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 9 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #15

Feb 202004

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,557 miles


Sudden downshift of automatic transmission while driving in D-5 (5th gear) at approximately 60mph while merging onto highway. Momentary loss of control, regained when 5th gear re-engaged. Motor suddenly revved to near red-line causing torque steer feel and deceleration. Reviously notified dealer of transmission-related issues, was told "no problem found" at gettel Acura in sarasota, fl. Plan on taking vehicle back to shop again.

- St. Pete Beach, FL, USA

problem #14

Dec 022002

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles
I leased an 03 Acura TL-type S in 4/02. This vehicle is unsafe and the manufacturer is either unable or unwilling to correct the problem. He transmission began slipping, shuddering and bucking at 15K miles. The rpms would also rev without pressing the gas pedal. I brought the car in on 12/2/02, and the dealer reported that there were "no codes" and that the "problem could not be duplicated." At nearly 22K miles, the problem evolved into a high-pitched whining noise. On 4/16/03, dealer said the transmission needed to be replaced. At first the new transmission seemed to perform better, but differently and somewhat more slowly. At about 26,000 miles the shuddering and bucking at various speeds returned. I took it back to dealer on 7/21/03, and again they said "no codes" and the "problem could not be duplicated, " precisely as had been indicated before the first transmission was replaced. They did flush the transmission fluid. On 10/22/03 during a roadtest with dealer's service department, the transmission did in fact exhibit the behavior I have been documenting. After the computer revealed no codes, the vehicles egr ports were cleaned and dealer believed that would fix the problem. However, the problem continued. I have taken the car back on a half dozen occasions and each time am told they can't duplicate the problem. Acura corporate management admits there is a problem with the transmissions and replacement transmissions have also failed. They are not sure why. They insist if there are "no codes" or if dealer cannot readily duplicate there is not a problem. I am unwilling to wait for a complete failure which can result in the transmission locking up at highway speeds and lead to an accident. I began at the end of November documenting the dates, times and speeds at which the transmission malfunctions and can provide this data. It is inconsistent and it is very difficult to duplicate, but that does not mean it is not a problem.

- Watervliet, NY, USA

problem #13

Sep 152003

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,000 miles
Two transmissions in my 6 month old in my Acura 3.2 TL. The first failure consisted of my tranny locking up while traveling at 65mph or more and almost throwing me through the windshield. The tranny was replaced with a new one. The snd occurence consisted of my tranny locking up in lunch hour traffic, traveling around 55 car behind me was not prepared for the lock up slammed into me, police report and injurie's sustained that are still ongoing. This is a deffinate safety issue alway's has been, if a car stalls on the highway, there is no question that it is a safety issue, this is worse then an engine stalling, there are no brake light's, it all happnes too fast ! who decides what is a safety issue? I'll tell you the people who dirve these and have had accident's or near death expieriences.

- Hernando, FL, USA

problem #12

Oct 242003

TL 6-cyl

  • 4,000 miles


I bought an Acura 3.2tl type S in July 2003. The vehicle is 3 months old with 4,000 miles on it and it is having the transmission replaced. I was not aware of this problem when I purchased the car, nor was I told about it when I inquired about recalls, since this is not an official "recall."

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #11

Sep 202003

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,500 miles
My 2003 TL-S has been manufactured in December of 2002, seven months after the date that Acura supposedly addressed the transmission failure issue. I was shocked when my transmission failed after 9 months and less than 9,000 miles. At this point I do not trust that Acura has really addressed the transmission issue.

- Oak Hill, VA, USA

problem #10

May 052002

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,886 miles
Transmission slips and revs at approx 55-65 mph, so strongly car loses direction while driving and passenger feels 'jolt', dealership has replaced transmission twice, also replaced egr valve, problem continues to occur. Axle not properly replaced; transmission fluid leaking out which caused car to smoke. Met with regional service rep who was condescending and patronizing, and offered 'accessories'. transmission #1 was 'refurbished' and guaranteed by Acura by 150,000 miles-->was replaced by #2 which was 'new'...still having the same problem-extremely unsafe!! I just want a car that is safe and works!!

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #9

Jul 272003

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,151 miles


Have taken my 2003 Acura Tls into the dealers approximately four times for the same problem. Dealer states they cannot do anything because they cannot duplicate the problem. While driving the gas pedal self-depresses and locks, but the car feels as though it has shifted itself into neutral--leaving me no alternative but to cruise to the side of the road until the gas pedal 'pops' itself up and I regain control of the car.

- Laie, HI, USA

problem #8

Jul 082003

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,000 miles
Transmission downshifts without warning when traveling at various speeds, and causes occupants to be jerked backwards. Problem occurs randomly, and Acura refuses to fix without dealer duplication - despite issuing a warranty extension for the transmission.

- Hilliard , OH, USA

problem #7

May 152003

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,000 miles
Took delivery of new 2003 Acura 3.2tl-type S on May 10, 2002. Was unaware that Honda/Acura had an on-going transmission problem since model year 1999. Transmission started acting up over the past several thousand miles. On May 15, 2003, dealer confirmed transmission problem and has ordered new transmission. Honda has a major problem since this has occurred in model years 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 & 2003. While they have extended the warranty to 7 years / 100K miles, this is totally unacceptable.

- Lynnwood, WA, USA

problem #6

Feb 112003

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 400 miles
Transmission shudder and balking on new 2003 Acura tlc type-S

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #5

Jan 012003


  • miles


I noticed that NHTSA has opened an investigation into tranny failure. I bought an 03 Acura 3.2tl-S back in March. I really didnt know than when the tranny would "catch up" that it would be a defect. The sad part is that I want to get rid of the car but I cant sell it because of financial loss. Therefore, im forced to stay with this car that may some day kill me. I have heard of other stories; numerious other stories. I have a feeling that the tranny may go soon but its no way to get it looked at beacuse the "failure" didnt happen yet. Im scared and dont know what to do. Please help

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #4

Nov 142002


  • miles
This is a 2003 Acura TL-S that had a transmission failure. Acura contacted customers to extend the transmission warranty to 100,000 miles but that does not resolve the problem. My car is just over 7 months old and the transmission already failed. This must be a known issue at Acura and should be investigated. Transmission failures are extremely dangerous and deserves a recall.

- Tinton Falls, NJ, USA

problem #3

Aug 302002


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving at highway speeds automatic transmission slipped without touching gear shift. Vehicle spinned out, hitting a wall on freeway.

- Manhattan Beach, CA, USA

problem #2

Jun 272002


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While in D5 waiting to let head-on traffic go, could not complete left turn due to suddenly disengaged transmission, as if in neutral.

- Owings Mills, MD, USA

problem #1

Jul 172002


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Transmission locked up at 55 mph causing the vehicle to skid.

- Keyser, WV, USA

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