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 23 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #136

Nov 152008


  • 67,000 miles


Merging onto freeway, transmission downshifted to lower gear causing the vehicle to slow down. Narrowly avoided collision.

- Cedar Rapids, IA, USA

problem #135

May 112008


  • 94,000 miles
Transmission failure which almost caused an accident on highway 17 in lexington, Ms. I had just had my car serviced 2 weeks prior to include the transmission and was told the computer could not find anything wrong with the transmission. Well, why 70 miles away from home in a curve doing about 50 miles per hour, the RPM went up but the speed went down while in the middle of traffic. I thank god I was not rearended due to the quick decrease in speed. I managed to pull to the side of the road to try to find out what happened. After about 30 minutes, I coasted to a parking lot and had my car towed to patty peck Honda in ridgeland, Ms. I had 94,000 miles on the car. I had complained about the transmission for years. My car had the 2nd gear recall in 2004, which I had repaired. I had to have my transmission replaced. Honda paid 75% and I paid 25%. the transmission failed May 11, 2008 and now my transmission is acting up again. Something needs to be done soon.

- Jackson, MS, USA

problem #134

Sep 302008


  • miles
Transmission failure while driving. Gears slips and car looses power.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #133

Nov 132008


  • 122,427 miles


Son was driving my 2003 Honda Accord on the 10 freeway transmission slipped out of gear starting decelerating and the RPM's went way up. This happened over and over again with no prior warning of any kind. Drove to valley hi Honda in victorville where car was purchased and has been serviced. One block from the dealership the check engine light came on. Diagnosis is transmission failure, need full replacement. Only 122,475 miles. This seems to be an epidemic. There are hundreds of postings about this issue on line and american Honda has been advised over and over and still nothing done. There were transmissions recalls on these models but when taken in they checked the car out and said my vehicle not effected. This is a huge safety issue. A person is on a freeway and all of the sudden looses power! this could be deadly!

- Hinkley, CA, USA

problem #132

Nov 062008


  • 92,000 miles
The contact's spouse owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 70 mph on the highway, the vehicle completely shut off and would not restart. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence. A certified mechanic stated that the transmission failed and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer stated that the vehicle had been previously repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission). The contact stated that he was unaware of this recall repair. The current and failure mileages were 92,000.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #131

Nov 012008


  • 101,218 miles
Driving along in my 2003 Honda Accord V-6 and my transmission just went crazy and when I went to tap my brakes to pull over it just slammed into a lower gear bringing my car to a jolting stop, everything in the car was jerked forward, fortunately the traffic around me was paying attention and moved around me quickly until I could safely pull over. Honda dealership said internal transmission failure, which after researching on-line I discovered numerous in the hundreds of identical complaints on this model, year. Total transmission failure. Ranging from 60,000 miles to 127,000 miles. It seems that Honda is aware of some sort of a problem because they did a recall in 04 for this issue however all the vehicle transmission complaints I found on-line were all post recall failures. Mine failed at night at low speed in minimal traffic with favorable weather conditions, would hate to imagine higher speed, thicker traffic, and even adverse weather conditions.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #130

Nov 062008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2003 Honda Accord ex and Accord LX safety recall windshield wipers may stop working. Consumer has issues with this recall and one for the transmission. The consumer has two Honda Accord and when she took the vehicles to the dealer on different dates, the invoices gave different explanations as to what was done to remedy the recall. The consumer began having transmission problems with the sedan ex. The transmission would not move to the second level smoothly. The dealer could not find any defects with the second gear. Five days later, the engine light illuminated and the vehicle stopped twice in the middle of the road. The consumer was able to make it to the dealer and a diagnostics revealed the transmission needed to be replaced.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #129

Oct 192006


  • 84,000 miles
The transmission on my 2003 Honda Accord is slipping. The car has a tendency to shift into neutral after first gear. I have to rev it several times before it will shift into second. I'm afraid that I will be left stranded or cause an accident if this problem is not fixed. I only have 85,000 miles on the car. When I took it to aamoco to have them check it out, I was told that it would cost 3,594+tax to fix. If this is a general problem with this make and model, there should be some kind of compensation made by Honda. I noticed that there are many similar complaints, so it must be a default in the car and not the drivers.

