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:
2 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
72,031 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 2 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #54

Feb 262013


  • 220,000 miles


The radio comes on without a key and abruptly turns off when driving. The car appears on when no one is in the vehicle and I am worried that this may prompt someone to steal the car. It also drains the battery. I have researched the internet and called Honda. Honda swears that no one else has submitted this issue. My ref number for my complaint is N012013-02-2600454. It just doesn't make sense that all these people are having the same issue, but they don't issue a recall. You can do a simple google search and find hundreds of complaints and people saying that they have contacted Honda.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #53

Nov 122010


  • 48,116 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the key could be removed from the ignition without the vehicle being secured in park. The contact was able to remove the key while the vehicle was in drive. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where an unknown repair was performed under a manufacturer's voluntary recall for the ignition key: Interlock switch. Three days later after the recall remedy was performed, the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer for further repairs. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The appropriate failure mileage was 48,116.

- Holland, PA, USA

problem #52

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

problem #51

Jan 032011


  • 98,000 miles


While driving at night all the lights on the center console went out. I now have no lights to control the functions of the heating, and defrost at night. The is an issue because I am unable to adjust settings when windows start to fog.

- Blanchard, MI, USA

problem #50

Jul 132012


  • 47,000 miles
The console light which displays the radio/cd player, and all temperature controls (ac, heat, defroster, etc.) does not work. I understand the warranty was extended to seven years or 100,000 miles whichever comes first. Unfortunately, I have exceeded those limits. However, this is a safety problem/defect and should be fixed. The dealer quoted a price of $1,000.

- Swampscott, MA, USA

problem #49

Jan 092012

Accord 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
For a couple of weeks the radio would give a snapping sound and then go silent. On or about the third week, just after starting the car, and turning the radio on, smoke started to pour from behind the dash in the area of the center console. I immediately turned off the radio. The smoke (fire?) stopped.... not sure whether turning off the radio or whether the wire, circuit board or (?) had burned through.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #48

Jun 012011


  • 150,000 miles


Last year, I was driving my 2003 Honda Accord, and I locked my car as I was riding. Upon reaching my home I tried to unlock my car and it would not unlock manually, by pushing the bottom, or with the keyless entry. When I tried to use the interior button to unlock the car, it locked all of the doors and the driver door would not unlock manually, however, I was finally able to get a passenger door unlocked manually. It seemed like I was in a horror movie because the passenger doors would appear to unlock, but they would instantly relock. This happened more than a few times and I was terrified to drive in fear of a accident as well as the fact that I had to leave my car unlocked when I went out in public. Today, the issue started again. I tried to hold the keyless entry down so that the windows would roll down and I could gain access that way, but it was to no avail. I tried using the key, but that did not work. I just so happen that while trying to unlock it with the key I turn it (the key) in the opposite direction and held it and the windows rolled down which allowed me to unlock a passenger door manually and climb in to my car. I still can not unlock the driver side door regardless of method.

- Gurnee, IL, USA

problem #47

Mar 012012


  • 75,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex, the radio and the A/C work, but you cannot see anything on the radio display, and the backlight for the A/C panel do not work, with the exception of the individual buttons such as the one for the compressor, that will come on when you push it in. The warranty on the radio display has been extended to 7 years/100K miles on the 2003-2004 Accord. This problem is common. My car is 75000 miles, but is over 7 years. If the problem is common Honda should extended the warranty time.

- Oregon, OH, USA

problem #46

Dec 132011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Control panel display (audio-HVAC display) failure. I have a 2003 Honda 4 door (w/O navigation) Accord ex. (I am the original owner of the vehicle). This problem, with potential safety implications seems to rise to the level of a defect. As I write, the display is dark and occasionally flickers. There have been previous service bulletins released on this issue and its a know defect; however I did contact Honda customer service on December 2011 but, Honda and Honda dealer's refuses to replace part without paying for it. Windshield wiper (linkage arm) failure. On multiple occasions I had mentioned to multiple Honda dealer's that windshield wiper are banging when returning to start position and I was told it was normal and they had checked the wiper motor and it works fine. Windshield wiper started banging year after I purchased the vehicle in 2003. I was able to fix the issue by replacing windshield wiper linkage arm at my own cost after I found the solution on independent Honda forums.

- Germantown, WI, USA

problem #45

Mar 082012


  • 140,000 miles
The internal lighting for the stereo/climate control has failed. The buttons no longer light up and the display screen is so dim that it cannot be read except from about 3cm away. This is a safety concern because it makes it difficult to operate the climate control at night, say if the windows were fogging up and you needed to defrost quickly.

- Bryan, TX, USA

problem #44

Jan 212012

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles


The stereo backlight went out and my car is out of warranty, Honda will not provide any assistance with a known issue. Obviously it was a known defect which is why they extended the warranty, but it should have been a recall. The lights on the heat/ac/defrost controls are also out which makes it difficult to turn defrosters on at night when I need it to see.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #43

Jul 202011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
Hi I have Honda Accord 2003 with only 70000 miles on it. Last year I had problem with the screen that display my ac/heater/radio it went off.I cant see anything on that screen, living in Chicago and winter is coming, in extremely bad weather I am scared to drive that car and have my kids in it because I cant visualize and control the heat inside the car..driving on the highway with the bad weather that Chicago hasm, I wont be able to control the heater to remove the fog from the front window and it will be impossible for me to see while driving.I believe this is %100 safety issue that you should call Honda about and have it fixed because alot of americans use this type of car and alot of my friends have the same problem, Honda having business here making money should make sure that the products that it sells for the americans meet the safety parameters in this great country. We care about our citizens and that's the role of our government and I believe that you should take action regarding this issue against Honda. There was a recall about this issue but most of the customers were not ware of this recall, and now even though my car only has 70000miles on it, Honda refuse to fix this problem that their car has. As american citizen having trust in you, I believe that you should put Honda on the right track because people safety is an important issue in the United States for sure. Please look at this issue and don't put your people down. Thank you for all the great work that you guys been doing. God bless you.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #42

