really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
91,504 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Acura MDX transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Acura MDX Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #56

Dec 192010

MDX 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2003 Acura MDX. Consumer writes in regards to transmission failure while driving. The consumer stated while driving 75 mph on the highway, the vehicle suddenly went into neutral. The consumer stated he/she tried every gear, but the vehicle would not move. The vehicle was towed to the dealer, where the he/she was informed the transmission had indeed failed. The second incident occurred two years later, when all of a sudden, the consumer heard a noise coming from the vehicle. The next day while on the way to the dealer, the vehicle went into neutral again and the consumer had to pull over. The vehicle was towed to the dealer, where they replaced the transmission, torque converter, timing belt, water pump and engine valves.

- Dallas, GA, USA

problem #55

Dec 102012

MDX 6-cyl

  • 209,000 miles
Vehicle was parked in residential driveway. Driver removed key, exited vehicle and remotely applied the door locks. Vehicle immediately began coasting down and ultimately off the driveway, down a steep grade into the yard until it struck a tree approximately 50 feet away. Resulting significant damage to front of vehicle was appraised at $5900. Car could not be removed from its resting place against tree except by tow truck. Tow driver indicated that vehicle was still in drive, not park when he extracted it from crash position. Tow driver and repair facility indicated that it should not have been possible to remove key from ignition without vehicle being in park, yet that was the specific cause of the crash.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #54

Aug 282011


  • 155,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura MDX. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph and attempting to accelerate further, the vehicle would not shift into gear. There was an increase in engine rpms, but the vehicle stalled instead of accelerating. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer and was awaiting a diagnostic test. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileages were 155,000.

- Tismo Beach, CA, USA

problem #53

Jul 012010

MDX 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles


My 2003 Acura MDX had the transmission replaced at 44,000 miles. Around 80,000 miles I noticed the transmission failing again. Specifically the torque converter making the shudder and vibration again. I let me dealer know, but they did not detect an issue. Now at 102,000 miles and after my extended warranty has expired Acura is expecting me to pay for 60% of the repair of a clear defect in the transmission of this year of the car. So far it has not caused an accident, but I am afraid to keep driving without performing the replacement.

- Bethesda, MD, USA

problem #52

Jun 032010


  • 100,000 miles
Transmission failure.

- Westfield, NJ, USA

problem #51

May 172011

MDX 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
1. while attempting to accelerate at a busy 4-way intersection, my Acura MDX refused to go into gear or accelerate. This caused me to obstruct traffic in the intersection, and could have easily caused a multi-car accident. 2. the car has intermittently refused to go into first gear for several months. Manually shifting it into gear would temporarily solve the problem. 23. we had the car towed to ron tonkin Acura of portland. The service adviser informed us that the transmission needed to be replaced, and he had contacted Acura to request a "goodwill" repair. 24 hours later, he called to inform us that Acura refused his request due to the vehicle mileage. (120,000). Apparently Acura's position is that the transmission should only last for 120K miles before needing replacement.

- Beaverton, OR, USA

problem #50

Apr 242011

MDX 6-cyl

  • 115,000 miles


Purchased a used 03 Acura MDX from a dealer on 4/22/11. I was driving the vehicle on a toll road (tx 121) and was traveling at around 65mph. Car started decelerating and would not go into gear. Almost had couple of accidents as there was no power to the drivetrain. Cars traveling behind me at 65mph+ were braking hard to avoid me. Vehicle towed to a transmission shop and they advised that it was transmission failure. Called Acura customer care and contacted them also via twitter. They pretended that they did not know of issues with transmission despite my research which points to numerous defects in their transmission. Acura indicated initial intent to consider compensate for the cost of transmission repair. After submitting all repair and towing details/invoices, Acura representative - sergio ramos - indicates that he will not consider any reimbursement. Acura manufactured and sold a vehicle that is known for faulty transmissions that have endangered my safety. I have tried working with Acura to amicably solve this issue to no avail. Acura MDX is a potential hazard to public safety and potential deadly vehicle which Acura fails to acknowledge and fix.

- Frisco, TX, USA

problem #49

Feb 182011

MDX 6-cyl

  • 123,000 miles
Some gear slippage for a few days prior when first get going in the morning. The day it finally went, it did it suddenly while going about 35 mph. Felt like it kicked a gear or two making the car jerk violently almost causing an accident. I was only a block or so away from home, all the way home it would almost rev to redline while going about 10 mph. The vehicle only has reverse now and I'm going to have to have it towed to a shop locally for a very expensive fix. If I would've had some one closer following me that day and with my kids in the far back I'm afraid to think of what might have happened except a lawsuit!

- Redding, CA, USA

problem #48

Feb 032011

MDX 6-cyl

  • 133,000 miles
2003 Mazda MDX transmission failed, and I was nearly killed when another car barely missed hitting (T boning, my car) my stopped car. My car went to shift into 2nd when the transmission failed, went into neutral, and came to a dead stop. The transmission fluid has been replaced twice in last year, dealer said it was dirty. This didn't make sense since its a closed system. Something must be braking down.

- Lancaster, PA, USA

problem #47

Jan 222011

MDX 6-cyl

  • 123,000 miles
2003 Acura MDX transmission failure. Vehicle started slipping out of gear, rpms shooting up. Vehicle jolting forward and then losing power. Was travelling with my family when suddenly the vehicle started revving and jumping forward and then bucking losing power. Very dangerous situation on main road with busy traffic. Was travelling at about 35mph at time of incident. Fortunately was able to coast over to side of road avoiding an accident. Am now told transmission needs to be replaced. 123,000 miles, have owned for 7 years and 2 months. No longer under warranty. Upset that Acura seems aware of problems with 2003 transmissions since they had issues with 2001/02 models but will not admit to 03 models. Someone could get seriously injured by the way these vehicles malfunction when the transmission goes. Please follow up on this, it's a serious problem.

