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 8 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #21

Jun 182009

Accord EXL 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles


Transmission gone at 47,000 miles. Power steering leak also. Could have been a driving hazard. Concerned with the quality and safety of this car. Representative at Honda very rude after I said I wouldn't buy another Honda. Told me I was ungrateful since Honda did cover the cost of the transmission. He said he wouldn't have given me a dime if it were up to him. Told him I was glad they paid for transmission but why should I pay for labor on a faulty product. Had to part on power steering leak -- total cost $944.00. I am 59 years old -- on disability for breast cancer second time and lost my job. Explained all this but to no avail. I will join class action lawsuit and call National Highway Traffic Administration and also pass along my problems via telling friends and family about my experience and also by the written word. Honda boasts of its quality, engineering and customer service and yet they are rude to a 59 year old woman -- there is no excuse to be rude to any customer. It isn't coming out of his pocket -- however, the cost does come out of mine.

- , Duarte, CA, USA

problem #20

Jun 042009

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Manual transmission
  • 82,000 miles

I thought since Honda is said to make the most reliable cars my problem was the only one. Just last week out of the blue my accord has been making a terrible grinding sound when i try to change into 3rd gear. Estimates from the dealer are in the 1000+ range. I've never been this disappointed.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #19

May 012006


  • 54,000 miles

We took it to Honda because it was barely over warranty and they refused to fix it, so we took it elsewhere because Honda wanted to put another 2003 transmission back in and charge us $2800. They have had several complaints about the 03's but still refused to do anything for us.

- , Sherwood, MI, USA

problem #18

May 082008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles


I first got my honda accord with 137ki on it.. after having it for 23 days..the transmission failed. it started by slipping really bad..and would rev up high, but the car wasn't moving very fast! also, i would step on the gas, and it would take a second to speed up, then it would shift hard and jerk. it was a REALLY bad choice for a car..and i wish i knew that honda was having transmission problems during that year. I finally had it replaced in may of 08 by Honda, and Once AGAIN the transmission failed one year later, with 156ki on it. so now it has had two transmissions, and who knows if it will need a third..

stay away from 03 accords..cause chances are the transmission has had problems.

- , Mt.Vernon, ME, USA

problem #17

Mar 272009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,200 miles

Wife called and said there is a problem with her 2003 honda accord V6 (84000 mi.)-does'nt shift properly. I just figured it was low fluid so I went to get her car and after checking everything drove it around the block then immediately to the dealership-it was slipping between 2nd & 3rd gear. this is my third honda accord and I've never had any problems. Sure enough the dealership called that day and told me $3900 for a new transmission. Thought it was a bit strange since they had just serviced the trans. 3000 mi. prior. Then I found this site and realized it was a rather popular problem. I printed off every single complaint and went to the dealership with a fistfull of papers to see if they could deny any knowledge of the problems. After a bit of complaining and several phone calls to the dealership and Honda the car was repaired at a cost to me of $1400. Still not happy about the $$$ but Honda and Bill Cox at Lithia Honda in Midland TX. did a great job in customer service and I will probably buy another Honda just for that reason, and probably from that dealership.

- , Midland, TX, USA

problem #16

May 282009

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,936 miles

I bought this car two years ago from a local Honda dealer. As a Certified Used Car and had 12/12,000 mile warranty with the Powertrain Coverage 7 years/100,000 miles. The car had 57,400 miles on it when purchased. Right off the bat the CD player was replaced, the tail light was not working, and a sensor of some kind was fixed.

After two months I was headed to work and pull out from a stop light, the transmission locked up and the dash board lit up like a Christmas tree this was about 6 miles from my home so the transmission was not HOT in my opinion. I had just short of 30 miles to make it to the dealer. I manually shifted gears and made it to the dealer slowly and my nerves on edge. Luckily at the time I did still have my old vehicle to drive as I did not trade it in. They said it would take a couple days to fix the car , replacing the transmission with a rebuilt one. With a 12 month , 12,000 mile warranty, I did not think about it much at the time was just glad to get my car fixed. The two days turned into 9 with several calls from the service tec explaining other problems found. Now a year and a half later and other minor problems, my vehicle just turned over 100,000 miles and the end of last week I had my grandson in the car with me and we pulled up at a light and as I took off the car jerked and I had to shift gears down to make it go, again the dash looked like a christmas tree again. I was about a mile from my daughters home and roughly made it to her house. I left mine car there and drove one of theirs home. The next day my son-in -law suggested I get the transmission flushed. I was due for an oil change ( mind the dealer had just recently moved 50 miles away) so I took it to their local service center who told me his machine would not fit the Honda Accord transmission and I would have to take it to the dealer. I let him change the oil and made a few calls and was suggested another local service center. He said he could change the fluid but , not the filter. I told him to go ahead.

