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 5 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #95

Aug 262008


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2003 Acura 3.2tl recall notice. Consumer wants to be reimbursed for the recall since car was within the warranty and a recall had been issued. The consumer stated the RPM's would get high and the transmission slipped and banged into gear.

- Roseville, CA, USA

problem #94

Aug 092008


  • 60,000 miles
I purchased my 2003 Acura Tls brand new. I had to have my first transmission replaced two years ago when driving at 40 mphs, the car slipped into first. Just three months ago, I had problems with the car surging and the dealer replaced the transmission again. Just last week (3 months after the last transmission was installed), a third transmission was installed because the car would not accelerate while trying to merge onto the freeway (pretty scary). I purchased an extended warranty when I bought the car even then my car is covered under the recall. My car has 83,000 miles on it and I'm not thrilled about having to buy another car. I sure don't want to sell this to anyone knowing it has a problem that can't be fixed or may possibly kill someone.

- Hayward, CA, USA

problem #93

Jun 282008


  • 105,000 miles
I have a 2003 Acura TL type S. I bought it used in 2004 with 22,000 miles on it. Shortly after Honda issued a recall for the transmission. The solution was to take it to the dealership and have them check for a damaged 2nd gear and if there was no visible sign of damage they would install a jet kit to keep the 2nd gear cooler. My car at this time had about 35,000 miles on it. The dealership installed a jet kit my car and reported no damage. Around 50,000 miles I noticed my car slipping while accelerating. I took my vehicle back to the dealership. They replaced my transmission stating that the jet kit did not work and that the transmission was damaged. I thought that everything was fixed. Around 95,000 I noticed that my transmission was starting to shift hard and slip a little. I took it to the dealership. They said that the transmission was fine and checked good. At 105000 miles I recently took my car down to charlestion SC and was returning home on I95 in nc. I pulled off an exit to get gas and noticed my car was jerking real bad and was having problems staying in gear. Soon after I started to smell something burning and my check engine light came on. I pulled into a auto tune shop and had the technicians read the engine code. The code came back as a transmission controller fail. I towed my vehicle to the nearest dealership about 50 miles away. They checked the car and reported that the transmission need to be replaced. This would be my third factory transmission! what if my vehicle had seized up while on I95 where vehicles are traveling at 70 mph. Why does a car need three transmission at 105,000 miles! something is wrong! please look into it!

- Dover, DE, USA

problem #92

Jun 232008


  • 92,940 miles


My automatic transmission has failed and scared both myself and my wife. At first the car suddenly downshifted when the brake was pressed at a speed of about 35 mph. Later the transmission would not shift properly at all, but worked after the check engine, tcs, and blinking D5 light came on. The select shift no longer works. I don't plan to confront the dealer over a transmission that was previously recalled because Acura stated the car was no longer under warranty.

- Albemarle, NC, USA

problem #91

Jan 182008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving approximately 35 mph with the accelerator pedal depressed, the vehicle stopped and surged forward without warning. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and they stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The failure mileage was 104,000. Updated 7/3/08 the consumer stated the transmission had been replaced previously. Updated 07/03/08

- Bell Camp, MD, USA

problem #90

May 152008


  • 110,453 miles
Traveling at freeway speed car suddenly downshifted to 2nd gear causing rapid deceleration and lockup of the seatbelt. Took to dealership diagnosed as transmission failure.

- Edmonds, WA, USA

problem #89

Mar 042008

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving 60 mph, the "check engine" and "tcs" warning lights illuminated. The transmission slammed into gear and caused the vehicle to jerk for approximately 30 seconds. The vehicle stopped in the middle of the road and was towed to the dealer. The dealer stated that the transmission failed due to gear breakage. The transmission was replaced in the summer of 2004 as part of a recall. No campaign id number was found for the recall. The current and failure mileages were 95,000. Updated 04/03/08. The consumer stated the replacement transmission exhibited the problems.

- Franklin, NC, USA

problem #88

Feb 082008

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles
Transmission failure.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #87

Feb 052008

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl. The contact has been experiencing transmission failure for a few weeks. While driving approximately 50 mph, the transmission surged and the contact lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to a shop and the mechanic stated that nothing could be done. The vehicle was then towed to the contact's residence. Through research, he found a recall for the transmission. He called the manufacturer and was informed that his vehicle had already been checked for that recall in 2004 and they found no failures at that time. The manufacturer refused to repair the vehicle under the recall. The recall number was unknown. The current and failure mileages were 69,000.

- Handford, CA, USA

problem #86

Dec 202007

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,900 miles
My automatic transmission was slipping into 3rd gear on my 2003 TL-S. I had it rebuilt at 73,900 miles. The torque converter had failed and was loosing hydraulic pressure & overheating. I bought this car new in 2003. It's a late 2003 VIN and Acura would not cover it under warranty. My dealership wanted $3,750 plus tax to replace it. An independent shop did the work for $2,600 incl tax with a 12 month 12,000 mile warranty.

