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 7 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #41

Feb 022010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,800 miles


Well unfortunately I am another sad soul on this blog who had his transmission decide to go bad with 95800 miles. Now dont get me wrong it hasnt failed completely but it is on its way out. I brought it to my local honda dealership and they said that it may last several days, several months, or another year but there was no telling. I first noticed the problem because when it shifts from second to third gear it slips and the rpm's jump and then it catches. I do not have the confidence in the transmission, especially after reading the many posts, to continue driving my car.

It greatly dissapoints me that Honda has such a large problem and yet their only fix was to recall my car back in October of 2004 and do their so called "fix" which did nothing for a poorly designed transmission. Actually, my father had the exact same car, an 2003 v6 coupe, and his transmission went out around 40,000 miles but his was covered by warranty. I called American Honda and after many calls back and forth the dealer lowered their initial quote to replace my transmission for $4000 including labor down to $2500 including labor. Unfortunately I was faced with the decision of putting $2500 into a car which is 7 years old and worth around 5-6k, especially knowing that I had to have a new timing belt put on it soon enough.

When I asked several honda techs and mechanics about the problem on the 2003, they said that they "saw it very often". Honda needs to issue a former recall on the transmission of the 2003 honda but it will not be done until god forbid someone gets hurt or killed because of it! So I decided to get rid of my Honda and hopefully if I ever buy another one, it will not be plagued with transmission problems. To anyone looking to buy a 2003 v6 coupe it was a fantastic car, minus the poorly designed transmission....buyer beware!!!

- , Midlothian, VA, USA

problem #40

Feb 052010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 161,000 miles

I bought my 2003 Accord V6 w/ 60,000 miles on it in the summer of 2006, since then I've put 100,000 miles on it I drive a lot, and the two reasons I bought this car was for DEPENDABILITY AND RELIABILITY, but at 155,000 is when things started really getting interesting to say the least.

-All of my lights on my dash had came on, and was in and out of the dealership for a few weeks trying to get things fixed...Well $1200 later new battery, new brakes rotors and pads, a new brake master cylinder its fixed.

-Now at 160,000 I noticed while trying to drive up a hill my RPM's revving, and an inability to slip into 2nd and 3rd gear. Once I get over 40MPH, I'm fine, but there is a serious problem going on with my transmission. So I took it into the Honda Dealer today and they quoted me a few bucks shy of $4,000, and apparently i need a new catalytic converter, front and side motor mounts are broken, so they wanted me to pay $4950 to get the work done! So i got my service ticket and paid for my $50 diagnostic fee (which I already had the codes read from auto zone) and left. I mine as well get a new car! If anyone has any recommendations please let me know I'm all ears.

- , Huntsville, TX, USA

problem #39

Feb 082010

Accord EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,000 miles

my car has started shaking while accelerating. when i let off gas it stops.... any help?

- , Hillsborough, NJ, USA

problem #38

Jan 012010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles


I have a 2003 Honda Accord and it is know to have transmission problems. I took it to a local transmission garage and they just had one come off of a tow truck. I had a 2000 accord and they sent out a recall what happend it with this car. Why wouldnt they fix a known problem. I loved my Hondas now I'm doubting the company.

- , Monroeville, PA, USA

problem #37

Jan 112010

Accord EXL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

My Daughter's 2003 Accord V6 EXL experienced a transmission failure on Jan. 11, 2010. Car failed to shift into higher gears after a stop, or failed to move forward at all on some occasions ( transmission apparently slipping). It is in an independent garage now, and they are telling me that I will need a new transmission, at a cost of several thousand dollars! The independent shop called the local Honda dealer to ask about buying a re-built transmission from Honda, and the dealer will not sell one to an independent garage! So, I am going to the Honda dealer with the car to see what they will do for me. Not hopeful at this point that I can avoid a huge cost for the repair!

- , Covington, GA, USA

problem #36

Jun 152009

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

I bought the Accord thinking they were one of the most reliable cars and was greatly disappointed when I had to replace my transmission at 65,000 miles. Thankfully most of the $2400 cost was covered under an extended warranty that I bought with the car but I still had to pay $300 out of pocket.

