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 22 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #156

Jan 092009

Accord 6-cyl

  • 79,000 miles


My transmission failed yesterday on my 2003 Honda Accord ex V6. I was driving and tried to accelerate and all of the sudden it was as if my car had been thrown into neutral. Of course, I checked it and I was still in drive. I only have 79,000 miles on it. The dealer said it will be a $3,000 to $4,000 repair.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #155

Jan 072009


  • 142,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord, it has 142,000 miles on it. The transmission suddenly started shifting hard on 1-5-09 then on 1-6-09 it would down shift erratically and then back up again. I took it to a trusted mechanic who told me the transmission has gone out and would need to be replaced or rebuilt. This is extremely unsafe as I was nearly rearended twice on 1-6-09 when it decided to downshift suddenly for no reason at all. 1-7-09 I went to the mechanic shop and picked up the car and drove it home and about 10 miles from my house I stopped a stop sign and after that it hasn't shifted out of 1st gear since then, I had to drive the rest of the way at 20mph with my flashers on pulling over so the cars behind me to would go around. As of right now it's sitting in my driveway and I am having to borrow friends cars or get a ride to work as it is my only mode of transportation and I do not have $3000 lying around for the repair. This I have found through my internet searches is a common problem and hasn't had a recall cause "it doesn't pose a safety threat" well I'm hear to tell you it does. Not only are you jolted forward into the steering wheel, with your seat belt catching you, ouch, when it shifts erratically but I had people swerving around me not to run into me this is insane. I have read literally hundreds of complaints about this problem recurring not only once but multiple times over again after the transmission is replaced. It is ridiculous that a recall has not been made. Are they waiting for someone to be seriously injured or killed in a collision due to the malfunction"?"

- Burleson, TX, USA

problem #154

Jan 052008


  • 111,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 automatic (111,000 miles) I had transmission problems yesterday with my car...I had problems 4 times yesterday while driving on the highway, all 4 times, my car wouldn't not accelerate and would eventually go into neutral and not go and this in effect caused a very unsafe situation on the highway. I understand if this was a normal problem with my transmission...but I just have a little over 100K miles and I started doing research on this matter, and found that this particular year and engine and this problem is happening to lots of people. Please read some of these...

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #153

Dec 232008

Accord 6-cyl

  • 67,000 miles


While taking my car to the dealer to replace the starter, they noticed that the transmission is slipping and recommend that I no longer drive the car until I get a new transmission. Luckily this has not yet caused an accident, but it is very expensive to fix and appears to be a common problem with the 2003 ex V6 Accord.

- San Bruno, CA, USA

problem #152

Dec 272008


  • 87,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact received a recall notice for NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission). The vehicle was repaired on October 5, 2004. A week prior to the failure, warning indicators were illuminated, the second gear was failing, and the transmission fluid was low. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, but they could not find any failures. While driving 70 mph, the contact heard a very loud slamming noise and the vehicle instantly slowed down to 25 mph. The vehicle was able to be placed into first gear and driven safely to the destination, where it was later towed to the dealer for inspection. The manufacturer stated that they would not cover any cost because the recall repair had previously been performed. The VIN was unavailable. The current and failure mileages were 87,000.

- Rochester Hills , MI, USA

problem #151

Aug 152008


  • 65,000 miles
Transmission wouldn't shift from second to third gear, engine would rev over 5 rpms. Honda replaced with remanufactured transmission with only 12 month/12,000 mile warranty.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #150

Dec 202008


  • 70,000 miles


I was driving in the # 1 lane on the freeway when my car did not respond to my foot on the gas pedal. My RPM indicator went to red somewhere around 8 RPM. However, my car was not responding. In heavy traffic I hit my emergency blinkers and tried to get to the slow land with the engine still on but not responding. I got to the side of the road and placed it into park. It took me 15 minutes to get into that slow lane with the traffic and I almost caused several collisions. This could have been a serious incident. I am a medical administrator and a safety coordinator at work. If there would have been a death at my job site I am sure osha would be there right away. Not that a death happened today but give it time. I am amazed at the number of complaints against the 2003 Honda Accord's transmission. I don't believe everything I read...however, I am reading the same experiences over and over and the fact that nothing has been done to rectify the problem. I have 71,000 miles on my Honda Accord and have owned them for 20 years. This is a grave hazard that needs investigation. I drive approx. 12,000 miles a year. I am not complaining about paying for a new transmission because it will be covered under the Honda care plan. I am complaining because something needs to be done regarding safety. If my car caused an accident today and one of your loved ones died as a result I think you take immediate action to resolve your anxiety and heartache. Then your attention would be focused on what caused this incident.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #149

Dec 152008


  • 84,621 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex V-6 automatic with 84,621 miles and failed transmission. Car has been maintained exactly according to manual. Went from normal driving with no problems to instantaneous gear slippage and high rpms. A quick internet search located thousands of complaints with exactly the same description. Transmission drops out of gear going immediately from 60-30 mph throwing passengers against seatbelts and huge accident potential for being rear-ended on the interstate. This is a very dangerous and highly common problem for this vehicle yet Honda is not recalling. They only offer a "goodwill" repair splitting the cost of a transmission replacement from a Honda dealer. The split is roughly the same cost as having an independent transmission shop do the work so how is that financially assisting the owner of the vehicle? considering the high rate of failure and Honda's admission of the problem, I am shocked that there has not been a formal recall for this issue.

