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:
100,670 miles
Total Complaints:
161 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace the transmission (68 reports)
  2. not sure (52 reports)
  3. had the transmission rebuilt (17 reports)
  4. honda corp. will replace autotrans. as a good will service (8 reports)
  5. new transmission (8 reports)
  6. replace the torque converter solenoid (5 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 2 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #141

Jun 202012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,076 miles


transmission just stopped working out of the blue.

- , Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #140

Apr 022012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Piece of crap car. 2003 Honda Accord with 65,000 miles on it had to have transmission rebuilt. This occurred just days after extended warranty ran out. We have 2 hondas in our family and I know for certain that i will never buy another. The doors won't stay open and the interior trim is worthless. Guy who rebuilt transmission said that it was a design flaw -

- , Helena, AL, USA

problem #139

Apr 052013

Accord Coupe 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,219 miles

At only 57,219 miles this very well maintained car has a transmission failure. I'm told that the transmission has a filter, but the transmission has to be removed and dismantled to replace it. How convenient. All mechanical design engineers should have to purchase what they have designed and spend a couple of years performing repairs on those items. I'd bet we would see an improvement.

Update from Apr 24, 2013: Total rebuild required. Honda wanted $4,000 for the transmission, plus installation. No thanks. If their original was that bad, why would I want another one just like it? I couldn't bear to hand them (and reward them) another 5 grand. Went to AATCO. $3,036 for total rebuild. I don't like it, but I've got a new transmission and a 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty.

- , Yuba City, CA, USA

problem #138

Mar 242013

Accord 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles


I have had my Accord since July of 2012. It was working perfectly. Over the summer I even took a 3,000 mile round trip. Recently I got a recall notice about power steering but it wasn't anything drastic. Today, however, on my way to work, I was doing about 40 and it suddenly downshifted. It jerked awfully. I thought it would go away if I slowed down but it got worse. The engine kept revving but my car wouldn't move and then it suddenly started to shake. It was dangerous! Tomorrow, luckily, I don't work and will have to go to a mechanic to check it out. But from what I have read, I already know what they are going to tell me . I fear the worst . Not happy at all!!!!! My car only has 67,000 miles!!


- , Jersey City, NJ, US

problem #137

Oct 012012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

My husband and I were looking for a second vehicle that we could get our money's worth out of for commuting. We decided that Honda's make good commuter vehicles since they are such high quality vehicles that can handle lots of mileage. We found us a nice 2003 Honda Accord EX V6. It is nice all right except within 6 months the transmission is beginning to slip and we have experienced the sudden downshifting that others describe along with lunging when trying to go from 2nd to 3rd gear. We also have the long delay when shifting from reverse to drive. With just 106,000 miles on it and since we haven't even owned the vehicle for a year we are very disappointed. I found the car so my husband says I am banned from car shopping anymore. I guess I should have found sooner since this model is listed as the #2 worst car! Wish us luck and we will be back on here once the tranny goes out completely to tally up the costs. We have other complaints about this car as well but as instructed I will file them separately. They are worth mentioning here though to help those who may be considering a 2003 Accord. One month after we purchased the vehicle we found the trunk was full of water. It had never been in a "reported" accident and the folks that fixed it said they see it all the time on that model. Also, the front fender liners have fallen in and my husband has had to replace one and get new plastic clips for the other. Will not buy another Honda. We also have a 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor. It has about the same mileage and we have owned it for 7 years and have had less problems! It is ugly though, the paint is chipping off and it is rusting but hey the engine and transmission work great and it gets our family from A to B without any problems. Will leave our thoughts on that car under the Mitsubishi area. Good luck to those with the 03 Accord!!

Update from Dec 10, 2012: I forgot to mention that the trunk won't close! I left another complaint about this elsewhere but I just wanted to post it here as well so you can see that 03 Honda Accord means headaches!

- , Huntsville, AL, US

problem #136

Dec 272012

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

The car had no transmission problems until today and the transmission went completely out with a bump and the transmission had been replaced before but it's a bad time.

- , Hickory, NC, USA

problem #135

Aug 312010

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,000 miles


This is my fourth Honda purchase. Being a single mom of three children, I always bragged about the reliability of a Honda. Not anymore. After all these transmission problems on this vehicle, I think I will go back to buying Toyotas.... or maybe one of the others with the 10 year warranties. I don't understand how Honda would allow this to continue.... even after all the proof (over and over) of all the people having issues with their transmission. Just doesn't seem like good business.

I bought my 2003 Honda Accord V6 vehicle used.... in 2010. This was my fourth Honda and I was not the least bit worried. I bought all of my Hondas used. This was my first AUTOMATIC Honda I had purchased, however. I have always wondered if THAT was the problem. I NEVER had any issues with transmission problems with all of the manual transmissions in my old Hondas.

