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:
5 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
7 / 0
Average Mileage:
60,039 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Acura TL Owner Comments (Page 3 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #135

Feb 012010


  • 138,900 miles


I purchased a 2003 Acura TL type S 2 years ago with 99,000 miles on it. Last week the transmission was slipping from 2nd to 3rd gear and wouldn't go into 3rd gear. That problem still persists and has gotten worse. The car now has 139,000 miles on it, I put 40,000 miles on it the last 2 years. I called Acura to see if they would stand behind their product but they said since the car is out of warranty they cant do anything. I took out a loan to buy this car and I still owe on it. I don't know if I will ever buy another Acura because of this experience.

- Shorewood, WI, USA

problem #134

Jan 282010


  • 112,000 miles
I already filed a claim, but have further information. My husband and I own a 2003 Acura 3.2tl there is a recall on the transmissions of these cars (both in age and make and model), but our VIN # is not in the lot of VIN's under the recall. Three days after I filed the complaint with you the transmission seized while my husband was driving 40 mph. Luckily he avoided an accident. He stopped driving the vehicle and had it towed to the Acura dealership. We had them replace the transmission. Their original bid was for $4,600. We had bids from transmission shops to do the job for $2,000. The dealership negotiated and did the work for $2,000. I spoke with robert from the NHTSA and he said that the recall was for transmissions seizing when the vehicles were being operated. I feel that it is important to add this information to my original complaint.

- Draper, UT, USA

problem #133

Oct 102009


  • 52,900 miles
There is a known transmission issue with Acura 2003tl version, even though Acura have put it in recall, to do the work the dealer charge anywhere from $350-600. The vehicle chokes up in between the road because of overheating in transmission. The headlights flickering is one another issue which when taken to the dealer called it as computer system mess up in the car and this is not in the recall, the dealer charges about $800 for such repair which is not reasonable for the faulty equipment of Acura.

- Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #132

Jan 202010


  • 91,000 miles


2003 Acura TL transmission failure with out warning. Upon traveling at 50 mph my vehicle dropped gears causing it to decelerate at rapid rate. The car tacked up to approx 5000 RPM. The failure caused the transmission to down shift rapidly and loose speed and could possibly cause driver to loose control. I was able to pull over without incident. There have been many transmission failure admitted by Acura causing them to extend warranty on some models but they are not admitting to the total problem and potential hazards.

- Shelton, CT, USA

problem #131

Dec 152009


  • 50,000 miles
My 2003 Acura TL has accelerator problems similar to the Toyota problem. Two years ago it stuck twice and the vehicle reached speeds up to 90 mph before I could stop it by putting both feet on the brake and downshifting it. I really thought I was going to die. I took it to the dealership, they tested it and said it was probably a bad transmission so they replaced the transmission. The car had about 50,000 miles on it at that time. A month ago the same thing occurred. Again I took it to the dealer. They said it was probably the transmission however they would not replace it without the warranty people actually seeing it malfunction. They charged my $110 and sent me on my way. I am afraid to ride in the vehicle, my wife and co-workers will not ride in the vehicle. I had to buy a replacement vehicle and now cannot sell this one in good conscience. I am going to ask the dealer to take it back and give me fair market value for the vehicle. They can do with it what they want. What other alternatives do I have? tw*

- Flower Mound, TX, USA

problem #130

Jan 202010


  • 112,000 miles
Faulty transmission in our 2003 Acura 3.2 TL. We purchased this vehicle new. At around 80,000 miles it started to shudder when accelerating between 20 and 30 mph. We didn't think much of it. We now know that it was the transmission. Acura extended the warranty from 50,000 miles to 100,000 for this reason, but we were never notified. Now the car has 112,000 miles and this week the transmission started slipping between 2nd and 3rd gear, and now between 1st and 2nd there is a bang and a lurch. Currently it is far too dangerous to drive the car. We took it to a transmission specialist who diagnosed the car and researched the problem. He said that Acura has a recall for this exact issue and our car should be covered. We met with the local Acura dealership and they say our car isn't in the "batch" of VIN's covered in the recall. They further say that since we don't have a maintenance record showing that we have serviced the transmission every 30,000 miles, we have lost our chance of them working with us at all. Our manual clearly states to do the first transmission service at 120,000 miles. We have records for having done all other routine maintenance, but never did anything about the transmission, because their information says not to. Not once has anyone from Acura ever informed us that contrary to what our manual says, we should service the transmission every 30,000 miles. There was a recall on a part of the transmission that they did replace when the car had 50,000 miles, and Acura says that is also a reason they don't have to help us today.

