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:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
48,579 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 fuel system problems

fuel system problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments

problem #7

Nov 162011


  • 124,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated there was fuel smell in the interior of the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who replaced the O-rings, fuel injector and vapor canister but the interior continued to exhibit the fuel smell. The manufacturer was notified of the failure who informed the contact to take the vehicle to a second mechanic for an another opinion. They offered no other assistance. The failure mileage was 124,000.

- Syossett, NY, USA

problem #6

Aug 312011

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6. It has been serviced as per instructions in Honda owners manual. It has 119K on car and the transmission will slip out of gear when driving, according to several web sites (, ( their are many more out there doing the same thing and Honda usa is turning a blind eye to the problem. The real issue is the transmission, the past few recalls include jet kits and ignition switches and a few flash file updates to transmission software never truly addressing the real issue which is a much more expensive transmission replacement. The recalls are like any other recall when a large repair is needed on a broad scale, smaller more band-aid like repairs are instituted as recalls to get the vehicle out of warranty and no longer a problem for Honda. The problem with this kind of irresponsibility is this, the issue is not a cylinder wear issue and it isn't a fuel pump failing issue that simply is a financial inconvenience to the owner, it is a problem with a transmission failing to stay engaged, a problem that is leaving drivers in the middle of roads. A problem that is causing car to lose power in the middle of merging into traffic or changing lanes, or at any moments without warning, endangering the driver. Last but not least when a person decides to buy a Honda they are not only purchasing a car with money they purchase it with confidence of reliability. When you maintained a vehicle and you drive it like a baby and it fails at 119K that it what I believe falls into the category of premature failure. Honda needs to take responsibility for this dangerous and subpar product that they have given to the buyers in good faith and at the least give 100% parts goodwill.

- Thomaston, GA, USA

problem #5

Jul 132011


  • miles
Since the purchase Iżve experienced continual transmission problems. Upon speaking with the dealership I was assured all was fine. You can imagine my surprise when I received notice of the transmission recall (NHTSA 04V176000). Upon repair, in September 2004, I did not notice repair improvement, and continued to detect the rough grind of transmission shift and a whining sound. In 2009 I experienced a catastrophic transmission failure to which I had sought repair. In December 2010 I experienced another transmission failure. I have just now experienced my 3rd transmission failure, July 2011. My power steering pump had always had a faint whine, but Honda services never identified it as concerning. The problem progressively became worse until Honda finally suggested a repair, but informed me that the component was then out of warranty and would be a costly repair. I decided to delay repair until June 2011. Ac problems manifested in September 2005 and required replacement in April 2008. My center council clock and temperature display has been flickering, dimmed, and absent since 2009. The interlock stuck issue first materialized in 2008 and serviced in July 2010. My airbag warning light has been active since 2008 with an occasional but repetitive tcs alert; and my headlamp glass has been hazed since 2005. The paint deterioration is ridiculously embarrassing, the leather seating began showing wear 2 years in, my seatbelt doesnżT return to the original released position, head liner has water leak stains, cd player stopped working, exposed wiring is visible at the driver door hinge, Iżve gone through 3 batteries, countless tires, one cracked windshield, and I have always suffer from poor radio reception and occasional navigational signal roaming issues. In these times of thrift conscious fuel consumption, I utilize my nav tools to monitor my driving activity. IżM stunned to report I get a fuel economy of 24 mpg highway, not the 31 mpg as sticker reports.

- Menifee, CA, USA

problem #4

Jun 042011


  • 78,000 miles


At approximately 56,000 miles, we had to replace the rear main oil seal. At 68,000 miles, we had to replace the fuel pump and as of June 4th, 2011, we were informed that we need to replace the transmission at 78,000 miles. The transmission failed going approximately 70 mph and proceeded into "limp mode" to 30 mph. It proceeded to then return instantly to 70 mph and within 30 seconds repeated the same and as we were trying not to fly off the highway it again repeated this same behavior at which point we pulled off to the side of the highway, which was approximately 2 feet wide, and as traffic, which was thankfully not right on our tail, flew by we were able to drive on the side of the highway for the next 20 miles at approximately 30 miles per hour into the next town. At this point, there wasn't anyone available to look at the vehicle so we left it and rented a vehicle. Our Honda would not even go into reverse at this point. We then towed the Honda back to our home town and dropped it straight to Honda of tri-cities. There they diagnosed that their was a transmission failure and it had to be replaced. They offered to pay half of the cost ($2000) but we feel there is a life threatening problem with that transmission and after seeing all of the additional customers of Honda's, the years between 1999 and 2003, that have had the same life threatening experiences, we are appalled that the public has not been notified of this. Not just by a check on your transmission but a complete recall. I am very surprised that we were not fatally injured.

- Pasco, WA, USA

problem #3

Sep 012010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord LX. The contact stated that the air bag warning light was illuminated and the vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technician advised that the air bag sensor would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The contact stated that the air bag sensor replacement was not covered under warranty. The approximate failure mileage was 75,000. Updated 05/05/11 the consumer also stated after filling the gas tank, the needle would not go past 3/4. the dealer replaced the fuel sending unit and pump assembly. Updated 07/22/11

- Essex, MD, USA

problem #2

Feb 012009


  • 63,000 miles
Evap system failed from water seeping into drain joint. This is the exact same problem that caused a recall on other vehicle id numbers for this year and model. The recall needs to be expanded. The same faulty evap design is used on all the Honda Accord.

- Danbury, CT, USA

problem #1

Dec 242002

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50 miles
My wife and I purchased a 2003 Honda Accord in December of 2002. Almost immediately the car put out this horrible (rotten egg smell). I know this is coming from the catalytic converter and I proceeded to tell the service people that this was the problem. I made an appointment so they could fix the problem. Their response was that the gas I was using had a high sulfur content and we must switch gas stations immediately to get rid of the smell. So I tried every gas station in the area and the problem got worse. The car started to shake and seemed to be drawing power from the engine. The idle would also rise and fall when this shaking is happening. The odor became worse when the shaking would start. This smell is giving me a big headache and who knows what other health problems. So I called Honda service to put the car in for service again. Honda did not even want to look at it again, but with much yelling I got an appointment. They had the car all day and when my wife called to see if they fixed the problem they said there was nothing wrong with the car. They continued to explain that it is (the nature of the beast) and all cars put off this smell to some degree. I also noticed the gas mileage is not what Honda stated it should be. So I called Honda directly to file a complaint and found out that Honda is aware of this problem, but has no solutions to fix it. Honda assures me that after 10,000 to 15,000 miles goes by that the smell will decrease and go away. This smell started at 50 miles and is getting much worse at 4,500 miles. I will never buy another Honda car or their products again as long as I live. I am also researching information about other 2003 Honda Accord with the same problems and found many with the same problem. I am going to get a lawyer involved to fight them. We the consumers should not let Honda take advantage of us. Honda should be ashamed to sell the consumers such a rotten egg.

- Blackwood, NJ, USA

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