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.

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.

9.4

really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,557.00
Average Mileage:
114,594 miles
Total Complaints:
31 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (16 reports)
  2. not sure (15 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Honda Accord:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #31

Mar 252015

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 223,000 miles

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

I purchased my 2003 Honda Accord EX used in 2006. I have maintained the oil, brakes, tires, timing belt. And for the most part it has been a reliable car. I travel 120 miles to work round trip daily.

Last week, while driving, my car wouldn't go over 50 mph on the Hwy without revving up to 5.5 RPM's. I got it home without towing. After several phone calls, we had a person run a diagnostic on it, and it said it was the sensor. He replaced the sensor, transmission fluid, and oil, and today driving it to work, it drove like a charm down the highway about 50 miles at 70 mph. When I got off the Hwy, the car jerked violently going 45 mph. I felt as if I were rear ended. I knew something was wrong. I went 45 a little while longer, and then it jerked violently three more times. I was going to pull over and have it towed. I drove it slow with flashers on to work. Going 45 miles per hour in a 55 mile an hour lane. It didn't jerk thereafter, but going 45 mph, the RPM's were at 5.

I don't think a new transmission will help the car. The back light in my stereo also went out a month after I had the car. There are many similar flaws described by many of us. Costly. Are they really worth investing in any more.

- , Blaine, WA, USA

problem #30

Jan 062015

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

It is really dangerous to have faulty transmission installed by Honda. It can even cause death.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #29

Apr 292014

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles

Vehicle suddenly went from 60 to 35 in a matter of seconds; had to desperately try to get to slower right lane to avoid being hit. This could have caused a pile up if occurred during rush hour.

- , Marietta, GA, USA

problem #28

Apr 182014

Accord EX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,444 miles

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

I've owned my Honda for 3 years now (I've always owned Hondas). This has been a fantastic car for me thus far. I lost my husband to cancer at the age of 31, 2 years ago and really wanted something that was low maintenance and cheaper to fix. I didn't even question whether or not to get a Honda, the question was, which model to get. I decided on the Accord 2dr V-6 EX.

While driving home from getting a new kitten, I was on the freeway about 30 minutes from my house and the car jerked forward, almost as if someone was slamming on the breaks violently. I was going 65 mph at this point. I was incredibly lucky that I was not rear ended. The car preceded to jerk violently causing my left knee to push up and hit the dash. We put the car in Neutral and attempted to get off the freeway (during 5 o'clock rush hour). It took me 2 hours to get home in first gear, taking the back roads. The estimate to repair my Honda Accord is about $2000. I just started school for my bachelors degree and I do not have this kind of money. My Honda doesn't even have 100,000 miles yet.

I am very disappointed that Honda has failed to accept responsibility for the failure of the transmissions in their cars. I will be submitting a request to Honda to help pay the replacement costs.

- , Orem, UT, USA

problem #27

Nov 162012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,000 miles

I work 270 miles from home, I was driving home for the weekend and got off the Interstate after 2 hrs of driving to get something to drink. As I got back onto the Interstate my car started to jerk and buck like the gas and brakes were being used one after the other. The hi-way was busy and I was miles from the next town. I hit the flasher and drove down the shoulder at 20 mph until I got to the next exit. I pulled into a gas station to check tranny fluid, it seemed to be o.k.. Called the wife to find a repair shop near my location from the internet. Had it towed and it is still there now. Hope to hear soon on what issue is and how much $$$$ to fix. I bought this Honda used on the false pretense that they were good cars, depending on the repair cost, I will be trading it back to the dealer where I bought it.

- , Newton, IA, USA

problem #26

Feb 232013

Accord Coupe EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,434 miles

My 2003 honda accord coupe has 91,434 miles on it and the transmission blew. I bought it in 2007 with 33,000. I had the car serviced at every 3-4k miles and do not understand why the transmission blew.

After reading the internet I find that this problem existed with the 2003 model. I would like some kind of reimbursement for a defective transmission.

- , Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #25

May 042013

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

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

The car is not drivable and unsafe. when traveling about 25 mph, the car jerks violently and hard to control as you are are being pushed forward and backward.

- , Evergreen Park, IL, USA

problem #24

Sep 272012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

I am mad as HELL. This is the second time in the life of this vehicle that the transmission has had issues. I had the transmission replaced with a new one the first time. Don't know what I am going to do with this one. Honda should have a immediate recall.

