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:
15 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
9 / 0
Average Mileage:
84,447 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 14 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #316

Jul 102007


  • 100,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 30 miles per hour the transmission slipped into second gear and would not come out of second gear. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer to be repaired. The contact was advised that the problem was the throttle body. The contact was then advised that the transmission was slipping. The current mileage was 124,000. The failure mileage was 100,000.

- Musella, GA, USA

problem #315

Feb 222010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles
I was accelerating and the rpms of my vehicle shot up and my car decelerated. I turned off the car restarted and it ran fine. Got up next morning, drove kids to school. Got in car, began drive to work. As I entered the freeway, my car's rpms shot up and my car began to decelerate rapidly when it hit 40 mph. Drove to local mechanic, restarting car 5 times on the way and then had it towed to Honda deleared. Now sitting wait to see who will pay for new transmission they say I need. Updated 03/08/10

- Oceanside, CA, USA

problem #314

Feb 152010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 78,000 miles
While driving my 2003 Honda Accord V6 my transmission shifted my car from 5th gear to 1st violently lurching my car and forcing me to slide off of the highway. Both myself and my passenger were thrown into our seatbelts and tossed back into our seats after sliding into the highway median. I turned the car off and after a few minutes of trying to get my composure was able to start the car and limp home in first gear using back roads. I took the vehicle to Honda for them to look at it and learned that there is a long known issue about this transmission and that they were not surprised. Now after doing research on the internet I have found that hundreds and hundreds of people have reported this issue to Honda. Honda even compensates some repair cost as a good faith measure. Sounds to me like Honda is getting away with murder. Maybe no one has died yet, but I came close to it! I contracted with blackwater international for 4 years and went through intensive defensive and offensive combat driving skills training and I believe this training is why I kept my head and averted a crash, the next person may not be so lucky.

- Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #313

Nov 212008


  • 74,000 miles


I was driving on the Florida tpk. At approximately 60 mph. The rpms shot up like if the car had shifted into neutral. I was able to pull the car over to the shoulder and shut it for a few minutes. I bought this car used in June of 2008 with about 60,000 miles. This happened later that year in November. I had other minor incidents of slippage but it would quickly slip back into gear. I now have almost 90,000 miles and the problem continues happening randomly but mostly when the engine temperature is high and at low speeds. The gear slips from 2nd to 3rd. Fortunately for me, it was very early in the morning when this happened and there was not much traffic. If I would have been driving during heavier traffic times, I would have been involved in a serious accident. I feared for my life and no one should have to die before this becomes a recall/full action lawsuit for Honda. The car was jerking to try to find the gear and the first thing I did after I pulled to the shoulder was call my wife and tell her what had just happened. I called braman Honda in miami, fl and was given an appointment date to bring it in on 12/6/08. American Honda case: N032008-12-0200567. The transmission failure was diagnosed and the vehicle does need a new transmission. Although the dealership claimed they were unfamiliar with the problem, they called me back to say american Honda was going to split the total cost and pay for the transmission (goodwill deed) and I would only have to pay the labor, which was about $1,700. I could not afford that and continued trying to contact them for a full repair. No luck. I couldn't believe my Honda with 75,000 miles needed a new transmission! I have found out almost 1.1 million 2003 V-6 Accord like mine are affected, but yet no recall?? Honda refuses to admit the 2003 Accord have faulty transmissions. Instead of standing behind their product, they are hiding the truth. I hope this complaint aids in getting the truth. I am contacting a lawyer in NY as well.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #312

Dec 122002


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 45 mph the transmission stopped working which caused the vehicle to stall in traffic. The contact was able to maneuver the vehicle to the side of the road. The contact drove the vehicle to the dealer to have the transmission repaired and the manufacturer offered to pay for half of the repair cost. The contact has requested the manufacturer cover the cost the entire repair cost due to the numerous complaints regarding Honda's transmission. The contact is concerned that the failure could cause a crash to occur. The failure mileage was 40,000.

