Notes: The 1999-2003 Acura TL has a known & widespread defect with the transmission.

Honda fixed some vehicles with a recall in 2004 by changing the oil cooler return line. To settle a class action lawsuit in 2006, Honda extended the transmission warranty on some of these Acura TL's to 93 months / 109,000 miles.

Now these vehicles are past the warranty limit, so buyer beware.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 1
Average Mileage:
117,000 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 TL body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Acura TL Owner Comments

problem #6

Feb 062016


  • 125,000 miles


Clear coat is peeling off of the trunk, sides of the car, and roof.

- Riverside, NJ, USA

problem #5

Mar 112015


  • 135,000 miles
!!!warning this is a safety issue and needs to be addressed!!! "cruise control control box defect!" 2003 TL type S automatic 4 door without cruise control on car engine began to rev out of control while driving, tried to apply brakes but engine is too strong, once vehicle hit 80 mph from this on highway I calmly turned ignition off one click so steering wheel would not lock and coasted to safety. I had to detach module as well as speed control wire going to the idle control of engine. If I was inexperienced I could have been killed either by getting into an accident or by my airback being deployed and killed from the takata inflator. "clear coat" 2003 TL type S black clear coat paint flaking off and massively discolored due to the dry winter cold and the uv heat during summer. "instrument panel lighting problem" 2003 TL type S problem with part of instrument panel where odometer is as well as outside temp not illuminating.

- Brunswick, ME, USA

problem #4

Dec 012015


  • 90,000 miles
The passenger-side subframe has major rust and some parts are rusted through. A mechanic and further research has narrowed the problem on the A/C condenser hose dripping onto the metal. The driver-side part of the subframe has minimal surface rust. This problem is common among Honda Accord and Acura Tls alike, according to the mechanic. $1500 to replace subframe with a used part, or $2500 at the dealership. Was told by the dealership the vehicle is too dangerous to drive.

- Chagrin Falls, OH, USA

problem #3

Nov 072013

TL 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles


My daughter died in a accident on November 7, 2013 in the Acura TL 2003. She had been telling me that it felt like the ignition was sticking and would speed up. I would check with my local mechanic and he told me Acura are known to idle high. I believe that her car problem was the cause of the accident and the police could not give me a reason for the accident. She was 19 and a senior in high school and was a good child.

- Winston, GA, USA

problem #2

Jun 182013

TL 6-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
I got my Acura 2003 TL type S back from my local dealership and was told that the subframe on the passenger side of the vehicle was completly rusted and that the vehicle was unsafe to drive. The car's A/C drain is right above the area of the subframe rust. This a major defect in the car that is causing the subframe to be rotted through and unsafe. I also found that the Honda Accord 1999-2002 has the same problem with the subframe rust from the A/C drain. I notified the car manufacturer of this probelm and they are denying that there is anything wrong with the car's craftsmanship.

- New Cumberland, PA, USA

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problem #1

Sep 122012

TL 6-cyl

  • 97,000 miles
I was applying the brake due to stopped traffic ahead of my car. As I did so, the car accelerated rather than slowed down. My car contacted the left rear of the car in front of mine, and as I tried to straighten out the car, it again accelerated. Veered to the right, and struck the stone wall of the bridge on the shoulder of the highway. According to the police report, there was a malfunction with the throttle mechanism. "officers witnessed, when starting the vehicle, the RPM indicator quickly rise to approximately 5,000/5,500 without any pressure applied on the gas pedal. The floor area did not exhibit items, including the floor mat, which would potentially be the cause."

- Media, PA, USA

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