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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Honda Accord:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 12 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #356

Apr 032010


  • 84,288 miles


2003 Honda Accord: Purchased 2/18/2006 as a certified preowned vehicle. Powertrain warranty: 10/18/2009 or 100,000 miles on 6/3/2010 at 84,288 miles - we finally got the diagnosis of powertrain failure (we had brought in two other times complaining of same problems.) Honda dealership service dept. Gave quote for $4,000. Told to call Honda usa for goodwill repair.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #355

Aug 202007


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns 2003 Honda Accord. The first failure occurred on August 21, 2007. While driving 15 mph the vehicle would shift from 2nd gear into neutral. He drove onto the emergency lane, shut the engine off and restarted it. The vehicle began to function normally. The dealer stated that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated they needed to keep the vehicle overnight to perform a diagnostic test. The dealer stated that the vehicle needed a new transmission. The vehicle was not repaired when the complaint was filed; however, the diagnostic test were not complete. Honda manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 60,000 and the current mileage was 80,000. Updated 10/27/10.

- Central Point , OR, USA

problem #354

Jun 062010


  • 50,000 miles
On Sunday, June 6, 2010, I was driving my 2003 Honda Accord (approximately 50,000 miles) on the highway at about 65 mph when it suddenly slammed itself into low gear and screeched to a stop. The car then shifted itself back into drive and I attempted to get onto the shoulder of the highway. It slammed into low two more times before I was able to get on the shoulder and put the car in park. I put on my hazard lights and drove down back streets at 20 mph to get home. The next day, a friend drove the car to the car dealer (I purchased the car less than 2 months ago) and though he was only driving 25 mph, the same thing happened to him twice. The car has been at the dealership since. After doing some research and finding that there are a number of complaints with this same problem, I spoke with the mechanic at the dealership. He agreed that the only safe repair was to replace the transmission with a 2005 as that year did not seem to have this same manufacturer's defect. However, I am being required to pay 50% of the labor and parts for this repair. This is unacceptable due to the short amount of time I've owned the car, no revelation on the part of the dealer regarding this defect, that it is a manufacturer's defect and that I was injured due to the problem it caused.

- Shawnee, KS, USA

problem #353

Jun 012010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 81,000 miles


2003 Honda Accord, V-6, automatic. First owner, all services (but for last two oil changes (by me) done by Honda. At 81,000 miles, transmission often fails to upshift from 2-3D gear, will also downshift abruptly to 2nd gear, can approach engine overspeed and difficulty with control of the car as the front wheels will transiently lock-up in this event. The car was only driven to the dealer after the first time this occurred. Virtually every 2-3 shift not correct, usually with slippage to 4000rpm, would eventually upshift to 3rd, but random timing. Dangerous with approaching cars from behind. Started last week, currently in shop, in germany, as I am in the us military here. Honda na contacted, will review their address of the problem after I have the car repaired. I have read over 300 complaints this model, this year with exactly the same description. This car was subject of 2004 recall for overheating of 2nd gear. That recall performed (an inspection and oil jet we were told.

- Apo, AE, USA

problem #352

May 302010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 81,000 miles
While driving a Honda Accord V6 2003 on a highway at 70 mph, suddenly tcs indicator came on and the car stopped. There was no warning ever and the car has barely 80,000 miles on it and had been maintained very well and was driving perfectly until this sudden moment. Was lucky to pull over the shoulder without anybody read ending me. Got the car towed to nearest Honda dealer and they said there was a leak in the front seal of the transmission and the transmission oil has drained out. They charged $700 for replacing the seal (only $15 in parts value). We were stranded in a town more than 300 miles away from home and spent 3 days waiting for the car to be repaired. Next day, the car started making violent jerks while driving at lower speeds and the engine will rev up and down at the traffic lights. It was dangerous to drive the vehicle on freeways. Took it to the local Honda dealer and he said the transmission needs to be replaced and it will cost $4000. While reading online, found that many hundreds of people have reported exact same issue with 2003 Honda Accord at similar mileage and Honda never issued a recall for it even though there is a defect with their transmission system in this model. They are not offering any goodwill repair or compensation and are declining to acknowledge the issue that many people come to them everyday with this same issue with this model of Honda Accord. II will be $4,700 down just for owning a Honda Accord model which happened to have a faulty transmission system. I am considering filing a lawsuit.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #351