- Draper, UT, USA

problem #129

Oct 312009


  • 87,919 miles


I own a 2003 Acura TL. My transmission is not shifting properly unless I baby the engine. The problems gets worse as the car heats up and gets hot. The main problem comes in when shifting from 1st gear to 2nd gear and from 2nd to 3rd as well. Going up hills from a stop is difficult. I brought it to the dealer and they pulled code P1450. The tech told me that there are internal solenoids that are receiving the signal to shift, but are not actuating. I've looked into this problem and saw there is an outstanding recall on this transmission (04V176000). I've been told by Acura hq and the local dealer that I've been dealing with (Acura of avon in avon, ct) and haven't gotten any results. I understand that my car does not fall within this recall, but I also understand that there is also a class action lawsuit against Acura that describes my exact problem. Despite Acura's information on VIN number distribution of problematic transmissions, I believe I have a vehicle that is experiencing the problems covered under either the recall or the class action lawsuit. This problem occurs everytime I drive the vehicle. I have to keep the engine at around 2,000 or 2, 500 rpms until the transmission finally shifts. If I do not lay off the gas, the transmission will not shift.

- Newington, CT, USA

problem #128

Dec 302009


  • 75,000 miles
I was driving my 2003 Acura with my 3 year old child in it when suddenly the transmission went into neutral and few seconds later went back into gear and later started slipping out of gear, mind you my vehicle only has 75,000 miles on it. Many others have had similar problems with the same type of car and with even lesser miles on it.

- Oceanside, CA, USA

problem #127

Sep 032009


  • 85,000 miles
Transmission began slipping at 85,000 miles.

- Rose Valley, PA, USA

problem #126

Aug 042009


  • 0 miles
Transmission caused veh to jumped or jerked forward.

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #125

Dec 022003


  • 54,000 miles


While driving approximately 55 mph in fifth gear, the transmission automatically shifted into second gear without assistance. There were no warning indicators illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, who stated that the failure was related to the transmission, current mileage-54000.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #124

Nov 082009


  • 107,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving 45 mph the vehicle had suddenly stopped on its own and could not be driven past the second gear without stopping. The vehicle was towed to a local mechanic where the contact was informed that the transmission needed to be replaced. There were no prior warnings and the transmission was replaced by a local mechanic. The current and failure mileages were 107,000.

- Elks Grove, CA, USA

problem #123

Nov 272009


  • 10,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl type S. while accelerating on the highway the transmission began to slip out of gear and into neutral. The rpms began to rev and increase; yet, the vehicle did not accelerate. He was able to drive 25 mph to the dealer who stated that the transmission had to be replaced at the owners expense. The current and failure mileages were 100,000.

- Greenfield, WI, USA

problem #122

Nov 092009


  • 83,515 miles
Out of the blue transmission is starting to slip from 2nd to 3rd gear. Car was brought in for a transmission recall in 2006 with 36000 miles. Dealer installed oil injector said transmission was fine. Car has 82000 miles now and dealer says need new transmission. Of course VIN number is 5000 over the limit of the transmission extended warranty.

- Somerset, MA, USA

problem #121

Oct 292009


  • 71,900 miles
I have a 2003 Acura 3.2 TL type S with 71K miles. One day I was driving and I noticed excessive jerking and slipping. Usually between 2 and 3 gear. When I try to reverse, it would take a while to get into gear and then it would jerk hard. It seems like sometimes when I would try to accelerate it would get stuck in neutral and the engine just revs up to 5000 or 6000 rpms. This happened to me when I was trying to change lanes to make an exit. I feel unsafe driving this car on the highway, because I fear one day im going to get rear ended. My D5, vsa, and check engine lights came on so I took it to and autozone to run a diagnostic. The computer gave the code P0740. I took it to an Acura dealership and while driving there my car gets stuck in 2nd or 3rd gear. Im on the highway going 45 mph and revving my engine up to 5000 or 6000 RPM. When I got there the dealership wanted to charge me $3700 to replace the transmission. Supposedly my VIN number wasn't covered in their extended warranty, even though my car has the exact same problems as other Tls that were covered under the warranty.

