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 2 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #288

May 312015


  • 103,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving at 45 mph, the vehicle jerked and hesitated before moving forward. The tsc warning light illuminated. The failure recurred on numerous occasions. The vehicle was taken to a dealer who diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 103,000.

- Coco , FL, USA

problem #287

Jul 122015


  • 79,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving at approximately 45 mph, the vehicle accelerated without warning. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The vehicle was included in NHTSA campaign number: 04V176000 (power train). The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 79,000.

- Maitland, FL, USA

problem #286

Dec 022013


  • 170,000 miles
My transmission and torque converter failed on brownsville road. I called Honda who refused any type of assistance. They said it was out of warranty. I have had numerous cars in my life and never heard of the transmission dying. It seems, as I check the internet, that the Honda Accord V-6 has a history of transmission failures. To date, Honda refuses to acknowledge that issue.

- Trevose, PA, USA

problem #285

Mar 232013


  • 105,000 miles


Vehicle slams into 3rd gear, or slips out of gear, locked up one tie

- Sunrise, FL, USA

problem #284

May 052015

Accord 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
I was driving on the highway at 60 mph, all the sudden, it violently down shifted, felt like I was rear ended. As I let up the gas, the engine would rev but not engage the transmission. Luckily no other cars were behind me at the time. When I got to the office, the car would not go into reverse.

- Carroll, OH, USA

problem #283

Mar 182011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 153,092 miles
Transmission failure. Had to have transmission rebuilt in 2011 at 153K miles. Now at 200K miles I am having transmission problems again.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #282

Apr 012015

Accord 4-cyl

  • 128,030 miles


I was driving southbound in peabody, Massachusetts on 128 almost on to 95 when at centennial drive exit when my vehicle, without warning, slowed from 60 mph to 30 mph, I put on hazards as car went from 30 mph to 10 mph to dead all in a matter of 45 seconds tops. It was around 12pm and traffic was moderate to heavy. Cars behind me were forced to slow at a significant rate, luckily a pile up did not occur as the likelihood of such a accident was extremely possible with one driver not fully present I don't want to imagine the possibilities. I was able to semi slide car into breakdown lane safely enough and aaa came 1 hour latter as they listed my call a priority call.. I had car towed to home town and mechanic went through car in its entirety to discover that transmission needed to be replaced. Honda is well aware of this issue as there are thousands of testimonies from Honda owners regarding their transmission problems occurring around 126,213 miles. The models with faulty transmissions are 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009.

- Gloucester, MA, USA

problem #281

Apr 052015

Accord 4WD 4-cyl

  • miles
I have piece of crap people calls Honda I call today 04/07/2015 visibility problem windshield wiper and headlamps low I can't see night time during drive and transmission is skip but piece of crap(Honda) customer said you no have recall or warranty that's really mess I got mistake to buy piece of crap(Honda) please please please I suggest don't buy that like piece of crap( Honda) thanks

- Springfield , MA, USA

problem #280

Mar 022015


  • miles
2003 Honda Accord. Consumer writes in regards to transmission issues. The consumer stated the vehicle would not go in reverse and the RPM would only run at 3,000.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #279

Mar 122015


  • 133,899 miles
I came to a stop at a busy intersection. When the light turned green, I started up, taking a right turn, and the engine went into high rpms and loud clinking noises started. I stopped immediately and was almost rear-ended in the intersection. Put the car in park, but new noises started, tried L1, same thing. Had to turn the car off and leave it at the intersection with hazard lights on, but cars still were almost rear-ending me. Tow truck came 1.25 hours later. Harrowing experience being stuck out there in that intersection! auto repair shop called and said the entire transmission has failed and I need a new one. Now I can't get to/from school! I've read the 2003 Accord has a huge problem with transmissions, so I guess I'm unfortunately in that group as well. Another dead Honda.

- North Reading, MA, USA

problem #278

Feb 252015

Accord 6-cyl

  • 148,600 miles


The first incident happened when I was slowing down for a stop sign. At about 45 mph the car suddenly downshifted. The rpms registered approx. 5000 then returned to around 2000. I turned and while accelerating to highway speed, the car downshifted then corrected 3 times. I parked on the shoulder, shut the car off, then on again. I proceeded with no further issues. The next day, Feb 26, 2015, the car downshifted at approx. 45 mph then corrected. Each time the rpms jumped to approx. 5000 before settling back to approx. 2000. This happened a couple more times. Later the same day, I was on the freeway driving on cruise control at approx. 65 mph when the car downshifted then corrected. This happened again a couple minutes later. I parked on the shoulder, shut the car off, then turned it back on. I did not have another incident driving to my destination. Feb 27th, I headed to my final destination. About 150 miles into my trip, I was slowing down on the freeway for a slower car in front, when my car downshifted then corrected. This same situation happened three more times before getting to my home. At no time did any diagnostic lights illuminate. I have not contacted the dealer yet, as they are closed today. After reading multiple reports about this incident I do not have confidence that Honda will work to resolve this potentially dangerous issue.

