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:
Average Mileage:
91,801 miles
Total Complaints:
15 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (11 reports)
  2. not sure (4 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments

problem #15

Apr 012016

Accord EX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


Transmission failed 3 times. In total in total over $3000 on this transmission in last 2 years. I had to buy a JDM transmission from Engine World Inc twice from

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #14

Mar 222014

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,175 miles

My beloved Honda started jerking when driving slowly around a parking lot, then lost it the next on a major freeway. I dropped it into D3 and creeped home. The next day the blinking D light was off and it drove beautifully. For about 10 miles. It then lost Reverse.....

No ReCALL. Really?

- , Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #13

Dec 302013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Transmission shifts roughly into second gear and sometimes 3rd gear. Hesitates going into reverse. Had oil jet kit installed in 2004 when transmission was recalled. Car seemed to lose some power after this was done. Had transmission serviced at 100000 miles. Now has 150000 miles.

Update from Jan 14, 2014: Started off from a stoplight and car jerked suddenly as if someone had slammed on the brakes. Happened twice more on the way home. Called Honda corporate office they refused any help with this problem only telling me that the car was out of warranty. Honda dealer will replace with a remanufactured transmission for $ 4100.00

3200.00 for the transmission and 900.00 for labor. There are so many complaints about the transmissions on this car model. I had no idea. Bought car brand new in 2003. Will not buy another Honda.

- , Ponca City, OK, USA

problem #12

Sep 212010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


2003 hondas are crap dont buy them ever! thats goes for acuras also. transmission goes out every other year.

- , Culver City, CA, US

problem #11

Mar 142013

Accord XLE 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,764 miles

My wife was driving the Accord on a 4 lane highway. She had to pull over to the right lane and drive home driving about 30 miles per hour. There was no indication prior to this that there was a problem.

I will never buy another Honda and will not recommend a Honda to another person. I replaced the Accord with a 2013 Lexus RX350. In the 53 years that I have been driving, I have never had to replace a transmission on any of my previous automobiles.

- , Oviedo, FL, US

problem #10

Feb 052013

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

When I bought my Accord in 2003 brand new I thought this is the car I will be driving for at least two decades or at least until the wheels fall off. I was averaging about 9K a year, getting timely oil changes and maintenance. I took a real care of the car without ever being hard on it. 95% the car was a commute vehicle. I got Honda over American made brands only because of the reliability myth. A week ago (9 yr old 111K miles )the problem stroke as a lightning bolt. The car started vibrating and shaking when pushing on gas pedal and the problem would go away when taking foot of the gas pedal. The problem is more pronounced going uphill. Initially I thought it would not be a big deal, perhaps a tire or an axle. Front tires replaced, axle replaced to finally find out that the problem is in the transmission. Still cannot believe it, I rash to search the internet and here we go, the board and internet is exploding from Honda transmission failure complaints, especially for Accords like mine 2003 or 2004. Now, I am potentially out of $3500 for fixing this junk. I think it is the last honda I had ever owned.

- , Redmond, WA, USA

problem #9

Jan 032006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,000 miles


Within a week of purchasing the car, I could hear the transmission clunking into gear from first to second. I can only notice it when accelerating slowly. If I used normal or aggressive acceleration, it was not noticeable and seemed smooth. I did not feel like I had the time to deal with losing the car for who knows how long for repairs. It still does not seem detrimental or worsening, but for such an expensive car with a good reputation, I thought I would get better reliability. I purchased it used from Superior Honda of New Orleans in 2005. It was not certified preowned or whatever they call it.

- , Lake Charles, LA, USA

problem #8

Jan 022012

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,079 miles

Pick a previous post & I've experienced the symptoms. Up until now, no major problems just regular maintenance. Out of the blue, transmission started to act up. I tried a soft reboot of computer by unplugging the negative battery cable. It reset the check engine light and the car ran fine for about a day, but the problem came back. Looked up the symptoms online & was horrified expect that I was going to have to spent up to and maybe over $4000 to fix. Took it to Honda & they confirmed transmission problem and recommend replacement. As it is no longer under warranty, they accept no responsibility even though they are very aware of the problem. Big fan of Honda but have a very bad taste in my mouth. I'm switching to another import.

