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 6 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #61

Jun 012010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


The problem started shortly after i purchased the car with only 75,000 miles on it. It first started jerking hard, so i checked into it and got the fluid repalced, saw no metal parts, no codes or nothing. Then that seemed to make it a little bit better. Then after a year later it started doing the same thing. So i got the fluid changed again only to make it better for a little while. Couple of months later it started to act as if it did not want to shift gears. Then eventuallly it got worse so.A day to remember, on my birthday it had gotten really bad not wanting to shift out of third gear.

Thank god that it has been given me a problem but has not given totally out, just waiting on some money to try and get it fix. Have no clue where to take it so it can be fixed, I did get some codes on it that said the solenoids were stuck on wich i was told that they where on the outside and also told they where on the inside, also told that to replace the transmission which this is a pain in the rear end!

- , Hampton, VA, USA

problem #60

Dec 012010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

My car's transmission started slipping out of gear about a WEEK after my warranty went out (my "top of the line extended warranty"). I contacted my honda dealership and said this problem was VERY VERY unusual for 2003 accords and they hadn't heard anything like this and there was nothing they could do. UNBELIEVABLE! - - - I will post another complaint, but...a year later I had to have that one rebuilt.......another $1600!!!

- , Savannah, GA, USA

problem #59

Oct 042004

Accord LX V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles


- , Bethpage, NY, US

problem #58

Oct 152009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles


I have read many websites of people having the same issues. Honda says it is not a safety concern, but when my transmission failed (twice) while on the freeway, it was definitely a concern. I was almost ran off the road twice by semi's because my car was not shifting into gear. I had transmission fixed last year and paid out of pocket. It has not even been a year yet and the torque converter, which the shop got from Honda, has already failed yet again. Now it is going to cost an additional $1800 to get fixed again. This is an issue that Honda needs to take care of, because it is ruining their "good" name.

- , Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #57

Sep 052010

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

My husband and I bought this 2003 Accord and have no complaints up until now. When the car goes to shift between 20 and 40 miles an hour the transmission gets stuck, for a lack of better words. The car just revs and hazatates to go. I brought the issue to the honda dealer and they can not take car of the problem unless looked at by a certifed honda machanic, cost out of my pocket. Know I still own money on the car and I am never late.What does it matter if the car is looked at by a certifed honda machnic or a certifed general all around machnic?? They have pointed the issue tobe the transmittion and also looked up and saw that year was recalled! So, I feel Honda should honor this and fix it!!

- , Groton, CT, US

problem #56

Sep 082010

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

Bought a Honda, thought it would be reliable..Trans started jerking real bad like I'm slamming the breaks on occassion. Honda customer service didn't seem empathetic but whatever had it fixed... The dealer gave me an over the phone estimate of 4 grand... took it to a specialist who was nice to enough to charge me 1700.00 so far so good... "Good will" repair? yeah right.. Nor I, or anyone in my family will ever buy Honda ever again including generators jet skis lawn mowers etc...

- , Des Plaines, IL, USA

problem #55

Aug 272010

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


Description - Harsh shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear.. also intermittently while down shifting into 1st gear.

Recently traded in a perfectly fine 2001 Accord LX 5 speed with 97k miles for this 2003 Accord EX-L V6 Automatic with 90k miles so my fiancé will have something to drive when we get married in a few months. Reviews for the car were 4.7 out of 5 and being a complete Honda Nut, of course Honda was my first choice. Had I found this site 5 days ago I would probably not have purchased this car.

Well, I have had the car for now 5 days and its already been back to the dealer for transmission problems. Harsh shifting from 2nd to 3rd becoming worse the harder you accelerate. Also sometimes it lurches into 1st gear after hitting the gas when coasting in a parking lot or making a slow turn. All these point to a problem with the shift solenoids, either electronics or hydraulics. I am not a fan of any automatic transmission, and they seem to dislike me just as much as I dislike them. Of course none of this showed up during the test drive and I sure gave it a proper flogging before I signed anything.

The dealer kept the car over night for service and flushed the transmission. This would be the second time this was done as I saw it was done on the pre-sale service as well. When they called and told me this I was 99.9% sure this would not fix my problem.. so I was not surprised at all that it was back to the same harsh shifting not 10 miles from the dealer.

On a brighter note.. The "diagnostics" (which I use very loosely) as well as the flush were both done at no cost to me. The dealer also threw in a 12 month 12k mile "power care" (power train) warranty for free! (Pending approval by the warranter (Easy Care) of course) This will be the 3rd car I have purchased from this dealer including one brand new, one certified and now this used Accord. They have always bent over backwards to make me happy and I hope this will be no exception. I feel that I can breath a little easier now that I have the warranty. My only worry now is that the service contract application will be denied by Easy Care since there are so many known problems with the power train on these cars. I guess I will find out in 60 days if it was approved or not.

I feel almost certain that the transmission is on the brink of total failure at any moment.

