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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
15 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
9 / 0
Average Mileage:
84,447 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 11 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #376

Jul 262010


  • 78,694 miles


2003 Honda Accord with transmission recall performed on second band lubrication problem recalled by selling dealer@ aprox12,000 miles at my request was noted that if transmission had early failure that ho mo co would need to be responsible for repairs incurred and all expenses.then at 78,658 miles transmission began harsh shift from first to second ratio, also audible turbine noise noted. After reading multiples of same issues blogs from vehicle owners that crashed or barely avoided being in a crash due to inferior transmission designs and internal trans-lubrication problems even after said recall was performed by dealership in N.C. we believe that our 2003 Accord is no longer safe to drive / Transport passengers as of this day of 07/26 /2010 and request that a complete study which consist of all the affected vehicles be repaired by ho mo co. At their expense for parts, labor, for all parties in question and all persons that have filed claim with local dealerships and also with all persons so mentioned above that have contacted ho mo co. Customer service. In hope that no one dies!

- Thomasville, NC, USA

problem #375

Jul 212010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 180,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission failure. Car rev's but doesn't engage, especially in overdrive/3rd/4th/5th gears. The issue came on pretty suddenly. Still waiting for an estimate on the repairs; Honda had a recall on it in 2004/5, but has since expired, and is unwilling to assist in the repairs.

- Stoughton, WI, USA

problem #374

Jul 222010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 97,478 miles
The transmission on my '03 Accord V6 (97K miles) started to fail when driving home from work on 7/22/2010. I couldn't reverse and on a busy road I couldn't exceed a speed limit over 35-40 mph. I took it to my mechanic that evening, who said the problem was due to the failure of the pressure sensor solenoid a. I had to wait 3 hours for the new part to be delivered, but when my mechanic replaced the part, the problem still preceded. So, I went back to my mechanic, who finally found out the problem was due to my transmission. Currently my family of 5 has only one car and are being forced to pay both for a rent car and a new transmission.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #373

Oct 032009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 93,000 miles


My 2003, V6 Honda Accord started slipping between 2nd and 3rd gear. It becomes pretty dangerous when merging onto interstates and driving in traffic. There is a safety recall on the transmission. My vehicle was in the shop several times and the dealer never mentioned the recall. Once I had transmission problems and found the recall myself, I took it into Honda and showed them the safety recall. They looked at the transmission and said I need a new transmission but said they weren't responsible because the discoloration wasn't right. Even though the extra heat burnt the transmission oil and caused some failure in the transmission. Coincidentally the second gear is what is messed up. The Honda America rep told me that they were looking for a "catastrophic" problem with the transmission for them to be responsible. I guess that want you to drive with the problem until this occurs and then they will replace it.

- Lake Charles, LA, USA

problem #372

Jul 092010


  • 144,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord transmission failure, trouble shifting into 3rd gear ~ dangerous no doubt, especially while driving with my 2 children in the car. This problem caused damage to my engine as well.

- Kyle, TX, USA

problem #371

Jul 172010


  • 109,000 miles
Driving my family home from vacation on crowded interstate 287, the car suddenly and without warning rapidly decelerated creating a real hazard for occupants in my car as well as vehicles behind. The fault was a defective transmission that had jumped into 2nd gear on it's own. Furthermore, the cost of repair effectively totals the vehicle. I received no help or even consolation when I contacted american Honda.

- Bernardsville, NJ, USA

problem #370

Jul 122010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 103,400 miles


2003 V6 Honda Accord with 104,000 miles fails to shift into third gear occasionally. I started having trouble about two years ago, when I had about 70,000 miles on it, with the sudden down shifting. I took the car to my dealer in philadelphia. They tested it and took me for a road test with no evidence of a problem. While on vacation that summer I had my first experience with the trans not shifting into third gear so I took it to the nearest dealer, avalon NJ, and had them test it. Again no evidence of a problem. I told the mechanic to take it home with him for a couple of days in hope that he would find something but no luck again. I have been to two dealers and to aamco and no one can find the problem. From my perspective, if it works sometimes it probably isn't mechanical. The fact that the on board computer does not retain the code is at least part of the problem. Honda doesn't seem to take any responsibility for its failure to provide a reliable vehicle, which is why like so many others I bought the thing in the first place. Moreover, no one will even say they know what is wrong with since the error does not register in the onboard computer.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #369

Jul 072010


  • 103,000 miles
While driving on the freeway all of a sudden my engine light came on, and the gear indicator located on the dash, the green light that showed that the car was in drive started blinking. Then come to find out this car is know for transmission failure, regardless of the maintenance the care received from the dealer.