- , Canada

problem #7

Jan 072011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

  • Purchased car (2003 Accord coupe EX V6) from Honda dealership in Jan 2010 - approx. 98,000 miles
  • Fast forward to Nov. 2011 - winter in Minnesota - transmission starts sticking and (eventually) clunking/dropping hard when engine is cold/not warmed up. ..Car would run fine IF first allowed to run, in garage, for 8-10 mins (to warm the car up) ..When transmission clunked/dropped the engine light would turn on
  • Have inspected by transmission specialist - he says: it's a common problem with Accords from the early 2000's; can replace a few solenoids as a temporary fix; only permanent fix is to rebuild/replace entire transmission (for around $3000).
  • I start researching - come across sites, such as this one, which tell me that my car's transmission problem is most definitely NOT an anomaly.
  • I return to the Honda dealership from (which I'd purchased the car) and explain my situation
  • Fast forward two weeks, and I had to work my way up to the general manager (top dog), adamant throughout that Honda ought to pay AT LEAST 50% of the cost of a new transmission -- I either wanted to trade it in (all around great car except for the lemon transmission) or have the repair (at least) 50% paid for, by Honda (not the dealership itself, necessarily, but Honda the int'l company).
  • General Manager listens to me, empathizes, does his research, and, in the end, offers to purchase the car back from me for the Blue Book value of the car SANS transmission problem [in other words, he bought the car back from me as though the car had no transmission problem]

    -- To add: the transmission problem is a result of the torque converter being sized for a V4 engine, but being placed in a V6 engine. The 2003 EX V6 Accords have torque converters that were meant for V4's, so over time the transmission basic ally starts slipping


    1. I experienced the 2003 Honda Accord transmission failure. The only car I owned before this one was also a Honda Accord ('94 EX manual - may she R.I.P.). I was over 100,000 miles (and 3 years) when the problems started. Honda itself offered no support or assistance (customer service was friendly though, nevertheless)
    2. I experienced EXCELLENT customer service from the dealership, Walser Honda in Burnsville, Minnesota, particularly from the general manager, Greg Davis. They (the dealership) weren't responsible for the problems and they were under no obligation to me, but they went above and beyond in making certain that I was more than satisfied with both the dealership and Honda.

      Conclusion: 2003 Honda Accord EX V6's do experience sever transmission problems; the problem results from Honda using a (incorrectly sized) V4 torque converter in a V6 engine. This is NOT something that can be avoided, i.e. is no way the result of the actions of the owner. It's Honda's F-up, it's Honda's responsibility. The only long term solution is a complete replacement of the transmission. I've always held Honda in the highest regard, especially in terms of reliability. Honda's response to this problem put that regard in serious question - the dealership (Walser Honda, Burnsville, MN) exemplified the high regard to which I'd held Honda, and it gained a customer for life.

- , Eagan, MN, USA

problem #6

Sep 022011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Second owner of the 2003 Honda Accord V6, bought it on 2009 First found out this issue after taking my brother to JFK airport and on my way back home, some weirdo sounds clunking while car stopped on traffic and accelerate onward. Taken the car to auto repair and they told me it's transmission failure, time for a rebuilt. PROBLEMS: transmission slips out of gear shifts roughly won't go into gear drive indicator light flashing on dash high pitched whining noise from transmission clunking into gear shifts violently at low speed after highway driving. not shifting properly

- , Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #5

Aug 012011

Accord SDN

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


Honda 2003

Transmission went bad in 2008 got repaired by Sloane Honda Bustleton Ave,Went bad again in 2011.

SLOANE HONDA is the worst place to get repairs-They are liars.

- , Southampton, PA, USA

problem #4

Apr 222011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles

When cold my Honda drives fine but after a few minutes the engine revs up, but the car won't shift into gear or move. Also at speed of about 30-50 mph, it suddenly down gears to one with a violent jerk.

I took it to Sports Honda in Silver Spring. I knew it was the transmission that was causing the problem, because When trying to park at the Service Center, it wouldn't even go into reverse. They took my contact information, and said they would call me later in the day, but they didn't. I called them myself, and they told me that they think there is some pieces of metal in the transmission. They said they'll run further tests. Again no calls until I called them a few days later, and they said that they can't reproduce the same issues and therefore there isn't anything wrong with it. I should take it home and monitor it.

I have read that it could be a defective torque converter. I also heard that fixing torque converter can cost a lot of money. I called Honda at 800-999-1009 on Tuesday, April 26, and someone by the name of Robert took my VIN number and my complaint and said all this information is now embedded in the VIN.

- , Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #3

Mar 092011

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

The transmission has slipped a few times, and now it 'clunks' into gear. This happens about 3x/wk, so more frequent then before (1x/wk). The check engine light does not come on. Two different mechanics have said that the light needs to come on before they can diagnose the problem. Honda, what is up with this?

- , Hayward, CA, USA

problem #2

Jun 012010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

very disappointed, car is touted as running forever...Called Honda as per your recommendation said NO compensation would be considered for car with over 100,000 miles.

- , Aptos, CA, US

problem #1

Apr 022010

Accord EX 2.4L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

It clunks when you put it in reverse and reverse for a little bit , and when you press the breaks it's a loud annoying clunk, same way when you put it back in drive. you can feel it too, pretty rough. It's sounds like your axles are about to fall off.


- , Elkton, MD, USA

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