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.


fairly significant
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
11,433 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

problem #6

Feb 212013

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2003 Honda Accord. Consumer writes in regards to vehicle repairs and seeks reimbursement. The consumer stated within the past year, the timing belt, serpentine belt, water pump, transmission, heater valve, transmission mounts, power steering pump, dash and steering links were all replaced.

- Ottumwa, IA, USA

problem #5

Sep 062006

Accord 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Recently the back light on the radio/HVAC/clock panel went out. After checking all fuses it was determined not to be a blown fuse. Service advisor/mechanic informed me that it would cost between $200-$400 to fix and that the radio unit needed to be replaced. This led me to conduct my own research and was surprised and disappointed to find that this has been and continues to be a common problem on newer models of Honda Accord ('03 and newer). I also learned from numerous other owners that they'd received the runaround from the car dealership service departments. However, several indicated that after making numerous calls to Honda of America the company agreed to pay for the repair. It appears to be a wiring problem, which could, in my opinion, lead to more serious problems. As a single parent I purchased the Honda for my daughter, who attends college some 700 miles away from home and requires a safe and reliable vehicle. Since Honda of America is aware of the problem they really should issue a recall to owners.

- Powder Springs, GA, USA

problem #4

Mar 082006

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,500 miles
The lights on the stereo and the center of the dashboard went out and would not come back on. Unable to see the control switches for the ac/heater which was dangerous during night driving. The stereo worked - but it is completely dark - no lights. I called Honda on 2 occasions about it ( case# : N032006-03-08-00025) and explained the situation to them and even reported that there was a service bulletin for a known problem with the 2003 Honda Accord ( bulletin : 04-027 ). however, the Honda representatives were not particularly helpful and would not acknowledge the validity of the service bulletin. Also, they did not want to admit that there is a known problem with the 2003 Accord and back lights on the dashboard. I took the car to a Honda dealership in woodstock and they eventually replaced the complete stereo with a re-furbished one which solved the problem (at no charge) - initially the dealership did not want to acknowledge that there was a known problem which caused the back lights on the dashboard to go out. Luckily, the car was still under warranty, I found many similar complaints on the internet where it ended up costing the owners between $400 - $800.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #3

Mar 262006


  • miles


The back lighting on my radio clock has stopped working.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #2

Feb 172006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,100 miles
The illumination (back light) behind the climate control and audio system has gone out making it impossible to select the defrost controls which makes cold weather driving near impossible. Also, climate control inside the vechicle is almost impossible during the day and impossible during the night. Pulling off to the side of the freeway to adjust the controls (with the aid of a flashlight) poses it's own set of dangers.

- Santa Clara, CA, USA

problem #1

Apr 062004

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,000 miles
The need to dim instrument panel lighting or reset trip odometers requires reaching behind steering wheel. Doing this while driving poses an steering interference hazard. Why not locate these controls in a more safe area?

- Kirtland, OH, USA

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