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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
60,000 miles
Total Complaints:
1 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (1 reports)
2003 Honda Accord miscellaneous problems

miscellaneous problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Honda Accord:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments

problem #1

Nov 152006

(reported on)

Accord LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Unwelcome advances by Honda:

If the title sounds a little like a sexual harassment case, it is not THAT case, but some "improvements" to my new Honda Accord can feel like a driver harassment sometimes, well, lets call them rather "inconvenient conveniences"!

Here is my story: When the time came to buy a new car for our family, the Accord was the obvious choice, since my old 1992 Accord with 280 000 miles (still running well) was the best car of my life so far. First I made sure that Accord is not one of those "daytime running lights" cars, because I wanted to keep my freedom of choice to turn the lights on, or off, in this land of free, and because the glare from some other cars already equipped with DRLs was already annoying enough. It was O.K., Accord still was not infected with this latest craziness, so we took a ride in the new 2003 Accord, and even when I realized with a regret, that it feels more like a Camry clone, than like my old Accord, otherwise it was driving very well, and we purchased the car.

Only some time later we started to discover the "design advances" and started to curse the designers of the car. On one of our first trip we got into bumper-to-bumper traffic, and suddenly our cabin started to fill with choking exhaust fumes. After the argument (which of us switched to the outside air intake) was over, we found out, that neither of us has pushed the ventilation button and changed the air intake to "fresh" (meaning outside air), but that the car is just "improved" that way, and every time, when you switch between 3 circulation buttons on the right side, the intake of air is automatically switched from INSIDE to "fresh"/OUTSIDE. Why was that decision taken from me? Maybe on some Honda test-drive site in the countryside, there is not such thing as "exhaust fumes filled fresh air", but if I do not always drive at such a place, why do I have to push an additional button to switch back to inside air every single time I switch my circulation buttons, then curse the designer, and by both actions distract myself from the driving?

But there were more "advances" waiting for me to discover. One evening I drove to a concert, and when it was over, I got into my car a started for home. It was in very well lighted section of the town, I was going bellow the speed limit, so I was surprised to see red and blue police lights behind me. Soon I found out, why I was stopped: my lights were not on! Well the reason for this was, that in my old Accord the instrument panel lighted only if the lights were turned on, but in this new car the panel is lighted all the time, and if there is light outside, there is no way to realize the lights are not on, except checking the small "light" icon on the display every time.

But the light "advances" don't end here. Who came up with the stupid idea, to have your dome light automatically turn on every time you take the key off from the ignition, and stays it on for a couple more minutes? If I am getting out from my car, and open the door, the light would come on anyway, and would turn off as soon as I would close the door, that is how it was before to everybody's satisfaction. What harm done with the new setting? One example: twice the car battery was partially exhausted, because of that "improvement"! The first time it happened, the reason was that when leaving the car, there was no way to see right away, that the dome light was already turned on manually (when we were taking the mail from our mail box a minute ago), so that it would stay "on" even after the time for the preset automatic illumination would run out. The second time one of the passenger door was not fully closed, and again there was no way to notice it, since the light was already on, when we were leaving the car. Why do I not have the option to turn the damn automatic illumination off (other that disable the dome light manually)? Now I have to wait every time for the stupid light to turn off, before I leave the car for an extended period of time in garage, to be sure, that no lights are on.

But there were more surprises on the store. One evening I drove to a concert and was praising the designers for a change, because the central opening in the back seat was there, and I could easily transport my 6 feet long wooden overtone flute "fujara" in the trunk this way. As usually, there were not any parking spaces available in that part of the town, and I had to settle for a dark side street, but because this was not the safest part of the town, I wanted to make sure the car was properly locked. Using the remote controller, I was trying in the dark to push the right one of the 3 buttons, in the process locking, and unlocking the car and opening remotely the trunk. Finally I verified which button was the correct one, locked the car again, and hold the button maybe a little longer, just to make sure it was locked. It was an unpleasant surprise 3 hours later, when I came back to my car, and found out it was locked, but all windows were partially open, and anybody could get easily into the car. Fortunately nothing was stolen, and only then I remembered reading in the manual about the option of remote opening of the car windows, one of many features, which I then knew right away was totally useless to me, and decided I would never use. Well, I now realized, I had used it anyway, without my knowledge and it could have cost me valuables in the car, even the car itself could have been stolen.

There could be one more page of some little Accord "improvements", that are not actually improving anything, but these are minor, and I hopefully would get used to them. Still the questions remain: did the customers asked for these changes?, did actually anybody complain about how the side view mirrors were adjusted, windows opened, doors locked / unlocked, time for oil change displayed, etc., in the old 2002 Accord? All those mentioned seemed to be more convenient before the change! For example, just this perfect little mechanical indicator, which turned from green, to orange, to red in time for oil change SINCE the last time it was reset, is now replaced with this red blinking light on the dashboard, which doesn't indicate anything, because it is not linked any way to the oil change, and starts blinking in meaningless preset intervals even when I have just changed the oil a week ago. Or are those changes only done to make the manufacturing cheaper, or to justify the sticker price? Why the Honda designers don't ask some people with common sense for their opinion, before they decide on an "improvement"? I volunteer to be one of them! Even when you completely redesign the car, why don't you keep the good features? Change just for the sake of change? Bad idea!

- , Mount Airy, MD, US

Not what you are looking for?