- Martinsburg, WV, USA

problem #128

Oct 292008

Accord 6-cyl

  • 60,940 miles
I own a 2003 Honda Accord V6 automatic, the transmission had a recall a few years ago, no replacement was required at the time, but now with only 61,000 miles on it, it broke down, I can not even put it on reverse anymore.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #127

Oct 212008


  • 122,841 miles
I was driving on a local street, when all of a sudden, from being at full stop in red light, I hit the gas pedal, and the car will not budge. The engine was revving but there was no power--it was like being stuck in neutral. Tried restarting the car several times, and was able to get to a safe location on a side street. Contacted Honda, and I was notified that the transmission had to be replaced. Cost was around $3000. Honda offered to pay only 25%, so I was still stuck with a $2300 bill. I think this is a known issue for Honda and they should have covered more than 25% if it is indeed some kind of transmission design flaw. The transmission shouldn't have total failure when I've stuck to the schedule of servicing the transmission at 60K, 90K, and 120K as prescribed in the owner's manual.

- San Mateo, CA, USA

problem #126

Oct 272008


  • 102,000 miles


I noticed that NHTSA is waiting for someone to leave a complaint saying that someone has died or seriously injured! I am so disappointed at how many complaints I have seen about the 2003 Honda Accord auto transmission. I have a 2003 Accord and I have only had it for 1 year and already the transmission is slipping. I found out that I need another transmission. My car has 102,000 and past the warranty of I think 36-46,000 miles warranty. I called american Honda and I was told that my car received a oil ject kit in 2004 and the transmission was fine. Now, if some repair was done on my car in 2004, then why has my transmission gone out. It saddens me that Honda and NHTSA know of this problem but nothing is being done. I don't want my family to have to make this complaint because my children and I were killed in an accident from being hit from behind. I have had so many close calls that I had to pull over and cry because I was so upset. I was told that I am probably going to be responsible for getting this fixed and lord knows I don't have the money! how can this be happening. A company knows about this problem and stand by and leave their valued customers on a branch alone to take care of this problem. I would not recommend a Honda to any one. They brag about their car but the performance of the Honda is not backing it up! I am looking into talking to a lawyer about this deal!

- Plain Dealing, LA, USA

problem #125

Oct 232008


  • 50,200 miles
While driving, vehicle slowed down and engine revved. Transmission failed. Could not maintain posted speed limit. Transmission had to be rebuilt. Honda refused to honor previous recall from summer of 2004. Claimed car had been repaired under recall but could not provide any details.

- Oakdale, NY, USA

problem #124

Oct 202008


  • 161,300 miles
On 10/1/08, the transmission started slipping in between gears. We went and got the transmission fluid replaced and filled up on Saturday. On Monday, our transmission completed died, leaving me, my 9 year old, and 18 month old stranded on a busy highway during rush hour traffic. We had to get someone to come pick us up, and I had to get our car towed to our house since we have no idea where to take it to. When the transmission went out, it almost caused someone to rear-end our car and cause a huge car accident. Due to this, I now have to miss work and try to get this fixed. Who knows how long I will not be working because this is my only car!

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #123

Oct 182008


  • 104,663 miles
Transmission slips violently out of gear once the engine is warmed up, and the RPM's go over 2700. Occurs during acceleration (from a stop or when merging/passing on the highway) and when trying to maintain speed up an incline. This event occurs whenever the car gets warmed up (after about 35-40 minutes of driving).

