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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
114,641 miles
Total Complaints:
29 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace (22 reports)
  2. not sure (7 reports)
2003 Acura TL transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Acura TL Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #9

Nov 112011

TL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles


After my transmission failed, I read all the blogs on the internet, the # of transmission failures skyrocket right around 120,000 miles. Much earlier, Acura knew they had a serious failure rate, they extended the transmission warranty to 100,000 miles or 6 years, whichever first. In addition, knowing they had a very serious failure rate, Acura redesigned the transmission to correct the problem. So, all those people that fell into the 120,000 range when the transmission failed were just left in the cold having to pay about $4000. to replace the transmission. If my transmission failed at 118,000 like it did, I was just unlucky because that happens when dealing with a manufactured product. No-one wants it to happen but it does. We get mad but get over it. The real problem I now have that I will not get over is Acura KNEW the failure rate was at around 120,000 miles and the PREMIUM car company did nothing to correct their error except to extend the warranty below where most of the failures occurred. Their poor design was left to all the many, many people that have taken the hit for their lousy work. Their answer: buy an new redesigned transmission. And from all the internet blogs, I have joined a rather large club of Acura transmission failures. For a PREMIUM manufacturer to knowingly do nothing where most of the failures occur, it no longer deserved my business. I babied my car with the Acura dealership doing all the maintenance. Customer Service always complimented me because my 2003 TL was immaculate. Leather conditioner, 2 coats of advanced polish twice a year, maintenance was impeccable. I thought I was taking care of a PREMIUM car. Acura's action was not the action of a premium car company and showed the absolute minimum amount of concern for its customers to continue to allow a KNOWN problem to manifest itself. In essence, I was fooled into believing that Acura cared about their reputation, concern for their customers satisfaction, and the need for repeat customers. Needless to say, when the dealership tried to sell me a new Acura upon learning of their KNOWN problem, they tried to sell me a new Acura. I politely said no thank you. Although the market value of my car was only $6400 as it was in exceptional condition, the cost of the transmission at over $4000. was not worth the expense. I would rather have put the $4000 toward a new car, so I did, a Lexus. I shall never own another Honda or Acura product and I will be very outspoken to all my friends about AcuraHonda's lack of judgement.

- , Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #8

Jul 232011

TL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

If there was a known problem with the transmission, then I don't understand why Acura/Honda did not inform all car owners about the problem. Having this problem when you are on vacation only compounds the frustration and ruins your vacation. We will see how the Acura dealer resolves this problem.

- , San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #7

Oct 312011

TL S Type 3.2L

  • Manual transmission
  • 197,895 miles

I brought this car in 2006 with 70K miles or so on it. Love the car!! Never had any issues, always kept it maintained. One Friday, the check engine light came on along with another light that looks like a triangle with an explanation point inside of it. There was also a VGA or some other crappy light that came on as well. I'm like, ok, I'll get it checked on Monday -- maybe the 02 sensor or something. Come Sunday, directly after Church the Heffa stopped! I don't know about anyone else, but the worse thing that can EVER happen to me is to break down in the street! Luckly it was not at night and if anyone knows where Dallas, GA is, then you'd know it's dark as hell!! Had to pay $140 to tow it all the way to the Acura dealer in Marietta and found out that it would be a grand total of $6,200.00. I only have 2K left to pay on the damn thing!! I'[m pissed off now that I have to get another car. I'm planning on seeing how much I can get for the broken heffa - then switch to something else. I just wanted to vent and let others know of my anger with this situation. I feel better now -- thank you!

- , Dallas, GA, USA

problem #6

Nov 192010

TL 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,623 miles


I bought my 2003 TL new in July, 2003. I did respond to the recall and had it serviced at the Acura dealer for that recall item. Last summer (2010) I had the transmission serviced at approx. 117K at the local Acura dealership with no reported issues. Then at 126,623 miles the transmission starts slipping and I took it to the local Honda dealer because the Acura dealer is 35 miles away. They said the transmission needs replacing to the tune of $3,661.31. I had it fixed and when I ask about any other reported transmission issues with the car, I was told they did not know of any! (-:

I think of Honda/Acura as a VERY dependable vehicle but this is definitely shaking my confidence in the Brand!!

