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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
34,357 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 lights problems

lights problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments

problem #7

Oct 012010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles


The low beam lamps of the headlights have failed 3 times - twice in the driver side, once on the passenger side. This appears to be a major problem for Honda as other Honda models have been recalled for the same type of failure. Additionally, due to the design of the car, it is extremely complicated to replace the bulb. As noted in the car instruction manual, the lining from the front wheel well must be removed to access the head lamp bulb! this makes it is very difficult for anyone other than a Honda dealer to replace the bulb. As a consequence, repairs to the head lamp cannot be easily and quickly made by an average owner, further adding to the safety hazard caused by the lamp failure. Honda should be required to recall this model, repair the head lamps, and replace with a new design to enable rapid, simple bulb replacement by the average owner. Replacing a major safety item on an auto should not be so difficult. How many injuries have been caused due to this problem?

- Jersey City, NJ, USA

problem #6

Oct 032005

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,500 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the driver side headlight has been replaced twice by the manufacturer due to a low beam. The headlight continues to have a low beam and does not match the passenger side headlight. The passenger side headlight has water inside the cover. The engine size and purchase date were unknown. The current mileage is 50,000 and failure mileage was 29,500.

- Purchase, NY, USA

problem #5

Apr 102007

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles
- the contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord with a failure mileage of 83,000. The contact stated that when she turned on the headlights the instrument panel became too dim to read. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer, and was told that the audio unit had to be replaced. The dealer replaced the unit free of charge, but the failure recurred. The current mileage was 85,975.

- Moundsville, WV, USA

problem #4

Oct 302006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


- the contact stated that headlights failed while driving at night. The contact stated that the headlights flickered on and off. This happened all the time, the headlights would be functioning, and then the light flickered on and off automatically. The contact stated that the interior dome light flickered on and off as well. Honda had a recall for the same problem for 2003 Accord with campaign # 06E02300, for exterior lighting, headlights. The contact took the vehicle to the dealership, and was told that the electronic load detector needed to be replaced, which would cost $676.38. The contact felt this vehicle should be part of the recall. Updated 02/27/07.

- Shady Side, MD, USA

problem #3

May 122006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord has a manufactures defect in the main fuse box which causes a faulty connection and the headlights dim during driving. Honda has this listed as a service bulletin and not a recall. How is this possible since one can not safely drive their car at night if the headlights will not stay light?

- Fairhaven, MA, USA

problem #2

Nov 232004


  • miles
My 2003 Honda Accord has a problem with the headlights that "dim" to 40%-50% of their normal brightness about once every minute of operation. I took my car the Honda dealership to fix this problem; they showed me some information from Honda of America that said that this problem is normal and has no repair. I trust my that my local dealer has done everything within their means to fix the problem; if Honda of America has admitted that this problem exsists, why aren't they being forced to fix this safety hazard" who holds Honda of America accountable to fix known problems"

- Medford, OR, USA

problem #1

Nov 162003

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I have problems with my headlights dimming as I drive along. The headlights seem to be flashing high to low. When they dim they lose 20 to 30 percent of their brightness. I can really see them flashing on dark roads were there are no street lights. Honda dealer cannot find the problem.

- 20601, MD, USA

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