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 20 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #196

Apr 042009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 64,000 miles


I have a 2003 Honda Accord V6 with 64,000 miles. I was experiencing transmission problems. My car would flare up while accelerating and rev to the redline. After a couple days of this, my car was practically undriveable and I took it to Honda. I barely made it there without causing an accident. They told me it was transmission failure and that I would have to pay $3100. They say it is not related to the 2nd gear recall that is in effect. I got online and saw the vast number of people who are having problems with no recourse or help. This is unsafe. Honda's own website contains press releases admitting transmission failure on this model. They will not do anything until they are forced to. Let's try bailing out the citizen this time, not the car company. Please issue a recall on the Honda transmission as a whole. When a part of the transmission is pinpointed, they do the bare minimum to remedy it and take no further responsibility for their product. This is not only about money, it is first and foremost about safety for those of us who trusted the Honda name and purchased their product. Hold them accountable, one person cannot do this alone.

- Downs, IL, USA

problem #195

Apr 062009


  • 135,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that there was a previous recall on his vehicle. The second gear was not lubricated enough and burned up, which caused the transmission to be rebuilt. While driving at an unknown speed, the transmission froze. A technician from a transmission shop stated that the transmission needed to be rebuilt and they made the repair. The manufacturer stated that they could not assist with the repair cost since the vehicle was taken to another repair center instead of a Honda dealer. The failure mileage was 135,000.

- Lancaster, CA, USA

problem #194

Mar 302009


  • 95,000 miles
Transmission failure. The transmission would not shift gears resulting in the car not being able to go above 25 miles per hour.

- Murray, KY, USA

problem #193

Apr 132009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 93,950 miles


Transmission failed this morning for the first time, 13 April in my 2003 Honda Accord V6 at approximately 94000 miles. Transmission locked at approximately 25-30 mph in traffic and nearly caused rear-end collision due to erratic down and upshifting and loss of power following transmission lock-up. Forced to pull over, restart the engine to get gears to re-engage and shift, this problem occurs within 5-10 minutes of vehicle usage now. Took to the dealership for diagnostic and service quote and will have to replace entire transmission to fix the flaw per maintenance office's advice.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #192

Apr 082009


  • 79,500 miles
I had a slight whine in the transmission of my 2003 Honda Accord V-6 coupe, (with only 79,000 miles and well maintained) for about a month when in one day it went from slight slippage to complete transmission failure. I was trying to cross a very busy intersection when it failed and if not for dry road conditions would have resulted in a terrible crash. Had the car towed to a Honda dealership where they offered to replace the transmission with a rebuilt unit and cover 25% of the bill. It's my opinion this is a serious safety issue since the transmission will stop the vehicle in traffic with no control of speed by the driver.

- Orting , WA, USA

problem #191

Apr 072009


  • 59,630 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving between 35-60 mph, the vehicle began to downshift by itself. The contact found a recall on the internet for this same year, make, and model vehicle regarding the transmission. The vehicle is included in the recall, but the manufacturer is waiting for the dealer to confirm the transmission issue. The manufacturer informed the contact to use the warranty for the repair. The manufacturer is offering a good will repair for vehicles, but the contact has to wait. The NHTSA campaign id number was unknown. The failure and current mileages were 59,630.

- Mount View, CA, USA

problem #190

Mar 152009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles


2003 Honda Accord V6 took car to a local service center for transmission fluid replacement as recommended by the manufacturer for routine maintenance in June 2008. The car started shifting very hard 6-7 months later. Thought maybe cheap fluid was used by the service center we used so we bought good Honda fluid from local Honda dealer in bartlesville and took it to our trusted mechanic and had more new fluid put in. He said the fluid(that had just been replace 8 months earlier)was very black and had metal shavings in it. After driving another month car starts shifting very hard. Engine revving up and throwing you against seatbelt when it finally shifts. Took it to a transmission specialist who informs us that the fluid(that was replaced a month ago) was very black and had metal shavings in it. Said transmission is shot gave us three prices to replace ranging from $3,200 to $3,800. We take it back to our trusted mechanic who advises us the same, transmission is shot needs replaced, however, he checked the VIN # with local Honda dealer who says there is an open recall on the tran. We take the car to the local dealer they inform us that because 2nd gear is not burnt they can put an oil kit on it to fix it. So, we take the car to 2nd Honda dealer in tulsa. On the way there the car shifts so hard trying to get into traffic on the expressway the tires squeal and had I not had on by seatbelt I would have hit the windshield! they tell me my transmission is shot needs replaced, however, because all the gears are burnt but 2nd gear the recall doesn't apply. We contact american Honda who offers to pay 15% of the cost of trans replacement. This car is a safety hazard! I asked the service manager and the mechanic at the dealer if they would feel safe putting their wife and kids in this car and they both said no! I was shocked to read all the complaints identical to mine. This is a faulty transmission and someone is going to be killed! we need your help!