It started (almost immediately) with hard shifting. That got worse... then the green light started to blink. Now it slips out of gear when I turn corners. It usually happens between 1st and 2nd gear and then it will about rip your head off when it finally "finds" second gear. I try to not rev the engine too much in order to avoid that occurrence. I have tried numerous things costing me over $1,500.00. But, I have not replaced the transmission. I will trade it before I do that.

I'm so disappointed in Honda.... don't know that I will buy another automatic again.... or even a Honda for that matter. I NEVER dreamed I would ever say that after the amazing results I've had in the past with Hondas!

- , Greencastle, IN, USA

problem #134

Nov 102012

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

Car downshifted on highway (65mph) and almost caused an accident. Our 6 year old son now has nightmares. Initial diagnostic OBDII codes P0747 and P0752 stated two solenoids were bad. Mechanic replaced these and, $300.00 later the problem is still the same. Am looking to join a class action lawsuit or considering going to small claims court after I get the transmission replaced so I can have a final dollar amount.

Honda dealer refused to help.

- , Santa Clara, CA, US

problem #133

Jul 122012

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I bought my Honda 2003 accord from the dealership June 23, 2012.. Only had one owner, completely serviced through the dealership then traded in at the same dealership. When I bought it it had 101,793 miles, timing belt was done at 90K and the power steering pump. Before it had even been a month I had to replace the throttle body. I've always felt like there was something wrong with the transmission after I bought the car. When test driving it I was not paying as much attention as I should have because I was not planning on buying a car, then when we got back to the dealership I thought the car was in great condition and only have one owner I thought it was well taken care of and would be low maintenance. Last night out of no where when I was getting off the freeway my car started to down shift really hard and the was jerking while driving and then was stuck in first gear, luckily I was less than a mile from my house so I drove home then parked it and no indicator lights even came on. The next morning (today) called a friend who works on Honda and he looked at it and said the transmission fluid was very dirty and practically gone. So I went to auto zone and bought transmission fluid he put it in and after he was done drove around the block twice and transmission was working fine. Then later today got in my car drove about 8 miles and it started hard down shifting and was stuck in first gear. Not wanting to park on the side of the road continued to my friends pulled into the parking lot and realized there was no where to park. I then tried to put my car in reverse and it would not move and acted like it was in neutral. So i put it in park, turned it off and went to go get my friend to help push it out of the way. when I came out started it and put it into reverse it went into gear and reverse now worked. After that I had my friend look under the hood at the transmission fluid and it was practically empty again. So I went to the store got more transmission fluid and put some in and tried to drive back home. Everything seemed fine for about another 8 miles then it started to hard down shift all over again. Needing to make it home I drove slow and put my hazard lights on. after another 3 miles the car completely freaked out check engine light finally came on along with the ABS, TSC, and the light showing I was in drive started flashing. so I pulled over and put the car in park and everything was still doing the same thing, including the light indicating i was in drive even thought I was in park and the park gear light was on. So I turned off my car, sat for a min then restarted. Still driving slow i needed to come to a stop and my breaks started to go out. After driving 10 MPH finally made it home and now I am pissed I bought this car a little over 4 months ago and from what I'm reading my transmission is probably shot!! Does anyone know how to fight a dealership for fraud? What evidence that I might need? because I noticed something wrong from day one and I have a feeling they knew about it too!!

Update from Oct 18, 2014: Transmission went completely out. I had to pay $3200 for it to be rebuilt and it still does not act right. When reversing and shifting back to drive takes several seconds the car to switch to drive. Also car vibrates loudly in reverse. The steering pump now whines when the car is cold. Ive noticed electrical problems with interior lights and electrical gauges. At this time 2 of the 3 Catalytic converters have gone out, another huge bill. This is the worst car I have ever bought, its constantly needing repairs and I am about to get rid of it and switch back to Toyota's.

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #132

Aug 092006

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

Started just shifting hard then went to transmition slipping all together. Was stranded on the road and had to walk 2 miles to the closest house.

- , Hamilton, AL, USA

problem #131

Oct 122012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 212,000 miles


Well, what can I say, I am very mad and very very disappointed, this is 4th transmission since i got this car in 2003. and this time I almost got killed had anyone been driving behind me

I got the car brand new in january 2003, and by april the same year, the 2nd gear started to get stuck once took it to the dealer and apparently they reset the codes.

now, since I got the extended 60,000 miles warranty and the first transmission broke down at 55,000 I kind of dodged a bullet right there. BUT the transmission broke down again at 70,000 and since I was not able to get the lifetime warranty offered by aamco i just replaced the transmission and paid for it by myself, 5,000 dollars down the drain, BUT THEN the transmission broke down right after the aamco warranty expired, so another transmission

this time, i got the extended warranty for 5,000 that was back in 2010...

this past friday 10-12-12 I was driving at rush hour and the car would down shift suddenly and just as i was about to exit the freeway and luckily no one was driving behind me, the car downshifted violently while going at 65 mph to first or second gear from what I could tell.

and that would certainly would have caused a really really nasty accident, for sure someone would have rear ended me. but my guardian angel was there working overtime.

it is very disappointing to find out that i was not the only one with this problem and that the problem arises from a big company claiming quality and offering crap and not even offering an option. and on top of that that the the car was engineered like that so that they could save money those saving were certainly not passed down to the customers, the car was not cheap at all

i have been saving for a new car to get rid of this piece of problem and honda IS NOT on my wish list, i will not even get a honda even if I happen to win it by luck or whatever, is not worth it.

