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 8 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #35

Oct 042004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles


NHTSA recall 04V176000 concerning transmission failure. After having revising the oil cooler return line consumer heard a loud knocking noise coming from the transmission. Vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection, but cause could not be determined.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #34

Nov 042004


  • 31,000 miles
I took my Acura TL-S 2003 in for the 30,000 mile service on October 27, 2004. At this time I was informed that the automatic transmission would be examined for damage due to incorrect lubrication. I was not aware of the recall before this. The examination was done, and I was told that the transmission looked fine and they had installed an oil jet kit. On november4, 2004 my transmission failed as I was driving in traffic home. The transmission appeared to lock causing a sudden deceleration then alternated between slipping and locking. Luckily I was not on the highway where if this had happened, I am convinced I would have had a bad accident. As it was I nearly was rear ended by an unsuspecting motorist behind me (it was dark outside and of course my brake lights did not alert that motorist). The check engine light also came on, and the traction control system vsa off light lit up. I had the vehicle towed to Acura where they "condemned" the transmission. They told me they will be putting a refurbished transmission in the vehicle. This is very concerning since they looked at my previous one, made the changes that they believe will fix the problem, and then my transmission still failed. Someone is going to get killed by this problem, sooner or later!

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #33

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

problem #32

Sep 292004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,960 miles


2003 Acura TL type-S, 36960 miles: Recurring transmission slippage when shifting between 2nd and 3rd gear (automatic 5-speed transmission) and nearly caused car crash when driving on highway during rush hour traffic three times. Currently driving a rental waiting to have replacement transmission installed. ("oil jet kit" was installed by dealer 2 months ago in response to recent recall by Acura.)

- Charleston, SC, USA

problem #31

Aug 182004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
Recall was found on the internet. After contacting the manufacturer about not receiving recall letter, consumer was told they could not send him the letter again, their obligation was fulfilled with recall 04-V176000 concening transmission failure. However, transmission was still defective.

- La Canada Flintridge, CA, USA

problem #30

Sep 152003

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
Acura 2003 TL transmission defect. First failure transmission locked up at speed of 70 mph happened 6 times. Transmission replaced.second failure transmission locked up going 55 car following behind me crashed into me. Signifigant injurie's resulted from this crash that involved 3 vehicles. I have reported this info to "this" site 3 times and go back to find my submission and it mysteriously dissapears! Honda Acura's recent safety recall for this transmission defect keeps claiming there are no crashes or injurys' as a result of this defect. This is false !!!! I know of atleast 3 other incidences that involve injury's due to the severe defect that causes the transmission to lock up with out warning!

- Hernando, FL, USA

problem #29

Jul 292004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles


I brought frist TL in 2002 and at 2003 the car's transmission broke and I traded the TL and bought new 03 TL type-S in 2003. Then July of 2004, the transmission broke again with my new 03tl again. I almost got accident becase the car just shift it's gear itself.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #28

Jul 252004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,870 miles
Car was driven on the interstate highway and sudden transmission failure. Car surge and transmission went out, no shifting in any gear at all. Mil check engine light comes on. Owned to the dealership and diagnosis show tranny failure. New transmission is replaced.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #27

Jul 212004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles
Bucking and front wheels locked up momentarily. Highway speeds, very dangerous. 2003 Acura and now the dealers says they will replace the transmission. I was lied to when I bought this car, dealer said all 2003's were not inflicted. Now I found out different. My experience was scary. Recall now!

- Saint Leonard, MD, USA

problem #26

Jun 262004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,000 miles
While driving our 2003 TL-S on the hwy, the car suddenly violently jerked and the transmission seemed to be failing. Sure enough I had the car towed to the dealer who informed me that the transmission needs to be replaced. I am extremely upset that my pre-owned vehicle with only 22000 miles has to have the transmission replaced. The car was very dangerous and could have caused an accident with the way it was causing whiplash. The company should do a recall on the transmission not just an extension of the warranty. So far we have experienced many of the complaints listed on the NHTSA website. We have had the tire sidewall bulge, which I had to pay to have the new tire replaced once it blew out on the hwy. We had to have the radio missfire fixed and now the transmission replaced within the last 6 months. This car is definitely not reliable.

