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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.

7.1

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,917.00
Average Mileage:
85,258 miles
Total Complaints:
13 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (7 reports)
  2. replace transmission (6 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments

problem #13

Apr 102005

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

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

It's pretty bad to have such a loud transmission whine in a 2-year old Honda Accord LX. We bought the car in 2005. The whine got louder and louder as the days passed. So we took it in under warranty. It has been fine until 2013. Now I am starting to hear a whine starting again.

- , Collierville, Tennessee, USA

problem #12

May 012012

Accord LX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Subsequent to getting a rebuilt transmission on June 6, 2012, with 82,905 miles on the car, I found out that transmission problems are extremely prevalent in 2003 Honda Accords. In fact, there was a recall in 2004. I bought the car 1/30/2006 from Thousand Oaks (CA) Honda. I talked to Honda Customer Service (800-999-1009) today and my case is being referred to a Case Manager. We will see what happens . . .

- , Woodland Hills, CA, USA

problem #11

Dec 152010

Accord EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

When i bought the car i told the dealer look it doesnt drive right, he tried it and said he couldnt tell the dealership will look at it over the next 2 days and make it in sellable condition. a week later i take it back to his boss and tell him it doesnt drive right and he blows me off says he cant tell the difference then at each service call i took it in i complained but was blown off. i stopped taking it there but the leak in the transmission got progressivly worse, now it leaks a quart a week, and tonight it has started high pitch squeeling as it decelerates, was just at 40mph now it does it at multiple speeds. i just want them to fix it i contacted the BBB hopefully someone will take me seriously before that car kills me.

- , Dayton, NV, USA

problem #10

Dec 272011

Accord ES V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles

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

Loud "embarrassing" noise coming from car whenever cold...takes 15 minutes for noise to go away. Sounds as if the transmission fluid is very low. Put car in shop to check fluid level. Service Center called and said there is nothing wrong with my car and it was ready for pickup. I asked the tech to change the power steering fluid...just in case it was the problem. Problem still exists.

My transmission was fine until I had the transmission fluid changed. Honda's "special" transmission fluid, which can only be purchased from the Honda Dealership could be the problem. Not sure what to do...I shall be wait and see.

- , Nashville, TN, USA

problem #9

Aug 122011

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

First off, like others blogging here I have been a Honda owner for life. I have never owned anything different, I even bought Honda motorcycles new. Based on my experience with my Accord that has changed and I think I will move on to another brand now. I bought the car used in 2006 with about 40,000 miles on it. I always did the maintenance with the dealer. The timing belt of course had to be replaced which was a major expense, and the driver seat electronics broke which resulted in almost a thousand dollars to repair (and several trips back to the dealer to get it right). All in all I've spent at least $10,000 in upkeep. For a Honda that is crazy.

None of that compares to the transmission failure though, which just occurred yesterday. Fortunately I was on the freeway and traffic had slowed down to about 20 MPH. I am shocked and horrified by what others have written about the transmission shifting into first. How many people has this happened to that aren't alive to tell about it or haven't discovered this blog?

Anyway my transmission just failed, it didn't downshift. I knew it was off because at slow speeds it would jump a little when I accelerated. I thought it might just be something minor. When it failed though the engine became almost non responsive. I would push the gas pedal and the car simply wouldn't gain speed, but the RPM gauge was pushing the limits. So, I pulled over and got towed to a nearby Honda dealer in Redwood City, CA.

The same day the service rep called me and said the transmission had failed and told me I had a few options for repair, the first being the recommended Honda replacement transmission which he verbally quoted to be around $4,000. He also offered a rebuilt transmission for something like $2,800. By the time he had called again though I had found this blog and told him I did some research and discovered this is a big problem with the '03 Accords and mentioned a possible class action suit against Honda. He said he would check with Honda corporate to "see if there's anything they can do."

As of today I am still waiting to see what that will be. He said normally with a car "that old" they can't help. What a shock, almost line for line what dealers are telling everyone else. At this point I don't know what I should do. I am horrified to read that transmissions failed AGAIN after being replaced for some poor folks. Even with this replacement I'm looking at spending almost as much as what the car is worth, and it is in otherwise MINT condition. I even invested in a premium sound system and GPS system for the car. What a waste of money!

