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 16 of 29)

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problem #276

Oct 292009


  • 91,000 miles


1) we are the original owners of a 2003 Honda Accord, which has an automatic transmission. We had no notable transmission problems until last week, at 91,000 miles, the card suddenly downshifted to first gear while traveling 60 mph on the highway, nearly causing loss of control and propulsion of the driver towards the windshield. At the repair shop, a test drive led to a similar failure at 55 mph, nearly causing the driver to be ejected through the windshield. 2) the transmission failures occur only after the car warms up through driving about 30 min. Additional problems include failure to go into reverse, lurching as car delays its entry from park to drive, and difficulty remaining in a gear - searching for a gear while at a constant speed. 3) we are paying for a replacement transmission to be installed by a non-Honda shop using a Honda-rebuilt transmission. The Honda dealer told us that Honda did not have a goodwill policy for this type of problem and that we should pay the repair ourselves.

- Hunt Valley, MD, USA

problem #275

Oct 162009


  • 107,628 miles
Purchased "certified" 03 Honda Accord in 04 with 41K miles. Took to peninsula Honda, Oct 16 2009, hampton for service on recall for windshield, car started to act funny, would not shift in gear, was told I had a "faulty" transmission and would cost me about $4,000 to fix along with other items. Car was working fine until that day. Contacted american Honda was told by first rep that my car was covered and was told about a recall on the transmission. She transferred me to someone else to file my case and it has gone downhill since. Was told that my "new car" purchase/warranty was not covered. I have documents from Honda Corp that says 7 years or 100K miles on warranty given by dealership when purchased car. Took warranty back to dealership, manger took paperwork to the back for over 35 minutes which he was in the back while waiting I overhead two workers (possible managers) talking about it laughing and saying she even got a lawyer but it isn't covered, while manager, chris was in back with paperwork. Upon his return, he said it wasn't covered and gave it back. I told him that my attorney would contact him and gave him the attorneys card, he said well you do whatever and walked off. One of the guys who was laughing earlier walked up with the card and told me that I don't need to have the lawyer to call chris, manager and was giving me the card back. I have been without a vehicle for a whole month, I have been catching rides to work (while paying people for their gas because they say that gas is expensive), I have been a burden to others. I applied for a loan, cant get another car, this Honda will be paid off next year and Honda doesn't want to take responsibility for selling me a vehicle which was not what I thought, it is only 6 years old and the transmission is out. Please someone help me, I don't know what to do and as a consumer, I need help. Please help I was treated with respect when they were selling me the "certified Honda but now they act like they don't care!

- Hampton, VA, USA

problem #274

Oct 232009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 123,000 miles
2003 Accord ex V6 transmission failure. The car shakes vigorously due to faulty transmission and the pedals pulsate. This is very dangerous and can cause an accident. The dealer says the transmission needs to be replaced but the car only has 120,000 miles! I've seen hundreds of similar reports and Honda should be liable to replace their faulty transmissions.

- Monmouth Junction, NJ, USA

problem #273

Oct 282009


  • 137,000 miles


The owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving over 60 mph the vehicle stalled without any prior warnings. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and the technician stated they she would have to pay $3521 to replace the transmission since the torque converter failed. The manufacturer was notified, but no assistance was provided. No repairs were made. The failure mileage was 137,000.

- Lincolnton, NC, USA

problem #272

Oct 262009


  • 85,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord transmission slips and can not accelerate, also would not shift into reverse.

- Warren, NJ, USA

problem #271

Oct 202009


  • 82,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord. 82,000 miles while getting on the ramp of the highway my vehicle down shifted to 1st gear while going 60mph. Wheels instantly locked up, sending the car into a skid. Barely avoided the accident. 3 people were in the car to testify. The transmission on this car should be recalled immediately for safety reasons. There are hundreds of similar cases, but Honda refuses to accept responsibility for their transmissions.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #270

Oct 012009


  • 119,000 miles


2003 Honda Accord transmission failure.

- Oroville, CA, USA

problem #269

Oct 142009


  • 53,000 miles
I've owned a 2003 Honda Accord LX 6cyl since new. There was a transmission recall a few years ago and I'm not sure what was done. At 53,000 miles the transmission locked up. It's sitting at the Honda dealer needing a new transmission and they will not pay. I saw online hundreds of the same complaint so I'm not alone. Locking up was a serious problem that could have cost a life when in traffic. Something needs to be done.

- Mount Airy, MD, USA

problem #268

Oct 152009


  • 134,000 miles
Automatic transmission slips out of gear going from 2nd to 3rd or when coasting in 15 to 25 mph range. Car loses power and hesitates causing traffic blockage during rush hour. Car has to be stopped and then re-accelerated to move again. This can happen anytime vehicle does stop and go traffic. I.e. all of rush hour traffic.

