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 1 of 4)

problem #62

Sep 122016


  • 54,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 15 mph, the vehicle accelerated independently. The brake pedal was depressed and the vehicle was placed into park. In addition, when the engine was turned off and restarted, the rpms accelerated while the vehicle was in park. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where the cause of the failure was undetermined. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 54,000.

- Cuyahoga Falls, OH, USA

problem #61

May 052015

Accord 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
I was driving on the highway at 60 mph, all the sudden, it violently down shifted, felt like I was rear ended. As I let up the gas, the engine would rev but not engage the transmission. Luckily no other cars were behind me at the time. When I got to the office, the car would not go into reverse.

- Carroll, OH, USA

problem #60

Mar 182015

Accord 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
I was on an old six-lane highway where the speeds were 45-50 mph. My car suddenly fully accelerated, just as if I had floored the accelerator. I was unable to brake it to a full stop without hitting the car ahead of me or going through a red light and fortunately I was able to drive it part way onto a median strip and throw it into park and then shut off the engine. No one was injured and there was no damage to the car. A passing taxi driver checked the engine and said the throttle was stuck fully open. He was able to fix the throttle and drove the car off the highway, where I waited for a tow truck. My mechanic ran computer diagnostics on the car but could find no problem. He was also unable to reproduce the problem until one of his staff experienced it while backing up the car. The only thing he could propose was to replace the throttle body, which did not appear to need replacing. My researches led me to believe that this is a computer failure. I no longer own the car.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #59

Jan 162015

Accord 4-cyl

  • 140,000 miles


The contact owned a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving at approximately 5 mph, the vehicle independently accelerated causing the vehicle to crash into a house. The air bags failed to deploy. A police report was filed. The contact sustained injuries to the head and right eye which required medical attention. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 140,000... updated 02/19/15 updated 02/20/15

- Philadelphia , PA, USA

problem #58

Nov 042014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 103,400 miles
When I drive on the road at around 45mph, I experienced a sudden shift to low gear and then the gear is neutralized. I pressed the pedal, but no speed increased while the RPM got very high. I must have pulled over and restarted the car. I have struggled much to get home dangerously. I brought the car the Honda dealer. They offered to replace the transmission at the price $4300. This is ridiculous! I bought the car last year for $8500. I have replaced many parts including the timing belt. It cost me more than $3000 already. I could have bought a new car with all the money I already spent and will spend on it. I have called Honda America and also asked the dealer to call them for a good will repair. No good will is got. Honda do not respect their customers' life. They suck my money and leave me stranded. I have checked on line and found this is a wide-spread and well-known transmission problem of Honda Accord 2003. Honda become murderers because they leave these cars with defective transmission run on the road. A recall definitely is in need to prevent fatal accidents.

- College Station, TX, USA

problem #57

Jul 252014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 132,837 miles
I have had many incidents of my car not shifting from 2nd to 3rd for the last couple years, but on July 25th, 2014 I was approaching a red light with two cars in front of me in a 45 mph zone. I was at 40mph when I put my brakes on but the car would not downshift and the engine was racing. Finally just before I got to the cars, my car downshifted with a tremendous lurch. I then drove to a nearby parking lot. The car lurched the entire way which was about 2 blocks.

- Hampton, VA, USA

problem #56

Apr 182014

Accord 6-cyl

  • 94,444 miles


I've owned my Honda for 3 years now (I've always owned Honda). This has been a fantastic car for me thus far. I lost my husband to cancer at the age of 31, 2 years ago and really wanted something that was low maintenance and cheaper to fix. I didn't even question whether or not to get a Honda, the question was, which model to get. I decided on the Accord 2dr V-6 ex. While driving home from getting a new kitten, I was on the freeway about 30 minutes from my house and the car jerked forward, almost as if someone was slamming on the breaks violently. I was going 65 mph at this point. I was incredibly lucky that I was not rear ended. The car preceded to jerk violently causing my left knee to push up and hit the dash. We put the car in neutral and attempted to get off the freeway (during 5 O'clock rush hour). It took my 2 hours to get home in first gear, taking the back roads. The estimate to repair my Honda Accord is about $2000. I just started school for my bachelors degree and I do not have this kind of money. My Honda doesn't even have 100,000 miles yet. I am very disappointed that Honda has failed to accept responsibility for the failure of the transmissions in their cars. I will be submitting a request to Honda to help pay the replacement costs.

