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 4 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #115

Aug 032009


  • 98,800 miles


We have a 2003 Acura 3.2 TL purchased in September of 2002. There was a recall issued for our model and our car was brought in to our dealer to have it checked in January of 2005. The dealer stated the automatic transmission was updated (an oil jet kit was installed) and we continued to drive the car until August 2009. There was a sudden jerk while driving on the NJ turnpike and the car suddenly stopped. We had to have the car towed and it started driving again a couple hours later. We brought it in to the Acura dealership and they stated that the transmission had to be replaced. We ended up paying almost $4000 to have the transmission replaced. According to there has admittedly been a problem with Honda/Acura transmissions. Unfortunately, the VIN of my car is not covered under the lawsuit, nor does the warranty cover our repairs. I don't understand why my car is not covered when it obviously has the same transmission issues that have been reported by thousands of Acura owners. I have tried contacting the dealer as well as Acura and they have not been helpful at all. I feel that I should not be paying for Acura's transmission design flaw. For reference: and

- Paramus, NJ, USA

problem #114

Jul 232009


  • 44,000 miles
On Thursday 7/23/09 as I was on my way home from work, my transmission completely failed. I was pulling out onto a busy road and was almost involved in a very bad collision when my transmission quit working. It lurched me forward into moving traffic however would not accelerate fast enough to get me moving. Luckily, the oncoming semi truck was able to slam on it's brakes and turn to avoid a collision. I could have easily been killed if the driver had not been alert and paying attention. There is already a recall on this transmission (NHTSA #04V176000) which according to Honda was already done on my car however it obviously was not done properly. It may not lock up as stated in the original recall however a complete failure to move is also extremely dangerous. Checking around online, many many other people are making this same complaint on my year and model. Acura needs to completely resolve these problems or people may be seriously injured or even killed.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #113

Jun 282009


  • 86,000 miles
While traveling on the Pennsylvania turnpike in a 2003 Acura 3.2tl, the vehicle experienced a total loss of power due to complete failure of the transmission (automatic). The vehicle was traveling with cruise control engaged at 65 mph. Engine RPM began to climb. Cruise control was secured. Within 1-2 minutes all clutch engagement in the transmission was lost with a corresponding total loss of power (engine was still operating, but no forward or reverse gears/power to the wheels). With family members in the car, and no power, the car was coasted to the side of the turnpike. Acura dealer said that codes on vehicle indicated total transmission failure, no cause provided. I view this failure as a defect, related to prior transmission problems found on 1999-2003 Acura 3.2 Tls that resulted in a class action suit, with corresponding extension of warranty on the transmissions, but the vehicles included in the group covered by the suit did not include my vehicle.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #112

May 302009


  • 68,880 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl. The contact stated that the transmission does not shift and the rpms rinse when the vehicle is not traveling at high speeds. The vehicle jerks when the transmission stalls and the instrument panel lights flash. The contact was concerned that the jerking could cause a crash. The dealer offered to pay 50% of the repair cost, but the contact feels that the manufacturer should pay for the entire repair since the vehicle has 68,880 miles and the cause of the failure cannot be determined. The current and failure mileages were 68,880.

- Whittier, CA, USA

problem #111

May 152009


  • 120,000 miles
Hello, my name is gillieume gonsalves with a 2003 Acura TL. The car was purchased in 3/07 from price Acura in dover Delaware. The sales man whose name is bill whistler told me that the car had no problems, the car was inspected for a safety recall dealing with the transmission and should last well through the Acura warranty and the life of the car. After about 6 months worth of driving, I was on the highway and driving about 65 on the highway and lightly stepped on the brakes and noticed the tachometer go well below the normal idle speed and all of a sudden the car jerked and slipped out of 5th gear into 2nd gear causing a sudden deceleration and almost causing a pile up on the freeway. I went to the Acura dealership for them to diagnose the problem and they said it will be noted in the computer and will be covered under the warranty even after it runs out. I complained to Honda America and the dealership that im not concerned about breaking down on the side of the road, I was more afraid that the car will lock up on the highway and me or my family will end up dead in a car crash or roll over, just like some other complaints I have seen on the internet, they both said there was nothing they can do and they cannot honor anything posted on the internet. The problem happened again just after the car came out of warranty and Acura said if I pay $3400 Acura will put a used the transmission that had already failed and rebuilt in the car, I declined. 2 months later the transmission slipped out of 5th gear when I took my foot off the accelerator during rush hour and the police witnessed the sudden downshift and told me to tow it home. The next day I had aamco transmissions look over the car and the mechanic said the car almost put him through the windshield twice and I should leave it or someone is going to get killed. I had to pay $4000 to have a newly rebuilt transmission installed in my car. Which is crazy because Honda is too cheap to replace this defect in my car.

