Notes: The 2003 Honda Accord suffers from widespread transmission failure & problems with the stereo backlight failing. We recommend avoiding this model year like the plague.

The transmission begins slipping & eventually has to be replaced, typically soon after 90,000 miles & with a repair cost of over $2,000. Transmission failure has been a huge problem for the Accord & several other Honda models all through the early 2000s model years. Honda extended the transmission warranty to 93 months/109k miles for the 2000-2001 Accord as a class action lawsuit settlement, but owners of other Accord model years with transmission problems are out of luck.

The stereo backlight problem has been an issue since these Accords were only a few years old. Honda eventually issued a recall which covered the repair for 7 years/100k miles, which was nice while it lasted but now that period is over. Honda initially was replacing the entire radio ($800) but eventually began replacing just the PCB which at ~$300 is much cheaper. That sounds like a deal, but keep in mind we're talking about a backlight bulb that costs $2 to fix in most other cars.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
65,042 miles
Total Complaints:
25 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (16 reports)
  2. take it in, it is covered under 100k (8 reports)
  3. recall 2003s b4 a child stuck in a carseat burns to death (1 reports)
2003 Honda Accord accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #25

Oct 102013

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


The dealer wants $500 to repair. Not possible to have repaired elsewhere. Radio and climate controls are not visible at night.

- , Salt Lake City, UT, USA

problem #24

Jan 012010

Accord 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

It is hard seeing the speedometer especially at night! I have to turn on my interior lights to see how fast I am going. This is an intermittent problem.

- , Newhall, CA, USA

problem #23

Aug 102012

Accord EX 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

Really Honda? The car had 45,000 Miles on it. I have read complaint upon complaint about the dash console lights being faulty with this year specifically, and you HAVEN'T recalled it to be fixed? Wow. Just wow. The consumer should not be stuck with the bill for this, this is your fault, and your problem to fix. Ignorant blokes.

- , Bangor, ME, US

problem #22

Jan 102012

Accord 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,293 miles


Intermittent fault.

Stereo cuts out when driving along every now and then. The issue then seems to spread to the dash with the speedo and tacho dipping and when it plays up i can generate massive electrical drains on the car by hitting AC or the headlights.

If i turn the car off then back on again there is no unusual drain and the car drives like normal.

Ignition barrel replaced, stereo serviced, ECU serviced and the problem continues. About a month after servicing ECU and new ignition barrel the issue came back. Servicing stereo did nothing, issue came back within 2 days of having the car back.

Very annoying and very expensive now

- , Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

problem #21

Apr 232011

Accord LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 175,000 miles

My electric problems started with the radio/clock. It would shut off at random, and sometimes come back on the same way. Or swallow a CD and keep it a while. Or start trying to spit out a CD even if there wasn't one in the drive. Then, today, the cruise control wouldn't set. When I parked the car and locked it, the left tail light and center brake light stayed on for hours. They wouldn't go off. I took it to the shop in the afternoon and my car pretended like everything was OK. I think it wants to kill me. It will wait until I'm driving across a bridge at night in the rain, and then decide to turn off the headlights and wipers and blast heavy metal at me.

- , Webster, NY, US

problem #20

Oct 012010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

I got screwed by Honda. I have a 2003 V6 Accord and like so many other owners, the backlights went out in the climate control/CD/Radio unit which Honda acknowledges is defective and put out a repair bulletin on. BE ADVISED - These models are at or nearing the end of warranty life and American Honda will not stand behind the defective part once your warranty has expired. When mine died, I was around a month out of warranty. The woman at American Honda was encouraging and told me that they may decide to cover the repair anyway, but it had to go to to my dealer to so it could be officially diagnosed. I lost $117 and a half day of work and adding insult to injury, American Honda told me they're under no obligation to refund the fee or repair the defective part even though they directed me to the dealer. I have to admit, I'm surprised at this level of treachery and poor service from Honda.

- , Berkeley Hts, NJ, USA

problem #19

Dec 012009

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles


I am extremely disappointed with Honda. I have been a loyal Honda Owner for over 15 years and by the way Honda Inc. had decided to handle the Radio System Display issue, I will not be purchasing another Honda in the future.

I am 6 mos over the extended warranty for the known System Display defect for the Honda Accord 2003 and 2004 model, but well within the 100K miles (I only have 60K miles). They have refused to fix the problem because I am not within warranty. When an auto company has acknowledged the responsibility and ownership of the defect on their parts, they should replace them when the owner is made aware of the issue, not when the warranty is expired. I was not aware of the this warranty expiration.

