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:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
7 / 0
Average Mileage:
32,510 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

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 (Page 1 of 2)

problem #25

Jul 012010


  • 80,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the passenger side air bag deployed while she was driving 45 mph. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer; the dealer could not find the cause for the failure but stated that an electrical failure would cause the air bag light to remain illuminated until the failure was repaired. The contact called the manufacturer who took a complaint but offered no further assistance. The vehicle had not been repaired. The VIN was unvailable. The failure mileage was approximately 80,000 and the current mileage was approximately 114,000.

- Cameron , NC, USA

problem #24

Oct 022010


  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord ex. The contact was driving approximately 70 mph when both passenger side curtain airbags inadvertently deployed without impact. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnosis. The technician was unable to determine the cause of failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 86,000.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #23

Feb 252009


  • 93,000 miles
On February 25, 2009 at 8 pm my 16 year old son was driving down the highway when the passenger side curtain and seat airbags spontaneously deployed. There was no crash. Contacted local dealer and they said this does not happen. Contacted insurance agent and they said it sounded like a manufacturer defect. Took the car to local dealership on 2/27/09 after inspection they told us they could not tell us why the airbags deployed. They said we needed to contact insurance agent, contacted agent and she is afraid the company will deny the claim if/when we file it. The estimate to repair the damages is $3,100+.

- New Richland, MN, USA

problem #22

Dec 282008


  • 76,000 miles


I own a 2003 Honda Accord and was driving on I-55 in the Chicago area at ~70 mph when the passenger side curtain airbag deployed. There was no impact or collision, no road debris or potholes etc. I was traveling in the right hand lane and pulled over to the side of the highway to inspect my vehicle. Luckily as it was the passenger side and I was the only occupant of the vehicle, only my hearing was impacted. There were no marks, scratches or dents in my vehicle. I returned to my vehicle and slowly proceeded back onto the highway to drive home. I called my Honda dealer and took my car in for maintenance / repairs. They could not find a reason for the air bag system deployment either. I was told it was under warranty by the dealer and the necessary parts were ordered. Now Honda claims it is not their problem and is kicking it back to my insurance company. This event would have had much more serious impacts had the driver side airbags deployed.

- Woodridge, IL, USA

problem #21

Feb 032008


  • 53,000 miles
My Honda Accord ex 2003 air bag warning light is on and off. Since this is a safety/safeness issue so I tell you about this.

- Hacienda Heights, CA, USA

problem #20

Apr 042008


  • 36,078 miles
While driving in stop and go traffic on I95 going app. 30mph, the side airbag deployed for no apparent reason. No side impact incurred. There was substantial damage to the interior of the car. No damage to the exterior of the car since there wasn't any type of crash or side impact. Airbag was replaced, damage to the passenger seat and interior roof of the car repaired.

- Hawthorne, NY, USA

problem #19

Mar 122006


  • miles


I was driving about 55mph on a freeway in cleveland, oh. I saw something on the road and quickly swerved to avoid it. The item hit the bottom of the car with little impact, and the right curtain airbags in the back and front, and passenger seat airbag both deployed. I recalled a loud noise, but I didn't see the airbags actually inflate. I immediately took the car into a Honda dealer, and was advised that there was a dent underneath that must have caused the airbags to deploy. Repair costs were quoted, but nothing was repaired.

- Santa Monica, CA, USA

problem #18

Jun 062006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The current mileage was 77000. While driving 10 mph the passenger side front and rear air bags deployed. There was no prior warning indication and no crash. The vehicle had been looked at by a dealer who stated that the side sensor was bad. The failure mileage was 62000.

- Lakeside , CA, USA

problem #17

Jun 052006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. In June of 2006 (the exact date was unknown), while driving 10 mph uphill the passenger side air bag deployed, and ripped open the seat all including the back. The mechanic stated that the vehicle hit something and the contact stated that nothing had been hit. The current mileage was 77,000, and the failure mileage and the engine size were unknown.

- Lake Side, CA, USA

problem #16

Apr 052007

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,308 miles
While driving on I-95, I hit something in the road causing the side curtain airbags to deploy. By the way I tried to report this to your hot line twice by leaving messages; no one ever called back.

- Annandale, VA, USA

problem #15

Nov 102006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,500 miles


I was driving my 2003 Honda Accord ex-V6 on a highway when a passenger side curtain and side airbags deployed for no reason. There was no accident, no hit, no pothole. Insurance company investigated and found no damages to the car that could trigger airbags; Honda technicians after three days say they found a damage (dent?) on undercarriage that may have triggered the sensor. The car has 45500 mile on it. Police was called on a scene but no report was filed.