- , St. Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #35

Dec 012009

Accord LX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 195,000 miles


A recall was on this--previous owner fixed it--now they will not fix it, it should be covered

- , Auburn, AL, USA

problem #34

Dec 072009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

I bought this car from my brother in 2004 with very low mileage. I can't remember exactly, but is was under 20000.When I got it from him I figured it would be great car because it was a Honda. I first started noticing a slight hitch or thump when I first got going from. It was between the first and second shift. I ignored it because the car was shifting and nothing seemed to be wrong. I then received a recall notice about the transmission and brought it in to a dealer to have it checked. I told the service dept about the thumping and they told me they would check it. Guess what they said was wrong with the car....NOTHING. Of course it was under warranty then. It could have been fixed for free. Needless to say after the recall notice I thought about that thumping noise everytime I drove the car.

So it's 5 years later and we are driving the car this summer on a day that the temp is past 90 degrees and the car revs past 5000rpm shifting from 2nd to 3rd. I was shocked at first and then thought about the recall 5 years back. I did some reading on the net like everyone here has done and found numerous complaints. I found . few forums with similar peoples problems and a few suggestions before bringing it in for service. Changing the transmission fluid and the filter was one and I tried it. That seemed to fix my problem but a few days ago when the temps were below 10 degrees the revving and shifting problem reappeared.When the car is warmed up for 10 or more minutes it seems to be OK, otherwise it does not shift well.

After reading all these posts about the costs involved I am extremely worried. I made an appointment with a local dealer for service on Monday the 14th. I'm hoping for the best, but fear the worst since my Honda's symptoms are similar to many in this forum. I will post the diagnosis whenI know.

- , Wilmette, IL, USA

problem #33

Jun 232006

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

My Accord, coupe, had tranny slippage issues from 2nd to 3rd gear starting as low as 63,000 miles. I thought Hondas would last well over 100k without any issues! I've read online and hundreds of people are having the same issue. They actually settled out of court in California about this same issue, 2nd to 3rd gear! Why won't Honda step up to the plate and solve the problem for everyone instead of installing the "ink jet" thing they installed at 26k for these Hondas. It obviously didn't work and they should've just replaced the transmissions for everyone. Do we have to bring a lawsuit to get justice from Honda - we shouldn't have to. If they know there is a problem, then fix it for all......

I have also had electrical issues with this car ranging from when you want a quick wash on your wipers, the wash comes out but the wipers won't swipe most of the time! Also, my headlights have been dimming worse and worse over the years when the car is shifting - I'm sure people think I'm flashing them or something as bad as it's gotten.....not too impressed with Honda right frustrated that I might just not buy Honda it really worth it - if you have such awesome reliable cars, then why not offer 10 years, 100k for warranties.....I'm fed up......Honda said there are too many miles on my car - I told them I had issues back at 63k miles and have proof - she didn't care......if you google Honda tranny problems, you'll see it's the #1 complaint about these cars.......I live in Oregon, so I couldn't join in on the lawsuit, but I wish someone would start one in Oregon! I'd join!

Update from May 2, 2010: I'm nervous about purchasing a rebuilt tranny since I've read so many complaints of them doing the same thing after only 30k miles of less. It's crazy!!! If someone does start a class action, please email me at I will never buy another Honda and I encourage everyone to spread the word so they won't buy either. So much for reliability!

- , Salem, OR, USA

problem #32

Nov 192009

Accord EX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,650 miles

Wellll...I read all the complaints about the 2003 V6s and wonder why the heck is it happening to my 4 cylinder?!??!!? I bought it used with 104K in Feb 09. Immediately had to have the stereo back light repaired (free of cost through Honda dealership).

