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:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
55,118 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 #22

Jan 012010

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles


Was never notified of ghost paint recall for this car. Really terrible that Honda has this problem with their paint.

- Sebastian , FL, USA

problem #21

Aug 012012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
Paint on the body of my car began peeling rapidly last summer. I do not treat my car with any special waxes, drive in extreme conditions or park my car in direct sunlight. The paint had deteriorated rapidly over the course of the past 8 months. I have noticed other Honda about the age of mine with this problem.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #20

Jun 012010


  • miles
The paint began fading and peeling. Noticed on my Honda that are the same make and model.

- Tignall, GA, USA

problem #19

Mar 152012

Accord 4-cyl

  • 900,000 miles


This car has a manufacturer's defect and the clear coat is coming off. It will need to be repainted.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #18

Apr 232011

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles
The clear coat is delaminating/peeling from the paint coat on my 2003 Honda Accord. I went to the dealer and was told by the service manager there is nothing they can do, I meet with the customer service rep. This week. I believe that this delamination and peeling must be a factory defect and should be corrected by Honda.

- Penn Yan, NY, USA

problem #17

Dec 042008

(reported on)

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
2003 Honda Accord interior door handles replaced on passenger side due to the chrome peeling off the handle frame. The consumer stated the peeling acted as a thin sharp razor, which caused 2 of his passengers to sustain finger cuts which included bleeding.

- Hatboro, PA, USA

problem #16

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 #15

Jan 032006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
The rubber gasket around my moonroof is rotting away. The car was purchased in August 2003 and I am the original owner. Due to high mileage, I am out of the original warranty. I was told by the Honda dealer in covington, Louisiana that the gasket cannot be purchased separately, thus I will have to buy an entire sunroof assembly to cure the defect. This will cost in excess of $500. The gasket has never been damaged and the rot appears to be from normal weather conditions. The problem was first noticed about 6 months ago, I.e., a little over two years after the car was purchased new.

- Mandeville, LA, USA

problem #14

Dec 282005

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles
I have a 203 Honda Accord ex. The center console light failed. Now I cannot operate the defroster controls, radio or any other air conditioning function because the screen is no longer visible.

- Pleasanton, CA, USA

problem #13

Mar 022004

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles
1. car was sold as a white Honda Accord, all bumpers are eggshell, dealer told me that is the color on all white Honda vehicals. 2. car pulls to the right at all speeds, dealer told me that is the way all new Honda are built to vere off the road rather then oncoming traffic. 3. brakes make a loud clicking noise after in reverse to drive, dealer said that was the brakes resetting.

- Clermont, FL, USA

problem #12

Apr 162004

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,000 miles


I wash the vehicle weekly and on my weekly wash I realized that the paint was peeling. I brought the car to my Honda dealership where they said they were not responsible. The car at the time was only 1 year old. Now there are various areas on the car where the paint is peeling.

- Southwest Ranches, FL, USA

problem #11

Aug 232003


  • miles
Problems with 2003 Honda Accord. (nar) while baking up the columns between the rear and side windows blocked the consumer's view.

- Chino, CA, USA

problem #10

Apr 012003

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles
Driver window makes a creaking noise while driving. If you lower the window just barely so as not to hear wind noise, it will sometimes lessen the noise. Otherwise, it is very loud and annoying.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #9

Sep 062003

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,591 miles
(1) a. window being scratched by something in panel. Both driver and passanger window. B. at about 16000 miles it was noticed that the transmission was leaking so badly I couldn't drive out of the dealership. ( I believe the car may have been leaking since purchase. New with only 36 miles.) C. trunk liner sagging. D. when making left hand turns if you have the sunvisor out it can swing and hit you in the head. E. passenger door latch not activated. Could not open door from inside. (dealer forgot to install this on window repair.) F. motor mounts not installed correctly. G. belt tensioner needed replacement. H. car pulling to the right. F. black seal around door frame warping. (2) no consequences from any of these failures. Except loss time having to leave car overnight for several days. Who know what longterm effects of a leaky transmission, belt tensioner, and improper motormounts have on the car. (3) under warranty the dealer corrected every problem. Mosts times more then one repair for the same problem was needed to correct the problem. For the tranmsission the dealer tried to stop the leaks with hondabond. The next morning I had leaks in the drive way. They had my car for a whole week on the first fix attempt. Finally Honda replaced the transmission with a new one. Nothing was done about the visor because the dealer said if they install a new one it will do the same. My windows are still being scratched by the felt lining in the window panel.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #8

