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 13 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #68

Nov 202011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 95,934 miles


2003 Honda Accord V6, 95934 miles; while driving at 55mph the transmission downshifted to first and the front tires locked up, twice!; dangerous - this is very dangerous and could have killed me; currently the transmission has no reverse and the car is un-drivable; Honda needs to be held accountable due to all the complaints that have been reported with the same incident; looks as if it will cost $3500 to replace the transmission.

- Fuquay Varina , NC, USA

problem #67

Nov 012011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 113,803 miles
This complaint is for a 2003 Honda Accord sedan, V6 engine with automatic transmission. When passing a car on a two lane road, in the middle of the pass the transmission started to slip as if it had slipped into neutral and the rpms shot up to redline and I could no longer accelerate. I was fortunate to have space to back off and narrowly avoided a head-on collision. The car was undriveable requiring towing. End result was that the transmission had to be rebuilt due to failed or defective parts. This is a serious failure which could have caused injury or death and I believe warrants a safety investigation. I have since read of numerous failures just like mine. My failure was not for lack of maintenance.

- Sweet Home, OR, USA

problem #66

Sep 012011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
I bought this car in June 2003 with 2 miles on it from jim coleman Honda in clarksville, md. I have only driven the car 88,000 miles and the transmission is dead. According to chryswel dealership in germantown md, the issue was not the transmission but the clutch pressure control which is responsible for shifting gears. That is what went bad which then caused debris in the transmission causing it to fail as well. The car runs fine when it is cold but once you dive it for about 20 minutes, it will automatically downshift to the 1st or 2nd gear and drop your speed for 60 to 20 or less with a big jolt on the passengers in the car. We are very close to getting into a major accident on the highway when it happened. The dealership quoted me $5000 to fix the transmission and also informed me that they have seen many other 03 Honda's with the same situation. I was really surprised that there has not been an official case against Honda to fix the issue or provide a recall. I am very disappointed with the service and support for Honda. This is one of the 4 Honda's I own but it will def be the last Honda I ever own. I have also submitted a complaint to Honda with the issue. I would appreciate any follow up on this issue. Thank you

- Boyds, MD, USA

problem #65

May 192011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 114,000 miles


When I'm driving between 20-40 mph my engine stalls, all it does is revs the RPM high and the car doesn't go anywhere. The stall usually occurs between 20-40mph but it has also occurred while on the freeway between 50-60 mph while on an on-ramp. This began in the early months of 2011 and has continued to worsen. However, a couple of months after purchasing my vehicle in August of 2007 I took my car to the dealership concerning a similar issue and they assured me that there was no problem.

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #64

Sep 272011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 94,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord V6. The contact was driving 25 mph when the vehicle stalled with an abnormal fluctuation in engine rpms. The contact slowly drove to the dealer where the dealer inspected the vehicle and found that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 94,000 and the current mileage is 95,000. Updated 11/23/11

- Camas, WA, USA

problem #63

Oct 292011


  • 144,000 miles
Car down shifted abruptly. Pulled off to side of road. Won't go into reverse. Car goes in drive but reverse will not engage.

- Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

problem #62

Oct 122011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 127,000 miles


Transmission slipped in center right lane of four lane traffic on I-80 just South of Chicago. After it slipped, it down shifted causing the vehicle to decelerate suddenly. I was almost rear ended by a tractor trailer. The transmission was running fine until 5 days later when my wife was driving with my daughter. The transmission slipped as she accelerated onto I-265 in clark county Indiana. It then quit completely stranding her on the side of the road in heavy evening traffic moving at a high rate of speed. This is a dangerous failure and is happening too often.

- Crandall, IN, USA

problem #61

Oct 102011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 116,627 miles
At approximately 40,000 miles, transmission failed. Honda usa was called and they paid for repair. Now at 116627 miles transmission failed again.

- New Hyde Park, NY, USA

problem #60

Oct 192011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 97,000 miles
I was having problems shifting gears and it seemed my car couldn't shift into 3rd gear. It's an automatic and when it would reach 3rd gear, the engine would just rev. It would drive fine at first but as soon as the car warmed up, it progressively got worse. I had to have my battery replaced prematurely (after 3 years) last week and I mentioned the gear shifting problem to the Honda dealership. The gear shifting problem happened right around the same time my battery died so I thought it may be related. They told me the gear shifting problem would be fixed when I replaced my battery. They paid for 60% of the cost of the battery. Over the next few days it progressively got worse to where I couldn't even drive and I had to coast into a parking lot because the engine would rev and the car would jerk. It seemed to be dangerous. I then shut off the car and tried to restart it. I wasn't even able to reverse at all - like it had no reverse, just rev. I had to call a tow truck and have it towed to the dealership. I have a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 with less than 100K miles - right around 97K - and the dealership told me I needed a new transmission and motor mount. A rebuilt transmission is $4500 and a new transmission is $6400. I bought a Honda because it was suppose to be a reliable car that would last years without expensive maintenance repairs. And now it's less than 10 years old and 100K miles on it and I have a huge repair. It seems many others have had the same problems with the 2003 Honda Accord.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #59

Oct 232011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 49,500 miles
I was driving approximately 45 mph when the RPM's shot up and then immediately dropped and the transmission disengaged and I had no power to the wheels. I had to drive the car very slowly back to my house and I could not get the car up to the speed limit. I have very limited power to the wheels. Very dangerous if I was on driving on the freeway as it felt like the car also dropped into low gear by itself.

