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 14 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #48

Jun 062011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles


The contact owners a Honda Accord 2003 V6 was driving at 30 mph. The contact owner was unable to accelerate to shift from second gear and take the mechanic and as a result the transmission needed to be replaced. We contacted the manufacture but they could offer any assistance because the transmission wasn't locked. This situation has been happening for a while and we need it fix right away! we know the first owner of the car had the same problem but the company said they fixed the car and it would work fine. Only it wasn't fine its repeating the same problem over and over again. Its a accident waiting to happen!

- Lancaster, CA, USA

problem #47

Oct 012010


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact was driving approximately 50 mph when the vehicle began to decelerate independently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing where the technician stated that the transmission would have to be replaced. The approximate failure mileage was 90,000.

- Redondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #46

Feb 192010


  • 185,400 miles
As I was driving my car one the merritt pkwy all of a sudden the car was loosing speed and the car did not want to move at all. I was nearly hit in the rear by oncoming vehicles because my car stood stuck on a two lane pkwy.

- West Haven , CT, USA

problem #45

Sep 232011

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles


2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission failure in the middle of traffic, almost caused an accident but fortunately this was on a road with a slower speed limit. 3 out of 4 engine mounts are broken. I have owned this car 8 months and the estimated repair is $6000. I have found several websites and forums where this appears to be a problem for 2003 and 2004 transmissions on the Accord. Most drivers just stalled on the highway/road they were traveling on and this is a serious safety concern. How can these cars continue to be sold where this is a common problem.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #44

Sep 192011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 95,211 miles
Honda service manager said he was "almost killed on the highway" driving my car: First incident: 9/19/2011 (mon evening) car lurching irregularly at highway and town speeds; difficulty getting into gear and trouble reversing. Took it to dealer that night. 9/20/2011 (tues): Dealer reported not being able to detect a problem. Nothing came up on diagnostics. No service light was on. Dealer asked to keep it one more day. 9/21/2011 (wed): Dealer still unable to detect a problem, they drove it around but claimed nothing unusual. Service manager asked if he could drive it home. I ok'd. employer annoyed. Second incident: That night the service manager, drove it home, because it wasn't acting up at the garage, and diagnostics showed nothing. There were no warning lights. He, [xxx], said he "almost went through the windshield on the highway" on his way home. He said repeatedly that he was almost killed. That's right the Honda service manager said he almost was killed!!! which is what could have happened to me or any other Honda Accord owner. If this happened in inclement weather, I'd be dead in a ditch (it's new england so those days are coming). The car lurched at highway speeds and at low speeds. It lurched speeding up and slowing down. If I put the car in neutral, and just applied some gas to the pedal, the tachometer (RPM) needle jumped around all over the place. Only until the service manager got it back to the service garage (9/22) did any service lights come on. How convenient. Their proposed solution: Step one: Replace transmission fluid (material, parts, labor) = $120 step two: Replace transmission solenoid (parts labor, etc) = $500 failing that: Step three: Replace entire transmission. Est. Cost: $4300 total potential cost: Approx $50.... or my life. This is a significant safety issue and a recall is in order and asap. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Watertown, MA, USA

problem #43

Sep 152011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 138,000 miles
My wife was driving her 2003 Honda Accord when all of a sudden it shifted into neutral.. she turned the car off and a few minutes later turned it back on. It went for a short distance and did the same thing again. It took her three hrs. To get home from work. When the car violently stopped she was almost hit by a truck who was behind her. She could have been seriously hurt. I feel Honda is responsible to replace the transmission after reading the thousands of similar complaints regarding this faulty transmission. Recalls should have been done and the tranny fixed before this problem occurred. Honda new the problem and failed to recall these cars.

- Macon, GA, USA

problem #42

Aug 152011


  • 134,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord LX. The contact stated that the vehicle would not drive in second gear unless the vehicle was on an incline. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer nor repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was approximately 134,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Linthia, GA, USA

problem #41

Sep 162011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 98,523 miles
We noticed hesitation in shifting from second to third gear. It seemed as if it would slip into neutral. After approximately 5-10 seconds it would shift into third. The transmission was checked and flushed in early 2011. This car has been maintained according to industry standards. After discussing the problem with various mechanics, it was determined that third gear was going out. Driving to repair location the transmission failed. The car went from 65 mph on the highway to stuck in second gear after the engine warmed up. This car was part of the recall in the summer of 2004 and the repair was made. However, after researching the Honda 2003, it appears as if this is a continual problem and Honda is aware of the faulty transmission yet does not assist in the cost of repair.

- Auburn, CA, USA

problem #40

Sep 052011


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact was driving 20 mph when the vehicle exhibited a loud, abnormal knocking noise. The contact was unable to accelerate of shift from second gear. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who diagnosed that the second gear had burned and as a result, the transmission needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who did not offer any assistance. The manufacturer advised that because the transmission was not locked, the vehicle would not be repaired under NHTSA campaign id number: 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission). The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 150,000.

