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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:
137,544 miles
Total Complaints:
154 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace the transmission (67 reports)
  2. not sure (48 reports)
  3. had the transmission rebuilt (15 reports)
  4. honda corp. will replace autotrans. as a good will service (8 reports)
  5. new transmission (8 reports)
  6. replace the torque converter solenoid (5 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 1 of 8)

problem #154

Oct 012013

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


Purchased my 2003 Honda Accord brand new. In 2004 was advised of a recall to fix a problem with the second gear in the transmission. Recall was fixed in 2004 by an authorized Honda dealership. Now having problems with the second gear. Problems happen almost everyday. Most significant was when I was in a busy intersection and the car wouldn't go into third gear. The car wouldn't move. Couldn't get out of the intersection. I sat in my car watching traffic coming towards me at 65-70mph. I was almost broad sided. Brought the car back to the dealership. Told them about the incident. They shrugged their shoulders and laughed. Told me to have the transmission rebuilt if I'm that concerned about it. The dealership continues to tell me they can't find a problem with the car. They also stated even if they found a problem the dealership nor Honda would help cover the costs. I bought this car based on Honda's reputation for safety and that Honda vehicles last a long time. I will never buy another Honda. It's not worth putting your life at risk.

- , Marlborough, CT, USA

problem #153

Sep 052006

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

Had just bought the car only a few months earlier. Since the car was a Certified Used Car, Honda replaced the failed transmission with a rebuilt one for free (except they didn't cover my rental car cost of some $300 while they worked on the repairs).

- , Corona, CA, USA

problem #152

Jul 192014

Accord EX 2.4L Vtec

  • Automatic transmission
  • 184,000 miles

First i just want to say that Honda makes a really beautiful car but as for the quality they really are terrible. I was on my way home last night and it was only about 72 degrees out but anyways, as I'm driving, the car acted like it went in neutral and started ti high rev on me. I got to a stop sign and it wouldn't move in any gear. I had to get car off road and sit until it cooled down(trans temp) bout 10-15 mins or so. I started up and it went in gear but was shifting hard but not even 2/10 of a mile it did the whole no gear thing to me again. Wow how scary as i was turning left on a green light and almost was hit broad side. This is really dangerous and it will sure end up causing deaths if honda doesn't get itself together. Just look at what GM is going through! There needs to be a lawsuit on this transmission before a lot of lives are lost for poor quality design or sub standard parts used in these transmissions. I'm calling honda tomorrow but I'm thinking I'm wasting my breath. If a class action lawsuit happens I hope to be included as I was almost wrecked because of this problem and my life and my child's life is worth way more than the cost to replace these junk transmissions.

- , Chillicothe, Ohio, USA

problem #151

Feb 022012

Accord EX 3.2L V Tec V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,123 miles



- , Kapolei, HI, USA

problem #150

Jun 052014

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,700 miles

The car only has 87K miles and the transmission went bad. I purchased the Honda thinking of Honda reliability, was not expecting the transmission to go bad on a 30K car. Honda refuses to cover anything, I am a single mom with 2 children and cannot afford 6K to put a new transmission. Will never buy a Honda again...

- , Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #149

May 272014

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

Daughter bought the car. The next day, engine light came on. still was running alright. Every day got worse. Fluid is black, shifts like crap. Took to transmission shop. Said it would cost $3200 to replace with a rebuild. Daughter has made 1 payment on the car. Doesn't even have the tag yet. 30 days and need a transmission. That's BS!!!

Never buy a Honda again!!!! Also TCS light is on and brake light stays on. Unplugged brake light. Piss Poor Quality from Honda!!!

- , Columbia, South Carolina, USA

problem #148

Feb 122014

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles


Bought the car during the winter holiday season from my uncle in Florida. Knowing that he takes excellent care of his cars and partnered with the fact that it is a Honda and a southern car with low miles, I jumped right in without much research. BIG mistake!

Two thousand miles later I was having some slipping during the 2-3 shift. At first it would happen occasionally and I thought maybe I am just not accustom to the shift points. Slowly over the next few weeks I would have so much slipping that I would have to let off the gas to allow the car to shift. The problem became worse the longer I drove. At that point I started doing some research and boy was I surprised. Second most complaint about car in the history of carcomplaints.com!!!!!!!

I read that some people had luck with goodwill service from their Honda dealers. I went to talk to my service rep and he claimed that the transmission is not a common problem to his knowledge. Right! The quote for a re-manufactured transmission was $5500 but he could probably get it down to $5200. Thanks for the help. Ended up getting it rebuilt by a highly recommended local transmission specialist. He knew exactly what was happening as soon as he looked at the car I was driving. I didn't even say a word. $2700 dollars later it feels like a new car. Let's just hope it lasts.