Dec 172011

Accord 4-cyl

  • 72,400 miles
Audio-HVAC display module is dim or dark: The audio display and controls (knobs, buttons, bars) of the audio-HVAC display module are dim or are dark. There is a known problem with the Honda Accord 2003-2007 where one of the components of the printed circuit board ( pcb) which controls the center audio console fails and then the whole audio console goes dark. So when you are driving the car, you cannot see any button or knob on the center console. It's almost impossible to change the heat / cool, the fan speed or any function that is controlled by the counter console. Honda initially sent out a technical service bulletin and they extended the warranty on the audio console to 7 years /100, 000 miles. But the problem still exists in a large number of cars. This is not like a transmission or a brake issue which can wear down over a number of years. This is a problem with the electronics on the car and should be escalated to a recall. This is a very dangerous problem as the console lighting does completely dark and the driver cannot see or locate any controls within the car. This can cause serious problem when driving and should be addressed immediately. Honda has issues a technical service bulletin number 04-027. This bulletin in the proof that Honda knows about the problem. The extended warranty that Honda has offered is of no use because a lot of people who have this problem are out of the warranty terms ( 7 years // 100,000 miles) this should be a recall item and the national highway safety institute should force Honda to repair this component in the car irrespective of the miles or the number of years. The fact of the matter is that this is a manufacturing defect and is not related to break down of a components because of miles or years. There is no wear and tear involved with printed circuit boards. ( pcb)

- Bothell, WA, USA

problem #41

Nov 172011


  • 65,700 miles
My radio/HVAC area the lights to display them are out apparently it was recalled but not for all vehicles this is a safetyhazard for sure being I can't find my defrost... the other problem is the recall expired this year and it expired just after I bought the car and a few months later the middle console went out!!!

- Dayton, NV, USA

problem #40

May 012011


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While parked, the contact noticed that the lights for the HVAC unit would not illuminate. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostics where the technician stated that the circuit board would have to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 40,000.

- Mclean, VA, USA

problem #39

Nov 222011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord ex display light for the audio/HVAC went out. This is a real problem because it is difficult to select the defrost/air conditioner/radio settings that you need, and can cause a real safety hazard while driving down the road. Honda realizes that this is a common problem with their printed circuit board as they have extended the warranty on this part to 7 yrs/100,000 miles. However, it is obviously still a problem after 100,000 miles as mine has recently went out. They refuse to pick up any of the bill for their faulty electrical equipment because my car is over the arbitrary 100,000 miles which they chose, even though they admit there is a problem with the part. I feel that this is unfair and that they should show some responsibilty and stand behind their product.

- Judsonia, AR, USA

problem #38

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 #37

Aug 112011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord radio backlight defective...they extended the warranty fix until 7 years or 105K miles. Unfortunately my died at to day and I have 110K and the car is 7.7 years old. My biggest concern is you cannot tell if the defrost if on or not...time, heat and A/C, defrost, fan etc are all displayed through the radio unit. I called 1-800-999-1009 and they said too bad you are out of the warranty limits. I maintain my car meticulously but the dealer quoted me $800 to fix the problem. Too much for me. Honda id wrong this is a safety issue...cannot tune to emergency broadcast or use defrost.

- Lithia, FL, USA

problem #36

Jul 132011


  • miles
Since the purchase Iżve experienced continual transmission problems. Upon speaking with the dealership I was assured all was fine. You can imagine my surprise when I received notice of the transmission recall (NHTSA 04V176000). Upon repair, in September 2004, I did not notice repair improvement, and continued to detect the rough grind of transmission shift and a whining sound. In 2009 I experienced a catastrophic transmission failure to which I had sought repair. In December 2010 I experienced another transmission failure. I have just now experienced my 3rd transmission failure, July 2011. My power steering pump had always had a faint whine, but Honda services never identified it as concerning. The problem progressively became worse until Honda finally suggested a repair, but informed me that the component was then out of warranty and would be a costly repair. I decided to delay repair until June 2011. Ac problems manifested in September 2005 and required replacement in April 2008. My center council clock and temperature display has been flickering, dimmed, and absent since 2009. The interlock stuck issue first materialized in 2008 and serviced in July 2010. My airbag warning light has been active since 2008 with an occasional but repetitive tcs alert; and my headlamp glass has been hazed since 2005. The paint deterioration is ridiculously embarrassing, the leather seating began showing wear 2 years in, my seatbelt doesnżT return to the original released position, head liner has water leak stains, cd player stopped working, exposed wiring is visible at the driver door hinge, Iżve gone through 3 batteries, countless tires, one cracked windshield, and I have always suffer from poor radio reception and occasional navigational signal roaming issues. In these times of thrift conscious fuel consumption, I utilize my nav tools to monitor my driving activity. IżM stunned to report I get a fuel economy of 24 mpg highway, not the 31 mpg as sticker reports.

- Menifee, CA, USA

problem #35

Mar 062011


  • 165,000 miles
Failed radio display and environmental controls lights. Reference american Honda case # [xxx] voluntary recall, but limited in time and mileage, this vehicle is out of the voluntary recall but is failed due to defect in radio. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Palmdale, CO, USA

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