- Smyrna, DE, USA

problem #110

Apr 062009


  • 52,320 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving approximately 60 mph in rainy weather conditions, the transmission shifted into another gear without warning. The failure caused sudden deceleration. The contact is in the process of taking the vehicle to the dealer to determine the cause of the failure. The failure and current mileages were 52,320.

- Long Beach, NY, USA

problem #109

Mar 132009


  • 65,380 miles


While driving the transmission slipped almost into neutral and has progressed to get worse causing the vehicle to run for a few moments and then not move at all until it sits for 20-30 minutes. I have contacted Acura and my vehicle has had the recall done so I contacted my local dealership to see if there was any kind of warranty on the recall and was told no. This vehicle has less then 70,000 miles on it and has had all maintenance maintained on it. Upon researching the problem I'm apparently not the only owner who has had this problem and someone is going to get seriously injured or possibly loose their life if the manufacture does not fix these problems. My first encounter I was exchanging from one major highway to another and because my car accelerated and then stopped if I wouldn't have gone off onto the shoulder, who knows where I would be today.

- Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #108

Apr 042009


  • 66,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl. The contact stated that the transmission's third gear clutch pack has failed. The transmission slips out of third gear before reaching 40 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that she would have received a deduction on the repair cost if her vehicle had been serviced by Acura. The manufacturer stated that the VIN was excluded from NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission). The failure mileage was 66,000.

- Athens, GA, USA

problem #107

Mar 282009


  • 95,000 miles
Transmission in my 2003 Acura Tls had been recalled Oct, 5th, 2004 for an oil jet install. I bought the vehicle used from a certified Acura dealership in franklin, tn. On June 3rd, 2006. Was never disclosed of this issue. I learned of this problem on NHTSA web site. Recently in March of 2009 and with 95,000 miles on the car, I noticed a hesitation while accelerating. I took the car to my dealer and they said the transmission had to be replaced. My warranty was up at 100,000 miles. They replaced the transmission, or so they say, and it had the same problems as I drove it off the dealer lot. Upon returning the car to the dealer the next day, they assured me they would replace that 2nd transmission with a 3rd. However, the warranty would only cover to the original 100,000 mile extension leaving me with 5 thousand miles to test this 3rd transmission. The known failure rate on these(check NHTSA) is astounding. What is wrong with these transmissions" are they putting these same known defective parts into these remanufactored transmissions? why doesn't Acura stand behind each one with a new separate warranty"

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #106

Mar 202009


  • 90,700 miles
On March 20, 2009 I experienced shifting problems suspected to be the transmission. The vehicle was diagnosed to have transmission problems by a mechanic that specializes in transmissions. I called Honda corporate office (case #B012009-03-2000-288) and explained the problem to a representative. I was told that I would have to pay for the inspection and new transmission being that the recall that affected my vehicle had been fixed. I complained to the Acura dealership that since the purchase of the vehicle, it has a straining noise each time I drove the vehicle; however, the technicians could not locate the problem every time I took the car to service it at open road Acura in wayne, NJ. There is no reason for a 2003 Acura TL with 90,000 miles to have transmission problems. The transmission problem that I'm currently experiencing appears to be related to the recall that was supposedly fixed by the dealership. Furthermore, the Acura representative informed me that certain cars that were recalled (including 2003 Acura TL) had the warranty for the transmission extended for up to 7 years and nine months or 100,000 miles. Presently, I fall under both criterias. Currently, the Acura has a little less than 91,000 and have owned it since September 2002. Please guide me what I should do regarding this issue. I am in no position to pay for the transmission if it seems to be recall that the automaker should be responsible for. Thank you in advance.

- Paterson, NJ, USA

problem #105

Mar 082009


  • 50,300 miles


My 2003 Acura TL-S having 50300 miles almost crashed on rt 270 near gaithersburg because transmission started slipping. I took exit and let the engine cool down then I drove car slowly to rosenthal Acura. When I searched on internet, several site says that Acura has extended warranty on transmission to 7 years and 100,000 miles but Acura company says my car is not covered. If transmission warranty is extended, then why it does not show on your website. ( I see so many complains about transmission slipping of Honda cars and your department is giving them free pass. If the warranty is extended then consumer and NHTSA should be reported. Acura must replace transmission of my car free of charge and Honda should be asked to replace transmission all the affected cars. Honda has not reported to NHTSA about list of defective transmission of various cars and they are replacing it on their own choice. What is use of replacement of transmission after failure if someone die? my whole family would have died on rt 270 if I was not near exit.

