ANNOUNCEMENT: The Car Book 2018 is now online!

Ratings on over 1,000 new & used models going back 5 years, from the Center from Auto Safety. Learn more about The Car Book 2018 here. 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 21 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #176

Mar 212009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 92,000 miles


This pertains to our 2003 Honda Accord, V-6, automatic transmission, on 3/20/09 my wife was driving the vehicle when she experienced a very rapid and unexpected acceleration that lasted for a couple seconds after she nudged the accelerator. Despite her shock at this event she was able to maintain control and proceeded home without any recurrence. The next day I was driving with my wife as a passenger when I experienced the same event. I was in the left lane proceeding at approximately 55 mph when I moved to the right lane to go around a slower vehicle. When I lightly touched the accelerator my vehicle suddenly lurched forward and continue to accelerate quickly for a few seconds. I braked and maintained control and after a few seconds the vehicle resumed normal operation and I continued driving. A few minutes later I again lightly touched the accelerator and the car again accelerated rapidly (lurched as if in overdrive) for a few seconds. I braked to slow the vehicle, and then I noticed that the tachometer was in the 5000 RPM range with my speed at about 50 mph. I next stopped at a light signal and, upon accelerating from the stop, found that my car was not changing gears as speed increased. It seemed that I had lost one and perhaps two gears and could not reasonably travel faster than 45 mph with the tachometer reading 4500 RPM. I drove home at a relatively slow pace. On 3/24/09 I took the car to the Honda dealer for diagnosis and repair. At that time, when I backed it out of the garage, I had difficulty getting the vehicle into reverse. Since then the Honda dealer has confirmed a breakdown of the transmission with a repair bill of $3700. Based on my wife's and my experience I believe this rapid, unexpected acceleration is a very serious safety issue that could easily result in an accident, and that Honda should address this matter immediately and bear all costs of any repairs. (I have reported this matter to Honda corps).

- Saint Leonard, MD, USA

problem #175

Mar 252009


  • 114,000 miles
I was going to work and my transmission with out warning failed going up hill on interstate, managed to get it over to slow lane, from there, guy had to help me push it off the highway.

- Weirton, WV, USA

problem #174

Mar 182009


  • 92,000 miles
Transmission slipping on Honda 2003 Accord. Went to dealer who replaced 3rd pressure switch and gasket. Was told I needed a new/rebuilt transmission. Declined work and went to internet for a cheaper repair. When searched 2003 Honda transmissions noticed several web sites complaining of the same problem as mine. I feel that this is a defect that warrants a recall with repairs fixed and paid for by Honda.

- Alameda, CA, USA

problem #173

Mar 232009


  • 104,000 miles


The Honda Accord 2003 transmission failure appears to be a huge safety hazard. While driving on a major highway, the transmission completely slipped. With drivers close behind, this could have caused a serious accident. The transmission continued to work and then slip while I tried to pull off the highway. The reason I'm filing this safety complaint is that I have researched this issue and it seems to be widespread. The 2000 and 2001 transmissions have been included in a class action law suit. I'm not sure what's taking so long. Something must be done before someone is hurt.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #172

Mar 222009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 81,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord ex with the 3.0L V-6. I am expressing total loss of power with my transmission. My wife was going to work one morning, the car slipped out of gear and she was stranded in the middle of a 3 lane highway with no emergency pull off. The car was going up a slope, so it could not coast out of the way. I took the car to a local transmission, he told me the transmission was shot and needed to be replaced. I then proceeded to take it to the dealership, which quoted me a price of $3500 to repair. The reason I want to let you know about this problem is first off, its unsafe. She could have gotten into a wreck and hurt herself. Second reason, this is a known problem with this particular car. There are literally hundreds of complaints online of exactly what I described to you. The dealership claims to have made a repair back in 2004, yet the problem still continues. The best case scenario for me is that you hold Honda liable for their known faulty transmissions. It shouldn't take someone getting seriously hurt over a known issue. In my case I was lucky. There was a police officer behind my wife when she had the transmission issue and he was able to prevent any cars from hitting her.

- Kodak, TN, USA

problem #171

Jan 042009


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 50 mph on normal road conditions, the gear shifter was placed into fifth gear. Suddenly, an unintended hard gear shift occurred between the second and third gears. The failure occurred sporadically and without warning. The driver pulled over to the side of road and turned off the engine. After waiting a few moments, the engine restarted and resumed normal operation. The failure recurred ten additional times. The contact scheduled an appointment with the dealer for diagnostic testing. The failure mileage was unavailable and the current mileage was 60,100.