- Hillsborough, NJ, USA

problem #25

Oct 102003

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,134 miles


Transmission failure on Acura 3.2tls.

- Ormond Beach, FL, USA

problem #24

Feb 122004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,434 miles
I own a 2003 Acura TL type S. at 18,434 miles, the transmission failed. It was replaced, but this transmission is exhibiting the same symptoms the original transmission did before it failed. The symptoms are hesitation and jerking at highway speeds. Some Acura TL owners were given an extended drivetrain warranty. I was told mine was not part of that offering even after my transmission failed, so I am not covered by the warranty. Based on the fact that the replacement transmission is having the same problems, in addition to all of the Acura TL owners who have had two and three replacement transmissions, I feel there should be a recall for these transmissions.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #23

May 152004


  • miles
Transmission failure.

- Modesto, CA, USA

problem #22

May 112004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The transmission in my 2003 Acura 3.2tl type S has been replaced twice and is going back in on Monday for another check.

- Lyndhurst, NJ, USA

problem #21

Apr 052004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
Transmission failed at 30,000 miles in my 2003 Acura TL-S, leaving me going 30mph trying to merge onto a freeway.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #20

Apr 072003

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,000 miles
Transmission problems with sudden harsh jerk. Transmission is on its second replacement also front brake caliper bolt sheared off at 75 miles per hour resulting tin the front tire locking up. Ventilation problems with mold in the recirculation system.

- Clayton, CA, USA

problem #19

Apr 022004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,900 miles
Failed transmission in both a 2002 and 2003 Acura Tls vehicle.

- Norcross, GA, USA

problem #18

Jan 212004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
While having an oil change performed, the dealership noticed an oil leak. The oil was leaking through the transmission casing. The dealership indicated that the casing was faulty and replaced it with a previous manufactured part. This was a common problem in these vehicles. 20% of the cast transmission casing was defective. The consumer felt that he did not need a new transmission with less than 3K miles. The consumers extended warranty was excluded.

- Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #17

Mar 302004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
Automatic transmission was leaking fluid. Dealer replaced it with a rebuilt transmission, consumer asked why transmission was replaced with a rebuilt and not brand new transmission.

- Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #16

Feb 202004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,500 miles
2003 Acura 3.2 TL previously reported sudden downshift from 5th gear to 2nd gear at highway speeds. Vehicle inspected by gettel Acura in sarasota, fl. Told "cannot reproduce problem so Honda/Acura will not authorize any repairs". vehicle is still at dealer, they are attempting to reproduce problem. Have been told by Acura customer care that my vehicle is "outside the VIN number series covered by previous NHTSA investigations" and my vehicle is not a candidate for repair, despite the 7 year, 100K mile extended warranty. Was told "we believe you, but if we cannot reproduce the problem, there is nothing we can do...why should we dump thousands of dollars in parts into your car if we can't find anything wrong?" I explained their liabiliy and the potential safety hazard, as, the vehicle had suddenly downshifted from 5th gear to 2nd, twice in last 5 days. Acura/Honda appears to be stonewalling, and I will have to seek legal counsel in order to compel them to comply with the terms of the extended transmission warranty...before the transmission failure causes an accident or injury to myself or my family. Acura insists the transmission problems were "fixed" before the car was built, so there is no way I could be having the same problems, and I was chastized for quoting information from NHTSA investigation results...they told me "you aren't a mechanic, and trying to get a new transmission because you read something on the web doen't mean your car has a problem". this was courtesy of "robin" at Acura customer care department on 2/24/04.. the dealership called today, stated it was raining, so they couldn't take my car out to run diagnostics..and they'll try again "tomorrow". if they find nothing wrong, they plan on returning the vehicle to me, unrepaired.. I am most certainly scared to get back behind the wheel of this vehicle, due to the two sudden downshifts that nearly caused loss of control of the vehicle.. Acura is not complying with it's agreement with NHTSA.

- St. Pete Beach, FL, USA

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