- , Hamilton, AL, USA

problem #23

Aug 122012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

my 2003 honda accord out of nowhere, it suddenly shifted to lower gear violently and when i shift it to reverse the car will not move..... giving me headache...

- , Northridge, CA, USA

problem #22

Aug 132012

Accord LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,202 miles

I had my Honda Accord in for the recall and they said it was taken care of. At that time I had not had any trouble with the transmission. Just today I was driving 60 mph on the highway when my car suddenly downshifted to low and nearly caused me to be rearended by another vehicle. It would not shift into gear at all and although I was continuing toward home at 40 mph it did the same thing 3 more times. Of course it is after hours so I must wait until tomorrow to get ahold ot the dealer. I am distressed to find so many people online who have experienced this same problem without a solution.

- , Bourbon, IN - Indiana, USA

problem #21

Mar 192012

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,500 miles

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

A recall 'service' was completed in 2004 on my car for a transmission defect (according to Honda America's search of my VIN#).

Recall press release verbatim from the Honda website: 'A situation that is created by insufficient lubrication of the transmission's secondary shaft second gear that can occur under certain driving conditions. Prolonged operation under these conditions can lead to heat build-up and under certain circumstances may eventually result in chipped or broken gear teeth or breakage of the gear. In the event of a chipped or broken tooth, the owner will likely experience abnormal noise from the transmission and seek repairs. In rare instances, this condition may lead to gear breakage and possible locking of the vehicle's transmission, creating a potential safety hazard.'

I didn't buy the car until 2009. The problems listed in the recall are the EXACT SAME problems that my car is experiencing now. I was told by Honda America that the dealership has to diagnose the problem, and that once it is determined that it is the SAME PROBLEM that presented the reason for the initial recall, that Honda would approve a replacement of the transmission AT NO COST.

As suggested, I took the car to the nearest Honda dealership to have the problem diagnosed. I left it for a day, and the mechanic called me and said that the car's transmission has failed due to an issue with the 2nd gear (listed as the issue in the recall). I called Honda America to inform them of the diagnosis (and so they could update my case in their database). They stated that all I had to do was go speak to the service manager at the dealership, who would then contact his district rep, who would then confirm with Honda America that the repair needed to be done 'good will' (no charge). The service manager called Honda America and apparently his rep, then he said that since the car has high mileage, that they've never serviced the car before, that I didn't buy it there, that they will not 'come out of pocket' to replace the transmission at no cost. The service manager said that the 'best he can do is 50% off, and THAT was with pulling strings.'

I asked for the general manager's number, and both the receptionist and the service manager REFUSED to give it to me. Thankfully I am a resourceful person, and have good contact with the right people.

I contacted Honda America while I was STILL AT THE DEALERSHIP. They reiterated that the dealership is required to replace it, and they can reference Section 7.3 of the Honda Service Operations Manual (of which I can find NO COPY on the web) to verify that they are able to repair/replace a defective part if it was in fact non-functional at ANY TIME, ANY MILEAGE after the initial recall repair. I asked the service manager about this section of the manual, and he refused to show it to me. He stated that 'it would do me no good anyway'.

I filed a safety complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration online, and followed up with a phone call. They stated that this recurrence of defect, even after the initial recall 'repair' is a KNOWN ISSUE and must be acknowledged by the dealership and Honda. When speaking with another representative from the NHTSA just a few moments ago, it was suggested that I call the US Dept Of Justice, Consumer Protection Agency Division, and to reference my official complaint. I will be calling them shortly.

My NHTSA complaint: THE VERY FIRST THING I NOTICED WAS APPROXIMATELY 3 MONTHS AGO. WHEN PARKED, THE RPMS WOULD SUDDENLY JUMP TO 2000 WITHOUT PRESSING ON THE GAS, THEN IT WOULD GO BACK TO NORMAL. MY MALFUNCTION INDICATOR LAMP CAME ON BRIEFLY ABOUT A MONTH AGO, AND THEN WENT OFF. THE MAINTENANCE REQUIRED LIGHT CAME ON A WEEK AFTER THE MALFUNCTION INDICATOR LAMP, AND NOW BLINKS EVERYTIME I TURN MY CAR ON. I WAS DRIVING FOR APPROXIMATELY 15 MINUTES AT A RANGE OF SPEED BETWEEN 0 TO 50MPH. VERY SUDDENLY, THE RPMS SHOT UP TO 6000, AND IT VIOLENTLY JERKED AS THOUGH I WAS SLAMMING ON THE BRAKES. THERE WAS A BURNT RUBBER SMELL RIGHT AFTERWARDS. THE LONGER I DROVE, THE MORE FREQUENTLY IT HAPPENED. IF I DIDN'T HAVE MY SEATBELT ON, MY HEAD WOULD HAVE SMACKED THE STEERING WHEEL. I WAS ALMOST HIT FROM BEHIND SEVERAL TIMES. NOW EVEN WHEN I AM DRIVING FOR A SHORT DISTANCE AND TIME, THE RPMS ARE HIGHER THAN NORMAL, AND THEN THE VIOLENT JERKING BEGINS.

