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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Honda Accord:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 1 of 4)

problem #74

Oct 012016


  • 97,746 miles


My 2003 Honda Accord LX crashed on 10/01/2016 about about 18 months after I had my airbag serviced at a local Honda dealer 4/7/2015. When I got my car back from the dealer, the driver door had no power and could not be opened remotely or with the power lock control on the driver door. More importantly, no safety signals came on when the car started. I called the dealer and they told me I had to pay $80 to have it checked; I then called american Honda customer service, who only documented the complaint and took no action to remedy mechanical mistake by Honda dealer. I was driving on a downhill curve on a wet road after a rain. When I saw a slower car ahead of me, I gently applied the brake to maintain a constant following distance. The car drifted to the left toward oncoming traffic. But when I tried steer to get back to the right lane and tried to press on the brake, it locked up, then the car went into neutral and I had no brake and steering resistance was completely lax. My car went off road and crashed into the woods. The airbag did not deploy. I was confined in bed with pain one whole day. My transmission had locked up, then went into neutral, twice before on 1/14/2015 in the middle of traffic, and on 9/15/2016 in my driveway. We never received a letter from Honda for the transmission recall; however, we did receive letters regarding the airbag recall, the ignition switch recall, and the wiper motor recall. A year ago, the recalls came up using my VIN#. the database now shows no recall for my vehicle at all. After my car crash, I had it towed to Honda dealership on 10/4/2016 for repair estimate. I left my car and title with dealership; less than 48 hours later I called to get car back for crash investigation and lawsuit, the car had been destroyed by Honda dealer closing all further inquiries. American Honda took no responsibility when I contacted them.

- Derwood, MD, USA

problem #73

Apr 142016


  • miles
My car turn on when he want too I try to turn it on and do S claclacla them like 10 minutes later it turns on people tell me its the ignition it do this almost everyday

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #72

Apr 012016


  • 190,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. On several occasions, when the key was placed in the ignition, the vehicle failed to start. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The contact stated that the failure was intermittent. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 190,000.

- Lakewood, OH, USA

problem #71

Apr 152016


  • miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. Upon exiting the vehicle, before the passenger exited the front passenger side, smoke appeared within the inner part of the front passenger side door and a fire erupted. The driver and the front passenger were able to extinguish the flames. A fire report was not filed. The dealer was notified. The passenger was burned and had to exit the vehicle through the front passenger side window, which required medical treatment. The failure mileage was not available. Updated 06/29/16

- Stephenville, TX, USA

problem #70

Aug 172015

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles
2003 Honda Accord. Consumer writes in regards to vehicle factory installed radio, components and back light defect issues. Consumer sent additional correspondence. The consumer stated recently, the cd player would not function properly and most importantly, the radio began to malfunction and drain the battery. The radio would flash on and off while both the radio, all components and vehicle were turned off and the key out of the ignition. After sitting overnight, the vehicle would not start the next morning. On two occasions after driving, the consumer shut the vehicle off for five minutes and it would not re-start. The consumer stated the vehicle would stall and it was all because of the defective radio. A mechanic informed the consumer, they had recently come across numerous 2003-2007 vehicle with the exact same problem. They found the problem was due to the way Honda installed and mounted the radio, coupled with the fact that the brains of the radio was defective, therefore draining the battery and causing the radio and back light to fail. The back light worked occasionally and then stopped illuminating. Updated 05/04/16

- Rahway, NJ, USA

problem #69

Jan 092016


  • 2,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord will not start with key shift leverage is locked in park, move out of park, have to put on emergence to kee breaks to T from rolling. My car rolled on its own crashing into my other parked car breaking the back bumper and damaging the truck lock also, the interlock system is not working anymore on this car.have to disconnect battery to relesse key from ignition. Thank god I was in my own driveway when the car begin to roll and crash into my other car.