After much prayer and picking up the car the lights were off the dash the transmission has shifted better then ever before, but now I left with another three years payments, a honda worth half what is lefted owed on it and it just out of warranty. Like others here I thought my Honda Accord would be my last car purchased for years to come. Now I pray to make it home safely each time I leave. I sold my Saturn and the guy is still driving it with no problems and 200,000 + miles showing. After my transmission change a year and a half ago the service tec mentioned Honda had problems with the older models but , not so many with 2003 and above. I think he was wrong and their are many more out their that know their Honda is running roughly and thinking it bad gas and are now wondering if a trade is in order. I am not a Happy Honda owner in Georgia.

- , Thomaston, GA, USA

problem #15

Jun 012009

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


I noticed my 2003 Honda Accord wasn't shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear very good. I took it into the dealer and they found nothing wrong with the transmission. I picked it up from the dealer and didn't have any problems driving home. Over the weekend the problem started again, the transmission wasn't shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear smoothly. Four days later on my way to work it would not even shift into 2nd gear so I couldn't go over 20 mph. I turned back around and drove 20 m.p.h. back to my house. I called the dealer and they sent a tow truck to pickup the car. I am now waiting to find out how much this will cost me.

- , Jacksonville, FL, US

problem #14

Mar 012009

Accord LX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Let me mention, this is the 3rd transmission in this Honda. DO NOT BUY A 2003 ACCORD!

Original transmission went out at about 70k. Under Honda certified used warranty. No cost to us. This 2nd transmission went out as above around 100k mileage - and we had to pay 2k out of our pocket. Now on our 3rd transmission. Hopefully this will last long enough!

- , Dallas, TX, USA

problem #13

Apr 162009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,205 miles

Hey guys, i just purchased a pre-owned Honda accord coupe V6 approx 2 months ago. the transmission was fine when i got it but i guess its normal to start slipping around the 100k mark. I have done TWO synthetic oil changes in a month and half and because there is no external cooler line you can not flush the oil out, its just a simple pour and fill. So all you are doing is putting new oil with old oil which is not good. the second time i changed it it had already turned black. I was browsing the net because I have been reading everyone getting jerked around by the very nice service managers at dealerships and Honda Canada (being sarcastic). I found that these are in fact recalled by transport Canada and the office of defects and investigations (links posted below). Hope they help you out because it doesn't seem that Honda is what it used to be. I used to own a 1993 accord EX and the original tranny lasted me until 562,000 KM!!!!!! thats right exaggeration. something needs to be done. check the links and get your butt to the dealership and give those service manager hell, if you don't get anywhere with them, call Honda Canada or Honda America....if still nothing then call the government divisions who issued the recalls.

- , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

problem #12

May 182009

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

First the car started shifting roughly, so I took it to my auto mechanic, who was well aware of this problem with V6 Hondas. Since transmissions usually get worse gradually, I continued driving, while the transmission was on order. 2 days later, as I was driving the emissions check light & TCS light came on at the same time & have not gone out since then. The manual claims the emissions check light could mean that you didn't put the gas cap on tight ... but that doesn't explain why both lights would come on at the same time & stay on. Now I don't know if the car is just failing in general, or if everything is related & will be resolved once the new transmission is in.

What happened to Honda being such reliable cars?!?!