- Bellevue, WA, USA

problem #368

Jul 062010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord V-6 with automatic transmission surged to 6500 RPM's and then lost all compression while driving on the interstate. My wife had been complaining of similar problems while driving in town but never lost the drive train. I was lucky I was able to get over to the side of the road without being hit. The mechanics at the dealership told us this was a problem in this model year Accord, and after contacting american Honda Motors, they are not going to help out with the repairs due to the fact they have not recalled the vehicle for this problem. This could have led to a serious injury if I had been in heavy traffic at the time.

- Lexington, KY, USA

problem #367

Jun 222010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 131,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission fails. It is very unsafe, car stalls at 20mph with no warning and shifts violently. Lucky to avoid 2 crashes.

- Powell, OH, USA

problem #366

Jul 052010


  • 118,000 miles


Transmission on my '03 Honda Accord V-6 (118K miles) started slipping as I was driving home last week (7/1/2010). Took it to my local repair shop to have the transmission serviced, but within 2 days, the transmission completely failed as I was driving 2 miles from my home in the middle of a major road. Since the failure, I've found volumes of information online attesting to identical transmission problems with the '03 Accord and other Honda vehicles of similar age and wear. Additionally, the tow-truck that took my car to a transmission specialist and the mechanic at the transmission shop each provided similar experiences with an epidemic of transmission failures on '03 Accord that are just outside of the manufacturer warranty. I will be writing a very strongly worded letter to Honda Corp. Expressing my displeasure. Cost of replacement $2235 for a car that's only 7 yrs. Old, with only 118K miles on it. Unacceptable.

- Mount Airy, MD, USA

problem #365

Jun 102010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
I was driving on the highway going at least 65 mph, I noticed that my trans started slipping very bad. It felt like I was hitting my brakes on and off at 65 mph. I had no idea what the problem was. I took it to the dealership and they told me that the trans was dead. I was shocked...a Honda trans dead!!!. I had complete trust in my car, after all, it is only 7 years old with barely 100,000 miles on it. I could have been killed on the highway because of the bad trans. After searching on the internet I found that there were tons of people complaining about faulty trans on the automatic 2003 Accord and that there was service bulletin "recall" issued from Honda to fix a broken 2nd gear in the trans. So after calling the toll free Honda America corporate people, they told me that my car was already taken into a Honda dealer and had this 2nd gear replaced by the previous owner. So basically according to Honda, they did their part by repairing the 2nd gear, and even though the transmission is now broken with barely 100,000 miles, there is nothing Honda will do to cover the cost of a new transmission. I requested a goodwill repair but the person (reggie) nor his supervisor marla foster give me answers on how many of these type of calls were coming in or if they could assist me with the repairs. He basically said the local dealer would need to address this. After not getting anywhere with Honda America I was assigned case #[xxx]and immediately he proceeded to close the case with no solution to my problem. I am very disappointed that Honda isn't doing more to address this with loyal, long-term customers, knowing the transmission problem is a consistent issue with this model, as well as a potentially very dangerous situation. This is the 2nd Honda Accord I have owned and both my kids presently own Honda Accord. Part of the reason I spent more to get a Honda to begin with was to get the reliability, quality. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Apo, AE, USA

problem #364

Jun 282010


  • miles
My husband was driving to work on a very busy highway when his car violently jerked and then went instantly from 70mph to almost a complete stop. He was able to coast onto the shoulder and wait for a tow truck, but this could have easily been a very serious accident given the high speeds. He has been complaining of back and neck problems since the incident which seems to be a direct result of the car jerking abruptly during the sudden downshift. We have been told that the transmission needs to be replaced. Please investigate the transmission failures for the 2003 Honda Accord! this is obviously a defect in this model and needs to be recalled and repaired. Our car is currently at a Honda dealership awaiting repair. We have submitted a request for goodwill assistance and have not yet heard back on the outcome of that.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #363

Jun 242010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 101,945 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission failure while turning into oncoming traffic. Almost hit by oncoming traffic. This definitely is a safety issue with this model. Burning smell in car. These cars need to have a recall in regards to transmission.

- Lexington, MO, USA

problem #362

Feb 092009


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact was driving approximately 65 mph when the vehicle independently down shifted to first gear. The previous owner received repairs under NHTSA campaign id number: 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission). The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the transmission gears were replaced as compliant with the recall. The failure recurred within one year. The failure mileage was 85,000 miles and the current was 121,000.

