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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
94,116 miles
Total Complaints:
125 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (46 reports)
  2. not sure (37 reports)
  3. rebuild transmission (16 reports)
  4. dealer claims there isn't a problem (10 reports)
  5. honda is replacing the tranny with a rebuilt at no charge (8 reports)
  6. dealer replaced with a refurbished transmission (3 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 3 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #85

Mar 112011


  • 81,700 miles


I was driving home from school on the 10 Freeway at 5PM, going 70mph, when my car suddenly started to jerk back and forth! I was in the fast lane and drove right through the double solid carpool lane and off onto the tiny shoulder. After sitting there for a good 5 minutes, trying to figure out what to do, I decided that maybe I should try to get to the right side of the freeway, where the shoulder was wider. When I started my car again and pulled forward, as soon as I hit 30mph, my car just started jerking again! I slowly shifted my way over to the right shoulder (thanks to the kind woman behind me who helped slow traffic), and sat on that side for another 10 minutes until the Metro Tow Patrol came by and towed me off the freeway. I've called a bunch of mechanics and they all say that Accords have a history of transmission failure, >:( AND it's going to cost $2600 to fix!!! :( I don't have that kind of money, nor do I have a replacement car! How am I suppose to get to school and work!?

- , Rosemead, CA, USA

problem #84

Feb 232011

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

Purchased car for daughter last year , paid top dollar because it was a Honda , It was even a top pick online for used vehicles when I was looking ??. Real bad news I just purchased a 2010 CRV for wife , if only I knew , my luck ,my bad .

I will get out of this and bye bye Honda , Can not afford the risk. I have to run ,can not drive , and checkout what other kind of troubles I just purchased

You know what I am hearing from the Wife


- , Franklin, GA, USA

problem #83

Feb 182011

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,499 miles

Nursed my accord back from a half hour drive last week..just barely made it back. Went from erratically downshifting at 50mph to no drive within about 10 minutes. Wish I would have researched complaints 3 months ago...didn't see this coming at all!

- , Mansfield, OH, USA

problem #82

Oct 192009

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,357 miles


27SEP04 I took my 2003 Honda Accord in to Fuller Honda in Chula Vista, CA for recall work. They "Installed an oil jet on transmission second gear inspection" under the recall.

22OCT09 my 2003 Honda Accord experienced multiple transmission problems. While leaving from work, I had difficulty getting my vehicle into gear. Eventually I was able to get it into gear and started driving home via a California Interstate during rush hour traffic. Upon attempting to merge onto the interstate, my Honda went into "neutral" gear. All it would do is "rev" and I could not get it to go into gear in either forward or reverse. My vehicle was now stranded in the middle lane of a San Diego interstate during rush hour traffic. Since I was unable to exit my vehicle as other cars were speeding byat 70+ MPH on both sides of me, I had to call the CHP for assistance. CHP responded approximately 45 minutes later and assisted in towing my Honda to the shoulder.

I then had my Honda towed to the closest Honda dealer. The service clerk apologized for my “problem” but failed to mention about this transmission problem being a common issue with 2003 Honda Accords. He told me that since the transmission should not have failed with only 70K miles on my vehicle that Honda would pay for 50% of the parts and 25% of the labor. Even after the “discount”, my total charge for replacing my transmission was $2531.31. My “near death experience” on the San Diego Freeways was free of charge.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #81

Dec 312008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

I bought my car in 2008, and noticed the problem right away. The gears were slipping when I drove, and the car jolted suddenly as it went in and out of gear. I immediately brought it back to the dealership (where it was supposedly covered under a 30 day warranty) only to have them flush the transmission and say that was all they could do for me.

I then went to Honda to have the problem documented and they said the only thing I could do was wait for the problem to get worse (total transmission failure and gear chipping). The recall on the transmission in 2004 was "fixed" by placing an oil jet kit in the car which has done absolutely nothing.

Now it is 2011 and the day has come where the transmission wont even go into 3rd gear, and Honda says that I have to replace the whole transmission for over $4000. They are not offering me good will due to my service history, and not getting my oil changed at their locations over the past to years. This is unbelievable. My family owns four Hondas, and have brought more business to their company over the past two years than most people do in a lifetime.

The biggest problem here is that this was a known problem in the car from day one, and Honda even placed a recall on this make and model for this exact situation. It should have nothing to do with service history, it is the fact that the problem was built into the car, and they knew about it the whole time. I will fight this to the end, and already feel that they have taken advantage of the situation by hitting me with this bill.

