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:
54,391 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 miscellaneous problems

miscellaneous problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #29

Dec 171016


  • miles


There a interior walter leak

- Riverside, CA, USA

problem #28

Nov 232015


  • miles
While traveling at 65mph the car suddenly down shifted almost causing a ugly car accident luckly the car behind me had good reflect and was able to swerve out of my way. No check engine light, no signs of tranny slipping prior too just a scary situation to be in.

- Camden, NJ, USA

problem #27

Nov 202015


  • 103,000 miles
This 03 Honda Accord has a safety recall for transmission 2nd gear issues, this safety recall was fixed in 04 but had the same issue again in 2015 and has now caused the torque converter to fail and stall on the highway, trucks and car speeding up behind us with our kids in the vehicle, this has become dangerous and no one wants to take care of the problem so that nothing happens further, I haven't had the vehicle for no more than a year.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #26

Aug 132015


  • 133,000 miles


Driving at approx 50-55 mph, my car suddenly and abruptly jerked several times, like a sudden hard brake, then let loose. Did this intermittently a few times then no more on this particular day. The next time I drove it, it did one hard sudden jerk, so I pulled over. The car did not move in drive after that, had to be towed, since the front axle broke from the sudden jerking. The jerking or braking, as it seemed, was very frightening as it felt like it would throw me off the road or someone from behind would hit me. The car's tires squealed because it jerked so hard and it would throw my head against the head rest. Very frightening at 55 miles an hour!! I took it in and it was discovered that the clutch was sending debris into the transmission causing it to plug up and the transmission was trying to go into 2 gears at the same time causing it to stop suddenly, then let loose. It does this after about 20-30 minutes of driving when it has warmed up the fluids in the transmission. The transmission has to be rebuilt. This seems like a recall issue, as this is common with this vehicle they said. Could very easily cause death or injury if it happens on icy roads or in traffic!! thankfully I did not have to drive on the freeway and that it is not winter, because it could very easily have thrown me into another car or another car hit me from behind or lost control on an icy roadway and spun into the ditch or worse, been killed!! it very much scared the mechanic when he drove it also.

- Spring Valley, WI, USA

problem #25

Jun 092015


  • 168,586 miles
In July of 2015, I went outside to start my car and only to find out that my car won't start. After trying for several hours and a day later, I went back to try again, my car finally started. Few days after that incident, it happened again. This time, I was about to leave for work and it won't start until after two days of trying and it finally started. The most resent time was on August 4, 2015 in charlotte, North Carolina while about to leave, I got into my car and start it, it won't start. I sat there trying for two hours before it finally started.

- Concord , NC, USA

problem #24

May 052015


  • 131,000 miles
I have owned four Honda and have never encountered or heard of issues like this before I bought my 2003 Honda Accord. I take very good care of my cars and do not drive them hard either. I bought my 03 Accord in 2010 and had no idea that I was driving what is tantamount to a ticking time bomb. Roughly a month ago, my tach started slipping and the car started jerking and clunking while I was driving it. The problems do not begin at a set amount of time behind the wheel. It starts I the lower gears and I can tell it is starting when I decrease my speed to a stop, at 10 miles per hour the car "shudders? and ?clunks?. it progressively gets worse and the higher gears become affected. I was on the freeway, on my way home from an appointment in the middle lane. I was traveling at roughly 55 ? 60 miles per hour when the entire car violently jerked. It was enough to throw my head into the steering wheel. I immediately went to exit the highway when I noticed that my car was now in neutral. I babied the car home and checked the fluid. It was fine. The problem has gotten worse and I can no longer drive my car without being willing to be injured or worse. The cost of replacing or repairing the transmission is not a possibility. I now have a car that I cannot fix and cannot drive. It is unconscionable that a car company that is built on its reliability would not acknowledge and fix this problem. Does someone need to die first? I guess that I am unwilling to risk getting behind the wheel of a Honda again. The scariest part of this whole situation was that I was going to put my 16 year old daughter in this car. Something needs to be done"now.

- Tenino, WA, USA

problem #23

May 012015


  • 134,000 miles


All of a sudden car get stop though engine was running on highway. There is no check engine warning. Auto gears started slipping.

- Owings Mills, MD, USA

problem #22

Mar 232013


  • 105,000 miles
Vehicle slams into 3rd gear, or slips out of gear, locked up one tie

- Sunrise, FL, USA

problem #21

May 012012

Accord 4-cyl

  • 68,000 miles
The entire paint, not just the clear coat, is coming off of my car. Poor quality paint for Honda. Unacceptable!

- Chagrin Falls, OH, USA

problem #20

Apr 282013


  • 150,000 miles
On 4/28/13 I was driving on the highway when my vehicle began to violently jerk and almost caused me to crash into a car in front of me. This has happened to me a few months back and Honda checked and replaced the auto trans recall. Now today Honda tells me the transmission is gone and I will need to replace it at $4,000. I just got this car only 11 months ago and not even put 40,000 miles on it now I need a new transmission" this is outrageous and unacceptable to me. I purchased the car with 115,000 miles on it, now its at 150,000 and I need a new trans"

- Lilburn, GA, USA

problem #19

Feb 232012


  • 75,000 miles


For 2 days upon startup in the morning the transmission appeared to slip when shifting from reverse to drive. The third day at the speed of 55 mph I began to accelerate and found that here was no power. I backed off the gas pedal, tried again and got nothing. I downshifted and tried to accelerate once more. I felt the transmission slip into gear. For the next 5 miles it went in and out of gear and then nothing, no transmission at all. The car is now at a Honda dealership. Honda of America had me tow it there and get a damage assessment and the cost of the repair. The dealer diagnosed the transmission failure and gave a repair cost of $4,000. Including tax. Honda of America has offered us $1,000 toward the repair due to our perfect maintenance record on the car. This car had the transmission fixed in the 2004 recall by Honda. This car only has 75,000 miles. Honda of America refuses to acknowledge that this is a problem very specific to this make and hear of the Accord. Honda of America refuses to to acknowledge the thousands of other Honda' with the exact same problem and all seem to have between 70-90 thousand miles!!!!! the Honda dealer told me " I better take the one time offer of $1,000 from Honda of America" leading me to believe I had to make a decision. Upon further investigation I have 30 days to make a decision. I am a former Honda owner and have never had a problem like this and firmly believe I should never have a problem like this with a Honda automobile.

