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:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
113,971 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #20

May 012012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles


When driving both on street and highway the vehicle suddenly shift gears on its own. The rpms will go up and the car violently slows down. For some time after the vehicle will not shift up and will not go above 25 mph.

- Paramount, CA, USA

problem #19

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 #18

Jun 282013

Accord 4-cyl

  • 148,820 miles
Car started burning oil at 100,000 miles. Tail pipe is full of black soot. I have to put 2 quarts of oil in the car every 700 miles. Car has been regularly maintained. On June 28, 2013, at 148,000 miles, the gears started slipping as I was driving. The drive light in the dash started blinking. Car would not shift gears properly. Reverse would not work. Mechanic stated transmission needs to be rebuilt - costing $2,800. I thought Honda's were supposed to last longer than this. I've already complained to Honda about the car burning oil but they said that is normal. What other options are there" does anyone want to get a class action lawsuit together" I've read about many instances where the motor burns oil and the transmission fails, even way earlier than mine has. It's too bad it would take a fatality for Honda to respond.

- Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #17

Dec 212012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 163,000 miles


Other driver was driving reckless!!!!! ran a red light at 60 miles an hour 20 miles over speed limit, side impact, air bags did not work!!!!!!! major brain injury as a result!!!!!

- Burlingame, CA, USA

problem #16

May 292013


  • 160,000 miles
I was driving around 20 mph when my car starts revving and the car doesn't move. It happens between 20mph-40mph. I was to pull over then start driving again. It happens more often then not now.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #15

Apr 132013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 130,800 miles
The car suddenly would not accelerate and change into the 3rd gear while driving on a busy road. Had the car towed to an authorized mechanic who diagnosed the issue as transmission failure with the 3rd gear. This is the same issue that caused Honda to issue a recall for their 2003 V6 Accord in 2004. A month prior, on two separate occasions, I was driving between 40mph-45mph when all of a sudden the car would not accelerate and slowed down, while I simultaneously engaged the accelerator. During both incidences the tcs and check engine lights immediately came on. After pulling over and turning the car off and on, the lights did not remain on. This is a very dangerous car with thousands of complaints already noted for the same issue. Honda needs to recall this dangerous car.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #14

Dec 152012

Accord 4-cyl

  • 150,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that when starting the vehicle, she heard a loud whining noise. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 150,000.

- Pageland, SC, USA

problem #13

Mar 262013


  • 150,000 miles
Uses tons of oil, has done so since new. Disappointed in motor and Honda's lack of response for this issue!!

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #12

Mar 262013


  • 150,000 miles
Uses tons of oil, has done so since new. Disappointed in motor and Honda's lack of response for this issue!!

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #11

Sep 282012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
When driving the car will not shift from second to third gears. While driving, the car while suddenly downshift to a lower gear with no warning. No check engine light is on. Honda states this is not covered under warranty but this should be since it is a major component of the car and this is something that Honda was aware of when the car was released.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #10

Dec 102012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the vehicle was taken to the dealer for an unrelated issue when the contact was advised that the engine mounts were failing and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 130,000.....updated 07/05/16 updated 07/11/16.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #9

Nov 202012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
A couple of weeks ago my automatic transmission started acting funny at low speeds - having trouble downshifting to speed up the car (I.e. going about 25 and then trying to speed up - it would just feel like it was in neutral and the car would rev but not speed up).the biggest issue then was that, at high speeds, the car would violently shift into 1st gear - thus causing the car to suddenly and severely slow down. This happened several times on the highway, and each time I barely avoided an accident - luckily no one was right behind me either time it happened. After doing some research, it looks like '03 Honda Accord with the V6 have major transmission issues - and it appears many other people have had this same issue.... but I was never made aware of it. My current car is an accident waiting to happen. I called Honda and they will not do anything about.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #8

Nov 102012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 132,000 miles
After about 45 minute ride out of my city on a major highway, my car violently downshifted from 65 mph to 0 and would not move out of first gear thereafter. This has happened everyday afterwards that I drive my car at least 20 minutes. It seems as if once a mechanism inside the transmission heats up or gets hot, this happens. I always service my vehicle as required, I am worried. This is a major transmission failure. I have read where over 200 other Honda owners have had this issue in the past but no recall has been issued. Please advise.