- , Newark, DE, USA

problem #20

Aug 252010

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 164,563 miles

Similar to other 2003 Honda Accord owners I had the misfortune of dicovering Honda has a transmission problem the HARD WAY...I was driving 65mph in comm all I could think was THANK GOD I WASN'T KILLED!!!!

The transmission went out August 2010, the estimates to fix it range from $3500-$4000, since I don't have the money to fix the car it just sits in the garage collecting dust. So much for the new tires, new battery, new breaks, new belts, 150,000 mile vehicle maintenance etc that I invested in nine months before the transmission failed.

If Honda doubts this is a true problem, I invite an authorized HONDA representative to take my car for a test drive on the highway, experience the sudden deceleration and then come back and tell me there's nothing wrong with the transmission.

To be honest, I don't even know why I'm storing the darn thing in the garage...I'm NEVER going to trust it again...$27,000 down the drain...Thanks Honda!

- , Vacaville, CA, USA

problem #19

Feb 032012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 192,000 miles

Doesn't want to shift after highway speeds. Can turn car off and it will drive fine for a while and start the hard jerking after a bit.

- , Allen, TX, USA

problem #18

Dec 222011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles

Was leaving work after dropping off Christmas cookies to co-workers got on the highway and car start jerking badly thank God there was a

Oreilly pulled in and asked a worker to help he told me to put in reverse but it didn't work so he checked transmission fluid and said it was low so he add some (band for Honda) then it went in reverse so was advise to get transmission fluid changed, car start driving great.. but jiffy lube suggest me to take to Honda due to tans fluid smelt burnt so when pulled out parking lot car start jerking worst then before so i pulled over and got it towed to lake jackson Honda at 1214pm and they keep over nite said transmission was ok they did a check and didn't find nothing.. put it on computer and still nothing but they said trans fluid need to be change due to the burnt smell so i said ok so picked car up on 12/24/11 and only drove bout 20miles and started again i called them they asked if i can bring back and i did and they drove it and came back and said my transmission is going out but will do more checks on it.. how could they not find that..they screwed me out my Christmas cause now its Christmas eve and im not able to go out of town with fam...i truly have no respect for Honda after this will never deal with them again, i don't know what to do now.

- , Sweeny, TX, USA

problem #17

Sep 082011

Accord LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,326 miles

My vehicle violently downshifted during rush hour traffic. I have kept up the maintenance on the vehicle with a local Honda dealership. I do not understand why this is happening.

- , Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #16

Oct 012011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

Well, now we have to join the ranks of pained - not to mention outraged - 2003 Honda Accord owners...our V-6 just started having the issue of downshifting/accelerating for no apparent reason. Scary stuff, indeed....called American Honda and got a case number. They really do need to cover the entire cost of a new transmission ($5,300 quoted - way high), in our opinion. The car has been regularly maintained, and the 2nd gear oil jet was installed in early 2005 per the 2004 recall notice. As someone else has already stated, this was simply a blatant attempt at a "band-aid" fix for the problem. Will update status on this post to let folks know if Honda is going to cover anything in the way of repair costs...and does anyone know if Class Action has started on this???? Have owned half a dozen Honda in the past - this will likely be our last.

- , Castle Rock, CO, USA

problem #15

Jun 072011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Honda told me that since I didn't have the transmission fluid changed after 60,000 that that's probably why the transmission failed. WHAT? And yet, even though I needed to forgo the scheduled maintenance because of lack of funds, I would have gone with the transmission change had I known it was that crucial. My ex said he never had our Ford T-Bird's transmission fluid changed, and it now has 180,000 miles on it. I thought Hondas were supposed to last forever. Not mine! I think I just changed my mind on buying another.