Dec 152002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 1 miles
They are selling me a lemon and fool me around with excuse. The engine light have been on six time during this two year. The first three time the engine light on, I did not have duplicatin code. Sum up the six time report, I have two times code 0700 and two times code 1705. I called Honda because they authorized this dealer to sell thie car, however, they told me since the dealer do the modification on the car (add the auto starter in the car), they don't responsible on any problem that related to autostarter, even they authorized tham to sell their car. Then I talk to the assistant manager, he is very sacratic, he ask me the detail how I use the autostarter, my answer was perfect, seem to be nothing wrong. As well as he told me the last engine light on was a year ago, I told me I have not use the autostarter for a year, because I decided to leave my baby with my mother-in-law, but I use the autostarter recently. Then he blame me, perhap it could be as simple as losing the gas cap, or you use pc or cellphone in the car trigger the engine light. Then I ask him what is the list of action I cannot do in the car, he told me he has the list, but he cannot find it. I ask the service rep can I have the summary to what you did for the past six time fixing, service rep told me that summary will not reflect the detail of what happen, only the date and your name. Here is the list of problems my car has: Check engine light on 6th time, Dec 2002, code 700 customer statres cd changer is inop, April 2002 balancing 2 tires on Dec 2001, miscommuncate check engine light on 5th time, Nov 2001, malfunction A/T sensor check engine light on 4th time, Sept 2001, code 1705 repaired rear bumper assembly, Nov 2001 check engine light on 3rd time, June 2001, code 0700, 1705 auto start doesn't work check engine light on 2nd time, March 2001, code 900 check engine light on 1st time, Jan 2001, code 1456

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #7

Jun 012004

Accord 6-cyl

  • 20,000 miles
Two front end alignments were performed and the tires were rotated. A technical service bulletin indicated that this problem occurred because the crate upon which the engine sits was not positioned correctly at the factory. The dealership positioned the crate correctly, but the problem recurred. The consumer noticed when he backed up the vehicle, a click would be heard as if the gear was not positioned correctly. The vehicle was pulling to the right. The consumer also felt something like a crate or tire axle would shift to one side. The consumer was told that was the way the vehicle was designed.

- Hesperia, CA, USA

problem #6

Apr 112004

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
My 2003 Accord ex V-6 has developed a loud popping or creaking sound from beneath the driver's side floor pan every time I accelerate, decelerate, or turn into a corner. The dealer told me it was normal when I first officially complained at 7,000 miles, but as time has passed, the noise has gotten worse. The dealer has attempted to fix it 5 times, but has not yet found a solution. With some research, I discovered a Honda service bulletin (03-058) that states body welds were improperly finished during the manufacturing process, and that the structure must be re-welded. My dealer told me there was "excess flex" in the body of my car, and as a result, multiple squeaks and rattles are developing. I believe this is a severe structural fault that is putting my safety at risk in the case of a crash and will continue to cause damage to my car due to body flex for years to come. I have requested that Honda replace the car.

- Huntington, WV, USA

problem #5

Aug 092003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I purchased my Honda Accord LX V6 on August 9, 2003. After a week of driving, I noticed that the right corner near the dash board's generating a rattle noise whenever I go over an uneven road. I took it into the dealership and they said they can not figure it out. They believe it's the plastic rubbing against plastic. However, I don't think that's the case since it doesn't sound like rubbing noise and more like something is loose inside the ventilation or the airbag area "?? I also have a very annoying rattling sound coming out of the center radio area. Whenever I go over an rail tracks or really uneven roads, the rattle noise will start. I often had to push the plastic in a little bit just to make it stop for few second. It's getting to the point were it is unbearable !!! of course, when I took it into the dealership, they told me they couldn't generate that noise. Lastly, my front driver window and rear right side window is making a rattling noise. I think I see a lot of people on this site is stating something about a pillar clips ??? I wonder if that the cause of the window noises ??? anyways, I just want you to know that I am very disappointed at the quality of Honda and I especially hate when I have dealership service manager telling me if I turn my music loud enough, I will not hear the noise. You tell me, is that a good answer for you if it is your car that is having these kind of problems ??"!!! P.S. I have always owned a Honda. However, since I can no longer believe in the quality of Honda vehicles, this will be my last Honda I will ever buy in my life.

- Fountain Valley, CA, USA

problem #4

Oct 282003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 500 miles
2003 Honda Accord coupe has developed loose windshield noises (pop and clicks) when suspension is flexed or challenged by road uneveness. The car only has 1000 miles on it and the cold weather brought out the noises. I consider this a serious structural defect and someone should investigate this. The car is not welded together well at all.

- Bothell, WA, USA

problem #3

Oct 022003

(reported on)


  • miles
While driving a creaking noise was heard coming from the front left side of vehicle. Dealer could not duplicate the problem, but consumer suspected there was a problem with the structure of vehicle.

- Litchfield, NH, USA

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