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 9 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #148

Nov 152012


  • 129,000 miles


Transmission fail. When warm transmission won't stay in gear and slips.D rebuilt had to have it towed to a shop and rebuilt.

- Lynnwood, SC, USA

problem #147

Nov 072012

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,892 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 25 mph, the transmission began to slip gears and then failed to respond. The vehicle was maneuvered to the side of the road where the engine was turned off. The vehicle was able to resume in operation after waiting for one hour. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who advised the contact that the transmission would need to be replaced due to internal damage. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 99,892. The manufacturer would not assist the consumer with replacing the transmission, because she was not the original owner. Updated 03/21/13

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #146

Nov 102012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 132,000 miles
After about 45 minute ride out of my city on a major highway, my car violently downshifted from 65 mph to 0 and would not move out of first gear thereafter. This has happened everyday afterwards that I drive my car at least 20 minutes. It seems as if once a mechanism inside the transmission heats up or gets hot, this happens. I always service my vehicle as required, I am worried. This is a major transmission failure. I have read where over 200 other Honda owners have had this issue in the past but no recall has been issued. Please advise.

- Savannah, GA, USA

problem #145

Nov 102012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 62,500 miles


Vehicle downshifted in low gear at highway speed almost causing a crash. Took to transmission shop and they said transmission needs replacement. Transmission shop hooked up to diagnostic and read the following codes: PO747 A/T clutch pressure control solenoid valve a stuck on and PO752 shift solenoid valve a stuck on. Transmission shop states this is a very common problem.

- Santa Clara, CA, USA

problem #144

Nov 102012


  • 107,000 miles
I bought my Honda from the dealership 06/23/12, 1 owner completely serviced through the dealership then traded in at same dealership. When bought it had 101,793 miles, timing belt was done at 90K and power steering pump. Not even month later I had to replace throttle body. I've always felt something wrong with the transmission after bought car. On 11/10/2012 out of no where when I was getting off the freeway my car started to down shift really hard, was jerking while driving and then was stuck in first gear, luckily I was less than a mile from my house so I drove home then parked it and no indicator lights on. The next morning (today) called a friend who works on Honda and he looked at it and said the transmission fluid was very dirty and practically gone. Drove around the block twice and transmission was working fine. Then later drove about 8 miles and started hard down shifting and was stuck in first gear. Then parked and tried to put my car in reverse and it not move acted like was in neutral. Put it in park, turned it off then started it again and put it into reverse, reverse now worked. After that I had my friend look under the hood at the transmission fluid and it was practically empty again. So I went to the store got more transmission fluid and put some in and tried to drive back home. Everything seemed fine for about another 8 miles then it started to hard down shift all over again. After another 3 miles the car completely freaked out check engine light finally came on along with the ABS, tsc, and the light showing I was in drive started flashing. So I pulled over and put the car in park and everything was still doing the same thing, including the light indicating I was in drive even thought I was in park and the park gear light was on. So I turned off my car, sat for a min then restarted. Driving slow needed to stop and brakes started to go out.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #143

Oct 292012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 127,000 miles
Cannot drive the car over 40 miles/hour. Took to Honda service center in anaheim, ca, and they told me I needed to change the transmission. Car cannot shift into 3rd gear. It is very dangerous to drive and I might get stranded anywhere.

- Apison, TN, USA

problem #142

Oct 262012


  • 106,000 miles


Driving at approximately 68 mph on interstate 5 when car felt like the brakes had been applied, hard. Luckily there was not a lot of traffic behind me because it was a very quick deacceleration to 30mph and a very dangerous situation. I was able to limp along the freeway with my flashers on at 35mph, top speed, until I could get off of the freeway. When I was putting the car on the trailer dolly we realized that I had no reverse gear. The next morning, the car reengaged with reverse while taking the car off of the car trailer. The car was brought to a transmission shop that diagnosed that the transmission had failed at 106,000miles. We had taken the car into the Honda dealer for the 2004 transmission recall repair. I had no previous warning that there was any problems with the transmission until this failure.