I noticed my car hesitating when shifting into 2nd Thursday (11/19), took it in to a local auto shop Friday and had the check engine light (Oxygen sensor) fixed. (I go to Honda dealership for all my usual scheduled maintenance). Upon leaving the shop Friday it was doing the same thing. I returned Saturday morning to find out I need the transmission repaired. As I drove off to get quotes from other transmission shops and Honda ($4000). My car would not shift into 2nd gear at all (about 10 min. down the road). I was in the middle lane revving the engine with my emergency lights on for about 30 sec. My car finally jumped into gear and I immediately pulled into the gas station and had it towed back to the repair shop. My transmission repair there will cost $1995. I called Lute Riley Honda and asked about my car and was told it was out of warranty at 120K and I can call Honda Customer Service to see if they will help in any way. Seeing how I bought my car used, and its not the V6 model that experienced the recall and I highly doubt they will offer much compensation off the $4000 repair cost. Highly disappointed in Honda.

My last car was a 1996 Toyota Camry, which I gifted to my little sister. It is STILL running at 240,000 miles and the only problem I had with it outside of brakes, tires, and other regular maintenance was broken engine mounts. I expected the same from the o so reliable Honda!! Highly disappointed. Pretty sure I'm sticking with Toyota after this bad boy.

- , Plano, TX, USA

problem #31

Nov 052009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


Well, I guess it's both good and sad to know you're not alone. My wife was returning home from work in her 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 when the transmission began slipping, the rpms would shoot up and the car would hardly move. Once stopped, she couldn't get it to go in reverse. I thought surely this must be a recall item as the car only had 90,000 miles and my wife religiously took the car to the Honda Dealership (Burns Honda Marlton, NJ) for all its scheduled maintenance. Wow, was I in for a surprise. Once I found this site, I began to wonder if any Honda Accords from 2003 were still running.

My wife had owned a 1993 Civic and praised it for its dependency and drove it close to 200,000 miles. When she decided on another car, there was no doubt in her mind that it would be another Honda. I worried about the 3 year warranty, but like the wife and the salesman said, "but its a Honda". Now it's come back to haunt me as Honda says its out of warranty and its not really their problem.

So what do I do? I took the car to an independent transmission shop and they quote me $1800 with a 1 year warranty. I call the Honda dealership and all they can guarantee is that they'll charge me $180 to just look at it. Once the $180 is secure in their pocket, then they'll make a determination if they'll help with any repairs. The Honda help line just tells me the same thing, with no guarantee about anything, other than the repair could cost $2000 to $4000 and they can't tell me if they'll cover any of it until they tear it apart at which point Ill owe them another several hundred dollars. I've decided to go the independent route as the dealer and salesman, and Honda, have already lied to me making me believe their cars were so good they didn't need a longer warranty to begin with.

I did call the lawyer number and added my name to their list, though I don't expect much. But if you have a similar problem, or know someone who does, please get them to report it so people stop thinking Hondas are such wonderful cars. Oh, and what do I drive you ask? A 1995 Chevrolet Caprice with 200,000+ on the clock that will smoke the doors off my wife's Honda and has needed little to no maintenance (mostly tires).

- , Berlin, NJ, USA

problem #30

Oct 012009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,800 miles

I have a 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 that I bought brand new with 14 miles on it. I had always noticed the car roughly shift into gear, yet I always thought that maybe I was accelerating too hard. I took my car into the dealer for it's routine maintenance (which I am very diligent about) and an airbag light that lit up in August of 2009. The dealer did the routine maintenance on my car and about a week later my car was leaking oil. My husband thought maybe it was surplus oil from the oil change but he kept an eye on it for about 2 weeks. After that last week went by, the car was still leaking oil. I called the dealer and let them know it was leaking oil and maybe a screw was loose from where they worked on the car. They said to bring it in. I took it in and they said that the problem was with the transmission seal and position switch and no where near where they worked on my oil change. I was charged $110 to "repair " a seal.

