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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
62,204 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 #16

Aug 172015

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles


2003 Honda Accord. Consumer writes in regards to vehicle factory installed radio, components and back light defect issues. Consumer sent additional correspondence. The consumer stated recently, the cd player would not function properly and most importantly, the radio began to malfunction and drain the battery. The radio would flash on and off while both the radio, all components and vehicle were turned off and the key out of the ignition. After sitting overnight, the vehicle would not start the next morning. On two occasions after driving, the consumer shut the vehicle off for five minutes and it would not re-start. The consumer stated the vehicle would stall and it was all because of the defective radio. A mechanic informed the consumer, they had recently come across numerous 2003-2007 vehicle with the exact same problem. They found the problem was due to the way Honda installed and mounted the radio, coupled with the fact that the brains of the radio was defective, therefore draining the battery and causing the radio and back light to fail. The back light worked occasionally and then stopped illuminating. Updated 05/04/16

- Rahway, NJ, USA

problem #15

May 112015


  • 105,965 miles
The panel buttons on the audio/HVAC unit are not illuminating when the lights on the 2003 Honda Accord are turned on. I checked online and found there was a recall for this issue (svc bulletin 04-027). For this recall, the warranty extension coverage is 7 years or 105,000 miles, whichever occurs first. I called american Honda to inquire about a "goodwill repair" and was told my vehicle is no longer covered by this recall. The recall is based on a component failure on the printed circuit board (pcb) and Honda should repair this failure past the 7 year or 105,000 mile mark. This is clearly a safety hazard when driving at night, because you need to turn on the dome light to find the correct button or knob on the audio/HVAC unit at night, such as the front or rear defroster buttons.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #14

Apr 052015

Accord 4WD 4-cyl

  • miles
I have piece of crap people calls Honda I call today 04/07/2015 visibility problem windshield wiper and headlamps low I can't see night time during drive and transmission is skip but piece of crap(Honda) customer said you no have recall or warranty that's really mess I got mistake to buy piece of crap(Honda) please please please I suggest don't buy that like piece of crap( Honda) thanks

- Springfield , MA, USA

problem #13

Jan 032011


  • 98,000 miles


While driving at night all the lights on the center console went out. I now have no lights to control the functions of the heating, and defrost at night. The is an issue because I am unable to adjust settings when windows start to fog.

- Blanchard, MI, USA

problem #12

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 #11

Mar 012012


  • 75,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex, the radio and the A/C work, but you cannot see anything on the radio display, and the backlight for the A/C panel do not work, with the exception of the individual buttons such as the one for the compressor, that will come on when you push it in. The warranty on the radio display has been extended to 7 years/100K miles on the 2003-2004 Accord. This problem is common. My car is 75000 miles, but is over 7 years. If the problem is common Honda should extended the warranty time.

- Oregon, OH, USA

problem #10

Mar 082012


  • 140,000 miles


The internal lighting for the stereo/climate control has failed. The buttons no longer light up and the display screen is so dim that it cannot be read except from about 3cm away. This is a safety concern because it makes it difficult to operate the climate control at night, say if the windows were fogging up and you needed to defrost quickly.

- Bryan, TX, USA

problem #9

Jul 202011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
Hi I have Honda Accord 2003 with only 70000 miles on it. Last year I had problem with the screen that display my ac/heater/radio it went off.I cant see anything on that screen, living in Chicago and winter is coming, in extremely bad weather I am scared to drive that car and have my kids in it because I cant visualize and control the heat inside the car..driving on the highway with the bad weather that Chicago hasm, I wont be able to control the heater to remove the fog from the front window and it will be impossible for me to see while driving.I believe this is %100 safety issue that you should call Honda about and have it fixed because alot of americans use this type of car and alot of my friends have the same problem, Honda having business here making money should make sure that the products that it sells for the americans meet the safety parameters in this great country. We care about our citizens and that's the role of our government and I believe that you should take action regarding this issue against Honda. There was a recall about this issue but most of the customers were not ware of this recall, and now even though my car only has 70000miles on it, Honda refuse to fix this problem that their car has. As american citizen having trust in you, I believe that you should put Honda on the right track because people safety is an important issue in the United States for sure. Please look at this issue and don't put your people down. Thank you for all the great work that you guys been doing. God bless you.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #8