- Ochelata, OK, USA

problem #189

Apr 072009


  • 112,000 miles
Just like everyone else who owns a 2003 Accord, I was driving to work and my transmission violently down shifted. Fortunately I was not in traffic because I was traveling 65 M.P.H. and with in a matter of seconds the car down shifts and I am going 20 M.P.H. after barely making it to the dealer they told me I needed a new transmission and it would cost $4600. This is an obvious safety problem and it is crazy how this is not a safety recall yet.

- Montgomery, IL, USA

problem #188

Feb 122009


  • 93,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord with automatic transmission. Had occasional problems with transmission failing to shift from 2nd to 3rd. Problem wouldn't repeat when local Honda dealer checked it. Transmission failed on 12 February 2009 when the transmission wouldn't shift out of 2nd. Fortunately, this occurred right after I exited a freeway or I could have caused an accident. I was in rush hour traffic on a side road and was able to slowly proceed home. I had the transmission replaced at a Honda dealer. Honda customer service wouldn't reimburse for any of the cost ($ 3014) despite the fact that it is well known that this model has serious transmission problems.

- New York, AE, USA

problem #187

Mar 282009


  • 93,000 miles
Car slips out of gear at high speeds or low speed down shifts on its own wont shift out of first gear at all wont reverse.

- Pompano Bch , FL, USA

problem #186

Apr 062009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 102,800 miles


2003 Honda Accord ex w/V6 - transmission failure at 102,800 miles the transmission began slipping - happened twice and I brought it to my regular mechanic for inspection. He informed me of a well know problem with the transmissions Honda used in the Accord from the early 2000S (my 2003 included). He told me it was going to fail - it would just be a matter of time. So on the way home from the appointment the "check engine" light came on and the transmission began slipping between 2nd and 3rd so badly that the car was undrivable. In between the slips the motor would rev up to 4500 RPM - so I immediately parked it. After a little research I discovered I am one of many with the same issue - and that Honda has refused to recall these transmissions due to "a safety issue" - well for the folks that have locked up and one from 45 to 20 - it's a safety issue! I contacted american Honda in ca and requested assistance (goodwill repair - partial at least) and they are in the process of looking at it - after a cost of $92 to diagnose.

- Hudson, NH, USA

problem #185

Mar 102009


  • 82,017 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord V6 coupe. My transmission began slipping at 20 - 25 mph. The car would lose power, RPM's would rev very high and then shift violently into third gear. I took my car into the local Honda dealer and was told that my transmission had failed. It had 82,017 miles on the car and had been very well maintained. The transmission had to be replaced - total cost $2600. Honda agreed to pay for half the cost, only after I threatened to picket their dealership. This transmission is dangerous and should be recalled.

- Bellingham, WA, USA

problem #184

Mar 312009


  • 107,120 miles
I am the owner of a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 with 105,000 miles. On March 31, 2009 I was taking my son to school at approx. 8:05am. While traveling down a busy two lane road at approx. 45mph car jerked hard twice before coming to an abrupt stop. Cars had to brake and veer off side of road to avoid hitting us. This was terrifying and we could have easily been hurt or killed. Had car towed home. Contacted trusted mechanic who advised of recall on trans. And high failure rate on this specific tran. Recommended I contact american Honda customer service to check status of recall, found out it was completed on May 9, 2005 and they only cover recalls once. Mechanic then advised me to call back and ask for goodwill repair since this will be about a $3000 repair. Did this on April 3, 2009, retold information to cynthia who asked what action I was requesting from american Honda. When I requested a goodwill repair she became upset and the tone of the call became hostile. Quoting cynthia, "goodwill repair" what is that? did you read that on some blog somewhere? who told you to ask for that? goodwill repair is not laymans terms, someone had to tell you to ask for that. Who was it? your mechanic"". very insulting to me, especially since I was and had been very polite during the whole conversation. Gave me case number and told me to wait for a call from a regional case manager. Still waiting.

