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:
21 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
16 / 0
Average Mileage:
48,313 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #34

Feb 232011

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 30 mph, another vehicle crashed into the front of the contacts vehicle. All of the vehicle air bags deployed except for the frontal driver air bag. The contact sustained bruising and minor injuries. The driver of the second vehicle was transported to the hospital via ambulance. The vehicle was towed to a collision center. The vehicle was not repaired. The contact stated that the vehicle had received recall repairs two days prior to the crash under NHTSA campaign id number: 10V364000 (electrical system:ignition) and stated that the air bag sensor could have been deactivated. The contact stated there was no light illuminated to indicate an airbag failure. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000. Updated 05/04/11 the consumer stated the transmission was replaced in August 2010 and in November 2008 the air bag light illuminated. Updated 05/09/11

- Fair Oaks Ranch, TX, USA

problem #33

Oct 012010


  • 115,000 miles
In addition to already recalled 2004-5 Honda Accord, you need to include 2003's too. Airbag light is on and off intermittently. Quite possibly it is the occupant protection sensor, or some component of that system, in the 2004/05's it is a wiring harness. Mine has been doing this for several months. They will gladly begin looking for a $120 diagnostic charge. This is a federally required safety system, any safety system fixes should be at no cost to owner.

- Manchester, MD, USA

problem #32

Nov 102010

Accord 4-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
I own a 2003 Honda Accord ex, 4 cylinder, 95,000 miles. The SRS warning light recently illuminated. It illuminates sporadically. Taking it to a dealer for repair. Hopefully it just has to be reset.

- Loveland, OH, USA

problem #31

Sep 022010

Accord 4-cyl

  • 150,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While traveling 15 mph, the contact stated that the passenger and driver front air bags deployed without warning. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer but the cause of the failure could not be determined. The current and failure mileages were approximately 150,000. Updated 02/09/11 updated 05/23/11

- Pocahontas, AR, USA

problem #30

Oct 022010


  • 51,000 miles
In a front end collision, the passenger airbag deployed but the driver's airbag failed to deploy.

- Cherry Hill, NJ, USA

problem #29

Jan 012010


  • 127,200 miles
Since January, 2010, on starting the vehicle, the airbag light sometimes remains lit - along with the notice "passenger airbag off", which turns off after a second or two. This is not affected by whether there is a passenger (or package) in the seat, cold or warm start, temperature outdoors or temperature inside the car.

- Hamilton, OH, USA

problem #28

Feb 262010


  • 70,000 miles


Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6) what: Air bags:frontal:sensor red light comes on intermittently. Vehicle: Honda Accord 2003 VIN: [xxx] mileage: About 70,000 related recall: 07V001000 how long: It stays on as long as the vehicle is being driven. Conditions: 1. the light comes on even when there is no bag or small object on passenger seat. 2. the light has also illuminated while the vehicle was in motion and passenger seat was vacant. Also when the seat was occupied by an adult weighing about 150 pounds. 3. the light comes on when starting vehicle after being parked for couple of hours. Frequency: About once every 15 days (started occurring from Feb 2010) recent change in conditions: 1. the driver side seat being shifted more recently as my wife has started driving this car too. I have owned this car for last 3 years and only recently the seat is shifted more often. That is the only change I can think of triggering this light. Remedy: 1. the warning light goes off if I switch-off the car and take the keys out and restart it. Though the process has to be repeated more than once. Related recall: 07V001000 this situation is very similar to the conditions described in the recall. Though my vehicle was not on that list. Spoke with Honda customer care, who suggested taking to dealer.

- Santa Clara, CA, USA

problem #27

Feb 122010


  • 111,700 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord LX that was recently involved in a head on accident, where the car was traveling between 45 and 55mph when it slid on ice and went head on into a snow bank/ditch. There was only the driver inthe vehicle and approximately 90% of the front bumper was shattered due to the collision. The passenger airbag deployed with no passenger in the seat, and the driver's airbag failed to deploy. The seat belt on the driver's side locked, but the seat belt on the passenger's side (with the deployed airbag) did not. The car was not disabled from the airbag deployment and is still able to be driven at this time. I contacted price Honda in dover, Delaware where I purchased the car and they informed me that they were unable to explain why the air bag did not deploy on the driver's side, nor were they able to explain why the car's safety features did not work properly following the accident. I was also told that if I do get the vehicle repaired, there was no way to ensure the air bag system's efficiency and they could not guarantee that if in another accident that the air bag would deploy or not.

- Dover, DE, USA

problem #26

Feb 192010


  • 101,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated the vehicle was parked and when he came out his front passenger airbag had deployed. The contact stated his airbag light had not been coming on so he has no idea why the airbag would deploy. The dealer was contacted. The failure mileage was 101,000. The current mileage was 101,600.