- Roseville, MN, USA

problem #267

Mar 012009


  • 60,000 miles
The car has potential hazard as the transmission will occasionally rev up to 4000 RPM but the car is stuck at low gear or sometimes it is not moving. There have been many complaints by different owners across the country for the same issue but the santa clara Honda dealer never admits to it. Please see the following for all similar complaints:

- Sunnyvale, CA, USA

problem #266

Oct 112009


  • 115,000 miles


My 2003 Accord has transmission recall that supposedly has a fixed. The recall was at around 40,000 miles the gears start to slip on automatic transmissions. The fix was a jet kit in the transmission to help cool down the fluid. My transmission was too late for the kit and was already damaged so I had to replace it at 65,000 miles (in 2005) and to top it off the dealer said my car is not part of the recall but when I registered in Honda owner link site it clearly says that my VIN is part of the recall. Well now it is 2009 and my transmission has 50,000 miles and it is failing again. This fix they supposedly did is not working and it needs some investigation because there is way more complaint not reported and I think this will give them a push telling them this is a serious issue. I honestly think Honda need to come out with a better solution. Or even convert the vehicle the manual transmission free of charge.

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #265

Sep 252009


  • 102,293 miles
Driving car on us highway 90 between lafayette Louisiana and new iberia Louisiana at a speed of about sixty (60) miles an hour when car suddenly and violently downshifted into either first or second gear. The sudden deceleration practically shoved me forward feeling as if I had been rear-ended. I was barely able to maintain control preventing car to spin or swerve to the right. Traffic was moderate or slightly heavy. Luckily no one was directly behind me at a close distance. Had there been, an accident would have been very likely. The cause of this problem was transmission failure or torque converter lock up. Corrective measures are to replace transmission, which will be done in the next few days by Honda dealership.

- New Iberia, LA, USA

problem #264

Aug 122009


  • 94,000 miles
Transmission is going out with less then 100K. Could cause a crash if your trying to get out into traffic and your transmission decides to go out. Big problem on this year and model from what I read.

- Greenback, TN, USA

problem #263

Sep 092009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 71,115 miles
My 03 Accord ex-V6 transmission failed while my daughter was driving. She was very upset as she was traveling at 45mph when transmission locked up nearly causing a rear end crash. She attempted to restart by the D4 light and several dash lights started blinking and car wouldn't move. Had vehicle towed to repair facility and determined that the transmission had failed at a owner cost of $3600. The 03 Accord V-6 coupe is the worst year of the transmission problems and Honda ignores the owners.

- River Ridge, LA, USA

problem #262

Sep 212009


  • 82,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord had a transmission failure shifting into first gear on the highway nearly resulting in a crash. Apparently many people have experiencing the same thing. Honda should be forced to recall.

- Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #261

Sep 212009


  • 134,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex V6 has faulty transmission. I purchased this car used in 2006 and was unaware that the transmission had been recalled. The car did not come with any service records. The car is slipping out of gear and downshifting suddenly as well as getting stuck in 2nd and 3rd gear while driving in heavy traffic. I was on an incline in rush hour highway traffic today and the car would not go over 20 miles an hour.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #260

Sep 192009


  • 80,953 miles
2003 Honda Accord transmission failure, on 9/19 I was driving down the road at about 45 mph and my car shifted down to first gear, with the engine revved up to 3 RPM's. my car came to an abrupt holt and the car behind me had to run off the road to miss from hitting me. I have taken my car to the dealer, its the transmission. My car has 80,098 miles and should not be having transmission problems like this. There was a recall, but obviously it wasn't the right thing to fix the problem. I have seem over 200 cases just like me and I believe its going to have to take lives before something is done.

- Anderson, SC, USA

problem #259

Sep 082009


  • 113,236 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord with 113,236 miles. When the vehicle shifts between second and third gear the solenoid caused the vehicle to lose power. The dealer advised the contact that recall 04V176000, power train automatic transmission was repaired with the previous owner.

- Lawernceville, GA, USA

problem #258

Sep 172009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 54,000 miles
On 9-17-09 I was traveling at approximately 45 mph when the vehicle, Honda Accord, ex 6 cylinder violently lunged causing me to be thrown forward, hitting the steering wheel with my upper body and then backwards into my seat. I experienced no loss of power and the car continued to move. If I had been close to any other vehicle this would have caused an accident because I began to swerve into another lane. If I had been knocked out I may be either dead or in a hospital, and even worse could have hit another vehicle, injuring someone else. The next morning I had my car towed to a repair shop to evaluate the problem, and after there inspection recommended I go to the Honda dealership for further diagnosis/repair. I will be taking the car to the dealership on Monday 9-10-09, the service manager is already aware of the situation and will determine if the transmission is faulty.

- Panama City Beach, FL, USA

problem #257

Sep 102009

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,600 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that while driving 75 mph, the vehicle down shifted into first gear. As a consequence his risk for a vehicle crash was increased. He was able to accelerate to the intended speed, after a few minutes. The vehicle was taken to a local repair facility for inspection. The mechanic replaced the transmission at an expense of $ $2,300. The manufacturer was notified, but no assistance was provided. The failure and current mileages were 106,600. Updated 10/20/09 the consumer had the transmission was replaced and according to aamco the second and third gear had totally failed. Updated 10/22/09.

- Grayson, GA, USA

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