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 5 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #81

Dec 212010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles


December 22, 2010. 2003 Honda Accord V6 Transmission Troubles VIN: 1HGCM66513A021978 2003 EX V6 5 Speed Automatic Honda Customer Relations Case: Miles approx. 122,000

Purchased my 2003 Honda Accord New from a dealer as my first new car. As a proud new Honda owner I felt good about my purchase of what was a very reliable car. From early on I was concerned with transmission shifting, as it was never really smooth from the start, I was told it would “break-in” and that it was normal.

Was surprised with the 2004 recall notice, took care of that with the dealer right away. This recall did not appear to address the shift/transmission symptoms. From my recollection the car had more than 15k miles on it when the recall was done. 2003-2004 Accord V6 Automatic Transmsision 2nd Gear

Type Safety Recall Campaign Status Fixed - If this recall status is fixed then why am I experiencing the same problem that this recall was supposed to fix? Today I have my vehicle at the local Honda dealer who I have dealt with many times. The Honda District Manager has been called to review the case. To expect a customer who spent close to $30,000 for a new car to shell out over $4,000 at less than 125,000 miles is unreasonable considering the history and online reports related to the faulty transmission in this year automobile and the potential hazard it poses to drivers. Other than the radio display panel lighting issues, there have been very few problems with this car.

I would consider myself a somewhat satisfied customer. The way Honda handles this situation will be very telling and a huge influence on my future car purchase. Have always been loyal to Honda recommending and having had several family members who drive Honda vehicles. The way this situation is being handled by Honda is surprising to say the least. My recent calls with customer service have left me wondering if there is something that I missed with customer service. It is supposed to be about the “customer” and taking care of their needs. To make them feel whole. The ads Honda runs are about being #1 in customer loyalty. I hope Honda can rectify this situation.

Note to Honda: There's a typo on the recall for the transmission, this is the way it appears.

Your 2003 Honda Accord Sedan is included in the 2003-2004 Accord V6 Automatic Transmsision 2nd Gear Campaign.

- , Pasadena, CA, USA

problem #80

Dec 032010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,270 miles

Well, decided to add our problem as well to the seemingly growing list of Honda owner problem transmission. This is our second honda accord.My wife actually drives the car mostly. It is her baby and she takes care of it just like one. Always serviced regularly through the Honda dealer and in last year through a very reputuable service center. Transmission starting acting up a few weeks ago and found that the transmission is in need of major repair or replacement. We have decided to replace it with a used one due to all the costs involved with other options. After repair, we will trade or sell for a new Vehicle ( unfortnately not another Honda - to expensive ). This has been a great vehicle otherwise and I just can not see spending all the money for a new Honda and risk the potential for another major problem as this.

Honda has lost a commited customer. I just feel that as well as this vehicle has been taken care of,this simply should not have happened at this point. We plan on contacting Honda but do not really expect anything based on what I have read from other complaints.

- , Mashpee, MA, USA

problem #79

Jan 232011

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,567 miles

Bought this car new in 2003 and it has run perfect up until Jan. 23, 2011. I average only about 7500 miles a year and keep in it in the garage. Oil changes every 4000 miles and had the transmission serviced by Honda at 30,000 miles as per maintenance schedule. Was waiting at a red light until it turned green and all of a sudden the first gear reved up and slammed into 2nd gear then revved up again and slammed into 3rd. From that point on every time I pulled up to a stop it down shifted with a thump. I had to drive a 45 MPH highway and found that I was shifting all over the place between all gears. It would rev up then slam into gear. I could not hold the speed limit and had to slow to the right lane. This seemed a little dangerous to me. Had I have been in the fast lane I could have been rear ended. People in Huntington Beach drive rather quickly. I called Honda main headquarters and they told me they had a recall in 2004 and that they had fixed my transmission. That did not happen. No dealership touched my transmission until I had it serviced in 2005 and they only changed the fluid. I did not get a recall letter or even know about any of these problems until I got on the net and found all the complaints. I was going to buy another Accord (my 6th Honda) Not sure now unless Honda corrects and pays for this past known problem.

Update from Feb 4, 2011: This is the update as of Feb. 4, 2011. Car has been with Honda dealer for 10 days and just picked it up today. After talking to Honda Main headquarters twice they agreed that 58500 miles is less than most of the other complaints so they offered to pay everything but the labor charge of $1000.00 which I was pleased with. They did come through on goodwill. I ended up paying $1012.00 instead of $3200.00 as was the dealer estimate. One thing I did learn is that you have to shop the dealerships for a lower price. I contacted a Long Beach Honda Dealership that quoted me $4200.00 to replace the transmission. I then called a Honda dealership in Westminster that quoted me $3200 to do the same work. It pays to shop dealerships for certain repairs as they are independent from each other charging what they want. If you have a choice make some calls and save some money.