- Coral Springs, FL, USA

problem #361

Jun 232010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
I am the owner of a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6. On yesterday, 6/23/2010, I was driving to work on the highway, during rush hour, when my car started to choke and slip. It felt like someone was pushing and pulling the car. The rpms were going up to 4-5 when I tried to accelerate. Naturally I was scared. My car was disrupting the flow of traffic, but thankfully no one hit me. I had my car towed to northwest Honda in owings mills md on that day. Nw told me that my transmission needed to be replaced due to an internal malfunction. This was unusual because I bought a certified preowned Honda in 2005 and I had all of my regularly scheduled maintenance done at that dealer. Lastly my car gave no warning of possible defects, no lights etc. After doing research I found out my year/model of Honda Accord is notorious for transmission defects and several people have had similar experiences. I'm sure some may have even been in an accident. Honda did a recall on the at in 2004, but that was only to fix the gears and prevent the transmission from locking. That does not fix the transmission problem from slipping and defecting without warning. My car is slightly out of the manufactured warranty which expired in on 11/15/2009. My extended warranty expired 01/01/2010. I obviously took the precautions to avoid this type of incident. I am now without coverage for this defective part. Honda offers good will assistance but it is granted on a case by case basis and is not a guarantee. I do have a claim in with Honda. I feel Honda should be held liable for their product before someone get seriously hurt or injured, much like the Toyota recall. This is an ongoing issue that must be addressed. Thankfully I am without physical harm, mentally I was shaken up. The situation could have easily been worst. Please check online for the numerous complaints on this car. It is a serious issue. Honda should be required to recall all 2003 Accord transmissions for safety reasons. Thanks.

- Parkville, MD, USA

problem #360

Jun 232010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 91,500 miles
The transmission on my 2003 Honda Accord ex-V6 has failed. The car was running fine, and then it started slipping when shifting gears. It would not accelerate from a stop without jerking, making it very scary to drive in traffic. When cruising at a relatively constant speed, it would downshift unexpectedly creating what I would consider very dangerous driving conditions. The diagnosis was complete failure of the inner workings of the transmission, and it must be replaced. This is a 7 year old car with 91,500 miles. It has been carefully maintained, including manufacturer recommended maintenance.

- Parker, CO, USA

problem #359

Jun 192010


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving at approximately 60 mph, the vehicle violently jerked approximately three times. The contact moved the vehicle from the roadway and had it towed to a local repair facility. The contact was informed that the transmission would need to be replaced. The transmission has yet to be replaced. The failure and current mileages were 120,000.

- Mt. Sinai, NY, USA

problem #358

Jun 112010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 60,800 miles
We have a 2003 V6 Honda Accord. When putting the car in reverse we were hearing a noise that sounded like a saw operating. Took the car to the same Honda service station that we have been using since purchasing the car. They said it was the rear brake pads and rotors that were causing the noise so they replaced them. The noise actually did go away. Then about a week later when my husband was driving he felt the car "buck". in addition the car would not always go into reverse. Took it to the dealer who said we needed a new transmission. The car is currently at dealer as we await the parts. I am very concerned since many people have written about this problem and have said that even when the transmission is replace the problem happens again. Why isn't someone forcing Honda to do something about this??they are not replacing these transmissions at no cost to the consumer!

- Hawthorne, NY, USA

problem #357

Jun 092010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord 5-speed automatic transmission lock-up problems..... transmission will lock up on 2nd gear, and wont upshift. Car just turned 80K on the odometer. All regular servicing and regular maintenance done by ase certified Honda mechanic, all records and paperwork on file. From current reports and recall notice from Honda North America, it is a recall and a safety concern. When dealership was informed of problem, they stated that they would have to contact their representative at Honda of North America and get back to us if we qualify. This is after the fact that the oil jet kit.... was already installed and stated that "problem was corrected" well the problem wasn't corrected.... thus the transmission locked-up.... well, notice came back from the dealership, that Honda of North America isn't going to honor the recall notice and replace the transmission as stated.... effectively "were on our own" ! why should we have to pay for a defect and a major safety defect at that, where Honda is accountable for" so now, like the 300+ other complaints for the same problem... we now have to decide what were going to do.... Honda of America... why can't you keep your word.... ! looks like this is the last Honda I ever buy or my friends or family.... another thing, you would think that Honda of America, would at least compensate us with a rental car, till the problem is taken care of? would they? nope...... this is your mess-up. Honda of America.... you designed the car.... fix your mess-up!!!!!!!!! NHTSA... is their anything that you guys can do to light a fire under american Honda motor company" I do wish we had dug deeper into buying the 2003 Honda Accord ex... our autocheck or carfax said nothing about problems or concerns or even a flag about the recall on the 5-speed automatic transmissions in the 2003 Honda Accord. Now our family is in a real difficult situation, and not alot of options. Bad public relations american Honda motor company.

- Central Point , OR, USA

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