I do not know how much this will cost, out of my pocket, to repair but from reading the other complaints, about a $500. Ridiculous.

I have already replaced the alternator, automatic locks, and now this. The little things definitely add up.

- , San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #18

Jan 172009

Accord LX 4c

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

No one was in my car when one of my neighbors saw a spark in the dash and came and got me. I had no clue what was happening and tried to put the fire out myself but luckily one of the neighbors had called the fire department not soon enough. They put it out and did an investigation as to what caused to just start on fire for no reason. It was the electrical in the dashboard where the fire started. There was no foul play, and the fire dept said this wasn't the first 03 they'd seen this happen to. It ruined my car, since it was paid for I didn't have full coverage and Honda wont do anything. I am so incredibly thankful nobody was in it especially my grandson who would've been in his carseat in the backseat who could've been killed. It happened so fast if we would've been driving I truly don't know if their would've been any survivors. PLEASE BE SO CAREFUL, THE ONLY ELECTRICAL PROBLEM THAT COULD'VE BE EN A SIGN SOMETHING MORE COULD'VE BEEN WRONG WAS THE RADIO HAD QUIT WORKING A COUPLE WEEKS BEFORE. I absolutely loved my car, it was the nicest one I'd ever owned or will again now I'm disabled. I wish Honda would recall this specific model, this isn't and won't be the last electrical fire. They're aware of all the electrical problems, unfortunately someones going to end up dying before they take it serious!!!!!!!!

- , Orem, UT, USA

problem #17

Sep 012004

Accord EX Coupe 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

Back lit Radio console went out. Couldn't see any controls, air, time, etc and radio wouldn't work at all. Took in and replaced under warranty. Whole unit had to be replaced.

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #16

Jul 082008

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

This is the worst vehicle I've ever had in my whole entire life. I would never buy a Honda again.....never. My accord has so many problems....sometimes the airbag light comes on then goes away, the radio backlight stopped illuminating-had to get an aftermarket radio plus radio installation kit because my VIN is not under the service bulletin that Honda put out, brakes squeaks and makes a clicking noise when you step on it...its endless. i will trade in this car for a Toyota or something....just no more Honda for me ever again.

- , Clovis, CA, USA

problem #15

Nov 202007

Accord Euro 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,273 miles


I had and still having a problem with my electrics in general. Here is whats happening:

A. While driving (daytime) occasionally my dash lights, needles and radio lose power momentarily. General while slowing down (braking).

B. While driving (at night) the same thing happens but the headlights go out too. I have been trying to figure it out by doing certain things (i.e. Turning on Auto climate control, front windscreen demister, winding rear windows down then up both on their own and together). By following these steps I lose electrics as described above. But the odd thing is it is intermittent. Some days it's fine, some days it goes absolutely mad.

I have a feeling it's a power drain. My dealer replaced the battery and ignition barrel a few months ago (under their 6month extended warranty which has past due) and the problem went away, however about a month and a half later they came back slowly. (meaning - it started with just the radio electrics going off (momentarily) then it moved to both the headlights and the radio and then the dash (incl. needles). I think the alternator may have an intermittent fault. Although while parked but running it produces the correct voltages as does the battery. Engine light has come on and gone off, VSA has done the same and sometimes all dash indicators (park light, VSA, engine, seatbelt, door open etc.) come on.

Has anyone had this problem? Or does anyone have a solution or idea as to what is causing this. It is very frustrating but my dealer has no idea and say it will cost a small fortune to diagnose.

- , Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

problem #14

Jun 022008

Accord EXL 3.2L

  • Manual transmission
  • 70,000 miles


- , Simpsonville, SC, USA

problem #13

Nov 012006

Accord EX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Well, I purchased my 2003 Accord in July of 2004 @ 18k miles. At about 19k miles, the A/C went completely out. Luckily, it was under warranty, so I took it in for repair. While they worked on that, they mentioned my rotors were bad, they replaced that also. The car did good until 40k miles, that is when the cd player quit working. It didn't even eject the cd that is stuck in there. And I am at 70k miles, the cd is still in there. Well about a month later the display went dim. I can't see the time, stations playing, etc. Well, if that is not annoying enough, my driver side lock doesn't work. I can't close it with my key fob or from the inside with the button. I have to manually lock and open the door with the key. Very irritating. I can't wait to get rid of it and buy a car that will give less headaches. That is the reason I purchased an Accord. I didn't want problems. That is why I got rid of my Eclipse. I was told that my Eclipse was piece of crap. But funny thing is, the Eclipse had over 150k miles and didn't have any of the problems that I currently have with my Accord. Last time I will buy an Accord.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #12

Feb 202008

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

ever since i had my battery changed (at my service advisor's insistence,) i have had electrical problems. first my cd & a/c heating back lighting went out. Fortunately I had received a notice from Honda that that particular problem was covered by warranty. My adviser tried to play down the warranty time line and I presented him with my paperwork from Honda. He blushed and I was taken care of.

