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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
100,528 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 body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #24

Dec 012011


  • 50,000 miles


Trunk lid won't stay up. When trunk lid up, it comes crashing down on my head. It has done this for several years, and has gotten worse. It has put several gashes in my head. Honda says the bar connecting to the hinges own made anymore. There must be a way to fix this before I get a concussion.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #23

Apr 012010


  • 54,000 miles
I've noticed over the last couple of years that the paint has faded. It seems like the clear coat has been removed. There's severe damage to the hood, roof, front fender, and the trunk. Possibly because the manufacture used poor quality paint.

- Lomita, CA, USA

problem #22

Feb 012015


  • 800,000 miles
Several years ago, the clear coating on the top, back area of roof started peeling off and this year it became bigger about the size of 6 " X 18 " area. Despite to my complaints to Honda service dept., the auto body shop said it requires whole top rework is the only option that I have to pay for. Last June, I reported to complain Honda service dept manager, I was told to buy the paint pens for $15. Even though I bought it, I have not apply it yet because the problem requires professional work to be done. I requested that Honda is to be responsible to cover the work expenses, not me. After the service manager took the pictures of it, he claimed he will send paperwork to home office for review. I requested several times for a copy of paperwork to prove his claim he had processed the paperwork with photos. He never give to me. Only he claimed he has not heard form corporate office. Our last contact is last August. I researched recall and learned that civics are the only one being recalled for bad painting job. I request for an investigation that Honda should recall for Accord 2003 painting job, not just the civics! I can provide the photo when you contact me because I could not upload it to the desktop from my cellphone,

- Auburn, NY, USA

problem #21

Aug 012011


  • 140,000 miles


The paint or clear coating is peeling from roof, hood and trunk area of the car. Looks like crap. It keeps getting worse and worse

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #20

Feb 052014


  • 130,000 miles
There is excessive rusting on the: Wheel wells and in spots throughout the painted surfaces of the car. The rust on the painted surfaces do not seem to originate from any damage to the paints integrity (they start as bubbles that then break, showing bare metal past the primer). I have noticed these since the car's first year of ownership (2003) and new spots appear continuously. Here is a representative picture I found on the web:

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #19

Apr 152013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
The paint on this car has drastically began to peel and show chalky white. I thought to speak to the dealership about possible coverage in repainting but sat on the task. However, in the past few months I've been noticing this issue with the paint to be occurring on other Accord that appear to share not only make and model but year and color. This is not supposed to be occurring on our cars and this utter humiliation deserves repair.

- Trabuco Canyon, CA, USA

problem #18

Dec 162013

Accord 4-cyl

  • 23,686 miles


Driver's car (left front) keyhole won't accept my key, electronically. I went to different auto services and have the same comments that most of the complaints were the same. I checked the internet,, many owners of the same make, model & year have the same issues and problems, even the Honda chat room help site. I thought this is an isolated problem, but it's not, if there is some ways that your company could do something about this matter/issue concerning the manufacturer's (Honda) defect issue, please let us know, we don't want to shoulder to expenses on their behalf. Thank you very much for your concern and looking forward to hearing from you the soonest and for the immediate response to repair the problem for the inconvenience that we are experiencing for a long time. I have tried cleaning the inside of the keyhole by air pressured and wd 40, nothing happened. I can insert the key halfway only and then it will stopped. All other keyholes are functioning well, except the driver's keyhole.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #17

Jun 012009

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles
Black paint began fading in spots on hood and fenders. Paint is now almost completely gone.

- Old Hickory, TN, USA

problem #16

Sep 012014


  • 152,000 miles
Called american Honda today on a different matter. My concern was if the air bags in my car were manufactured by the company that is presently in the news. The case manager, [xxx], assured me that the air bags in my Accord were not subject to recall. However he was unable to advise the manufacturer of the air bag. Furthermore he did advise that media reports and information from nhtsb were not totally accurate and erroneous. I did ask him to send me a written correspondence that my air bags were not subject to recall and would not explode by accident. He declined to do so.I guess Honda does not want to place itself in a product liability issue with me. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- West Sayville, NY, USA

problem #15

Oct 312011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 116,483 miles
My Honda Accord 2003 has the clear coat of the paint coming off. The locations right now are the hood and the roof of the car. The car has been kept out of the sun under a carport. I've read where several people have had the same exact problem with the defective clear coat. I believe that Honda should repaint my car for free.

