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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:
96,887 miles
Total Complaints:
475 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace/rebuild transmission (324 reports)
  2. not sure (67 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 24)

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, New Jersey, 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, Minnesota, 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, Virginia, USA

problem #466

Aug 142014

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,900 miles

I've done all the maintenance services on schedule and even had the 2004 Recall on the Transmission performed by Jay Honda dealer when I was notified. I even had the Honda Multi-Point Vehicle Inspection done 2 months ago at 70,740 Miles and performed the necessary maintenance jobs. All of a sudden, I'm cruising on the highway at 65mph and then the rpms spike up and down randomly and badly. I noticed it was simultaneous and knew that the problem was with the transmission and gear shifting stability. I then drove it directly to my mechanic who quoted me for $3800 and a wait for a week.

This is ridiculous considering I've had the car for 11 years, only 72,000 miles, had the transmission recall done, and the cost to repair is more than half the value of the entire car. I cannot financially afford this and it has caused a tremendous amount of stress because I need this car for college next week. Thanks a lot Honda for a $23,000 car that only works 70,000 miles and then dies. I used to love Honda, this changed my whole perspective of them.

I would appreciate any advice on getting Honda to cover any repair costs because I don't know what to do.

- , Seven Hills, OH, USA

problem #465

Jan 312011

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles


Transmission slipped and needed total rebuild. Very expensive.

- , Salt Lake City, UT, USA

problem #464

Feb 042014

Accord LX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

Normal driving and transmission just went out.....like it's in neutral.

- , Medina, OH, USA

problem #463

Feb 082013

Accord Leather 2.4L I Vtec

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,448 miles

I own a 2003 honda Accord 03 model as to date ive had to have a few repairs done. ive had to replace a few parts last thing I have had fixed was the starter motor. was at shopping center parked maybee 15min went to start the car it wouldn't start. had to leave my car there for 3days due to long weekend, couldn't get a tow truck to pick it up until 3days later then it was towed back to my place so that my mechanic would start to fix it. Had the starter motor replaced. Ive had fuses blow, bulbs blow... ive changed the spark plugs twice in 12months. Now to my big problem it wasnt until today that I found out the transmission is faulty. When I bought the car all the cars warning lights where lit up I was told the car just needed to be reset & the lights will turn off. After buying the car it was 2 days later I noticed what I now understand the problem to be the torc converter. At frist the problem would happen every now and then then over time it was happening 1-2 times a day now its happening constantly the car now can't be driven unless extreme care is taken. If u put your foot down on the acceleratetor the car will not move it just revs hard, splatter's and boggs down. engine gets really hot, temperature gauge stays the same. the only way to drive the car is if you ease slowly on the acceleratetor because of this problem you have to alter the way you uselly drive wich is extremely dangerous. I have to give way to everything on the road because I can only adrive really slow. I need alot of road to build up speed. I have nearly been rear ended a number of times because of this and have nearly been hit many more time side on because now im in there way after trying to turn onto a busy road or the light was green but befor I get half way through they turn red I now have a newborn son & if I could neither my wife or child would get in the car. But I. Carnt afford another car I carnt even afford to fix it and because of these when my wife drives the car with my son in it I become a nervous wreck. i lost my job nearly 8month ago where struggling and we have spent alot on the car since I stopped working rego 4 new tires starter motor ect. I believe that honda should should show some good will and fix this transmission problem as a one offor either pay the full amount it cost to have this fixed. its only fair since the car I own had been recalled by honda for this very problem after it was found the torque converter was faulty and car after car was being bought back to honda all had the same problem. its dangerous thats why honda recalled all 2003 honda Accord euro among other models e.g civics, crv's etc. The cars needed to have the torque converter removed & a different torque convertor put in. My car was on that recall list at the time of the recall I wasnt the owner im pretty sure im now the third owner but my car has never had the torque converter replaced even though its been awhile since the car was frist recalled & despite how many km's my car now has.Honda should stand by there recall & have my car fixed. In the interest of safety and makeing good safe cars toand to protect the honda image to do the right thing plz fix my car