One early a.m. my headlights went out. I called and he said to come in and they would check it out. Hours later, upon trying them again, they came on and I have not had a problem since. Who knows what that was about.

Shortly later, my seat heating elements stopped working. Lights went out, elements dwindled considerably. I turned on the passenger side seat heat and it went on beautifully - turned on driver side and and I didn't feel anything in comparison. Slight heat on the right side...but not enough to feel it is working right. Car is a certified one. does anyone know if this particular problem is covered by this?

- , Branford, CGT, USA

problem #11

Oct 162007

(reported on)

Accord EX 4 Cys

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,389 miles

speedometer goes up and down or gets stuck .

happened once in a while or after a long drive +2 hours

normal most of the time and took it in to dealer but not they said its not covered by warranty and charged me $150 for a checking it out! Not likely to buy another Honda from this dealership.

- , Rmd, BC, Canada

problem #10

Sep 252007

(reported on)

Accord EX V4

  • Manual transmission
  • 53,000 miles

can someone help me with this problem????

- , Gardner, MA, USA

problem #9

Jun 122007

(reported on)

Accord EXL I4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

I have a similar problem where the LCD panel (where the Radio and the Climate control display are located) completely blacked out and all the controls around it will not light up. I poked this forum and found that Honda has extended the Warranty to 7 yrs/100,000 miles. Thanks to this forum and site in primary, otherwise I would have ended up paying big bucks to fix it. I called American Honda and checked about the warranty before even calling the dealer, and sure enough American Honda was courteous enough to acknowledge this issue, they had sent me a mail about this which I had missed because I had not changed my address. Anyways called the dealer they said they have back ordered the controlled part that will fix this issue and waiting for them call me back to get it FIXED!

- , Plano, TX, USA

problem #8

Mar 142007

(reported on)

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

My experiance was similar to the others, my dash went dim... about 3 weeks went by, everything worked you just couldn't see it unless it was during the day. Checked the fuses to see if i had blown one and the radio/cd player stopped working. Then it became unbearable and I found this site! YAY! I called the dealership, gave them my VIN number and they said it is now covered under 100k (but if they do a diagnostic and it doesn't end up being the problem i have to shell out 120$)

- , Clarksville, MD, USA

problem #7

Mar 112007

(reported on)

Accord VTI-E 2.4 V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,090 miles

The center console (CD player, radio, AC, fan, climate control etc.) LCD suddenly got dimmer one day and it has been about 3 weeks since then. The day the LCD got dimmer, the CD player and radio completely stopped working, but the rest of the functions were normal although there was no indication on the LCD panel since it appeared to be not working. The AC, fan control, temp. control, defog etc were all working except the CD player and radio and the audio controls. Surprisingly 2 days later, everything started working but even then the LCD was completely dark. I took my car to the honda service center for a scheduled maintenance at 79000km, and i asked them to check out the center dash LCD panel and fix the problem. I was completely shocked when the asshole service agent told me that the center panel will have to be replaced and it will cost about US$1100. F*ck man, that's crazy... they cant fix the damn thing and just ripping their customers off. I never got it fixed anyway and planning to take it to another honda expert who would hopefully fix this problem instead of giving me the advice to change the whole center dash. Man, i feel like cursing those honda service people.

I suggest you take your honda to a real honda expert for a checkup on this problem. Hopefully there is a way to get it working ok.

- , Doha, NA, Qatar

problem #6

Jan 312007

(reported on)

Accord EX V4

  • Manual transmission
  • 75,000 miles

The radio and climate control lights went dim in my car, same as everyone else, at about 76,000 miles. I read this page and called my Honda dealer to see if it was covered. He said that Honda has extended the warranty for this problem to 7 years or 100,000 miles. Although I bought the car used and it was from California, a local Honda Dealer in Austin (Howdy) has been great and they are going to take care of the problem at no charge next week. They will also install something to prevent the problem from happening again. This is something you SHOULD NOT pay for. Honda has made it a really simple process to get it fixed. Honda will only do it once, and I would check it out before your car hits 100,000 miles.

- , Austin, TX, USA

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