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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
38,592 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 #17

Aug 172015

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles


2003 Honda Accord. Consumer writes in regards to vehicle factory installed radio, components and back light defect issues. Consumer sent additional correspondence. The consumer stated recently, the cd player would not function properly and most importantly, the radio began to malfunction and drain the battery. The radio would flash on and off while both the radio, all components and vehicle were turned off and the key out of the ignition. After sitting overnight, the vehicle would not start the next morning. On two occasions after driving, the consumer shut the vehicle off for five minutes and it would not re-start. The consumer stated the vehicle would stall and it was all because of the defective radio. A mechanic informed the consumer, they had recently come across numerous 2003-2007 vehicle with the exact same problem. They found the problem was due to the way Honda installed and mounted the radio, coupled with the fact that the brains of the radio was defective, therefore draining the battery and causing the radio and back light to fail. The back light worked occasionally and then stopped illuminating. Updated 05/04/16

- Rahway, NJ, USA

problem #16

Dec 272010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 70,300 miles
I have owned a 2003 Honda Accord since new and now have 71,000 miles on it and twice I was notified by letter from Honda of potential problems. I have one of the stated problems now but not covered by the warranty that was extended if it occurred. The display does not work for the radio/HVAC system. The local dealer from whom I bought the car said to do some research about the problem. I have. I am not competent to do the work and the problem is expensive to remedy. I will not be able to reset the code for this device to operate should the battery need to be disconnected because the led display does not work.

- Narragansett, RI, USA

problem #15

May 142010

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles
2003 Honda Accord. Consumer states problems with the audio unit in the vehicle the consumer stated the audio unit did not produce any sound when it was turned on. It would come on momentarily, only when driving for a few minutes, and then go out again. Also, the serpentine belt was worn due to age.

- Burke, VA, USA

problem #14

Dec 092009


  • 93,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the radio display intermittently becomes blank and fails to operate. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that her VIN was not included in the recall. She is responsible for paying $1000 to have the radio repaired. The failure mileage was 93,000.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #13

Dec 262009

Accord 2-cyl

  • 128,514 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The lighting on the radio display has failed. She contacted the dealer and the manufacturer and was advised that since her vehicle was over 105,000 miles she was ineligible for a free remedy. No repairs were made. The failure and current mileages were 128,514. Updated 2/17/10 updated 02/22/10

- Copiague, NY, USA

problem #12

May 272008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,446 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While attempting to pull out of a driveway, the contact depressed the accelerator pedal, but the vehicle failed to move. Suddenly, the vehicle shot backwards into the street at 45 mph. She then attempted to place the vehicle into drive once again, but it would not move. Suddenly, the vehicle sped forward. She heard a loud noise, but did not know the origin. The contact attempted to drive home, but the vehicle failed again on a main road with moderate to heavy traffic. She aimed the vehicle toward the nearest curb and restarted the vehicle. Pointed in the direction of a curb, she was able to move the vehicle towards the curb with one jerk. The previous week, the contact noticed the transmission banging into gear when shifting. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission), although the failures were similar. Other failures include the ABS sensor light, cd player, air compressor leakage, trunk release not functioning, and the catalytic converter. The vehicle was towed to the dealer as instructed by the manufacturer and a local mechanic also inspected the vehicle. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 60,446. Updated 07/29/08. Updated 08/05/08.

- Fairfield , CT, USA

problem #11

Feb 282007

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles


The back light on the radio unit HVAC information clock radio displays all went black and cd changer does not function.

- Loveland, CO, USA

problem #10

Oct 102004

Accord 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 18,000 miles
Cd player malfunction, not a mechanical failure, 2003 first model year of the Accord LX makeover, high heat builds up in the dashboard when on the freeway with heater and player on. Cd are very hot. Digital display "err" or "busy",this happened at 18,000 miles, (covered by warranty) when driving on vacation in late fall, 2nd fix at 75,000, dealer reduce charge of new installation, at 100,000 miles burned out again, on freeway each week since I owned the car at least 2 hrs. Dealer denial of any responsibility, service-person, acknowledged problem with this model year, but on third visit denied he made such statements. Not a boombox problem, I play mostly classical music, when I do, not from overuse! no computer cd ever played, only commercial cd's played. It still loads and rejects as normal but displays error message, and busy message. Service told me that this is a problem with all 2003 Accord, the problem was fixed in the 2004 model. I would like Honda to assume costs and fix my player.....please. Cd are not warm, they are very, very hot when placed on to the cheek, at first alarmed about the possibility of a fire, so I emptied out the player and hoped that I would not have to pull over.

- Farmington, MI, USA

problem #9

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 #8

Sep 142006

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
2003 Accord has had a problem with the second gear of the transmission. ***** there was a recall for the transmission problem but the service manager told the consumer that the failure would not be covered under recall. The radio screen was blank.

