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 4 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #101

Jun 222011

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,850 miles


It pisses me off that I have had the car for 5 years and this is my SECOND go around with having the transmission replaced. I will NEVER buy another Honda POS.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #100

Jun 262011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

I maintained this vehicle well since I got it at 11k miles. Then one day the transmission failed while I was going 50mph on a highway. The transmission downshifted to 2nd gear so it suddenly jerked me down to 30 mph.

- , Auburn, CA, USA

problem #99

Jun 062011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

2003 V6 Accord - 130K miles and planned on driving it forever. On the way to Vegas and the tranny seizes up. Shifts fine up to 3rd gear, but won't shift past it. Drove the car the last 80 miles into Vegas in 3rd gear to a Honda dealer. They quoted me $4600 to replace. Said it was "total transmission failure." No thanks. Had it towed back home and can still drive it around town, but won't risk taking it on the freeway. Funny thing is that it now shifts into 4th gear with no problems. Have an Acura as well. No more Hondas or Acuras for me, ever.

Update from Jul 29, 2011: Once I got the car back into town, I called the Honda dealer where I purchased it (Hoehn Honda - Carlsbad). Their service manager quoted me $3k and said Honda would pay for 25% of the job which would leave me $2250 out of pocket. Well that's a heck of a lot better than $4600. I scheduled a date and time for the job and dropped the car off. This was all supposed to have been pre-arranged, but the guy who helped me was rude and did not call me all day despite the fact that he told me he would call me that morning. When I called him @ 5:00 p.m. he said he did not have any info for me yet, then called back and said the new tranny would be $2600 and change. Did not quite add up to 75% of 3K, which by math is $2250. The rude service guy (who had not called me all day and then had the audacity to quote me a price nearly $400 more than his boss had previously authorized) and I got into a huge shouting match on the phone wherein I told him what he could do with his quote. The manager called me later and said "there was nothing he could do" about the price. In the end, I ended up paying $2500 - rude service guy said he pulled some strings and was able to cover 30% of the job as opposed to 25%. What a headache. Oh, and to boot,I could not get the key out of the ignition after picking it up. Took the car back to the same rude service guy and he said, "Well that's not a transmission problem" and had the service technician fix it.

Wrote a letter to the execs @ Honda of America and all they did was call me back and acknowledge they received the letter.

I've spent over $60K on this Honda and an Acura in the last 8 years. Honda will not get another penny from me, ever. DO NOT BUY OR SERVICE YOUR VEHICLE WITH HOEHN HONDA IN CARLSBAD, CA.

Wish my addendumn was more cheerful, but this is the way it all went down.

- , San Diego, CA, US

problem #98

Jun 202011

Accord EX 2.4L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles


2003 Honda Accord transmission failed at 84000 miles. Came here to see that I am not the only one. Honda only offered a 25% assistance on the dealer estimate of $3900. This is unacceptable. Having complete transmission failure from Honda at such low mileage is ridiculous. Based on how they have handled the matter, they have definitely lost me as their customer. For the last 10+ years I have been loyal to Honda, only to end up with this hefty bill. Toyota's have issues too, but I would say they are at least fair enough to accept those issues and issue necessary recalls. My car is V4 and there has been no recall on the transmission of this car, and yet so many people are seeing it fail. I will make sure all of my friends and family and nearly 20000 coworkers are aware of Honda's handling of this matter. In my mind, they should have opted to assist with at least 50% of the costs.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #97

Nov 222010

Accord 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

I bought a used 2003 Honda Accord way back. From the beginning I have been asking the dealership, where I get it serviced, why light indicating it is in Drive constantly blinks. Even if I have it in reverse the light is still blinking beside the "D". The dealership said they didn't know but not to worry about it. At about 115,000 the transmission began to "slip" it seems to downshift all of a sudden. I haven't experienced anything that has caused a near accident but should I drive it until it fails or get it replaced now? I don't want to have an accident while I have my granddaughter in the car.

- , Flowery Branch, GA, USA

problem #96

Mar 162011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Bought the car in Sep of 2010 for my 17 yr old daughter. Have had the car now for 8 months and it wont shift into third gear. Took it to the Honda place and they said it had a recall on it but that had been fixed. Say I need a new transmission and will cost 4000!!!WTH!!!