- Springfield, VA, USA

problem #104

Feb 042009


  • 134,500 miles
I bought a certified pre owned 2003 TL type S in 2006, was never notified by the dealership that the car was on a recall list of any sort. On 2.04.09 I left a stoplight accelerated to 40mph, transmission slipped, car dropped to 1st gear forcing me to pull over, engine emission light came on, vsa light came on. After stopping the car, the vsa warning cleared. Delivered the vehicle to the dealership the next day. Dealership ran diagnostics, received 2 transmission codes and stated the transmission must be placed at a cost of $3700. Dealership called corporate and the stated corporate would apply a $1200 credit on this vehicle. Dealership just inflated the price of a transmission replacement to cover costs, sounds like collusion to me. Interestingly aamco charges $2300 to replace the whole transmission. Called corporate again to file a complaint, no resolution, awaiting a return call. Did an internet search found multiple complaints of the same nature on this vehicle. Honda clearly knows this is a problem as they promptly offered a credit. Car remains at dealership.

- Sarasota, FL, USA

problem #103

Oct 302008


  • 110,000 miles
Driving my 2003 Acura TL to work. No previous indication of a problem. Driving between 65-70 mph. Without any warning the transmission dropped from 5th gear to what felt like 2nd gear. The front wheels practically locked up. My speed dropped from approx. 70 mph to approx.30 mph.(the engine revved over 6500 rpms) in just 1-2 seconds. The car shifted back to 5th gear after a few seconds. There were no warning lights (transmission or check engine) before or after the occurrence. Fortunately, I had my seatbelt on and no one hit me from behind. The sudden change in speed however, jerked my neck very hard which did result in a severe headache. The last several miles to work was a continuation of the initial incident. My speed was slower through town so the jerking was not as abrupt. I scheduled an appointment to have it checked at the Honda dealer near work before driving home. The transmission was serviced. The flush lessened the jerking, but did not eliminate it. The next day, October 31, 2008, I was pulling into a parking space and there was a noise like a slipping clutch. The car would not engage in either forward or reverse. I had to call a tow truck. Currently December 27,2008 the car is still in the shop waiting for a replacement transmission. I am upset to find, via the internet, that this may be a common problem with this particular model transmission and no one at the dealership where I had the service done nor the dealership where I purchased the car in February 2008 told me about it when I asked. I checked the carfax report again just in case I missed it, but there is no mention of a transmission recall on this car. This is a severe safety issue. It should be widely address. If a driver does not have the experience to react correctly or be lucky enough(as I was) to be on a straight, dry road, this defect has the potential to be deadly.

- Troutville, VA, USA

problem #102

Dec 082008

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl. In may of 2006, the was a class action suit against Acura for the same problem. On December 8, 2008, the transmission failed and the vehicle was towed to a repair shop. The dealer stated that the transmission was serviced on December 14, 2004 according to NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission). A report was filed with the manufacturer. The manufacturer stated that the contact could take the vehicle to the dealer; however, he would be responsible for the repair costs. The current and failure mileages were 108,000. Updated 2/5/09 the consumer stated the transmission began to act erractic and would slip from 5th gear. Updated 02/10/09.

- Bellingham, WA, USA

problem #101

Nov 082008


  • 100,029 miles
My 2003 3.2 TL Acura started to jerk so I took it to my dealership to have it fix they just said that I needed my oil changed and a tune up I got all of that done then it still continued to jerk again. It seemed that my car was having a hard time getting into gear. So I took it to get put on a machine and they said I just needed another tune up. Well two months after that my transmission light went off so I pulled on the side of the road and read my Acura's manual book I read the instructions and followed them. Turned around and went back home the manual said wait and let the car cool off. The next day I drove it and my car broke down on the side of the road. I got it toad home and then I started to call around to try to get it fix. I did some research and found out that my 2003 3.2 TL Acura's transmission had a recall that I was not informed by my dealership. Ever since I purchased this car I have been having problem. The dealership put my life at risk to sell me a lemon I really do not appreciate that. I have called Acura Corp. Numerous of times and my car still have not been fixed it has been over a month. I need my car I am a homehealth care assistant I have been missing work and I have lost two of my clients because lack of transportation.

