If you find CarComplaints.com is helpful ... We rely completely on word of mouth. Talk about us on Facebook, Twitter, tell your mother-in-law. Help us help more people.

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.

8.6

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,549.00
Average Mileage:
91,805 miles
Total Complaints:
115 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (41 reports)
  2. not sure (37 reports)
  3. rebuild transmission (14 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 did a flush and says that was the problem (2 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 6)

problem #115

Apr 062012

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

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

At 92k I should not be replacing my transmition. The dealership says its "just back luck" but are charging me $4195 to repair and then I find out it is a common problem.

I am looking to get on a class action lawsuit if one gets started.

- , Verona, WI, USA

problem #114

May 012012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

This was my deceased husband's car pride and joy that he was meticulous about and maintenance was done on a regular basis. I am upset that this has happened with only 50,000 miles. I have heard the dealership is being sued by a major insurance company for overcharging for repairs and thought $3600 was quite high.....and now I see the reason for the suit.

I am being very nice because I know everything can be worked out but I will be calling Honda this week to see what can be resolved. Thank you for letting me vent!

- , Highland, CA, USA

problem #113

Aug 192013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,320 miles

I have owned many cars in my life and i have yet to ever have a transmission fail. A few of them had over 250k when i sold them and i am very surprised to see that Honda makes such a bad transmission in such a nice car. i have read at least 300 complaints about this very issue on a 2003 model yet honda seems not to care. i was a chevy man before i bought this car and now comparing them i really believe i made a mistake buying this new. Sad to that Consumer Reports rated this high when i bought it and still has a high rating for a used car. I own quite a few Honda products and never had any real problem with them. Sad to see they are as bad as the other companies when it come to known problems with a car. this car has had mostly highway miles on it since it was new. looking at 3500 bucks for a rebuilt transmission. It does upset me that they have become just like Gm and the others. guess my next car will be a chevy. i still have a 94 pickup and i have never had any major problem with it. Shame on honda for not recalling the 2003's with the other cars that have this problem. This complaint especially with the dealer and manufacturer not caring enough to do the right thing. I guess they are being added to my dodge list (They'll be No dodge in my Garage. )

Update from Sep 5, 2013: Since no help from Honda and transmission problems were starting to get much worse i decided to get rid of the car. Honda used to make a good car. But with all the problems they have and them not wanting to help with anything i have bought my very last Honda. I was looking at between 3500-4000 in repair costs for a rebuilt transmission with only a 12/12000mile warranty. The book value for the accord was in the 5500-6500 so i decided to just cut it loose. So now i'm on a mission to tell everyone i know about it. Buy something else, let's see if Honda likes that.

- , Harrisburg, NC, USA

problem #112

Apr 302012

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

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

The transmission slips out of gear when I accelerate on my 2003 Accord, V-6.

- , San Carlos, CA, USA

problem #111

Jun 152011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,250 miles

Car started about a year ago slipping out of gear when stopped at an intersection or while moving. No warning sound or jerks, you would just notice the engine racing and no acceleration. Started complaining at the Honda dealer a year ago and they said there was nothing wrong. Again this week it slipped out of gear while driving and the dealer repeated their mantra - nothing is wrong. It doesn't do it often, but when it does it is very disturbing and dangerous. Going to a transmission place tomorrow to see if they do anything. I would like to get it repaired before it causes an accident or completely fails.

- , Independence, MO, USA

problem #110

Sep 122012

Accord EX 3.0L V6 Vtech

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,700 miles

I figured a Honda Accord EX is worth more than 148,000 miles. The transmission going out is surprising. I don't race anyone (which I figured would wear on the car more) and I take care of it. I have had it since 2007, I know now to do research that when I buy a Honda to look up the history of the model. It is just upsetting because now I have to decide to buy another car or fix the one I have. With the transmission going out I don't know if I can trust my car anymore or Honda. Annoying.

- , Wichita, Kansas, USA

problem #109

Mar 142006

Accord EXL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,655 miles

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

Had to rent a car again to get to work. I guess as long as I own this car I ned a backup car for when it is in the shop!

- , Garden Grove, CA, USA

problem #108

Jan 172013

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

I called Honda and although they know about problems with transmission on Honda Accords 2003 they told me that my mileage and age was out of the warranty and recall period. Really sucks. On Monday my car was worth 7K, on Thursday I could trade it in for 1K at best.