- , West Chester, PA, USA

problem #11

Apr 252009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles


I have a 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 coupe that I bought in December 2002. I LOVE this car. I am only 5'2'' but my husband is 6'; this is the 1st car ever that is comfortable for both of us, handles great & looks good. It has been meticulously maintained in accordance with the owners manual. My husband is a former mechanic and he has always taken care of the routine maintenance himself, with more complex maintenance going to the dealer or a shop we trust. We follow the 'severe' maintenance recommendations, even though the car has always been driven on paved roads in (flat) rural Ohio with light traffic and very little stop and go. On Saturday 4/25/09, while driving in hilly southern Ohio, we noticed that the transmission seemed to be slipping in the mid gear ranges and sometimes, when it finally went into gear, it went into it with a loud thump. We knew this was not good and agreed we needed to contact the dealer 1st thing Monday morning, which I did. I have subscribed to Consumer Reports for years and the Honda reputation for reliability greatly influenced our decision to purchase this car in 2002; however, I had noticed that in the 2008 & 2009 annual auto issues the 2003 Accord V6 was 'black marked' for major transmission issues. Before I called the dealer, I looked for a website to see if I could find any Honda service bulletins about this issue and found this site, which really concerned me after reading the comments. Of course, when I called the dealer Mon. 4-27, the service manager claimed he was unaware of any transmission issues. I took the car in on Tues 4-28. It was determined that the transmission needed replaced. The 'Honda Rep' happened to be at the dealer that day & since I had purchased the car new at this dealer, had purchased other cars (Fords) from the dealer in the past, it was offered that Honda would pay 1/2 the cost of the parts and labor to replace the transmission with a 'new, remanned' tranny that would have a 3 year, 36 month warranty. What could I do? We had just signed the paperwork to purchase an new Honda Goldwing motorcylce ($23,014.63) on Saturday; I couldn't buy a new car at this point. Besides, I truly do LOVE this car. So, my car is at the dealer as we speak getting the 'new, remanned' tranny. Hopefully I will get the car back good as new today or tomorrow. In the meantime, I wanted to share 'the rest of the story' with others who may be looking at this website because they are having the same transmission issues. This part of Ohio is located within 50 miles of Marysville, OH where these cars are manufactured. A very large portion of the local economy depends on Honda and Honda suppliers, and everyone know someone who 'works for Honda'. Last night, in a totally unrelated encounter with someone who just happens to work for Honda in Quality Control, we were told that the transmission failures are the result of a design flaw, that it affects the '3rd gear shift pack' and that Honda has been aware since the problem 1st arose on the Acura TL's (before this transmission was ever put in the Accord V6's). Like many of you, I am happy that Honda is helping me with the cost, but I don't feel that Honda customers should EVER be responsible to pay nything for a design flaw. My husband now says there will be no more Honda cars purchased in this household because it is apparent Honda is not standing behind their product completely. I don't necessarily agree (this is really my car afterall, and remember, I LOVE it) but there is something to be said for owner loyalty. After all, GM has the 2nd worse reliability record for domestic automakers in the US, but they do reward repeat buyers, don't they?

Update from May 17, 2009: Just to update...After I got my car back with the 'new' re-manned transmission I wrote a lengthy letter to Honda of America detailing my disappointment that Honda is not picking up the full tab for ALL customers who are experiencing these transmission failures that result from the design flaw previously discussed. On Friday May 15, 2009 a Honda Customer Service Representative called me in response to my letter. As expected, she advised that Honda would not be providing any more assistance to me. I heard the same denials of any known problems with this transmission as I had heard from the dealership's service department. I was told (again) that the car was out of warranty and if I had wanted further coverage I should have purchased an extended warranty. She told me that she has been in the Customer Service department responding to complaints for 14 years and that Honda had been generous in taking care of 50% of the cost the the transmission replacement as a 'goodwill gesture', especially since Honda would not benefit from that goodwill since I was not offering my loyalty to Honda in the future.

The truth was, she was deliberately missing my point--that Honda needed to step up and take responsibility for their design flaw, just as other car manufacturers have had to do in the past. It later dawned on me---all those re-manned transmissions are coming from somewhere! Obviously these are transmissions that have been taken out of vehicles and then re-manufactured to specs. And why where they taken out of the vehicles to begin with? That's a rhetorical question, of course. This auto manufacturer must think we consumers are really stupid.

- , Waldo, OH, USA

problem #10

Nov 012008

Accord DX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

car would not drive over 20 mph because it could shift into 2nd gear. it would jerk and not shift into gear. but if you don't fix right away it will tear your transmission apart because the the clutch wont function properly and the torque converter wont engage

- , Richmond, CA, Pacific Islands (US)

problem #9

Oct 202008

Accord EX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Back in October, I had to jump-start my car. There was a fair amount of corrosion on the battery terminals which I scraped off. On the way home, I noticed a definite loss of power. Thought it was the battery, so I replaced it. Since then, I have lost between 80-120 miles on a full tank of gas, and the transmission always seems to be in the wrong gear. Over normal city driving, the RPM's will always fall down to 600-700, whenever I take my foot off the gas pedal. Going up hills, it usually won't down shift unless I floor it. Toke it to the dealer, and of course, they found no problem, and didn't notice any loss of power. They reset the computer, but it is still doing it. Taking it to a transmission shop to get the transmission fluid flushed, to see if that's the problem.

- , Fort Washington, PA, USA

problem #8

Oct 012003

Accord EX

  • Manual transmission
  • 12,000 miles

manual transmission for accord coupe sucks. i had problem with riding rough highway speed 60-70 and if it was cold you better believe 2nd gear was tough to go into.


