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 3 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #536

Jun 232011


  • 84,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the vehicle was repaired under NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission). After the repairs while driving 30-40 mph, the vehicle would not respond to acceleration attempts. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the contact was awaiting a diagnosis of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 84,000.

- Emmaus , PA, USA

problem #535

Jun 212011

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
My 2003 Honda Accord began lurching violently as I was driving on the highway. I was slammed into the seatbelt and narrowly avoided an accident. I've found hundreds of other complaints online for the same problem. It appears Honda knows there is a defective transmission in these cars but have done nothing about it.

- Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #534

Jun 202011


  • 84,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord transmission failed at only 84000 miles. The car suddenly decelerated from 65 to 45 miles per hour on the freeway. Luckily it was not rush hour. My 1 year old son was in the car with me. No recalls have been issued even though numerous people have been experiencing this issue with their 2003 Accord. Upon inspection, I was told the transmission has a shift malfunction and is stuck in 3rd gear. Needs replacement with cost of $3900. The car is undriveable at this point without repair.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #533

May 032011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 89,000 miles


May 3rd, I was driving approx 70 mph when all of a sudden, my car felt like someone slammed on the brakes and I went flying forward. It happened 2 more times, then later, I couldn't go in reverse. I researched it and was shocked to find out this is an ongoing issue with the 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 model. Honda isn't calling it a recall because no one has been hurt yet. The next day I was in bad pain due to the jolts and seatbelt marks from them restraining me. I called american Honda and started a claim. I asked what if I need a new transmission. He said 'no problem, you're now with american Honda.' I took it in and my transmission failed on the way there too. While waiting the vip director came up to me telling me I'm a vip customer having bought Honda for 22 years. Shortly thereafter the svc manager came and told me yes, the transmission was gone and american Honda agreed to pay $900 out of the $4300 bill. I asked what about the known issues Honda has with this year and model" he said all they offered was $900. The vip manager told me he would never put $3400 in a sinking ship. I said 'sinking ship?' he said 'well it does have 89K miles on it.' I said 'it's a Honda...that's why I paid big bucks for a Honda because they are supposed to go for a long time.' When I called Honda America, they said I wasn't the owner. I said I am. I bought it 4 years and bring it brandon Honda for all my work. They still had the previous owner listed...after 4 years! I never received recalls because it went to the previous owner. The svc manager himself changed it that day to show me as the owner. All the times I'd gone to brandon Honda and bought it at crown Honda and they never put me as the owner, 4 years ago" incompetence. Like Toyota knew they had a brake problem but did nothing about till someone died.

- Riverview, FL, USA

problem #532

Jun 172011

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles
The automatic transmission on my wife's 2003 Honda Accord failed on 6-17-11 and nearly caused an accident. The transmission downshifted on its own and the car rapidly decelerated on the interstate with traffic approaching from the rear that had to change lanes to avoid collision. Numerous similar reports are noted online. This is an apparent known problem that Honda will not address. The dealer quoted costs in excess of $3500 to replace the transmission. The car has 150,000 miles and a transmission failure may be expected. The biggest issue is the incredible risks that passengers are exposed to when the violent failure occurs.

- Cleveland, TN, USA

problem #531

Apr 212011


  • 110,000 miles
Currently own a 2003 Honda with which I have made repairs too the transmissions system several times. In recent months I've notice as I traveling at higher speeds on the highway the car downshift making it unsafe when traffic flow is heavy. I've also had instances of stalling at take off which causes traffic issues when im stopped at a red light.

- Holly Hill, FL, USA

problem #530

Jun 012011


  • 94,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the transmission failed, causing the vehicle to shift in between gears. He also noticed that the check engine warning light illuminated. The dealer performed a diagnostic which confirmed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The dealer reset the check engine light however, the check engine light illuminated again. The manufacturer was aware of the failure. The transmission was not replaced. The current and failure mileages were 94,000.

- Novato, CA, USA

problem #529

Jun 092011

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord V6 automatic transmission failed at 65,000 miles--car was undrivable and was almost rear ended because I could not accelerate. Had to take car to independent shop and replace transmission for $3100.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #528

Jun 092011

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 30 mph, the contact stated that the vehicle would shift gears independently and become resistant to acceleration. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where they inspected the vehicle and informed the contact that the transmission needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was aware of the failure. No repairs were performed. The current and failure mileages were 69,000. Updated 07/20/11 updated 3/01/2012