- Savannah, GA, USA

problem #7

Nov 102012


  • 107,000 miles
I bought my Honda from the dealership 06/23/12, 1 owner completely serviced through the dealership then traded in at same dealership. When bought it had 101,793 miles, timing belt was done at 90K and power steering pump. Not even month later I had to replace throttle body. I've always felt something wrong with the transmission after bought car. On 11/10/2012 out of no where when I was getting off the freeway my car started to down shift really hard, was jerking while driving and then was stuck in first gear, luckily I was less than a mile from my house so I drove home then parked it and no indicator lights on. The next morning (today) called a friend who works on Honda and he looked at it and said the transmission fluid was very dirty and practically gone. Drove around the block twice and transmission was working fine. Then later drove about 8 miles and started hard down shifting and was stuck in first gear. Then parked and tried to put my car in reverse and it not move acted like was in neutral. Put it in park, turned it off then started it again and put it into reverse, reverse now worked. After that I had my friend look under the hood at the transmission fluid and it was practically empty again. So I went to the store got more transmission fluid and put some in and tried to drive back home. Everything seemed fine for about another 8 miles then it started to hard down shift all over again. After another 3 miles the car completely freaked out check engine light finally came on along with the ABS, tsc, and the light showing I was in drive started flashing. So I pulled over and put the car in park and everything was still doing the same thing, including the light indicating I was in drive even thought I was in park and the park gear light was on. So I turned off my car, sat for a min then restarted. Driving slow needed to stop and brakes started to go out.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #6

Jul 292003


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that while driving 30 mph the contact smelled sulfur inside the vehicle. The contact stated that he believed the smell was emitting from the catalytic converter. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated the smell was normal. The contact continued to driver the vehicle with the sulfur smell since no remedy was provided but the smell was becoming too harsh to drive the vehicle. The failure mileage was 60,000.

- Kirkland, WA, USA

problem #5

Jun 012012


  • 97,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that when the air condition or heater was being used and the engine was shut off, it would become hesitant to restart. The contact would have to allow the vehicle to sit for several hours before the engine could be restarted. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic several times for the failure. A diagnostic was performed that was unable to locate a failure. The vehicle was also test driven however, the failure could not be duplicated. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired the failure mileage was 97,000 and the current mileage was 100,000.

- Great Neck, NY, USA

problem #4

Aug 092011


  • miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6. About two months ago I started feeling the car wasn't feeling right. As I was driving, it felt like the gear shift had been knocked down in to neutral, but was still actually still in drive. When this happened, the RPM's would go up and the car felt like it wasn't going anywhere, just coasting, then it seemed to just jolt back to where it should be. The problem wasn't happening every time I drove, but recently it started happening more often and for longer periods of time. I take the car to one place to have all my work done on it, so I took it there, but they felt the problem might be internal and recommended I take it to a transmission shop. They did diagnostics on the car and drove it. The result, the car is going into transmission failure. The transmission fluid is black and burned and has debris in it, and they said that the clutches are also burned. They won't know the complete picture until they take the transmission apart and get a good look. It is 5 days before christmas, I don't have the money to fix it or we will not have any christmas and now I have no transportation to do anything! soooo frustrated. I thought Honda's were suppose to be such good cars, but I have had nothing but problems with this one. It doesn't seem like a transmission should go out at 113,000 miles and I have had so many people say the same thing. Now that my transmission is going out, I read up on it and find out there was a recall in 2004 for the 2003 Honda Accord. Why, am I just finding out about this??

- Hesperia, CA, USA

problem #3

Aug 132012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 144,202 miles
I was traveling at 60 mph on us 30 when my Honda Accord suddenly jerked and slipped into low gear. I was nearly rearended and was definitely in shock. I continued homeward and it did the same thing 3 more times. I had slowed my speed to 40 mph but the engine sounded like I was going too fast for the gear I was in so slowed down even more....put my flashers on and crept home. Since it is after hours I must wait until tomorrow to contact the dealership. However I have found that many people have had the same problem with Honda Accord.

- Bourbon, IN, USA

problem #2

Jul 012012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 70,795 miles
We have a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 automatic. While accelerating at low speeds, car lurches violently. It appears to occur when shifting gears. This has been very alarming, especially with two young children in the car. Also, the car does not go into reverse sometimes, unless turning the engine off and on again.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #1

Jun 202012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 98,076 miles
The car after being driven to work by my wife would hesitate going into gear. After speaking to the Honda dealership, and Honda America we were told it to far out of warranty to be covered. We have owned several Honda cars and now we are told they will not cover any of the costs involved. I thought Honda was better than this.

- Anaheim, CA, USA

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