- Ashland, OR, USA

problem #141

Oct 222012


  • 156,700 miles
Coming to a stop sign, slowed car down to a stop. Pushed the accelerator and the transmission did not go into gear, felt like it was in neutral, but the shifter was set to "D". I had to put the shifter into "2" to get it to move. If it was a yield sign instead of a stop, and I had slowed down and the car did not accelerate, I could have easily been hit. Car also has problems shifting from 2nd gear into 3rd gear. The rpms jump between shifts.

- Stevens Point, WI, USA

problem #140

Sep 302012


  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The vehicle was included and repaired under NHTSA campaign id number: 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission). After the repair the vehicle was parked with the key out of the ignition when the contact noticed the vehicle began to roll backwards independently. The contact entered the vehicle, applied the emergency brake, and inserted the key in the ignition in order to stop the vehicle. The contact stated that the gear was in reverse. Also, the contact mentioned that she was able to remove the key without the vehicle being in park. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 75,000.

- Ladson, SC, USA

problem #139

Oct 012012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 123,000 miles
Transmission stopped working will entering on-ramp onto a major freeway (I-45 N) and I had to push the car off on to the median during rush hour traffic. Horrible incident and could have been ugly if it happened on the freeway!

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #138

Sep 072012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 109,000 miles


While driving on busy street the car violently shifted into first gear at about 25 miles per hour, luckily there were no other cars behind me at the time, had there been this issue could have caused an accident. After this incident the car had intermittent issues with the transmission slipping out of gear. I took it to the Honda dealership and was told the transmission was failing, causing the issues. After researching, I found that this was a common problem with 2003 Accord.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #137

Jul 232012


  • 82,000 miles
I bought the vehicle used had 80,000 miles on it I hardly ever used the vehicle it suddenly happened was driving and all the sudden it down shifted vigorously with no indication on dash, like check engine light, I was driving with my children, almost got rear ended by another vehicle then it went into neutral it didn't go anywhere turned it off waited turned it back on drove for a little and again the same thing I have been researching this online and its known this is a problem and no one has done anything Honda said they put a oil jet injector but that did not fix the situation from my understanding and its a V6 I cannot pay for a new transmission, I'm also paying for the vehicle and cannot drive it please help.

- Haverstraw, NY, USA

problem #136

Sep 252012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 89,930 miles
The car acted like it was 'missing' gears, but this went away. I started to enter the freeway ramp and increase speed and the car did it several times again (missing gears', revving but not moving forward like it should) and was almost hit by several cars trying to get me to move. I was unable to get the car to move, so I immediately used gps to locate a service station. I was able to drive the to the repair shop, but the car symptoms continued to get worse, which was a significant safety hazard! no check engine lights came on at all! I was able to make it to the driveway of the repair shop, but they had to push the car into the bay to review it. The repair place determined that the transmission has an internal problem, which is very common with 2003 Honda Accord. I only had 89,900 miles on the car. I have owned several Honda and have never had problems such as this. However, Honda knows that this is an ongoing, safety hazard but has done nothing to address these ongoing issues (outside of the class action lawsuit requirements). I will be looking at new cars and Honda will not be on my list! I am asking the us department of transportation to please thoroughly review the history of transmission issues with these cars and require appropriate consumer protection by Honda.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #135

Aug 092011


  • miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6. About two months ago I started feeling the car wasn't feeling right. As I was driving, it felt like the gear shift had been knocked down in to neutral, but was still actually still in drive. When this happened, the RPM's would go up and the car felt like it wasn't going anywhere, just coasting, then it seemed to just jolt back to where it should be. The problem wasn't happening every time I drove, but recently it started happening more often and for longer periods of time. I take the car to one place to have all my work done on it, so I took it there, but they felt the problem might be internal and recommended I take it to a transmission shop. They did diagnostics on the car and drove it. The result, the car is going into transmission failure. The transmission fluid is black and burned and has debris in it, and they said that the clutches are also burned. They won't know the complete picture until they take the transmission apart and get a good look. It is 5 days before christmas, I don't have the money to fix it or we will not have any christmas and now I have no transportation to do anything! soooo frustrated. I thought Honda's were suppose to be such good cars, but I have had nothing but problems with this one. It doesn't seem like a transmission should go out at 113,000 miles and I have had so many people say the same thing. Now that my transmission is going out, I read up on it and find out there was a recall in 2004 for the 2003 Honda Accord. Why, am I just finding out about this??

