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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.

7.0

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$1,670.00
Average Mileage:
140,000 miles
Total Complaints:
2 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace engine (1 reports)
  2. replaced the timing chain and tensioner (1 reports)
2003 Honda Accord engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments

problem #2

Mar 212014

Accord EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I Just bought this nice little used 4 door Honda Accord EX FOR JUST UNDER 7k with just under 140k miles on it and only put about 1,500 miles on it. Started running rough especially at low RPM. Turns out the damn timing chain slipped due to the tensioner failing. What the hell good is a timing chain when they are just as prone if not more prone to break than a timing belt? The Honda dealers does not recommend fixing the timing chain and instead recommended a good used engine opposed to trying to fix the bent vales etc..probably broke a piston!!!!.THIS TURNED OUT TO BE AN AUTOMOTIVE DISASTER.

I have tried to cut my losses, big losses at that, and bought a good used engine I HOPE for around a 1K and having a local mechanic R R the old bad engine with a GOOD USED ENGINE. IT SURE DOES NOT GIVE YOU MUCH CONFIDENCE IN HONDA AND THE 2.4 V TEC ENGINE WHICH I WOULD CONCLUDE IS A PIECE OF SH*T OF A ENGINE HAVING A TIMEING CHAIN PRONE TO SLIP BECAUSE OF A PIECE OF SH*T TENSIONER.

Yes, the dumb ass I bought the car from did not change the oil when he should have...First thing I did was change the oil But who is the real dumb ass here? " ME" for buying a car I did not thoroughly check out first before purchasing it off CRAIGS LIST. Due your due diligence when buying anything anymore. The fact the oil was dirty should have been my first clue to have passed on this dog. I will get it running and see what I think about it. MAY DRIVE IT OR SELL IT, if I sell it, my conscious is clear that I did not drop a dog on an unsuspecting individual unlike the guy I bought the car from. My instinct told me this guy was a phony lying bastard and so I should have passed on this Honda. Accord.

- , Marysville, WA, USA

problem #1

Jun 222012

Accord EX 2.4L, 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

The car's check engine light came on with a P0341 code (my carMD diagnosed it as either a VTEC solenoid or timing chain problem)..

The car ran sluggishly and prior to the check engine light coming on the car, my mechanic had changed the iradium spark plugs twice! First at 110,000 miles (regular service) and then again at 120,000 (at no charge second time). I had commented that the valves sounded loud and that my gas mileage had dropped from 26 average MPG to only 22. He said that was normal for a high mileage car. Surprisingly, there was no check engine light.

When the P0341 check engine light came on, tthe mechanic diagnosed it and recommeded replacing the VTEC solenoid for $400. Within a half a mile of driving away from the shop after the repair, the check engine light (with P0341 code) returned. The mechanic then said it must be the timing chain and the cost would be approximately $1,400 to replace it since the parts were more expensive and it would take 8 hours to replace the timing chain (not an easy repair). Since I did not have confidence in this mechanic, I decided to go somewhere else.

I spoke to a few different mechanics, but the experts weren't sure whether it was the timing chain or even something else. Sigh... I was reluctant to have an expensive repair done when it seemed that the experts were only guessing. I even paid an online Honda master mechanic for his opinion and the online Honda master mechanic stated that they don't see many timing chain failures, i.e. stretched chains since it is designed to last the life of the car. However later on, I did some online searches for Honda Accord 2.4L timing chain problems. It turns out that a number of other people with this engine have experienced this problem, usually between 100,000 and 140,000 miles, but as early as 60,000 miles.

Well, I lived with it and continued to drive the car. I got used to it, which of course was not the best decision, but I needed to find someone that I could trust. I finally decided on a new mechanic to make the necessary repairs, but before I could take it in, the car started to run funny for 7 miles (as if only 3 of its 4 cylinders were firing). When I went to restart the car after my appointment, the engine sounded terrible and it shook like it was now on only 2 cylinders. The engine then died and would not restart. I had the car towed to the repair shop.

The repair shop's first thought was that the valves might have hit the pistons since the 2.4L 4 cylinder Honda engine is an interference engine. When he spent time checking out the engine, talking to his Honda dealer mechanic buddies, the consensus was that the timing chain had stretched. The decision was to replace the timing chain and tensioner. The all day repair was done and he found that the timing chain had jumped FOUR teeth! No wonder the engine wouldn't start and ran terribly. He was shocked. He replaced the timing chain and tensioner, did an oil change with filter and the engine started right up. There was no engine damage. However, the check engine light still had a code for an oxygen sensor, so he replaced that too.

All is fine now and I've driven the car over 300 miles since the repair. I now have a car that runs like it is new again and my gas mileage has returned to its previous 26 miles per gallon (average city/hwy) usage, up from the earlier 22 mpg. OK, so what did the experts say caused the timing chain to stretch (fail) like it did. The opinion was that the engine was run too long on "dirty oil", even though I followed the owner's manual's normal Honda maintenance schedule of oil changes of 10,000 miles or one year. My car did not meet any of the severe driving guidance. Since the car was nearly new with only 12,000 miles on it when I purchased the car, I have ALWAYS used 5W20 synthetic oil, usually either Mobil 1, Pennzoil or Castrol with a new Fram oil filter. Another thing, this car has ALWAYS used about one quart of oil per 1,000 miles and Honda and the other mechanics said that this was normal (fairly common for this engine- look up excessive oil consumption on this site). I never let the oil level get below the one quart low mark on the dipstick, so every 5,000 miles it was like I had done an oil change anyway (because of the 1 quart per 1,000 mile oil usage). So I am perplexed by the "dirty engine oil" opinion. In the future, I will be more conservative and change the oil every 6,000-7,000 miles, but if the timing chain stretches again, it'll be time for a new car. If this is truly the reason for the timing chain's stretching (the tensioner actually causes the chain to get slack and wear the chain...according to the "experts"). If this is the case, then I hope that Honda will change its extended oil change recommendations. I may consider doing an engine oil analysis to see how "dirty" the engine oil really was.

So, do I have an recourse against Honda? I doubt it since the car has 140,000 miles on it. Since I did my own oil changes, I can't prove that it did the oil changes (other than writing the date and mileage down in my owners manual), but I didn't keep the receipts for the oil and filters. Hondas may not be as reliable as they used to be. Bring back the timing belts on this engine.

- , Herndon, VA, USA

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