn't make it.

Mechanics on this thread will be cringing right now. I tried it myself, and sure enough, sounded like starter spun without the engine turning over. Had it towed to mechanic. Just got the call...

ENGINE FAILURE The engine is turning, but fast, due to NO COMPRESSION, due to VALVE DAMAGE, due to an apparent period of recent lack of good oil circulation in the engine or similar. I have bi-annually changed the oil with fully synthetic and am that strange guy who checks&tops-off oil nearly every gas fill-up, keeping extra quarts in the trunk.

What's the prognosis? Any help from Honda available to 'fix' this, now at 135k miles? good luck. Best course of action: Head/Valve +anything related, replace? *higher compression, will only result in more oil consumption, since the problem turns out to be THIS:

HONDA KNOWS THEY HAVE BAD OIL-RETENTION RINGS ON 2.4L ENGINES. AVOID 2003-2007 2.4L ENGINES. IF YOU HAVE ONE, SELL IT, OR TRADE IT TO A HONDA DEALER if the oil starts to disappear. OR: Replace entire motor with a used one from a salvage yard? $1,500+labor+parts OR: Replace entire motor with a re-manufactured motor with some kind of warranty? BUT: Is a 2003 even worth it? (BlueBook ~$4,700 resale)


- , Marion, IL, USA

problem #52

Jul 272015

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 218,000 miles


- , Pflugerville, TX, USA

problem #51

Oct 052013

Accord LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 230,000 miles

I have had five Accords and this one (2003) is the first time I have had a problem with excessive engine oil usage. Had lots of work done save for a valve job (Valve cover replacement, etc.) but have to add a quart of oil every 1,000 miles and have been doing so for two - three years now. Any suggestions?

- , Ashland, VA, USA

problem #50

Dec 012014

Accord EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,800 miles


Every 600 miles I have to put a quarter of oil in my engine. I check the oil level frequently to may sure I have enough oil in it.

- , North Miami, FL, USA

problem #49

Jan 082015

Accord LX 2.4L V-Tec 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

Totally disgusted with honda. After speaking with them on all issues, 10 as of now, basically told me Im screwed!

"We are very sorry about that",LOL

Stay away from Honda!!

- , Boca Raton, Fl, USA

problem #48

Dec 132014

Accord EX-L Sedan AT 2.4L L4 Dohc 16v

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,223 miles

Bought at 162724 km from neighbour with confidence. 3397 km later oil light flashes. Needed almost 4 liters to fill! Had an oil change done at 167532 km. Had it topped-off at 168313 at the same garage with 1.25 L. Again at 169200 with 1 L. That's 2.25 liters for 1668 km. Or, 2L for 1500km. Anyway you look at it it's way too much!

The maintenance records show that every oil change had been done following the correct schedule. Wasn't in possession of records till 2 weeks after purchase! They even show that the excessive oil consumption started at 127393 km. All the maintenance had been done at the dealer. There is no mention in the records that there was a problem.

I believe the manufacturer is acting irresponsibly with these oil problem issues.


- , Quebec, Quebec, canada

problem #47

Sep 202012

Accord EX-L 2.4L 4 cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 140,000 miles


I have always been a Honda fan my entire life, be it motorcycles, ATV's, small engine applications you name it, and yes of course cars as well. My dad has a 1999 Honda Civic that has 235,000 miles that is his daily driver and never has or has had any major problems with it. I also owned a 1999 Honda CRV with over 200k miles with no problems, just didn't feel the need anymore to have an SUV. So being Honda has a good reputation with me, I decided to go out and buy a 2003 Honda Accord 2 door 5 speed. I never came on this site or did much in-depth research before I bought the car (thinking I didn't have to being Hondas have always been good to us) but boy was I wrong. When I bought the car it had around 140,000 miles and was absolutely loving the car, except for one MAJOR flaw, the excessive oil consumption. My case wasn't quite as bad as some of those I have read on here, and other forums, but now that I have hit 150k miles it is getting worse. Always having to check my oil and almost always having to add oil is really getting annoying. Recently I let my friend borrow my Honda to take to Wisconsin (400 mile drive from where he lives) and topped off the oil to just barely above the full mark. And when he gave it back to me it was slightly below the "low" dot/mark meaning in that time it burned a quart of oil. A QUART OF OIL IN 400 MILES!!! I couldn't believe what I was seeing, a HONDA with only 150k miles burning oil at that rate just blew me away, unbelievable.... I have tried Lucas oil stabilizer which slowed the burning a noticeable amount, but I still have to add which is stupid that the car can't make it just under 3000 miles without having to add oil which is when I do oil changes, and having to add multiple times at that! The only true fix I have read for this is to have your engine taken apart by a professional and have them replace the oil control rings, which were apparently of poor quality or not installed properly from the factory which is why it burns oil. It pisses me off that it is an unpreventable expensive problem FROM the factory that no matter how often or what kind of oil you use can and probably will happen to your Honda. Shame on you Honda for not standing by and recognizing this problem, and lessening and maybe even ruining your renowned reputation for reliability.

