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 8 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #168

Feb 142013


  • 150,000 miles


Honda recalled transmission's on 2004, I took my Accord 2003 and they just make up my transmission with oil, but knowingly that this transmission will fail, so I really think that in reality there was not fix.... now I have to pay for something that was already set to failure....

- San Jose , CA, USA

problem #167

Jul 012012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that while driving approximately 65 to 70 mph, the vehicle violently down shifted. The contact was able to coast to the side of the road. After restarting, the vehicle was unable to go over 25 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. After diagnosis, they advised him that the transmission failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 150,000. The current mileage was approximately 154,000. Updaated 6/4/13 the consumer stated the vehicle violently downshifted the high gear to lowest. This caused the vehicle to decelerate from 65-70 mph to 20-25mph, making the vehicle to buck and swerve from left and right. Updated 06/14/2013

- New Castle, PA, USA

problem #166

Feb 012013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 132,000 miles
NHTSA needs to have Honda issue a recall on all 2003 Honda Accord transmissions based on the number of complaints about the transmission in gears 1-4. when driving my Accord you can feel it at 35mph where the gears 1-4 slips or races. My car has 133K miles and is in mint condition and now I have to put in a new transmission at the cost of $3,700 for a rebuilt? NHTSA, all reports has shown that when this problem exist its can freeze the transmission and cause severe harm to the driver, passengers and innocent people around. My car frozen on taking off from a light and there was almost a car pileup and additional insures. Before this happens to other out there please issue Honda a recall of these 2003 Honda Accord.

- Frederica, DE, USA

problem #165

Feb 122013


  • miles


My first and secound gear get hot after driving for a while and car power jerks and thru my drink a couple of time out of my hand.

- Waynesboro, VA, USA

problem #164

Jan 272013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 101,229 miles
While driving on the freeway between 60-70 mph the car began to violently jerk while slowing down and speeding up on its on. I had no control of the vehicle and this was very scary because there were cars all around me and I just knew I was about the cause a bad accident. I got off the freeway and attempted to park my car. I pulled into a driveway put the car in reverse, but the car was stuck and would not move for a few minutes. I took my car to Firestone where I usually have my vehicle serviced and they told me it was the transmission and I was sent to a transmission repair shop. They checked the transmission and found that it needed to be rebuilt which would cost B/T $3200-$$3800 depending on what type of warranty I wanted. They also thought it was very odd that the check engine light did not come on considering the severity of the problem. They recommended that I not drive this car because its a huge safety risk.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #163

Jan 162013


  • 118,619 miles
Transmission slipped when shifting from third to fourth when accelerating to get on the freeway. Luckily no one was injured but the car behind me almost rear ended me when I lost all power.

- Rohnert Park, CA, USA

problem #162

Sep 282012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 106,000 miles


When driving the car will not shift from second to third gears. While driving, the car while suddenly downshift to a lower gear with no warning. No check engine light is on. Honda states this is not covered under warranty but this should be since it is a major component of the car and this is something that Honda was aware of when the car was released.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #161

Oct 152012


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that while driving approximately 60 mph, the vehicle suddenly down shifted and vehicle speed decreased. The vehicle was later towed to an independent mechanic. After diagnosis, the contact was informed that the transmission failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted but offered no assistance. The failure and current mileages were approximately 120,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #160

Dec 262012


  • miles
Car frequently slipped out of 2nd gear when accelerating on the highway. Honda said a new transmission was needed. This is a known defect that Honda tried to band-aid in 2004. They should be forced to issue a complete transmission recall on 2003 Accord V6 vehicles. There are 810 complaints on specifically for the transmission. Hundreds of others have no doubt gone unreported. Honda knew there was a problem as early as 2004 and hasn't done the right thing. Please help us.

- Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA

problem #159

Dec 302012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 82,000 miles
When leaving a parking lot, the car wouldn't shift into drive. It felt like the brake was on, but it wasn't. after driving in a stop and go situation, I discovered it would shift reluctantly if I took my foot off the accelerator. By doing that and avoiding the freeway, I was able to get the car home. I haven't driven it since. The car is a V6 and I had recently had the power steering hose replaced at a dealership because of leaking and smoke along with the ignition recall repair. Neither the car nor the dealership had given any indication of a problem with the transmission. No warning lights. Are on. I called Honda customer service but the only information I was able to get was that a 2004 transmission recall had expired.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #158

Oct 302012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 112,000 miles


I am the first owner of 2003 Accord, ex. My car has 113,000 miles on it. Its a well maintained car I kept for years. I must say that this car is excellent, however, there are signs that some parts are not functioning really well lately. For the past few months, I noticed my tcs sign on the dashboard comes on and off together with the triangle sign in orange. It started coming on after I turned off the ignition to my first destination and after just like 10-15 minutes and start my engine again, it will come on after driving for next 5-10 minutes. Also, just two weeks ago I noticed that the gear gets stuck on "park" mode and I have to press the handle before it gets released. I am not sure if the gear has something to do with the tcs and triangle showing on the dashboard. Also, I noticed my car has an issue with brakes when driving while raining. I have to step on the brakes a few times when its slippery to be able to come to a full stop. It's so scary that I almost hit the car in front of me a few times. I am lodging my complain so the manufacturer would take a look on this issue as I found all the complaints on tcs issue on 2003 Honda Accord ex online when I was trying to look for a solution on the same issue for my car.

