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:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
91,380 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Acura TL Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #30

Mar 082013

TL 6-cyl

  • 159,099 miles


There was a recall on my transmission in 2004. I bought my Acura from an Acura dealership in macon ga in 2007. I had to pay for a new transmission in 2013. I feel that I should be refunded for my transmission. I was never told anything about the recall anytime I was at the Acura dealership nor did I find anything when I looked up my VIN number until after the transmission was already fixed. On the recall it says "if have already paid to have transmission replaced, you may be eligible for reimbursement". I sent all my information to Acura about 3 weeks ago and still haven't heard anything from them.

- Otto, NC, USA

problem #29

Jan 142014

TL 6-cyl

  • 133,000 miles
I was driving down the highway and my car almost stopped. It was like I had pushed the brake pedal to the floor and held it. It then wouldn't shift into gear and the RPM went up to 6000. It is now unsafe to drive as it doesn't shift into gear and "bucks" as I try to go down the road. I went to an Acura dealer and they told me it would cost me $4500 to replace transmission without looking at it so they are very aware of the problem. I called another dealer and left message and they never called me back. In researching this issue I found there was a recall for the exact issue I was having. My car did have the so called "fix" completed in 2004. I took great care of this car and changed my transmission fluid approximately every 30000 miles. I called american Honda motor company and they told me I would have to pay to have it diagnosed by the same dealer who quoted me $4500 without looking at it or the dealer who never called me back. This is a known problem with my model transmission and the fact that I was driving down the highway and was almost rear ended because my car basically stopped is unacceptable. It's sad that Honda will not take care of the problem. American Honda has chosen profit over customer satisfaction and safety.

- Methuen, MA, USA

problem #28

Dec 032013

TL 6-cyl

  • 161,200 miles
Upon driving on a freeway going around 50 mph my transmission suddenly pulled my car to a quick slowing down motion as if being moved from gear down to first or second. Luckily, there were no vehicles behind me as I was in a far right line. It is an older vehicle however it is a recurring issue it appears as there was a recall on it already before. The dealerships have given me conflicting stories on the vehicle history as far repairs and recalls on the vehicle and I do wish to have the NHTSA look into the history of this recall as well as warn the current owners of the vehicle of this issue as I had not had a problem with the transmission since becoming the owner and was not told of the recall upon multiple visits to the dealership.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #27

Nov 122013

TL 6-cyl

  • 132,800 miles


Dear, I have a 2003 Acura 3.2 TL navi. It has approximately 132,800 miles on it as of 30 November 2013 (car is in shop, so I can't verify exact mileage). On Saturday, 30 Nov 2013, I took it in to Acura, because the engine check light is on. I also asked that the transmission be checked, because it didn't seem to be engaging correctly. This model as well as other Acura model vehicles, etc, had a previous recall on the transmission (2004). I also previously had to have the car towed (26 Aug 2004) to Acura because the transmission failed while driving and the car broke down. The car has been well-maintained - body and mechanically, I had the 120K service performed on 22 October 2012, where mileage was 125,226. On 11 March 2011, I had the transmission fluid flush service performed. The service record states "flush entire unit of all old and suspended debris using a safe and effective cleaner to dissolve the varnish and gums in the transmission & torque converter. Install new transmission fluid to factory specification. Today (01 Dec 2013), I was told that the entire transmission and some associated parts need to be replaced and will cost me between $4000 to $5000 (estimated now, but could go up). It's difficult for me to fathom that this transmission was verified to manufacturer specs in 2011 and now a complete failure at 132800. I believe this transmission failure is the result of the previous problems, as stated in the recall. The recall I'm citing is from NHTSA in April 2004. The NHTSA campaign id number is: 04V176000; recall date: 13 April 2004; component: Power train: Automatic transmission; potential number of units affected: 1,099,796. As a result of the history of problems with this transmission, and the recall, I'm requesting assistance in having this transmission replaced by Acura at no cost to me. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Laplata, MD, USA

problem #26

Nov 202013

TL 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Transmission locked up at 40 miles an hour. Transmission has been locking up and also slipping recently. Had engine light on - went to jiffy lube...gave me code tcc circuit malfunction P0740 abd P1740 dtc definition not found...spoke with manger[xxx] at niello Honda and agreed need new transmission - cost is $3400. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Folsom, CA, USA

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problem #25

Jun 032013

TL 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles
The car started shuttering or bucking as I take off and the car shifts into another gear. I have had the car serviced previously for a transmission recall. When I took the car to the dealership they said there was a known defect with the transmission. Acura needs to step up and fix this problem before someone gets hurt.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #24

May 312013

TL 6-cyl

  • 73,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. The contact stated that after making a stop and attempting to accelerate, the vehicle hesitated. The vehicle was taken to a dealer, who stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The failure was reported to the manufacturer. The failure mileage was 73,000. The current mileage was 73,592. Updated 7/8/13 the consumer stated when accelerating, the vehicle would surge forward before going into gear. Updated 07/18/13