- , Newbury Park, CA, USA

problem #107

Feb 202013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,157 miles

What a piece of crap!!!! Transmission failure every 40,000-50,000?!?!? I bought a Honda because they are supposed to be reliable, long-lived transportation without major repair expenses. I drove a 1998 Jaguar XJ8 for six years and a 1978 Chevy MONZA for 11 years. Despite their poor reputations, both were far more reliable than this over-priced shitmobile.

- , Mandeville, LA, USA

problem #106

Nov 082012

Accord EX-LN 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,800 miles

I have a 2003 Honda accord and last November while driving home on the freeway my transmission slipped out of gear and started making a thudding sound. I could not get out of 1st gear and had to sit on the side of the freeway for help to arrive, about an hour later. I could not exit the freeway because I could not go fast enough to merge past the steady flow of 2 lanes of another freeway merging onto mine to get to the exit that was within eye sight. Honda has refused to help saying that they are not responsidbel for this problem. However every transmission shops states that these transmissions have inherent problems in the design that cause them to fail. They don't cool properly, they have underpowered torque converters, they do not have a changeable filter, and the weight of the 5th gear is causing the cases to bend (they have to be machined when the transmission is rebuilt), all this is why they cost $3800+ to rebuild. On shop even told me that they no longer rebuild the transmissions they just get you one someone else has rebuilt. these transmission have been failing every year since 2003 in the same manner see safercar.gov. there were 61 complaints just last year, on average 1.25 a week.

Honda says this is not a safety issue, even though we all would say it is, they call it a mechanical defect. Please see below. This Code of Federal regulations governs vehicle safety, it clearly defines this as a safety defect. I ask that you please write into Honda corporate and send letters to the NHTSA also. Honda should fix this before someone gets hurt.

The United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety (Title 49, Chapter 301) defines motor vehicle safety as "the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle." A defect includes "any defect in performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment." Generally, a safety defect is defined as a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment that:

• poses a risk to motor vehicle safety, and

• may exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture, or items of equipment of the same type and manufacture.

As stated above a safety defect is as a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment (any system, part, or component of a motor vehicle as originally manufactured) that poses a risk to motor vehicle safety.

- , Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #105

Apr 022013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

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

Driving down the 101 when the transmission went out. The car behind me almost drove right over me. After calling a tow truck, and waiting an hour. I figured out that when I turned it back on it worked, for about 5-10 miles. Then it would go out again. So I limped home, turning my car off every 5-10 miles.

- , Westlake Village, California, USA

problem #104

Mar 082013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,800 miles

Along with what everyone else has already experienced, the 2003 Honda Accord (purchased less than a year ago from a wholesale dealer) suddenly started bucking and slipping out of gear - violently - on my way home from work. While my RPM indicator shot through the red, my speedometer was stuck in gear - dangerously and unsafely going from 45 MPH to 5 MPH within 3-5 seconds inside of a mile-long, two lane tunnel. Not only did my life flash before my eyes, but I could see the first 3 or 4 vehicles directly behind me in my lane miraculously avoid what could have easily been a horrific pile-up scene by literally mashing at their brakes (yes, surprisingly, they happened to be at a more-than-safe distance apart from each other, which is the only reason I think the accident was avoided. It was miraculous.

Anyway, the next morning, I took my vehicle to a trusted mechanic where he performed a transmission fluid flush, checked sensors, ran tests on transmission to determine if failing, etc. That was 3 days ago and I've had no known problems with my tranny since. This weekend, I'm taking my car to a Honda dealership where they are going to perform a recall on my power steering hose leak. I'll be sure to request that the service team perform a road test, check fluids again, etc., to confirm that there are currently no symptoms of my transmission failing. I'll post again after my dealership experience with any new developments.

Lastly, I'd like to note that I'm extremely disappointed in the way Honda has handled previous drivers' complaints about this issue and trust that I do feel for you all who have to experienced this. I burned through thousands of dollars in repairs with the two cars I owned prior to my Honda when I finally decided to finance a Honda due to its reputable stance on safety and reliability. I know I didn't purchase my Honda directly from a dealer like most people have mentioned, or have service done through Honda as I've only had my car for less than a year, BUT, it goes to show that despite the difference, a terribly built car is just that - a terribly built car.

Good luck to everyone and let's continue to fight for a much required federal investigation into these cars and the manufacturer who produced them!

