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 15 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #296

Dec 212009

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles


My 2003 V6 Honda Accord has 143,000 miles and needs a second transmission replacement. I have kept current with all the required maintenance, and all the maintenance and repair work has been done at the same Honda dealership from which I purchased the car new in 2003. The first transmission replacement was at 102,000 miles - just past the 100,000 mile extended warranty I purchased. The dealership cut me a break on the cost and it ended up being about half of the full cost but that was still $2000 out of my pocket. Two years later, it is currently in the shop needing another transmission replacement. Honda and the dealership are willing to pay for 75% of the cost but that is still another $1000 out of my pocket for something that should not have needed to be done. It seems to happen quickly too. Three weeks ago I was in for more than $2000 of vehicle maintenance (timing belt replacement. Axle bearing, as well as fluids, etc) - no indication from the dealership that there was a potential problem with the transmission. A week later I took it back since the traction control system was coming on all the time - sometimes while in park, sometimes on the freeway, sometimes on side roads - no rhyme or reason just coming on all the time. They could not figure out what was causing that but found what they thought was a small leak in the wheel bearings. I made a mental note to have it fixed next time I bring it in. Two weeks later it starts to make a funny sound - I think the wheel bearing has gotten worse and take it in immediately. After they look closer at it, they determined the transmission was shot again and needed to be replaced. Luckily I have caught the transmission problems before they have caused the vehicle to fail but it is dangerous never knowing when it will fail. Several of my husbands coworkers with similar year Honda Accord have also had numerous transmission problems which is what is prompting me to report it here.

- Salinas, CA, USA

problem #295

Dec 242009


  • 517,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The third gear in the transmission has failed. In 2003, the transmission was repaired at the dealer. The manufacturer nor the dealer will assume responsibility for the failure. The failure mileage was 51,700.

- Turlock, CA, USA

problem #294

Dec 032009


  • 94,000 miles
I own a 2003 Honda Accord. There was not any noticeable indications of transmission problems, the car ran great, no indicator lights came on for warning. The car has been driven by myself and all maintenance done as scheduled or before. I was driving it home from work on a busy 4 lane in 5 O'clock traffic. I was following the flow of traffic at about 50mph, when it simply came out of gear. When I pushed the accelerator the RPM's went up but the transmission would not kick in. It finally caught up and I was able to exit the traffic into a parking lot without an accident. When my husband got there, it would not go into drive or reverse. I had drove it approximately 4 miles when this happened. Long story short, car had to be towed to the Honda dealership, they said the transmission was gone. We called american Honda, since the car had a recall in 2004 for this problem, but after waiting a week for the dealership and american Honda to "get together" we did not get any response from them. We left messages for "ronn" our case manager and the calls was not returned. We had to take it to a transmission shop to be rebuilt, but it still does not run right.

- Youngsville, LA, USA

problem #293

Dec 222009


  • 129,000 miles


Transmission failure 2003 Honda Accord while driving.

- Holland, MI, USA

problem #292

Jun 082009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 78,950 miles
Honda Accord V6 transmission failed at 79,000 miles, car always serviced at Honda, transmission flushed at 45K, (per Honda) started hesitating between 3-4 gear, then the check engine light came on, took the car to Honda and they showed an internal transmission failure. To correct the issue they had to install a new transmission.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #291

Sep 262009


  • 99,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord that has transmission problems. Leading up to the failure of the transmission the car (while on an interstate) just suddenly slowed down from about 65mph to 40 jerking me toward the windshield. Then the vehicle would rev up in RPM's and not accelerate at all. I have searched on the internet and it's amazing how many people report the same problem that I have with the same exact symptoms. I feel it is a matter of time and the transmission will cause an accident if it already hasn't and just not been reported.

- Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #290

Nov 282009


  • 55,080 miles


2003 Honda Accord ex, V6 with 5-speed automatic transmission: Car had been regularly maintained according to manufacturers recommendations. Problem started as transmission slipping when going up hills. It would not go into gear right away and would rev until I let off the gas and repeated a few times. The real problem began shortly thereafter; after driving for approximately 20 minutes, regardless of speed, the transmission would suddenly and violently downshift seemingly from third to first gear. Once it happened, it would continue every few minutes until I stopped and turned off the car. The second time this occurred was while merging onto a busy highway. Immediately after, I took it to the dealership to be inspected. They initially told me there was no problem -- they road-tested it and could not duplicate it. I insisted they drive it for 20 minutes and upon doing so, they told me it was a transmission failure and I would need a new transmission. After getting a second opinion (since the car only had 55K miles) from a Honda-certified mechanic, he confirmed that the clutches were burnt and the bearings worn out and said it was a common problem in the 2003 Accord 5-speed automatic transmission. Had the mechanic rebuild the transmission.

