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

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 2)

problem #40

May 082016


  • miles


Oil consumption my car is burning oil 3-4 qts every 600 miles. Honda says there is nothing wrong with my car and this is normal. Bunch of crap !

- Halthorpe, MD, USA

problem #39

Mar 022014


  • 144,000 miles
My car is burning or leaking excessive amounts of oil...within a 2 year period I've replaced 2- 02 sensors and 2 -catalytic converters. This has lead to replacement of my entire exhaust system as well (Honda suggested). I have to literally carry around a gallon of oil in my trunk due to excessive oil burning/leakage. I've spoken to Honda many times but noone seems to know why its burning so much oil, I was told high mileage and to use a thicker grade of oil. I don't have money to keep this up. I like my car but I'm very unhappy and frustrated, please help..this has been an ongoing problem and I'm just finding out that others have been having the same issues. I have "some" documentation but not much, I was unaware this was an issue with more than myself. Please help.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #38

Feb 132016


  • 110,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 has 110K miles on it. I was driving on hwy 280 and it felt as if I had slammed on the breaks and or downshifted to first from 4th. Car jerked twice. I immediately got off the freeway and the car's service light came on and the D light was flashing. The transmission has failed which is the issue that Honda had with these cars. A case manager at Honda said they will not fix the issue even though the issue is exactly the same as the recall.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #37

May 102013


  • 131,239 miles


While slowing down to stop at light in traffic and car just stopped and almost got hit by cars in my rear. I heard a loud boom and car(car mileage at 131239 )wouldn't also wouldnt go in to park and there was grinding sound when trying to put in park. Had car towed to find out its was transmission, paid here I am 7/27/2015 and the same thing happen (car mileage at 153000). How is Honda not have a recall on these cars. It is dangerous and I see so many complaints about this problem with this car.I spent alot or money to have a car continue to need transmission fixed at $2000 cost.

- Manchester, CT, USA

problem #36

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 #35

Feb 112015


  • 100,600 miles
I'm the original owner of the vehicle, and have always used Honda for service and maintenance of my vehicle. The transmission failed without warning. Thankfully, I wasn't driving in the highway because this could have caused a major accident. My car basically came to a stop when the transmission failed.

- Hawthorne, CA, USA

problem #34

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 #33

Jan 102015


  • 117,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 35 mph, the engine caught fire and the radio turned on and off. The instrument panel lights flashed and the speedometer increased to the highest number. The contact merged the vehicle to the side of the road and noticed smoke under the hood. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 117,000.

- Kinder , LA, USA

problem #32

Mar 072013


  • 93,551 miles
Informed kolbe Honda that my transmission was slipping back on 9/2/2004 and again on 11/9/2010. The service department claims there is nothing wrong with my transmission. I have paperwork stating the dates and complaints about my transmission. The Honda dealerships claimed there was nothing wrong with my transmission. At this time, my car was still under warranty. On 3/7/2013. Is when I almost died on the freeway when my car just slowed down to a crawl in the middle lane while cars were driving 60-65 miles per hour. I thought my life was over at this time. I was able to get onto the right shoulder and was in shock. I telephoned my husband to come to my rescue, then we crawled the car into Honda. After bringing my car back two different times to see why the car was still not running, the second time Honda told me that I need a transmission. I purchased a rebuilt transmission for $3051, as Honda did nothing to help me out. My car has been impeccably maintained. I almost lost my life for Honda not paying attention to me complaining about my transmission slipping from 2004. I often have my grandchildren in my car and was thankful that I was the only one in the car this day. I believe that Honda totally ignored me and probably a lot more people with the same problem. As of today, I still fear driving my car on the freeways and I stay in the right lane only in the event this happens again. I am a senior citizen and feel that I was taken advantage of. There is no reason why I had to spend $3051 to put a transmission that should have been replaced by Honda. I would appreciate some information back. I am still using my car as I cannot afford to purchase another car.

- Newbury Park, CA, USA

problem #31

Dec 132014

Accord 4-cyl

  • 133,000 miles
Timing chain slipped, resulting in mashed valves. Engine replacement required. Oil loss due to unknown causes may have been a contributing factor. Even though engine oil was replaced at regular intervals, engine oil disappeared, with no sign of oil leaks or burnt oil in the exhaust.

- Middletown, PA, USA

problem #30

Nov 142014


  • 78,670 miles


Transmission failure...suddenly disengaged! luckily I was not on the freeway (I-80); only driving 35 miles per hour three block from home.

- Vacaville, CA, USA

problem #29

Nov 022014


  • 135,000 miles
Transmission locks in second gear when driving violently downshifts to second gear and over revs and no reverse after it cools same result seems to be overheating and starving for fluid.