- Sutherlin, OR, USA

problem #277

Jun 292012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 122,355 miles
Automatic transmission problems.

- Fayettevielle, GA, USA

problem #276

Feb 122015


  • 139,000 miles
I was getting off the off ramp at about 35mph taking a right turn when the transmission made a jerking motion and slipped. I let off the accel and applied the accel a couple times before it engaged again got to my destination went shopping. Went to leave and I had no reverse. Shifted threw the gears nothing. I turned the car off and on to find the I could now back up. I put the car into drive to find out the car would only drive in first gear on drive. It would not shift gears. I have my car parked till I figure out what to do and how this issue can be resolved. I called Honda but they where no help and want me to spend money that I don't have to figure it out and fix the issue.

- Auburn, CA, USA

problem #275

Feb 112015


  • 100,600 miles
I'm the original owner of the vehicle, and have always used Honda for service and maintenance of my vehicle. The transmission failed without warning. Thankfully, I wasn't driving in the highway because this could have caused a major accident. My car basically came to a stop when the transmission failed.

- Hawthorne, CA, USA

problem #274

Aug 262014


  • 104,000 miles
I started to use the Honda around 2008 for work. It's mileage was about 25000 miles due to the use of a second family car at the time. I have an extensive record of maintaining my Honda with a local Honda dealership since I purchased an extended warranty that expired in April 2014. On Aug 26, 2014 I left my work and entered the freeway ramp at about 30 mph ready to accelerate and merge with traffic. The car started hesitating and the rpms would race without the car picking up speed. Concerned about the cars behind me and making a very fast decision to move right as fast as I could without getting rear ended, I managed to exit the freeway to a right off ramp. I experienced the same RPM acceleration a week or two prior to this incident, but I thought I had just hit the gas peddle in a strange way while driving. I exited the freeway and drove home. When I arrived by my home 10 minutes later, the car stopped accelerating and I drifted into a parking space on the side of my house. A family member helped me straighten out the car in two moves after I placed it in neutral. I ended up towing the car to my local dealership who diagnosed it as aa broke transmission. The Honda was purchased brand new, I'm the only owner and it was bought because of it's reliability, reputation and quality in general..

- Kapolei, HI, USA

problem #273

Jan 152015

Accord 6-cyl

  • 189,750 miles
I recently purchased the 2003 Honda Accord for travel. After purchasing the vehicle I noticed that the check engine light was on. The mechanic told me that there was a torque converter that needed to be replaced. After doing additional research I found that other Honda owners had this same issue. My car rumbles when driving through residential areas. When I try to enter my VIN number in to see if my car is eligible it won't come up, but I'm definitely experiencing the transmission slipping in specific gears.

- Missouri City , TX, USA

problem #272

Mar 072013


  • 93,551 miles
Informed kolbe Honda that my transmission was slipping back on 9/2/2004 and again on 11/9/2010. The service department claims there is nothing wrong with my transmission. I have paperwork stating the dates and complaints about my transmission. The Honda dealerships claimed there was nothing wrong with my transmission. At this time, my car was still under warranty. On 3/7/2013. Is when I almost died on the freeway when my car just slowed down to a crawl in the middle lane while cars were driving 60-65 miles per hour. I thought my life was over at this time. I was able to get onto the right shoulder and was in shock. I telephoned my husband to come to my rescue, then we crawled the car into Honda. After bringing my car back two different times to see why the car was still not running, the second time Honda told me that I need a transmission. I purchased a rebuilt transmission for $3051, as Honda did nothing to help me out. My car has been impeccably maintained. I almost lost my life for Honda not paying attention to me complaining about my transmission slipping from 2004. I often have my grandchildren in my car and was thankful that I was the only one in the car this day. I believe that Honda totally ignored me and probably a lot more people with the same problem. As of today, I still fear driving my car on the freeways and I stay in the right lane only in the event this happens again. I am a senior citizen and feel that I was taken advantage of. There is no reason why I had to spend $3051 to put a transmission that should have been replaced by Honda. I would appreciate some information back. I am still using my car as I cannot afford to purchase another car.

- Newbury Park, CA, USA

problem #271

Jan 012015


  • miles
2003 Honda Accord. Consumer states car stopped while driving due to transmission failure. The consumer stated the vehicle just stopped. It would not go forward, made noises and at times hesitated. The problem was diagnosed as a faulty torque converter solenoid. The consumer drove the vehicle for one week, when the problem returned. The dealer informed the consumer, the transmission needed to be replaced at a cost of $5400. The consumer took the vehicle to a repair shop, where the transmission was replaced for $3,000.

- Edmond, OK, USA

problem #270

Dec 162014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 105,843 miles
Transmission just downshift to first gear while driving in the highway. Almost got rear end really bad.

- West Roxbury, MA, USA

problem #269

Dec 052014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
The transmission slips into 1st gear has a burnt rubber smell in fluid. I had recall complete and still have problem!

- Bowling Green, KY, USA

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