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 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #10

Oct 132011


  • 128,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. The contact stated while driving at 30 mph the accelerator was depressed and the vehicle would not accelerate over 30 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who performed a diagnostic test that located the failure in the transmission clutch pressure, and sensor. The transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 128,000.

- Ossining , NY, USA

problem #9

Dec 172008


  • 82,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl. While driving 35 mph, the contact attempted to shift gears, but the gear locked into neutral. He waited a few minutes and drove the vehicle to the dealer. The dealer found failure codes with the clutch and control module. The dealer is charging $2,400 to replace the transmission. A report was filed with the manufacturer and they stated that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission); therefore, they would not assist with the repair. The vehicle has not been repaired. The current and failure mileages were 82,000.

- Sterling Heights , MI, USA

problem #8

Oct 102008


  • 105,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl. While driving less than 60 mph, the vehicle downshifted into second gear from fifth gear. The vehicle is powered by an automatic transmission. The contact was able to maneuver the vehicle off the road. The vehicle would not go over 45 mph. The dealer stated that the transmission would need to be replaced. There was a recall on the year, make, and model vehicle; however, the previous owner already had the recall repairs performed. The dealer stated that the transmission would be replaced at the estimated cost of $4,000. The failure and current mileages were 105,000. Updated 05/26/09 the vehicle was shifting rough between second and third gear. The vehicle would not go over 40 mph. Updated 05/28/09.

- San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

problem #7

Mar 152008


  • 70,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving at any speed, the gear shift becomes stuck. The vehicle has not been inspected by the dealer. The cost to repair the vehicle is $2,500. NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission) was referenced. The failure mileage was 70,000.

- San Bruno, CA, USA

problem #6

Oct 012004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,900 miles
Twice, my Acura TL has slowed drastically as I was driving at high speed in the freeway fast lane. Both times I pulled into the right lane, and by then the car seemed to be functioning normally. I was lucky I wasn't in heavy traffic. I called the car dealer after the second incident and was told they had "never heard of anything like that." My internet research found the NHTSA investigation of Acura TL transmissions. I called the dealer again, and they have agreed to inpsect the transmission.

- Redlands, CA, USA

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problem #5

Aug 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
My transmission literally locked up over 6 times while driving at speeds over 65mph causing my car to try and come to a complete stop while driving this fast..I had no warning prior, that anything was wrong with the transmission. It literally was about to throw me through the windsheild, it left bald ares on my tires from this and the service guy who drove it stated it almost threw him through the windsheild and he was only driving 30mph...this has injured my neck and arm, left arm and I am now scared to death of driving this car as this was such a scary expierience, never knowing when it was going to happen.. I am involved in a forum online for other Acura owners who have had their transmission replaced up to 4 times.. I want out of this death trap!

- Hernando, FL, USA

problem #4

Nov 152002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,000 miles


The engine light went on suddenly at 11,000 miles making a clunking noise. Was in repair 15 days. Rebuilt automatic transmission & torque converter was replaced as well as broken engine mount. At 19,713 engine light went on again failure vsa & ECM units replaced. At 25,596 miles engine light goes on, transmission does not go into reverse due to internal failure, replaced PCM & transmission (rebuilt)lock-up control solinoid assembly, replaced lost transmission fluid.left dealer's service dept & upon reaching home, engine light came on, had to return back to service dept. On the way, the vehicle suddenly & without notice locked 6 times at 50 mph, decelerated down to 30 mph making booming noises, car behind almost crashed into my vehicle, had to pull over, slowly driving to dealer scared to death as the vehicle was so erratic & making booming noises. My son was driving, called me on his cell phone as to his experience, finally made it to the service dept. Honda/Acura voluntarily extended warranty in 2002 on the transmissions due to defects as well as in 2003 offered enhanced PCM powertrain service due to defects in another notification. NHTSA conducted investigation & should have recalled the 3.2tl type S vehicles as well as other models as they can potentially cause serious injuries and/or death to everyone concerned without notice at highway speeds especially. These transmission defects were known by Honda/Acura yet vehicles were being sold to the public anyway. Honda/Acura now claims the 2004 models will be redesigned. Does this include their faulty transmissions? who can you ask if nhsta allows this to occur year after year. Leasing this vehicle requires prayers that no one gets killed. Yes, I'm angry!! a vehicle should be enjoyed & not a hazard that cannot be corrected.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #3

Nov 292003


  • miles
Transmission problems with 2003 Acura TL type S. the transmission shifted roughly in addition to a missing cruise control. There was also a time where the vehicle had no reverse gear.

- Germantown, TN, USA

problem #2

Nov 292003

TL 4-cyl

  • 22,500 miles
2003 Acura TL type S experiencing transmission problems. The transmission shifted roughly in addition to missing when the cruise control was engaged. When the consumer pressed the cruise control to increase the speed the engine surged on two occasions back to back as the consumer tried to disengage the cruise control. (faulty TL transmissions were a widely known problem for Acura)

- Germantown, TN, USA

problem #1

Aug 152003

(reported on)


  • miles
Vehicle downshifting without warning while traveling at a constant speed. This happened randomly. The dealer was unwilling to fix the unit they could verify the problem. Eventually the transmission failed while the consumer was on the highway, where he/she was able to coast to the berm with no incident. The transmission was replaced. There have been several other reports of this problem.

- Hillard, OH, USA

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