- Chadds Ford, PA, USA

problem #289

Nov 052009


  • 75,056 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission failure while driving on highway. Vehicle as well as occupant were in danger of injury/etc. Honda had issued a recall on this model of Honda/transmission for inspection/repair. Repair based upon Honda's evaluation was completed. Vehicle was then cleared as repaired and safe to drive. After repair transmission failed as stated above. Vehicle was repaired after a quick mediation while we were away on a trip. This was mediated via a representative for Honda dealers. Upon return from the trip, dealer was contacted to pay for the repair and told no further contact with Honda representative by customer was allowed. Honda dealer/service manager told me to contract Honda via their 1-800 number for possible further consideration of money lost for transmission repair. Contact with Honda at their 1-800 number was made. After a long question/answer series, I was informed there was nothing further Honda via this representative was able or willing to do. During this conversation I attempted to gain certain specific information such as the number of transmissions recalled and ultimately replaced due to faulty equipment/part(s). I was told that type of specific information unique to Honda of that year/model would not be available and or given to myself. I have attempted to contact various sources, such as the California department of Consumer Affairs/motor vehicle section. This site/number was one of several recommended for possible assistance. Any further information or contact would be appreciated. Thanks for your consideration.

- Lincoln, CA, USA

problem #288

Dec 112009


  • 124,000 miles
Total failure of transmission at highway speed left vehicle stranded on busy bridge.

- Camp Hill, PA, USA

problem #287

Dec 032009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 79,800 miles
The transmission on my 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 catastrophically failed when I was driving on the highway at highway speeds. It was dangerous, because the car suddenly would not accelerate at all, and I had to suddenly cut across several lanes of traffic to reach the side of the road. The entire transmission had to be replaced.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #286

Nov 072009


  • 70,000 miles


The car was not shifting properly. Revving high when trying to upshift and shifting down hard when downshifting. In one or 2 occasions this locked the wheels and the car skidded. This car had been updated per previous recall in 2004: 2003 Honda Accord recall id from NHTSA: 04V176000 auto recall date: 04/15/2004 vehicle component: Power train:automatic transmission estimated vehicles affected: 1099796 obviously that fix did not work, as the car still exhibited the transmission problem and Honda does not acknowledge that this is continuing to be an issue.

- Downingtown, PA, USA

problem #285

Nov 272009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 93,500 miles
Honda Accord ex V6, 4-door sedan. Gear failure related to transmission. Gear failure occurred at approximately 94,000 miles. I was driving the car at approximately 50 miles per hour. Without warning, the car began to shift gears on its own, without my touching the gear panel or attempting to shift gears. The car jerked several times, still at high speed. The "D" gear panel began to flash, the engine light and traction control indicators appeared on the indicator panel. I drove the car at very slow speed to the nearest Honda dealer, still experiencing sudden gear shifts. I was advised that the transmission must be replaced and that the gear mechanism within the transmission has failed. My Accord was subject to a recall campaign in 2004. The Honda dealer installed an "oil jet kit" to fix the problem, which apparently persists. According to, 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 transmission problems have been reported to that website 346 times, and other drivers have reported sudden gear shifts while driving at high speeds. Clearly, fatal and other serious crashes can easily occur as a result of the transmission problem.

- Wheaton, MD, USA

problem #284

Oct 132009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 97,017 miles
First Honda new1989 Accord lxi, replaced in 1991 with new Accord SE which was stolen in 1994 and replaced with new 1994 Accord ex. Added new Accord ex V6 in 2003. Bought last Honda we will ever own 2010 Accord ex V6 seven days before the transmission in the 2003 took a kamikazes. We were two miles from home traveling at 55 mpg when the engine redlined and the car jerked and lost speed. Fortunately we had just gotten off of nc 17 and the road we were on was deserted. I let the car slow until the transmission engaged and nursed the car to our home. In the morning I called our Honda dealer in myrtle beach SC told them what happen. They stated they believed the transmission was gone but they needed to see the car. It was delivered on a flat bed and they called to tell me the transmission was shot. Located this site and the NHTSA site with suggestions to contact Honda for a goodwill coverage of the transmission. Considering Honda had just finalized the 90 million dollar class action suit and recall of 2000 - 2002 Accord I thought they would welcome our loyalty of twenty years and pay for their engineering failure. The twit at Honda corporate gave me a hissyfit. What did I expect? the car is out of warranty! you should be lucky Honda is even talking to you. You have the car with the best resale on the market. So what if it has to be towed forty five miles to the nearest Honda dealer (who had just serviced the 2003 the day we picked up the 2010). A week later the twit gave an ultimatum. Honda will replace the transmission for $2800 and split the cost 50/50. Considering the dealer had quoted a cost of $3400 this was going to save us. Today 11/5/09 my half grew to $1525 and the car stinks like hell. It smells like someone was smoking a really bad cigar. The driver's rug and the door panel are covered with grease. So where do I go from here. Since the 2003 was purchased while I was a New York resident I will contact the NY attorney general andrew como. Who has a reputation.