- San Pedro, CA, USA

problem #311

Feb 042010


  • 115,000 miles
Purchased the car 1.5 yrs ago @ 99,000 from a "certified" used Honda dealership. Did all scheduled maintenance. Check engine light came on in 1/10. Replace rear catalytic converter. 2/10 transmission started slipping out of gear and red lining the RPM's. car would not shift out of 2nd or 3rd gear. Took to mechanic and transmission is blown.

- Portland, TN, USA

problem #310

May 192009


  • 100,800 miles


1. no failure before recall. Brought car in for recall - part replacement was completed and technician said no "visible" signs of wear. 2. complete transmission failure - in second gear... 2. transmission replacemnet 2009 (at my expense)

- Hudson, NC, USA

problem #309

Jan 302010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
Vehicle "slips" out of gear when driving leaving the transmission to rev in neutral. Gear selector never moves. This "slipping" happens at a variety of speeds, but particularly when the automatic transmission is in passing gear or downshifting to go up hills. Sometimes all it takes to get the vehicle back in gear is moving the gear selector to neutral while coasting and then moving it back into drive. Other times the vehicle must be pulled over to the side of the road and in time it will go back into drive without slipping out of gear again.

- Nashville, IN, USA

problem #308

Jan 302010


  • 82,403 miles
There is a systemic failure of the torque converter in the transmission of the 2003 Honda Accord models. One google search can prove what an epidemic it is as owners across the nation have complained on sites such as while driving and with no warning light on, the vehicle will redline on the RPM's without going into gear. The automatic transmission just fails thus making the vehicle unstable. Took it to the dealership where they called Honda corporation of America (aware of the problem) and offered to pay half for a refurbished transmission. Acted like they were doing me a favor. This transmission should be recalled for the safety of other owners who are not aware of this inevitable failure and for the safety of others on the highway.

- Valencia, CA, USA

problem #307

May 152009


  • 103,000 miles
I was driving with my four year old in the car, going about 70/hour on the freeway when my car violently downshifted on its own to about 30/hour. It felt as if we hit a brickwall. Luckily no cars were behind, otherwise there would have been an accident. We were advised by the dealer that my 2003 Accord needed a brand new transmission. A search on the internet found hundreds of similar complaints, many of which occurred in the same dangerous manner. Honda is aware of this issue, but has failed to issue a recall. The corporate office covered 25%, and I was still out of pocket $2300 for a refurbished transmission, which I fear will also fail at a later date...seeing as this is a common problem. This could have lead to a terrible accident and we were very lucky. If something is not done, someone will be killed.

- Oxnard, CA, USA

problem #306

Jul 302009


  • 41,000 miles


2003 Honda Accord with 41,000 miles. Transmission failed had to pay $3600 to rebuild transmission and replace torque converter. Honda would do nothing. This is a safety issue!!! almost wrecked my car driving on the highway.

- Chamblee, GA, USA

problem #305

Jan 302010


  • 90,000 miles
Car began to jump while driving at low speeds when gears were shifting. Car began to make a loud noise. Car would not shift from 2nd to 3rd gear on highway causing me to pull over. Found out transmission slips when driving at high speeds on the highway. Car would rev up but not shift gears.

- Lansdale, PA, USA

problem #304

Jan 012010


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord ex. While traveling at speeds of 65 mph the vehicle shook violently. He assumed he was rear-ended but there was no following vehicle. He continued at 40 mph and noticed that the engine was idling very high and continued to shake excessively intermittently. The dealer advised replacing the transmission at his expense. There were no recalls and the warranty was not valid. The failure and current mileages were under 130,000.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #303

Jan 232010


  • 133,450 miles
The problem that is occurring sounds the same as the other complaints. My Honda Accord 2003 V6 (133K) that I just bought a month ago will not shift into third gear what is happening is the RPM on the car goes all the way up to 5 or 6 but the car is not moving anywhere it is just stuck like at 20mph. Worried abt this tranmission faliure and not using it. I got this car under a bank loan and I dont think I can afford the whole transmission replacement. I dont think I have to pay for someone's mistake. Please consider this.