- , Saint Cloud, MN - Minnesota, USA

problem #46

Dec 232013


  • Manual transmission
  • 167,000 miles


- , Lakeside, CA, USA

problem #45

Jan 012007

Accord LX 2.4L Inline 4

  • Manual transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Another comment about oil consumption. One quart per 500 miles.

The solution was to sell it Carmax. They gave us $4000 credit towards the 2007 Civic EX we bought from them.

Honestly, I would have take $500 for it.

It is pretty sad that a car company with a good record of building cars flounders like that.

Our next car will probably be a Toyota. We are done with Honda. So long, it's been real....

- , Chapel Hill, NC, USA

problem #44

Jun 182012

Accord EXL 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

Well I guess its my turn. Excessive oil consumption, tried to keep up with it but it's a losing battle. Tensioner for the timing chain lost pressure and chain jumped timing causing internal engine damage beyond what it would cost to put a used engine in it (bent valves, damaged head) I see on this site and all over the internet that I'm not the first person to have this problem. More than likely I will have the engine replaced and immediately put it up for sale ( just happened so I'm still debating) Anyone want to buy a Accord????

- , Mt Holly, NJ, USA

problem #43

Jun 242013

Accord EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,900 miles


Bought the 2003 Accord EX used from a Nissan dealer 9 months ago for $10000, didn't drive it for 4 months while I was on deployment...came home and the dash lit up...check engine, oil light etc...Took it to the dealer and they said the car was 2 quarts low on oil which didn't make sense as I just bought it and I assumed the dealer I bought it from serviced it prior to selling it.

The Honda dealer replaced the rocker arm oil pressure switch, induction service, power steering service, throttle body service, fuel injection service, cooling system service, and performed a complete multi-point inspection = $940. 5 Weeks later, the car has been driving fine, no issues...then I get it in to go to work and it cranks but wont start. So I tow it back up to the dealer and am informed the car is BONE DRY - no oil! Diagnosis, the timing chain has likely jumped, the recommendation they gave me is to replace the current engine with a used engine for $4200 parts and labor. I asked about a trade, and they told me they would give me $500 for the car on trade. Called Honda Customer Service and they state they have no records of any issues of excessive oil consumption in the 03 Accords (which is a lie). I filed a complaint with BBB and since my wife is Japanese and knows the exact same engine was recalled in Japan, we intend on dealing with Honda headquarters in Japan. I understand the car is out of warranty, but Honda is dishonest and refuses to stand behind the workmanship of their cars.


- , Marysville, WA, USA

problem #42

Jan 032012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

No real solution exists. I'm forced to check the oil level frequently and add oil nearly every refueling.

- , Arlington Heights, IL, USA

problem #41

May 142010

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,206 miles

Well I don't know what to add that other "lucky" 2003 HONDA ACCORD owners did not say. Basically the engine is consuming oil a lot and beside that my gasoline consumption is about 12 to 13 liters on a 100 km. My wife and myself were thinking about buying used 2009-2010 CRV but I read that there are issues with it as well. Would we buy Honda again? I don't think so.

Looks like Honda does not care for losing costumers.

- , MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, canada

problem #40

Aug 212012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

After reading the many other complaints about the 2003 Honda Accord burning oil, thought I would add to it. Our 99 Accord was totaled and we never had a problem with it. We just bought the 2003 Honda Accord 2 weeks ago with 110,000 miles and took it on vacation. We checked the oil before leaving and it was fine. After approx 500 miles, we had to put 3 qts of oil in it and 450 miles later another quart. We were worried the whole trip that something major was wrong and checked the oil constantly our of fear. We have owned Hondas for over 15 years but will not buy another one. Our 2006 Honda Accord needed the a/c compressor fixed at a cost of $1200. I contacted Honda and they could have cared less. Our next car will definitely be a Toyota. Honda should step up and admit the problem. I want to stand in front of their dealerships and scare people away from purchasing if that's what it would take to get them to address the problem. FYI, there was a class action law suit on the a/c for the 2006 but to date has gone nowhere.

- , Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #39

Aug 012012

Accord LX 2.4L 160 Hp 4

  • Manual transmission
  • 66,487 miles

For 2-3 years now I never make it 3 months to my next oil change without my oil light coming on. No leaks anywhere, no smoke or oil smell, just the engine burning excessive oil. My mechanic said to google "Honda 2003 accord burning oil" as this is a common theme among this model. Shouldn't Honda do something about this?

