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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
39,526 miles
Total Complaints:
47 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (11 reports)
  2. replaced all rotors and brake pads (7 reports)
  3. replace Honda with any other car! (6 reports)
  4. replace front brakes (5 reports)
  5. dealer resurfaced the rotors (4 reports)
  6. replace brake pads with aftermarket replacements (4 reports)
2003 Honda Accord brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #27

May 182008

Accord EX 2.4L 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles


Same problem as other posts... grinding noise that became significantly worse over several months. Grinding that you could "feel" when you pushed brake pedal, especially when brakes were cold. Brakes also started grabbing during last few feet of normal stop. Replaced with Ceramic pads from AutoZone. Replaced them myself for about $80 for all 4 wheels. Problem solved. No noise, better braking.

- , Melbourne, FL, US

problem #26

May 142005

(reported on)

Accord EX V6 V6

  • 12,000 miles

Brakes are junk just like the manufacturer

- , Collingwood, Ontario, Canada

problem #25

Nov 262007

Accord V6 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Car had only 13K on it when significant nose developed with the brakes.Took it to a repairman and I personally viewed the brakes which all looked rusted and frozenup It was clear that only two of the brakes were actually working. The mechanic said it looked like a car with 60K or more miles. I did nothing because the car was out of warranty and I assumed it was from the lack of use.

- , Canton, MA, USA

problem #24

Nov 132007

Accord LX 2.4L Dohc (Mfi)

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles


I am working towards resolution of a braking problem that has now gone on for 30,000 miles with no answers yet. I have owned 3 Honda's and I have never had the difficulty with which I have experienced with this model. I have wondered if we all have had such a hard time because this was a first edition "new model" for this style.

My brakes will grind from time to time, and then stop and later start the process again. The car also makes a strange popping or clicking noise that seems to come from the same area as the grinding does. This ALWAYS comes from the front right side of the car. Both noises happen at intermittent times, and truly are difficult to isolate, but the dealership now ALWAYS CLAIMS THAT IT CAN NOT BE REPRODUCED AT ALL OR AT ANY TIME. This seems to be the way that all complaints for this model (there is more, including 3 radio/CD player changes) is handled.

The dealership also pretends that this is the first time that they have ever heard anything to do with braking issues on this model, and I strongly believe this to be untrue. All you have to do is any internet search to find many situations similar to this.

I have also tried using service bulletins in the past to get work done with moderate success as mentioned in earlier threads, but new news on this front, customers no longer have access to these without paying a fee!

Can anyone report "successful" repair on this problem that actually worked and lasted over a period of time? The threads show some repairs attempted, but many state that the work did not last, and that it needed the same services again, and again.

Also I wondered if anyone else has noted through the years that Accords seem to always have problems on the right side, for example: alignment issues, tire wear, or that the placement of the motor seems to place more stress on that side? Two of my three Honda's all had some of these issues show up many times during ownership and the 210,000 miles service that both so greatly provided our family. But I guess those were the HONDA days of the past and not the future!

- , Warner Robins, GA, USA

problem #23

Jun 062007

(reported on)

Accord LX V4

  • Manual transmission
  • 9,123 miles

Yep, me too. First time at the young ripe age of 9,123. I had them machine the front rotors. AT 16,941 miles I had the front rotors replaced. At 22,152 they machined the rotors and replaced the pads.(The dealership repair manager got all of these repairs done for free, and I didn't even buy my car from that dealership) At 48,475 I complained about the vibrations again and the moron that checked out my car couldn't feel it. I have been riding with the vibrations ever since. I'm waiting for them to wear down so I won't feel like I'm wasting my money on new brakes over an annoyance. I don't feel that my brakes are a safety issue or I would've replaced them again already. Also, they squeal when they're cold.

With all of that said, I LOVE my car. I obviously don't love the brakes, but this is the best car I've ever owned. I had an actual lemon (Hyundai Accent, go figure) just before I bought the Accord. That car was a lemon- I had the engine replaced 3 times, and then it failed me for the last time. No, I am not happy about the brakes on the Accord, but it could be much worse. I am more disappointed in Honda for pretending like there is no problem. I talked to an mechanic at my local Honda shop the other day who said it was normal to have to machine rotors twice a year. I guess he thought I was an idiot. I tried to claim lemon on this car in the beginning but Honda assured me it was my maniacal driving that was causing this problem. Honda, get a grip, there's a problem, FIX IT!!!