- , Norman, OK, USA

problem #5

Oct 222010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,000 miles

I'm pissed that I was uninformed about the bad transmission on my car prior to the transmission failure.

- , Sicklerville, NJ, USA

problem #4

Sep 182010

TL S 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,000 miles

Bought the car certified pre-owned in 2003. At 23,000 miles the first transmission went. It was replaced under Warranty. Dealer said it was replaced under the recall. Now at 139,000 just out of the 7 years and out of warrantly 2nd transmission went. Acura Client Services told us to got through the Service Mgr, he escalated to Factory Field Rep who declined to offer any "goodwill assistance."

Now we're stuck unable to pay for repairs, unable to buy a new car. A 7 year old vehicle with 139,000 should not need a 3rd transmission. Acura Client Services was not a pleasant "service" by any means. They were absolutely useless. Honda Motors is not helping the customers with these bad transmissions in any way. We're the ones stuck with the bill.

- , Hillsborough, NJ, USA

problem #3

Apr 242007

TL Type S V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles


My car was purchased from Procotor Acura in Tallahasee, Florida in 2007, inwhich the Transmission was slipping @46,000 miles and had to be replaced in Tallahassee, Fl @ Proctor Acura at no cost and under warranty. Here is 2010,I take my car for a routine oil change @ Orange Park Acura in Orange Park, Florida.. I told them the car was doing some shaking while driving. The results came back the Transmission had to replace. At first, they told me I had to replace the Transmission at my own expensive at the cost of 4,581.89. Needless to say I was NOT paying that and I called Honda Headquaters and they took down my complaint. After calling back and fouth to Proctor Acura and Orange Park Acura to get this transmission fixed. Neither dearship agree to fix at 100%. I was told they would pay 75% and I would have to pay 25% inwhich the cost for me would be 1,225.65 plus tax. I have aslo put in another complaint on different web site. This is LEMON CAR Honda has sold to many people when they knew how bad the transmissions was on this year and model. I very upset and plant to file a suit...

- , Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #2

Feb 012010

TL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

My 2003 Acura transmission failed utterly at a little over 70,000 miles. Honda of America admitted to a recall on this model--the subject of a Class Action Lawsuit (settled) in California in 2006--but offered to compensate me only one quarter of the $4,500 cost. This is my last Honda ever. I'm done.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #1

Jun 282008

TL Type S 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

I have a 2003 Acura TL Type S. When I first bought this car in 2004 it was used with 22,000 miles on it. I loved it. I was a great car. Well shortly after Honda issued a recall for several of its vehicles with transmission problems. The 2003 Acura TL was one of them. The problem was the 2nd gear within the transmission was failing and breaking apart. The fix was to inspect the 2nd gear and to check for damage and if there was no sign of damage the would install a jet kit that would keep the 2nd gear within the transmission cooler. Well they installed the jet kit on my vehicle around 35,000 miles. At 54,000 I noticed that my transmission was jerking when speeding up. I took my car into the dealership to find out the my transmission was bad, so the dealership replaced the transmission at no cost (under Warranty). So recently I am driving from Charleston SC on 95 and took and exit for some gas. I notice that my car was jerking really bad soon after I started to smell something burning. Shortly after my check engine light came on and I pulled into a car tuning shop. They check the code for the check engine light and it came back as a bad transmission controller. I had my vehicle towed to the nearest dealership, which was about 50 miles away. I had to also rent a car for one way at 200.00 for one day! I had to leave my car at the dealership for them to fix the problem. My car had 105,000 miles on it so it was out of warranty. Acura did cover this repair and called it a good will repair and explained that it had no warranty to it and if it should fail again i would have to fix it! The cost to replace one of these transmission is $2,000 to $3,000 dollars! I biggest complaint is why is there a transmission problem on a $34,000 car and why is this my thrid transmission. I dont drive my car crazy just normal to work and back, and sometimes on trips. I am not happy that my great car is on its third transmission at 105000 miles!

- , Dover, DE, USA

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