- Kansas City , MO, USA

problem #28

Sep 202012

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles
Key fell apart in hand when placed into ignition and made vehicle unable to start engine. Gear shift button which needed to be depressed to shift fell out and made vehicle unable to be shifted into gear.

- Stuart, FL, USA

problem #27

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 #26

Jul 072014


  • 90,000 miles
Traveling North on I-83 from baltimore to Pennsylvania, the car started jerking violently, and came to a complete stop, front wheels quit rotating (locked?). we were thrown forward against our seatbelts, the rear of the car jumping slightly to the right. Gratefully, traffic was light. We shifted gears on the console back and forth and got the car moving again, taking the middletown rd. Exit, pulled off the road, checked transmission fluid, read the car manual. Half-hour later, we continued slowly, but after a few miles, the car began jerking again, slowing, sometimes stopping. We were able to get home with hazard lights flashing, letting cars pass by pulling to the side. This was early afternoon, very little traffic, and we were not far from home. Had car towed to dealer who said transmission failure, needed to be replaced. We bought this car new in 2003, maintained it per manufacture suggestions, and had no prior problems or indication the transmission was failing as the car was running as smoothly as it has since it was new.

- Spring Grove, PA, USA

problem #25

Mar 282014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 131,300 miles
While driving with around 35 mph the vehicle start shifting gears violently random which made me pull over and turn off the car. Luckily I was very close to home and I decided to start the car and drive it to my parking lot. The transmission would not shift up from 1st gear and I was going with 20 mph for more than a mile. On the next day I tow the car ($130) to a shop and the mechanic there told me that my transmission is done and I either need to rebuilt it or get a new one!!!! so far $200, $130+$70( diagnostics). The estimated price for rebuilding the transmission that I got was $2700 after the accident I searched and realized that I am not the only one with the exact same problem, not even close to be the only one, but nothing has been done regarding that particular issue so far and basically everybody who has 2003-2007 Honda Accord is suffering from the same problem. It is unbelievable how no recall procedure was initiated, yet! this is a serious problem which can cause the car to get into an multiple car accident! I am writing this complaint hoping to change something in that forever postponed problem! I also would like to ask is there is a way to get some kind of compensation for the repair cost? one more time I really hope someone reads this complaints and they are not left in the general pile of paperwork on some forgotten desk in the corner covered with dust! ps: I am E-mailing to the manufacturer's headquarters and I am calling everyone who is reading this to do the same!

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #24

Aug 012013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
Transmission will not or struggles to move in or out of second gear.

- El Dorado, AR, USA

problem #23

Apr 152013


  • 116,000 miles
We driving on 35W -South at around 60 miles an hour and the vehicle turned itself to 1st gear. Had to pull over to shoulder and called aaa. Was told that solenoid to be replaced. After the replacement, car was ok and again, after few miles, has a similar incident on 494, where the gear shifted back to a lower gear at 60 miles an hour and missed a fully loaded walmart truck by inches! I had to spend 1800$ to get the transmission fixed.

- Eden Prairie, MN, USA

problem #22

Dec 192013


  • 132,000 miles
I purchased a used 2003 Honda Accord in April 2011. It now has 132, 000 miles on it. This week I was driving on the interstate when my "D" drive on my hear start flashing in my car RPM started revving up & my check engine light came on. So I put my emergency flashes on to get the shoulder of the expressway my car. My car wouldn't drive anymore in the D drive shift to make it home safely I had to drive my car in D3 all the way home. My mechanic is now saying I need a new transmission which will cost me $2500 I don't have. I've driven Honda Accord's all my life this is the first Honda that I've had a major issue with.

- Decatur, GA, USA

problem #21

Oct 152013


  • 151,000 miles
Naples, fl airport road and davis blvd. I was leaving a meeting and headed northbound on airport road at 3:55pm on Tuesday, October 15th. I was approaching the stoplight at the intersection on airport road and davis blvd. When I tried to break, the RPM's on my Honda Accord rose from 1000 to 2000 to 3000 and I noticed as I continued to break the RPM's kept increasing and the car kept rolling even though I was pressing on the break as hard as I could, I was literally standing on the break. Finally I was so afraid I was going to hit the person in front of me that I pulled the emergency break on and then the RPM's went up to 5000. The car finally stopped and I immediately shut it off, I was inches from the bumper in front of me. I waited about five seconds and turned the car back on and it went right up to 5000 RPM's. I then jumped out of the car and asked the person behind me to help me. He turned the car on again and again it revved up to 5000 RPM's. he kept pushing the gas pedal with the car in park and eventually it came "unstuck." I have never experienced this in my 18 years of driving, not sure what to do except I know I need to take it to the dealership tomorrow. I am terrified to drive this vehicle and terrified someone will get hurt if this happens again. This needs to be recalled immediately and something needs to be done, this is extremely unsafe, please do something.

- Bonita Springs, FL, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?