Another week went by, same thing. I took it back. This time they took the seal and everything around it apart cleaned the oil out and they told me it is as good as new. WRONG! I called up again, but this time I spoke to the Svc Mgr at my local dealer and told him I didn't want to deal with anyone else but him and he agreed. He even offered to pick up the car at my house and drop it off. "No problem" I thought, until 4 days later when I drove my car and noticed a loud noise (like a leafblower) inside the engine and oil again on the floor. I called up the mgr again and he asked why it happened 4 days later and I told him I didn't drive my car over the weekend. He again offered to pick up my car and drop off a loaner. I get a call from him the next morning to say that he called Honda all day the day before and they got back to him saying there seem to be a crack in the casing that they hadn't noticed the last 3 times they had worked on that part. The svc mgr stated that American Honda would cover the cost of repair of, wait for it, $3500! Shocking, I know, but Honda was willing to cover 75% of the cost and my part would come out to be $890 plus tax. I let the manager know I would need to consult with my husband and do some research. My research led me to this website and I discovered other "Honda" owners with the same problem and given the same solution and same price reduction. I printed all the complaints from this website and highlighted all the complaints that had the same thing in common. That American Honda was allowing a 75% discounted price on something that is 100% their fault. I gave the printed copies to my husband to hash it out with the dealer. I was DONE with this!! CLEARLY, there is a design flaw in this transmission design and yet Honda will not recall this 2003 model!!! Now, I have owned 2 other Honda Accords (1993 used and 1996 new) and told everyone that Hondas were the only car to drive because they were so low maintenance. Boy was I wrong!!!

- , Anaheim Hills, CA, USA

problem #29

Nov 062009

Accord LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

While driving home, my transmission refused to change gears. I was able to get home by driving at less than 20 mph! Took it to my repair shop - the transmission is being rebuilt! At a cost of $2,000. What makes a good transmission go bad, anyway!!!

- , Statesboro, GA, USA

problem #28

Nov 072009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,989 miles

I am clearly joining a long list of folks inconvenienced by this problem of having one's car transmission abruptly shift out of gear. I have already had serious problems with my Honda dealership, so I have taken the Accord to an independent. American Honda has said they will not provide any assistance unless the vehicle is taken to a Honda dealership for inspection. This would entail towing my car from the current location to the Honda dealership and then towing again to return it to where I intend to have it fixed; and then there was no guarantee American Honda will help.

If you discover you have this or a similar problem take it to a dealership to at least have it inspected if you want any possible assistance from American Honda.

Between the local dealership and the car problems I am done with Honda. As soon as I can financially afford it I will be getting another car and it will not be a Honda.

- , Frederick, MD, USA

problem #27

Jan 082009

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,700 miles

I am complaint #119. Had transmission replaced approx 140 miles from home and not even a week later the replaced transmission started slipping again. Honda said they would help me by paying $1400.00 of the $3500.00 plus taxes that the original replacement transmission would cost and that they would do no more because I could not provide service records for the transmission up until the time it failed. Basically had no choice but to accept their so called deal as they stated that the 36,000 mile warranty had long since passed and the only problem that they'll admit to should have been taken care of by their recall back in 2004. So after handing the Honda dealer a check for $2250.00 and getting my receipt, I proceeded to drive home. When I got home I took a closer look at my receipt to find that I paid 90% of the COST and Honda covered 10% of the Cost. Let me RE-ITERATE........COST!!!! It seems as though they quote the list price and make it seem as though they were covering $1400.00 of the bill when in essence they were only covering 10% of their cost for the transmission and that 90% was paid by me. DECEPTIVE???? You bet!!!! So 700 miles later my replaced transmission started slipping very noticeably and I brought it to my local Honda dealer with 3 year/36,000 mile warranty in hand. They are now in the process of replacing the transmission AGAIN but this time it is on their dime. Funny thing.......when I brought it in, the service manager told me that he has seen the same problem and that Honda had never asked for service records from anyone that he dealt with and that Honda was providing the transmissions without cost to the consumer and all he was charging the consumer was the labor to switch out the transmission. His statement, and I quote "Boy they really screwed you!!!!" I will be calling Stamwell and Shager in New York City to add my name to the class action lawsuit that they are contemplating on filing. However, I've heard that when they settle it is usually for a warranty extension and that's about it so I guess I can kiss my $2250.00 good-bye. While we're on the subject of good-bye kisses, Honda can kiss this customer goodbye because as soon as possible, that piece of crap is getting traded in and I do believe that Nissan will be kissing me hello. Honda has made a decision to treat their customers inconsistently regarding this matter knowing full well that there is a consistent problem with this transmission. In my estimation, this makes them no better than the American Auto manufacturers who fly to Washington in private jets looking for money to bail out their struggling companies due to their own greed. My hard earned money will never go to Honda again and I'll buy American before it does!!!!!