1st transmission = 100 buck deductible 2nd transmission: 3,500 plus 1,000 warranty total = 4,500 3rd transmission = 3,500 plus 5,000 lifetime warranty 4th transmission = PRICELESS!

unfortunately if you are reading this is because you had the same problems I had welcomed to the HONDA HALL OF SHAME !

- , Torrance, CA, USA

problem #130

Sep 232012

Accord CPE 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

We hope to have this problem fixed but have no idea how much it will cost.

- , Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #129

Jan 182012

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

First started slight shudder between first and second, not under load. Now slips sometimes before changing gear. Dealer offered to replace with rebuilt for $4050. Later dropped to $3660. Honda customer service offered no help.

- , Stephenville, TX, USA

problem #128

Jul 132012

Accord 4DR EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

Bought the car used at 120,000 miles. The dealership said the recall had been fulfilled so no need to worry about the car, but I was still hesitant. A few months ago it started shifting hard and the engine would flare when going into 2nd gear and into 3rd gear, but the problem went away as the transmission warmed up (problem was worse in cooler weather). This started around 133k miles.

Then, driving out-of-state, the trans went - it would only shift into 4th gear. I was able to limp home across state lines, and then driving it the next day, it started stalling on me too. I drained the transmission fluid and the drain plug magnet was absolutely coated in metal and clutch material. Transmission's smoked I think.

Being able to only drive in 4th gear is a big safety issue! I was driving in downtown Chicago - it's hard to get around when you have next to no acceleration!

I'll call and we'll see what Honda says about this one.

- , Columbus, IN, USA

problem #127

May 162012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,500 miles



problem #126

Jun 282012

Accord ES 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

Going on vacation, stopped to get breakfast, put car in reverse to back out of parking spot and transmission began slipping. Turned around and went home (2 Miles) with Transmission slipping all of the way. Changed cars and had car picked up July 10, 2012 to be taken to repair shop. Shop called today saying that filter was plugged up and filter was deep into transmission. $2,000 to $3,200 to repair based on need to replace any needed parts. I will attempt to get Honda to help with repairs but you know what that means. If anyone knows where to send complaint besides local Honda Shop, please let me know

- , Tyler, TX, USA

problem #125

Mar 302012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

I purchased a new 2003 Honda Accord and have taken it back for every recall and continued to maintenance. My car has 83,000 miles and the dealership has informed me the cost is over $3000. I can't believe that the transmission is gone with only 83,000 miles. There is no leakage or any other signs except when driving it. Why hasn't the transmission for the 2003 Honda Transmission been recalled? My whole family purchases Honda's but after this incident it will be my last unless Honda takes on the work and pays the bill.

- , Santee, CA, USA

problem #124

Jun 012012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,410 miles

Just advised by my mechanic that based upon the condition of the AT fluid and his own experience with these Accord models, the AT problem I am having looks like a replacement. So he advised we talk to Honda and explain how we are long time Honda owners (3rd one) and have heard there have been numerous problems reported regarding the AT and see about some "goodwill". Well we did and they pretty much told us TFB. Goodwill...think not. Taking it to transmission shop to get tranny replaced. Will keep on bugging Honda but gotta get the car fixed.

- , Sacramento, CA, US

problem #123

May 252012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

After buying a 2003 Honda Accord and only having it for 5 months it was having trouble shifting into the right gears. I bought a Honda because of their well known, long lasting vehicle quality, but now I'm thinking I could have made a mistake because I can not drive my car until this problem gets fixed! Its not safe at all.

- , Wentzville, MO, USA

problem #122

Apr 052012

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

I bought the car used from a dealership and 15 days later the car would not shift past second gear or go into reverse. Dealership refused to fix or return money (As-Is warranty). I contacted American Honda about the problem and indicated that they had numerous recalls for this particular transmission. At first I was told that I had to be the original owner. Then they told me that since their service records indicated that I had not had the transmission fluid changed, they could not help me. I also own a 2002 honda accord and a 2008 Ridgeline. I truly doubt that there will be a fourth honda in my future if this is how they standby a known problem.

- , Woodstock, GA, US

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