- Lithonia, GA, USA

problem #39

Sep 022011


  • 78,180 miles
Coming back from the airport, going home on belt parkway, the transmission stopped functioning properly out of a sudden, without giving any hints before, totally unexpected. It didn't go to the 2nd gear, stuck in 30mph. After anxiously drove back home trembling, found the reverse did not work either. The vehicle had to be turned off and restarted again to gain back the function of reverse. After research the on the web, and read through so many comments of Honda Accord 2003 owner, this seems very much related to the Honda Accord recall incident in 2004. It is believed Honda didn't fix the problem permanently back in 2004. It was a temporary fix trick, and right now many of the Honda Accord 2003 owners are suffering from Honda's failure to fix its defective product.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #38

Aug 292011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 101,380 miles


I was driving on the highway and my car suddenly downshifted I was thrusted forward and back. I continued to drive home attempting to slow at a light it shifted so hard the tires squealed. The car continued to shift very hard between first and second gear for about 1 mile until I got home. As I was looking on the internet for a transmission I came across a web site and learned there was a recall for second gear in 2004 that I was never notified about. I dropped it off for first thing in the morning at the dealership, that afternoon I received a call stating they drove my car around the block and there was nothing wrong with the transmission and I could come get the car when I refused due to recall, I was told they would need a few days to get the recall repair parts. I was fine with that considering I was too afraid to drive the car and I was getting a ride to and from work for the last two weeks anyway. The very next day they called and said they fixed all recalls, and drove the car again and the transmission was fine. When I went to pick up the car I wanted to make sure they inspected second gear per recall they told me they did take a picture but would not offer proof. They also told me second gear would not fix my transmission after they tell me there is nothing wrong with it.I do not believe they inspected my transmission at all. I think they just replaced the parts they needed to get the recall done I cannot help but think if I received this recall six years ago I may not be going through this now! by all the complaints on this site and many others this is a known problem. What is going to take for Honda to make it right? I am now stuck with a car I an too afraid to drive!!!!!!!!!!!

- Mlford, NH, USA

problem #37

Sep 082011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 94,326 miles
While driving my 2003 V6 Honda Accord coupe (automatic) the transmission violently jerked the entire vehicle forward and downshifted to a lower gear. This occurred during rush hour and almost caused the vehicle behind me to rear-end my vehicle. I immediately turned on my flashers and made my way to a parking lot. I left the vehicle there overnight and had it towed to a Honda dealership for inspection. They advised me that they could not identify anything wrong with my transmission and everything was working properly during their tests and could not duplicate the problem.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #36

Sep 032011


  • 123,000 miles
Transmission failed.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #35

Sep 042011


  • 111,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While the contact was driving approximately 30 mph the transmission slipped into neutral gear without intent and began to lock which resulted in no power during acceleration. The vehicle was coasted to the side of the road and resumed normally after shifting into drive. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where a recall repair was performed for NHTSA recall campaign id number 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission). The failure persisted after the remedy repair and the vehicle was taken back to the dealer. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 111,000.

- Round Rock , TX, USA

problem #34

Aug 312011

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6. It has been serviced as per instructions in Honda owners manual. It has 119K on car and the transmission will slip out of gear when driving, according to several web sites (, ( their are many more out there doing the same thing and Honda usa is turning a blind eye to the problem. The real issue is the transmission, the past few recalls include jet kits and ignition switches and a few flash file updates to transmission software never truly addressing the real issue which is a much more expensive transmission replacement. The recalls are like any other recall when a large repair is needed on a broad scale, smaller more band-aid like repairs are instituted as recalls to get the vehicle out of warranty and no longer a problem for Honda. The problem with this kind of irresponsibility is this, the issue is not a cylinder wear issue and it isn't a fuel pump failing issue that simply is a financial inconvenience to the owner, it is a problem with a transmission failing to stay engaged, a problem that is leaving drivers in the middle of roads. A problem that is causing car to lose power in the middle of merging into traffic or changing lanes, or at any moments without warning, endangering the driver. Last but not least when a person decides to buy a Honda they are not only purchasing a car with money they purchase it with confidence of reliability. When you maintained a vehicle and you drive it like a baby and it fails at 119K that it what I believe falls into the category of premature failure. Honda needs to take responsibility for this dangerous and subpar product that they have given to the buyers in good faith and at the least give 100% parts goodwill.

