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 24 of 29)

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problem #116

Sep 242008


  • 92,000 miles


Complete transmission failure on 2003 Honda Accord with 92,000 miles. Car lost speed on Sept 24 on a city street, but eventually it returned to normal. Car then lost speed on the san francisco bay bridge--very dangerous--but again kept going. Next day I took city streets to the dealer, but didn't make it, got stuck in a turn lane in oakland, had to be towed. It was dangerous when it occurred. Honda says the transmission is out of warranty, since the care is 5.5 years old--it will pay for only 30% of the cost. Yet Honda had recalled the car in April 2005 for a 2nd gear problem, and the dealership said that the fixes sometimes don't work perfectly and can creates shavings that lead to total failure. Even without the recall, Honda's transmission quality is terrible if it fails after 92K miles. If Honda builds its reputation on quality, it should back its quality claims by paying for what was undeniably low quality--it should have extended the warranty to pay for 100% of the cost.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #115

Aug 202008


  • 96,000 miles
The transmission has broken in my 2003 Honda Accord. I have almost gotten into an accident. I have looked up the problem on the internet - it is a wide spread problem. People might get killed because of that!

- San Diego, Ca, CA, USA

problem #114

Jul 252008


  • 61,010 miles
Beginning at 16,999 miles in 2004, the transmission was slipping between second and third gears of the 5-speed automatic transmission.. the auto was taken to a local Honda dealer, since there was a transmission recall involving this type of problem (NHTSA 04V176000). The dealer diagnosed the condition, said there was no damage, and installed a transmission oil kit. Over the years, the condition worsened but the Honda network merely said they had taken care of the problem during the recall visit. Less than 4 years later, at 61,010 miles, the transmission had to be replaced. The repair was done by an independent shop, since Honda wouldn't accept responsibility for a no-charge replacement. A complaint was filed with Honda America before the transmission was replaced. Honda refused to pay any part of the cost of the transmission rebuild (Honda America case #N012008-07-0900349 7/9/08). The case was appealed after the repair was made, and it was also turned down, Honda continuing to allege the transmission failure was due to my use of "unapproved services", e.g., 2 transmission flushes done at 37,000 and 60,000 miles, respectively, using bg systems, Inc. Processes and approved Honda transmission fluids. Honda claimed these services "damaged" the transmission, a statement that auto transmission specialists have said was "insulting" and "completely false". Honda recommends the first transmission flush be done at 60,000. It should be noted that an internet search on " 2003 Honda Accord transmission problems" turns up hundreds of items, including a video of the slipping transmission for this very make and model. I believe Honda allowed an originally defective automatic transmission to stay in this vehicle, allowing it to be driven for 44,000 miles in a basically unsafe and dangerous condition. Had the additional maintenance not been done by me, the failure probably would have occurred years earlier. Honda must pay $1376 to make this matter right.

- Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #113

Aug 182008


  • 49,000 miles


I have 2003 Honda Accord that's having transmission problems so I called the Honda and they said that the car was fixed in 2005 but im still having problem with the transmission.

- Columbus , OH, USA

problem #112

Aug 162008


  • 113,730 miles
Transmission failure while driving. Odometer at 113,730. Had the vehicle towed to a Honda dealer. Dealer advised a transmission replacement. Honda provided a remanufactured transmission, I was charged for labor ($749).

- Bettendorf, IA, USA

problem #111

Sep 012008


  • miles
2003 Honda Accord coup im having transmission problems.

- Columbus , OH, USA

problem #110

Aug 302008


  • 67,000 miles


My car is a 2003 Honda Accord and the transmission is slipping. The car is only 5 years old! I bought it new and it gets regular maintenance and oil changes. I have seen several similar complaints on I don't know if anyone has reported this to NHTSA.

- Bothell, WA, USA

problem #109

Jul 252008


  • 16,999 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact heard loud noises coming from the transmission. He took the vehicle to the dealer and had the vehicle repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission). Four years later, the failure recurred and the vehicle was taken back to the dealer. The dealer replaced the transmission again at the cost of $2,376. The failure mileage was 16,999 and current mileage was 61,010.

- Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #108

Aug 032008


  • 83,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 with 83,000 miles.transmission failure. Many cases of the same problem in this make and model. Honda usa needs to be made aware of this problem and recall the transmission.

- Naples , FL, USA

problem #107

Feb 012008


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact began experiencing transmission failure with her vehicle. Shortly afterwards, she received a recall notice for a transmission defect. She took the vehicle to the dealer and they replaced the inner transmission line. The failure was temporarily corrected for approximately three weeks. During that time, the vehicle hesitated while shifting into third gear. The engine revved and a few seconds later it returned to its normal speed. At times, the vehicle would not travel more than 30 mph, and other times, the vehicle just hesitated and stopped pulling. The contact attempted to call the manufacturer, but they would not assist because the recall had previously been repaired on the vehicle. She believes that the recall was not properly done because the failure was still occurring. The recall number was unknown. The failure mileage was 85,000 and current mileage was 113,000.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #106

Jul 152008


  • 80,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving between 25-35 mph, the RPM's increased and the gears failed to shift properly. The contact had the vehicle inspected at a local transmission shop and they stated that there was a defect in the first and second shifts, which needed to be repaired or replaced. Through online research, the contact discovered NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission). The manufacturer stated that the previous owner of the vehicle checked for that recall, but there no defects at that time. No repairs have been made. The failure and current mileages were 80,000.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #105

Feb 012008


  • 115,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. When the vehicle is placed into gear and the accelerator pedal is depressed, the contact hears a loud noise. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that the transmission assembly failed and a new one was needed. The manufacturer stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission). The failure mileage was 115,000 and current mileage was 163,000.