- , South Boston, MA, USA

problem #80

Jan 212011

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,504 miles

Just bought my 03 Accord in Oct 10 with 81k. car fax stated everything was fine, this past weekend while traveling, engine started revving up extremely high and car starting doing a stop and go type motion. Long story short, gears slipping extremely bad and drive indicator started to blink and car would not go into reverse. We were on the highway on a bridge when it started and now dealer says the recall had been fixed..... really? I don't think so! Luckily no one was killed!

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #79

Jan 102011

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,110 miles


I have 2 Honda's. I picked up the 2003 Accord used / locally last year. I have all the service records. The car currently has 71000 miles. The transmission failed. There was a previous recall. The oil jet kit was replaced at 20117 miles. Apparently, the repair was not adequate to address the problem. I contacted Honda NA customer service. I spoke with Mirabel. When I was initially contacted I was asked how much I wanted from Honda. I asked how much the new transmission would cost. Mirabel would not give me the information. When I was contacted again, I was told that I had agreed to pay $3,000. That was not true. Mirabel then told me that Honda would pay $1,300 and my part would be $3,000. I asked for a 50% / 50% split. I was rejected. I was told that it was take it or leave it. When the work was completed, the bill was $3,763. I was charged $3,000. Honda paid the $763. I contacted Honda NA. I asked them to split the difference. I was told that Honda would only pay the difference between the $3,000 and the final bill.

I WAS a loyal Honda owner. Apparently Honda no longer stands behind their product. They no longer value me as an existing Honda owner. They lied and were deceptive in their communications. I will be replacing 4 cars within the next 3 years. None of them will be Honda's. I will never own a Honda again. My kids will never own Honda's and I will make sure that anyone who values my opinion will know how I feel about the Honda brand and customer care.

If bad products follow bad business practices, watch out for future Honda's. It's not looking good for a once proud company.

- , Novato, CA, USA

problem #78

Jan 142011

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,160 miles

I purchased this car used after getting a (mostly) clean bill of health after inspection (I knew i'd have to replace the power steering pump, but that was it). Next thing I know the transmission starts to slip and then is completely goes out and I'm stranded on the road. I turn the car off and when I restart it will drive again but then quickly slips. This goes on until I slowly get home. I JUST bought this car and CANNOT afford to have the transmission replaced!!!!!

- , West Jordan, UT, USA

problem #77

Dec 072010

Accord Sedan 3.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

Hi Everyone,

I just had the same problem with the transmission failure of my 2003 V6 accord including random downshifting, inability to reverse, and feeling like the car was hit from behind. This is an awful thing and I hope everyone will call the hotline below to generate enough hits to create a class action lawsuit.

Call (888) 327-4236 to file a complaint with the Bureau of Transportation, and they might start a class action lawsuit to reimburse us for the transmission replacement. That's the least they should do.

So save your receipts if you already replaced your transmission everyone.

- , Dublin, CA, USA

problem #76

Jun 012010

Accord 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

Honda is suppose to be the best car and has a really long lifetime for the drive. My car was driving fine until the engine started to make a loud revving noise and would not switch gears until I pull over and put my it on park for a bit and it happened on a rainy day which really scared me. I have never had any idea of my car having such major problems. I brought the car to the dealership and have it looked at, they stated that I needed a new transmission. As a college student I depend on my car daily to get to my destinations.

- , Port Arthur, TX, USA

problem #75

Oct 032009

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles


My car never got the oil jet put on per the recall until after I was having problems. There burnt oil is what caused my transmission problem. Honda looked at it an put a jet in to cool the transmission, but the problem was already there. Honda America is fighting me now. I am still driving it for the time being until the transmission completely fails.

- , Lake Charles, LA, USA

problem #74

Jul 052010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles

My first old Honda car works excellent, while the second one is so disgusting... Honda is no more trusty....

- , Cupertino, CA, USA

problem #73

Jul 312010

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 179,000 miles

2003 Honda Accord V6 Auto Trans. Trans. slipping failing to shift, violent downshift, and red line. Not sure if Honda will recall this call but it seems that there are a lot of problems with this model. After driving my car with this transmission problem - I thought about the hazards of driving a car in this condition, I have a 2 year old daughter and I am terrified to put in my car, not to mention I am a little scared for my own safety. I am like many others in today's economic downfall, money is hard to come by and this is a large amount of money to fix the problem. Please let me know if any of you have any luck with this issue and please be safe as you drive you 2003 Honda's.