- Thomaston, GA, USA

problem #33

Aug 102011


  • 168,000 miles
While traveling at speeds approximately 45-55 mph, the engine initially would rev up and after gas pedal released, would return to normal within seconds. This happened approximately three times on separate days over a 3-4 week period. Yesterday, the transmission revved once as described previously. Within a few minutes of that episode, it then started to suddenly downshift from overdrive or drive into 2nd causing the car to suddenly lurch forward, rapidly decelerate and the tires to squeal. This happened several times and occurred regardless of whether we were going up or down a hill and at various speeds. We narrowly avoided an accident with a tractor trailer before we had the car towed.

- Harrisburg, PA, USA

problem #32

Jun 222011


  • 99,750 miles
While driving home from pep boys to have them diagnose a noise issue with my car (the noise could not be duplicated), I was turning left from a stopped position across 3 lanes of traffic on bellaire blvd. And my transmission failed and acted as if it were in neutral. This is the 2nd transmission I have had to have installed in this Honda in the past 3 years. The first time I was on a busy freeway traveling about 60 mph when the transmission suddenly dropped to 1st or 2nd gear and would start bucking in and out of gear. Houston traffic is very busy and I feel I have escaped serious injury on more than 2 occasions with this vehicle. Something needs to be done before someone is killed or critically injured. This is a well known issue with the 2003 models.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #31

Jun 242011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 148,215 miles
Honda 2003 transmission while on a trip from St. Louis to the Chicago area 6-23-2011and just North of springfield, il the transmission made a pronounced sound, slipped into neutral, and I had to make an emergency stoppage in heavy highway traffic to the side of the side of interstate 55. Smoke was pouring out from under the hood. I opened the hood and the smoke was emanating from the transmission area. We got towed ($136) back to springfield, il and as it was past 6:00 pm we had to leave the car at a local recommended transmission shop. The shop has informed us that the transmission was "burned up" and need to be replaced to the tune of $3,400 for factory rebuilt with 36 month, no mileage limit guarantee. To get transportation to where we were going and back to St. Louis cost almost $300 in rental car fees. This does not count what it will cost to return to springfield, il to retrieve the car once it has been fixed. The transmission service business there said they have repaired another four or five 2003's, and my Honda mechanic in St. Louis said he had done four as well. What was normally a four hour plus trip turned into nine hours. The car has 148,215 miles and has been well maintained. This has shaken my confidence in Honda. We have owned six Honda's in the family, but this is the only V6.

- St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #30

Jun 202008


  • 61,795 miles
The SRS airbag light has come on at least 6 different times requiring a visit to the dealer each time. In each case the problem recurred within a few weeks to a few months for unknown reasons. No collisions were ever involved. No bags ever deployed prematurely. Each time we have taken the car to the Honda dealer. The first time they cleared the dtc code and test drove it. That was $90 plus tax. The light did not come back on again for some weeks later. We took the car back again on 11/14/2008 for the same problem. They replaced the driver seat belt at no charge under warranty. A month later the light came on again and we took the car back in on 12/12/2008. They cleared the code for another $90 plus tax. Back again on 12/03/2009; same problem. This time the blamed it on a seat belt tensioner and repaired under warranty. Back again on 5/31/2010. This time they replaced the drivers side seat buckle again under warranty. And finally back again on 6/20/2011, this time not only having this problem, but they say the transmission needs replacement at a cost of over $4000 plus tax. I've filed a separate complaint for that. I see online that there are a very large number of complaints for the SRS light, the transmission and many other problems. I see that the SRS and transmission problems have caused accidents and injuries. This is a very dangerous vehicle. We are no longer driving it. Please investigate asap.

- Mandeville, LA, USA

problem #29

Jun 042011


  • 78,000 miles
At approximately 56,000 miles, we had to replace the rear main oil seal. At 68,000 miles, we had to replace the fuel pump and as of June 4th, 2011, we were informed that we need to replace the transmission at 78,000 miles. The transmission failed going approximately 70 mph and proceeded into "limp mode" to 30 mph. It proceeded to then return instantly to 70 mph and within 30 seconds repeated the same and as we were trying not to fly off the highway it again repeated this same behavior at which point we pulled off to the side of the highway, which was approximately 2 feet wide, and as traffic, which was thankfully not right on our tail, flew by we were able to drive on the side of the highway for the next 20 miles at approximately 30 miles per hour into the next town. At this point, there wasn't anyone available to look at the vehicle so we left it and rented a vehicle. Our Honda would not even go into reverse at this point. We then towed the Honda back to our home town and dropped it straight to Honda of tri-cities. There they diagnosed that their was a transmission failure and it had to be replaced. They offered to pay half of the cost ($2000) but we feel there is a life threatening problem with that transmission and after seeing all of the additional customers of Honda's, the years between 1999 and 2003, that have had the same life threatening experiences, we are appalled that the public has not been notified of this. Not just by a check on your transmission but a complete recall. I am very surprised that we were not fatally injured.

- Pasco, WA, USA

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