- Stillwater, OK, USA

problem #302

Dec 182009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 134,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 ex total transmission failure.

- Reading, MA, USA

problem #301

Jan 112010


  • 112,560 miles
Transmission down shifts from highway speeds without warning, causing abrupt slow down of car. Also, transmission fails to shift into gear after stops at red lights on some occasions, leaving driver stranded in traffic.

- Covington, GA, USA

problem #300

Jan 102010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles
At 87,000 miles, my 2003 Honda Accord V6 sedan automatic transmission is having more and more problems from second to third gear. There are stories all over the internet about this with many people filing complaints with the NHTSA. Apparently, Honda will not cover the repairs. At best, they offered to pay one owner $1300 toward the $3700 repair cost, but only if the work was done at a Honda dealership. What happened to Honda who was once known for reliable cars and honesty?

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #299

Dec 162009


  • 150,000 miles
Purchased 2003 Honda Accord used from Toyota dealership October 2005. Noticed strange sound coming from vehicle and gears would shift strangely within a year later. Took Honda according to dealership for servicing and questioned sound several times, Honda insist it was other items that was wrong with vehicle but never referenced transmission. Gears on car started slipping and the shift changing got worse as if it did not want to shift into 2nd gear. As I was driving on interstate, car stop pulling and when I would push the gas, the engine would rev up and the RPM would basically go off the meter (high). Car would not pull in drive or reverse, as if it was in neutral. When checking transmission fluid, it was greatly discolored (black). I turned car off and restarted car and was able to get car to pull before jerking strongly then going back in the rev engine/not pulling state. Because the failure did not occur near dealership and dealership mechanics was closed, I had to have car towed to a transmission specialist who informed me that there was chipping in the transmission (the dark discoloration) and overheating which in turn caused major damage to the transmission. Transmission had to be rebuilt, and the torque, pump and other transmission parts had to be replaced. Transmission specialist did state that the recall was either not done, parts were faulty, or service wasn't sufficient and did cause the long term transmission failure

- Lithia Springs, GA, USA

problem #298

Jun 012009


  • 129,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord RPM's going up, but car has absolutely no power. Researched online found that there are a lot of problems just like mine with the transmission.

- Glenpool, OK, USA

problem #297

Oct 102008


  • 74,000 miles
Greetings! while driving into work about 14 months ago, my 2003 Honda Accord suddenly went out of gear. The transmission felt like it went into neutral (while still in drive) and I was on the highway doing 60 mph. Luckily there were no vehicles near me. The car started to go into convulsions, as I could only guess the transmission was trying to find the gear once again. Need I say, I was scared for my life. I immediately pulled over to the shoulder with my heart racing! I was thanking god nothing happened. A similar incident happened to my wife shortly after that and I began looking up information regarding recalls. Surely enough, I stumbled upon the 2003 Honda Accord transmission recall. I contacted Honda and brought the car to a dealer as instructed to have it diagnosed. The transmission was faulty and although they did offer compensation for half of the cost to put in a new transmission, I was still not able to afford $1,500. I found it very unfair that my Accord, which was purchased about 2 years ago for durability purposes, had this issue with only 74,000 miles. I've driven Honda for over 20 years and have never had a problem with any. I presently drive my Accord to and from work and do not take the expressway for fear of what happened to my wife and myself. However, meaning there have been over 1 million vehicles with this similar problem, I think a class action lawsuit or full recall should be considered. I can honestly say if I would have been in heavy traffic, I would have suffered a serious accident that day. Since then, we experience slipping almost on a daily basis and are forced to pull over and stop the vehicle for a few minutes. This seems to help sometimes. Luckily we have another vehicle for longer distance driving. Please review this request very seriously. I am sure I am not the only person with this problem. Thank you for your assistance in this matter. Happy new year!

- Miami, FL, USA

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