I encourage the lawsuit as that may be the only way to force Honda's hand on the matter. It's unfortunate that Honda is facing this and other lawsuits in the aftermath of the Earthquake in Japan, but it is not okay to have drivers dying or getting seriously wounded because of transmission failures and doing nothing about it. As for me, if I do get it repaired it will be the last Honda I'll own and I'll be scared every time I get in the car that the transmission will fail again. Wake up Honda!

- , San Francisco, California, USA

problem #8

Jul 222011

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

My Honda Accord started slipping between 2nd and 3rd gear. Then a high-pitch whining noise came. I took it to the dealer and they told me that I need a new transmission. $2895.00. Unacceptable and very expensive.

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #7

Jun 042011

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

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

HONDA OF NORTH AMERICA NEEDS TO BE SUED AGAIN....FOR FAILURE TO RECALL ALL HONDA'S WITH BAD TRANSMISSION PROBLEMS!! THIS IS SO FREAKING UNFAIR, I BASICALLY PAID $28K FOR A CAR THAT WAS A LEMON FROM THE GET GO....AT LEAST TOYOTA ACCEPTED RESPONSIBILITY AND RECALLED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF VEHICLES BUT HONDA WILL NOT OWN UP TO THEIR RESPONSIBILITY....I WILL NEVER NEVER BUY ANOTHER HONDA CAR AGAIN..

- , Austin, TX, USA

problem #6

Apr 222011

Accord

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles

I first noticed having a problem on Friday April 22, 2011. When cold my Honda drives fine but after a few minutes the engine revs up, but the car won't shift into gear or move. Also at high speed of about 30-50 mph, it suddenly down gears to one with a violent jerk.

The transmission won't even go into reverse.

therefore there isn't anything wrong with it. I should take it home and monitor it.

I have read that it could be a defective torque converter. I also heard that fixing torque converter can cost a lot of money.

I called Honda at 800-999-1009 on Tuesday, April 26, and someone by the name of Robert took my VIN number and my complaint and said all this information is now embedded in the VIN.

- , Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #5

Sep 292010

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 154,855 miles

Brought car in to my Honda dealership (the same one that replaced the transmission in 2006 and 2008) because of a high pitched whining noise coming from the transmission when decelerating. They recommended replacing the transmission (which would be the third). Current millage on this transmission 44,230.

- , Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #4

Oct 012009

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

This is very shameful of honda not to fix these transmission on the 2003 honda accord . They have hurt their reputation and won"t get it back no time soon !!!

- , Decatur, GA, USA

problem #3

Sep 182006

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

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

This car was the biggest piece of crap I EVER owned!! The transmission whined when it shifted, it smelled of electrical wires burning anytime I drove it. I couldn't keep brakes on it, It had power but when you didn't know if the transmission was going to fall-out... you had to worry about the it!!

- , Harriman, TN, USA

problem #2

Feb 012010

Accord EX V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

Annoying noise, sounding like maybe road noise from the tires, started around Feb 1, 2010...changed out tires, noise still there. had it checked by private party mechanics and they indicated it was typical of high (131k high? i don't think it is) mileage Accords to have this noise from the transmission (and why would that be?). then i recalled, too, that coming out of a dead stop, car was hesitating to shift to 2nd gear and the acceleration was slow and halting...that happened twice in the last month. didn't think much of that until i read the other complaints and decided it is probably related to the tranny noise. am taking the car back in for thorough investigation next week. will update report then...given the rest of these posts, it's probably disaster on the horizon. except mine being a V4 might be a mitigating factor. we shall see.

- , Redlands, CA, USA

problem #1

May 242007

(reported on)

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,500 miles

Often there is a high pitched whine or whistle when I take my foot off the gas pedal (esp. at high speeds). I was told by a trusted transmission expert, the manager of a Honda dealership, and a car technician (all of whom test drove the car) that the problem was harmless and typical and no matter how bad the noise may get, the transmission will never have any problems. And I have to say that the tranny is very, very smooth. They also said that if I had the transmission replaced I could have the same noise or perhaps a different one, not to mention other problems. They explained to me that the noise occurs on deceleration because it has to do with the back side of the electronically controlled clutch gears (as opposed to the front side). I do not think that I will get the tranny replaced because I am getting used to the intermittent sound and it is usually not that bad. Also, I do not want to pay upwards of $3,500 for a rebuilt tranny that might have the same problem or perhaps more problems than the current one.

- , Simpsonville, S. C, USA

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