- Hesperia, CA, USA

problem #134

Jul 212009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 81,138 miles
At 55 mph on highway, car suddenly slipped out of gear and rpms spiked up. No forward power. Had to coast on to the shoulder and shutoff and restart the car. Problem continued on that trip but seemed ok thereafter. Brought to dealer but nothing found. Over the next few years problem has occurred every so often unpredictably (no pattern) despite changing transmission fluid and staying current on maintenance. Increased in frequency at 100K miles. Most days the car is fine but then the problem will occur suddenly. Has happened when merging on to highways, when already at highway speeds and sometimes shortly after accelerating from a stop at a traffic light or stop sign. Occasionally happens when yielding (I.e. slowing down for a yield sign and then trying to accelerate again).

- Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA

problem #133

Sep 042012


  • 89,540 miles
Driving up to the high desert at 70 mph the transmission dropped out of 5th to 1st and back to gear 4 times tell only second and first gears only work. There was no warning of a problem tell this time. I could of been in a sever accident, if I would of lost control of the car at this speed or someone was to close to me an hit me from going 70mpg to 10mpg in less in a second. This car only has 89K on it and should not be having a problem like this. This is a major safety problem when a car just locks up at freeway speeds. Honda should do something about this. There are a lot of online forums with just this problem if I would of known about this I would not of picked this car. I drive a lot of mountain roads and freeways. If this would of happen on a mountain road going up are even down I may not be her right now to send this complaint. I would be part of the mountain side. This need immediate attention, just like with Ford having tier problems, Toyota having there problem with safety on the vehicles this one that need attention.

- Riverside, CA, USA

problem #132

Aug 122012


  • 130,387 miles
I was driving in a side street for like 35 to 40mph. And then all of a sudden my car shift to lower gear violently hen when I'm about to park I shifted it to reverse but my car will not move. For like a year only I replaced my transmission fluid and check it everything looks fine. And I talked to one of the dealer close to my place they told me its not covered with warranty anymore. Plus I'm unemployed base from some of the forum that I read they said that it will cost about $2500 to $3500 new transmission. How can I afford that.. please someone help me or give me some advice to deal with it.

- Northridge, CA, USA

problem #131

Aug 212012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 97,000 miles
The transmission started slipping and the transmission/transmission fluid started overheating and boiling. The car started smoking and we had to pull over. When towed to a mechanic they said the transmission was bad and was slipping.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #130

Aug 082012


  • 142,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the transmission jerked and hesitated while driving at various speeds. The contact also stated that the transmission would downshift sporadically. In addition, the transmission would engage from fourth to third gear and from third to second gear without warning. The vehicle had not been inspected. The contact stated that in 2004 the vehicle was taken to the dealer for repairs under NHTSA recall campaign id number: 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission). The dealer replaced the oil jet kit on the vehicle, but did not repair the transmission. The failure and the current mileages were 142,000.

- Aurora, CO, USA

problem #129

Aug 132012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 93,350 miles
Returning from richmond car downshifted by it self into 2nd gear at a speed of about 65 mph causing the car to dive violently as if applying the brakes hard. It did this about 5 or 6 times then locked in 2nd gear. I moved to the right lane and drove the car at a speed of 45 mph stuck in 2nd gear to my local Honda dealer. Thank goodness there was not a lot traffic on the road when this happened or I might have been hit from behind.

- Silver Spring, MD, USA

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