- Waxhaw, NC, USA

problem #183

Apr 032009


  • 104,338 miles
While driving on a Friday @ approx. 5:30pm on a busy 2 lane street at approx. 40mph my car suddenly jerked hard and reduced speed to approx 5-10mph. I could not accelerate people were hooking and swerving around me while I tried to get over but could not reach speeds over 25-30mph. Have come to find the transmission has failed and a rebuilt transmission would cost approx. $3800-$4200 according to Honda dealership. I have not been able to pay for any repair at this time.

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #182

Mar 312009


  • 103,000 miles
Approximately 1 1/2 weeks ago my 2003 Honda started revving up between 2nd and 3rd gear. I took it to a dealer on March 24th where they flushed the transmission 3 times and changed the fluid informing me that there was metal in the pan and the fluid looked "burnt." After changing it they said it may be ok and then it may not be. I called Honda and informed them of this issue. They said that there was nothing they could do about it. Today, March 31, 2009 my 2003 Honda Accord transmission failed in the middle of the highway leaving me stranded with 18-wheeler trucks flying past me!!!! this is a huge safety hazard and needs to be addressed with Honda immediately!

- Louisa, KY, USA

problem #181

Mar 282009


  • 116,000 miles
Transmission on 2003 Accord V6 auto 116,000 miles. Slipped gear went from 65 mph to 20 on interstate without any warning. Had it been rush hour during the week I likely would not be able to send you this E-mail. It took 12 seconds to find a list of people on the internet who have the same problem. How many people have to die or be hurt for you to act. Fyi - I have a masters in mechanical engineering and worked in numerous factories. This would not be acceptable with assembly equipment in a controlled environment. Why is it acceptable in a car?

- Hoboken, NJ, USA

problem #180

Mar 252009


  • miles
I bought the car in summer of 06 and the dealer stated it was under Honda warranty for 7 years or 100K miles. 2 months later I started having transmission problems (car wouldn't shift into higher gear or it would slip out of gear totally). The dealer stated that the warranty was not a Honda extended warranty but a 30 day lot warranty. After much complaining about the transmission and J.R. ham (the sales mgr who lied about the warranty) they replaced the drive shaft and the problem seemed to be fixed. I now am having the same problem and now the car is slipping more violently in and out of gears. It is now undrivable and it regularly slips in and out of gear making it undriveable.

- Kissimmee, FL, USA

problem #179

Mar 262009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 53,079 miles
It's pretty obvious by now based on the plethora of complaints about the 2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission issues. Like many others I was driving my car & I noticed it starting to rev up to high rpms around 4K-5K & then slam into gear. There is absolutely something wrong with these Honda transmissions. The vehicle only has 53,000 miles on it & is in excellent condition. I took it to the Honda dealership like many of the others with this same problem, & was told it needs an entire new transmission. The cost to me will be $3,600 I filed a case with Honda America & I'm waiting to hear back from them if they will cover the costs to this repair.

- Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #178

Mar 042009


  • 84,000 miles
Failed transmission, car only had 84,000 miles on it and was over the warranty. Filed a claim with Honda North America. Car stopped in an intersection would not go more than 20 mph and then ultimately would not drive and would not shift gears. Extremely dangerous. Honda corporate finally agreed to pay for all costs except $300 which I was responsible for and gave me a 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty on the remanufactured transmission that they placed in the car. Since having the remanufactured transmission placed in my vehicle I've already had issues with it. Car started showing signs of slipping again and light was flashing next to the "D" when it was in drive. Just had to take the car back to the dealer to fix the 3rd gear pressure switch. I have been to the dealer every week for the past 4 weeks. Awful!!! I will never purchase another Honda again and am in disbelief that these faulty transmissions haven't been issued with a safety recall. This is in fact a safety hazard!

- Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #177

Mar 252009


  • 73,224 miles
I own a 2003 Honda Accord the transmission when out on it at 73000 miles I've maintenance regularly do not understand why there hasn't been a recall on the vehicle since it is a common problem" it is a safety issue when the car brakes down in traffic with two children in the back seat with little warning! the car wouldn't shift into second gear and when it did it would slip back out. The dealer is trying to get goodwill repair on the car my thought is why don't they cover there mistake"

- Hemet, CA, USA

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