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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
89,935 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2003 Acura TL Owner Comments

problem #7

Aug 162016


  • 66,000 miles


Rust through condition on right sub-frame supporting engine, transmission, right front suspension. Air conditioning condenser drain tube drips condensation/water directly onto this area of the sub-frame causing severe corrosion and eventually part failure leaving engine, transmission, right front suspension without proper alignment and support that can happen at any speed. Acura denounced any knowledge of this problem. Left side of same part is not effected at all. Internet search has discovered numerous instances of this problem. Tsb has been issued for 1999-2002 Honda Accord cars with this same problem. But manufacture's solution was to move the location of the drain tube in future model years of the car. I paid an independent repair shop $2,600 to replace the rear sub-frame section. The dealership wanted to replace both front and rear sub-frames but the front section was not effected and did not require replacement. The repair shot I took my car to to have the work done praised the car for being spotless underneath except for the effected area. Problem was discovered on August 16, 2016.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #6

Jan 262016


  • 123,000 miles
The contact owned a 2003 Acura TL. The contact stated that while driving at 65 mph, the vehicle encountered a pot hole causing the vehicle to jerk violently. As a result, the vehicle veered off the road and flipped over. The air bags did not deploy. The contact's left shoulder strap seat belt was detached from the vehicle leaving behind only the waist strap seat belt as the contact shifted from the driver's seat to the passengers seat during the accident. Furthermore, the contact's head was partially hanging out of the window after the accident. The vehicle was destroyed. The contact sustained a fractured wrist, chest pains, multiple lacerations and a concussion. In addition, the contact's stomach was severely twisted out of shape and the contact vomited and fainted numerous occasions after the accident. The contact required medical attention. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 123,000. The VIN was not available.

- Tehachapi, CA, USA

problem #5

Oct 172015


  • 180,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While the vehicle was at an independent mechanic for a routine oil change, the technician noticed that the sub frame as corroded and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 180,000. Updated 1/12/16

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #4

Mar 192014

TL 6-cyl

  • 96,746 miles


I have encountered an unsafe condition on my 2003 Acura TL (made by Honda). This condition was shown to me by mechanic who indicated that the vehicle is unsafe to drive due the front passenger cross frame member is completely rusted through (photos are available upon request). The condition was found after 96,746 miles during a repair after a routine oil check. The apparent cause is the hose line connected to the air conditioning unit is positioned in such a way that it leaks onto the sub-frame, causing it to rust out. The cost for the frame repair was $ 2,052.970, but what is more disturbing is that I was driving this car with my grandchildren and family under the risk of an accident without my knowledge of the condition. Also, disturbing is to know there may be other cars with the same issue being driven today.

- Hackettstown, NJ, USA

problem #3

Jul 132011


  • 73,000 miles
Upon a normal recall invitation for the air bag inflator ( per manufacturer requirement) a separate normal inspection was done to vehicle. The mechanic found the front and right front motor mounts have collapsed. I know several other owners of Honda and Acura of the same year and SUV models with the same failure.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

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problem #2

Oct 122009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,300 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving 40 mph the vehicle down-shifted without any prior warnings. The vehicle was taken to a local repair facility, and a mechanic concluded that the gears in the transmission were slipping. The vehicle was towed to a dealer. The technician advised him that before repairs could be performed he would have to pay an $140 diagnostic fee. No repairs were made. The technician concluded that he would call the manufacturer to determine what recourse they would provide. The failure mileage was 63,300. Updated 11/06/09. The ball joints were replaced. Updated 11/10/09

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #1

Apr 132006

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,500 miles
2003 Acura TL type-S experiencing excessive wear on only the driver's side front tire. Car was taken to an Acura dealer for service. Upon inspection of the vehicle, the Acura mechanic indicated that the problem has been seen previously on several other vehicles of the same make/model and that the problem was related to the traction control system (vsa) allowing slippage of the front driver's side tire during right turns. Acura stated that there was no resolution available and the only recourse was to rotate the tires on a more frequent basis. Tire dealer was asked if there were any known issues with the tire itself (Michelin) and indicated that there were no service notifications issues from the manufacturer. The wear on this tire is heavily accelerated and was only noticed on a routine examination of the vehicle. Based on the statements by the Acura mechanic, I believe there to be a problem with the traction control system that allows the front driver's side tire to slip, thereby causing the excessive wear. Given winter driving conditions, this slippage was increased due to the loss of road traction. If unnoticed, the tire would have failed (with less than 28000 miles) potentially causing significant damage to the vehicle. The worn tire is available for inspection and pictures of the tire in comparison to the passenger side front tire are available upon request.

- Westminster, CO, USA

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