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:
5 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
17,043 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #18

Nov 032003

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,908 miles


While driving at any speed the consumer pressed the gas and brake pedals at the same time. Consumer felt that the brake pedal was not high enough and away from the gas pedal. The brakes would grind when coming to a slow stop. The dealer refinished the front disc and installed new front brake pads.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #17

Feb 192004

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50 miles
Since purchasing my brand new 2003 Honda Accord in June 2003, there has been a severe grinding and vibration coming from the brakes. I have gone back and forth to the dealer (herb chambers, burlington, MA) 4 times for the problem. First they ground the rotors (the car was only 2 months old). The problem still occured and I brought it back a week later and the "supposedly" replaced the rotors and pads but they refused to let me see the old parts when I requested them. Problem has been getting worse and we brought it back again twice in February and the dealer insists there is nothing wrong with the brakes. They only drove it 1 -2 miles each time. The problem is intermittent and the car must be driven all the time as my family does. I already had a minor accident when the brakes did not stop at all at only 5 mph. I wrote Honda applying the Massachusetts lemon law and they ignored it. I received nothing in writing of their findings. I went to an independent brake specialist who looked at the brakes and said he didn't think they were replaced - only turned. I then went to another Honda dealer who says that Honda is well aware of the brake problem (severe grinding and vibration) and are doing nothing about it. A customer service rep named mark keeps calling us but for a week, every time we call him back, we get his voice mail and he never calls us. The problem still exists. The car is a lemon and the NHTSA website shows many others experiencing the same problem. Honda won't do anything unless someone gets killed. They need to acknowledge the problem. I have complained to the BBB in Massachusetts as well as the attorney general's office. I have also placed calls to the three local media stations and my attorney.

- Medford, MA, USA

problem #16

Mar 102004


  • miles
Consumer purchased vehicle brand new, and when he drove it brakes overheated and vehicle vibrated. Brake rotors were warped. Took vehicle to the dealer, and was told that this vehicle had a different type of brakes, and they needed to be specially ordered. It took a long time to get this particular kind of brakes. Then, mechanic drove vehicle, but was not able to find anything wrong. Consumer had his vehicle back, and the problem with the brakes became worse. Consumer maintained that Honda knew about these brakes and were not doing anything about them.

- Valley View, PA, USA

problem #15

Jan 152004


  • miles


While driving in inclement weather conditions and when depressing the brakes pedal is delayed in braking, which results in extended stopping distance.

- Leavenworth, KS, USA

problem #14

Mar 012004

Accord 4-cyl

  • 5,076 miles
The engine emitted a rotten egg smell. The driver heard a grinding noise. The vehicle also had a brake problem. The driver's seat was not stable. The vehicle has been taken to the dealer at least 9 times for multiple problems. Paint on the hood is flaking. Seat is not fixed. The door panel was fixed twice but problem still exists. Consumer confronted dealership about problem with vehicle but consumer was ignored. Consumer called american Honda to report issue with dealer.

- Fredericksburg, VA, USA

problem #13

Nov 262004

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I have had my vehicle serviced for brake issues on 3 separate occasions. Brakes were replaced, drums & rotors replaced and still have issues. I wrecked my vehicle because brakes failed to hold. Honda claims that there is nothing wrong with my brakes and that service was done for customer. Satisfaction. After the wreck, I picked up the car from the body shop, brakes remain an issue.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #12

Dec 232003

(reported on)


  • 6,000 miles


The vehicle was experiencing a problem with the brakes. First the master cylinder failed, then a grinding noise was heard from in front indicating that the rotors and pads were worn. Please provide any additional information.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #11

Dec 222003

(reported on)


  • 12,000 miles
Vehicle was taken to the dealer for maintenance. Dealer found there was 40% front brakes left and 75% rear brakes left. Brakes must be replaced within the next month.

- Edmonton, 00, USA

problem #10

Apr 242003

Accord 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20 miles
I purchased this Honda Accord 2003 in April 2003. From the very beginning I noticed a rambling noise on the engine, foul smell, vibration on the steering wheel and squeaking brakes. Also when I brake the car seems to accelerate like the idle is too fast. I reported it immediately to my Honda dealer and they told me to take it to any Honda dealer. I took it to Honda in gleandale and after inspecting it they told me there was nothing wrong with the car. However the problems continued to I kept taking the car to different Honda dealers but none could come up with a solution. When I asked them to replace the vehicle they told me that they all had the same problems and that I had to learn to live with it.! I feel totally frustrated by this situation and very unsafe driving this piece of crap.

