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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.

9.3

really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,701.00
Average Mileage:
97,146 miles
Total Complaints:
491 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace/rebuild transmission (338 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 #491

Oct 242012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,423 miles

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

Same 2nd gear problem everyone else had, slipping/flaring shifting into and out of 2nd gear. Luckily it failed slowly, nothing catastrophic. Original owner, so I had the recall inspection/installation of the new oil jet done on time. Maybe that delayed things a bit, helped it fail later, at 96k miles. I brought it back to the original dealer's service department and they knocked 1k off of a 5k rebuilt transmission (back in 2012). Only 4 grand?!?! Thanks Honda! About $500 more than a local shop wanted to charge to rebuild it, but it came with a 3 year warranty vs 2 year, so what the hell. Warranty just expired after 3 years, and I have another 24k miles on it, so I need to trade in this POS now! I would normally sell to a third party for more money, but what a moral dilemma. Drop this POS on another unsuspecting soul and hope they forget where I live or trade it in for less money to a dealer, then that person at least has a limited warranty.

This along with all of the weird electrical problems this car had makes me never want to buy a Honda again. Very disappointed and disgusted with Honda and their dealers.

- , Dublin, CA, USA

problem #490

Jan 012016

Accord EX V6 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

Second transmission failure in this POS! No signs of failure except that it's cold outside and the wind is blowing south.

- , Holladay, UT, USA

problem #489

Jun 192015

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

My wife and I bought the car from Radley Acura in Falls Church VA 22041 thinking that a dealer would be trust worthy with their cars. Only to find out that they did not mention this car had transmissions recall problems. All we want from them is to make us whole on this recall.

- , Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #488

Jun 152015

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,138 miles

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

I love my Honda and it breaks my heart and really makes me hate Honda that they wont fix the problem cause its obviously a defect. I called Honda and complained and got no where, I'm disabled and live off social security and cant afford to fix my car and it stinks I cant go no where and I need my car. I should of never bought a Honda but I thought they were such good cars, I guess I just got robbed. thanks Honda for nothing.

- , Frankford, DE, USA

problem #487

Nov 082015

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles

Bought the car used. Drove it for a while and it felt great. Started to slowly notice that it would take a couple seconds for the car to actually shift into gear such as Drive or Reverse. Then one day it just completely failed on me. I was driving on a highway when the transmission started failing. After 10 minutes, the transmission started to fail completely and the engine light went off. It got so bad that the car felt like it was trying to rip itself apart. I had to pull off into a parking lot and leave the car there.

I really wish I had known that this car is ranked #2 Worst Car on here before purchasing it. The fact that I have seen numerous complaints on Honda's Twitter feed and Facebook wall tells me that there should've been a recall by now. I assumed since I was buying a Honda that I was buying the reliability it was known for as well but I guess I was wrong in this case. The cost to repair is of course ridiculously high so I can't have it repaired. Instead I'm sitting at home stewing in my own filth drowning in sorrow as girls roll past me laughing at my poor decision of buying a 2003 Honda Accord.

- , Beacon, NY, USA

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

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

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

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

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.

http://www.carcomplaints.com/worst_vehicles/

And the third worst complaint:

http://www.carcomplaints.com/worst_complaints/

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.

Bill

- , 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

Accord

  • 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

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