- Falls, PA, USA

problem #170

Mar 112009


  • 98,400 miles


My 2003 Honda Accord ex (98,400 miles) began to have transmission problems about a March 11th 2009. It would not advance to 3rd gear. If I tried to go faster, the rpms would increase without advancing. When the car slows down it now downshifts violently. If I turn it off it will run normally until I get to 3rd and then the problem starts over again. I took it to a independent shop and they diagnosed the problem as a bad transmission and would need to be completely replaced. I called Honda customer care and they refused a goodwill repair citing that the car was out of warranty.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #169

Mar 102009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 108,882 miles
On March 10, 2009 the transmission on my 2003 V6 Honda Accord with approximately,000 miles failed. In 2004 a recall was issued for this vehicle regarding possible 2nd gear failure. As a result of this recall, the dealers were given the option of replacing the transmission or installing an oil jet kit. The dealer choose the option of installing an oil jet kit as the recommended repair for my 2003 Accord. Mid year 2008, several months prior to the transmission failure, I began to observe that my Honda was hesitating when shifting from 1st to 2nd gear. This hesitancy became more pronounced from December 2008 up to March 2009. The first incident which suggested pending transmission failure occurred in February 2009 with the car refusing to shift out of 1st or 2nd gear, with slipping and pronounced hesitation when it would finally shift. Hence, two weeks later when driving on the interstate at approximately 60 miles per hour, my Accord rapidly downshifted to 20 miles per hour and refused to move out of 2nd gear. When I was able to get off the interstate and pull to the side of the road, the engine would rev but not move. Additionally in February 2009, I had taken the Accord in for its' recommended service. At that time the technician noted that drained transmission fluid was extremely dirty, this coupled with the ultimate failure of the transmission suggest that this was a problem long standing in nature. The failure of this transmission as it occurred created conditions ripe for an accident my Accord was repaired with a remand transmission for $1900 by the dealer, with an estimated repair bill of $4000. Contact with american Honda corporation resulted in no assumed liability for a "goodwill" type of repair or responsibility for manufacturing defective transmissions in the 2003 Accord. Print and internet research reveals that the transmissions in the 2003 V6 Accord have a worst than average failure rate, often at or prior to 100,000 miles.

- Norfolk , VA, USA

problem #168

Jun 012004


  • 18,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact received a recall notice for the transmission; however, the vehicle exceeded the mileage to receive a new transmission. The dealer installed in a new oil jet instead. Currently, a new transmission is needed and the contact feels that the manufacturer should pay for it instead of paying 25% of the $680 repair cost. She feels that the dealer strung her along until the warranty expired on the vehicle. The NHTSA campaign id number was unknown. The current mileage was 70,000 and failure mileage was 18,000.

- Newington, CT, USA

problem #167

Feb 122009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
The automatic transmission of our 2003 Honda Accord ex-V6 failed while driving at highway speed. The transmission down-shifted to first gear and will no longer shift to higher gears or into reverse. There seems to be a large number of similar cases with the 2003 models, based on my preliminary online research, that suggest that there is a wide-spread safety issue with these cars. The transmission needs to be replaced. The initial quote was $3500 for a rebuilt transmission. We have not commissioned the work yet.

- Medfield, MA, USA

problem #166

Feb 142009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 114,768 miles


The transmission on my 2003 Honda Accord V6 went out. It was driving fine one minute and the next minute the car stalled in drive as I was driving about 40mph. I stepped on the gas and the car went nowhere. I have taken my car to dealer for maintenance religiously and was not aware of any problems with my transmission. After doing plenty of research I come to find out that this is a very common occurrence with the make, model and year of my car, yet Honda has neglected to order a recall. The transmission failure can be very dangerous since there are no warning signs and many people have reported failure while driving on the freeway at 65mph and they suddenly loose power and acceleration.

- Whittier, CA, USA

problem #165

Feb 102009


  • 102,000 miles
Driving my wife's 2003 Honda Accord exl V6 coupe with automatic transmission, on major highway, route 146, location around Lincoln woods, Rhode Island, traveling North to my home in Massachusetts, the vehicle abruptly downshifted and jerked several times coming almost to a very quick stop - my neck experienced whiplash. Traffic speed was at least 55 mph, traffic was heavy and roads were dry. Fortunately I was not rear ended and managed to get the vehicle to the breakdown lane. After visits to my Honda dealer to evaluate they finally agreed the transmission was inoperative. In my research this transmission failure on this year Honda with the automatic transmission is widely known and one that Honda will provide some reimbursement on a case-by-case basis. The issue I have is if this is a known problem why did Honda not recall it? a less experienced driver (or maybe I was just lucky) could have suffered serious injuries. Honda touts its reliability and safety and for that I purchased their car, however, that in my opinion was a lie. This car was purchased new and serviced faithfully at the dealer where it was purchased. How is this not a safety issue? why has it not been recalled by Honda.

- Whitinsville, MA, USA

problem #164

Feb 112009


  • 102,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 60 mph, the vehicle suddenly performed as if it were in neutral. The RPM's increased, but the speed decreased to 40 mph. The failure lasted for approximately 30-40 seconds. The dealer stated that they were unable to check the vehicle because the engine indicator was not illuminated. The contact was advised to buy a fuel injection cleaner and fill the vehicle with gasoline. After doing so, the vehicle ran normally for seven days; however, the failure recurred at the same speed. The vehicle was almost rear ended. Once the contact arrived at his residence, he placed the gear into reverse. The engine began to rev, but it took the vehicle 10-15 seconds before the reverse function in the vehicle actually engaged. The following day, he checked the transmission fluid and noticed a shortage of fluid, which looked like black oil. There was no sign of a leakage. The contact assumed that the transmission fluid should not have a burning odor. Through research, he found NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission). The vehicle is currently at the dealer and they stated that the original owner had the vehicle repaired under the recall; therefore, Honda would only cover half of the repair cost. The contact believes that his vehicle should be repaired under the recall. The current and failure mileages were 102,000.

