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:
72,800 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 1 of 5)

problem #87

Sep 042016

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles


When my back light on my stereo went out I immediately called my local dealer because I remembered receiving a service bulletin for it in the mail since I purchased the car new. I also remembered a service tech at my local dealer reminding my to bring the car back in if the back light goes out even if the regular warranty was out because it would still be covered. I guess I must have forgotten the part about it only being covered for 7 years or 100k. Unfortunately mine decided to die after 14 years and at 115,000 miles. I was told that because of the car's age and the fact that the warranty had expired that they would not cover it. I think its ridiculous that Honda will not cover this repair when they have known for years that this was an issue. I remember a time when they would at least offer to meet the customers half way on the cost but they even refused to do that. They expect their customers to pay out over $400 to replace a stereo on a car that is now over 14 years old. I expected more out of Honda especially since this could be a safety issue if the windows were to fog up. Its a real pain when your driving down the road and you can't even see what the temperature is set on. I called corporate just to see if there was anything else that could be done since I cannot afford to to shell out that kind of money right now. The lady I spoke with at corporate was very rude and pretty much told me that I was out of luck because the car was out of warranty. I asked to speak to her supervisor and the supervisor's attitude wasn't much better. I will never buy another Honda and as soon as I get back on my feet I'm getting rid of this piece of crap!! This is not the only problem I have had with this car.

Update from Mar 15, 2017: This should have been a recall not an extended warranty because it could cause an accident

- wf719, Anderson, US

problem #86

Aug 012010

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles

The backlight burnt out. "No problem! It should be an easy fix!" I thought naively. Little did I know that I could not simply replace a $5 bulb, but would have to replace the entire radio to fix the problem. Called Honda America about this and they said since my car was out of warranty (2 months over the warranty period for it) they wouldn't cover it. Needless to say, they lost all of my future business.

- Jonathan S., Potomac, MD, US

problem #85

Mar 102015

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I read a lot of the same complaint regarding the radio backlight issue..IT is a serious issue especially at night.. when your windshield starts to fog and you have to guess what your climate control is set while your trying to drive, keep on the road and not kill yourself or anyone buttons are lit and your fumbling/feeling around in the dark's very dangerous and surprised no one has been killed...besides being annoying as hell..Honda says sorry're out of warranty..suck it..that'll be over $500 bc we like screwing our customers..

- David C., Garnerville, NY, US

problem #84

Mar 012009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles


Just like everyone else, my radio died. Fortunately Honda replaced it under warranty. At least they stand behind their products most of the time. Not all companies do that.

- ridensnow23, Canonsburg, PA, US

problem #83

Sep 182012

Accord LX 2.4L V-Tec 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Can't even install reliable radio on the car? Come on man!!!

- groomer101, Boca Raton, FL, US

problem #82

Apr 032013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Backlight went on on radio. Took to honda to replace.

- Michael S., Shelby, NC, US

problem #81

Sep 122012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,023 miles


The screen for all the displays for the radio, ac,cd player all have gone black. Didn't expect this to happen with a car that was rated so high in consumer reports. If this was the only problem then I probably would not be that concerned. but it is just the beginning.

- Jimmy K., Harrisburg, NC, US

problem #80

Mar 012011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,067 miles

At the time Honda did not offer a recourse for this problem. I see that Honda now offers to repair the problem. Unfortunately after talking with a Honda representative my car is past the 7 year warranty extension although it is under th 107000 mileage cap. No help here. I am very fed up with Honda. I get in my car, turn the key and see what works .

- papp, Wilmington, DE, US

problem #79

Apr 062012

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I am in the process of trying to get this's time for Honda to stand up to their products......To know that a product is faulty and to still put it out there and then put a limit on time or mileage to repair is pretty low......Honda place's itself above the rest.....until there is a problem.....and if the problem doesn't cause "accidents or deaths" to them it is not a "problem" worth dealing with....You can keep a Honda on the road a long time but what good is it if there are issues Honda won't except responsibility for WHEN THEY HAVE KNOWN THIS HAS BEEN An ISSUE.......Honda....step up and make it right! The consumer has put a trust in you and you keep letting us passenger seat, empty 99% of the time lights the dashboard with a red light.....the back light no longer works.....overall the car keeps running but what good is a running car with interior issues.......someone please help with any "repair recommendation"....

signed.....loosing faith in Honda

- Kathleen W., Cincinnati, OH, US

problem #78

Mar 212012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,200 miles

All over web you'll find numerous complaints about the radio/hvac display motherboard that has a resistor burnout causing digital screen to go blank. Honda Service bulletin 04-027. Honda extened warranty to 7yr 100K for some people. Deals are inconsistent from $1200 new or $300 to $700 repair/rebuild.

- timflan6, Upton, MA, US

problem #77

Mar 062012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles


Back lighting went out on my 2003 honda accord. No visibility of the HVAC or Radio Controls. Honda told me it would be $320.00 to fix it. If you want you can order the PC board and replace or follow this tutorial and fix it for free. Not sure how long it will last but it seems to be working good so far. Here is a video of what you need to do. 1st step is to get the old radio out. Next

Hope this helps.