- , London, Ontario, canada

problem #38

Jul 122012

Accord EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

I purchased my '03 Honda Accord EX brand new in Sept. of '03. It was my third brand new Honda Accord purchase. My '88 Accord LX stayed in my family for 21-years and my '94 Accord LX remained in my family for 18-years. At around 50,000 miles, my '03 Accord started consuming oil (about 1 qt. per 1500 miles). There were no oil leaks and no noticeable smoke was coming out of the exhaust pipe. Oil consumption gradually increased until, at about 100,000 miles, it was consuming about 1qt. every 450 miles!

After reading several websites dealing with this subject, I desperately tried using 5W-30

oil instead of the Honda recommended 5W-20 weight. This did "improve" my oil consumption to around 1 qt. for every 800-1200 miles. Out of nowhere, at 107,000 my car would not stay started. It would sputter (while floor-boarded) between 2000-3000 rpm and would die as soon as I would let off the gas pedal. After having it towed to a repair shop, they found that hydraulic tensioner for the timing chain had jumped 4 or 5 teeth. To make a long story short, after spending $265, they informed me I needed to replace the entire engine. I will end up spending about $2300 to install a salvage yard Honda engine (30-day warranty). I continuously got the run-around by the local Honda dealership, stubbornly refusing to acknowledge any oil consumption problem with the 2.4L engine. I got around 200,000 miles on my prior two Accords, however, this will definitely be my last Honda, EVER!!!! Honda has been utterly disingenuous and irresponsible in this obvious 2.4L engine fiasco! A responsible company would have had a massive recall years ago! Shame on the Honda Corporation!

- , Clarksville, TN, USA

problem #37

Oct 012011

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

My Honda Accord started burning oil last year. The first 100k it burned no oil at all but has progressed to the point now with 150k miles it burns a quart every 750 miles or so. It leaks absolutely no oil and does not have any smoke coming out of the tailpipe. Was looking for a solution but seems like a lot of others are experiencing similar issues. This is my 3rd accord and likely my last as it is a pain to constantly be checking the oil.

- , Ballston Spa, NY, USA

problem #36

Aug 172011

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 224,160 miles

Reading post by others with similar issue, I've been fortunate. Started my evening commute last Aug (2011) the oil light starts flashing. Pulled over immediately, checked the level and there is only a trace amount on the very bottom of the stick. Added enough oil to get to the Honda dealer and put it in for an inspection and oil change. Advised dealership of sudden loss of oil and was asked if I had an engine flush done by one of those "quick oil change" places recently. Informed them that 2 weeks prior the car had the oil done at one of those places and called my wife to find out if she they talked her into doing anything other than the oil change. She confirmed they did flush the engine. The service advisor showed me a burned down piston from a 2009 Accord whose owner had their engine flushed at the same place. Honda warrantied their engine until the engineers figured out why it failed. They ended up with an unexpected and hefty bill for the new engine installed by Honda.

Coincidence? Maybe; however, I've had the oil changed every 5km with full synthetic and have the records, not to mention the expense, to prove it. Until last summer that car burned 0 (zero) oil between changes. Two weeks after being treated with that engine flush it suddenly starts drinking oil seems too be more than a mere coincidence.

My Accord still runs great and I add non-synthetic oil (cheap stuff) every 500 to 1000 km. I expected my Accord to last 750,000 km when I bought it. Over ambitious? To some yes, but I've since added another 15,000km, plus the extra oil and expect to keep driving it until the engine dies or the electrical system completely fails, but thats another issue.

- , Ottawa, Ontario, canada

problem #35

May 172007

Accord EX 2.4L I4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I bought the car with about 95,000 miles on it. It has burned oil ever since. It was very new to me for a Honda to burn oil since I had over 200,000 miles on my 92 Accord and it didn't burn a drop of oil between oil changes. The oil rings failing seems to be a very common issue on the 2003-2008 Honda 2.4L I4 engine. I have kept a close eye on the oil between oil changes and always had to add a quart every 3000 miles. I would change it at about 5000 miles. I have about 175,000 miles on it now and the oil consumptions was about a quart every 2000 miles so after reading that it was the oil rings I went ahead and tore the engine down and replaced the piston rings and a lot of other regular maintenance items. I will change my oil every 5000 but run only synthetic in it. May be the last Honda I own even though I love them. My parents have owned Toyota's since the 80s so I may just got to a Toyota.

- , Milford, OH, USA

problem #34

Jan 012009

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 202,000 miles

I had my Honda Accord 2003 with 202,000 miles and take care really good, just last 3 years , I have had to check the oil level very often, since the car consumes a lot of oil. Now every week use my 1 qt.every 500 miles. It does not have any oil leak, does not smoke in the back. I thought Honda has quality that why I bought it. But compare to my Avalon 1996 with 230,000 mile No need to fill up oil just change oil every 3000 miles. I think Honda has defective design for this model 2003 Vtec engine or something that cause engine burn/leak a lot of oil. We should make Honda to recall this model and fix it for free. Honda will never be on my new car buy list. Really disappointed

- , Temple City, CA, USA

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