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 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #34

Aug 052010


  • miles


The car can be shut off and the ignition key can be removed from the ignition switch without putting the car in park. (note that we are aware of a current recall for this problem, but our vehicle is not part of the general recall of american made Honda Accord. Ours was manufactured in Japan; however we are having the same problem as the american made models.)

- Pacific Palisades, CA, USA

problem #33

Sep 012010


  • 150,000 miles
All interior illumination lights went out and you can not see in car. Called the dealer they stated it was not a bulb and would cost several hundred dollars to fix the issue. I have read several complaints and wonder why a recall has not occurred.

- Somerset , KY, USA

problem #32

May 062010


  • miles
My 2003 Honda ex Accord is experiencing ignition issues that fall under this known recall: NHTSA campaign id number: 02V120000 recall data: 05/16/2002 components: Electrical system:ignition:switch units affected: 1000000 1999 Honda Accord electrical system:ignition:switch recall date: 05/16/2002 when I called Honda and shared my VIN number [xxx]they said that my particular vehicle wasn't covered under the recall, but I believe that it should be since the issue that I have been experiencing perfectly fit the issue outlined in the recall: NHTSA campaign id number: 02V120000. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #31

Oct 132010


  • 112,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While the contact was driving approximately 50 mph, the transmission failed without warning. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for diagnostic where they informed that the transmission would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. Previously, the ignition key would not release from the ignition switch; and the vehicle was repaired by the dealer. In addition, the stereo system, and the four automatic door locks would not operate properly. The failure mileage was approximately 112,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Stockton, MO, USA

problem #30

May 222010


  • 50,500 miles
TL-the contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While the vehicle was parked, the contact noticed that the display for the radio, heater, air conditioner and defroster were no longer illuminated. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for the failure. The failure mileage was 50,500 and the current mileage was 51,000.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #29

Apr 202010


  • 108,000 miles
Control panel display (audio-HVAC display) failure. I have a 2003 Honda 4 door (w/O navigation)Accord ex. About 2-3 months ago while driving the display panel for the vehicle operating systems-radio, heat/ac, time blacked out. At-near the time of this occurrence I was on the New York state thruway. A flashing (emergency) sign -flashing 'emergency' 'check radio channel 530 or 1610 for details'- notifying an emergency. As I was driving and could not see the radio display. It was dark. I was unable to access the emergency notice. My vehicle was taken to Honda and was told this repair was a defect. This repair was part of a campaign to fix this display, per Honda service bulletin 04-027 but the program for my vehicle had expired. They mentioned the campaign was part of a campaign not a recall, even though they acknowledge safety was one of the issues in the program. I live in an area where the roads are equipped with emergency message signage' are frequent and commonplace. Not having the ability to access these messages due to a campaign program where no notice was received by me (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 has not even flickered since the initial occurrence.

- Sloatsburg, NY, USA

problem #28

Sep 152009


  • 80,000 miles


The heated seat element on driver's seat malfunctions, had sporadically come on at random times (had been occurring several times per week) with button in off position, on my '03 Honda Accord. It would get quite hot near lower back portion of seat. The dealer had disconnect at my request the wire on the console button, in hopes this addressed the situation. I'm not confident this has been totally resolved, and my vehicle has had 3 inexplicable electrical issues over the past 12-14 months. My concern is that this is a fire and safety hazard.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #27

Jun 142010


  • 62,000 miles
Upon turning the car on, the backlight behind the radio went dark. It is impossible to read the radio lights, radio mode, station, time of day, volume, A/C and/or heat settings, temp of A/C and/or heat. I feel it is distracting and unsafe to attempt to use/control these "invisible" settings while operating the vehicle. There was a tsb released for certain 03 & 04 Honda Accord affected by this defective hardware, but only a warranty extension was given. I recently purchased this vehicle with the radiolight intact, no I am being told is will cost me 350$ to fix an already known defective hardware problem that I feel creates a safety problem when operating this vehicle. This problem has been made aware to Honda for a number of years now, and they have not placed a recall on it, as one service rep told me, "because recalls deal with safety issues, this radio is not a safety issue." I beg to differ, a defective part and safety issue warrants further compensation by Honda to its vehicle owners.