- El Segundo, CA, USA

problem #157

Dec 242012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
Transmission was replaced by Honda in 2007 at 115,000 miles. The Honda replacement transmission failed unexpectedly and catastrophically a few days ago despite meticulous maintenance by Honda dealers and top mechanics. This failure left the driver in a dangerous situation with oncoming traffic. This second transmission had 80,000 miles and does not address the original design defect.

- Liberty Township, OH, USA

problem #156

Dec 032012


  • 135,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord V6 original owner, transmission is switching gears into neutral while I am driving down the road. This has happened a number of times. If I pull over to the side of the road and turn car off and then back on, it goes back into the correct gear. This is very dangerous while I am on the interstate. This tends to happen when the car is warmed up (driven for more than 15 or 20 minutes). There is also a random vibration that seems to come from the transmission for some time now. I have spoken with the local Honda dealer and they have quoted me a price of $4600 to fix the transmission, but claim that this is normal for this car. The 2003 Honda Accord has 4 recalls on it already. This is very disappointing to have purchased what I thought was going to be a quality, top of the line Honda, only to have numerous problems.

- Rockwall, TX, USA

problem #155

Apr 152009


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord coupe. The contact was driving approximately 50 mph when the vehicle began to decelerate and the engine rpms increased. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnostic testing. The technician stated the transmission would have to be rebuilt. After the transmission was rebuilt the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken back to the mechanic and the transmission was flushed but to no avail. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000.

- Pleasanton, CA, USA

problem #154

Dec 062012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 86,887 miles
While driving the vehicle at 35mph it started slipping and jerking then suddenly slammed into second gear. Would not shift out of second.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #153

Nov 272012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 59,328 miles
The transmission slipped out of gear while accelerating and merging onto a busy highway. The motor rpms went up but the vehicle was not being powered. This created a dangerous situation for my family and I. after the initial incident, the transmission has slipped out of gear on numerous other occasions. My mechanic advised that the transmission is in need of a rebuild. The vehicle currently has 59425 miles on the odometer.

- Lindenwold, NJ, USA

problem #152

Nov 202012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
A couple of weeks ago my automatic transmission started acting funny at low speeds - having trouble downshifting to speed up the car (I.e. going about 25 and then trying to speed up - it would just feel like it was in neutral and the car would rev but not speed up).the biggest issue then was that, at high speeds, the car would violently shift into 1st gear - thus causing the car to suddenly and severely slow down. This happened several times on the highway, and each time I barely avoided an accident - luckily no one was right behind me either time it happened. After doing some research, it looks like '03 Honda Accord with the V6 have major transmission issues - and it appears many other people have had this same issue.... but I was never made aware of it. My current car is an accident waiting to happen. I called Honda and they will not do anything about.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #151

Dec 022010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 101,194 miles
Car struggles to gain speed after stopping or slowing down to turn. The RPM will increase but the car does not accelerate. In order for car to accelerate I will have to place the gear in neutral and then shift to drive. I have taken the car to the dealership on several occasions but they have not been able to duplicate or identify the problem. My concern is that it may be related to the transmission which has previoiusly been recalled on this vehicle.

- Elsa, TX, USA

problem #150

Jul 232009


  • 120,000 miles
I was driving at about 45 mph and suddenly it felt like my car had downshifted. My car didn't move and the rpms went up to about 4,000. I tried to continue to drive as I was in the middle of three lane road in the middle lane and the car struggle to move. I had the car towed to a shop nearby and the transmission had failed. It was rebuilt in July of 2009. Four days ago, on 11/22/12 I was driving the same car, which has been kept up and well maintained, and a similar issue occurred- this time while I was on the highway. I was coming off a ramp and the car once again felt like it was downshifting. The only way I can explain is it felt like someone hit the brakes while I was driving. Luckily- I was merging onto the freeway so I was right next to the shoulder and got out of the way as soon as I could. Had I been traveling at 65 mph I firmly believe this would have resulted in a major collision. I have the car at the same shop that repaired the transmission, and it turns out this was due to another transmission issue, although it didn't fail this time.

- Pleasanton, CA, USA

problem #149

Sep 152010


  • 140,000 miles
This car had recalled for transmission. I bought this car in 2006. I got told the recalled has been fixed in 2004. I got problem with transmission again in 2007 when my car reach 45000. They fixed this problem using my extended warranty. Now since last 2 year I still getting the problem with transmission. And the dealership saying they can't fix this time because they have fixed this problem before. I can't pass the inspection without fixing this problem. Fixing this problem costing me more than what my car worth, about $5000. Please help.

- Colonia, NJ, USA

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