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 12 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #88

Dec 272011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 160,223 miles


The car wont shift out of first gear. Mechanic says torque converter is broken. This seems to be a problem with this car.

- Mansfield, MA, USA

problem #87

Dec 272011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 114,000 miles
The transmission has been slipping on and off for 2 weeks until last night, when it failed completely. I noticed it shift into a lower gear when I let my foot off the gas, and then it would not engage any gears. I had it towed to a nearby transmission shop who confirmed that the transmission had failed and would need to be replaced. Failure happened at 8 years and 114,000 miles.

- Zionsville, IN, USA

problem #86

Dec 052006

Accord 6-cyl

  • 700,000 miles
When driving the car it would rev up but not go anywhere. Honda dealer said it needed a whole new transmission.

- Orting, WA, USA

problem #85

Nov 202011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 124,000 miles


Transmission issue between 2nd and 3rd gear. Burnt atf 1 week after replacement. Serviced at 40K, 65K and 92K miles.

- Severn, MD, USA

problem #84

Dec 222011


  • 120,176 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact was driving 50 mph and heard an abnormal noise from the transmission. The vehicle was towed to the dealer who advised to the contact that they were unable to diagnose a failure within the transmission. The transmission was flushed and an oil change was performed. The failure persisted after the repairs, accompanied by an abnormal jerking motion. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer who determined that the transmission needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure who offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 120,176.

- Sweeny, TX, USA

problem #83

Nov 152011

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,420 miles
I have a 2003 Accord 4 door ex with a V6 and automatic. I was driving along on the freeway at freeway speeds when suddenly the transmission seemed to have slipped out of gear and then re-engaged back into gear violently. Thankfully, traffic was light and I was able to limp off the freeway and onto a parking lot safely. After I came to a stop at the parking lot, I noticed the engine symbol along with the tcs and ABS lights were illuminated. After the stop I had put the gear selector into neutral and found I had no forward or reverse in any selector positions afterward. Prior to the incident, the car was operating fine with no pre- indication of transmission problem. After a few minutes, I was able to get the car back into gear and proceeded slowly along city streets returning home. The transmission would shift erratically in and out of gear and then finally I was stuck in first gear with no up shifts. Dtc P0747 was stored. I replaced 9 quarts of atf-dw-1) and a filter (FK399) by myself. Honda shop service manual gave procedure for an oil strainer (Honda 25420-P7W-003), which is not accessible. A small filter element that can be replaced without disassembly of the transmission for access listed in the Honda illustrated parts breakdown as ( 25450-ray-003) and is available through Honda or an auto parts store such as O'reilly (FK399). I believe that the clean atf helped free up a sticking clutch pressure solenoid valve when the vehicle reached operating temperature and the PCM activates the solenoid.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #82

Oct 122011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 137,241 miles


Transmission failed going over bay bridge into san francisco. No warning and no way to engage any gear. Near death experience for entire family.

- Livermore, CA, USA

problem #81

Dec 192011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
I was driving through a construction zone when suddenly the gears downshift on me. I tried to accelerate a little but it increases the RPM in the current gear but does not shift. I try again and it shifts up. A few seconds later it repeats - the car downshifts suddenly with a jerking motion and I have difficulty accelerating. I am about to have a baby but now that this happened I would not trust this car with the life of my precious little one. I cannot believe that a complete recall has not been made yet! a recall needs to be made for the safety of our family and for those on the road. I trusted Honda but now I cannot. The government needs to step in and take action as this is a serious issue for many americans.

- Grove City, OH, USA

problem #80

Dec 132011


  • 90,490 miles
My 2003 Accord ex V6 completely failed this week at 90,490 miles. I was driving on the freeway at 65mph and the transmission went out with no prior indication of any problem and no warning lights. I was lucky and was able to safely coast off the freeway to a parking lot. There was a Honda transmission oil jet kit recall for this vehicle. I had that taken care of on 10/18/04 at 15,555 miles. I had my transmission fluid changed again at 30,570 miles on 2/20/06. Had transmission replaced at Honda dealer on 12/17/11 after this incident. They wanted $4,000 but they gave me $1,400 off as a "good will" gesture, so I paid $2,600. The dealer said there has been no history of transmission problems with my vehicle. After doing some research, sounds like Honda had major transmission issues that year. I have seen numerous complaints posted online.

- Aliso Viejo, CA, USA

problem #79

Dec 162011


  • 102,000 miles
I was driving to work today and my car suddenly downshifted into 1st gear when I was running about 45 miles per hour. It began jerking and after pulling over it would not go into reverse. If I was on the freeway this could have caused a serious accident. This is a major complaint with 2003 Honda Accord owners. Something needs to be done.

- Mcleansville, NC, USA

problem #78

Dec 162011


  • 102,000 miles


I was driving to work today and my car began to downshift into 1st gear when I was running about 45 miles per hour. It began jerking and after pulling over it would not go into reverse. If I had been on the freeway, this could have caused a serious accident. This is a major complaint with 2003 Honda Accord owners. Something needs to be done.