- Brockport, NY, USA

problem #122

Aug 102007


  • miles
The 2003 Honda Accord was found in 2004 to have a transmission design problem which could cause a catastrophic failure if not addressed. I was notified in 2005 of this and took my car into the Honda dealership, guaranteed by Honda that it would fix the problem. Then in 2007, the transmission suffered a total failure while I was driving. While I was not injured, had I been going faster on an interstate highway, things could have been otherwise. Honda said they would replace the transmission with a new one, but that I had to pay the $700 in labor since the car was out of its original three year warranty. Even after five attempts to get Honda to recognize that the design problem and ineffective repair should have in effect, extended the warranty, they refused to cover the labor charge. This disregard of responsibility by a major car company for the quality of major drive train design problems is another example of big business abusing individual citizens because they have the power to do so. The regulatory arms of our federal government need to protect citizens from such abuse and order Honda, at a minimum, to pay the $700 labor charge, and to be put on notice that, unlike the failure of the financial regulatory agencies to do their jobs, NHTSA will not fail to protect consumers. Thank you for your support. I look forward to hearing favorably from you soon. Best regards, james.

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #121

Oct 122008


  • 70,747 miles
Transmission failure in 2003 Honda Accord ex V-6 A/T.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #120

Oct 102008


  • 133,500 miles
Transmission slips violently out of gear once the engine is warmed up, and the RPM's go over 2700. Occurs during acceleration (from a stop or when merging/passing on the highway) and when trying to maintain speed up an incline. The rapid deceleration when the car slips out of gear on the highway and especially on inclines on the highway sends all the surrounding drivers into evasive maneuvers to avoid collision. This event occurs whenever the car gets warmed up (after about 35-40 minutes of driving). Car is being sent to a Honda dealership for repairs, awaiting the final verdict but I believe they will be trying to charge me almost $6000 for a brand new transmission. As far as safety is concerned my car slipped out of gear on my way to work on I 97 northbound (main baltimore/annapolis artery) going up an incline in heavy traffic moving at approx 70mph. Several cars had to dive onto the shoulder and I had to go into the median grass to avoid a massive rear end collision during morning rush hour.

- Salisbury, MD, USA

problem #119

Oct 112008

Accord 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
I have an '03 V6 Honda Accord and the transmission simply went out. It started suddenly to slip into neutral for no reason. This is a safety issue since it was sudden and I was on side streets in traffic when it occurred.

- Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #118

Oct 092008


  • 93,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex-L V6 downshifts from whatever gear to first or second when transmission begins to fail. This cause the wheels to lock and the car to rapidly decelerate. This happened after 93000 miles. The car had a recall for the transmission which puts a bandaid on the situation and did not solve the issue. After taking the car to be repaired and being stuck with a very large bill the transmission failed after 100 miles.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #117

Oct 092008

Accord 6-cyl

  • 81,250 miles
Just an fyi. I am doing my part to make sure that the NHTSA is aware of a potentially deadly problem with the 2003 Honda Accord V6. The car is a epidemic transmission problem, which Honda recalled in 2004 but they did not replace the transmission. Their band-aid recall only resulted in a delaying of the transmission failure. After approximately 60,000 miles, a very high percentage of the Accord V6 transmissions fail. Here is one of dozens of websites detailing the problem: the problem is that the car will not shift into 2nd or 3rd gear when trying to accelerate on the freeway. It then resorts to shifting to 1st gear at 60mph, which causes the engine RPM to soar to 7000 RPM, locking the front (drive) wheels momentarily and causing a heavy deceleration of the vehicle. This all happens when the driver was attempting to accelerate, and can be cause of a rear end collision. I implore this administration to do some research into this matter, as Honda will not acknowledge this problem. They are installing re-built transmissions into the cars and offering a percentage "good will" money towards the repair. However, this is on a case by case basis, and many owners are left with little to no assistance. Honda admits to their transmissions from 1999 to 2001's being defective, but they will not admit to their 2002-2004 transmission having the same issue. This issue is only prevalent on the V6 models.

- Valencia, CA, USA

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