*EDIT: The recall from 2004 to add the oil jet was performed as soon as the recall was issued. Doesn't appear to make a bit of difference except to keep the damage from occurring until the warranty has expired. Glad Honda was able to save some money.

- , Jenison, MI, USA

problem #147

Jan 272014

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 176,000 miles

I have had my honda since 2003, brought it brand new. Just like everyone else I felt something was wrong with my car after all the recalls they had dealing with transmission, but never replaced it. Recently I started having issues with shifting and I have an automatic. I took to one mechanic couldn't find the issue suggested getting transmission fluid flushed since it was dirty. OK. after that drove for a day still same issue took to HONDA had them do a multi point check when engine light was on but they still came back saying transmission fine nothing with transmission might be the computer going out reason for check engine light coming on and also gave me a list of things that should be taken care of which was already done. Issue kept going on for a few days till I took to a Transmission specialist which educated me and provided me with knowledge about transmissions and how they work. Ended up getting Transmission rebuilt since it was something internal 1700. Honda should be responsible for everyones transmission seems like the 2003 models are trash. Granted I have 175,000 miles but I still should not have to pay out of pocket for an issue that was destined to happened no matter how many miles you have.

- , Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #146

Jan 012013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Transmission struggled to shift between gears, would sometimes skip third gear, clunked into gear at lower speeds. Was told by driveline mechanic this is all one problem and common to Hondas of this model and year. Had it rebuilt at cost to me of $2800.

- , Keene, New Hampshire, USA

problem #145

Mar 112008

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Five years old, and the transmission needs to be replaced...ridiculous! Still had 5 years of extended warranty but since it's a new transmission we lose 3 of the 5 years left on the warranty

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #144

Nov 212011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles


i was so shocked to find out my Honda, a car I was told was so wonderful, needed a transmission. After the fact I researched it and to my surprise lots of transmission problems in that year. Some of my interior is falling down on top of this. As I am writing this my car won't start now, wires or starter, don't know.

I bought this in 2007- no more Honda's!

- , Jackson, MS, USA

problem #143

Jul 012013

Accord 3L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

Up until about 135k miles, our Accord V6 was working quite flawlessly. We replaced the alternator at about 133k, and had all routine maintenance and recalls done by an authorized Honda dealer in Fargo, ND.

However, on the way to an appointment, merging on a ramp from one highway onto another, WITHOUT any forewarning and at a speed of about 50mph, the Accord suddenly downshifted violently to the point that the tires squealed. Within an instant the transmission(?) released and I rolled on. 30 seconds later, the same occurred. Thankfully, at both instances, there was no other vehicle behind me. With another driver behind me, the opportunity for disastrous consequences would have been tremendous! I exited the highway, only having the first gear available. No reverse, no other gear. I limped the car home. On the dash, there were NO warning lights indicating any issues!!

Following day: Called the dealership and was asked to bring it in. The first half mile of my way there went without issues, the car shifted fine. Then all hell broke lose. On the dash the following lights came on: Check engine, triangle with exclamation point, TCS and the shift indicator started blinking in "D". I stopped, called the dealer and was told that I can "limp it in". Distance: ~6 miles.

Assessment the following day: transmission failure. it will need to be replaced. Quotes: Used transmission, no warranty: $3900 New transmission, with warranty: $4500

At a vehicle that books just at about $7k retail, an investment above 60% of value is ridiculous at best. However, there's no further help and/or assistance from the dealership, especially since the problem is not officially recognized by Honda. I picked the Accord back up and drove it home. It's presently sitting in the driveway, waiting for a fix, which has yet to be determined what it will be.

However, one last ditch attempt will be to call the dealership tomorrow, and reference this site, in hopes that there's a reasonable response to my claim. If not, I'm not sure what my next step will be.

Overall, this is incredibly frustrating, not what I expected from a Honda mid-level vehicle and certainly not the conduct that I expected from a company that "prides" itself in building excellent vehicles.

- , Fargo, North Dakota, USA

problem #142

Jun 202012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,076 miles

transmission just stopped working out of the blue.

- , Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #141

Apr 022012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Piece of crap car. 2003 Honda Accord with 65,000 miles on it had to have transmission rebuilt. This occurred just days after extended warranty ran out. We have 2 hondas in our family and I know for certain that i will never buy another. The doors won't stay open and the interior trim is worthless. Guy who rebuilt transmission said that it was a design flaw -

- , Helena, AL, USA

problem #140

Apr 052013

Accord Coupe 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,219 miles

At only 57,219 miles this very well maintained car has a transmission failure. I'm told that the transmission has a filter, but the transmission has to be removed and dismantled to replace it. How convenient. All mechanical design engineers should have to purchase what they have designed and spend a couple of years performing repairs on those items. I'd bet we would see an improvement.

