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 8 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #436

Oct 251977

Accord 6-cyl

  • 107,743 miles


The events leading up to the failure I wish there were events that led to the failure at least I would/or possible would have been prepared for it. I was driving 55-60 mph on interstate 405 in renton heading for sea-tac airport, when all of the sudden it was like someone had slammed on the brakes, then it was like the brakes were released and slammed on again. I was freaked out to say the least. The Ford F-350 behind me almost ended up coming through the back of my '03 Honda Accord. He swerved out of the way then pulled along side of me flipping me off and was yelling he was going to kill me. I was trying to signal car troubles when the transmission did it again for the 2nd time. I had reduced my speed to about 40-45 at this time so the violent jerking was not quite as bad that time. This resulted in the truck flipping me off again before stepping on his gas pedal and speeding off. After returning home from my business trip.the car seemed to be back to normal. Thank goodness for rush our traffic. After about 3 miles of 25-35 miles of driving the car stopped shifting gears and the RPM's went through the roof. I made it off the freeway at my exit and had to drive the next 15 miles doing 25-30 mph as the engine would not shift. How often does the problem occur" as soon at the engine is warmed up it seems like. I dropped it off at our local auto shop where I take our vehicles. I did some research online here and sure enough I find hundreds if not thousands of complaints about the transmission. Honda or the NHTSA do not believe this is a safety concern. How" I don't know, I guess they are waiting for someone to get killed and then they can take these complains seriously.

- Maple Valley, WA, USA

problem #435

Oct 172010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 69,500 miles
2003 V6 H. Accord transmission, noticed tranny will go out of gear, RPM go crazy, and car will jerk took into Honda world in downey ca. Had it checked I was told all was fine.. 2 months went by same problem in 2 occasions wile driving on freeway in ca almost lost control because of jerking motion and D gear failure.. 2 days after this wile driving jerk again wasn't getting D gear D gear starts flashing check engine light went on and tcs light also came up. Took straight to Honda world had it checked and now am told will need a new transmission witch will cost over $ 3,700 this is a serious problem with the 2003 Accord auto transmission I know there is hundreds of complaints regarding the 03 Accord auto transmission what is it going to take some one the die till they recall this transmission in addition to the high cost to have it replaced I don't feel I should cover cost when Honda knowing but not admitting there is a serious problem with transmission please help!

- Bell Gardens , CA, USA

problem #434

Oct 122010


  • 76,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact was traveling 65 mph on the highway and the transmission locked. The dealer stated that the failure was caused by the braking system. The vehicle was inspected by another certified mechanic who stated that it was caused by the transmission. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileages were 76000.

- Moreno Valley, CA, USA

problem #433

Oct 132010


  • 112,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While the contact was driving approximately 50 mph, the transmission failed without warning. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for diagnostic where they informed that the transmission would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. Previously, the ignition key would not release from the ignition switch; and the vehicle was repaired by the dealer. In addition, the stereo system, and the four automatic door locks would not operate properly. The failure mileage was approximately 112,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Stockton, MO, USA

problem #432

Aug 092010


  • 94,000 miles
When driving my 2003 Honda Accord through the mountains, uphill, my car suddenly downshifted into neutral. The engine revved like it could not choose a gear. The car was jerking as the engine continue to rev and it shifted in and out of gear (I don't know if it tried to engage each gear separately, or the same gear each time). I pulled over to the shoulder and turned the car off, however when I turned it back on I continued to have the same problem. The only way I could drive the car was to put it in 2nd gear and leave it there on a mountain freeway with many switchbacks and a speed limit of 45-55mph. This happened within 10 miles of starting my trip home after the car had been parked for several hours. I had noticed a few days previous to this event that the transmission felt like it was slipping out of gear so I had made an appointment with the mechanic to have it checked. When I brought it in the next morning I explained what happened and after examining the car he said the transmission would need to be replaced. I then took it to anderson Honda who examined the car and also said the transmission needed to be replaced. The car has a clean history and has only ever been maintained by a Honda dealer with on time scheduled maintenance. I contacted Honda of America for help paying for the transmission replacement as I feel this is a manufacturing error, not a driver/maintenance error. I contacted a lawyer who was able to speak with a regional manager of Honda usa who said that because my car was over 3 yrs old and more than 36,000 miles they were not responsible for the car's performance and suggested I trade my car in for a new Honda. The failure occurred at 94,000 miles. The dealership is helping me with a 25% discount. I will never buy another Honda after the problems I've had with this one (multiple recalls already) and the curt costumer service. I would never have expected this from Honda.

