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 19 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #216

May 162009


  • 74,000 miles


2003 Honda Accord ex failed transmission twice. First at 74,000 miles and then again at 103,000 miles.

- Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #215

May 162009


  • 84,544 miles
2003 Honda Accord transmission failure. Lost reverse first. Then on the way home, transmission slammed from fourth into second gear. Thankfully no car was close behind me. This could be a significant safety issue. Request ntsb consider forcing a recall. indicates the 2003 Accord has twice as many complaints as any other year.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #214

May 142009


  • 62,500 miles
Front wheels locked up in traffic when transmission downshifted into 3rd gear -- as though I had slammed the brakes. It released after a second but this could easily have caused an accident. This occurred several times within the next week, and I took the car into the dealer -- they confirmed that the transmission required a complete overhaul/replacement.

- St Louis Park, MN, USA

problem #213

May 152009


  • 105,000 miles


Transmission failure at high speeds/sudden drop down to low gear 5000+RPM engine rev/extreme deceleration. 2 transmissions in 2003 Honda Accord replaced at 27,000 miles and 105,000 miles.

- College Park, MD, USA

problem #212

May 152009


  • 85,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord that the transmission went on it with 90K miles on it that the car made noise about 5 months after buying it new from dealer but they told me that all Honda make that noise getting to know the repair tech at Honda one tech told me that the noise I was hearing was from the transmission and that it was going to go and. Yes it did it went a couple a months later driving with my family on the highway the car jerked hard the it slowed down and luckily I was traveling about 60 mph that I coasted across two lanes without getting me or my family killed everyone was scared and so I shut the car off waited about 5 min and turned it back on and it drove got off first exit and did it again so I stop again drove again then it jerked hard again then this time the car did not move at all.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #211

May 152009


  • 82,500 miles
The car engine hesitates and seems to get stuck when shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear, looses power when climbing a hill, or the engine begins to rev up (RPM's increase) and the engine gets loud, but there is no power. The dealer claims that the transmission is failing and needs to be replaced at only 82, 500 miles. They claim that the car is out of warranty. A new transmission will cost $3500.

- Exton, PA, USA

problem #210

May 132009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles


Honda Accord 2003 V6-85,000 miles transmission lockup, then failure. The problem with Honda V6 Accord transmission, reported here on this website. Note, my transmission has gone on my 2003 Accord with only 85,000 miles on it. Had the car diagnosed at markley motors Honda in fort collins Colorado 80527-0520. I submitted the problem to 'american Honda', and because of the sheer dangerous condition the car displayed today, probably won't drive the car until 'american Honda' decides to do something about this. I, or my wife, kids could have being killed if we were on a freeway and it locked at acceleration like it did today twice. Warning to others, this is not a simple Honda transmission problem, it is severe enough where it shakes the entire car. I will not buy another Honda anything, let this be a warning to all regarding Honda. They have not issued a recall for this vehicle for this transmission problem. The cost to me has being, $98 for a diagnostic test. Markley motors wants $3,413.16 to replace the transmission.

- Fort Collins, CO, USA

problem #209

May 112009


  • 93,200 miles
I bought a new 2003 Honda Accord since that time I have had numerous small things break or go wrong. They were so minor and Honda took care of most of them it did not matter. May 11, 2009 while driving on the fwy at 70 mph the car dropped to 20mph on it's own, after nearly getting hit twice while getting off the fwy I took it to my Honda dealer who told me the transmission had failed at 93,000 miles. I am attempting to have Honda help with this as I am unemployed and can't afford to pay $4,000 myself.

- Lancaster, CA, USA

problem #208

May 092009

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 65-70 mph on normal road conditions, the transmission began to lock up without warning. The driver pulled the vehicle over to the side of the road and then drove to an independent mechanic. The technician observed that the transmission failed to shift into reverse. The vehicle was not repaired. The vehicle was previously repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 004V176000 (power train:automatic transmission), but the failure still persists. The vehicle is in the process of being taken to a transmission shop for repair. The updated 06/09/09 *bffailure mileage was unknown and the current mileage was 95,000. The consumer stated the vehicle was in the process of being repaired. Updated 06/09/09.

- Gadsden, AL, USA

problem #207

May 082009


  • 82,000 miles
While driving in busy traffic, the transmission on my 2003 Honda Accord started to behave in a very erratic way. First the transmission would not engage causing the engine to rev to about 5000 RPM and then it would suddenly engage causing the car to jump forward causing me to have to apply the brakes immediately. I was very concerned by this action. After brief experimentation I determined that if I applied gradual acceleration and kept the RPM to under 2500, I could get the car to travel without jerking. It's the first time I have ever owned an automobile where I felt concern for my personal safety. After first encountering this problem, I was able to drive the car to the Honda dealership within 2 hours of first observing the problem. I was informed by my Honda dealer that the first stage of my transmission was bad and the transmission would have to be replaced. After doing some initial research on the web I am alarmed at the transmission failure rate for the 2003 Accord. I am even more surprised that your office has done nothing to bring this issue to the attention of other 2003 Accord owners and to hold Honda accountable for what appears to be a quality control/ design issue. Please visit the following web site as one of the sources for document this problem:

- Margate, FL, USA

problem #206

May 012009


  • 100,209 miles


Near miss = car would not shift out of second gear - therefore resulting in power loss. This is a serious hazard as the car loses speed and approaching car almost rear end you. Due to transmission failure - now having to get new transmission!

