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:
72,795 miles
Total Complaints:
87 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (34 reports)
  2. Honda issued a recall - covered 100% for 7 years/100k miles (28 reports)
  3. replace the entire CD player radio (13 reports)
  4. call American Honda (1-800-999-1009), ask for goodwill repair (4 reports)
  5. call local honda dealer and mention service bulletin 04-027 (4 reports)
  6. radio removed, LCD replaced, radio re-installed (3 reports)
2003 Honda Accord accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 3 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #47

Nov 042008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles


What do you do after the 105,000 millage guarantee fix? Not sure since this is a known problem why they would limit the fix to just 105,000 miles.

- , Benton, AR, USA

problem #46

Aug 202008

Accord EX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

can't view anything on the radio display or center controls. this is especially dagerous 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.

- , West Hartford, CT, USA

problem #45

Sep 052008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

I wish Honda had let me know that this was a problem and if i had it they would cover it. I had to research here on autobeef to find out from others that it might be covered. When i contacted them it was like sure no problem. If i had gone to an independent shop and paid for this repair i would have been pissed to find out it was covered by Honda.

- , Diana, TX, USA

problem #44

Oct 152008

Accord EX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


I have a 2003 Honda EXL and the stereo backlight has gone out. The Honda dealership did not seem to interested in fixing this problem. Does anyone have a solution or has run into this problem?

- , Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

problem #43

Aug 012008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

Other than the pain of having to bring the car in for a full day for repairs, Honda did the right thing and fixed the problem at no charge to me. Too bad they aren't this smart about the failed transmission!

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #42

Sep 292008

Accord 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,325 miles

click to see larger images

stereo backlight blew

I really love this car! I used to sell cars for a living (Honda, Mazda, Pontiac, Buick and GMC) and Honda were always considered to elite. This is my third Honda and by far my favorite. Hondas strong selling point is their reliability and resale value and for the most part they have a good track record. But all cars have problems from time to time.

Last night I was driving home and my stereo/HVAC went black. Mind you, the stereo was still playing and the heater was still working but all went black. This morning I called my Honda dealership (Don Ayers) and they had let me know that there was a recall on it and I just have to come in and they need to verify that this is the problem and then they will schedule and appointment to fix it. So we will see how this goes Saturday and I will let everyone know.

FYI-Even if you are registered with Ownerslink this recall never showed up on there either. Just the tranny oil jet recall.

- , Bryan, OH, USA

problem #41

Jun 202008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles


I will look for the part. Very annoying not seeing the readout display

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #40

Sep 152006

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

This seems to be one of the two standard failures on '03 Accords, along with the transmission. If you're reading this, you've probably already seen several dozen just like it.

One day, I can't even remember exactly when, I started the car and noticed I could barely read the radio/CD/clock display. My first thought, however illogical, was that the battery might be going, so that was the first thing I checked. It was fine, so I just ignored it for several months. It was irritating, but I assumed it'd be an expensive to diagnose and fix.

Eventually, I asked the dealer to take a look at it while I had the car in for routine maintenance. Apparently, the problem wasn't well-known yet then, because it took them a long time to figure out that a circuit board had burned out--the same one that burned out and generated most of the radio display-related complaints on the '03 and '04 Accords--and it took them even longer to replace it. They did it, though, and didn't even charge me my warranty deductible, so whatever.

It was an annoying failure, but one that I wouldn't even think twice about anymore if it weren't for the other problems I've had with the car. Overall, it's been a lot more trouble than I expect from a brand with the reputation of Honda.

- , Allen, TX, USA

problem #39

Jun 022008

Accord EXL 3.2L

  • Manual transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I can't really complain as long as the repair is covered 100% by Honda and the problem is fixed in a timely fashion and does not occur again

- , Simpsonville, SC, USA

problem #38

Apr 292008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Stereo back light just went out.We never received anything about a recall. I only found out because I called to find out how much it would cost to repair. Now I'm concerned about other problems I have had. My heated seat light and light for the gear shift light went out when it was under warranty,but Honda would not repair.

- , Deatsville, AL, US

problem #37

May 132007

(reported on)

Accord EX 4cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles


I just bought my lease Honda Accord 2003; suddenly tha back light in the radio module is gone; hardly see it under the daylight. I can't see channels, time or temperature. The car is very dark at night while driving. I've seen that this is not unusual in this car, so I certainly believe Honda should take responsibility on this issue and have a recall or repair it for free. After all we are the customers and those cars are not cheap. If they want to keep me as their loyal customer, they should show me fairness on this matter.