Dec 172011

Accord 4-cyl

  • 72,400 miles
Audio-HVAC display module is dim or dark: The audio display and controls (knobs, buttons, bars) of the audio-HVAC display module are dim or are dark. There is a known problem with the Honda Accord 2003-2007 where one of the components of the printed circuit board ( pcb) which controls the center audio console fails and then the whole audio console goes dark. So when you are driving the car, you cannot see any button or knob on the center console. It's almost impossible to change the heat / cool, the fan speed or any function that is controlled by the counter console. Honda initially sent out a technical service bulletin and they extended the warranty on the audio console to 7 years /100, 000 miles. But the problem still exists in a large number of cars. This is not like a transmission or a brake issue which can wear down over a number of years. This is a problem with the electronics on the car and should be escalated to a recall. This is a very dangerous problem as the console lighting does completely dark and the driver cannot see or locate any controls within the car. This can cause serious problem when driving and should be addressed immediately. Honda has issues a technical service bulletin number 04-027. This bulletin in the proof that Honda knows about the problem. The extended warranty that Honda has offered is of no use because a lot of people who have this problem are out of the warranty terms ( 7 years // 100,000 miles) this should be a recall item and the national highway safety institute should force Honda to repair this component in the car irrespective of the miles or the number of years. The fact of the matter is that this is a manufacturing defect and is not related to break down of a components because of miles or years. There is no wear and tear involved with printed circuit boards. ( pcb)

- Bothell, WA, USA

problem #7

Nov 172011


  • 65,700 miles
My radio/HVAC area the lights to display them are out apparently it was recalled but not for all vehicles this is a safetyhazard for sure being I can't find my defrost... the other problem is the recall expired this year and it expired just after I bought the car and a few months later the middle console went out!!!

- Dayton, NV, USA

problem #6

Sep 072011


  • 50,000 miles


Headlight lenses fogging up and diminished lighting due to poor quality material of lens chosen by manufacturer and approvedby whomever. There are many brand autos effected by this condition and now there are kits and shops to polish out the lenses at owner expense. This is not a normal maintenance type item and should be benefited a recall. Auto manufacturers should also be advised that their choice of a cheaper material has placed numerous autos on the road with a litetime safety hazard to driver visual impairment.

- Enon, OH, 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

Mar 012007


  • 40,000 miles
This complaint applies to almost all currently sold vehicles from all manufacturers. The polycarbonite lenses on vehicle headlights deteriorate quickly and greatly reduce the effectiveness of the headlights. This cost of replacing these defective lenses is prohibitive for most owners and they simply drive with the defective and unsafe headlights. Manufacturers should be required to replace these degraded and unsafe lenses with glass or other non-hazing material at no charge. Polishing schemes rarely are effective and do not last long anyway. Ultraviolet radiation along with normal weathering is the suspected cause of this deterioration of the poorly designed and manufactured lenses.

- Mooresville, NC, USA

problem #3

Sep 012010


  • 150,000 miles
All interior illumination lights went out and you can not see in car. Called the dealer they stated it was not a bulb and would cost several hundred dollars to fix the issue. I have read several complaints and wonder why a recall has not occurred.

- Somerset , KY, USA

problem #2

Mar 162009


  • 53,200 miles
Using turn signal switch causes engine to die. The issue is intermittent. Dealership could not replicate the issue.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #1

Jun 122007


  • miles
First, my cd player stops working out of nowhere, which I later come to find out that they had installed an internal defective cd player. A couple of weeks after the cd player broke, my drive side door would not lock with the keyless entry or power locks. Then, a couple of weeks ago my driver side headlight went out. I got someone to change both so that one wouldn't be bright than the other, but after they were both I changed, the drive side headlight still refused to work.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

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