- Mountain View, CA, USA

problem #431

Oct 152010


  • 83,000 miles
Transmission failed to shift when going 20-30 mph. As a result, the car shifts downward to ~ 10 mph, causing the driver's body to be thrown forward. This may cause a rear end collision.

- San Leandro, CA, USA

problem #430

May 122007


  • 90,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that whenever the vehicle was being driven at any rate of speed, the transmission would slip when shifting gears. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The current mileage was 100,000 and the failure mileage was 90,000.

- Clayborne, TX, USA

problem #429

Sep 152010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 81,000 miles
The engine revs up, but the car won't shift into gear or move, defective torque converter. The torque converter is failing and essentially burning up the transmission fluid, rendering the entire transmission useless. I have to stop and turn off the car randomly to keep going. Sometimes cars behind me have to slam on brakes be cause car can not go. Also happens on interstate which is definitely is a risk to crash.

- Arlington, MA, USA

problem #428

Sep 222010


  • 89,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact was driving 50 mph when the transmission began to slip between gears. When he would attempt to accelerate, the vehicle would not move forward but the engine would exhibit an unusual increase in rpms. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the dealer advised the contact that the third gear pressure switch would need to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired yet the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer where the contact was informed that the transmission would need to be replaced. The manufacturer would not provide any assistance. The vehicle was not further repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was approximately 89,000 and the current mileage was approximately 90,000.

- Wichita, KS, USA

problem #427

Jan 012009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
I bought a 2003 Honda Accord V6 with the automatic transmission. From day I noticed that the transmission did not shift as smooth as in other cars, but I thought that maybe it was just the normal characteristics of this transmission. Then a recall came out for this transmissions and I took it into the dealer and they installed an oil jet kit. For the last few years I've noticed that the transmission if shifting a lot more violently from 2nd 3rd gear and it does it everytime it up shifts from 2nd to 3rd gear. I called the dealer to check if there has been a recall on this particular recall and they keep telling me no. I just afraid that the transmission might lock while the vehicle is in motion causing a crash.

- Elmendorf, TX, USA

problem #426

Oct 032010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 112,000 miles


2003 Honda Accord ex-V6 - power transmission failure at 112,000. While driving to church the car showed signs of weakened power and it appeared the transmission was slipping. This was especially noticeable on hills. The following day after dropping my children off at school, I took the vehicle to an authorized Honda repair center, where the manager confirmed that the transmission was slipping. The repair center quoted $4,400 for a Honda authorized remanufactured transmission. I called Honda America customer service for support with what appears to be a trend in 2003 Accord transmission failure. Customer support declined to help stating the vehicle was over 100,000 miles. The Honda repair center was able to adjust the final price to $3,300. I am presently 7 months pregnant and also have two children ages eight and six who I Transport to school daily. I purchased the Honda because they have traditionally stood behind their brand and produced a high-quality product. However, as a mother, I do not feel safe driving this car -nor do I accept Honda's lack of involvement to properly resolve. We plan to properly repair and immediately sell as I do not want to jeopardize the safety of my family with this vehicle and its demonstrated inferior quality and reliability.

- Walton Hills, OH, USA

problem #425

Sep 302010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph, the vehicle began to independently accelerate and decelerate aggressively. The contact was able to drive to his residence yet the vehicle would only drive forward while in second gear. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that the transmission would need to be replaced. The manufacturer stated that they could not assist with repairs, as the vehicle was outside of warranty. The vehicle was not repaired. The current and failure mileage was approximately 107,000. Updated 1/19/2010 the consumer stated while driving 40-45 mph the vehicle began to change gears and slip out of gear on its on. The startling delayed shifts were violent and sudden, within a short period of time, which cause the vehicle to lurch and decelerate in a very aggressive manner. After stopping the vehicle, it would not engage in reverse or move forward above second gear. Updated 03/28/11

- Peoria, AZ, USA

problem #424

Oct 022010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 110,500 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex V6 model transmission failure. Car purchased end of 2002. Approximately 22K miles after purchase transmission failed and was replaced under warranty. Would not go into gear after warming up. Stop car and restart it would shift properly for a few minutes before slipping out of gear again. According to dealer problem caused by seal broken down clogging transmission filter. Today, 110K miles on car (90K on transmission), same exact problem happened again. This time while driving on I-4 in orlando. Nearly caused an accident as the car violently downshifted. Check engine light came on and my mechanic diagnosed the computer codes as solenoid problems. He cleared the errors and car drove fine again for a few minutes before beginning to lurch up and down gears again. Luckily this was in a more controlled environment. This is a terrible safety issue because it can happen at highway speeds and causes the car to lurch violently.

