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 5 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #228

Apr 152013


  • 116,000 miles


We driving on 35W -South at around 60 miles an hour and the vehicle turned itself to 1st gear. Had to pull over to shoulder and called aaa. Was told that solenoid to be replaced. After the replacement, car was ok and again, after few miles, has a similar incident on 494, where the gear shifted back to a lower gear at 60 miles an hour and missed a fully loaded walmart truck by inches! I had to spend 1800$ to get the transmission fixed.

- Eden Prairie, MN, USA

problem #227

Dec 122013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
I was driving my 2003 Honda Accord ex, V6, on the freeway at 70 mph when my car went into a front wheel locked skid. The duration of the unsuspected skid was less than one second, but I almost lost control of my car. Several seconds later, at 50 mph, my vehicle again went into a unsuspected front wheel skid, with a duration of less than a second. There was no warning light notification. The cause of the front wheel locked skid was the transmission clutch was burned out on gears #5 and #3. my vehicle transmission fluid and filter was changed every 30,000. This notification is for public safety. American Honda corporation was notified and they felt I should investigate this incident at my own expense.

- Irvine, CA, USA

problem #226

Jan 032014


  • 151,000 miles
Transmission was slipping. Then suddenly car felt like someone slammed on the brakes. Took car to dealership and was told transmission was failing. The transmissions on these cars were recalled in 2004 when an oil jet kit was installed per the recall to provide extra lubrication to the transmission. Talked to Honda and they refuse to provide any help with these multiple transmission failures. Cost to fix this is $4100 at the dealership.

- Ponca City , OK, USA

problem #225

Nov 162013


  • 92,000 miles


Traveling at 55 mph car jerked back and forth, loud noise from under car. Car slipped between gears, and continued to jerk. The car will now not move can move gear shift through gears but will not move.

- East Point , KY, USA

problem #224

Jan 092013


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the transmission independently shifted out of gear and into second gear. The contact mentioned that the failure was recurring. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer for a diagnostic. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 150,000 and the current mileage was 200,000.

- Troy , MI, USA

problem #223

Jun 292013


  • 123,000 miles
I was driving at about 60mph when my car violently shifted down to second gear.

- Monticello , NY, USA

problem #222

Nov 012013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 132,983 miles


My daughter was driving the car at highway speeds when the transmission downshifted into first throwing them violently forward and nearly causing impact with another vehicle, when she told me I did a web search and found that this is a common problem with this model and year. What has been done about this serious safety defect?

- Waverly, OH, USA

problem #221

Dec 192013


  • 132,000 miles
I purchased a used 2003 Honda Accord in April 2011. It now has 132, 000 miles on it. This week I was driving on the interstate when my "D" drive on my hear start flashing in my car RPM started revving up & my check engine light came on. So I put my emergency flashes on to get the shoulder of the expressway my car. My car wouldn't drive anymore in the D drive shift to make it home safely I had to drive my car in D3 all the way home. My mechanic is now saying I need a new transmission which will cost me $2500 I don't have. I've driven Honda Accord's all my life this is the first Honda that I've had a major issue with.

- Decatur, GA, USA

problem #220

Dec 082013


  • 183,000 miles
I bought my car used and granted it has almost 200,000 miles on it but I trusted in Honda that it was a good car now my transmission has gone out and I haven't had my car a year yet granted I'm disappointed in Honda bc I have read several forums about 2003 Accord have transmission issues with way less mileage than mine Honda really needs to investigate this issue. It's christmas time and I'm out a car I would fix the transmission on this vehicle but it's no point in doing 3000 dollars worth of work on a car when I owe more than that on it and I have already had to replace engine mounts, thermostat, crank shaft pulley.

- Greer, SC, USA

problem #219

Dec 022013


  • 115,000 miles
Vehicle transmission has been hesitating for over a year. Dealership insisted that there was nothing wrong. Two months ago I was told the rear main seal may need to be replaced soon. Three days ago the car violently shifted into a lower gear and nearly caused the vehicle to be rear ended. I'm told that the transmission now needs to be rebuilt or replaced. When I contacted american Honda I spoke to a customer services representative by the name of sopana. He first told me that because my car was over 120K mile Honda would not provide any goodwill assistance, I reminded him my car was at 115K mile, he was then flustered and said well I mean 100K mile or whatever.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #218

Nov 072013

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the transmission independently shifted out of gear and into third gear. The failure was recurring. The vehicle was taken to a mechanic, who advised that the transmission needed to be rebuilt. The vehicle was not repaired. The vehicle was serviced in 2004 under NHTSA campaign number 04V176000 (power train). The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 110,000.

- Pensacola , FL, USA

problem #217

Jan 012013


  • 130,000 miles
Automatic transmission failed at 130K miles and had to be rebuilt at cost to me of $2800.

- Keene, NH, USA

problem #216

Nov 052013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
Automatic transmission suddenly failed into 1st gear with sudden drop in speed and control. Transmission locked in first gear, no reverse. Apparently a known issue with Honda automatic transmissions of this era.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #215

Oct 242013


  • 163,072 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that while traveling approximately 40 mph, the vehicle suddenly lost acceleration power. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic where it was found that the front axle had failed. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was 163,072.

- Port Deposit, MD, USA

problem #214

Oct 312013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 98,000 miles
Driving 60 on a busy interstate the transmission drops gear making my car jerk hard and slow almost enough for the person behind me to slam into me. Pulled over and turned car of then back on transmission seems to be slipping bad. Bought it used 2 years ago it has 93,000 miles and never misses servicing. I see it is not uncommon, why is this issue not being taken care of?

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #213

Oct 072013


  • 160,000 miles
This is just unbelievable. Every three months I take my car in to get service and now my transmission is failing me. I place the car on drive and it does not go anywhere. I turn the car off and turn it back on and it finally drives. I really was not expecting this from Honda. My car was in perfect condition and drove very smooth because it is well maintained. Not in a million life years would I guess my transmission would be an issue right now.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #212

Oct 072013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
While traveling over a bridge at 55mph. The transmission suddenly disengaged and the car almost came to a stop with no warning. Very lucky no one hit me.

- Jacksonville , FL, USA

problem #211

Jul 172013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 134,314 miles
Car felt like fuel wasn't getting to engine and would slow down, then suddenly get gas and would jet forward. Very unsafe for driving with my child and baby. Had the transmission replaced with a used transmission and now the same thing is happening today. I'm lucky not to have been on a highway when this happened as it could have spelled death for my family.

- Kingston, CA, USA

problem #210

Mar 012013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
Transmission failed. The gears are slipping, and it lags and jerks when it does shift.

- Aurora, IL, USA

problem #209

Sep 102013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
Complete transmission failure on fully serviced 2004 Honda Accord at 124K miles while driving in rush hour traffic. Upon research, found very common problem that Honda is aware of but does nothing to fix. Rebuilt Honda transmission cost $4,800 for part alone!

- Carm, CA, USA

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