- Pasadena, CA, USA

problem #26

Apr 152010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
I first noticed issues with my auto tranny in my Accord ex V6 at around 50K miles. They had just installed some jet for the recall for hard shifting for this car. At about 80K I noticed it getting worse, so I told my mechanic and he changed the tranny oil for me. It seemed to shift a little better and this was only from 2-3 gear that it would rev up to about 5K and then jerk the car to get into 3rd. It's very embarrassing and I'm afraid it's going to lock up on me on the freeway. I saw that California filed a suit against Honda and Honda settled. Every state should be filing a suit - I'd be first in line! I too talked to Honda and the hq for Honda, but since mine has so many miles on it (all freeway), they are blaming that, even tho I have maintenance records showing it's been a problem. They don't want to step up to the plate. I hope some lawyer gets a hold of these complaints and sues them like California did. This is my 2nd Honda and I swore by it, but I'll never buy another Honda after this. Even from day one I've asked Honda about the dimming of the headlights when the car shifts and they said it was normal cuz they car needed all the power to do the shifting, so they wouldn't do anything about it. I've owned several other cars and this was never an issue. I don't know if it's the year of this Accord or that it's a V6, but it's very frustrating and Honda should be ashamed! if complaints keep happening, you'd think they would fix the issues or investigate it a little harder since they already did one recall on them. I have told all my friends not to buy Honda and told them why. Let's spread the word and maybe when their sales go down, they might wonder why and do something about it. I'm now faced with a $4K to rebuild my tranny. Sickens me, especially when the car is only worth $7K cuz I have 140K miles on it now. Email me if you can help sue them...[xxx]. information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #25

Nov 072009


  • 149,540 miles
SRS light comes on intermittently while driving. Talked with the dealer he told me to get the SRS module replaced. I think this is a manufacturers fault not installing proper SRS sensor module into Honda Accord ex model cars. I truly believe this is a safety issue.

- Suwanee, GA, USA

problem #24

Jun 132009


  • miles


Bought this car used (with over 140,000 miles) for my teenage son. When he turned the headlights on - all the interior display lights for radio, heating and air conditioning and defrosters went dark. We called Honda of America and they denied any knowledge of history of this recurring problem. They even went so far to say that because the Honda was manufactured in Mexico that no warranties applied. The car had a 6 cd player when we bought it Honda said the entire radio system could only be replaced by a single disc player. It cost $1000 to have the problem fixed. I own 3 Honda, have owned Honda for decades and will look to american made cars for all my future purchases.

- Westerville, OH, USA

problem #23

Aug 272007


  • 37,520 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. Sporadically, while driving various speeds, the vehicle would spontaneously stall. Speed was not a factor during the failure. Prior to the failure, the contact noticed an unfamiliar warning indicator illuminated on the instrument control panel. She also experiences difficulty when starting the vehicle and battery failure. The battery has not been replaced. She took the vehicle to the dealer on numerous occasions, but they could not duplicate the failure or find any error codes. The failure mileage was 37,520 and current mileage was 45,826.

- South Plainfield , NJ, USA

problem #22

Jul 072008


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While backing out of the driveway, the instrument panel lighting failed without warning. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and they stated that there was an extended warranty with the control circuit. The vehicle was excluded from the warranty due to excessive mileage. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were unavailable.

- Sicklerville, NJ, USA

problem #21

Nov 252008


  • 71,855 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex. All the lcd lights on the center dash console went out, which includes all the radio indicators and all the temperature control indicators. This in my opinion is a hazard because you have to keep pushing buttons trying to find the temperature control that you want. After doing some research on the internet this seems to be a common occurrence.

- Amarillo, TX, USA

problem #20

Sep 012008


  • 58,545 miles
The wiring harness on my Honda Accord recently had various places where rodent(s) have chewed on it that resulted in engine problems. The same thing happened two times in 2007 on a Chrysler pacifica. In researching online, it appears that this is a much larger problem than I would have thought, with hundreds if not thousands of incidents, primarily on newer vehicles. Some of the posts have indicated that several manufacturers are using a soy based wiring harness material covering the actual wires. This seems to be attracting all sorts of rodents including mice, rats, squirrels, and even rabbits. If this problem is as big as it appears, this well may be costing consumers millions of dollars per year!

- Greenwood, MO, USA

problem #19

Aug 092008


  • 67,000 miles
The ignition switch heats up unusually after it is taken out of the car driven for 15 miles or so.

- Lake Orion, MI, USA

problem #18

Jun 262008


  • 58,000 miles
Transmission is not catching going from second to third gear. When it does finally shift it jerks hard. Doesn't happen all the time though. Dealer cant get it to do it. 2 weeks after my passenger seat heater light went out, I only drove my car 6 miles; I took my key out, and it was burning hot. I touched the ignition and it too was burning hot. It did it 2 other times. I went straight to the dealership. They looked at it the next day and couldn't get it to get as hot as it was with me. They said it was "normal."I only have 58,000miles.

- Evansville, IN, USA

problem #17

Jun 132008


  • 87,500 miles
No malfunction key gets extremely hot in all types of weather. So hot it is too hot to hold Honda dealer says it's normal.

- Apollo, PA, USA

problem #16

May 292008

Accord 6-cyl

  • 102,613 miles
The back light that lights all of my instruments in my dash went out. I own a 2003 Honda Accord ex. There was no sign of a problem and then all of a sudden the lights went out...there is not a fuse or anything that controls this problem. It is a wiring issue in the stereo that causes the problem and it can be in upwards of $1000 to fix a light issue according to the forums online.

- Grandview, MO, USA

problem #15

Sep 112005

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles
I bought my Accord ex when it was 2 years old. The light on the radio didn't light up, so the dealership fixed it before I bought it. They told me it cost them $300. Also, my cruise control has gone out. And it's not the fuse.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

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