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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
109,012 miles
Total Complaints:
64 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (28 reports)
  2. check their oil level very often (21 reports)
  3. replaced engine (6 reports)
  4. replace piston ring (4 reports)
  5. add oil (3 reports)
  6. replaced timing chain (2 reports)
2003 Honda Accord engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 4 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #4

Mar 162008

Accord EX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


My Honda consumes 2 quarts of oil every 900 miles. I have had the oil changed every 3000 miles . by the dealer. Yet there are no leaks. What I have found is that there are other 2003 Hondas out there with the same problem.

- , Manchester, NH, USA

problem #3

Jul 162007

Accord LX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,502 miles

My wife and I notice and reported the problem at our dealer Gatineau Honda about the excessive oil consumption only to be told like Roger from Port Hope and Luc from St-Jean Richelieu that it is normal to burn .07 liter when doing 1,000km. After arguing the dealer suggested that we do an oil consumption test. So every 1,000km I brought the car in which took 30 minutes since they had to wait until the oil drops back in the oil pan to get a accurate test. This went one for 10 tests. I requested a copy of all the paperwork which they refused. Again after a argument they finally gave me a copy. The dealer kept the car for 4 days and basically told me and my wife (she is a witness) that they contacted the engineers at Honda Canada and they did some readjustment and now I have to do another 5 oil consumption tests. I ask what they mean by adjustment and they basically told me they could not answer this since in their computer its all various codes and when I wanted a copy for my files the said that they needed to close the complaint to be able to print a copy and if they do that then I accept the car the way it is. Now the engine is burning 1 liter of oil every 1,000km. Unfortunately when doing these 5 tests (which are not completed yet) the dealer personnel service department made an error on the paperwork and the dealer is all confuse with the paperwork which perhaps brings me back to square one! who knows. Interesting facts: they suggested that I change the PCV valve, perhaps its defective and this would improve the oil consumption but prior to my wife and I noticing the excessive oil consumption they did change the PCV valve and I have proof since during an oil change they told me that my PCV valve needed to be change. I did not question this. All maintenance are done at the dealer. So I believe that they knew the car had excessive oil consumption. We decided to by a HONDA because of their reliability and we did include everything, undercoating, extended warranty, etc. hell we even put $20,000 on the car.I am tired and just want to go and trade the car in. With that experience and with todays society, I believe that every consumer should RENT, then it wont matter if the car has nay problem. Never put cash down on a rented vehicle, you don't get the money back.

- , Gatineau, QUÉBEC, Canada

problem #2

Apr 092007

Accord EX 2.4L 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,351 miles

I am annoyed by the dealer, Cobourg Honda, telling me different information. I first complained about this a year and a half ago and was told that it was normal to consume a litre of oil every 2500km or so. The reason for the oil consumption was that I was using synthetic oil (5w20 as the maker states) which Hondas don't like. The problem got worse and I was told that Honda didn't consider oil consumption to be excessive until it consumed more than 1 litre every 1500 kms. I was then requested to document the oil consumption by doing an oil consumption log/test. I did this at approx 113,000 kms and have found that I am consuming a litre of oil approximately every 1400kms. I am now told that excessive oil consumption is 1 litre every 1000kms and that is normal for NEW Hondas. I contacted the Honda Canada customer service who told me to request a diagnostic report of the cause of the oil consumption. This would be at my cost and any problems would be noted and if I needed repairs that I would have to contact Honda Plus Warranty to see if the needed repairs would be covered. I am not at all happy with the way that my dealer has handled this issue. The dealer told me if I wasn't happy with his answer that excessive oil consumption was not a problem or existing until 1 litre every 1000kms, then contact Honda Customer Service. When I did so, Honda Customer Service told me it was a dealer issue.

PS I drive this vehicle almost exclusively on the highway and have had all servicing at the same dealership since new, Cobourg Honda (Cobourg Ontario, Canada)

My questions are:

1) Does synthetic oil cause consumption issues?

2) What is considered excessive oil consumption by Honda

3) Are the directions I received from Honda Customer Service appropriate or should I use a different approach.

GRRRR! Thanks! Roger

Update from Aug 12, 2009: I did have this issue eventually resolved however it cost me $3300.00 Canadian. I was told by a Honda Canada technician that my Accord wouldn't be looked at until it consumed more than 1 litre every 1000kms. I stopped pursuing the issue because by the time my extended warranty expired at 160,000kms I was only consuming 1 litre every 1250kms. At 174k my timing chain went and I had my car towed to a differnt dealer close to where I was working (Pickering). I told the service manager about my oil consumption problem and he said he might be able to do something for me. He ran an oil consumption test and found that my car was consuming 1 litre of oil every 950kms. He got back to me and informed me that his area representative approved a new complete block to be put in my car but that since my warranty was expired I would have to pay the labour. I agreed and had the heads redone (1 valve needed replacing - no cost to me) and since 1 camshaft was also damaged (scoring/pitting/burnt) and the second had burn marks, I replaced both of them also. In total the cost came to $3300 Canadian not including the timing chain which I fixed several weeks earlier at a cost of $1100 Canadian. The car runs great now and I haven't consumed any oil between the 3 oil changes since the new block at 181,000 kms.

PS The dealer stated that the problem may have started because I put synthetic oil in the car since I bought it new. My suggestion, since this is the second dealer who has told me this, is to wait until you have at least 30,000 kms on the motor until you start putting in synthetic oil or don't use it at all. Apparently this allows the rings time to properly seat and will prevent oil blow-by in your rings. Hope this helps!


Port Hope, Ontario, Canada

- , Port Hope, Ontario, Canada

problem #1

Sep 212007

(reported on)

Accord LX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,438 miles

I bought an accord 2003 thinking I would have less problems. Every 1000 KM it burn .5 to .7 liter of oil. So just do the calculation and yes the oil lamp goes on before the next oil change! My friend has the same car and guess what, she also have the same problem! We are both normal drivers and always doing the maintenance to the dealer. I'm lucky, it's still under warranty. But guess what, as soon it's repair, I'm selling it since I'm scare that they will just fix the result of the problem and not the cause of it.

- , St-Jean-Sur-richelieu, Quebec, Canada

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