- Buffalo Grove, IL, USA

problem #14

Oct 312005

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles
Left side impact collision while stopped. Side air bag failed to deploy. No side curtain air bags available. Photos available. Not yet repaired.

- Keizer, OR, USA

problem #13

May 272005

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles
While driving, swerved to miss road debris, not for sure if hit anything. Both passenger side curtain and seat air bags deployed with no warning, causing skin laceration, bump on head, and ringing in the right ear. If consumer did strike something on the road it would have hit the undercarriage without enough force to cause this deployment.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #12

May 192005

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,500 miles
My wife was driving approximately 40 mph on a two-lane road when she made a minor swerve to avoid an object in the road. The passenger-side curtain airbags (front and rear) deployed for no reason. There are no marks indicating anything struck the vehicle. At the time of the incident, our 7-month-old daughter was in the back seat, on the driver side. We are gratefule that our 4-year-old son was not in his seat on the passenger side. We immediately contacted the dealer, martin Honda, who advised to bring the car in immediately. Dealer also advised us to contact american Honda in California to report.

- Newark, DE, USA

problem #11

Dec 222004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,250 miles
Consumer was driving at approximately 40 mph and the side curtain air bags dropped down, but did not inflate. Also, the seat belt on the passenger's side did not retract. The headliner was ripped 6 to 8 inches toward the center of the vehicle. The plastic housing that retracts the seat belts did not operate either. Consumer contacted the manufacturer and told the story, but the manufacturer will not stand by its product.

- Clover, SC, USA

problem #10

Oct 252004

Accord 6-cyl

  • 8,500 miles
Complaint received via E-mail. My car was hit on the driver's side by a car that ran a red light. The impact was about 25 to 30 mph. My concern is that my side curtain air bag did not function as advertised and failed to deploy. The air bag in the other car deployed, and the driver was uninjured. I suffered a blow to the head which should have been prevented or at least minimized had my air bag functioned. The consumer stated that the speed of the other vehicle was 30-35 miles per hour at the time of impact.

- Burien, WA, USA

problem #9

Sep 242004


  • miles
The side air bag inadvertently deployed without the vehicle being in an accident. The manufacture is claiming the vehicle was in an accident. The vehicle was inspected by an insurance rep, . and a collision company both indicated that the vehicle wasn't in an accident. Please provide the additional information.

- Jupiter, FL, USA

problem #8

Jan 152004

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
Driving down a smooth main street, the side impact airbags deployed (seat and window) this happened for no apparent reason. Honda denies that this has anything to do with the design of the car. It cost my insurance company several thousand dollars to replace. This is a very dangerous defect.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #7

Jun 162004

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,100 miles
While driving 65 mph, the front passenger side air bag inadvertently deployed. Also the front seat seat belt retracted. Upon inspection, the engineers believed that the consumer struck something based on a small scratch in the undercoating on the bottom of the vehicle. The consumer stated that the vehicle did not strike antyhing.

- Fort Wayne, IN, USA

problem #6

Jun 162004

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,100 miles
Incident: On June 16th, around 10 am, we were traveling from fort wayne Indiana, to the cincinnati area for a visit with our daughter. Driving along I-75 in Ohio, at about 65 mph, the right side or passenger airbags deployed and the right front seat (occupied) belt retracted. Upon arrival at our destination I called performance Honda in fairfield Ohio, the dealer nearest our destination, and relayed what had happened. I was instructed to bring the car in the next morning, Thursday June 17, so the dealership could inspect the car and attempt to determine why the side air bags and seat belt deployed while driving straight down the road. By Tuesday, June 22 we were told we would know what Honda would do and we could come in and pick up the car. When we arrived at the dealership we were advised that Honda engineers believed we had struck something, based on a very small scratch in the undercoating on the bottom of the car, and that caused the deployment of the airbags. We picked up the car and returned home to fort wayne on Wednesday. Thursday morning, June 24 we spoke in person with the general manager of don ayres Honda where we had purchased the vehicle. We expressed our position that the airbags and seat belt should not have deployed and Honda should make all repairs under warranty. Complaint: Side air bags should not deploy in a vehicle traveling in a straight line at 65 mph. From the owner's manual page 47 and again on page 48: "in a moderate to severe side impact, the sensors will detect rapid deceleration and signal the control unit to instantly inflate either the driver's or the passenger's side airbag. Only one airbag will deploy during a side impact. If the impact is on the passenger's side, the passenger's side airbag will deploy even if there is no passenger." There was no impact, side or otherwise and certainly none that could be considered "moderate to severe"!

- Fort Wayne, IN, USA

Read the next 5 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?