- Vicksburg, MS, USA

problem #148

Sep 172008


  • 106,000 miles
In September, my '03 Honda Accord LX V6 started shifting hard from 2nd gear in morning traffic. After a few miles, the car would not shift out of 2nd gear. 1st mechanic couldn't replicate the issue. On the way home, dashboard lit up like a christmas tree; check engine light, tcs light, oil light. Had car towed to dealer; total transmission failure. In addition to the transmission dying, 6 months ago the dashboard/radio/temperature panel lights failed, the dome light doesn't work, the right headlight has needed to be replaced 3 times, the driver's side seat has always been loose. I am the original and only owner of this car and have had it repaired/maintained at Honda dealers since purchase. To have all these issues, plus have the transmission fail at 106,000 miles is unacceptable. Then to have to pay $2200 to have a used, remanufactured transmission installed is unacceptable. This is chronic problem for the '03 Accord. A recall should be issued, people should be refunded their money already paid and offered a significant discount to be placed into a safe new car. It is only a matter of time before someone is really hurt...or has it happened already.

- Marshfield, MA, USA

problem #147

Dec 102008


  • 92,400 miles
Transmission failure causing extreme danger on the interstate. Car downshifted by itself from overdrive 65 mph to 30 mph and a car behind me almost(within inches) slammed into the back of me. With the volume of traffic it could have cause a catastrophic deadly accident.

- Culpeper, VA, USA

problem #146

Dec 132008


  • 45 miles


2003 Honda Accord transmission slipped into second gear at expressway speeds immediate threat to occupants and other motorist vicinity of said vehicle.

- Garnerville, NY, USA

problem #145

Sep 062008


  • 55,000 miles
Transmission fluid looked a bit tinted, so I had the Honda dealership change the fluid. The next day, the car started getting "hung" in second gear. It would also downshift to second gear at interstate speeds. Honda initially found nothing wrong with it. The transmission completely failed very soon.

- Pearl River, LA, USA

problem #144

Sep 202008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission). The dealer installed a jet pack kit to prevent the transmission from slipping. The transmission slipped after the recall repair was performed, which prevented the vehicle from driving in reverse and the gears from shifting while in operation. The failure mileage was less than 85,000 and current mileage was less than 87,000. Updated 1/6/09 updated 01/14/09.

- Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #143

Dec 022008


  • 105,000 miles
Driving on interstate at 65 miles per hour and the transmission dropped into 1st gear.... total transmission failure on my 2003 Honda Accord. Waiting on Honda to respond regarding replacement. Have 105,000 miles.

- Randolph, NJ, USA

problem #142

Nov 282008


  • 115,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the transmission failed and needed to be replaced. He was unsure if the vehicle had been repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission), but the vehicle has sustained damages over the years. While driving 30 mph, the contact heard stop and go noises coming from the transmission. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and they are inspecting the transmission. The failure mileage was 115,000.

- Lakeland, FL, USA

problem #141

Nov 232008


  • 103,000 miles
Transmission lost 2 gear while driving leaving me stranded in the middle of the road.

- Logan, UT, USA

problem #140

Nov 152008


  • 66,334 miles
Sudden inadvertent downshift of the transmission at highway speeds. Luckily, no vehicles were trailing behind, since rapid deceleration occurred, similar to hard braking. The transmission subsequently failed completely, and the car required towing to the dealership. No prior events occurred (I.e. transmission grinding, slipping, noises, etc) that provided warning that something was wrong.

- Dover, DE, USA

problem #139

Sep 112008


  • 140,000 miles
Automatic transmission failure.

- Forest Hill, MD, USA

problem #138

Nov 212008


  • 100,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission recently failed while I was driving the car on the freeway. The car had been serviced for routine maintenance at clear lake Honda on Wednesday Nov. 18th and was suppose to be ready on Thursday Nov. 19th. No mention of a recall on the transmission was made even though they did mention brakes, battery, engine mounts and other things. The drive light was flashing, the engine light came on and another light on the dash. The car lost power and then regained power. I called Honda while driving the car and was told to bring the car in. Once I arrived they refused to look at the car stating I needed to pay $96 for a diagnostic test. I had just paid over $1800 in service the day before. Also the trip put the car over 100,000 miles which I have read that Honda is refusing to service cars regardless of the recall. I have not yet called to verify this. The car is currently being serviced at a transmission shop.

- League City, TX, USA

problem #137

Nov 232008


  • 54,500 miles
I was driving at approx 65-70 mph on the freeway, when the transmission seemed to slip or seize causing extreme deceleration (car seemed to shift itself into low gear). This caused wheels to lock up briefly, and nearly caused me to lose control of the vehicle. This incident was extremely hazardous, in my opinion. I see now from the internet, that hundreds of other Honda Accord drivers have had similar experiences.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

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