- , Huntington Beach, CA, US

problem #78

May 112010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles


During the summer months car just shifts to low gear "like throwing on brakes". Additional the RPM up car not picking up speed. I had the Honda Service department check the problem out, and they told me if the engine light was not on they could not fix it. They ran a diagnostic and said clean the battery cables that may be the problem. Well after a 100.00 dollar diagnostic test. I still have the same problem. I felt I am getting a bad deal or the run around form the Honda dealership. I will not buy another !!!!!

- , Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #77

May 272010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

third transmission failure for this first (and last) time Honda buyer. I have spoken with 2 different case managers about what I think is the right and fair way to handle this. They kept reminding me the trans. was out of warranty ( I understand, technically Honda owes me nothing). I'd remind them, 3 transmissions, do you get it! They don't want to get it. They ran me in circles over the fact the 3rd trans was out of warranty. I've asked them for a new trans and they pay all expenses, not this 50% split on costs of labor or I pay for parts and half the labor. When this "goodwill compensation" was mentioned I laughed at them. I'm not giving up on this. I've written several letters to Honda Corp and a local Honda dealer that keeps trying to sell me a car. I trash them on- line every place I find the opportunity. I've talked two friends out of Honda's and they went on to buy Toyotas. I'll keep finding ways to get at and to them

- , Vista, CA, USA

problem #76

Oct 012010

Accord EX 2.3L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,546 miles

I bought this car thinking like everyone else, "this car will go 300k with little to no problems?" wrong. I got this car for my wife because we have 3 kids and she works 30 miles away from where we live. About 90k her car started to jerk and shake when going into 4 gear (autotrans) but when you accelerate the car will shift into a lower gear and the shaking will stop. After paying the extra money for a so called worry proof car now I have to save up 2k+. Maybe I should have bought an american made. I should mention I drive a Ford.

- , Portland, TN, USA

problem #75

Nov 152010

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles


I can't believe that my 2003 accord has a failed transmission at 117,000 miles. We had to put $4,000 into a rebuilt transmission. We keep up the maintance on our cars and still this happened. That is why you pay more for a honda so things like this does not happen. I called Honda to see if they would do anything and they said no. I told them that I would be writing and telling people about this situation. It looks like I am not the only one that is faced with this situation. Honda put a recall on the transmissions and do us all a favor by taking care of your problem.

- , Lino Lakes, MN, USA

problem #74

Nov 102010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,029 miles

This is happening to a lot of 2003 Accords between 80K and 120K miles. First car I have ever owned to lose a transmission on and I sure didn't expect it out of a Honda. The whole reason I bought a Honda was to avoid this kind of thing.

- , Nixa, MO, USA

problem #73

Nov 042010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,500 miles

I went to a used car dealer and found what i thought was a nice car...Everyone knows Honda has done well with their reputation when it comes to dependable and reliable automobiles. This 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 was very clean and fully loaded with all the extras and when I test drove it I was surprised of how smooth and quiet it was and the power was more than enough to handle its own. On top of that this Honda only had 63000 miles! which is barely broken in for Honda's standards. So after making the purchase I had the car for about 2 weeks before the transmission began making some strange noise and jerking motions while on the highway! Since the car was pruchased "AS IS" without warranty I was affraid I would have to get a laywer to look into Texas State "Lemon Law" but te dealer was able to work with me to get the torque converter kit replaced and put me in a loner vehical until it gets fixed.

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #72

Sep 012010

Accord EX 6 cyclinder

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,550 miles

I've heard that transmission failure with the Honda Accord and Civic is a widespread problem in models made from the early 2000s. The 2003 Honda Accord and 2001 Honda Civic appear to be the worst years for transmission failure. Mine is a 2003 and is shifting hard. I was told the entire transmission needs to be replaced with an estimate of $2000. Honda does not have a recall because it's not a safety issue however if it's a widespread problem with their vehicles they should compensate for the repairs in some way. Has anyone else had this happen and had any luck in getting the repairs paid for or some sort of compensation for the problem?