- Orem, UT, USA

problem #55

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 #54

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 #53

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

problem #52

Jul 282013

Accord 6-cyl

  • 62,400 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the vehicle suddenly accelerated to approximately 50 mph when she attempted to park. The failure was experienced several times. The vehicle was taken to a mechanic where a diagnostic test was performed, which located the failure within the throttle body and it was cleaned by the mechanic. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 62,400. The current mileage was 62, 5000. Updated 09-18-13 the consumer experienced sudden acceleration on two separate occasions, which almost resulted in two accidents. Updated 09/26/13

- Fort Thomas , OK, USA

problem #51

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 #50

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 #49

Nov 302012


  • 165,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that while driving 25 mph, the vehicle suddendly accelerated independently. The contact enaged the brakes but the vehicle continued to accelerate. After a considerable amount of time, the contact was able to shift into park. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 165,000.

- Powell, OH, USA

problem #48

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 #47

Oct 012012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 123,000 miles
Transmission stopped working will entering on-ramp onto a major freeway (I-45 N) and I had to push the car off on to the median during rush hour traffic. Horrible incident and could have been ugly if it happened on the freeway!

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #46

Sep 202012


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact started the ignition and as the accelerator pedal was depressed, the vehicle unexpectedly increased acceleration to 70 mph. The brake was engaged repeatedly and the gear was shifted into neutral however, the vehicle continued to accelerate. The speed was reduced as the vehicle accelerated up an incline then the contact shifted into park. The engine began to roar loudly with a rapid increase in engine rpms. The engine was turned off and the vehicle came to a complete stop. A certified mechanic arrived on the scene to inspect the vehicle. The mechanic found that the accelerator pedal had become stop in open throttle position. The vehicle was able to resume as normal. The manufacturer was notified of the acceleration failure and the vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnosis. The dealer however was unable to duplicate the problem. In addition, an investigator inspected the vehicle and detected that the air filter plastic box was fractured, which caused fragments to remain stuck in the throttle. They also informed the contact that the air filter was improperly installed by a mechanic when performing a previous oil change. The approximate failure mileage was unavailable.

- Bartlett, IL, USA

problem #45

Aug 132012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 44,124 miles
While pulling out of parking space with vehicle in reverse the vehicle suddenly accelerated causing me to crash into another vehicle parked in the same lot.I am an assistant service manager for a Toyota dealership and I am totally aware of sudden acceleration problems re recent Toyota problems, my mats were not involved [as were some found with the Toyota problems] and I am 100% sure that my, foot was on the brake and not the gas pedal. There were no injuries, however the rear of my car has quite a, bit of damage.. I noticed a slight similar problem the week before but that did not continue so I discounted it. When the vehicle leaves the collision shop, I will have my technician fully check this problem out, as he is very familiar with this condition re: Previously mentioned Toyota problems of the same nature.

- Coram, NY, USA

problem #44

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 #43

Jun 122012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 117,670 miles
Noticed when accelerating gently, car more quickly accelerated than usual to the next gear. Then the rpms shot up very high and very slowly and dropped suddenly when car achieved 35 mph, causing car and me to lurch and sling me backward into the seat. The next day, at 117,699 miles, I drove vehicle to my dealership, economy Honda on chapman rd, in chattanooga tn. They drove it, and agreed it was the transmission. They had replaced my first transmission in September 2008 under extended warranty at 67,618 miles because it did the same thing. Later I found out the first one was recalled anyway in 2004. American Honda communicated with economy Honda for a deal: Me to pay $2650.08 instead of $3886.50 to replace this current transmission, which has not even made it to its first fluid change (not until about 17,000 more miles). This is a two-fold issue. The first being that this can quickly and unexpectedly turn into a deadly issue, and the second being that a large corporation is being abusive to its consumers. Many people do not have the option of repairing, trading in, or leasing a new vehicle. How many people are locked in with Honda, and have pushed their vehicles to the limit even though this transmission issue is going on because they can not afford to make their vehicle safe" if I drive my Honda, is someone going to rear-end me on the highway and kill me and my children because my transmission is failing and my car won't maintain proper speed because of a faulty job that Honda did on my second transmission" Honda told me it was safe enough to drive home until they figured out how much to charge me, so it will be just fine, I'm sure.

- Rossville, GA, USA

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