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 4 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #14

Nov 082006

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,100 miles


Illumination in radio fails. Not readily replaceable, not even by dealer. This failure also causes loss of illumination for thermostat and fan control on dash which creates a major distraction at night when trying to adjust these controls. This distraction could lead to loss of control, a crash, and/or serious injury.

- Van Buren, AR, USA

problem #13

Oct 302006

(reported on)


  • miles
2003 Accord radio/temperature display defect. The display unit for the radio and heating/ac gauges went black. When the appropriate fuse was replaced, a instructed in the owners manual, the radio stopped functioning entirely and the consumer was still unable to see the temperature controls for the heat and A/C. the manufacturer is aware of the problem.

- Goodview, VA, USA

problem #12

Sep 152006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Honda Accord ex V6 - radio control, ac control and clock control backlight stopped working. Contacted dealer and told that radio would have to be removed and sent to California for repairs. Cost estimated in excess of $500.

- Brandon, FL, USA

problem #11

Jul 102006

Accord 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 48,000 miles


Center light for stereo and console is burnt out. This means that a driver can not choose critical controls why driving unless they turn an interior light on.

- Boulder, CO, USA

problem #10

Sep 092006

Accord 4-cyl

  • 52,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord with approximately 52,000 miles and yesterday the radio lights and the center pod lights which control the heating and air conditioning lighting stop working and I have no idea what happened, I have checked any and all fuses under the dash and also in the engine compartment and there are blown fuses. Nothing else so far is out of the norm, I am just no sure where to look or what to do since the vehicle is out of warranty.

- Brooklyn, NC, USA

problem #9

Jul 272006

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,436 miles
: the contact stated that while driving 45 mph, the backlighting on the center console climate controls darkened, making the controls impossible to see while driving at night. The vehicle was not taken in for service, however the manufacturer was alerted.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #8

Jun 162006

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles


Took my car in for a regular oil change. Hours later I received a phone call from the service advisor asking me, if I had time so he could talk to me regarding my car. I said, yes and the service advisor from Honda dealership went on to tell me that I needed my transmission fluid changed, brake fluid changed, and my engine coolant changed. The total amount of cost came to $500.29 which I thought I was being ripped off. The Honda service advisor also went on to tell me that I need to have my front struts replaced because they are bad. I noticed when I would make a right hand turn I would hear a squeaky noise. He confirmed that it was my front struts. I ask the service advisor how long does it normally take for struts to wear out he told me around 80,000-100,000 miles well my 2003 Honda Accord ex only have 48,000 miles on it. I'm assuming that I probably started off with bad struts in the beginning since I had my Honda Accord ex, I have had nothing but problems. Now, that my car is out of warranty I'm hit with a huge fee to get struts replaced on a car which I think was bad in the first place. My Honda Accord ex was originally purchased by me in December of 2002. I have been the only driver of the car. At this time I would never purchase another Honda Accord. I used to have an 2000 Honda Accord ex never had a problem. Since I have had this car there have been recalls on my car. I have had problems with the door latches, inside panel on passenger side coming off. Sunroof rubber coming unglued. I had to have the windshield replaced bad wipers which scratched the windshield up. New radio system. Trouble with the lights for the heated seats, dash board lights went out. Radio lights went out. I was sold a complete lemon. I believe Honda should look into my maintenance record and see all the problems I have had with this car and really consider replacing the struts for me. I do not have an extended warranty it's going to cost me $700.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #7

Dec 022003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles
Since owning this car January 2003, the following has happened to it: ABS harness caught on fire (car was saved, but Honda refused to give me another car after writing them), radio has gone out, clock gone out, trouble starting vehicle - this is apparently a fuel pressure regulator - tech notice but no recall. The front brakes were silently recalled only if you state your having problems. This car has been one big problem.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #6

Dec 202005

Accord 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 74,800 miles
Defective HVAC/radio backlight backlight malfunctions and HVAC and radio controls and display goes dark. There have been previous service bullitens released on this issue and its a know defect; however Honda refuses to replace part.

- Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #5

Jun 202005

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles
Lcd display for cd/radio/environmentals/time is dark and barely visible. I am told the radio is malfunctioning and needs replaced. Radio was replaced 15 months ago. I was informed new radio would cost $990 plus labor.

- Frederick, MD, USA

problem #4

Nov 012004

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Defect of 2nd gear transmission. Transmission lock up and crush without warning. The consumer received a recall letter in the mail regarding the 2nd gear transmission that could cause overheating which could result in a transmission lock up. The consumer stated the ignition key became hot to touch after driving for a certain period of time.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #3

Jun 012004

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
This is a redo with corrections of #10079025 the following is what happened to my daughter:while traveling in rush hour(5-10mph) traffic on I80 in New Jersey on her first day to a new job, her radio died.she then realized that there was white smoke coming from under hood.other motorists noticing this beckoned her to move out of the lane & onto the she was doing this, she realized that she had no brakes.when she got to the shoulder she applied the emergency brake & turned off the ignition.while calling her boyfriend for help she heard people yelling at her to get out of the car. Not understanding why, she was scared, got out & saw sparks coming from the front & bottom of the car. She then heard someone yell to get away from the car. As she took a few steps away a loud explosion was heard.her brand new car had 15ft flames shooting out of it.she was devestated. First impressions were that this is electrical related.after 3 weeks of calling Honda, naturally they disagree.they said the "probable cause" was a "non-Honda" oil filter. At this site alone I found several heat related complaints about dashboard daughter mentioned to Honda city in levittown, NY about her "check engine" light staying on, she was told"it's nothing". please contact us at: with any electrical related issues.signed a mom.

- Hicksville, NY, USA

problem #2

Jun 072003


  • miles
Bought 2003 Honda Accord ex-V6 on 6/2/03. While traveling out of town on 6/7/03, the cd changer stopped and would not play any more cd's. the console was very hot, as was the cd. Returned to dealer who is in process of replacing changer.

- Winston-Salem, NC, USA

problem #1

Dec 302002

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 250 miles
Only three days after having purchased a new 2003 Accord, I noticed that the console was overheating. When I put my fingers under the console, it was so hot that it could blister skin. There was also a horrible intermittent burning smell. After the car makes this terrible burning smell, I get a headache. This burning smell is an indication of an extremely dangerous problem, that could cause the vehicle to catch on fire. Upon my second visit, the dealership acknowledged the problem and replaced the console. On the way home, the new console overheated again. Also, the horrible intermittent burning smell is still present. Honda America has refused to replace my vehicle or give me a refund. The sales manager at the dealership, hendrick's Honda cars of hickory, has given me misinformation about my state's lemon law by telling me they are entitled to 10 repair attempts when the nc lemon law says they are only entitled to 4. the dealership now says that they are trying to reduplicate the problem. Further, even though three people at the dealership, including a mechanic, have witnessed the overheating and burning smell, the "master mechanic" has told me that if something was burning or overheating that I would have equipment failure. This is not true and any good mechanic should know this. It appears to me that they are trying to deny that the problem still exists. The company claims that no one else has reported this problem.

- Statesville, NC, USA

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