On a side note... to all these people complaining about being treated poorly by Honda USA. Obviously not being in on the conversation I have no basis to jump to conclusions.. but I can say that I personally have had nothing but a pleasurable experience when dealing with Honda dealers and Honda Corporate. Also, my friend had his transmission on his 2000 Odyssey replaced free of charge by Honda in 2009 at 109K miles.. and he was NOT the original owner. I too have had a transmission replaced on my 1999 Civic free of charge by Honda out of warranty. While these problems are VERY VERY annoying!! I find that if you are nice to them, they are generally nice to you in return.

- , Denton, MD, USA

problem #54

Jun 152010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,400 miles

My first experience was when I was driving at 40 mph and the car bucked and when into 2nd gear. It was awful considering I had my 2 nephews and my mom in the car and it did a number on our necks. It then began to slip everytime I pulled off at the light and when I tried to put it in reverse the car wouldnt move. When I turned it off and then on it started to drive normal. A few weeks later, the car did the same thing and now the RPM goes really high and the car goes no where. It bucks when ever its ready and its a major inconvenience.

I never thought my Honda would give so much problems now Im fuming to know that the other complaints arent being taken care of and this is such a common problem with this model.

- , Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #53

Sep 122008

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

It wasn't until I did a Googe Search for transmission problems on a 2003 Honda Accord did I realize my issues with this problem were not isolated.

Firstly, I purchased a used 2003 Honda Accord with 50K miles on it in 2007. For the first year I put next to no miles on it. In mid 2008, I got transferred with my company to a location that was a good distance away. Shortly after this transfer, I started experiencing transmission slippage. Within a month, the slippage had become so bad, the car was a danger to use.

I brought it into the dealer (Herb Chambers) and was told the transmission needed to be replaced. I had the remainder of the factory warranty (to 60K) but the mileage on my vehicle was 62K - implying the vehicle was no longer under warranty. I put up a little fuss about putting not even 10K miles on the car since I bought it and in fairness, the dealer replaced the transmission at no cost. I was pleased with both the dealer and Honda for remedying the problem.

I relocated for my job and stopped logging miles on my car. In August of 2010, the transmission (which was replaced in 08), began slipping again (123K miles - which is 60K more than when the original tranny was replaced). After reading about the widespread issues this vehicle has had with transmission I thought to add my experiences to this forum.

I have not yet approached the dealership about this problem, but I'm concerned about the safety of this vehicle. My dealer was kind enough to replace it once, but with another defective transmission?

I'm mulling my next move on this, but I can tell you with such bad practices, I would not consider purchasing a Honda again in the future.

- , East Providence, RI, USA

problem #52

Jul 092010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

I've always kept on top of servicing my vehicle, and I basically drive to and from work, with an occasional family road trip. When my 2003 Honda Accord started having problems shifting into 3rd gear, I knew something was wrong. I went home and immediately searched the internet to see what this problem could be. To my amazement, I found countless stories of 2003 Accord owners with the EXACT same problem. So I thought, well, surely Honda recognizes this and will help to fix this problem. OH NO... what I wrong!! Not only have they not made a recall to repair this problem, but they almost laughed when I called them. They said, "so sorry, you're out of warranty, bye bye". I took my car to a local reputable transmission shop and found out that the transmission is fried, there is a broken mount and bushing. Total cost for repair ... $3781.30. Thanks Honda. This is the LAST Honda I will ever own.

- , Kyle, TX, USA

problem #51

Jul 132010

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles


I have seen some rants online saying that Honda should cover these crappy transmissions. I bought a honda for it's excellent reliability now I found myself with a $2300 bill and the inability to go to work. You SUCK!

- , Toronto, Ontario, Canada

problem #50

Jun 012010

Accord EX W/NAV 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles

This has been a wonderful car -- my first NEW, drive it off the lot with 5 miles on the odo car -- that we bought with the intention of keeping well past 250k miles, which was the rep that Hondas had at that time.

With 146,000 miles on the clock, I figured we were just a little past halfway through the lifespan. Everything has been maintained more or less according to the schedules. The Honda has only failed to start once after the battery died 2 years ago. Other than that -- nothing!

Until this month. We hit a deer, which seriously mangled the hood, bumper, and cracked a cooler hose. But that was about it. It was repaired and the car looks great. My (college graduate-age) daughter has been driving this car and told me that it is hesitating when she shifts from P to R, and sometimes from R into D. Like when backing out of a parking space, she puts it into D and the car keeps rolling backward, she says. I tested this and did not detect anything unusual.

I also mentioned this to the body shop and they swear that there was nothing to indicate the transmission was involved in the deer strike.

However, I mention this to the dealer when in for an oil change and they run a $50 diagnostic check (according to the bill, at least) and now they are lobbying hard for me to replace the transmission at a total cost of nearly $4,000. Honda USA will give only 1% "owner assistance" on the tranny cost since the car has so many miles.

So my problem it this: do I believe the dealer and invest the 4 grand, or do I believe my daughter and wait until it's stuck in traffic? We hoped to sell the vehicle to the kid, but don't want to saddle her with a $4k bill she can't pay.

If anyone else out there has had a similar experience, how long until the symptoms are really indicating the transmission is toast? Or could it go on forever? Has anyone successfully lobbied to Honda for a stronger level of financial support?