- Salem, MA, USA

problem #25

Jun 232009


  • 55,000 miles
When driving this vehicle the idle always seemed too fast. Even when the brake was depressed the car appeared to want to go ahead on its own whether in drive or reverse. My parents had reported this problem several times to a local Honda dealer who told my mother she didn't know how to drive and asked my father if he bought gas at a local indian reservation insinuating it was cheap gas that caused the problem. My father stopped driving the car because he felt he could not control it because it was too fast. I drove the car several times and always felt I could not control the speed of the car. On the date noted prior to the crash my mother was at a busy intersection. When the light turned red she had to use both feet to depress the brake in order to keep the car under control. Prior to the crash she was entering a parking lot and had taken her foot off the accelerator to pull-up in front of a building. Her foot was on the brake and the car lunged forward at a very high rate of speed-jumped a curb crossed over a flowerbed and only stopped when it hit a brick retaining wall. My mother tried pressing the brake as hard as she could and had the brake pedal to the floor and the car just kept the momentum going until it hit the retaining wall. When the car came to a stop, both airbags deployed. My father who was the front-seat passenger was badly injured breaking several ribs, requiring surgery and months of hospitalization. He is now non-ambulatory and still recovering. My mother was also badly bruised and could not speak for weeks because of the airbag hitting her so hard. We requested that the police investigate if the accelerator had stuck and to checkout the mechanics of the car and never received a report. Basically, they blamed my mother because of her age. When my mother exited the car at the scene of the crash she was obviously upset and was talking to witnesses and the police took what she said to be her 'statement of admission of guilt'.

- Kenmore, NY, USA

problem #24

Sep 142009


  • 63,000 miles


Driver's side airbag light stays lit whenever ignition is in the "on" position. This as is an ongoing situation since September,2009. I know many Honda in that time frame have the same problem. Many have been recalled, I believe.

- Wuanakee, WI, USA

problem #23

Sep 092009


  • 79,000 miles
Had an accident in which the driver side airbag did not deploy.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #22

Aug 222009


  • 82,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that she was in an accident and the entire front of her vehicle was damaged. The vehicle was considered a total loss. She stated that the air bags did not deploy while driving 30 mph at the time of the a result the contact experiencing injuries to her arms, bruises and whip lash. There was a police report filed. The insurance company advised her to contact NHTSA and file a complaint. She also contacted the Honda manufacture and informed them of the accident. The failure mileage was 82,000.

- Mt Prospect, IL, USA

problem #21

Oct 102008


  • 63,000 miles
The car was traveling 25mph and was stuck head on directly on the driver side. Car was totaled. Driver side airbag didn't deploy and driver side seat belt did not hold. The passenger side airbag deployed. This is a major flaw in the car design.

- Garfield, NJ, USA

problem #20

May 092007


  • 36,694 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While attempting to turn the vehicle at 50 mph, it was struck by another vehicle. The contact sustained injuries to her back, forehead, knees, and chest due to being thrown into the steering wheel from impact. The driver's side air bag failed to deploy. The driver's side seat belt came out of the buckle latch and was thrown to the passenger side of the vehicle. Six months later, the contact was involved in another incident in which the driver's side air bag did not deploy again. The passenger side air bag deployed. The contact sustained head injuries and was transported to the hospital. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and repaired. A diagnostic test was performed, which indicated that the air bags would now operate correctly. A police report was filed. The current mileage was 37,500 and failure mileage was 36,694.

- Union Town, OH, USA

problem #19

Oct 152008


  • miles
Honda has a recall on windshield wipers for 2003 Accord and airbag sensors. They claim my VIN # is not included. They say even though I'm having the same problems it is just coincidental and I am responsible for repairs. They claim the are not liable in case of an accident since my VIN # does not fall under the recall.

- Dallas, GA, USA

problem #18

Aug 102008

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 20 mph, the contact's vehicle was struck on the driver's side by another vehicle. The passenger side air bag deployed, but the driver's side did not. The contact was wearing her seat belt and taken to a local hospital with chest pain. A police report was filed. The failure and current mileages were 96,000. Updated 09/23/08 updated 09/25/08.

- Parlin, NJ, USA

problem #17

Jul 072008


  • 54,500 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. When the vehicle was started, the SRS indicator light illuminated and does not shut off. The failure occurred intermittently. The contact has not notified a dealer or repair shop. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 54,500 and current mileage was 54,700.

- Marlton, NJ, USA

problem #16

Jul 052007

Accord 4-cyl

  • miles
I had an accident, the passenger side's airbag of the 2003 Honda, Accord deployed, the driver's airbag did not.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #15

Nov 182006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
: the contact stated the driver side air bag did not deploy in a frontal impact crash. The approximate speed at the time of impact was 55 mph. There was pre-impact braking. The driver was wearing a seat belt, and no injuries were sustained.

- Severn, MD, USA

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