- , Oviedo, FL, US

problem #22

Jul 062007

(reported on)

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Well, I thought it was a tire problem, I thought it was the place I bought the tires, but after reading all this... I guess it is the damn brakes... I had the front pads replaced because they made a grinding noise, they said there was no problem with the rotors, but took it to another place because car would not stop shaking, and they turned the rotors, & now they are messed up again about 12000 miles later... I just replaced the rear pads, now have to replace the front rotors, I am VERY irritated with this problem!! Besides that I have had no other issues besides interior bulbs burning out early... screw these brakes!!!!!

- , Waterloo, IL, US

problem #21

Jul 252007

(reported on)

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,127 miles


Rear brakes dragging 34,000 km, dealer said the pads seizing because I did not bring it in for service to be lubricated. Pads and rotors are worn out, so I replaced both with after market not trusting the honda rotors and pads, the same thing happened again (8000 km later) I suspect there is a defect in the caliper. Honda refused to cover the initial problem, honda canada refused to talk about it as though it was my fault. Our previous car was a 92 Honda Accord the brakes were untouched and unserviced until 200,002 km yes you read it right 160,000 miles, this was the best car I've ever owned. The main problem isn't that the car had a defect it is that Honda refuses to stand behind there product. I know legally they don't have to but this is going to bite them in the *. Where is the quality now honda? I've been raving about honda cars up for over 10 years, can quality change? You bet it can be careful read lemon aid buyers guide they tell the truth about every vehicle. If any of you have a gripe please post it here, eventually honda will have to take action.

- , Prince George, BC, Canada

problem #20

Mar 302007

(reported on)

Accord DX 2.4L L4

  • Manual transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Had brake vibration at 12,000 miles. Rotors were turned by the dealer under warranty and the pads replaced. Same problem again at 24,000 miles, same solution. Then again at 36,000 miles. Due to bad service by the dealer the third time (not related to complaint) I went to Pep Boys to have the brakes fixed. They turned the rotors once again and replaced the pads with after market pads. The car has nearly 75,000 miles now and this problem never appeared again. The OEM pads are junk.

- , Juana Diaz, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #19

Aug 202004

(reported on)

Accord LX

  • 81,000 miles

The brakes would pulsate like a dog humping a tree, honda replaced the brakes twice and now I'm still having the same problem. The rotors were changed but still the same problems.... DON'T BUY A 2003 ACCORD

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #18

Dec 192003

(reported on)

Accord LX

  • 26,000 miles

my brakes plusate all the time and they squeak,

i also complained to honda that my brakes squeak

but they for some reason couldn't here the noise i

hear everyday 24/7

- , Newhall, CA, Pacific Islands (US)

problem #17

Mar 142007

(reported on)

Accord EX 3.2

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles


I bought a brand new 2003 Jim Skinner Honda in Dothan turned my rotors at 15,000 miles and I had them turned again at 36,000 miles and now at 67,000 miles i need to have my rotors replaced. I am really really upset that i allowed Honda to turn my rotors at 15,000 miles they should have replaced the rotors considering you can only have them turned twice and that was way to soon to need that kind of brake work. I am 40 and my first car was a Honda and that is all i have ever driven. This was my first brand new one and I have had more problems with it than any of the other ones

- , Headland, AL, USA

problem #16

Oct 112006

(reported on)

Accord EX

  • 40,000 miles

Same problem as everyone else... Except that my lovely dealership managed to screw me out of $500. Never again will I buy a Honda. My 4th and LAST honda.

- , Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #15

Jun 262006

(reported on)


  • 25,000 miles

Pulsating brakes began at 12,000. Dealer turned rotors at 25,000. ($100) Problem reappeared at 30K. I replaced rotors ($50). Problem reappeared at 35K. I am now replacing rotors and pads. ($160). I can't seem to find anyone who has successfully fixed the problem. Something is causing the rotors to warp. If it's not brake pads it must be a sticking caliper.