- , Madison, WI, USA

problem #14

Jan 202011

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,451 miles

I am sadly joining this group of very unsatisfied and traumatized owners of 2003 Honda Accords. I was driving on the freeway and slowed down as the traffic slowed ahead. I decelerated from 65mph to a terrifying 35mph in a split second as the car downshifted violently to 1st gear. If it weren’t for my seat belt, I would have slammed my face on the steering wheel or the windshield!!! I was almost rear ended by a semi-truck!!! I immediately pulled of the emergency side of the freeway and turned off the car. I checked the engine bay and under the car and found no apparent damage or leaks. I turned the car back on and proceeded to exit the freeway using the emergency shoulder. I drove the car to the nearest Honda Dealer (Gardena Honda), which was only a mile from where this occurred. The car continually downshifted randomly to first gear so I kept the car at 5mph to prevent it from going to second gear. I drove the car in traffic with the hazard lights on until I got to the dealer. I spoke to the Honda Service Specialist and was informed that the problem was most likely internal transmission and that it probably needed a new one. He quoted me $3500. In shock, I drove my car home (1/2 mile away) with the hazard lights on and going 5mph. I parked the car on the driveway and had been in that position for the past month. I looked around other transmission specialist and they quoted me around $1500 for a complete transmission rebuild with 1-year warranty.

This is a major defect waiting for someone to loose a life on. I am not willing to be the one as the example so I opt not to use the car. Honda needs to stand behind their product and offer a solution to this deadly flaw. Honda needs to extend their warranty or reimburse those who have had their transmission rebuilt elsewhere (dealer's $3500 quote is ridiculously over inflated). I really hope Honda rectifies this matter before someone looses a life.

- , Gardena, CA, USA

problem #13

Feb 222011

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

The night of February 22 my family and I were coming home from the airport and to our surprise or Honda Accord transmission started shifting violently and roughly while driving on the highway. It was very scary and schoking! The car downshifted in such a violent way that we all yelled! We almost had an accident! We had to stop on the side of the road to calm down. After a while my husband managed to drive the car home at five miles per hour and the next day he took the car to the dealer. At the dealer they check the car and told us that the transmission looked really bad and we need it to change it. The total amount in the report that the dealer gave us is $4,498.00!!!!!(amount that we do not have)

After this happened I Google transmissions on the internet and found this website with all this complaints from other Honda Accord's owners. After reading all this, we are ready to fight for our car. We want Honda to fix the issue and recall the cars. We can not let this happened without complaint, it will be terrible if someone has an accident and die on the road! My husband and I are committed to complaint and fight because we believe that Honda must do something!!!! This is a safety issue!!!!

- , Sugar Hill, GA, USA

problem #12

Oct 022010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,950 miles

I am the owner of a 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 which I purchased at Carmax in Laurel, MD about 2 years ago. The car had roughly 44K miles on it when I bought it and because I had always had wonderful experiences w/ Honda reliability never saw the need to purchase an extended warranty. Big mistake -- at 65,000 miles I had to replace the transmission because it was downshifting violently. The problem only occurred when the car was hot (driving more than 30-40 minutes); it felt like slamming on brakes and I was afraid that I would get rear-ended since the problem seemed to occur on major highways after traveling at higher speeds. I did some research today & found a website where several people have experienced the same issue (http://cdonner.com/honda-accord-2003-ex-v6-transmission-failure.htm). I live in FL where the problem manifested & initially took my car to Kuhn Honda in Tampa to get it checked out - they said it needed a transmission ($3700). They acted like they had never heard of these cars having this type of issue ever which conflicts with all of the info which is out there on the web. I got the same story at Brandon Honda when I inquired after I had the repairs done at a great place called B&B Transmissions. The Brandon Honda rep stated that he had never heard of the issue as well & seemed surprised that it occurred when the car only had 65K miles on it. The people at B&B Transmissions told me about a potential recall brewing and were the 1st to tell me to do research on web & retain all my receipts. They really did a superb job at B&B and saved me about $1000 on the repair (I highly recommend B&B, by the way). Of course, that's still money that I shouldn't have shelled out of my pocket! As for the Honda dealerships - they appear to be shameless liars and I hope that the people who they have taken advantage of have some recourse to get just compensation/reimbursement for this major issue. These cars are NOT SAFE TO DRIVE if this transmission problem manifests itself!

- , Riverview, FL, USA

Read the next 11 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?