- Mcleansville, NC, USA

problem #77

Dec 092011


  • 95,000 miles
While driving at a constant speed, the engine suddenly started accelerating and then decelerating in quick succession causing the car to jerk back and forth uncontrollably. As I attempted to come to a stop on the side of the road, the car continued to accelerate/decelerate. Honda dealership diagnosis is transmission failure. Cost of repair is $3800. The car was just at the dealership in October for service and there were no issues then.

- Cave Creek, AZ, USA

problem #76

Nov 142011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 76,095 miles
Since July 2011, my 2003 Honda Accord LX V6 experienced sluggish in the transmission. Sometime, suddenly, my car felt like someone slammed on the brakes causing me to jerking forward. It happened a few more times, then in September 2011, I brought the car in the dealer for the transmission service. I told the dealer service advisor about the symptom, after the dealer flushed the transmission fluid, then told me that the car sometime sluggish, replaced the fluid will fixed this.the problem got worse, more noise, jerking when the car automatically shifting, in November, the traction control system engaged, and the engine check light were illuminated.the car was slow to move. Brought the car to the dealer again on 11/14/2011, the dealer told me that the car "needs linear shift solenoid and brake light switch, parts had to be ordered, and the car can be drive !!! I drove the car home, it was so bad that I had to let the car sit waiting for parts. On 11/29/2011, the dealer replaced the linear shift solenoid and the brake light switch, then told me that the problem was fixed. Got the car home, the next day, I only drove about 5 miles, the noise and all the symptoms came back. I had to brought the car back to the dealer again. This time, they consulted with the Honda company technical service. After several days, the dealer told me that Honda technical service determine that the power train (transmission) is causing the problem; I need a transmission replacement, and it cost $3900. Called Honda customer service to register a complain about Honda service. This definitely need a recall.

- Port Ewen, NY, USA

problem #75

Oct 132011


  • 63,000 miles
Same problem as everyone else vibration at speeds above 50 miles an hour. Car roughly changes gears at weird times has almost caused a few accidents. I bought car this year from Honda dealer when we noticed it we took it back dealer couldn't feel anything. The longer I wait the worse it's getting I'm scared I'm gonna get hit.

- Dayton, NV, USA

problem #74

Nov 152010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
I purchased a 2003 Honda Accord new along with an extended warranty of 72 months 75,000 miles. In 2004 with 19,000 miles my vehicle was subject to a recall for the transmission. The "required" fix was made and I was told this should solve any problems. Two weeks ago with 75,300 miles, my transmission went. The dealer charged $3600 (not including port charges) to have this repair made. I was told that "third" gear failed. The repair originally made was for "second" gear. Since this was out of warranty and not part of the recall, I was responsible for complete payment. After contacting Honda of America, I was told they would pick up half the cost. It appears I am not alone in this situation. This is a very dangerous situation. When the transmission failed (with no prior notice), I was driving in light traffic, and was able to get out of the way of other vehicles. Had this failed earlier in the day, I would have been in a serious accident.

- Andover, MA, USA

problem #73

Aug 012011


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the vehicle would independently shift out of gears while driving at any speed followed by an abnormal increase in rpms. In April 2005, the dealer replaced the jet fuel kit to correct the failure but had since recurred. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure however, did not offer any assistance. The current and the failure mileages were 90,000.

- St Paul, MN, USA

problem #72

Nov 272011


  • 261,420 miles
After exiting the interstate after a 3-hour drive the car violently down shifted to the point the car behind me almost rear ended me. It then had trouble shifting into second and third gear and finally locking into second gear. I was able to get to where I was going through busy city streets. It was nerve wracking. If this happens on the interstate... engine light came on and the green light on the D indicator of the shifter started to blink on and off. I understand this is an engineering flaw in the transmission cooling design.

- Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #71

Nov 242011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 151,000 miles
Pulling out of my driveway, heard a loud "thunk" and then sounds like I am dragging something. Not able to engage the transmission in any drive gears, reverse or park.

- Hopknton, MA, USA

problem #70

Nov 222011


  • 99,000 miles
This started as a slight slip on the 2-3 shift in my car. I have now lost 3rd gear. My car has observed all recalls on the transmission to date, and I know I am not the only one with this issue.

- Lebanon, NJ, USA

problem #69

Nov 162011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 76,000 miles
My transmission failed while driving on my way to work the morning of Nov. 16th with no warning whatsoever. Luckily I was not in an accident due to the fact I was unable to control the car because the RPM's were all over the place and the vehicle would only rev but not go any further. Therefore I immediately had to pull over in fear of causing an accident. I have researched the past few days how many other 2003 Honda Accord owners have had the same problem with their transmissions and there should really be a recall done by Honda. The transmission should not be going out at 76,000 miles. My car is currently being repaired at an independent transmission shop with an estimated cost of around $3400. I hope to recover some of that cost from Honda but further action needs to happen to ensure more people with similar year vehicles do not have to experience this as well.

- San Marcos, CA, USA

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