- , Mission, KS, USA

problem #71

Aug 242010

Accord LE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,865 miles



- , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

problem #70

Oct 102010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

Just like many of the other complaints, my otherwise very dependable Honda Accord's transmission began slipping between 2nd and 3rd gear for no apparent reason. For practical purposes the vehicle can not be driven. I was barely able to get the car to the Honda dealer, who after a very brief analysis, determined that the transmission was not repairable. It was almost apparent that they had seen this problem before. I need a new transmission to the tune of $3800. Even after 120K miles, the car is very solid elsewhere, so I don't have much of an option other than replacing the transmission. A used transmission would costs $2500 with no warranty. Why would I even consider putting a used transmission in after reading all of the complaints all similar in nature.

I'll be calling Honda tomorrow and discussing the issue with the dealership. Depending on how the conversation goes, and I'm not optimistic based on what I've read here, I'll decide whether I'll ever own another one. I'll update after tomorrow.

- , Titusville, FL, USA

problem #69

Dec 002010

Accord EX 6 CYL

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Called salesperson. She said would check it for me. Never heard back.

Recalled 11/10/2010 and she seemed very short with me. Said didn't call since had nothing to tell me. Wanted to connect me with service. I held but no one picked up the line.

Pressure from Dealer??

- , Hamilton, AL, USA

problem #68

Jan 032011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,500 miles

Transmission is slipping and converter is noisy.Started only when the temperature was 20 degrees or below now it does'nt matter. I have to let the car run 10 or 15 minutes before it will go into gear and now starting today it is slipping like crazy. I have called the dealer and I am currently waiting for a coll back.

- , Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #67

Nov 072010

Accord EX v6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles

I was driving on the highway traveling from Louisiana to Tennessee coming from an Army Reserve training. Engine light came on and it was a loud noise. Put on emergency flashers to get ready to exit off and I could not accelerate, an eighteen wheeler almost hit me, tried to brake and couldn't because the transmission oil spilling out my car wet the brakes in the front so I panicked because I had my two daughters 7, 8, in the car with me. I was able to get off without hitting anyone and without anyone hitting me. Called my emergency roadside assistance and they towed my car to the nearest Honda dealer in Jackson, Mississippi. Had to hitch hike with my daughters with a stranger to a hotel because the tow truck was only suitable for two passengers instead of three. Honda called me the next morning (had to spend the night in Jackson because all the rental car companies were booked until the Thursday and it was Sunday when it happened, so everything local was closed.) and said that the total repair for my car was 3880.00 fro the transmission because it had to be replaced and 360.00 for new brakes. I ended up having to catch a greyhound bus home after I'd been stranded for two days with my daughters who happened to miss school on Monday and Tuesday!!!!! I need help with this because my car bill isn't covered under the warranty, I had an extended warranty but it was forfeited because I am over the mileage. I travel a lot due to the military.

- , Clarksville, TN, US

problem #66

Nov 032010

Accord EX 4DR V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,800 miles

Honda has agreed to pay 1/2 of the $3500 repair. While I am thankful for this, they should pay the full amount because it is a known problem. As your site says, it is not a recall only because it is not a safety issue.

- , Richmond, KY, USA

problem #65

Sep 152010

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

before 90000 miles it failed to go into gear and just raced. then i had the transmission fluid drained and refilled. has continued to fail to go into 3rd on a few occasions since. when it happens it is disconserting. I manually downshifted and tried other things like letting the accelerator go but it finally did something. I was so stressed with the backup of traffic and horns that I don't really remember how it got right again. thank goodness i was not on an interstate.

- , Etowah, NC, USA

problem #64

Oct 052010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Well here I am on the internet hoping Honda will step up to the plate someday and fix my transmission. I was driving down the road today when my car wanted to slip in and out of gear. After reading everything about Honda transmissions not working properly for this year it's obviously going to be hurting me, the consumer, quite a bit. At least we know that in the USA if you own a big business you can get away with just about anything...including putting faulty transmissions in vehicles and not having to pay a dime to fix them. Real shame.

James the 4 war tour veteran now LAFD fireman

- , Beaumont, CA, USA

problem #63

May 012010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Transmission has been slipping since around 80k. Not sure if NHTSA recall# 04V17600 covers fixing this but I hope so otherwise Honda will get an earful until they chip in some money to fix this rather well known defect.

- , Jacksonville, NC, US

problem #62

Sep 302010

Accord ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,008 miles

Upon searching the web for possible recalls on the transmission, I found that this is a on-going problem with the 2003 Accord. Honda at no charge put the oil spray kit on because the car was having trouble shifting to second gear. I truly believe that they should have had a recall on the transmission then. There are too many failures with a lot of expense to the owners for nothing to be done about this. Is there anyone out there that can give me advice on who to call to help with this matter?

- , Dayton, OH, USA

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