- Johnston, RI, USA

problem #46

Dec 222010


  • 119,000 miles


Bought used Acura MDX 2003 in 2004 from carmax still under manufacturer warranty of 50,0000 miles. Have recurrent torque converter/ transmission problems. Car periodically grinds, shudders, and hesitates while driving around 25-40 mph.... causing near accidents several times. Replaced transmission with refurbished transmissions at approximately 53,000 miles in 2006, and again at approximately 61,900 miles in 2007. Now in Jan. 2011@ approximately 119,000miles, Acura dealer diagnosed the same torque converter problem requiring a third transmission replacement.... basically, this 2003 Acura MDX will have four transmissions in it's life time. This vehicle has been serviced per Acura service schedule at primarily Acura dealers.this is a major safety nightmare waiting to happen and as a concerned consumer and parent, request the government to investigate this safety issue and if warranted, warn the public of potential dangers.

- Middletown, MD, USA

problem #45

Dec 252010

MDX 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
I have a 2003 Acura MDX with 108K miles as of Dec 29, 2010. Two years ago around 80K miles, while my wife was driving with our kid, suddenly the engine lost power on highway 95. She had to rev up to 6000 RPM to keep the speed at 30 mph. Acura dealer checked the transmission and said they found metallic particles in the transmission fluid, and the fluid was charred. They also said gear was slightly damaged, but told me to replace transmission fluid very frequently (more than recommendation). No one told me 2003 MDX has faulty transmission system. After 1 year at around 90K miles I changed the transmission fluid again. Now, three days ago, same transmission problem. Even at 25 mph, the RPM goes suddenly to 5000 RPM at same acceleration pressure level. I checked the transmission fluid immediately. The transmission fluid level is perfectly fine. But fluid is black and charred particles, possibly metallic. Not supposed to happen for $40K luxury SUV at 80K miles and 108K miles. Dropped my car at local Acura dealer hoping Acura can replace transmission at their own cost. I already spent $1000 first time two years ago. Then I spend over $600 for 90K miles regular maintenance that included transmission fluid service. I am not spending again on the same stupid faulty transmission that Acura should have notified all its customers in the first place. If they don't fix it at their own cost, I will never buy or recommend Acura to anyone. Very very disappointed with Acura.

- Chadds Ford, PA, USA

problem #44

Nov 072010

MDX 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,400 miles
While driving on a routine errand, the automatic transmission failed in the middle of the road. The car was not moving on shifting to drive. Found transmission fluid on the road under the vehicle.

- West Windsor, NJ, USA

problem #43

Oct 312010

MDX 6-cyl

  • 95,600 miles
Twice in the last 3 days, the transmission in my 2003 Acura MDX spontaneously slipped into neutral, I.e., disengaged from drive and left me w/O power to the wheels. The shift lever remained in drive and had not been touched. The latter occurrence stranded me in the middle of an intersection with oncoming traffic. Several attempts at shifting into park and back into drive were required before drive actually engaged. An internet search easily turned up many similar instances in which 2003 MDX owners indicated that their transmissions intermittently disengaged from drive.

- Collierville, TN, USA

problem #42

Oct 042010

MDX 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
My 2003 Acura MDX was vibrating/shuddering between 30-45mph. Dealer advised faulty torque converter @ $2,200. The 2001 & 2002 models were recalled for same issue. When torque converter fails, metal shavings can make their way into transmission, causing transmission failure. Acura is having ongoing repeated issues. Will they deny transmission issue at the expense of my families safety. Many with same vehicle have had some dangerous situations.

- Windermere, FL, USA

problem #41

Jun 202010


  • 91,000 miles
I was driving on I-75 when my transmission failed, car went from going 70mph to dropping all RPM's and driving as if it were in neutral. Torque converter had to be replaced, this was at 91,000 miles. Luckily, I had extended warranty or this would have been a $3,000 repair and could have been very dangerous if other cars were following closely when the transmission failed! a vehicle in this price range should not be failing so early. I am not at 93,000 miles and have an electrical issue when I turn the A/C on, all of my gauges are lost and the battery is drained, but the alternator and the battery have both been tested and are ok.

- Leesburg, GA, USA

problem #40

Aug 182010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles
2003 Acura MDX with 146,000 miles on it. Automatic transmission failed on Saturday, August 18, 2010 three hours from home and 27 miles from a dealership.

- Bucksport, ME, USA

problem #39

Aug 222010


  • 109,000 miles
Car would not move upon pushing gas pedal but engine would revive then without warning the car would launch forward at accelerated speed. This lurching continued unpredictably upon further driving the car. Dealer said that the transmission needed to be replaced.

- Sun Prairie, WI, USA

problem #38

Aug 182010


  • 92,700 miles
8/18/10 - while driving car begins acting like we are trying to accelerate while in neutral. We are able to get to a gas station, where we notice transmission fluid on the ground. We have it towed to a local Honda dealership in dublin. They replace the transmission hose. 8/28/10 - driving on the interstate, car begins acting up again - same problem. We pull over immediately and have it towed to a different dealership in columbus. We are told we need to get a new transmission. Both times there were no warning signs of any problems. Once it started acting up, there was nothing that could be done except pull it away from traffic and have it towed.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #37

Jul 272010


  • miles
This is related to the recent Honda recall for ignition key issue. The same problem has been noticed on my Acura 2003 MDX. There has not been any incident arising out of it because of my checks after switching off my car but some other people might not be lucky. The key sometimes comes out after switching the car off without moving the gear to park. This happens if done quickly. The date below is a approximate date since I know it happened 2-3 weeks back.

- Hillsboro, OR, USA

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