- Tyler, TX, USA

problem #14

Aug 012013


  • 150,000 miles


The paint began peeling under trunk lid and has now started on roof, hood, and around rear and front glass. Paint is peeling all the way to the metal in large sheets up to a dollar size at a time.

- Centerville, UT, USA

problem #13

Jun 012010

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
Clear coat is peeling off entire car.

- Jackson, NJ, USA

problem #12

Jun 012012

Accord 4-cyl

  • 132,000 miles
Over time, the clearcoat on the hood, spoiler, trunk lid & hood has delaminated.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #11

May 152013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
I have just noticed the paint on my car is fading down to the body, this will cause rust and eventually a dangerous situation. I went online to find a solution, I've noticed there is a class action lawsuit possibly in the works (where we all know only the lawyers will have any benefits) yet the consumer, who were sold an inferior faulty product will have to settle for being ripped of by an "untouchable" corporation.

- Airmont, NY, USA

problem #10

Dec 212012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 163,000 miles
Other driver was driving reckless!!!!! ran a red light at 60 miles an hour 20 miles over speed limit, side impact, air bags did not work!!!!!!! major brain injury as a result!!!!!

- Burlingame, CA, USA

problem #9

Jun 222012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 92,000 miles
My current complaint is deteriation of the paint on the roof and trunk deck of my nighthawk black Accord. I have taken my concern to the service manager, american Honda and the regional Honda sales manager. In each instance I am told my vehicle is due to the age and mileage of my vehicle. This issue is caused by environmental exposure. The paint warranty is only for 3 year/36 miles. This is a known issue with Accord, civics, etc. Honda does not want to stand behind defective paint.

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #8

Jan 152010


  • 125,000 miles
Clear coat began separating from the paint and has only gotten worse. Now vehicle is in unsaleable condition.

- Port Orange , FL, USA

problem #7

Feb 012008

Accord 6-cyl

  • 62,000 miles
I own a black Honda Accord purchased new in 2003 from robertson Honda North hollywood. After about five years of ownership I noticed the edges of the roof starting to fade, at first I though it was just a little wax left on, but after I couldn't remove it I knew there was a problem starting. Every time I would go in for service I would mention it to the service writer but they would just brush it off. I still wash my Honda once a week sometimes more and wax it every three months but its starting to look pretty bad. I am afraid its going to get in the metal and rust. Please help me and all the other Honda owners I see every day on the way to work [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Toluca Lake, CA, USA

problem #6

Jul 132011


  • miles
Since the purchase Iżve experienced continual transmission problems. Upon speaking with the dealership I was assured all was fine. You can imagine my surprise when I received notice of the transmission recall (NHTSA 04V176000). Upon repair, in September 2004, I did not notice repair improvement, and continued to detect the rough grind of transmission shift and a whining sound. In 2009 I experienced a catastrophic transmission failure to which I had sought repair. In December 2010 I experienced another transmission failure. I have just now experienced my 3rd transmission failure, July 2011. My power steering pump had always had a faint whine, but Honda services never identified it as concerning. The problem progressively became worse until Honda finally suggested a repair, but informed me that the component was then out of warranty and would be a costly repair. I decided to delay repair until June 2011. Ac problems manifested in September 2005 and required replacement in April 2008. My center council clock and temperature display has been flickering, dimmed, and absent since 2009. The interlock stuck issue first materialized in 2008 and serviced in July 2010. My airbag warning light has been active since 2008 with an occasional but repetitive tcs alert; and my headlamp glass has been hazed since 2005. The paint deterioration is ridiculously embarrassing, the leather seating began showing wear 2 years in, my seatbelt doesnżT return to the original released position, head liner has water leak stains, cd player stopped working, exposed wiring is visible at the driver door hinge, Iżve gone through 3 batteries, countless tires, one cracked windshield, and I have always suffer from poor radio reception and occasional navigational signal roaming issues. In these times of thrift conscious fuel consumption, I utilize my nav tools to monitor my driving activity. IżM stunned to report I get a fuel economy of 24 mpg highway, not the 31 mpg as sticker reports.

- Menifee, CA, USA

problem #5

Jan 262010


  • 24,000 miles
Both front doors on my 2003 Honda Accord 4 door will not stay open when opened. When either door is opened to the fully opened position, then released, the door will usually swing shut on its own. I feel that this is a safety issue because it could cause an injury during an unexpected closing. This problem can be corrected by the replacement of a part in each door. Honda will not fix the problem unless payment is made for parts and labor.

- Mesa, AZ, USA

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