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:
3 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
109,572 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 11 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #108

Apr 022012


  • 121,000 miles


Transmission failure. While driving to work, the car shifted out of gear causing the car to violently reduce speed from 30mph to 5mph. Due to this jerk of motion, the car was forced off the road. It's important to note that I was within a mile of the I-66 highway on-ramp and could have not only been severely rear-ended and injured but a major accident could have also occurred.

- Oakton, VA, USA

problem #107

Dec 022011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 63,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 with transmission recall work completed in 2004 complete transmission failure in 2011 with 63K miles no warning when transmission failed. Potentially dangerous situation.

- El Dorado Hills, CA, USA

problem #106

Mar 072012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
Transmission suddenly downshifts without warning. I was driving on the highway at 63mph and my car suddenly downshifted to 1st gear causing me to hit the steering wheel and bleed profusely from my face. The car behind me almost hit me. Now my car has serious problems between 2nd and 3rd gear and is downshifting randomly. I am not the only one with this issue, there should be a recall for this. I could have died because of this, the worst part is that Honda knows about this problem and wont help save lives. Shame on you Honda. Many other people are having the same exact transmission problem and it seems quite widespread. Perhaps Honda will get involved once enough people die, and it will be cheaper to replace all of these faulty transmissions vs. All of the money people get from lawsuits. Or possibly Honda will value lives over profits, but im not going to hold my breath.

- Clarksburg, MD, USA

problem #105

Mar 072012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 87,561 miles


Transmission down shifts from 4th gear to 1st gear abruptly and will not re-engage 4th gear until I turn the car off and back on. This occurred today on my way home on the highway. After turning the car off and back on, it happen 2 more times before I got off the highway and went home on 1st gear locally. I came real close to being rear ended a truck due to the sudden downshift of the transmission.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #104

Oct 172011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 115,697 miles
The transmission on the Honda Accord V-6 went out at 115,000 miles. The car had been slipping out of gear and was causing problems while driving that made it very unsafe. We were afraid to drive it for fear of it not running as we accelerated.

- Fort Mill, SC, USA

problem #103

Mar 062012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 121,202 miles
While driving on I-4 cars begun to accelerate by itself and them decelerate, keep doing this for 30 second, I stopped on the side turn of the car. Again turn on keep going and it happened again., Honda Accord 3.0 V6 2003.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #102

Mar 022012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 58,500 miles


Car just would not engage in a forward gear on the highway. The engine just revved and would not move into gear. There was no warning. Very dangerous.

- Lynbrook, NY, USA

problem #101

Aug 012010


  • 93,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the vehicle hesitated when driving at any speed and would exhibit a grinding noise. The failure recurred intermittently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and a diagnostic was performed, but the dealer was unable to generate a failure code. The dealer also test drove the vehicle but the failure could not be to duplicated. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 93,000 and the current mileage 108,000.

- Maumee , OH, USA

problem #100

Feb 182012


  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 55 mph, the vehicle began to decelerate and jerk abnormally. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for diagnostic testing. The mechanic advised that the transmission would have to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 125,000.

- Preston, MD, USA

problem #99

Jan 122012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 109,819 miles
I was driving approximately 30mph on a long straight road when for no reason the car started downshifting on it's own. The vehicle lurched. I came to a stop and while I was braking, the car suddenly stopped on it's own as if I slammed on the brakes. I stopped at a light, and then turned onto a side road. I was driving approximately 20mph when the car started downshifting on it's own again. I pulled over to the side of the road and once again, the car stopped suddenly as if I slammed on the brakes. After a few days at a personal mechanic, it was decided that the vehicle should be taken to a Honda dealership. Personal mechanic stated he at one point took my vehicle out on a side road where the vehicle suddenly went into a neutral speed and lost power. While on the freeway driving around 50mph to the dealership, car downshifted on it's own causing me to almost get rear ended. I pulled off freeway and came to a stop on the side of the road. Once again, the car came to a quick sudden stop as if I slammed on the brakes. Once at the Honda dealership, test were ran and it was decided the vehicle had transmission failure and the transmission needed to be replaced. They quoted me $4500 for repairs. Ended up calling Honda customer service, they were willing to only cover $1100. I ended up with a total bill of $3406.26.

- Union City, CA, USA

problem #98

Aug 252010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 164,000 miles


I was driving at 65mph on the freeway when the transmission failed and the car shifted into a lower gear causing immediate deceleration of the vehicle. Since the initial incident back in August 2010, the vehicle has only be driven 8 miles and each time someone dares to "test it out" it only takes a few miles before the vehicle is lurching and the driver is fearing for their life. This problem is real and if it hasn't already it will eventually result in someone(s) losing life or limb.

