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 25 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #96

Apr 012008

Accord 6-cyl

  • 60,900 miles


There were no events leading up to the failure. Total automatic transmission failure while driving. No warning. The transmission had to be replaced. No parts are available. The old transmission was returned to Honda. This happened while in third gear.

- Sparks, NV, USA

problem #95

Apr 012008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,200 miles
The transmission on my 2003 Accord started slipping between 2nd and third gears. I almost got hit from behind with my one year old in the back seat. The transmission had to be replaced. There are numerous cases of such failure. Honda seems to have been aware of the problem in 2004. The company had a safety recall to address an issue with the same and to install new oil pumps. It is now clear that the recall was only to prolong the transmission to beyond the warranty limit. The transmission seems to be of substandard quality. I don't know why they don't issue a safety recall. How come the problem was a safety issue in 2004 but not so in later years. Because the problem occurs at lower speeds the damages may not include injuries and deaths right now. But that does not mean it is no possible. I guess the gov.'t and Honda wont issue a recall as long as there are no injuries or deaths. It is amazing that a car company with such low quality parts is touted as a 'quality' car. Just a sad state of the automobile industry.

- Cumming, GA, USA

problem #94

Apr 162008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer for its 70,000 mile service. When she left the dealer, the entire transmission failed. The vehicle was towed to the same dealer and they replaced the transmission. While parked, the entire vehicle caught fire and spread to some tree shrubs. The police and fire departments arrived on the scene and filed a report. The insurance company stated that the vehicle was destroyed. The failure mileage was 70,000. Updated 05/13/08. Updated 05/13/08

- Landolakes, FL, USA

problem #93

Apr 162008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


On April 3, 2008 I took my car to kuhn Honda at 3900 West kennedy blvd, tampa, Florida 33609. They did a routine oil change, tire rotation, regular maintenance service. Four days later my transmission fell out of the car on the highway and I had to have the car towed to the dealer. I had the 105,000 mile warranty and they replaced the transmission. As driving off the lot I notice the transmission would not shift from second gear. Next day I took it back to the dealership, they ordered another transmission and put the new one in. That was Wednesday April 16th, 2008. I left the dealership around 3:00pm and the traffic was horrible so I drove less than 3 miles to the mall to shop. Parked the car at the mall, when inside and was there less than 10 minutes when I was called by the tampa police department telling me my car was on fire in the parking lot and burnt the entire engine to a crisp. The car was melted like a piece of plastic nothing up to the windshield. The dealership claims no responsibility. They have no idea what happened or why! they claim these things happen and they do not know how it could have happened. They did not even apologize!

- Land O Lakes, FL, USA

problem #92

Apr 082008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,700 miles
Began feeling a shutter when shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. Dealer informed me that their was an internal transmission failure and the transmission had to be replaced.

- Auburn, GA, USA

problem #91

Apr 102008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,800 miles
Check engine light came on. Took car to Honda mechanic. Computer code indicated imminent failure of the transmission. Called Honda and they told me my 2003 Accord was not under warranty. This vehicle was recalled in 2004.

- San Ramon, CA, USA

problem #90

Mar 102008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 50 mph, the contact heard a loud revving noise and the vehicle dramatically decelerated. There were no warning signs prior to the failure. The dealer was unable to duplicate the failure; however, they stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission). The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 86,000.

- Columbia, TN, USA

problem #89

Apr 052008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,813 miles
Make : Acura; model : 3.2cl; NHTSA campaign id number : 04V176000 component: Power train:automatic transmission bought a Honda certified used 2003 Accord V6 exl and it is the biggest lemon ever. Based on the forums and my currently being replaced transmission, following the recall - Honda needs to have a lifetime warranty on their problematic transmissions. My children and I were nearly rear-ended on and off the highway trying to get the (closed) service center D/T transmission slipping and not engaging. Unfortunately, as well, Honda needs to get the dealerships to on track and provide service and sales that support Honda's reputation. I will never buy another Honda and that is a shame. I wanted to trade up for the diesel 2010 model but I can't afford another car lifetime of repairs with the exorbitant purchase price of the Honda "name"!!

- London, OH, USA

problem #88

Mar 202008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles
When accelerating between 30mph to 40 mph there is a power loss and the tachometer revs to 6.5 RPM and beyond. The only way to get car to move forward is to take foot off accelerator and let RPM fall below 1 RPM. This will usually work in most cases. Usually happens within 3 to 7 miles of first driving the car and when it has been sitting for at least 3 to 4 hours or overnight.