- , Liverpool, NSW, Australia

problem #462

Jul 022014

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,107 miles

Well chalk me up as a life long Honda owner now getting royally screwed due to the obvious design flaw with the v6 accord transmission. Slips when accelerating, violently downshifts into 1st gear regardless of speed (extremely dangerous). Only happens after driving a few miles and warming the car up. Car was dealer maintained since day one and is owned by my grandmother. It was never abuses in any way, shape or form. Strongly considering never purchasing another Honda product again after this headache. The decline in Honda quality has been sharp and fast. No longer is this the brand I trust with my family's safety. I'll be looking at Toyota or Hyundai from now on. Especially if Honda offers zero help as they have to hundreds of other accord owners they ripped off. If you're reading this honda just realize you're killing your company treating people this way. I'll devote all of my spare time making sure nobody I know ever purchases another one of your unreliable junk cars.

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #461

Nov 132013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

Catastrophic transmission failure. Need I say more?

Shame on you Honda!

Should have a a Chrysler; they have the reputation you deserve!

- , Shelby, NC, USA

problem #460

Mar 202014

Accord EX 3.2lV6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,538 miles

Only 67538 miles, I already had to replace engine. Honda should be responsible for this problem. Honda, build a better car! This is a rip-off.

- , Fremont, CA, USA

problem #459

Feb 132013

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,500 miles

Honda use to mean reliability, not anymore. Was thinking of a newer model Accord and now it's not happening ever. Bad transmission and chipping paint? Why would I? BAD literally inside-out. Not a care in the world for loyal customers. Now I'll bad mouth you and I'm taking my 30,000 dollars elsewhere.

- , Palm Harbor, FL, USA

problem #458

Jul 102012

Accord EXL 3.O V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Typical car manufacturer BS, this should be a recall they know darn well there's trouble with these crappy cars. Never again will I purchase a Honda of any kind

Update from Feb 5, 2014: Contacted Honda about the issues and the responded with a complete and utter F%^$&%^ou response, closest dealer is 400 miles hose is leaking and there's a risk of fire so car cant be driven and has to be transported at a cost of $500.00. This moron said its my responsibility to get the car there. So if I drive it and it catches fire will Honda pay for it? doubtful.

With regard to the transmission issue they didn't even address it when he responded, but did tell me he didn't understand why I wasn't advised of the 2 outstanding recalls on my car. Thinking it time I got away from the JAP CRAP

- , Fort Mcmurray, Alberta, canada

problem #457

Nov 232013

Accord LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

I purchased a 2003 Honda Accord from a one owner with all the service records. Car is in great shape, low millage(91000). I thought I had found the perfect car for my teenage daughter. Car ran great for the fist two months then just out of the blue started jerking, and shifting gears violently. My daughter was scared to death barely made it home. Now the car is sitting in my driveway and I still owe 2 years worth of payments. I called Honda and they informed me there was a recall on the car that was corrected in 2004 on the transmission, and I was pretty much just out of luck! I purchased this car because of all the good things you hear about Honda but I can tell you this if I do get it fixed I will be selling it and I will never purchase another Honda and I will tell everyone I know to never purchase one. Its a shame when they know there is a problem and wont do anything to fix it.

- , Prestonsburg, KY, USA

problem #456

May 062013

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

My wife and I bought this car to simplify things before buying our first house. Its a Honda, what could possibly go wrong?? WRONG CHOICE

It started out with the car shifting really weird. It would SLAM into gear while shifting, and then other times especially shifting between 2nd and 3rd it would completely slip out of gear. I would shift it into neutral while rolling, tap the gas, put it back in gear and be perfectly fine. Sometimes it would go several weeks with no problem.

In the end the car would leave me completely stranded all over the place. It would come out of gear and nothing I could do would get it back in. I would barely make it to a driveway, shift into park, wait a few min then attempt to go again. On the way home from work one day i had to do this half a dozen times!!!

I never went to the point of the transmission completely failing like some have mentioned on here where the car shifted into 1st on the highway or something, but it was toast there was no doubt, constantly leaving me stranded. I took it to a Honda Acura specialist shop in my area. They rebuilt the whole tranny for $2600ish and gave me a 2 year 24,000 mile warranty.

I'm extremely disappointed that Honda is doing nothing to help us with this. This car had the recall where they installed the hot jet kit. Whatever that was it was completely worthless. Thanks for nothing Honda

Sincerly, Another Screwed Customer

- , Spartanburg, SC, USA

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