- University Place, WA, USA

problem #120

Nov 152008


  • 107,040 miles
So, the report for PE02081 says that the transmission problem for the 2000-2003 Acura TL / cl is rare and erroneous and isn't realistic, but I've done a lot of research and I am a member of But I am having the same issues as was listed (I.e. slipping of gears, sudden harsh downshift from 65mph to redline limit at 50mph on freeway nearly causing an accident). After the incident I had taken my vehicle to dealership because I was told there had been an extended warranty on the vehicle to 109,000 miles. I was at nearly 108,000 miles when my car was at the dealership. That was when the service gentleman told me I needed to replace my transmission which would cost about $3800 because I had been after the cut-off point for the extended warranty. That service was denied and they sent me on my way even though I was having the exact same problems as the vehicles that were before the VIN # cut-off. I have since, then, replaced my transmission with another shop for $3500 but only after losing my job and failing my college classes for the semester because I could not afford to repair my car at the time. I wish someone would hold the Acura corporation responsible for their mistake and for the safety of every other driver on the road. If you look on, there is a transmission (tranny) failure thread that goes on for 64 pages with other owners of the same vehicle having the same problems and not receiving help from Acura just like me. I know there was a class action law-suit in 2006 for this issue and I feel there will be another law-suit against them if this problem is not treated correctly. I also know that Acura/Honda manufactures their own transmissions, unlike a lot if not all of the other car makers whom use universal transmissions. I hope this complaint will help persuade the NHTSA, BBB, and consumer protection agencies to act on the problem at hand. Even if I am not helped personally, I just don't think anyone else should have to experience this.

- Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #119

Jul 122009


  • 130,000 miles
Driving the car one afternoon, when suddenly the cars RPM rapidly went up, nearly touching the red line part of the RPM. Looking at the meters on the dash the check engine light come on. To my understanding the 3rd gear was not working correctly. Had it check at an local auto part store and was told "something is wrong with the gear ratios." It was a problem that never went away. Bring it in for an inspection I was told that the transmission needs to be replace. So with the amount to replace it being about $3700 I declined the service. Looking online for issue involving the cars transmission I found out that the car had a recall that was issue in April 2004 so I called the dealership and ask them about the recall and was told the it had already been done and fix in 2004. Which I wouldn't had know about because the car was brought in 2007. The car not being under warranty I am left with the cost to replace it. Im complaining because I did have the car in 2004 and the car never got a recall replacement and now that I am the new owner of the car I experience the failure and is left with no other option but to pay for something that could of been fix at the time.

- St Paul , MN, USA

problem #118

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 #117

Sep 282009


  • 73,853 miles
With 2 year old son and 4 year old son in car, the tcs (traction control system) light turned on and engine revved but car slowed. Went from 40mph down to 30mph. Continued down road and engine continued to not respond. Had to hazard and barely made it off road. Most dangerous position I put my kids in. Went to dealer and got told flare in shifting. They ran full diagnosis and retrieved code P0730 incorrect gear ratio and code P0740 tc clutch failure. Told needed to replace transmission for $5K. Ask to escalate to factory district rep of Acura who agreed to pay half out of good will and total cost around $1.85K. Not in list of original VIN numbers who got automatic powertrain extension to 100,000 miles. From class action lawsuit, sounds like Acura/Honda gave judge empirical data that showed they had "fixed" the transmission problem and our vehicles don't need to be included. Given my transmission failed and looks like a few others, I think we should have been included. NHTSA should monitor these transmission failures because we are 6-7 years in vehicle life and at 10,000 miles per year, if trend holds...quite a few transmission mind die in next year. Very dangerous. Created a yahoo newsgroup and alias for owners with VIN numbers not included in warranty extension.

- San Ramon, CA, USA

problem #116

Aug 142009


  • 112,000 miles
Transmission slipping from second to third gear - transmission freezes completely when car becomes warm and has been driven for period of time - Acura claims VIN number not included in warranty extension for transmission recall.

- Odenton, MD, USA

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