-A

- , Alameda, CA, USA

problem #103

Mar 152013

Accord EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

With only 132,000 miles on a ten year old vehicle, I am very disappointed that an expensive transmission replacement is necessary on what people generally consider to be a reliable make/model. I am seriously reconsidering buying another Honda ever again. The main reason I bought this make in the past was not for style or features, but mainly their strong reputation for reliability/durability/longevity. I am unbelievably pissed off about this!

- , Bethany, CT, USA

problem #102

Dec 182012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Adding to the extensive list of Honda Transmission failures from 03-04. Look it up, 1.1 million Honda's were recalled in 2004 due to a transmission issue, plus a large class action suit was paid by Honda to those occurring accidents from failed transmissions.

After they so called "fixed" the issue the later of the Honda transmission were still failing but not being covered under warranty. My transmission was always a little slower getting into gear from park to drive or reverse but I never thought it was an issue until it was too late. I have 115k on it now and the transmission is bad. I bought the Honda certified and expected this would serve me well for many years to come. I'm working with America Honda now and my local Honda dealer to see what can be done. I was told as it is a certified Honda they would send the claim it to the regional service rep even though I'm 15k over my certified warranty. I will make an update with what Honda has to offer, if anything at all. These transmissions are a serious issue or I would not be taking the time to write this complaint. I paid good money for a certified Honda and expected more.

- , Central, NH, USA

problem #101

Oct 092012

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,154 miles

I bought my 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 8/8/08 with 69,998 miles and not even a year yet on 2/19/09 with 75,082 miles my transmission failed on the highway during rush hour and I was lucky enough to make it to the emergency lane. I couldn't drive over 30-40 MPH i guess that the higher gears wasn't working and the reverse wasn't working either. I had bought the extended warranty which was like an extra $1,500 so the Honda dealer had to replace it which cost $4,000. Since they put in a new transmission I thought I would be all set but a couple of weeks ago (10/9/12) my transmission fail on me again and its only been 3 years since they replaced it. This time I'm not so lucky because my extended warranty ran out last year and i called the Honda dealer and they said that a brand new transmission should last more than 3 years but since my car was no longer under warranty they couldn't help me. I just got my car back a few days ago and it cost me a total $3,400 to rebuild the transmission. I went to the Honda dealer to buy a reliable car but now i feel like I have been scammed by Honda. If I knew what i knew now I would never have bought this car because who knows how long its gonna be till my transmission fails again.

- , Providence, Rhode Island, USA

problem #100

Sep 102012

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

I so mad I only have 68000 thousand miles and I need a transmission

- , Columbus, Ohio, USA

problem #99

Apr 012012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Dealer looking at car... I am scared :( I do not have $4000.00.

- , Northbrook, IL, USA

problem #98

Jun 052011

Accord EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,010 miles

Transmission had been slipping out of gear for year, and I finally had to rebuild the tranny for $2700. I drive 10,000 miles/year, and a Honda can't make it to even 100,000 miles?

It's a shame. The Accord handles beautifully, but this problem should have been acknowledged by Honda long ago. I never even bothered to come to this site until I got the car fixed, and after seeing all the complaints, I realized that I won't be buying a Honda again any time soon.

- , Solon, OH, USA

problem #97

Jul 012012

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

very bad problem, i can't fix my car because it's too expensive to fix it, Honda is asking $5000

- , Winchester, VA, USA

problem #96

Apr 102012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

My wife got this car as an "upgrade" over her 2001 civic last summer.

At first the it was very sporadic but my wife was reporting that the car would slip out of gear, RPM's would go up and basically the car would have no power until all of the sudden it would slip back in gear. Today she called me saying that it did it the entire way to work and was scared to drive it home. I took the afternoon off and met her over and drove it to the dealer. On the way there, twice on the highway it slipped out of gear going 60-70mph and only pumping the gas would get it back in gear. As I was getting off the exit, i was able to accelerate at the light but as soon as I hit the intersection, nothing.....only RPM's were going up. Car had no power. I got stuck in the middle of the intersection as I repeatedly put it in park, 1st gear, 2nd, 3rd, reverse, back in drive, etc. Nothing. It was basically stuck in neutral. After about 15 minutes of people screaming and yelling at me to get out of the way, I was able to get it going again and made it to the Honda dealer. They still have it and I have not heard what the diagnosis is. Having read all of these complaints, I fear the answer already. Tranny is dead. American Honda will be hearing from me.

My last car was an 2002 Accord that started having tranny issues. At the first sign, I traded it in for a new NON-Honda. Wish I would have in this case as well. Sigh......

- , Nashville, TN, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?