- , Oakland, NJ, USA

problem #36

May 142007

(reported on)

Accord EX 4cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

everyone who has this problem... i just called my dealership and they explained that there has been an extended warranty put on the cd players from Honda since it seems to be such a big issue.. If you have this problem i recommend calling a Honda dealership near you and have them fix it for free

- , Canton, OH, USA

problem #35

May 112007

(reported on)

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

I was definitely annoyed by this problem with the radio/clock/HVAC LED going out two weeks after having another problem with my 2003 Accord EXV6 that related to another service bulletin (03-340 - EVAP Cannister Drain Joint) that was not covered by the service bulletin, not Honda's warranty. Luckily I had bought an extended warranty and was reimbursed for the $220 fix. I did not realized until searching for this LED problem that it was as widespread a problem as it is. I printed the other service bulletin (04-027) and called my local Honda dealership in Pittsburgh, PA. They were aware of the problem and I made an appointment for the repair. I took it two days later and after two hours, the problem was fixed and the did not charge me one cent. They also told me that since the service bulletin was issued in 2004, Honda now just replaces some electronic board of the LED itself and not the entire console. I don't know how much the repair cost the dealership, but it didn't cost me anything. I love my Honda, but like all cars, eventually something will go wrong from time-to-time.

- , Allison Park, PA, USA

problem #34

Apr 112007

(reported on)

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,365 miles

Must say I was very pleased with Honda's response. Backlight blew at about 91,000 miles, no extended warranty, and to top it off I just moved to another state, so this was my first visit to Pensacola Honda. As soon as I mentioned the stereo backlight, the Service Advisor told me "no problem, we'll take care of it". The ordered the part that day - brought my vehicle in the next morning and got it back all fixed up in a couple of hours. They (Pensacola Honda) appear to have this issue down pat. After reading of others' experiences on this board, I was quite worried, but they earned a new customer with their quick and pleasant response!

- , Pace, FL, USA

problem #33

Jan 162008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

It is hard to believe that a 2003 Honda Accord would have a major backlight go out so soon. We have an 87 Honda Accord that has never had a problem. I want to know what Honda will do about it! I already had one of the heated seat lights go out when it was still under warranty and they did fix that for free.

- , Woodstock, GA, US

problem #32

Dec 072007

Accord EX 4 cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 61,000 miles

Don't get me wrong, I love my car, I mean I LOVE MY CAR!!! I've had it five years and this is the first problem I have had. Compared to the transmission in my 1998 Chevy Venture going at at 37,000 miles this is very minor! Honda is aware of the problem and has issued a recall so I don't see that it is a big deal. I got the recall notice a few months before the back light went out so it's all good.

- , Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #31

Dec 012007

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,300 miles

This afternoon (12/1/07) the stereo backlight went out in my 2003 Honda Accord.

It's especially noticeable while driving at night with the interior being significantly darker.

Another person on this site stated he too experienced this problem. Although the car

is past warranty I intend to request that the dealer resolve the issue.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #30

Aug 152007

(reported on)

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Manual transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I bought a Honda because I wanted a car that would last. The radio light going out is not a good thing, my 66 Mustang radio light still works! Let�s see if Honda is willing to replace it for free. If not then I will really be pressed to buy another Honda. If they can�t get a minor thing like a radio light right then I don�t want any part of it! Customer care is just as important, let�s see if Honda values its customers.

- , Saugus, CA, USA

problem #29

Sep 072007

(reported on)

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

One morning, the radio/AC display in my car was dark and, after checking all of the fuses and the battery, I was told that the radio would have to be replaced to fix the problem; the radio for this car costs around $800 then there's labor on top of that. According to several sites I have read, there is a transformer in the radio that powers the lights that illuminate the display for the radio and air conditioning, which is a combined display, and that transformer is prone to failure.

- , Cordova, TN, US

problem #28

Nov 052007

(reported on)

Accord LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

I need someone to advise me what to do. I bought this call used but it had a 1 year warranty. I have had it 2 years and now the back light is out on my radio. I had to fuss to get the seat fix when I first got it because it was slipping out of place. Then I had to buy a injector because the engine light came on. Now this. Is this radio still under warranty I don't have my 100,000 mile warranty yet.I feel that this is a electric problem. Is there any one that can help me!

- , Pelham, NC, USA

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