- Sunset Beach, NC, USA

problem #283

Oct 132009


  • 97,017 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving the transmission failed without any prior warnings. The vehicle was towed to the dealer, and the technician stated that the transmission needed to be replaced at an expense of $3000. The Honda manufacturer was notified, and he was advised that they would pay $1400 of the amount due. The failure mileage was 97,017.

- Sunset Beach, NC, USA

problem #282

Nov 192009


  • 119,650 miles
My car begin hesitating going from 1st to 2nd gear on Thursday (11/19). I took it to the repair shop Friday morning and had the oxygen sensor replaced. It continued to do to same thing Friday night, so I took it back Saturday afternoon. Friday night and Saturday morning it got progressively worse. It begin to buck when shifting gears and at times I would rev the engine and it would take several seconds to jump into gear and get past 20 mph. The auto shop told me my 2003 Honda Accord (120K) needed a new transmission. As I left to get other quotes, I was in the middle lane on a busy street and as I tried to accelerate my car would not go into gear (it was as if I was in neutral). I quickly turned on my hazards and pressed the gas pedal for about 30 secs. It finally jumped into gear and I immediately pulled in 7-eleven and called a tow truck. It took from Thursday to Saturday for my car to become a safety hazard to me and others on the road and after reading about several other similar complaints on other websites, I am horrified this issue has not been rectified earlier.

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #281

Nov 072009


  • 72,501 miles
Transmission abruptly downshifted without warning, and at one point shifted into neutral while driving at highway speeds. Pulled car off road shut off and restarted, got car home called for tow truck took to transmission repair shop. Had to replace transmission.

- Middletown, DE, USA

problem #280

Oct 012009


  • 98,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving his vehicle, the transmission started to flutter which was an indication that the transmission was failing. The dealer stated that they would not repair the transmission since the warranty was not valid. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 98,000.

- Seneca, SC, USA

problem #279

Jun 062007

Accord 6-cyl

  • 115,552 miles
2nd gear transmission failure on my 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 and Honda refuses to fix problem even after a recall was issued on this year/model vehicle in 2004.

- Musella, GA, USA

problem #278

Oct 062009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 65 mph the rpms began to increase, and then the vehicle lurched forward into a guard-rail. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. A technician stated that the torque converter caused the transmission to fail. The transmission was replaced at an expense of $4000. However in year 2005, the vehicle was repaired according to recall # 04V176000( power train:automatic transmission). The manufacturer was notified, but no assistance was provided. The failure and current mileages were 85,000. Updated 12/07/09. The consumer stated Honda reimbursed him $1600. Updated 12/08/09

- Frederick, MD, USA

problem #277

Nov 042009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 93,000 miles
Wednesday Nov 4, 2009 my wheels locked up with catastrophic transmission failure of my 2003 Accord V6 automatic at freeway speeds on hwy 90 in san antonio. The truck following me was able to brake without hitting me, I had my seatbelt on otherwise I would have been thrown into the windshield. It felt like someone had slammed on the brakes. I realized something was drastically wrong with the car so I put it in neutral. By then I was coasting at about 40 miles an hour, cars were honking and passing me on both sides and I was żlocked inż on the freeway. When I put the car back in drive and accelerated to try to merge through traffic to get off the freeway, the transmission seized up again, this time without as much force, it only slowed me down 5 mph or so. It locked up 2 to 3 more times, each time with less force as I tried to maintain enough speed to move to the shoulder. This event was preceded by several months of intermittent hard down shifts and another 2 hard downshifts in a period of a few hours two days earlier. I had already made one dedicated dealer service call for this specific issue and another where I mentioned it and both times I was told Honda knew of no problems with this transmission and I was advised no repairs were needed. Since the event I've looked at Honda owner web forums and the NHTSA site and discovered that others with the 2003 year model Honda Accord have described the same catastrophic failure of their transmission with lock-up. It appears that american Honda has paid part or all of the repair costs for several people. Honda has agreed to pay 50% of my repair and I am in discussion with them for more coverage because of the fact that I had sought service for this issue and had been told there was no repair needed. I donżT have access to the data that the NHTSA has or that american Honda has but I am concerned that other 2003 Accord drivers may have dangerous transmissions that could result in a deadly accident.

- San Antonio , TX, USA

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