- Glendale, CA, USA

problem #9

Oct 122003

(reported on)


  • miles
Consistent brake problems with 2003 Honda Accord. There was a vibration, grinding noise when braking and the steering wheel vibrated when the brakes were applied as well at highway speeds. The consumer was informed that the rotors were out of round and there was a hairline crack in the front rotors. The front brake discs were replaced and resurfaced.

- Mcdonough, GA, USA

problem #8

Oct 262003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,000 miles


When starting the car, then putting the car into reverse, the power brakes feel dead. There is almost no "play" in the brake pedal, causing the car to continue rolling. Brake pedal does not go down and car continues to go into reverse until I pump the brakes several times.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #7

Jul 272003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 300 miles
2003 Accord ex V6 mt. As others have reported here, and as reported elsewhere on the web and at owner forums, front brake system is defective. When braking lightly from interstate highway speeds (65-70) there is a powerful kickback into the steering wheel, especially on rough pavement. Loss of vehicle control is a serious risk. This problem has persisted from the first day I owned the car. I asked the dealership about this problem before I bought the car (based on reading complaints here, which were fewer than what I see today), and was told they had received zero complaints about front brake problems on 2003 Accord. The steering wheel vibration problem is absent on very smooth asphalt at any speed, so I wonder if it is other than a rotor issue. But in any event, having driven this car at 70 mph and hit the brakes rather modestly, I can tell you that this is not safe in my opinion. Had I known this, I would not have bought this car at any price. This vehicle travels 100 miles per day with 85 of those miles on open highway. It is the 12th vehicle I have owned and the 1st vehicle to have this hideous steering wheel shutter.

- Lexington, SC, USA

problem #6

Aug 272003

Accord 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
The brakes make the car shutter after only 7500 miles Honda of America won't fix it under warranty.

- Oceanside, CA, USA

problem #5

Jul 122003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
The consumer stated the brake pads made a noise when they were relaeased from the caliper and the vehicle vibrated.

- Glendora, CA, USA

problem #4

Jul 052003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles
Brade pedal will not depress, resulting in inability to stop car.

- Voorhees, NJ, USA

problem #3

May 302003

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles
While driving, and without warning the brakes failed, which caused extended stopping distance. Dealer notified.

- Schenectady, NY, USA

problem #2

May 192003

(reported on)


  • miles
The brake pedal was very hard when applied. The brake pedal locked up..

- El Monte, CA, USA

problem #1

May 052003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,010 miles
My daughter and I were driving along a busy street when I attempted to slow down because the traffic ahead started slowing down for a red light and my car didn't respond to my braking. I was driving behind a bus and my car kept accelerating towards the bus. I threw the car in park - stripping the gears - and the car kept going. By some large miracle, there was a gap in the traffic coming in the opposite direction, so I turned into those lanes and traveled for a few feet before I came upon a one way street - not in my favor - it's another miracle no one was coming up that street, so I turned into the one way hoping to find some way to stop the car. The twists and turns took away some of the momentum and when I had gone about 1/3 of the way down the one way street, I yanked up the emergency brake and the car finally stopped. The car was towed into the dealership on Tuesday, May 6, 2003 and they called me on Wednesday, May 7th, to say that they ran all sorts of checks and found nothing wrong with the brakes. The fact that the brakes are now working does not mean that the brakes are good. My daughter and I can testify to that fact because we were the ones who faced that near death situation and I refuse to take a chance with our lives. There is a defect in the brakes and I would hate to start seeing reports of fatalities caused by this because they simply did not do extensive enough tests to find and fix the problem. The dealer is basically saying that since they can't find a problem, I have no choice but the take the car back. I absolutely cannot drive that car the way it is because I constantly visualize the outcome had I been traveling on a highway going 50 or 60 miles an hour. As it is, we are very lucky and thankful that everything worked in our favor and we did not crash. I don't want to become a statistic at which time they will break their necks to find and fix the problem....too late.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

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