- St Louis , MO, USA

problem #23

May 302013

TL 6-cyl

  • 160,000 miles
I owned a 02 TL first and replaced the trans in it 3 times when Acura supposedly fixed it well they didn't and wouldn't honor their work so I paid $3500 for another trans then someone hit me totaled it 3 wks later! so we bought a 2003 Acura TL that already had the recall done in July 2005 literally less then 24 hours of purchasing the car I was picking up my daughter from school on way home the transmission went!! it started jerking real bad like someone was slamming the brakes on which was scarey as hell because I didn't want to get rear ended or cause others to be in accident! had to keep pulling over shutting it off to try to make it home but gears got worse and worse the check engine light came on!! I don't understand why they just don't fix the things right the first time and if not honor your luxury reputation and stand by your workman ship!! now I have to pay to tow it to Acura dealer to see if they will consider fixing it. There should never be any doubt when thousands upon thousands of people have had same problem time and time again they should pay for all repairs give us all a rental to drive and reimburse for towing expenses!! I am truly surprised that there is not a huge class action lawsuit against Acura for all of us that have been affected by this! if something would have happened when my kids were in the car god help Acura. I truly hope Acura gets some kind of repercussions for all this cuz its just ridiculous and now I can't get to work get to store nothing stranded yet again thanks Acura.

- Wilmington, DE, USA

problem #22

Mar 062008


  • miles
I am now familiar with the 2004 work done on the transmission. In 2008, with 70K miles, Acura had to replace the transmission under the warranty. Now, at 132K miles, the transmission had to be replaced again. Acura gave me a 10% discount.

- Long Beach, MS, USA

problem #21

May 302008


  • 80,533 miles
My car begin to idle to 5 RPM and not change gears while driving. Pulled over and contacted local mechanic. I was instructed to bring car into Honda dealership in lake city, fl. The result was need a transmission flush and had it done. After test driving, the car continued to perform poorly. At this point I consider the car should go to the Acura dealership. My car was towed to gatorland Acura of gainesville, fl. After diagnostics completed a transmission was needed. A vehicle odometer reading at 80533, should not require a new transmission was my first response. I gave them no answer at this time as to what to do because I am thinking this is absurd. After two days of seeking advice and research, I found a recall was submitted for transmission issue. Upon contacting the dealer, I was given the price for repairs. Regardless of informing and debating this should not be a cost for consumer. The service department staff and manager was not very helpful nor professional. This should have been completely covered by warranty/highway safety recall. I wrote a letter to Honda headquarters and contacted the department by phone. Almost two weeks later, gatorland Acura offered to replace the transmission and I would be responsible for the labor. I was not pleased with the outcome but needed transportation because there was none offered to me. To this day, I have not returned there to pay for maintenance because of the trustworthiness of gatorland Acura or Honda headquarters. The recall issue was posted around February 2008 and my car was in for the exact issue May 2008. Continuously unhappy consumer.

- Lake City, FL, USA

problem #20

Jun 212005


  • 44,619 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving approximately 25 mph, the transmission began to slip gears without warning. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer three separate times where the transmission was replaced each time. On November 5, 2012, the failure recurred with both the vsa and engine warning indicators illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact was able to drive cautiously with the transmission responding at a reduced speed. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 44,619.

- Garfield, NJ, USA

problem #19

Jul 012012


  • 142,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, he noticed that the second and third gear shift would take longer to engage. The contact inspected the vehicle and advised that the transmission would usually respond slower when it was overheated. In addition, he noticed that the transmission coolant was low and the contact replenished the coolant, which repaired the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The VIN was unavailable. The approximate failure mileage was 142,000 and the current mileage was 144,000.

- Passaic, NJ, USA

problem #18

Jul 272012


  • 131,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL 2.5. the contact was reversing from a residential driveway when the stalled without warning. The contact was able to restart the vehicle and shifted into drive but the vehicle would not respond. The contact took the vehicle to a local mechanic for a diagnostic test. The mechanic could not diagnose the vehicle and suggested taking the vehicle to the dealer. The dealer performed a diagnostic test which determined that the gear shift and transmission were defective. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 131,000.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #17

Jul 272012


  • 143,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL 2.5. the contact stated that while driving 50 mph, the vehicle stalled and the transmission started slipping out of gear. The contact maneuvered to the side of the road and shut the vehicle off. The failure continued upon restart. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic for a diagnostic test. The test results indicated a defective transmission. The vehicle was then taken to a local dealer for another diagnostic test. The dealer informed the contact that the vehicle had been repaired under NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission) previously. The remedy repair did not solve the defective transmission failure. The failure mileage was 143,000.

- Paterson, CA, USA

problem #16

Jul 202012


  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. The contact stated that the transmission failed. The contact took the vehicle to their mechanic and was told that the failure occurred because there was no cooler in the transmission, which caused the transmission to run hot and seize. The contact mechanic stated that the transmission could not be repaired. The failure and current mileages were 125,000. The VIN was not available.