- Sumter, SC, USA

problem #163

Feb 132009


  • miles
II have an automatic transmission 2003 Honda Accord xe sedanv6. In 2005 I received a notification from Honda encouraging owners to bring the vehicle to the dealer to have it checked as my model car may have had a transmission defect. I did bring the car to the dealer and they claimed that they checked the transmission and did not found any problems. On Friday February 13, 2009 while driving, my vehicle stopped responding. It felt like the transmission was skipping gears. It continued to behave in the same manner until it went to a sudden stop. I immediately contacted the Honda dealer and requested service. As I was trying to get a tow truck and after approximately 30 minutes I decided to turn-on the engine to see if the vehicle respond. It did and I was able to slowly drive the car to the dealer as I was only about a mile form it. Today I received a call from the dealer letting me know that the transmission may need to be replaced. I mentioned them of the recall and they told me that this problem has nothing to do with it. That they checked the vehicle for the aforementioned recall, found nothing wrong with the transmission and that I have to pay for the transmission (if replaced) and the services. I agreed to it because anyway it has to be fixed and I cannot afford to buy another vehicle (I have only one more payment to make). After I got home I log on to your site to see if the recall was in the system. It was and to my surprise the recall fairly describes what happened to my vehicle. Fortunately, it was not a bad experience as I was inside a military base area where the max speed was only 15 mph. I believe this problem falls within the category described in the recall and the problem should be fixed free of charge. What can be done if anything?

- Toa Alta, PR, USA

problem #162

Feb 122009

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
I was driving on a busy interstate (I-395 in northern Virginia) when my transmission suddenly downshifted. I drive a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6. I couple months back I performed the required recall maintenance, installing a part on my second gear that was supposed to reduce the heat produced from the transmission. I had not had any problems with my transmission before the part was installed. The day of the instance, after the transmission slipped and I dramatically lost acceleration, I was luckily able to veer to the shoulder, almost causing the vehicle behind me to rear end me, and other vehicles surrounding me to veer out of the way. There was no injury or property damage involved, though there easily could of been. The Honda service center I took it to informed me that I was going to have to replace the transmission, as there were metal pieces that got loose in the fluid and caused the failure. To my belief, this is a recurring problem with my year/model Honda because I was instructed (through an internet message board of people with the exact same problem) to contact Honda America to help with my repair costs, because they were getting the same problems from customers from all around the country. I am still in talks with Honda about covering costs of their faulty transmission.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #161

Feb 132008


  • 62,520 miles
Driving on freeway @ 75mph, transmission slipped out of gear and engine redlined at 7500 RPM with loss of acceleration. Pulled to side of highway and continued to dealership with hazard lights and minimal acceleration.

- Richmond Hill, GA, USA

problem #160

Feb 062009


  • 68,000 miles
Transmission failure in my 2003 Honda Accord ex V-6, with automatic transmission and only 68,000 miles on it. As I entered onto the freeway and accelerated, the motor revved up, the tachometer went up 2500 RPM higher and the car did not increase speed. The transmission slipped and has so numerous time while I was trying to get it to the shop for repairs. I came across a website while researching similar problems in cars like mine and I found 125 other complaints at one web site alone, many with safety issues like mine. How is it that there has not been another recall on this transmission in this year and model of Honda Accord besides the tsb-037 recall in 2004, which I had done. My car is still in the shop so I don't have an estimate of the cost involved yet but it won't be cheap, that I do know.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #159

Dec 232008


  • 57,500 miles
On 12/23/08 I left to drive around three miles to get take out food. It was just around 7:30 P.M. several miles from my house the transmission started slipping out of gear. Knowing I could not make it to my destination I turned around and headed home. On the way home I had to stop for a traffic light and when the light changes and I accelerated the car moved forward slightly and stopped in the middle of an intersection. Shifting gears brought no result but finally, I put the car in park, turned off the engine and restarted the car. At that point the car would go into gear for a short time. I had to do that twice more to get home. This car was purchased new, had the transmission recall done in 2004 and has less that 58,000 miles on the odometer. The car is, at present, at a Honda dealer having a new transmission installed. I think the recall fixed some transmissions but not all.

- Richardson , TX, USA

problem #158

Jan 042009


  • 51,000 miles
My transmission in my 2003 Honda Accord failed at 51000 miles. Complete repair that cost 3500. Transmission failed without warning while driving at high speed (60mph) on highway. Dangerous to say the least.

- Lexington, MA, USA

problem #157

Jan 092009


  • 90,052 miles
Normal driving..90,000 miles. Transmission slips from 2nd to 3rd gear. Happens 9 out of 10 times I drive from 2nd to 3rd gear. Honda dealer says I need a new transmission and it will cost $2800, but they are aware of the problem. Was a recall item in 2005.

- Placentia, CA, USA

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