- , New Bedford, MA, USA

problem #26

Aug 272009

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,500 miles

My Accord started slipping when shifting, then started bucking (accelerating/decelerating), occasionally wouldn't even start from a stop (slipping entirely). Not what I expected from one of the standards of reliability at 115k. Very disappointed and the jury is out on what the dealership is going to do (I bought the car used with 50k 2 1/2 years ago). I had the dealer do all of the recommended service from the time I bought the car....

- , Springfield, MA, USA

problem #25

Jul 312009

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

After rountine trans service in which in my opinion an excess amount of new trans fluid was add (4 qts.) the car slipped gear and wouldn't shift when slowing around the corner. All seemed well for a few weeks and then car would not shift properly out of 1st or out of 2nd. I believe the excess new fluid caused the bands to deteriote premeturly. Dealer wants to replace trans for $3200.00, what a deal when I can have it repaired for less at reputable shop. Love the car Honda needs to stand behind it alittle better.

- , Frankfort, IL, USA

problem #24

Jul 012009

Accord EX 3.OL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,120 miles

I Sold Honda's For some years. I think this is Very Bad! Coming from Honda, I sold Nissan's, Gmc, Fords, mazda's and many other cars names at dealers.I choose to put my money on a Honda because I believed in their product and this is how they pay their customers! WoW! People need their cars to work right. I will Buy a Toyota Or Nissan next time around. at 97,000 miles my 2003 Honda Accord V6 3.0L Ex started shifting wrong thank God I had the 100,000 mile coverage! Honda you let me Down. That's how I feel!

- , Menifee, CA, US

problem #23

May 012009

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I am going through the "call American Honda" for a goodwill repair process and I'd like to add this for all to see: I was awaiting a call back from American Honda and the DEALERSHIP called back and made me a very bad offer which I did not accept (something like 1% of the $3350 estimate). Then when American Honda finally did call back they said that because I didn't accept the DEALERSHIPS offer through some Am Honda representative that they could not discuss it any longer. I am still in open negotiation with them about the goodwill repair (American Honda 800-999-1009) - but beware of the "other call" - it may be a set up to thwart your negotiating directly with AmHonda.

Update from Aug 3, 2009: So, to continue my dealings with "American Honda." I went to pick the car up (I am not having the repairs done at the Honda dealership) and they have now told me that they "got it down to $2300." This was after telling me that the transmission cost $3350 to REPLACE and they they we authorized to go down to $3000. Again, when I told them "no" the first time, they translated the info to "American Honda" and American Honda said they considered me as rejecting THEM. Anyway, I found a local transmission specialist who knows all about the problem and has fixed fifteen 2003 Honda transmissions over the last six months behind the same problem. The total bill will be <$1000. American Honda can be shamed. By the way, the mechanic told me that a "silent warranty" exists on those Honda transmissions...ask about it early in the process.

- , Kennesaw, GA, US

problem #22

Sep 172008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Not sure if this will help anyone, but so far I think I got lucky. The transmission really struggled to shift into 3rd, sometimes having to pull over, switch off and start off again. Took it to Honda and of course it did not duplicate in front of the tech. Put up with it for about a year putting off the inevitable. Then at 105K as scheduled I had a non Honda guy replace the timing belt plus all other belts etc $1200 approx. They obviously had to reset the timing when that work was done. Well, driving home, and 500 miles since, the problem has not reared it's ugly head. Smooth as the day I bought it. Maybe have techs check the timing before replacing the whole transmission....

- , Allentown, Pa, USA

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