- Pasiac, NJ, USA

problem #15

Feb 012012

TL 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
I was on my way to work driving my Acura 3.2 TL on the same route I always take to work and my vehicle seemed to functioning properly. I made my way to the freeway on ramp and was stopped at the light used to stagger traffic on the ramp to the freeway. When the light went green I stepped on the gas and the car was very sluggish, almost the feeling that it was going to stall. I got up to about 35 mph when I was needing to merge onto the freeway and the transmission went out completely. It was stuck in 5th gear and flashing on the display. There way no way for me to merge onto the freeway safely at 35 mph during rush hour when a solid block of cars are traveling 65 mph +. this caused a huge disruption to traffic and several vehicles panicked and cut me forcing me off the road. I was very lucky to have not been in a serious collision and almost caused several other collisions due to the faulty transmission. I have never felt safe traveling in my vehicle again and especially not comfortable with traveling on the freeway which is a very costly inconvenience. Compensation is necessary.

- Mesa, AZ, USA

problem #14

Jan 172012

TL 6-cyl

  • 69,202 miles
While on freeway in the morning, the vehicle was slowed down with the traffic. When traffic moved, the car failed to shift into 3 gear. It was stuck in 2nd gear. I was able to pull the vehicle to safety and upon putting it in park then back into drive, it still failed to move past 2nd gear. Switch to 4th setting and then vehicle did shift from 2nd to 3rd but will sudden jerk reaction only. For moment the car did a quick jolt and I had to take quick action to make sure I did not lose control of the vehicle on freeway. Contacted the dealership and there is recall with similar issue of failure to 2nd gear for my car and the VIN is part of the recall by manufacturer. Car was provided to dealership and pictures of the 2nd gear were sent to Acura which denied the recall repair of the transmission as the second gear did not show sign of heat wear even though it had failed. The dealer offered a 40% goodwill for total transmission replacement repair charges of 2750. I would like to note that Acura has failed to respond correctly to existing recall and limited the recall repairs only if the damage shows some heat wear and not just damage to second gear. As vehicle has been kept in perfect condition, I do not see how the vehicle with recall for 2nd and 3rd gear can have transmission failure which will not be covered by the vehicle manufacturer for a vehicle with only 69K miles, when there are so many of us showing this exact same failure and Honda is acknowledge of bad transmission problem by issuing a recall and has been patching the problem instead of fixing it.

- Fremont, CA, USA

problem #13

Dec 212011


  • 96,000 miles
I have a 2003 Acura 3.2 TL with 96K miles, I purchase from an Acura dealer in June 2005. In December 2011 one day I was driving and I noticed jerking and slipping. Usually between 3 and 4 gears. While pressing down on the accelerator, the engine's RPM woud go up, but car would not accelerate. And then suddenly car would shift to the higher gear with a jerk. When I took the car to Acura dealership for service on Thursday, December 22, 2011 and reported this problem, the service center at the Acura dealership responded back in about 1 hour that my car's transmission needs to be replaced. The lady at the service center told me that it would cost $5000. She also told me she would see if she could get a better price for me, but I never heard from them. On the 23rd of December I took it to a local transmission shop and they repared it for me at a price of $2,630.32. They told me that with the amount of milage I had on the car I should not of had any transmission proplems. I feel that Acura should reimburse me for these costs in total due to apparent faulty manufacturing, in addition reimburse me for a rental car that cost me $120 for the period I had my car in the shop thank you

- Sun Lakes, AZ, USA

problem #12

Dec 052011

TL 6-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
The first indication a problem maybe beginning, was the tcs light starting flashing for no reason. A couple of days later while coasting to a stop, the transmission locked up in second gear, but did work after the stop. Then the car started jerking when shifting from first into second gear. That is when I took it to muller Acura in hoffman estates, il and was informed the transmission has failed. This car is one of the vehicles recalled for the transmission problems with the second gear and did have the remedial repair work completed as recommended by Acura. This vehicle was in the shop 32 times for a multitude of repair work the first couple of years I owned the car at fayetteville auto park, fayetteville, ar.

- Carpentersville, IL, USA

problem #11

Oct 192011


  • 51,680 miles
I was driving my car to the work on 10/19/11 in MA @ 50mph and suddenly the car slowed down even though I had my foot on the accelerator. I was lucky that all the drivers behind me were pro-active to apply the brakes to avoid a major pile up. I was told at the Acura service center that this was due to the transmission issue. I am trying to understand how can a cars transmission fail in 5 years. The same car was part of recall for transmission and was fixed in 2005 by Acura (this information was received from Acura Corp ). I have only 51,700 miles on this car and I am looking for answers on how nhtsb can allow a company to get away when there are so many complaints on this model on similar issue.

- Shrewsbury, MA, USA

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