- Hudson, NC, USA

problem #205

Apr 152009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 78,020 miles
We were driving South on the interstate highway with myself, wife and granddaughter who was in the back seat, in our 2003 Honda ex Accord V6 with 78,000 miles on the odometer. The traffic congestion was moderate to heavy with semi-truck and trailers in front of us and behind us. We were traveling at 65mph in drive when the automatic transmission failed and went from drive to low gear. The automobile locked up the back tires and made a screeching sound and the smell of burnt rubber and heat was prevalent inside the car. After nearly being hit in the back of the car, we put on our emergency flashers and proceeded to the next off ramp. Although an attempt was made to drive in the high gear, the drive transmission would go back to low. After calling a tow truck to have our car delivered to Honda dealership, they confirmed that the automatic transmission had failed and would require replacement. The overall cost to us with rental, tow, and new transmission was approximately $3,700. We were not reimbursed for repairs for the transmission failure. This was not user abuse or normal wear and in my opinion this failure can only be characterized as a Honda engineering defect and safety issue.

- Watsonville, CA, USA

problem #204

May 012009

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 40 mph on normal road conditions, the automatic transmission hesitated intermittently. There were no warning lights illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnostic testing and they stated that there were mechanical failures in the transmission. The dealer recommended that the transmission be replaced at the cost of $ 3,000. The vehicle is in the process of being repaired. The failure and current mileages were 122,000. Updated 06/09/09. The consumer stated the vehicle slammed into gear while driving. The dealer informed the consumer the vehicle had internal transmission failure. Also, the lower control arm bushings and front struts needed to be replaced. Updated 06/10/09.

- Monroe, NC, USA

problem #203

Apr 252009


  • 94,000 miles
Honda Accord ex V6, purchased new in Dec 2002, 94,000 miles. All recommended maintenance taken care of since car purchased. Automatic transmission suddenly started to slip 4-25-09. Dealer determined transmission needed replaced. Dealer claims no known transmission issues with this model car, but is being replaced by 'new' remanned transmission at 1/2 cost of parts & labor covered by Honda. Found out from Honda of marysville, Ohio employee (quality control dept) that Honda has been aware for some time that there is a design flaw with this transmission, especially with the '3rd gear shift module' and that Honda should replace all transmission that fail at no charge since it is a design flaw, but Honda doesn't want to do that.

- Waldo , OH, USA

problem #202

Apr 182009


  • 85,000 miles
Transmission failure - slipping between third and fourth gear.

- Chagrin Falls, OH, USA

problem #201

Mar 182008


  • 69,896 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission failure on freeway traveling at 70 mph. Luckily no accident occurred due to failure and american Honda did replace transmission with remanufactured one. I was able to walk away from this incident and only had to pay the labor to install the new transmission. Hopefully the problem will not occur again while I own the car. This seems to be a major safety concern.

- Albany, OR, USA

problem #200

Apr 242009


  • 49,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord LX V6. Automatic transmission is slipping between 2nd and 3rd gear. This model has had issues with the transmission since the beginning. My car only has 49000 miles on it, and I think Honda needs to correct and fix this problem before a safety incident occurs. On top of that they are well aware of this issue, and should stand behind their products, and not make this come out from the consumers pocket.

- Travis Afb, CA, USA

problem #199

Apr 222009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 64,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission failure at 64,000 miles. I had problems with transmission several years ago (rough shifting) but dealer could not find problem. In the past 6 months, the transmission began slipping when going around 25 - 30 mph, mentioned to Honda dealer at 60,000 mile maintenance back in October and they inspected and changed transmission fluid. Was ok for a little while, but in last few weeks, it began slipping again. Took it to dealer on 4/21 and they said they tested it and could not find any problems. Then on 4/22, the transmission failed when going 60 mph on a highway, it bucked, and downshifted to 2nd gear and would not change...immediate slowing of vehicle almost caused car behind me to hit me. I crawled to dealer and they tested and said sure enough the transmission had failed and needed replacement. The dealer rep said he went to Honda and that they were only going to pay 50% of replacement cost, but then because the rep pushed harder, increased offer to 75%. I agreed to accept it since I need my car back, but Honda should have paid the full cost. Interestingly, I had an extended warranty that would have covered it all, but it expired on 12/28/08. I have learned thorough research that this is a rampant problem with this model and yet Honda will not recall/replace. This is a serious safety issue that the NHTSA must take action on immediately. The transmissions in this model are fraught with problems, and will cause accidents, injuries and possible death. Please take action soon to address this serious safety issue. It would also be nice if any action you take includes reimbursing those of us who had to pay to get a new or rebuilt transmission installed.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #198

Apr 232009


  • 89,000 miles
Three lights came on my 2003 Honda Accord, tsc indicator light, tsc activation light and malfunction indicator lamp. Took it to Honda dealership and was told that it would need new transmission and the cost would be $3800.

- Hendersonville, TN, USA

problem #197

Apr 182009


  • 110,983 miles
The transmission in my 2003 Honda Accord has failed and I am not the only one who has had this problem. Honda does not cover the replacement. This is ridiculous and should be changed.

- Holladay, UT, USA

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