- Carmel, NY, USA

problem #18

Feb 242012

Accord 6-cyl

  • 137,000 miles
While driving at 40mph, my 2003 Honda Accord violently down shifted (mimicking the effect of slamming on the brakes). I slowed to 30mph and the car continued to violently down shift, slipping in and out of gears. After backing up, the car seemed to have a delay when I shifted into drive. Once it engaged it jerked into gear. I originally noticed problems when I first purchased the car of rough transition between first and second gear and also while down shifting. The dealership told me that no fail codes showed on the computer and that it was common but there is nothing wrong with the car. This is a scarey issue as it could have caused a collision with the violent halting force.

- Moses Lake, WA, USA

problem #17

Sep 232011

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission failure in the middle of traffic, almost caused an accident but fortunately this was on a road with a slower speed limit. 3 out of 4 engine mounts are broken. I have owned this car 8 months and the estimated repair is $6000. I have found several websites and forums where this appears to be a problem for 2003 and 2004 transmissions on the Accord. Most drivers just stalled on the highway/road they were traveling on and this is a serious safety concern. How can these cars continue to be sold where this is a common problem.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #16

May 252011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 154,337 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord V-6 engine had been acting different for a year now. It is automatic. When I started going I had to go really slow to let my car shift into each of the 5 gears. Then one day when I was driving it would not go to 2nd gear so I finally decided to take it in and have it looked at it had 150,000 miles on it. The Honda dealer told me I needed a new transmission. I paid 3,800 dollars to have it replaced. I have read many complaints of others who have had the same problem, when will Honda be responsible for the bad transmissions in their cars? we paid 25,000 for the car and expected to get alot more mileage for our money than this. I've gotten better mileage out of my Ford Focus 1999 that I'm still driving and never had any problems with it. My cost for it 11,000.

- Fayetteville, GA, USA

problem #15

Oct 222009


  • 73,357 miles
27sep04 I took my 2003 Honda Accord in to fuller Honda in chula vista, ca for recall work. They "installed an oil jet on transmission second gear inspection" under the recall. 22oct09 my 2003 Honda Accord experienced multiple transmission problems. While leaving from work, I had difficulty getting my vehicle into gear. Eventually I was able to get it into gear and started driving home via a California interstate during rush hour traffic. Upon attempting to merge onto the interstate, my Honda went into "neutral" gear. All it would do is "rev" and I could not get it to go into gear in either forward or reverse. Now my vehicle was stranded in the middle lane of a san diego interstate during rush hour traffic. Since I was unable to exit my vehicle as other cars were speeding by on both sides, I had to call the chp for assistance. Chp responded 45 minutes later and assisted in towing my Honda to the shoulder. I then had my Honda towed to the closest Honda dealer. The service clerk apologized for my "problem" bus failed to mention about this transmission problem being a common issue with 2003 Honda Accord. He told me that since the transmission should not have failed with only 70K miles on my vehicle that Honda would pay for 50% of the parts and 25% of the labor. Even after the "discount", my total charge for replacing my transmission was $2531.31. My "near death experience" on the san diego freeways was free of charge.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #14

May 192007


  • miles
I was smelling the rotten egg smell that many other claimed to smell. I had the catalytic converter changed but the smell comes back from time to time. The seat slide forward and then backward when applying brake.

- York, PA, USA

problem #13

Oct 012010


  • 88,000 miles
In larger city after many red lights, the warm transmission began slipping when the light turned green. This has continued to happen. The problem now is intermittent but I think can become quite serious. I received no sympathy from the dealer. From the internet I see many similar complaints and all have no resolution from Honda.

- Hamilton, AL, USA

problem #12

Jun 132004

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
Told by dealer to ignore 'maintenance required' light in 2003 Honda Accord.

- Thompson, ND, USA

problem #11

Sep 062003


  • miles
Yes this is a followup to complaint #10080452. If you have had similar problems please email @ and let me know what was done in your case. Thanks.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #10

Oct 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,400 miles
Honda 2003 Accord is equipped with a "design defect" of costly and potentially harmful, from a safety standpoint, defect. The lower "grill" on the front bumper is designed in such a way that any road debris smaller than a 16" X 8" concrete block can enter and damage a fully-exposed and unprotected ac condenser. It is clearly unprotected from the harsh outside elements. The ac is an integral part of the safety of this automobile in that to clear the windshield from any moisture on the inner surface, the ac must be acting in proper fashion. If a car's inside glasses "fog-up" with moisture, the only solution is to turn on the moisture wringing ac unit, regardless of the temp of the air, the dehumidifier effect of the ac conditioned air is an absolute necessity. The current design of the grill/condenser leaves it vulnerable to be easily damaged by a bit of gravel as small as a bb pellet. There is not any screen or deflector in place forward of the condenser to prohibit any errant road missiles from damaging the condenser thereby creating the safety hazard of a fogged windshield and more, a simple screen or deflector could and should be installed to protect the safety feature of this car.

- Alabaster, AL, USA

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