- , Mount Vernon, IA, USA

problem #49

May 192010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,600 miles

It's amazing how many problems I noticed with this model/year and Honda dealerships don't care. I've always thought highly of Hondas, as I had a 1993 Honda Accord that was a gem. Now, I'm not so sure whether to keep it and throw $$ into it, or trade it for a new car... HELP! Sad, they don't want to ruin their reps with this one!

- , Arlington, VA, USA

problem #48

May 282010

Accord EX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,328 miles

My sister-in-law has the same year, which is 2003 Accord EX Coupe (mine is 2003 Accord EX 4 door Sedan) her car automatic transmission acting up like Slippery, but, she was able drive it to Oakland Dealer (happen she was closed by there). They put in an used one from Dealer, did not pay a dime and she's a happy camper. That transmission incident happened when the car reached around 93k. miles, few hundred miles more than mine. But, the local Honda Dealer (in Concord) said my car at around 30k. miles a few year back had done the Recall, therefore, I have to come up with $4800.00 to cover it up. That's why my complaint about this car,

- , Concord, CA, USA

problem #47

Jun 132010

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Had Honda towed to dealership, confirmed transmission needed to be replaced. Just came out of warranty 6 months ago, should have been fixed when they recalled the transmission in '04, when they knew about the problem. They patched the problem to try to get them out of all warranties so they wouldn't have to replace them. How can we get compensated for this? why is there no class action lawsuit? there was one on previous year models on transmissions? someone help us!!!!

- , Vinemont, AL, USA

problem #46

May 122010

Accord EX V6 V-tech

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,240 miles

I recently took my car to Honda of Hollywood and they quoted me $4200.00 to fix the transmission on my 2003 Honda Accord and charged me $130.00 for the diagnosis. I took my car for a second estimate to Affordable care of Hollywood and they told me to take the car back to the Honda dealership because this year and make Honda is known to have the worst trans problems and said Honda should pay for the repair since I only have $52K miles on the car. Honda of Hollywood told me they contacted American Honda and offered to drop repair price to $2800 (from $4200). I contacted American Honda directly and they told me that Honda of Hollywwod NEVER called them and they opened a case # and I am waiting to hear if they will pick up the tab on my trans repair. Stay away from Honda of Hollywood and call Honda directly if you have a trans problem

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #45

May 102010

Accord EXL 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,200 miles

will not buy another honda dealer wanted 3600.00 for new trans 1900. to have it rebuilt

- , Hoffman Estates, IL, USA

problem #44

Apr 152010

Accord LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,786 miles

This is my second Honda Accord. It has operated fine up until now. The transmission began and is shifting with a hard change. I took it to the Honda dealer but they do not make repairs. They will only exchange the whole transmission for another one. They advised that I take it to a transmission repair shop which I have made an appointment with today. As of now I have no further information of the problem or the cost.

- , Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

problem #43

Mar 312010

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,500 miles

So i bought this car a few days ago, i really wish i would have seen this site earlier but with my luck of course not! anyway i'm not at transmission failure yet, but whenever i put my car into reverse there is hard and loud thump. i get this same thump sometimes when i drive on turns from i'd say about 1st to 2nd gear. I've been looking everywhere for remedies or people in my same situation. i'm just wondering if anyone else is experiencing this and still driving the car ok. I just spent everything i had saved on this used car and after 3 days of having it the check engine light comes on. are there any 03 accord v6 out there that work properly? If i gas the pedal lightly and with the feel of the car it shifts ok, but i have a feeling that it may soon go out. can someone please let me know if they have the same situation? i will keep on posting as i progress through this. i am taking the vehicle to the shop this weekend to have it checked out. i learned a valuable lesson in used car buying this week, but i wish i could've figured this out before i wasted everything i had saved. now i need to spend more money on a car that probably wont even last another year without more work needing to be done on it. Please comment or add to this if you can share a similar experience.

- , Cerritos, CA, USA

problem #42

Apr 042010

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

Hey guys,

Recently I have been hearing squeaking noises while I turn and accelerate. At first I thought that it was a belt on my car that was getting old(kinda weird since I bought it used and drove only 4k miles on it). I thought nothing much of it since I'm in college and broke. I continued to drive when I noticed that my gears would stick and not shift up. it would stay in 1st gear and not shift till about 4500 rpms (which lurched the hell out of my car). When this started happening I just thought it was because I drove the car too soon and the engine was just trying to warm up. but today when i got in my car to drive there is next to zero throttle response. The car will only stay in 3rd gear and wont downshift. I take very good care of my car and I'm a big car enthusiast. I do most of the maintenance myself excluding major work. I just dropped almost $600 for my rotors to be turned, my power steering to be flushed, a new tire, etc. I haven't done much yet except for research the problems that other people have been having. I see that there hasn't been a recall, so what do i do? I just got a job but it will only be for a little bit. Does anyone know if there is going to be a recall? Should I got to a Honda dealer to find out whats going on with the transmission? Who is the best person to talk to about this problem?

- , Acworth, GA, USA

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