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:
15 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
9 / 0
Average Mileage:
77,270 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 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #22

Mar 292010


  • miles


2003 Honda Accord had sudden acceleration and caused accident.

- Dallas, PA, USA

problem #21

Mar 122010


  • 129,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 25 mph, the contact stated that the vehicle suddenly accelerated without warning. The rpms also increased to 5,000 when the vehicle accelerated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the accelerator pedal was cleaned and is now operating normally. The contact stated that she does not feel safe driving the vehicle and she does not think that her accelerator pedal was sticky. The failure mileage was 129,000. The current mileage was 130,500.

- Sanjose, CA, USA

problem #20

Feb 112010


  • 135 miles
This event occurred Thursday, February 12, 2010. I was in my 2003 Honda Accord and I was going about 50-55mph. I was coming up on a red light and my care suddenly would not brake. I applied as much pressure to my brakes as I possibly could (my feet and body was completely engaged as firmly as possible to the brakes) and the car slowed down but would not come to a complete stop. Luckily I was the first car at the red light in the fartherest left lane. I ended up rolling through the light and it was a time of day when traffic was not heavy (thank god) I ended up going through the light and veering to a median. I applied my emergency brake and the car still continued to move forward. I ended up shutting the engine off while in drive. Once I put my car in park and restarted the engine it was a very loud accelerating sound coming from the engine. I could not go back into any other gears. It seemed as though I was experiencing some type of issue with my accelerator cable. I am blessed I did not have my children in the car with me as this could have caused a serious injury to them, myself as well as others that could have been on the road. By the time my husband came to assist me the car started back up like nothing had ever happened! this freaked me out even more, so he followed me home where my car is currently parked. I contacted Honda in tyler, tx located on loop 323 to explain the situation. I am taking it to the dealer tomorrow so they can look at it. Looking at this site really came in handy because I have seen a lot of issues like myself, unfortunately a lot of the issues resulted in a wreck and I do not have the luxury to pay for repairs or get another vehicle so I hope this is considered a recall because looking at the reports and the severity of this situation it definitely should be. I will be posting my update after I come from the dealer.

- Flint, TX, USA

problem #19

Jun 232009


  • 55,000 miles


When driving this vehicle the idle always seemed too fast. Even when the brake was depressed the car appeared to want to go ahead on its own whether in drive or reverse. My parents had reported this problem several times to a local Honda dealer who told my mother she didn't know how to drive and asked my father if he bought gas at a local indian reservation insinuating it was cheap gas that caused the problem. My father stopped driving the car because he felt he could not control it because it was too fast. I drove the car several times and always felt I could not control the speed of the car. On the date noted prior to the crash my mother was at a busy intersection. When the light turned red she had to use both feet to depress the brake in order to keep the car under control. Prior to the crash she was entering a parking lot and had taken her foot off the accelerator to pull-up in front of a building. Her foot was on the brake and the car lunged forward at a very high rate of speed-jumped a curb crossed over a flowerbed and only stopped when it hit a brick retaining wall. My mother tried pressing the brake as hard as she could and had the brake pedal to the floor and the car just kept the momentum going until it hit the retaining wall. When the car came to a stop, both airbags deployed. My father who was the front-seat passenger was badly injured breaking several ribs, requiring surgery and months of hospitalization. He is now non-ambulatory and still recovering. My mother was also badly bruised and could not speak for weeks because of the airbag hitting her so hard. We requested that the police investigate if the accelerator had stuck and to checkout the mechanics of the car and never received a report. Basically, they blamed my mother because of her age. When my mother exited the car at the scene of the crash she was obviously upset and was talking to witnesses and the police took what she said to be her 'statement of admission of guilt'.

- Kenmore, NY, USA

problem #18

Feb 032010


  • 109,300 miles
Took foot off accelerator pedal; car revved to 2000 RPM's. had to really stomp brakes to stop car. This happened twice. Brought into Honda. Dealer could not replicate.

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #17

Jan 042010


  • 66,594 miles
While my wife was driving our 2003 Honda Accord, the accelerator cable got stuck and car was not breaking. She had to hit the divider and other 2 cars and then only the car stopped. Eventually our car was totaled. It is even mentioned in the police report.

- Edison, NJ, USA

problem #16

Mar 282009


  • 93,000 miles


Car slips out of gear at high speeds or low speed down shifts on its own wont shift out of first gear at all wont reverse.

- Pompano Bch , FL, USA

problem #15

Jul 142007

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,484 miles
On backing into a spot in a private parking lot I struck a short steel post. I then moved forward, the backed again to park, however, the car shot back and kept ramming the post. I shifted into D with foot on the brake thinking I had a problem only in R, but the car shot forward and, in 5 seconds, entered the roadway, rammed a taxi, crossed the road, entered a sidewalk area, took out 2 lampposts and was finally stopped by hitting a car parked at the curb. In the entire episode, my foot never left the brake as skid marks attested. Unfortunately, I did not have the presence of mind to turn the key off. The impression given was the car was attempting to reach a cruise control speed which was normally set for approximately 110kph (68mph).

- Burlington Ontario, 00, USA

problem #14

Oct 132006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles
: the contact stated the vehicle accelerated on its own while in reverse and crashed into the side of the house next to the garage. The brakes had failed. The vehicle has not been to a service dealer. Updated 11/07/06.