- Glendale, WI, USA

problem #527

May 032011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 53,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord with only 53,000 miles. While driving on the highway approximately 55mph I attempted to change the line when my car suddenly and abruptly decelerated causing drivers behind me to brake rapidly and this almost lead to an accident. I was in the car with my wife and 4.5 years old son. It was a horrible experience. Next day I took my car to a dealer just to find out that I am going to need another transmission and the cost is $4600. American Honda offered 35 % discount but the problem with this is than independent garages quoted repair between $2300- $2900 so in reality it was not real discount. There is definitely something wrong with this year model transmission and judging by so many complains (and more is posted every day) about the same issue I am surprise that NHTSA is not doing anything about that. I hope that Agency is not waiting till someone get badly injured or cause others serious trouble. I am the lucky on, it cost me a money but I am well and alive. In may there was a recall from Hyundai and based on what I found on NHTSA website there was a lot less complains about transmission problem and NHTSA reacted : quoted¿ Hyundai is recalling 6,169 santa fes because a defective transmission may cause "loss of motive power, increasing the risk of a crash, " according to the NHTSA¿ unquoted. I would like to know what rules NHTSA used to differentiate transmission problem. In one case may increase risk of crush but in other not.

- Garfield, NJ, USA

problem #526

Jan 182011

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles


Automatic transmission second gear failed. Transmission had to be rebuilt at considerable personal expense..

- Starkville, MS, USA

problem #525

May 252011


  • 105,000 miles
After an incident where the car could only accelerate to 30 miles per hour, it was fixed by the Honda dealer (throttle repairs), then I had repeated incidents of gears shifting accidentally, one time gear shifted into neutral when I was at a stop sign. I would try to accelerate and the car would jerk and eventually go into gear. I took car back to dealer 4 times to get it repaired and they said nothing was wrong. Finally, at 5 pm on a major freeway the car started jerking and jolting violently and I had to get off and call a tow truck. Went to nearest Honda dealer and they duplicated the problem and said I need a new transmission and american Honda is going to pay 50% of the replacement cost, still very expensive..

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #524

Feb 102011


  • 95,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated while driving 30 mph the transmission locked. The contact pulled over to the side of the road and shut the vehicle off. The contact was able to restart the vehicle. The contact called the dealer regarding the transmission and the dealer stated the transmission needed to be replaced. The contact noticed numerous complaints regarding the transmission for his vehicle and stated this was a serious safety issue that could cause a crash. The failure mileage was 95,000. Updated 06/16/11

- Gallipolis, OH, USA

problem #523

May 022011

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord. Consumer states instead of replacing a defective transmission, the dealer installed an oil jet kit. The consumer stated he continues to experience problems with the transmission where it goes out of second gear while driving in traffic. The consumer was informed the vehicle needed a transmission at a cost of $ 3800. Updated 12/21/11.

- Lewis Center, OH, USA

problem #522

May 142011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 153,000 miles
With no warning my 3rd gear went out in my 2003 Honda Accord. Very dangerous when a vehicle is behind you and you can't accelerate due to not having a 3rd gear. I came very close to being rear ended but luckily got off to the side of the road. After looking it up online I found many complaints of this happening in the 03 Accord, I don't know how many times it has to happen before Honda will take ownership but with the cost of replacing the transmission being $3500-$4000 they need to do something. I can't afford to get this fixed!!

- Hart, MI, USA

problem #521

May 152011


  • 77,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that when trying to accelerate it wouldn't exceed 40 mph and the vehicle would jerk violently. The dealer was contacted, advised her that there were no recalls and to bring the vehicle in for diagnostic testing. The manufacturer was contacted and offered no assistance. The failure and current mileages were approximately 77,000.

- Mapath, NY, USA

problem #520

May 152011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 91,000 miles
Driving down sunrise high way in New York, when all of a sudden my 2003 V6 ex Honda Accord down shifts from 5th to 1st. Then it started to violently shake forward or back. I almost got hit by the passing surrounding cars while trying to maintain control. Upon further inspection it turns out to be the transmission has went. The car just turned over 90,000 miles on it.

- Sayville, NY, USA

problem #519

May 082011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 116,000 miles
Driving on 495 at night with heavy traffic in a construction zone when the transmission failed. Car started coasting and I could not reengage transmission. I managed to coast to a stop between 2 barrels. Transmission worked after shutting car off and restarting. Failed again after several minutes. Problem was diagnosed as a blown transmission at the dealers. Transmission replaced at my cost minus 25% credit from Honda.

- Acton, MA, USA

problem #518

May 032011

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Honda Accord ex. Consumer states problem with transmission the consumer stated as she was driving, all of a sudden, it felt as though the brakes had been slammed abruptly and she went flying forward. When the consumer arrived home, she realized the vehicle would not go in reverse. After doing some research, she discovered there was an ongoing problem with the make, model and year of her vehicle. Upon diagnosis, it was determined the transmission failed. Honda was willing to pay $2100 of the $4300 bill.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #517

May 032011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 90,600 miles
Transmission failure.

- Englewood, CO, USA

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