- , Sharpsburg, GA, Uruguay

problem #14

Oct 222006

(reported on)

Accord EX 4cylinder

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

I have always wanted a Honda Accord and i was so happy when I finally had the money to buy one. I bought a brand new Honda Accord Ex. Within a month I started having problems with the brakes. They would pulsate and grabbed so badly that there were times when I was sure the car wasn't going to stop. But I was told that there was no problem with them and thats just the way they are. I went to another dealership and was told that the car was unsafe to drive. They put all new brakes and everything on the car. I was told that this was the end of it, I would never have this happen again. Well, all went fine for a few weeks and then it all started happening again. The noises came back and the brakes started acting up again. They say its because of the brake dust that builds up and some lube problem. Anyway, its just getting worse again. The dealership says they've never seen a car with this problem. Why is that? I mean, I'm reading about other people with the same problem. I have even complained about it to the Honda Company. I just want to know what to do. I have had a few other problems, but they have been able to be fixed. So far. But this really upsets me. I love my car and it makes me mad that nothing can be done. I traded in a great car for a car that i thought would be even better. Not to mention safer. I regret it. I don't think I will ever by another Honda. They have really disappointed me. I want to buy another car, because i think this is the only way to get rid of the problem. But I'm afraid that this might happen to me again with another car. No matter who it's made by. I spent so much on what was my dream car and I just don't want to throw away more money.

- , Springfiled, IL, USA

problem #13

Jan 152007

(reported on)

Accord EX V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I purchased my 2003 Honda Accord EX from a friend with ~18K miles. I've had a multitude of problems with the brakes.

The problem began with an inordinate amount of hyperactivity in the brake pedal. The application of only marginal pressure on the brake peddle would result in an immense amount of stopping power. It was clearly disproportionate. I took the vehicle to the dealership (Gary Smith Honda, Fort Walton Beach, FL.), and they initially gave me the cursory "f*ck off" response; purporting that they couldn't replicate the problem.

I have also taken the vehicle to the aforementioned dealership on four other occasions for problems related to the braking system (usually the front right assembly). The dealership did everything from changing the pads, resurfacing the rotors, replacing the rotors, and, eventually, changing the master brake cylinder. The replacement of the master brake cylinder remedied the problem with hyperactivity in the brake pedal.

The problem with pulsating (more appropriately, grinding) in the right front brake has since resurfaced. The vehicle now has 45K miles on it.

Overall, I'm pretty displeased with the problems in this braking system. Having owned another Honda, a 1994 Accord, I knew that the braking system seems to be the Achilles Heal of the entire research and design bureau within Honda.

- , Champaign, IL, USA

problem #12

Jan 012007

(reported on)

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles

The brakes on my accord were strange from the start. actually couldn''t get them operational without a lot of pressure occasionally. This happened only a few times at startup. turned out to be metal filings in the vacuum line for power assist. honda knew about this and fixed it. wish they had told me as i thought i was losing my mind. the brakes seemed ok after that for awhile. had sort of a grabby feel but ok.

then they started pulsing when the brakes were applied at high speed. maybe vibrating due to a warped rotor more closely describes it.

honda service first said forget it but another service manager had them turn the rotors on the car. this helped for a few thousand miles but now the problem is back.

i love my honda except for this problem and i am amazed that honda doesn't offer a solution. it's either the rotors or the pads or the accuating system... so find it and at least offer a fix. one dealer told me that if the lug nuts are incorrectly torqued it will cause the problem...come on honda.


problem #11

Sep 132006

(reported on)

Accord LX

  • 36,000 miles

Have had to replace the front rotors and pads at 36,000 km and the rear rotors and pads replaced at 48000 km, at my own cost of approx. $900.00.

I have complained to Honda about this, only to be fobbed off with a wear and tear issue.

They have offered to reimberse me with $250.00 as a good will gesture.

I believe this is a quality issue with their brakes on this model which they are not prepaired to acknowledge.

I have also written to the local press on this issue only to be told that if I am replacing the brakes at this mileage then I am doing quite well. I find this totally unnacceptable.

- , Brampton, Ontario, Canada

problem #10

Aug 132006

(reported on)

Accord LX

  • 27,600 miles

At 27,600 miles the brakes on my Honda Accord started pulsating especially when coming to a stop. Took it to the dealer for PA State Inspection and found out it wouldn't pass because the brake rotors needed to be resurfaced. This surprised me because the car had low mileage for a brake problem. Since Consumer Reports Apr. '06 gives '03 Accord brakes a black circle, this seems to be a pervasive problem. Perhaps it should be covered under a warranty.

- , Bartonsville, PA, USA

problem #9

Jun 232006

(reported on)


  • 20,000 miles

Same problem as others have listed. Dealer turned rotors but problem returned, I replaced rotors but problem returned. I am reading that turning rotors AND replacing pads is necessasary to correct. I shall give it a try.

- , Sharpsburg, GA, Uruguay

problem #8

Jun 202006

(reported on)

Accord EX

  • 45,000 miles

Rear brakes corroded and failed prematurely. Front still ok.

- , Medina, OH, USA

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