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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.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
97,119 miles
Total Complaints:
486 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace/rebuild transmission (333 reports)
  2. not sure (69 reports)
  3. Honda to pay cost as this transmission was a previous recall (45 reports)
  4. Honda assisted with replacement cost (25 reports)
  5. class action lawsuit (5 reports)
  6. transmission exchange (4 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 1 of 25)

problem #486

Nov 202015

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,059 miles


Bought 03 Honda Accord from Carmax with 82,000 miles at first it was fine. Then about 60 days later it started to show signs of slipping transmission. I called Carmax. I'm out of warranty time so they couldn't do anything. I thought maybe I'm losing it and took it to get a service. It starts working fine again. Then I hit about 98,000 miles and again, I go get a transmission service and that's when everything went down hill. It started to slip every chance it could between 2nd and 3rd gear. Thought maybe they put the wrong fluid in. they didn't. I call around and these transmissions have had issues since the car was made. I call Honda of America and they act like they can't do anything. I have only had this car for a year and this is ridiculous. It's sitting a parking spot because it can't be moved. I submitted claims but have to wait to see if it will be covered. I'm fed up with speaking to people and complaining at this point I just want to call my lawyer and have them deal with it because Carmax knew this was an issue when they sold me the car this doesn't happen over night or even in a year.

- , Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #485

Aug 282015

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Second failure of transmission happened today. I wish that I had avoided this model.

- , Farmington, UT, USA

problem #484

Jan 032011

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

The transmission on my Accord failed once at 90,000 miles and then the rebuilt transmission failed today at 150,000 miles. I think I'm done polishing this turd.

- , Farmington, UT, USA

problem #483

Jun 012010

Accord LX V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


In addition to a failed transmission, I also had a failed AC system, a weird engine/computer problem that still nobody can figure out, a radio problem that drains the car's battery at night, and several other more minor problems. All of these major problems are very common and well documented on the internet, and well known by repair shops. I bought the car brand new for about $20K years ago, and the above-mentioned failures together cost me about another $10K.

2003 was a new model year for Honda Accord. I understand cars from new model years tend to have more problems. But what really pissed me off is that Honda knew of these problems (or they could have known if they care about their customers at all) and they never offered any remedies or recall. For any car company with the slightest care of their customers, they could have done a better job. Just look at the overwhelming number of complaints about 2003 Honda Accord on the internet or go talk to any transmission repair shop or car radio repair shop. I have a Toyota from the same year. It has run great with no major issues. They even recalled a dash board problem that is only cosmetic after 11 years. In contrast to my experience with Toyota, I feel completely cheated by Honda's reputation.

Now my Accord has a weird engine/computer problem that nobody can fix (I have been to 6 different shops including Honda dealer), it's time for me to get a new car. I will absolutely never buy a Honda again.

I never go on the internet to post anything. But thinking about my 12 years as a Honda owner, I am pissed off enough that I had to write this review.

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #482

Apr 042012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,555 miles

July 2003 my mother purchased 2003 Honda Accord with 157,000 kms (100,000 miles roughly). April 2012 she was driving when the transmission totally failed. She came to stop at a corner, then attempted to turn right. Attempted to accelerate and the car wouldn't even move, wouldn't go into any gear. She had it towed back to the Honda dealer where she purchased the car, they wouldn't do anything for her and ended charging her $4,500 to have the transmission rebuilt at a 3rd party company, also changed fluid, water pump, timing belt. I purchased the car from her in July 2014, thinking the rebuilt transmission would be fine now, and that the original was just a lemon. Now the car has 217,000 kms (135,000 miles), 60,000 additional kms, and the transmission is slipping horribly and now honda says they need to replace the transmission again with a rebuilt one. I now realize by completing some research, that these transmissions are notorious for failing and I'm furious. We've had 3 different Honda's in the family and will most definitely be switching car companies next time. I'm cannot believe there hasn't been a recall on these transmissions, its insanity. I would happily join a class action Lawsuit against Honda.

- , London, ON, Canada

problem #481

Jul 042015

Accord EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

I purchased my "Certified Pre-owned" 2003 Honda EX-L in 2010 with 50,000 miles on it and in impeccable condition. Like the preview owner, I kept up with scheduled maintenance, oil changes etc.

Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, out of nowhere the car refused to move when placed in reverse. This happened twice. Then while on the freeway, it dropped out of gear violently. I had to drive with the hazard lights on and was in fear for my life. I drove a short distance to the Transmission shop nearby the following Monday. They charged $1100 to take it out of the engine, and another $2,200 to rebuild it, after taxes it came out to $3,600. I called Honda today to express my concern and betrayal at the defective product. The operator claimed that since the car was over 12 years old, and no longer under warranty, Honda can't do anything. She brushed aside concerns when I said that it was only at 112,000 miles. She did inquire if I owned other Hondas. She offered no help, or condolences on behalf of Honda. She denied any knowledge of problems with this year and Model.

A friend who shared that her Honda dealer rebuilt her Civic transmission for free. But she owns 2 Hondas, one that was recently purchased at that particular dealer. I recently moved, the dealer I purchased my Honda from was in California. Based on this experience, I no longer have faith in the Honda brand or spirit of serve that they claim in their ads to promote.

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #480

Mar 182011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,092 miles


My transmission started slipping in 2011 with 153k miles and the dealer wanted over $4000 for a new transmission. I ended up having it rebuilt for $2350. Now my car has 200k miles and the green "D" light on the dashboard is blinking and will probably require more expensive repairs.

In my research on the blinking light I came across this site. Wish I had seen it before I had the repair. I might have raised a little more hell with Honda knowing that this is a common complaint about that particular model year. I thought it was because I do so much driving, although I have never had transmission problems on previously owned cars.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #479

May 152013

Accord LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Its a shame that you charge so much for the Honda and you have nothing but problems with the transmission which I had to replace going on my 2nd one, and the cd player quit working which was replaced once already by the Honda dealership WHY cant you make a decent car I will never own a Honda again nor will anyone in our family...

- , Garner, NC, USA

problem #478

Aug 262014

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

I started to use the Honda around 2008 for work. It's mileage was about 25000 miles due to the use of a second family car at the time. I have an extensive record of maintaining my Honda with a local Honda dealership since I purchased an extended warranty that expired in April 2014. I put a lot of maintenance money into the car to keep it running smoothly, trying to adhere to the mileage check up plans. I hoped that if I invested in my car continuously it will last me another 5 - 8 years when I would be in a better position to buy another car.

On Aug 26, 2014 I left my work to head to an evening class. The car started hesitating and the rpms would race without the car racing. I experienced that a week or two prior to the incident, but thought I had just hit the gas or something. As I got on the freeway, I realized this was not a safe situation and exited the freeway and drove home. When I arrived by my home 10 minutes later, the car stopped accelerating and I drifted into a parking space on the side of my house and had a family member straighten me out in neutral. I ended up towing the car to my local dealership who diagnosed it as the transmission. It cost $5000 to order a new one.

I was so disappointed in Honda cars when I heard the cost of the repair because I had taken so much time and effort to take care of it for 6 years. I got quotes on rebuilds, advice etc and realized a replacement was the proper way to go. I've had to find alternate transportation such as the bus, catching rides with others and finally a limited use of a loaner until I sell the lemon I have for parts or buy a $5000 transmission. The Honda was purchased brand new, I'm the only owner and it was bought because of it's reputation and quality at the time. I just couldn't believe that all the care I spent on it was futile. It sits in storage until I can resolve the problem. Others couldn't believe how well I cared for it and then it just failed on me. I'm so disappointed!!!!!!

- , Kapolei, HI, USA

problem #477

Aug 222013

Accord EX Coupe 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles

Just want to begin with saying that this 03 Accord Coupe Auto Trans is a piece of SH*T!!! I bought this vehicle when I was 18 years old and had NO idea what I was getting myself into. I just wish I would have known about this website prior to me purchasing this vehicle.

The transmissions are JUNK and are RUBBERBANDS, point blank period. I wish people who spent their hard earned money could somehow get it back, for the SH*T this car has done to myself and others. As a full-time college student, I expected something reliable and comfortable. Instead I was sold JUNK hidden underneath a hood. I'm very skeptical about Hondas now and will forever be.