- Moorestown, NJ, USA

problem #85

Jan 072008

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl. While driving 40 mph, the contact experienced difficulty when shifting gears. The vehicle would also automatically brake while his foot was depressing the accelerator pedal. He has to drive with the hazard lights activated in order to prevent a rear end crash. He took the vehicle to the dealer when the traction control indicator light illuminated. The light gave no indication as to whether or not the feature would disengage. The dealer stated that they could not inspect the vehicle due to warranty issues. The dealer stated that this was a common failure and the contact would be able to drive the vehicle. While driving to his residence, the vehicle would not exceed 40 mph. The vehicle then began to gradually downshift to 20, 15, and finally 10 mph until it automatically braked. He returned to the dealer and was informed of NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission) and NHTSA action number PE02081, in which his VIN and warranty were not included. The dealer also stated that they would provide him with a rental car due to incorrectly informing him that the vehicle could be driven home. The failure and current mileages were 72,000.

- West Orange, NJ, USA

problem #84

Nov 092007

TL 6-cyl

  • 137,000 miles
2003 Acura TL transmission failure. I felt a lurch in the vehicle one day and was told the next day by the Acura dealership that the transmission need to be replaced. I researched on line and determine that there was a recall on "some" 2003 Acura TL's but mine was not included in the recall.

- Perry, GA, USA

problem #83

Sep 222007

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,900 miles
2003 Acura TL transmission locked during driving. Car is non operational need of a new transmission, car has only 30,000 miles.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #82

Sep 042007

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,400 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. While driving about 0-35mph the vehicle began shaking and making a continuous loud noise. When the vehicle came to a stop, he had to restart the vehicle and it began shaking rapidly on three occasions. The reverse gear box and the transmission failed. He was able to drive to the dealer. The current and failure mileage on the vehicle was 96,400. The purchase date was unavailable. Updated 01-11-08. The dealer stated vibration when braking. Updated 12/12/07

- Annandale, VA, USA

problem #81

Dec 162006

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,795 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura TL. The contact stated that the transmission was replaced four times, including once when it was recalled. The last time the vehicle was taken to the dealer they worked on the transmission and stated that they would no longer warranty the repairs. The powertrain was unknown. The failure mileage was 90,795 and there is no current mileage because the vehicle has been sold.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #80

Aug 182007

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
My '03 Acura TL is having the transmission replaced at 50,000 miles. Also the rotors are defective and warp causing me to have them resurfaced all the time.

- Norcross, GA, USA

problem #79

Aug 242007

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl. While driving 60 mph, the transmission locked up. The transmission was repaired under warranty. More recently, while driving 70 mph, the transmission came apart and spilled transmission fluid. Smoke was present. The contact pulled over and all the passengers exited the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and they informed him that the transmission needed to be replaced. The current and failure mileages were 81,000. Updated 01-16-08. The transmission was replaced again as a goodwill gesture. Updated

- Saint Leonard, MD, USA

problem #78

May 012004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Acura 3.2tl. While driving 55 mph, the gear shift indicator shifted into neutral without warning. The dealer replaced the transmission gear shift. Approximately two years later, while driving 55 mph, the vehicle shut off without warning. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The dealer stated that there was a failure in the transmission. As of August 16, 2007, the dealer has not repaired the vehicle. NHTSA campaign number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission) was referenced. The failure mileage was 2,000 and current mileage was 51,000.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #77

Aug 022007

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles
Transmission slipping.

- Oklahoma City, OK, USA

problem #76

Jun 052007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,300 miles
The automatic transmission in my car, a 2003 Acura TL, started "jerking" and acting very strange. I almost got in an accident on the highway when it suddenly jerked into another gear. I have owned the car 1 1/2 months and was told that my VIN # was not one of the group of VIN 3's whose transmissions were recalled and had extended warranties placed on them. I called Acura who "brushed" me "off, " and I will have to spend $3000-$4000 to replace the transmission and then I will trade it in for another car because I feel my life is at risk in this car; however, I don't want anyone else to buy it, because I think there life will be at risk. I have read a ton of complaints on the '01-'03 Acura TL's transmission problems and there were recalls and extended warranties; and here mine is dangerously breaking apart, and Acura is telling me "too bad" because I bought it used so it's probably the fault of the person who owned it before me. I have never felt this problem in any other car I've ever owned, and it was so bad, I had it towed to the dealership. It is a very dangerous problem, and Acura should pay for the replacement of the transmission on my car.

- Visalia, CA, USA

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