- , Charlottesville, VA, USA

problem #7

Feb 052008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,100 miles

Okay all! This is an update to the ongoing drama with the transmission problems, that Honda Corp is well aware of but make every excuse in the book not to cover..... My car broke down on February 5, 2008 and was advised that it was a solenoid (sp?) that prevents the car from shifting from 1st to 3rd. After paying almost $500. to fix that problem the following day the transmission went out in the car the very next day, after experiencing the same problems that I took it in from the day before. After fight back and forth about this problem and how we thought we had already fixed the problem with the solenoid (at least that is what URSE HONDA had told us the day before!) They advised us that they were not sure what the problem was with the car with supposed 30 years of Honda repair experience. They decided that they would replace the transmission if we would agree to pay 15%. With a young child at home and no transportation for the two of us. My husband decided to have them fix it, because he needed his car to go back and forth to work. A few days passed and the regional manager contacted us to see that the car was handling better.????? To which he had been advised by the URSE HONDA dealership that the problem had been repaired. We advised that the car was never returned to us. When we contacted the dealership they told us that they had put a new transmission in and that it was still doing a similar thing as when it was brought in before. They said they were going to try to put another transmission in it. They had the car exactly 1 month, the car was returned to me on March 5, 2008 during that time they did not offer a loaner car, rental, or demo. Their customer service is awful and I have to say the worst I have ever had to deal with. They told me that since they put a bad transmission in the car it fried my computer and they were replacing that as well. When I picked up the car it still felt to me that it was shifting hard and my radio, navigation, and heat/AC would not work because I could not use the touch screen in it. It was asking for the security code????? I called the dealership and they advised me that if I brought the car back again (for the third time) it would take about 15 minutes to fix, and that it should have been fixed before they gave it back to me. I laughed and thought to myself "That is just the way URSE HONDA handles their customers!" That is why we will never own another Honda or do business with their service department again. We have already located another service department that has built a business on the people that URSE HONDA screwed over (That is until I can get rid of this piece of crap car that HONDA CORP has stuck me with). We will never deal with URSE HONDA again and HONDA CORP was no more helpful than the shady dealership. By the way I don't know if I mention this in my other complaint.... When I bought the car I found out that I was given a 5 year 100,000 mile warranty???? Which I just recently found out during this whole mess, was because HONDA CORP knew there was a problem with the transmissions all along. Someone one from HONDA CORP told my husband that piece of information after we found out about the transmission problems.

- , Stonewood, WV, USA

problem #6

Dec 152007

Accord EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

My 2003 Accord EX-LV6 with 123,000 mile. bought the car with a extended warranty never used it once. has been a honda owner for the last 10 yrs. This is the first major problem I encountered with a Honda vehicle. The second gear on my autotrans. is slipping. The dealer (buena park honda) told me the transmission needs to be replacement. I had all/most major/minor services done at a dealership. I called Honda corp. Honda corp. asked me to fax them all service maintenance I have completed on my accord. Honda corp. will replace autotrans. with a 36 mo./36,000 mile warranty but I will need to pay 100% for the labor. I am not satisfied with this. Labor what I was told will be around $600-800 this is bull crap. Honda Corp. knows this is a major problem and they tried to fix the problem the first time with a recall to repair the autotrans. Count me in for a class action! I just need to talk to the dealer if they will give me additional discount for the labor . Will see what happens...

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #5

Sep 202007

(reported on)

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,085 miles

after starting up my car, whether the engine was cold/somewhat cold, i hear a sound in my gears and happens after putting the car to Drive. the clunking is then heard shifting from first to second gear and doesn't do it again after that. the only time it will happen again is when i shut down the car and start it up again after a few minutes and it happens all over again. I took it to my dealer and 5 people drove it within 3 hours and heard the noise but they said they don't know where it's coming from when I already told them!!! What will it take for my dealer or another one to understand what's going on???

- , Bayonne, NJ, USA

problem #4

Jul 202007

(reported on)

Accord 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

Recently my Honda accord was in for service. They said that they heard a noise and they thought it was my transmission. Honda first told me that they would pay for half of the transmission. After numerous calls they told me that I would only have to pay for the labor. After going on to some web sites I realize that this was a serious problem with the 2003 Honda accords. I am very upset that I didn't receive a recall. After reading some of the complaints on this web sites. It could be very dangerous. I am very upset because I have two children. And I drive them and their friends around. I suppose to get it repaired next week. I am very upset with Honda. I feel that I should of got some recall to the problem. And should have it repaired at no cost to me. After all I still have the original tires and brakes. You would think that the transmission would last longer than the breaks and tires.

- , Hyde Park, NY, US

problem #3

Mar 082007

(reported on)

Accord EXL 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

When I accelerate my gas peddle shakes, then my car "clunks" when it shifts. It doesn't always happen, but it did this right before the transmission failed last time. This "new" transmission is only 5 days old and it's already clunking again. I feel like I'm playing the wait game - just waiting to break down yet again...

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #2

Sep 252006

(reported on)


  • 44,000 miles

I have noticed in recent weeks the auto transmission not shifting properly into or out of second gear. The problematic shifting come and goes. Once I thought I had it in D-1, than it finally shifted after a 5 second delay. Sometimes coming to a stop the transmission will downshift hard like the engine is braking with a manual transmission as the brakes are applied. One dealer said all he could do was replace the transmission at my cost. Honda Customer Service says its may be still under warranty. I'm going to a different dealer to see.

- , Ashtabula, OH, USA

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