- Sanford, FL, USA

problem #423

Oct 022010


  • 146,377 miles
Driving 2003 Honda Accord at 70 mph on freeway. Suddenly car jerks and starts loosing power. Even tried accelerating but the vehicle kept loosing power. Was lucky to be able to move to the far right lane as there was no traffic behind me. After the car speed dropped to 50 mph the car started running ok. Experienced the same problem every time reached speed of 70 mph. After this happened, even at slow speed the vehicle repeated this behavior. Did not see this problem for a few days and then suddenly happened again. On researching on the internet, realized that there are many more people that have experienced this problem and Honda has not stepped up to acknowledge or repair the issue. The sudden loss of power at high speed is extremely dangerous if you have other vehicle behind you. Honda seems to have a problem with their transmission but don't want to accept responsibility to repair it. This will be my last Honda. I currently own a Honda Accord and a 2004 Honda Pilot. Will be trading each of them in for a different vehicle manufacturer. If Honda does not care for the safety of its customers, why should customers stay loyal to Honda. Will not be buying one going forward and will recommend all extended family members to never buy one.

- Canton, MI, USA

problem #422

Sep 302010


  • 130,000 miles
While driving our 2003 Honda Accord, the transmission wouldn't shift to second gear giving a burnt smell. We called the dealer and he said that the transmission needed replaced. We had the car serviced at regular intervals and we also found that with this model there seems to be an unusual high number of transmission failures. I feel that it is a safety issue for we are on the highway daily. Honda had a recall to put an oil spray kit on this model, because it wouldn't shift into second gear. This is the same problem magnified.

- Dayton, OH, USA

problem #421

Aug 262010


  • 121,000 miles
After traveling 60mph on an interstate hwy and then turning onto a secondary road my 2003 Honda Accord stopped moving. We took it to the Honda dealership and found out the transmission had burned out. A rebuilt tran was put in.

- Jefferson, ME, USA

problem #420

Sep 232010


  • 88,838 miles
2003 Honda Accord. Transmission failed and had to be rebuilt. Transmission, which is an automatic, would shift from a higher gear to a lower gear while driving down the road. At times the transmission would not function at all as if it were in neutral. Had to pull to the side of the road turn the car off and then restart it. Thankfully, I was in a very rural area and was able to do this. This is a very unsafe situation.

- Ridgeland, MS, USA

problem #419

Sep 232010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 74,000 miles
Our Accord has ~74,000 miles and the transmission was starting to slip. I noticed that when I would accelerate, the transmission would not shift, and the tachometer would go high (high rpms). I would have to ease my foot off the gas to let the rpms decrease and the transmission to kick in. This went on for a few weeks before I took it to the shop. I took it into the dealer that does my servicing, and they told me it would cost: - $5,400 for the transmission - $500 for brakes - $400 to replace a heat shield that is loose the mechanic said that it is dangerous to drive a car with the transmission in its current state I purchased a 100,000 mile warranty when I bought the car (it expired in January). This is a tough pill to swallow. I have been diligent with servicing the car, and now I'm hit up for $6,300 dollars in repair for a car whose blue book value is ~$9K. I looked online and saw that there are an unusually large number cases of where the 2003 Accord V6 transmission fails early. Per the advice on these sites; I called Honda and asked for a goodwill repair. They offered to reduce the transmission work to $2,900, and would not assist with the brakes or heat shield. I have not yet had this repaired. Honda said they do not repair their transmissions; the only recourse is to install a new one ($5,400).

- Libertyville, IL, USA

problem #418

Sep 172010


  • 148,000 miles
This is the 2nd complete failure of the 2nd transmission in my 2003 Honda Accord. This car is unsafe. The transmission locks up, won't shift, loses power and is a hazard to the road. I won't drive behind one and I own one. I won't drive my children in this car. I won't get in the car unless I have my cell phone with me because I run the chance of needing a tow. You need to start an investigation into this engine before someone is seriously injured. Please initiate action on the side of the consumer, not big business, and publicize and act towards a recall of this model/year. It's your civic duty.

- Marshfield, MA, USA

problem #417

Sep 202010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles
Automatic transmission went out on 2003 Honda Accord V6. There was no check engine light to indicate there were any problems with the car. The car was driven on highway then all of a sudden, it choked like a bad stick shift driver. Transmission had to be rebuilt or replaced.

- Ontario, CA, USA

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