- Southington, CT, USA

problem #7

Sep 152006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Since buying my car 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 coupe in 03. I had exhaust problems, radio replacement, park and brake sensor replacement, power outlet wiring problems and the windshield wipers freeze up during heavy rainstorms. This has almost caused a few accidents, but the dealership can find no problem. Last Thursday my car seemed to be hesitating before shifting into either 2nd or 3rd. I couldn't tell for sure. Later that night, the car began to jump into & out of the low gears while starting & stopping at lights. I pulled off the road and the car would not move in reverse (only rev up). After some time, the car jumped into reverse and back into a ditch. After getting back on the road, traveling approx 60 miles per hr, I eased off the accelerator, the car powerfully downshifted to 2nd gear. Had it not been for the seat belt, I believe I would have been injured. My dog was in the car with me & thrown into the dash, then the floor. The tires barked. The car then suddenly up shifted to a higher gear. I made it home that night and drove straight to the dealership the next morning. The car seemed to be doing ok. I arrived and was told to make an apt for next week. Less then 10 miles away the car would no longer shift out of 3rd gear and then would not go in reverse. I drove it back to the dealer. I was told I needed to replace the transmission at my expense, and I was pretty much at fault because I had not completed all my service at Honda. I explained that it was impossible for me to make it to them during their business hours. So, some of my normal oil changes were done at other lube centers. I then asked him about the transmission recall and he said that had nothing to do with my problem. After waiting more than hr while he cut up with employees, I spoke to the location manager and asked about temporary transportation until I could contact american Honda, and he suggested I buy a new car.

- Leesburg, GA, USA

problem #6

Aug 092006

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles
: the contact stated the radio and air conditioner lighted console did not illuminate. A service dealer was consulted, who informed the contact that the radio unit needed to be removed, and during the time of the repair, the vehicle would be considered unsafe to operate.

- Oconomowoc, WI, USA

problem #5

Jun 162006

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles
Took my car in for a regular oil change. Hours later I received a phone call from the service advisor asking me, if I had time so he could talk to me regarding my car. I said, yes and the service advisor from Honda dealership went on to tell me that I needed my transmission fluid changed, brake fluid changed, and my engine coolant changed. The total amount of cost came to $500.29 which I thought I was being ripped off. The Honda service advisor also went on to tell me that I need to have my front struts replaced because they are bad. I noticed when I would make a right hand turn I would hear a squeaky noise. He confirmed that it was my front struts. I ask the service advisor how long does it normally take for struts to wear out he told me around 80,000-100,000 miles well my 2003 Honda Accord ex only have 48,000 miles on it. I'm assuming that I probably started off with bad struts in the beginning since I had my Honda Accord ex, I have had nothing but problems. Now, that my car is out of warranty I'm hit with a huge fee to get struts replaced on a car which I think was bad in the first place. My Honda Accord ex was originally purchased by me in December of 2002. I have been the only driver of the car. At this time I would never purchase another Honda Accord. I used to have an 2000 Honda Accord ex never had a problem. Since I have had this car there have been recalls on my car. I have had problems with the door latches, inside panel on passenger side coming off. Sunroof rubber coming unglued. I had to have the windshield replaced bad wipers which scratched the windshield up. New radio system. Trouble with the lights for the heated seats, dash board lights went out. Radio lights went out. I was sold a complete lemon. I believe Honda should look into my maintenance record and see all the problems I have had with this car and really consider replacing the struts for me. I do not have an extended warranty it's going to cost me $700.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #4

Dec 022003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles
Since owning this car January 2003, the following has happened to it: ABS harness caught on fire (car was saved, but Honda refused to give me another car after writing them), radio has gone out, clock gone out, trouble starting vehicle - this is apparently a fuel pressure regulator - tech notice but no recall. The front brakes were silently recalled only if you state your having problems. This car has been one big problem.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #3

Aug 012005

Accord 6-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex backlit display on 6-cd radio system no longer works. Honda indicates the entire device will have to be replaced at a cost of approx. $900.

- Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #2

Oct 302003

Accord 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 1,800 miles
Firwall heat. 2003 Honda Accord, bought in sepetember of 2003. In October, on the way home from vacation, (speed 65, car on freeway for at least 5 hours) the cd ejected from the dashboard was so hot that I thought the other cd's in the player would melt, so I ejected them all. Call to dealer service said that similiar complaints had come in but not to worry. June 8, 2003 the lights in radio and lower controls go out. Suburban Honda, is going to replace the radio unit, which I believe burned out from heat, the lower light bulb too, though service said it was working. It was not when I bought the car in. When I suggested the firewall heat problem, I was asked who I had been talking too. I know that there will be other complaints on this subject of this model year.

- Farmington, MI, USA

problem #1

Feb 152003

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
There is always a high pitch back ground noise (more like humming and hazing sound) coming out from the stereo unit when the volume dial is 01 and up no matter if it is the cd or radio. If I adjust the volume to 00, it is gone. But when the volume is 01 or up, the noise comes back. My dealer also acknowledged this problem on all their 03 Honda Accord in stock. He called american Honda regarding this issue but has not got any response yet.

- Seattle, WA, USA

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