- , Morrisville, PA, USA

problem #476

Dec 242014

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,780 miles


This problem is well documented on this site, so I won't go into great detail. Basically, this transmission was a POS to begin with, and Honda was well aware of it, but kept putting this transmission into their cars for years.

I got a quote of $3200 (out the door) for a "Jasper" Rebuilt (whatever that means) transmission installed, with a 100,000 mile warranty. (Whatever that means - probably a 'read the fine print' scam)

I contacted Honda Customer Service, (800) 999-1009, about any possible adjustment to San Jose's Capitol Honda's $4700 plus tax cost estimate and was told by a woman there that It was likely that the 78,000 miles on the car probably contributed to the transmission failure because it's too low.

I refrained from using the language that my mind kept suggesting I use in my response. It wasn't easy.

I called them because somewhere here it says that Honda has allowed some 50 percent off repair adjustments and some 75 percent off adjustments for 2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission repairs. But not for me.

Notice what car is the second worse at the following link. I can really pick 'em! I thought I was doing the right thing. I guess I'd want revenge too if somebody nuked me twice.


And the third worst complaint:


I'm certainly going to use carcomplaints.com in the future. In the past when I researched this Honda, it got great reviews in the other standard car reliability magazines.

I can't help but think those others are just shills.


- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #475

Dec 102014

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 159,000 miles

Prior to this (my first) Honda, I had never had a transmission failure in any of the many, many cars I've owned in my 70 years on this earth. I've always maintained my cars carefully. The first failure cost me $2,000 to rebuild at the dealer. I really thought I could get more than 40,000 miles after the repair but I was way too optimistic.

Now the dealer has stopped rebuilding Honda transmissions because the transmission was poorly engineered, Failures were too common on the rebuilt ones because of the poor design. The dealer suggested I call Honda customer service, which I did. The customer service insulted me by quoting the warranty of 3 years or 36,000 miles, thus declaring it was out of warranty. DUH, The Service Manager suggested I use an independent transmission shop. Thanks Honda. This was not only my first Honda but will definitely be my last.

- , Starkville, MS, USA

problem #474

Aug 292014

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6 Vtec

  • Automatic transmission
  • 175,000 miles

I took great care of this car, I did everything u r supposed to do based on the mileage or when it was needed. I never had any problems with the car until this, the transmission randomly blew.

- , flanders, NJ, USA

problem #473

Apr 082008

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

Prior to my transmission completely failing I took it in to the Honda dealership complaining that the transmission was not working properly. I was told after a service inspection that there was nothing wrong and that it was just the way the transmission was suppose to run.

I continued to drive it but it was still felt like something wasn't quite right. Then there was a recall on a part for the Transmission. I took it in thinking it would fix the problem but upon picking it up from the dealership there was no change in the way the transmission ran. At exactly 101,000 miles the transmission went out with no warning leaving me stranded in the middle of the interstate at rush hour. This was very scary because I was unable to make it to the shoulder of the road leaving me in a very dangerous situation.

- , Chattanooga, TN, USA

problem #472

Oct 142013


  • Manual transmission
  • 93,206 miles

This is a common Honda problem, which has caused me to steer away from this make.

- , Burton, New Brunswick, Canada

problem #471

May 292013

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I was driving home from work and I was about a block away when the car coasted to a stop. I tried shifting it into other gears to get it to move but no such luck.

- , Madison, WI, USA

problem #470

Dec 122012

Accord EX-L 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

Honda reliability ratings really slapped me in the face when I decided to replace my 1998 honda accord because of paint chipping issues with a 2003 Honda Accord Coupe EX-L V6 with an automatic transmission. First of all i had a lot of electrical issues, the power seat motor failed and the dashboard dimmed on its own. The biggest problem was the transmission. I was driving about 50 miles per hour and out of no where my transmission went from second gear and violently shifted into first. The person behind me would of rear ended me if they hadn't had good brakes. Not to mention it violently jerked me, I went from 50 to 5 miles per hour in a matter of seconds. I was very lucky to get out of the situation with a few minor bruises. I have no doubt the nature of the incident could of caused an accident. I would hate to think of this incident happening at a higher rate of speed. I had the transmission replaced and at about 145,000 miles, at a very expensive out of pocket cost of 1800 for a student struggling to make it. I put all my money and time into fixing this car even though i took very good care of all the maintenance required. Then at 153000 miles i started to notice the jerking and delay pertaining to my transmission, so I took it to the shop and they told me I needed a total rebuild. I can no longer continue sinking money into this money pit. I will never buy a honda again. I have owned much older toyotas with higher mileage and had no issues. Honda needs to be held accountable for placing owner's of their cars in danger!