- Kenner, LA, USA

problem #68

Jun 102008


  • 90,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact experienced failures with the window motors, the front driver and passenger doors, and the rear passenger door. The dealer was notified and the front driver side door was repaired. The other two doors and window motors were not repaired. The failure continued to occur intermittently. The manufacturer was not notified. The approximate failure mileage was 90,000.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #67

Nov 112015


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the vehicle hesitated to start and made an abnormal noise. The failure happened without warning. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the symptoms were the same as listed in NHTSA campaign number: 10V364000 (electrical system). The vehicle was not repaired. Prior to this failure, a similar failure occurred. The ignition was replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 100,000.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #66

Oct 082015


  • 89,000 miles
June 2015: Torque converter: Car when accelerating slammed out of gear and felt like we had been rear-ended. Car wouldn't shift from 2nd to 3rd gear. Radio: Radio system back light broke at 60,000 miles current issue: Gear shift knob fell off while driving. Daughter was driving car and bumped gear shift and was able to shifted from drive to neutral while the car was moving. Called Honda complaint line to complain and there was no action or concern regarding the current issue of the gear shift knob.

- Yorktown, VA, USA

problem #65

Aug 122014


  • 99,000 miles
Problem 03 Accord LX - 4 door/ auto transmission. I first noticed this when walking past the locked car, no keys in the ignition, the display would light up ever few minuets. The radio turns on spontaneously without the key in the ignition, draining battery, leaving me stranded. Could hear a crackling loud sound coming from speakers off and on while taking left or right turns for about a year, radio working off and on, eventual the sound went out, radio appears to work but no longer has sound, display still lighting up and draining battery. No wrecks.

- Bunker Hill, IL, USA

problem #64

Apr 012015

Accord 4-cyl

  • 128,030 miles


I was driving southbound in peabody, Massachusetts on 128 almost on to 95 when at centennial drive exit when my vehicle, without warning, slowed from 60 mph to 30 mph, I put on hazards as car went from 30 mph to 10 mph to dead all in a matter of 45 seconds tops. It was around 12pm and traffic was moderate to heavy. Cars behind me were forced to slow at a significant rate, luckily a pile up did not occur as the likelihood of such a accident was extremely possible with one driver not fully present I don't want to imagine the possibilities. I was able to semi slide car into breakdown lane safely enough and aaa came 1 hour latter as they listed my call a priority call.. I had car towed to home town and mechanic went through car in its entirety to discover that transmission needed to be replaced. Honda is well aware of this issue as there are thousands of testimonies from Honda owners regarding their transmission problems occurring around 126,213 miles. The models with faulty transmissions are 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009.

- Gloucester, MA, USA

problem #63

Jan 012014

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 55 mph, the contact stated that the radio, cruise control, and horn failed to function. The air bag fault warning light illuminated. In addition, the contact stated that while trying to shift into park, the shifter knob fractured. The vehicle was taken to a dealer. The technician stated that the shifter knob plate needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V700000 (air bags). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown. Updated 03/30/15 updated 6/24/2015

- Irvington, AL, USA

problem #62

Jan 152015

Accord 6-cyl

  • 189,750 miles
I recently purchased the 2003 Honda Accord for travel. After purchasing the vehicle I noticed that the check engine light was on. The mechanic told me that there was a torque converter that needed to be replaced. After doing additional research I found that other Honda owners had this same issue. My car rumbles when driving through residential areas. When I try to enter my VIN number in to see if my car is eligible it won't come up, but I'm definitely experiencing the transmission slipping in specific gears.