- Cypress, CA, USA

problem #58

Oct 122011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 129,000 miles


While traveling on the freeway the transmission jumped down to first gear, resulting in my car suddenly decelerating to a speed of 20 mph. I was very fortunate to not be rear ended and have since had to replace the transmission. I know this is a known issue with this model and year Honda, however I did go through the original process of the manufacturer recall. I have done research on this model and it seems it is a prevalent problem. Honda will not acknowledge the issue.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #57

Oct 022011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 174,925 miles
Transmission clunks loudly into gear, then slips when it warms up. Fluid has a burnt smell despite being flushed at regular intervals since new.

- Miranda, CA, USA

problem #56

Aug 162011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
The transmission in this vehicle is faulty.

- Kirkland, WA, USA

problem #55

Oct 032011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
While driving on the interstate I experienced a sluggish jolt. The RPM's reved up and the car was having trouble switching from 2nd-3rd gear. My mechanic and a transmission expert stated the the transmission is going out and not worth repairing based on several same year make/models he has encountered. This along with the motor mounts needing to be replaced will cost me approximately $5000 my complaint is after researching this issue on-line I have found hundreds of Honda 2003 Accord owners with the same exact issue, some of them move severe. Honda did a patch job recall the summer of 2004, but clearly the problem has not been fixed as I now have the same issue associated with the recall. Why isn't Honda taking responsibilty?

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #54

Oct 112011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 82,000 miles
Transmission began to slip between 2nd and 3rd gear. This is similar to many other complaints on this make and year vehicle. Honda should be ashamed of making such garbage and not stepping up to the plate and fix it at no cost to the consumer. I will never buy another Honda vehicle ever again. I urge others to take the same stance so Honda learns their lesson.

- Spring Valley, CA, USA

problem #53

Oct 162011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 97,000 miles
The transmission in my 2003 Honda Accord V6 violently downshifted into 1st gear while traveling at 45 mph. This appears to be a common complaint and issue with this vehicle and is a definite safety issue. I had my 18 month old son in the back seat when this happened and another vehicle narrowly missed colliding with the rear of my car. Luckily I wasn't on the highway yet or this could have been truly catastrophic. This is an issue that need to be addressed asap before some is seriously injured or worse.

- Biddeford, ME, USA

problem #52

Oct 122011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 76,000 miles
I was driving my 2003 Honda Accord ex (V6) on the freeway at 65-70mph. As I was driving, I noticed that the car rapidly began to decelerate at sporadic intervals. I was nearly rear-ended a few times, with cars having to Dodge me on both sides. This happened over a period of 3-4X within 5-10 minutes as I tried to exit the freeway. I stopped at a gas station and there was no check-engine light on or anything visibly wrong with the car, such as tires etc. On my way home, I had to stomp on the gas in order to get it to drive at 60+ mph. The car made loud buzzing sounds the entire period, as I struggled to maintain 60+ mph. When I got home and parked the car, it came to my attention that I was unable to reverse the car. I learned that this transmission issue was not addressed by Honda as requiring a recall. Despite my problems and the reports of countless others, Honda will not pay for a new transmission. This will cost me over $2500 for repairs/replacement. I am absolutely furious, especially knowing that this is a common issue with the 2003 model. I spoke with a local Honda dealer and they will not take care of the charges. Considering this car has only 76K miles on it and is 8 years old, this is an absolute nightmare since I faced a god-awful commute home with my car breaking down and so much uncertainty of whether it would even make it home.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #51

Oct 132011

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 175,000 miles
My transmission failed while driving today. Driving across the hwy the car suddenly downshifted violently. After that, the car would skip gears and downshift at will. I drove home with the car stuck in first gear. The car is an automatic.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #50

Sep 012011

Accord 4-cyl

  • 107,000 miles
At around 107,000 miles, I noticed my transmission leaking fluid very rapidly. In addition, the front end of the car started vibrating violently between 50mph and 60mph.

- Paterson, NJ, USA

problem #49

Oct 032011


  • 220,000 miles
In 2008 the transmission froze up on the freeway while going 65mph. 3 years after having the transmission replaced, the rebuilt transmission goes out again while driving on the freeway. Seems to be a bad design with the Honda Accord 03 V6 transmissions. I just found out that there was a recall in '04, but never received any notices.

- Lancaster, CA, USA

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