- Mitch C., Lexington, KY, US

problem #76

Aug 012011

Accord EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

HONDA WILL NOT FIX THIS FOR ME: They KNOW their circuit board was defective, they apparently extended the WARRANTY for those "lucky" enough to have their radio backlight board cook itself into oblivion quickly...but for those like me who were so unfortunate as to have one that held out longer, the 7 YEAR LIMIT (as if this had anything to do with age) kicked in to stop them from doing squat. Why was this not a RECALL? Well, because that only applies to safety or possible loss of life. How about the safety of trying to mess with your radio to tune something in while driving down the highway in traffic with completely blind controls? OK, if not a recall, then why not EXTEND this WARRANTY indefinitely to any unit that fails for this defective board reason, period? Wouldn't THAT be better for customer relations? I mean, if it was wear-and-tear, or abuse related, then I could understand their reluctance, but THIS IS A KNOWN DESIGN DEFECT! My local Honda dealer is a good bunch, and will be taking care of the two actual RECALL items (ignition interlock and wiper motor) that I discovered while looking this up, which Honda never told me about, but they estimated this silly backlighting thing as a "several hundred dollars" issue over the phone. WTH? For what amounts to a 50-cent bit of resistors and capacitors? for "several hundred dollars" you can buy not only an LED backlighting circuit, but a 10" full color backlight with a touch-sensitive screen that connects to the world through wifi, bluetooth, GPS, CDMA, 4G, plays movies & music, and downloads games....oh wait - that's a tablet PC. They want HOW MUCH for what amounts to a fancy LIGHTBULB? Come on Honda, fix this. Or at least offer a $20 do-it-yourself kit with a link to the YouTube video showing How-To.

- mrsandman, Marion, IL, US

problem #75

May 072011

Accord ES 4 Cyc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

The back light has been out snf it is annoying. When you are in the car you can not see the radio stations. Honda said it will cost 300.00 to fix.

- Valeria S., Middlesex, NC, US

problem #74

Jul 052011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,500 miles

Honda had a recall on this defective backlight card replacement. Naturally It was 6 mos or so beyond the warranty period before my card failed @ 32K miles. W/o the card you can't read your ac or radio/cd settings.Paid for the repair out of my own pocket. This and some other quality issues has pretty much closed my door on any future Honda vehicle buys. Too bad, because they were very reliable car since my first purchase in 1987.

- mr-t, Virginia Beach, VA, US

problem #73

Jun 242011

Accord EX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,265 miles

Driving down the road with the radio turned on, when all of a sudden the radio turns off. Not only did the radio stop working, so did the entire screen for the stereo, clock, and climate controls. I was able to retrieve the 6 CDs that were in the disc changer by pressing the eject button, even though the stereo would not play them. I am not sure whether this problem that I have is the same problem as those whose stereo back light goes out??? Does the stereo still play even though the back light does not work? The fuse is good, but when I called Honda they wanted me to bring it to them to diagnose the problem for $95! They also suggested that I purchase an after-market stereo since it would be a lot cheaper than what they would charge to fix it. I would love to buy an after-market stereo so that I can play my IPOD through the car's speakers. However, I really want my climate control screen to work, and buying an after-market stereo will not fix that.

- Amy R., Georgetown, KY, US

problem #72

May 012011

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,200 miles

BOO - Honda admits to 2003 radio backlight they give a window to have it repaired. 'certain number of years....certain mileage - know there is a faulty part...why are there any restrictions on owning up to an error? We all make them...we all have to own up to them...with out restriction. If you care about doing the right thing for your customers, you would offer to repair ANY defaults that you have admitted

- Marianne C., Downingtown, PA, US

problem #71

Apr 232011

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

THIS SUCKS!!!! JUST FIX THIS ALREADY HONDA!!!! MY 05 accord has same problem@!

- Joshua S., Akron, OH, US

problem #70

Apr 052011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

Had the stereo backlight go out just recently. Car's out of warranty and Honda will not provide any assistance with a known issue. Obviously it was a known defect which is why they extended the warranty, but it should have been a recall. I love Honda, but this year and model is a dud. This is just the latest problem. The transmission is the bigger problem. I love my 06 Civic, but I'm about to be in the market for another car because I'm selling this POS and I'm not even looking at Honda this time around. Customer service in getting this one taken care of has been worthless.

- lobster501, Cabot, AR, US

problem #69

Jun 132006

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,303 miles

Factory Installed Stereo back light went out. Dealer replaced entire unit. Luckily it was still under warranty.

- Nate A., San Diego, CA, US

problem #68

Feb 012008

Accord EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

The radio back light just went dead one day. Now if it was only the radio, it would be fine, but all the center console controls (AC, Radio) that light up at night went dead too. This is the kind of thing that should not fail on a vehicle under 100k miles.

- shotokan6, Bethesda, MD, US

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