- , Bloomington, IN, USA

problem #469

Jun 122013

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I bought the 2003 Accord V6 from a Florida snowbird in 2006. At the time it had about 18,000 miles. Two months after the purchase there was a catastrophic transmission failure when shifting from 2nd to 3rd taking off from a light. Gears grinding...Major problem. Limped to the dealer at walking speed in first gear. They acknowledged the issue as a recall, but told me the original owner had already replaced the transmission under the recall. They "helped me out" by ONLY charging 40% of the replacement transmission.

Update from May 15, 2014: The replacement transmission worked great for about 50,000 miles. Then problems began again. Grinding shift 2nd to 3rd and that dreaded flashing green light by the D. I had to either replace again or have it rebuilt for another $2,500. I went for the rebuild. Now with 130,000 miles I'm looking at another possible rebuild. I'm starting by replacing the shift sensors before I shell out for the full rebuild. Honda's reputation for quality cars must be self generated.

- , Loxahatchee, FL, USA

problem #468

Aug 052014

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,775 miles

As I have purchased 3 Honda vehicles in the past, this is my fourth brand new vehicle that I have had as the 1st and only owner. Now the transmission has gone out and I need to replace or repair it. We are told that there was an extension to 80,000 miles for this known problem of the transmisson failure, but HONDA has now told me this is not true of the extension. It may have happened, but no longer active to use it. My car is over the 80,000 by far, but is still having the problem as all the other people have posted about over the last many years! I just don't drive it roughly or to long of a period at a time, so it has taken longer for it to go out. This should be a recall from HONDA as too many people are having the same problem with this car.

It started slipping gears, then wouldn't go in to the gear. It also overheats, and now it sits and I am out of a car for the next week until Honda or another service station can repair or change the transmission. Supposed to be reliable and safe, NOT! Just looked up the recalls on this car, 17 recalls for the 2003 Accord, way too many for HONDA! SHAME ON THEM! Well HONDA just lost a loyal buyer of their vehicles, I'll not be looking that way again.

- , Sauk Rapids, MN, USA

problem #467

Jul 252014

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,837 miles

Hmmm, my transmission "failed" at 132000 but have had problems with it for a couple years now. What I noticed most consistently? It wouldn't shift up to the next gear from 2nd to 3rd. To get it to shift I had to take my foot off the accelerator. It was annoying and shame on me for not checking internet to see what was going on! I also twice experienced not being able to go into reverse. Put it in gear, or so I thought, and went forward instead. Again I should have reported it but I thought "Okay, glitch. If there were serious problems with transmission wouldn't they recall it?" I went in for the recall in 2004 so everything should be okay, right? The day I knew it was really gone, I was going 40mph and approaching a red light. Two cars were in front of me - stopped of course. Took my foot off the gas and started braking. Nada. The engine was racing and the car wouldn't down shift. Scary!!! Finally with a huge lurch, the car did downshift and I breathed a sigh of relief. After that, I lurched all the way into a Target parking lot and then called for a tow.

Dealership said they couldn't recreate the problem but said the transmission was definitely slipping. THEY ALL KNEW THIS WAS A RECURRING PROBLEM AND INNOCENTLY PROCEEDED TO GIVE ME A QUOTE FOR $4887! Only after going online after I left the dealership did I realize how big a problem this is. I asked if they would negotiate the fee and it was no deal. I have the car at AAMCO and am awaiting a quote for fixing it.

I don't understand why Honda isn't forced to recall due to a dangerous problem. Does someone have to die?

- , Hampton, VA, USA

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