- , Perrysburg, OH, USA

problem #72

Oct 162008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,415 miles

In the Fall I began noticing the car had trouble shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear when accelerating. Was very sporadic at the beginning but became more and more prevalent. Took it in and it took 2 visits for them to finally identify the problem. Honda paid for half of the new transmission and provided a free rental car during servicing. Even though Honda paid for half of the cost of the transmission it still was a huge financial burden that I hadn't planned for. After reading other complaints I am glad it didn't turn into something more serious. I have bought Honda's for years. I have been through 5 or 6 cars and this is the first time I ever had anything major go out on one of them.

- , Mansfield, TX, USA

problem #71

Jul 012010

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

So far Honda has refused to acknowledge they have a generic problem with the 2003 Accord V6 transmissions. Legal action may be necessary.

- , East Wenatchee, WA, USA

problem #70

May 262010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

When I was informed that Honda would fix my 3rd faulty transmission for $3300, Hoehn Honda, the dealership, charged me $100 for this news. I laughed in the guys face. Had to pay it so the tow truck driver could pick up my car.

- , Vista, CA, USA

problem #69

Jun 042010

Accord 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

This has been so many complaint about this transmission problem and I don't know why there is no action from Honda. I think because nobody got an accident caused by this problem. This is pain in ass and to the pocket. My mechanic quoted me a $1,100.00 to repair if I'm lucky not including the hardware parts that may need to be replaced. This is only the seals and clutch repair including labor for $1,100.00. I don't know if this is sound reasonable but If Honda will cover some of the cost or a recall this might be more sound reasonable. Hopefully this will back fire to Honda one of this day.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #68

May 302010

(reported on)

Accord EX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,000 miles

So I have a 2003 accord. Its the third accord I have owned over the years. I bought this vehicle to run my business out of. I had it since its been brand new and had 190,000 relatively low maintenance miles on it. A week ago on the road,I noticed a slipping in the third gear. Ignoring this was a bad idea. I was in a suburban neighborhood driving faster than I should have when it suddenly lurched into a lower gear and spun out of control. After reading this post, I was an unlucky one!! I didn't hurt and human being but I did run over a neighbors dog tied to their front tree. Imagine my guilt as I knocked on the door and had to tell a middle age woman and their 5 year old daughter that fido would no longer be eating scraps at their table. After inspection at a Honda dealer it was determined that the transmission went totally out and the bill would be $4200. After alerting Honda of the circumstance, they compassionately decided to fix the vehicle at no expense to me. I would be advised to not buy a 2003 accord due to the tranny failure. It is an emotional roller coaster I have to deal with psychologically every day of my life. Having said that, the honda representatives were great and understanding of my distress. I did sell my vehicle and have since upgraded to the 2010 ex and am happy with it. My only complaint is they did not fix the dent in the front wheel fender, as I had to pay that out of pocket.

- , Lebanon, PA, USA

problem #67

Jun 012009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

I have a used Honda Accord V6 4 door. The vehicle was a honda certified car that was purchased two years ago. The car slipped out of gear driving on the Hwy so we pulled over. We turned the car off and then continued on the path. This was at about 62000 miles so we had our mechanic service the transmission (who used certified honda transmission fluid). The vehicle would only occasionally have the problem for six months. In March I looked up recall issues on the vehicle and noticed two recalls on the vehicle.

I contacted my local Honda dealer who diagnosed the problem and said it was the same recall issue. Honda however would only agree to pay 50% of the cost to correct the problem on good faith. After being frustrated I called Honda recall department and was told it wasn't the problem. The person at Honda was very rude! Finally today I went into the dealer again and the GM basically told me they wouldn't go to bat for me since I didn't purchase my car there. I called Honda again and the rep is going to call the dealer because she also stated that it is not the problem. I am very upset since this is the 5th Honda that I have owned. Tell all of your friends, don't buy a Honda because they don't stand by there customers.

- , Prescott Valley, AZ, USA

problem #66

Apr 242010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,992 miles

We were returning to Canada from Myrtle Beach on April 24.After driving for 10 hrs we were in West Virginia moving at about 65 mph. The transmission slipped and seemed to drop into a lower gear. The rpm's spiked and the car bucked violently several times. We were lucky to not be rear-ended. We managed to limp to the next exit at 30 mph. The fluid level was ok.We stayed overnight and proceeded more cautiously the next day. The same thing happened. We reached Ontario and were travelling on the 6-lane highway at about 60 mph. The transmission slipped and the car bucked violently. Again we were lucky not to have caused a collision. We drove several miles along the narrow shoulder with flashers going before we could exit. We completed the last 60 miles of the trip at 30mph with 4 way flashers going.

Our mechanic contacted Honda ( local dealer ). They claimed 2003 was an excellent year for transmissions. In my opinion this is a severe safety concern and could be life threatening.

- , Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

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