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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
49,000 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 Honda Accord accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments

problem #14

Aug 202010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately between 40-50 mph, the contact observed that the led display on the instrument panel would not illuminate when the heater or air conditioner were on. The failure was a continuous occurrence. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 110,000. Updated 02/07/11 updated 03/17/11

- Margaret, AL, USA

problem #13

Jan 042010


  • 66,000 miles
On Jan 4th, 2010 my radio light went out! it is black, I can't see the time or settings for my heating or ac controls. I called my dealer and found out there was a recall for that problem. I never received a noticed of the recall and it has expired 2 months ago! it was 100,000 miles or 7 yrs which ever comes first. But than they extended 500 more miles but didn't add more time to the years. I have a 2003 Honda Accord and again it ended in November 2009. So they won't fix is for free! I don't know who to call about this situation. I should have been notified but wasn't! what can I do?

- Holyoke, MA, USA

problem #12

Jul 022009

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 20 mph, the vehicle failed to shift from second into third gear. As a result, the RPM's increased and the vehicle failed. The contact was able to get the vehicle to shift into the correct gear after a couple of seconds. There were no warnings prior to the failure. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that the transmission was slipping between second and third gear, and also bangs when switching into reverse. The dealer spoke with the manufacturer and they offered the contact 50% off the total bill, which would amount to $1,508.73. The contact refused and no repairs have been made. The vehicle was repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission), but the failure has recurred. The contact is in the process of notifying the manufacturer. The failure mileage was 59,000 and current mileage was 59,500. Updated 08/19/09 also, the lights for the temperature, radio and defroster were out. Updated 08/20/09.

- Galloway, NJ, USA

problem #11

Feb 152009


  • 110,000 miles


My 2003 Honda Accord ex has had an ongoing problem of the accessory lights going out that control the radio and HVAC controls. It is actually a transistor on the printed circuit board blowing that controls the consoles lighting. Honda knows about the issue and has put out an extended warranty about this for 7 years or 105,000 miles, whichever comes first. If the warranty is out, the cost to fix it through the dealership is $700-900, not something many people these days can afford, and because they can't afford it, their safety is decreased. Although this is a known issue and the warranty has run out, they really should take responsibility and fix any that have this problem because this is a serious distraction while driving. Multiple times I've tried to change my temperature or radio settings and while trying to see the display almost gotten into an accident. There are message boards all over the internet addressing this issue and how much of a safety concern this is. An anonymous user posted this on the boards: : "can't view anything on the radio display or center controls. This is especially dangerous at night when trying to adjust the heat or A/C and can't see what I'm doing. Honda should definitely fix the issue. It really is a safety problem." More details here:

- Shawmut, ME, USA

problem #10

Oct 222008

(reported on)


  • miles
2003 Honda Accord recall notice for radio display. The consumer stated he was not able to see the radio station numbers, the temperature on the air condition or the heater. The consumer was informed the rotors were bad and needed to be replaced.

- Menifee, CA, USA

problem #9

Feb 262008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
1.brake light stays on while engine is running and never goes out. When lead is disconnected from master cylinder, light goes out and remains out. 2. air bag light is on when temperature is below 70 degrees and goes out when outside temperature is higher.

- Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

problem #8

Apr 072008

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


During daylight, control panel/Navigator is dark. Cannot read controls resulting in failure to observe instrument settings. During night, navigation system will not dim, resulting in visual hazard to driving.

- Wynnewood, PA, USA

problem #7

Jul 072007

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles
The lcd on the console which controls the radio and air temperature, just blew out, this afternoon. We cannot see anything on there. I just researched the problem online and see that this is a common recurring problem. The fix is to replace the whole radio system which costs around $ 500 plus. I do believe this is Honda's responsibility. I do not expect something like the lcd screen to blow out in just a little after 45000 miles. And I did not drive my car often. This is definitely a manufacturer's defect and problem.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #6

Apr 102007

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles
- the contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord with a failure mileage of 83,000. The contact stated that when she turned on the headlights the instrument panel became too dim to read. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer, and was told that the audio unit had to be replaced. The dealer replaced the unit free of charge, but the failure recurred. The current mileage was 85,975.

- Moundsville, WV, USA

problem #5

Feb 262007

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
What will be the determination and procedure for Honda and Acura motor vehicles as it relates to the 2.5% error on the odometers from 2002 to 2006?

- Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #4

Jan 222007

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles


The backlighting on the center console went out. No fuses were blown. Radio and A/C are operation but you cannot see the status. You cannot control the heat or the defroster. Without knowing the status of this equipment, an accident is almost assured..fogged front window.

- Easley, SC, USA

problem #3

Dec 222006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
This problem has been occurring intermittently for 2.5 years, has never manifested itself while at the dealer. It all started with the yellow traction control triangle lighting up, right after we bought the car. No symptoms, just solid non-blinking light on dash. Dealer had no solution. The problem got worse when my wife noticed that the car's transmission seemed to "bog down". I never experienced it, just my wife. Dealer said this was just the traction control kicking in, no solution. Last July, 4 hours from home, the car suddenly bogged down on me, I immediately looked down at the dash... the car was traveling 70 mph, the speedometer was dead, the engine was dead, I happened to be at an exit ramp, so I coasted off the interstate to a stop. I called the dealer in the nearest city, and they said to restart the car, I did, and it ran. I took the car to auto zone where they said the code was "speed control sensor/short". dealer checked it, and said there was no problem with sensor. They blamed it on having too much transmission fluid in the transmission. A few times since July, the car has mysteriously gone dead in traffic, notably while in the turn lane. 2 weeks ago, the red brake light started coming on. An isolated and separate issue I think. Last week, I drove 1 hour to the airport. The traction control and check engine light came on, and every time I used the turn indicator, the car died. It restarted itself as soon as the turn indicator was released if moving fast on road. While looping around the airport terminal, it stalled several times as I tested to see if the turn signal still killed it, having to shift to neutral and restart, as the car was idling when it stalled this time. I turned the car off to load bags, and when I turned it back on, no symptoms, and it has not done it since last week. The dealer could not reproduce the problem, again no solution.

- Prairieville, LA, USA

problem #2

Jun 052006

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles
Problem statement: 2003 Honda Accord console control lighting and stereo background lighting has failed. Why is this a problem: During night time driving you cannot see the controls to make adjustments and therefore have to turn on the overhead lighting to make any adjustments to the fan, temperature, change air flow position etc, or adjust the stereo. This is an error precursor to having an accident as it distracts you from driving. This is a generic problem: A quick research of the web indicates this is a common failure among Honda Accord ranging from years 2003 to 2005. In these Honda Accord all of the console control lighting is powered by circuits in the stereo and therefore the only fix is to replace the stereo at an estimated cost of $300 to $500 dollars.

- Idaho Falls, ID, USA

problem #1

Sep 092006

Accord 4-cyl

  • 52,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord with approximately 52,000 miles and yesterday the radio lights and the center pod lights which control the heating and air conditioning lighting stop working and I have no idea what happened, I have checked any and all fuses under the dash and also in the engine compartment and there are blown fuses. Nothing else so far is out of the norm, I am just no sure where to look or what to do since the vehicle is out of warranty.

- Brooklyn, NC, USA

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