Update from Apr 24, 2013: Total rebuild required. Honda wanted $4,000 for the transmission, plus installation. No thanks. If their original was that bad, why would I want another one just like it? I couldn't bear to hand them (and reward them) another 5 grand. Went to AATCO. $3,036 for total rebuild. I don't like it, but I've got a new transmission and a 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty.

- , Yuba City, CA, USA

problem #139

Mar 242013

Accord 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I have had my Accord since July of 2012. It was working perfectly. Over the summer I even took a 3,000 mile round trip. Recently I got a recall notice about power steering but it wasn't anything drastic. Today, however, on my way to work, I was doing about 40 and it suddenly downshifted. It jerked awfully. I thought it would go away if I slowed down but it got worse. The engine kept revving but my car wouldn't move and then it suddenly started to shake. It was dangerous! Tomorrow, luckily, I don't work and will have to go to a mechanic to check it out. But from what I have read, I already know what they are going to tell me . I fear the worst . Not happy at all!!!!! My car only has 67,000 miles!!


- , Jersey City, NJ, USA

problem #138

Oct 012012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

My husband and I were looking for a second vehicle that we could get our money's worth out of for commuting. We decided that Honda's make good commuter vehicles since they are such high quality vehicles that can handle lots of mileage. We found us a nice 2003 Honda Accord EX V6. It is nice all right except within 6 months the transmission is beginning to slip and we have experienced the sudden downshifting that others describe along with lunging when trying to go from 2nd to 3rd gear. We also have the long delay when shifting from reverse to drive. With just 106,000 miles on it and since we haven't even owned the vehicle for a year we are very disappointed. I found the car so my husband says I am banned from car shopping anymore. I guess I should have found carcomplaints.com sooner since this model is listed as the #2 worst car! Wish us luck and we will be back on here once the tranny goes out completely to tally up the costs. We have other complaints about this car as well but as instructed I will file them separately. They are worth mentioning here though to help those who may be considering a 2003 Accord. One month after we purchased the vehicle we found the trunk was full of water. It had never been in a "reported" accident and the folks that fixed it said they see it all the time on that model. Also, the front fender liners have fallen in and my husband has had to replace one and get new plastic clips for the other. Will not buy another Honda. We also have a 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor. It has about the same mileage and we have owned it for 7 years and have had less problems! It is ugly though, the paint is chipping off and it is rusting but hey the engine and transmission work great and it gets our family from A to B without any problems. Will leave our thoughts on that car under the Mitsubishi area. Good luck to those with the 03 Accord!!

Update from Dec 10, 2012: I forgot to mention that the trunk won't close! I left another complaint about this elsewhere but I just wanted to post it here as well so you can see that 03 Honda Accord means headaches!

- , Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #137

Dec 272012

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

The car had no transmission problems until today and the transmission went completely out with a bump and the transmission had been replaced before but it's a bad time.

- , Hickory, NC, USA

problem #136

Aug 312010

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,000 miles

This is my fourth Honda purchase. Being a single mom of three children, I always bragged about the reliability of a Honda. Not anymore. After all these transmission problems on this vehicle, I think I will go back to buying Toyotas.... or maybe one of the others with the 10 year warranties. I don't understand how Honda would allow this to continue.... even after all the proof (over and over) of all the people having issues with their transmission. Just doesn't seem like good business.

I bought my 2003 Honda Accord V6 vehicle used.... in 2010. This was my fourth Honda and I was not the least bit worried. I bought all of my Hondas used. This was my first AUTOMATIC Honda I had purchased, however. I have always wondered if THAT was the problem. I NEVER had any issues with transmission problems with all of the manual transmissions in my old Hondas.

It started (almost immediately) with hard shifting. That got worse... then the green light started to blink. Now it slips out of gear when I turn corners. It usually happens between 1st and 2nd gear and then it will about rip your head off when it finally "finds" second gear. I try to not rev the engine too much in order to avoid that occurrence. I have tried numerous things costing me over $1,500.00. But, I have not replaced the transmission. I will trade it before I do that.

I'm so disappointed in Honda.... don't know that I will buy another automatic again.... or even a Honda for that matter. I NEVER dreamed I would ever say that after the amazing results I've had in the past with Hondas!

- , Greencastle, IN, USA

problem #135

Nov 102012

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

Car downshifted on highway (65mph) and almost caused an accident. Our 6 year old son now has nightmares. Initial diagnostic OBDII codes P0747 and P0752 stated two solenoids were bad. Mechanic replaced these and, $300.00 later the problem is still the same. Am looking to join a class action lawsuit or considering going to small claims court after I get the transmission replaced so I can have a final dollar amount.

Honda dealer refused to help.

- , Santa Clara, CA, USA

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