Jun 032010


  • 80,000 miles
There was only one event that led up to my 2003 Honda Accord transmission failure. During some cold days (est. 12-20 days) over the past two winters, the car failed to shift from 2nd to 3rd in the morning. Once warmed up, the car worked fine. I was careful to change the transmission fluid per the manual, and even a few thousand miles early. I always notified my mechanic of this symptom but was told no problem could be found. The transmission failed unexpectedly on a warm summer morning while driving home from work. The transmission previously never slipped during warm weather. The failure was quick, unexpected, happened while driving at a high speed, and could have caused serious injury to myself or others. The failure happened after I pressed the gas pedal, at which point one or more of the following events happened on my way home: 1) accelerate as expected (I.e., no failure); 2) slam into a lower gear and decelerate; or 3) coast at current speed while the engine revs up (which may end with the car slamming into gear and jerking the car forward). To correct this failure, I first was vigilant in replacing transmission fluid and all but begged my mechanic to find the underlying cause. That didn't work. Now the transmission must be replaced. My final corrective action will be to buy only german engineered cars going forward. Hopefully, they have mastered the cause-effect relationship between the gas pedal and reliably going faster.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #350

Jun 022010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,287 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving at approximate speeds of 60 mph, the vehicle down shifted and abnormally began to accelerate without driver intent. The contact released the accelerator and the vehicle resumed normal operation until there was an unusual increase in engine rpms. The dealer advised the failure was due to defective engine mounts. The vehicle was then taken to a local repair shop where he was advised by an independent mechanic that the failure was due to the transmission. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 92,287. Updated 08/13/10. Updated 08/23/10 updated 12/02/10 the consumer stated he paid for the repairs at his expense. Updated 12/07/10.

- Concord, CA, USA

problem #349

Jun 012010


  • 104,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex-L, mileage 104,000. Purchased new, single owner/driver. Driving 70 mph on highway, vehicle slowed to first gear. Luckily was able to pull onto the shoulder of the highway before causing accidents. Car would not move after that. 2003 Honda Accord ex-L [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Moss Point, MS, USA

problem #348

Jun 152009


  • 119,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving at 55 mph, the vehicle suddenly stalled, surged forward and then started up on its own. The failure occurred every forty seconds while the vehicle was being driven. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealership but the dealer stated that they would not assist in repairs. The transmission was being rebuilt at the time of the complaint. The failure mileage was approximately 119,000. The current mileage was approximately 146,000.

- Maerryfield , VA, USA

problem #347

May 232010


  • 203,000 miles
I was driving my 2003 Honda Accord from ames, ia to minneapolis, mn for a one day trip and the malfunction indicator light came on at the halfway and the engine died a few seconds later. I had to pullover and call my insurance agent. At the end, my car got towed to the sedars Honda dealership at mason city, Iowa, and they called me saying it was the transmission failure and replacing will cost from $3000 to $3600.

- Ames, IA, USA

problem #346

May 202010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 82,000 miles


I was driving back to my house, and after a red light stop, my car transmission began to slide. I was on the middle of the street and all other cars began to sounds their horns. I change the transmission to 1 and bring the car to Honda, and ask them to send a goodwill request to Honda usa.

- Toa Alta, PR, USA

problem #345

Jan 152010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 60,100 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex V6. Current mileage 62,000. Purchased new, single owner/driver. At approx 60,000 miles began with intermittent shifting failure. It will fail to accelerate when it shifts from 2nd to 3rd gear. It varies in time when it will re-engage and it has left me in a dangerous situation several times and there is no warning for this failure. It has been reported numerous times and seems to be a common problem of this year and model. Recently I pulled out onto a roadway and began to accelerate, when the transmission failed to engage when shifting into 3rd gear, enroute traffic caught up to me and my abrupt failure to accelerate/merge with traffic, caused an accident of several of those vehicles that were approaching with wet road conditions to my vehicle that was abruptly stranded and immobile. I was nearly rear ended and had no warning that this failure is going to occur. I believe this to be a serious safety issue and am very concerned. Please advise.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #344

Apr 092010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,300 miles
I own a 03 Honda Accord ex coupe with automatic transmission. I have noticed within the past month, my car shifted oddly while driving. My car shifts "hard" especially on the freeway as if I am driving a manual and I don't know how to shift. The car jerks harshly before it shifts into the next gear. Also, when I am shift into "drive" my car rolls back for a second or two as if I were in reverse.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #343