- Milford, DE, USA

problem #100

Nov 222008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl. The contact stated that the transmission failed at 91,000 miles and needed to be replaced. On December 24, 2004, the contact received a recall notice for NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission), Honda recall number 222110. The vehicle was repaired with a kit instead of being replaced. The failure has recurred and the transmission needs to be replaced at the cost of $1,800, which is half of the repair cost at Honda american. The vehicle was towed 100 miles away and she was informed to have the vehicle towed back to a local dealer for repair. Honda issued an extended warranty on the transmission; however, the contact did not receive one. The failure mileage was 91,000. Updated 01/23/09 the consumer stated the transmission was slipping. Updated 01/23/09.

- East Wenatchee, WA, USA

problem #99

Oct 292008


  • 104,000 miles
During my drive to work the other morning my car sudden jerked back and forth on the freeway. It was very sudden and it was very scary, I had not control over the vehicle. The tires were screeching during the jerks and I was afraid I was going to crash. A check engine light came on as well as a vsc light and my shifter like D5 was blinking. I made it to work and called my boyfriend to come look at the vehicle. He drove it around the block and noticed nothing wrong, better safe than sorry we switched cars. On his drive home he felt the same thing I did, very sudden jerk and uncontrollable car on the freeway. He mentioned it was like the transmission locking up and then the traction control grabbing. The car would not shift gears. He immediately drove it straight to Acura and found somebody to look at it. The dealership said that it was a common problem with these cars and its a ticking time bomb and there was a recall and extended warranty issued out by Acura, the dealership also said that the VIN number of my vehicle was out of the range of the warranty. They are offering to cover 60% of the cost for the transmission replacement and I pay 40%. I do not think its fair because while I was there, there was another vehicle exactly like mines and I curiously asked what that car was getting fixed and they told me the exact same problem but that car is being covered completely. This is unfair and not right that just because of the VIN being out of range I am out of luck. This is a common problem and Acura should take of all not just some.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #98

Oct 022008


  • 102,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl. While driving and initially accelerating at 10-20 mph, the RPM's increase on the instrument panel. The vehicle does not respond immediately and then jerks into gear and goes the proper speed. The vehicle was previously repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission); however, the failure persists. The current mileage was 103,000 and failure mileage was 102,000.

- Monmouth , NJ, USA

problem #97

Sep 152008


  • 105,722 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. 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. The VIN was not included in the recall, although the failures were identical. The vehicle has not been repaired. The NHTSA campaign id number was unknown. The failure and current mileages were 105,722.

- Pismo Beach, CA, USA

problem #96

Sep 252008


  • 114,000 miles
I bought a 2003 Acura 3.2tl approximately 2 months ago from a small used car dealer (K&S auto sales, 600 w. St. Georges ave., linden, NJ 07036; 908-925-4411). They represented this car as being in excellent condition with no problems whatsoever. We paid $10,270. Cash for this vehicle. Not even 5 weeks after the purchase, the transmission went on the car. When approached to look into the necessary repairs to the car, they vehemently denied any wrong doing and refused to even look at the car. They would only honor new jerseys 30 day warranty that they must do anyway. They never mentioned any trouble with the trans nor the fact that the car had been in an accident prior to us purchasing the car and front fender, door, etc has been replaced. It has now been 4 weeks that the car has been in a transmission repair shop as Honda/Acura keeps sending the shop the wrong parts to fix the problems (clutch pack failure, 2nd gear shaft locking up, I don't know what else they have to repair) since there was a recall on this vehicle for the same transmission problems, is the car still covered" I don't know if the car was repaired when the recall was first initiated, and even if it was, it is now a recurring problem. It took all the money we had to pay for the car in the first place, now we have had to rent a car for 3-4 weeks while the car is being repaired, and it is supposed to cost anywhere from $2500-$3500 to repair. Is there any way that Honda/Acura of America can help with the cost of the repairs/replacement since this was a NHTSA recall that was obviously not fixed properly in the first place, if at all. I feel the dealer knew there was a problem, but being a mother/daughter buyer, was just interested in the sale. Not honesty. Please, is there anything you can do to help defray the costs we are now faced with" any help your corporation can give at this point would be a huge help as I feel the huge expense to repair this car should not have to be paid by us. Thank you

- New Brunswick, NJ, USA

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