- Missouri City , TX, USA

problem #61

Dec 162013

Accord 4-cyl

  • 23,686 miles
Driver's car (left front) keyhole won't accept my key, electronically. I went to different auto services and have the same comments that most of the complaints were the same. I checked the internet,, many owners of the same make, model & year have the same issues and problems, even the Honda chat room help site. I thought this is an isolated problem, but it's not, if there is some ways that your company could do something about this matter/issue concerning the manufacturer's (Honda) defect issue, please let us know, we don't want to shoulder to expenses on their behalf. Thank you very much for your concern and looking forward to hearing from you the soonest and for the immediate response to repair the problem for the inconvenience that we are experiencing for a long time. I have tried cleaning the inside of the keyhole by air pressured and wd 40, nothing happened. I can insert the key halfway only and then it will stopped. All other keyholes are functioning well, except the driver's keyhole.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #60

Jul 232008

Accord 4-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
This issue has occurred since 2008, but thought it was something the dealership service department did. The issue periodically occurs, but does cause me to startle while driving. It happened again on yesterday while driving and pressing the on and button on the control panel did not work as usual. I had to turn the engine off to stop the issue. I surfed the internet to find out was there anyone else having this issue and behold it happened exactly as the person mentioned. So, read below: Radio static noise on 2003 Accord forumstoday's postslog inregister home / audio/visual electronics radio static noise on 2003 Accord   #1   12-19-2011 12:46 pm by [xxx] C hello, I got headache problem with radio on my 2003 Accord. Actually since 2008, sometimes radio display is blank in the beginning when car starts up. It usually resumes normal in 1 - 2 mins. Sometimes radio station info show up but no sound. If trying to turn off/on a couple of time, it can get it working. Recently I am getting static noise occasional coming out from speakers in the beginning when car starts up. It lasts 10 - 20 seconds then completely gone. Yesterday it scared me as the noise sounds like a big lightning strikes after I starts up car. It lasts 20 - 30 seconds, then radio gets normal in minutes as usual.  the sudden noise takes you by surprise when driving and causes physiological and physical responses. So, it appears there was some sort of electrical issue with the radio with this make, model and year. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- New Roads, LA, USA

problem #59

Aug 222012

Accord 4-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
I went to put the key in to start my vehicle and the key totally fell apart in my hand. It was dark and I had no way to start my car. I tried putting the key portion without the enclosure into the ignition but it would not work to start the car. I then tried to reassemble the key in the enclosure and try to turn the car on so I could at least get did catch long enough to start the car and I had to hold it to get home. Since then both of my keys have fallen completely apart and I had to use gorilla glue to hold it together but because of the glue the auto lock does not work....and the key is very wobbly in the enclosure. This is a major safety factor which I have seen written about on the complaint websites. I have also called and reported it only to find out that this is not a safety factor.

- Stuart, FL, USA

problem #58

Apr 252013

Accord 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
Every time I try to start the car there will be a buzzing sound coming from the ignition switch. I have to turnover the key several times before I can get the car to start. I noticed a deterioration with my ability to start the car after the dealer performed the 'repair' due to an ignition recall. Currently, the occurrences of failure to start the car at every attempt has increased to the point of this being a safety hazard.

- Ozone Park, NY, USA

problem #57

Aug 042012


  • 150,000 miles
TL-the contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated under the NHTSA campaign number: 10V364000 (electrical system) the contact stated when she turn the inigination on the vehicle would not start, there were no warning indicators light illuminated. The vehicle did restart. The contact stated there was a clicking noise each time she restart the vehicle. The failure re occur several times. The vehicle was taken to a independent mechanic. The mechanic diagnosed it was an electrical problem he stated it was due to a recall, and the mechanic could not repair the failure. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the problem. The approximate failure at 150,000.lj

- Newark, NJ, USA

problem #56

Jul 222013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
Problem started : about a week ago. Engine would stall if either left or right turn signal was/were activated. At the present, engine dies when the brake pedal is depressed..american Honda told us that they had never heard of this complaint before. ( problem also occurs when 4 way flashers are activated). Car is unsafe and not drivable without turn signals and brake lights. I would like to know if any other Honda owners have or have had this problem, and also what was done or required to repair this issue.

- Jasper, AL, USA

problem #55

Jul 082013


  • 162,000 miles
Warning light goes on (exclamation point in triangle) when car starts. Tcs light goes on (after driving for a minute). May be related to seat belt according to my local shop. Car is no longer under warranty. Dealership wants to charge $120 for own diagnostic before replacing seat belt.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?