- , Hartselle, AL, US

problem #95

Nov 272010

Accord LX Vtec V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


I purchased the car used and it ran fine until the 1000 mile warranty expired. Had it at several shops and they say there's nothing wrong with it. I was traveling home last night but everytime I stopped at a stop sign or light and tried to take off it would go into first gear fine but it had issues going past 2nd and then 3rd. I work almost an hour away from home and this morning it was doing the same thing. Traffic moves pretty fast and its a safety hazard to try to travel in this car. I can't afford to buy another one and I can't afford to have in repaired/replaced. If I can't get to and from work I can't pay my bills and survive. I checked the website for recalls and there was one on the transmission for slippage into 2nd gear. According to the site my car had been fixed. I DON'T SEE HOW! WHAT DO I DO NOW?????? Thanks HONDA! I use to be a believer!

Update from May 5, 2011: I had the vehicle diagnosed at a Honda Dealership and they advised me that it was the transmission and that the recall had been completed previously on the vehicle. They say that it was showing "in the system" that it was complete BUT could not find WHERE it had been completed. The service manager also said that they could not see where anything had ever been done to the transmission at all. American HONDA refuses to take any responsibility for the problem and their representative was very rude stating that "That is your car and it is your problem"!


- , Augusta, GA, USA

problem #94

Apr 202011

Accord LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

I've kept my car in good condition, but the transmission is dying and it is way too new for that. i was driving on the highway and my car downshifted. the engine revved up by wouldn't engage. later, i lost all ability to engage the gears at all. it wouldn't reverse or get into gear, i was stuck on the road.

- , Glendale, CA, USA

problem #93

Apr 142011

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

Bought the car bec. it is a Honda with low mileage, but I was completely wrong. Just like the complaints of others, the car shifts harshly and feels like no 3rd gear. I have resolved to myself that i will never buy a Honda again. The recall was done on this car, but i think that the jet was only a" make up solution " not the " real "solution. They've should have replaced the whole transmission, because it has the tendency to go hot, but well, it is CHEAPER FOR THEM TO PUT A JET THAN REPLACED THE WHOLE TRANSMISSION. I strongly urge others with same bitter experience, to share it, so that people will not become another victim of LEMON CARS.

- , Merced, CA, USA

problem #92

Apr 142011

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

I am scared reading all complaints about 2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission problems. I have same problem. My car does not sift gear from 1 to 2 and some times even it comes from 4 to 1 gear suddenly on highway. Honda, do something for us. I can not pay afford another $4000 .

Update from May 2, 2011: I went to Honda Dealer and ask them to check. Left the car and went to work. Later they called me and said, they found DTC for Torque Converter stuck off and needs a replacement. They asked it will take $3750.86 to change the tranny. I told them about my little online research and about nearly 800 complaints about 2003 Honda transmission, and ask about if they can do goodwill compensation, he told me, I could talk to his service manager, But he was out of town for 6-7 weeks. I am going to call Honda Customer service and will update here too.

Update from May 12, 2011: I called american Honda yesterday, and got call back from American Honda case manager, named Caroline (1800 999 1009, ext. 117739, case # N 012011-05-1101450) . She said they can not help by any way , because I purchased the vehicle used and the problem is not related with the recall. How could she say that ? And I told her if I was the only one(first) owner, would she help me and she goes NO, then what's the point " because you purchased used vehicle..blah..blah...blah". I spent all my savings to purchase that vehicle, now can not pay for transmission replacement. Need help. Any good suggestions ?

- , Richmond, KY, USA

problem #91

Apr 012011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 223,000 miles


Same problem as everyone else....failing transmission in 2003 Honda Accord. Will stick to Toyotas from now on (which is what my other vehicle is). So much for Honda's being good cars. The automatic transmission started slipping between 20-30mph and the rpm skyrocketed....mechanic told me about the big Honda 03 transmission problem and said he'd seen it numerous times. Had no choice but to replace the tranny.

- , Newberry, SC, USA

problem #90

Apr 112011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Hi: same problem, wont shift out of 2nd gear + trans fluid smells burnt. Called honda and was told its out of warranty and they had added a kit back in 2004.Man this sucks .my local mechanic cost $ 2500 - 3000 . No more Hondas

- , Lancaster, MA, USA

problem #89

Oct 072008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I contacted the Honda dealership to have this issue resolved and they offered to do it for $3500, which included a new clutch and flywheel "while they were in there, they might as well replace it" except for the fact that those two additional parts added $1k to my bill. So the $2500 alone to replace the 3rd gear synchro was too much and I never had it fixed. I'm hoping the someone will step up and make Honda fix their junk. Overall, Honda makes a good vehicle but when something is wrong apparently they cannot take ownership of it.