- Troutville, VA, USA

problem #13

Jan 142005


  • miles
Defective 2003 Honda Accord, vehicle suddenly accelerated while foot was on the brake. While pulling into a parking space with her foot on the brake, the consumer's vehicle accelerated suddenly and collided with a tree. The air bag deployed injuring the consumer's left jaw. The passengers side front end was wrapped around the tree.

- Arnold, MD, USA

problem #12

Jan 142005


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2003 Honda Accord experienced sudden acceleration and brake failure. The consumers foot never left the brakes. There was a loud noise under the vehicle and or hood when the vehicle accelerated like an jet airplane, jumped the curb and hydroplaned about 2 feet off of the ground and hit the neighbors tree. The consumer no longer owns the vehicle.

- Arnold, MD, USA

problem #11

Jan 142005


  • 23,959 miles
2003 Honda Accord sudden acceleration while foot still on the brake. It came to a stop by hitting a neighbors tree and the air bag deployed.

- Arnold, MD, USA

problem #10

Jan 142005


  • 23,959 miles
While the consumer's foot was on the brake pedal the vehicle accelerated suddenly. This failure resulted in an accident in which the vehicle struck a tree which and caused both air bags to deploy upon impact. The consumer was not badly injured. The consumer requested reimbursement from the manufacturer.

- Arnold, MD, USA

problem #9

Jan 222004

Accord 4-cyl

  • 12,800 miles
When the vehicle was being parked on a parking lot, the consumer depressed the brakes and the vehicle lurched forward. This problem has occurred twice and each time another vehicle was struck in the process. There were no injuries involved in either case. The dealer has examined the vehicle but could not find the problem.

- Massapequa, NY, USA

problem #8

Apr 202004

(reported on)

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
Once the consumer shifted to reverse, the engine went full throttle which caused the vehicle to hit a pickup truck that was parked behind the consumer's vehicle. This accident caused light damage to the rear bumper of the vehicle. Once he vehicle was turned off then restarted the vehicle operated normally. The vehicle experienced sudden acceleration twice after this incident. After the third incident the vehicle was taken to the dealer. The dealer found nothing that would have caused the problem. The vehicle was taken for a 300 mile road test but nothing was found. The vehicle has continues to experience sudden acceleration.

- Roseville, CA, USA

problem #7

Apr 242003

Accord 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20 miles
I purchased this Honda Accord 2003 in April 2003. From the very beginning I noticed a rambling noise on the engine, foul smell, vibration on the steering wheel and squeaking brakes. Also when I brake the car seems to accelerate like the idle is too fast. I reported it immediately to my Honda dealer and they told me to take it to any Honda dealer. I took it to Honda in gleandale and after inspecting it they told me there was nothing wrong with the car. However the problems continued to I kept taking the car to different Honda dealers but none could come up with a solution. When I asked them to replace the vehicle they told me that they all had the same problems and that I had to learn to live with it.! I feel totally frustrated by this situation and very unsafe driving this piece of crap.

- Glendale, CA, USA

problem #6

Oct 182003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,650 miles
When coasting to a stop, as I applied the break, the car's engine accelerated. The tachometer was up between 3 and 4, and the break was not holding the car. I had to place the car in park, and wait for the engine to slow down.

- Lebanon, PA, USA

problem #5

Jul 222003

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,700 miles
When the consumer applied the brakes, the vehicle accelerated and lunged forward through a crosswalk, once over the crosswalk, the vehicle went back to normal operation and came to a stop.

- Fremont, CA, USA

problem #4

May 052003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,010 miles
My daughter and I were driving along a busy street when I attempted to slow down because the traffic ahead started slowing down for a red light and my car didn't respond to my braking. I was driving behind a bus and my car kept accelerating towards the bus. I threw the car in park - stripping the gears - and the car kept going. By some large miracle, there was a gap in the traffic coming in the opposite direction, so I turned into those lanes and traveled for a few feet before I came upon a one way street - not in my favor - it's another miracle no one was coming up that street, so I turned into the one way hoping to find some way to stop the car. The twists and turns took away some of the momentum and when I had gone about 1/3 of the way down the one way street, I yanked up the emergency brake and the car finally stopped. The car was towed into the dealership on Tuesday, May 6, 2003 and they called me on Wednesday, May 7th, to say that they ran all sorts of checks and found nothing wrong with the brakes. The fact that the brakes are now working does not mean that the brakes are good. My daughter and I can testify to that fact because we were the ones who faced that near death situation and I refuse to take a chance with our lives. There is a defect in the brakes and I would hate to start seeing reports of fatalities caused by this because they simply did not do extensive enough tests to find and fix the problem. The dealer is basically saying that since they can't find a problem, I have no choice but the take the car back. I absolutely cannot drive that car the way it is because I constantly visualize the outcome had I been traveling on a highway going 50 or 60 miles an hour. As it is, we are very lucky and thankful that everything worked in our favor and we did not crash. I don't want to become a statistic at which time they will break their necks to find and fix the problem....too late.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #3

Dec 192002

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200 miles
My 2003 Accord when put into reverse will accelerate at a high rate of speed with no pressure being put on the gas pedal. The car almost feels like it's out of control and may not be able to be stopped. Also, when driving in regular gear the car will continue at its current rate of speed without any pressure being put on the gas pedal. When the car is under these conditions it feels like the car is "stuck" in gear and won't/can't get out of this acceleration mode.

- Allentown, PA, USA

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