- Copiague , NY, USA

problem #104

Jul 102008


  • 66,000 miles
Transmission failure causes the transmission of slip and down shift while driving. Radically changing speeds in traffic because of the downshift or slippage.

- Florence, SC, USA

problem #103

Jun 262008


  • 58,000 miles
Transmission is not catching going from second to third gear. When it does finally shift it jerks hard. Doesn't happen all the time though. Dealer cant get it to do it. 2 weeks after my passenger seat heater light went out, I only drove my car 6 miles; I took my key out, and it was burning hot. I touched the ignition and it too was burning hot. It did it 2 other times. I went straight to the dealership. They looked at it the next day and couldn't get it to get as hot as it was with me. They said it was "normal."I only have 58,000miles.

- Evansville, IN, USA

problem #102

Jul 182007


  • 110,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. In July of 2004, the gears shifted from first and second gear, the fluid was very dirty, and the transmission was whining. The transmission fluid was changed. In September of 2004, the vehicle was taken to the dealer for an oil change and, without the contact's knowledge, the transmission was inspected. Currently, the check engine light is illuminating and the codes indicated that the transmission is malfunctioning. The contact was informed that the vehicle had already been inspected in regards to NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission). The current mileage was 130,000 and failure mileage was 110,000.

- Newton, NH, USA

problem #101

May 272008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,446 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While attempting to pull out of a driveway, the contact depressed the accelerator pedal, but the vehicle failed to move. Suddenly, the vehicle shot backwards into the street at 45 mph. She then attempted to place the vehicle into drive once again, but it would not move. Suddenly, the vehicle sped forward. She heard a loud noise, but did not know the origin. The contact attempted to drive home, but the vehicle failed again on a main road with moderate to heavy traffic. She aimed the vehicle toward the nearest curb and restarted the vehicle. Pointed in the direction of a curb, she was able to move the vehicle towards the curb with one jerk. The previous week, the contact noticed the transmission banging into gear when shifting. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission), although the failures were similar. Other failures include the ABS sensor light, cd player, air compressor leakage, trunk release not functioning, and the catalytic converter. The vehicle was towed to the dealer as instructed by the manufacturer and a local mechanic also inspected the vehicle. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 60,446. Updated 07/29/08. Updated 08/05/08.

- Fairfield , CT, USA

problem #100

May 072008


  • 86,000 miles
Honda 2003 Accord I was driving home from detroit one day when my car started "jerking". at first it was very mild and I thought it was my imagination. It progressively became worse. I was driving 65 mph when my car stopped immediately and lunged me forward into the steering wheel hitting my head. It was as if someone had hit me from behind. I was on a two lane highway with heavy traffic. I am not sure how I wasn't injured more. Honda said the repair was out of warranty and not covered. The car had an earlier recall for the transmission around 20,000 miles for this problem and they tried to say they wouldn't cover it. The corporate office wanted to know if I planned on buying a Honda again. When I said no, they said "we might was well stop right here as this program is only for loyal Honda customers" (I had bought 3 Honda's previously, amazing what they called "loyal") two days later Honda called back and said the transmission and part of the car rental would be covered. There are many complaints on the internet about this model year Honda for the transmission, but yet it seems Honda is not going to recall the transmission. I am concerned there could be and may have been serious if not deadly accidents related to this malfunction, that may not be recognized as such. I am wondering if you are aware of this problem and already investigating crashes involving the Honda 2003 Accord.

- Freeland, MI, USA

problem #99

May 142008


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 60 mph, the transmission suddenly locked and the vehicle came to an immediate stop. When the contact attempted to drive the vehicle again, it lunged forward and stopped several times. There were no warning indicators prior to the failure. The vehicle is currently being diagnosed by the dealer. The current and failure mileages were 120,000.

- Lee Summit, MO, USA

problem #98

May 122008

Accord 6-cyl

  • 71,200 miles
Bought 2003 Honda Accord ex V6-mt less than a year ago, with well-documented maintenance schedules (no problems). While normal highway driving, transmission slipped out of gear and would not engage.

- Cheverly, MD, USA

problem #97

May 022008


  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. He received a recall notice last year related to a transmission. The dealer replaced something related to the coolant; however, there were no failures with the vehicle at that time. While driving 35 mph, the vehicle's front end hit the ground. He was able to move the vehicle to the side of the road and and restart it. While in route, the failure occurred. The dealer stated that the second gear chipped and he would need a new transmission. The failure and current mileages were 75000.

- Austin, TX, USA

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