- , Fairfield, ME, USA

problem #88

Mar 312011

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

After being under the illusion that Honda's are reliable cars my whole life, I get the gift that keeps on giving in the form of a shotty transmission in my 2003 Honda Accord V6. I take it into the dealership and sure enough it needs to be replaced after just 65,000 miles! I then do some Googling to find out that this is an all too common problem. I then call the dealership to tell them I read this is a common problem... can Honda do something about this? He basically admits this is a fairly common problem (funny he didn't mention this as soon as I brought it in) and says he will call the "district manager" to see if Honda will pay for some of the cost. Low and behold - it's my lucky day - Honda will pay 50% of the cost to replace an inherently flawed transmission that they sold me back in 2003. I'm still left owing about $2300 to drive my car again. Long story short - I will NEVER buy a Honda again and everyone I know will hear about this so that hopefully they won't buy a Honda again either.

- , Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #87

Apr 122011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

Transmission slips. While driving, the transmission will suddenly drop from 4 gear to 3 gear or 1 gear without warning - causing sudden deceleration. note that since it is the transmission and not the brakes, there is no indication to other drivers that you are decelerating. The other issue is, while attempting to accelerate the transmission will not shift but will rev the engine up to red-line without accelerating. This is where I was almost rear-ended by another vehicle while attempting to accelerate on to the freeway and the car would not downshift - but red-lined and wouldn't accel.

I've noticed that this seems to be a common problem with 2003 Honda Accords given the number of complaints filed about this same issue so I am somewhat surprised that Honda does not acknowledge these transmissions to be defective and agree to help the consumer fix them. Honda America denied my request to fix this issue. At some point given the overwhelming number of complaints about the same problem over and over again, you would think Honda America would agree that they have a serious problem with their transmissions. I requested that they pay for fixing this defective transmission and they declined my request and refused to even assist with partial payment. The Honda Dealership quoted me $4560 to fix my transmission problem stating that I had an internal transmission failure. I have not taken it to them for repair and will get a second (and third) opinion for cost to repair the defective transmission.

- , Georgetown, TX, USA

problem #86

Dec 272010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

I have been having trouble with my 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 for two years and no one could tell me what was wrong with it. They acted like they didn't see a problem because it wouldn't happen when they drove it. It will not accelerate when it hits 2nd gear and then all of a sudden take off. It would hold back. Now it has started slipping w/in the last 3 weeks and I was told today I need a new transmission. It only has 86,000 miles on it and I'm pissed. Dealership is supposed to find out if Honda will take care of it. There was a recall on the 2nd gear transmission in 2004. Something about the teeth chipping. They will be looking at a lawsuit if they don't take care of it. It's ridiculous!!!!

- , South Hill, VA, USA

problem #85

Nov 262010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

My wife has been complaining about her car doing some crazy things. I went and test drove it and everything seemed fine. Well, today I was driving it and the transmission slipped and the engine rev'd up. Now I see why the gas mileage is bad. Then I started reading all the Honda complaints. This is not right. I have had more problems with this Accord than my older Ford truck. I had the fluid changed at 100,000. It had been check out for the recall they issued years ago and they didn't have to change the transmission then. All I can say is I'm forced to buy something else and it ain't going to be no Honda. I'll get it fixed after I find a replacement and then sell it for whatever I can get.

- , Greenwell Springs, LA, US

problem #84

Mar 122011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Former loyal Honda owner. Will never purchase another Honda. That says it all!

- , Neenah, WI, USA

problem #83

Jan 012010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

About a year ago (more or less), transmission started slipping. The first time, I thought 'that's odd.' Now it happens ALL the time. And when downshifting or putting the vehicle into reverse, it SLAMS into gear. I've taken it to the dealership twice. They always give me the same answer: we can't duplicate the problem. So I took it to an independent mechanic. He told me I've got a problem that's not going to get better, and the cost of repair might not be worth it.

Then I started researching and found that everyone else has this problem too. I'll be contacting Honda again in the next few days and I'm going to do my best to get them to contribute to getting this repaired. This is my only car and I can't afford another one. And reading the stories about the car just violently quitting in the middle of traffic has got me a little scared. I bought a Honda for the renowned reliability. Looks like this may be my last Honda, unless they can make it better. Waiting for the class action suit, and I want in.

- , Place, CA, USA

problem #82

Dec 222010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

Accord failed to shift and ruined the transmission...I'm just really ticked and sad that I had to spend so much for a problem that should not have happened or could have easily been avoided.

- , Petersburg, MI, USA

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