- Vacaville , CA, USA

problem #97

Jan 052012


  • 108,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord. First transmission began to slip at 50,000 miles. Took to dealer for evaluation and was told nothing was wrong. About a week later, driving on West side highway going from brooklyn to home in NJ. Transmission failed and finally got it into first gear. Brought to dealer and transmission replaced at 50,000 miles. It was still under warranty at this time and did not have to pay anything. At 108,000 miles again I felt the transmission start to slip. Again, brought to Mahwah Honda and told that there was nothing wrong. One week later, driving on major highway in NJ (route 17 South) the transmission failed. Luckily, at cars going 60 mph around me I was able to coast into a parking lot and not get rear ended or in an accident. Car was flat bed trucked to dealer. When we discussed the issues we knew that Honda 2003 Accord/transmissions were having, they ignored the comments. This was now the third transmission for the car, the original, the replacement at 50,000 miles and the event that just occurred. They did not want to hear anything of it. In the end, the "deal" they gave was to pay close to $3000 for the transmission (they gave a 20% discount, how kind). The service was awful. As a life long Honda customer with at least 25 years of Honda cars, I will never go back. What a shame that Honda will not live up to their prior great reputation and back up the cars and obvious defect that could have killed me driving. Shame on Honda.

- Washington Township, NJ, USA

problem #96

Feb 072012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 73,000 miles
Transmission began shifting with a "clunk, " then began shifting erratically. Reverse would not work at all. Transmission replaced 2-15-2012 by omega Honda of fremont, ca.

- Union City, CA, USA

problem #95

Feb 062012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 102,578 miles
Immature transmission failure!

- Galena, OH, USA

problem #94

Feb 132012


  • 164,000 miles
Transmission is slipping between 1st and 2nd gears and after car is warm transmission hesitates from dead start. I have looked online only to find out that there are hundreds of complaints and this is definitely a safety concern, the NHTSA is failing it seems in their responsibility to address this recurring malfunction, I only hope that the death as a result of this situation that finally causes a recall is not one of my family members.

- Monticello, GA, USA

problem #93

Dec 012011


  • 150,000 miles
Transmission problems.

- Land O Lakes, FL, USA

problem #92

Jan 152012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 170,000 miles
The car would not accelerate beyond 10 mph but occasionally jerking forward as the car struggled to shift gears. I was on a road with a speed limit of 35 mph, and fortunately I was able to move the car into a nearby parking lot where the car completely stalled. I shut off the engine after briefly smelling a burning smell. I was able to start the car again and take side roads to get home. We took the car in for servicing and were told it was an issue with the speed sensor. $259 and two days later we were driving along a local highway with a speed limit of 40 mph when the car again jerked through gears and barely moving. Snow was falling, and visibility was limited. With hazard lights on, several cars came within feet of rear-ending us as the roads were slick and we were not able to fully get into the median. Again, a burning smell prompted us to shut off the engine. About 20 minutes later we were able to start the car and drive it down the median at about 5 mph as the engine continued to jerk through gears.

- Libertyville, IL, USA

problem #91

Dec 282011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 52,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord had a transmission failure at 52,000 miles. Car also diagnosed with power steering rack failure. Car has been serviced exclusively at the dealership where it was purchased. All maintenance done at recommended intervals. Service department has been given carte blanche to repair/replace any part over the last 8 years. This should not happen. Very disappointing.

- Cooper City, FL, USA

problem #90

Dec 292011


  • 158,064 miles
While driving at highway speeds, my 2003 Honda Accord slammed into a lower gear causing the car to almost come to a stop instantly. The car behind me had to slam on the breaks and swerve onto the shoulder to avoid hitting me. The car will no longer shift into reverse or any gear higher than 2nd.

- Woodbury, MN, USA

problem #89

Oct 272010

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
In early October of 2010 our 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 was driving at about 40 mph, suddenly, it downshifted in the middle of traffic, almost coming to a complete stop, and the car was almost rear-ended. When looked at bythe local Honda dealership the tech said the transmission was fine. A few weeks later the car did it again only at higher speed this time. The car has been parked for over a year because we are afraid to drive it, and we do not know whether to invest the money to fix it, or if it is defect from the factory. I found the information for this website on the following thread:

- Vancouver, WA, USA

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