May 022010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord has had a transmission failure. This occurred while I was driving on the highway. I was going about 55 mph when the transmission lost second and third. The car shook and the wheels seemed to lock and slowed so quickly I was almost hit by a truck. Honda takes no responsibility however they offered 2200 towards the 5000 repair. They based the amount offered by the age and mileage. I bought a Honda because I believed it was a safe car and would last for a long time.they tell me that the transmission need to be replaced and nothing else.I looked on line and there are hundreds if not thousands of complaints about the transmission failure. They don't care about the defect, or the safety of their customers. The offer from american Honda was take it or leave it, I believe they have the offers even before the car is inspected. I got a call from american Honda before the dealer called me with what was wrong. The service manager told me it would be another day before they knew and the american Honda rep called a little while later asking if I heard what they found. He said he would call back but the impression I got was the deal was alreadyset. Plus they charged me 90 to evaluate the car. I was very luck to get out of the way of traffic and pull off the highway. Before someone gets killed they should fix the problem, the car companies can not keep denying problems exist. You should not wait until people die before you get involved.

- Mastic Beach, NY, USA

problem #342

Apr 212010


  • 85,000 miles
The first two incidents occurred after exiting the highway. While slowing down, the car jolted forward as if I had been hit in the rear. I brought the vehicle to a Honda dealer and they could not replicate the problem and found nothing wrong with the powertrain. In the following week, my car stalled multiple times while stopped at red lights/traffic with the final time occurring on the highway in rush hour traffic. While city driving (stop/go), the RPM's would randomly jump while giving no power to the wheels. Upon returning the car to the Honda dealer, I was informed one week later (they had to ship a piece from technical hdqrts in ca) that the internal torque converter was causing the problem and a transmission replacement is required for around $3200. After reading the hundreds of identical complaints with this model and problem, I will be scrapping this car and never purchasing a Honda again. This is a serious safety issue caused by faulty engineering work with the transmission that Honda apparently refuses to recognize. My small silver lining is that current lease rates on other same class vehicles are outstanding (Camry/sonata).

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #341

May 032010


  • 98,050 miles
Transmission failure.

- Belmont, MA, USA

problem #340

Oct 052009


  • 97,000 miles
The rpms on my 2003 Honda Accord would race up, but the car would not switch gears. The car would stay in second gear. Complete transmission failure at less than 100,000 miles.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #339

Apr 152010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
I first noticed issues with my auto tranny in my Accord ex V6 at around 50K miles. They had just installed some jet for the recall for hard shifting for this car. At about 80K I noticed it getting worse, so I told my mechanic and he changed the tranny oil for me. It seemed to shift a little better and this was only from 2-3 gear that it would rev up to about 5K and then jerk the car to get into 3rd. It's very embarrassing and I'm afraid it's going to lock up on me on the freeway. I saw that California filed a suit against Honda and Honda settled. Every state should be filing a suit - I'd be first in line! I too talked to Honda and the hq for Honda, but since mine has so many miles on it (all freeway), they are blaming that, even tho I have maintenance records showing it's been a problem. They don't want to step up to the plate. I hope some lawyer gets a hold of these complaints and sues them like California did. This is my 2nd Honda and I swore by it, but I'll never buy another Honda after this. Even from day one I've asked Honda about the dimming of the headlights when the car shifts and they said it was normal cuz they car needed all the power to do the shifting, so they wouldn't do anything about it. I've owned several other cars and this was never an issue. I don't know if it's the year of this Accord or that it's a V6, but it's very frustrating and Honda should be ashamed! if complaints keep happening, you'd think they would fix the issues or investigate it a little harder since they already did one recall on them. I have told all my friends not to buy Honda and told them why. Let's spread the word and maybe when their sales go down, they might wonder why and do something about it. I'm now faced with a $4K to rebuild my tranny. Sickens me, especially when the car is only worth $7K cuz I have 140K miles on it now. Email me if you can help sue them...[xxx]. information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #338

Apr 102010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 66,651 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 sedan transmission failure at 66,000 miles. Car revs without power to wheels. Unable to move. Turned car on and off and only by shifting to D1 was I able to get the car off the road and out of traffic. Towed to dealership and told it would be $4600 of which Honda would pay $2000 as a courtesy. Found over 400 similar reports on and realized this was an engineering problem that needs to be recalled. Please put pressure on Honda to make this happen.

- Annandale, VA, USA

problem #337

Mar 232010


  • 80,512 miles
On 3/23/2010 the transmission of my 2003 Honda Accord with 80,500 miles died while in drive, waiting for the traffic light change at a major intersection my check engine light was not on. My car was towed to my local Honda dealership. The technician from the dealership ran a diagnostic test and reported that the torque converter was staying engaged causing my car to stall and that I needed my transmission replaced. I took my car to a local shop specializing in transmission work and had it replaced. My old, broken transmission is not available anymore.

- Columbia, MD, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?