- Yorba Linda, CA, USA

problem #87

Mar 132008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While exiting the highway at 45 mph, the vehicle began to accelerate and shifted into second gear. The vehicle suddenly stopped and all the warning lights on the instrument panel began flashing. The check engine light remained illuminated. The contact placed the vehicle into another gear and the RPM increased. He was able to drive to the dealer and they stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The current and failure mileages were 94,000.

- Fayettville, NC, USA

problem #86

Mar 082008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


Took car to dealership 3 months ago complaining that shift between 2nd and 3rd gear did not seem right. Dealer did test and said everything was ok. The other day driving at 40kms/hr, car would not shift into 3rd gear at all. Luckily I was not on the highway or far from home when this happen. Took car to same dealership, told me they would replace it under warranty of 7yrs and 130,000 kms. Luckily I'm only at 99K. Honda obviously knows that this transmission is malfunctioning on all V6 automatics, they should be held liable for any serious injuries that this may cause.

- Toronto, 00, USA

problem #85

Feb 072007

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,100 miles
My transmission started slipping between 2nd and 3rd gear so I looked it up on the internet and there was a recall on it. I brought it to the dealership and they said that the recall had been fixed by putting an oil cooler on the transmission in October of 2004 and that I was responsible for fixing my transmission. I told them that it doesn't mean that it was not done before and that I was not paying for it because my car is doing exactly to the word what the recall said it would do. It is getting worse and I am afraid that it might lock up on me like the recall said that it would. I think that they should be liable to fix this problem as it was not fixed right the first time.

- New Iberia, LA, USA

problem #84

Feb 112008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,100 miles
While traveling at approx 55 mph the cars transmission suddenly slipped into neutral and then down shifted into 2nd or 3rd gear at 6500 RPM and my speed dropped to 40 mph and lower as the car shuttered and kept slipping in and out of neutral and grabbing a lower gear as I tried to go over a long suspension bridge. It was only by luck that a car or 18 wheeler didn't plow into me. I got the car back to the original dealer who told me that I need a new transmission for $2400 at only 41,000 miles!!!. this transmission was under a recall back in 2004. There is an obvious problem with these Honda transmissions that the NHTSA needs to address before someone gets killed or severely injured.

- Jericho, NY, USA

problem #83

Jan 292008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 20 mph, the transmission slipped. The dealer stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The manufacturer stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission). The current and failure mileages were 91,000.

- East Point , GA, USA

problem #82

Jan 312008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
I was driving on the highway going about 65mph, when all of a sudden my rpms shot up to around 6500 and my car slowed to about 40 mph all about a second. It was as if I had slammed on my brakes. This happened about 4 more times before I could get off the highway. My car was recalled for a transmission in 2004 and I took it in but apparently the recall was not enough. This problem could have cause a serious injury to myself and to others and I hope that this can get resolved.

- Rowlett, TX, USA

problem #81

Jan 072008

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord transmission failure due to defect is a serious safety issue. Honda did emergency recall at 2004, but the recall didn't fix the problem. My experience shows either damage already done or that preventive approach from recall doesn't work. My understanding is Honda didn't replace the transmission on most case based on the mileage or degree of damage. I purchased the 2003 Honda Accord ex-V6 at Nov. 2002, I did recall at 2004. When I drive on New Jersey 615 last week, all of sudden, the car speed dropped from 60mph to 45 mph. After another five minutes drive at 45 mph, less than one second, it dropped to 25 mph. I see quite few complaints with same horrible experiences at my car is 5 years old and with 109,000 mile on it. Honda owner's manual requires transmission maintenance at 10 years or first 120,000 mile. Obviously the transmission is a defect and is very dangerous (see the complaint on, Honda should do another recall to fix it.

- Princeton Jct, NJ, USA

problem #80

Dec 292007

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving 30 mph, the gear would not shift into third. The vehicle would not accelerate for approximately ten seconds and the RPM's increased to 5,000. The dealer repaired the vehicle under NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission); however, the failure continued. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer and they stated that the gears were discolored, but not severely enough for them to replace the transmission. The current and failure mileages were 47,000.

- Sylmar, CA, USA

problem #79

Dec 062007

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,200 miles
My 2003 Accord V6 ex sedan transmission did not shift from 2nd to 3rd gear. This has happened on 3 occasions in less than 1 month (12/6 & 1215/07 & 1/4/08). If this failure occurs when my husband or I need to accelerate into traffic, we are at risk for being rear-ended. On the last occassion, I had to stop to get my car, put it in neutral then put it into drive to function correctly. I found information on this issue at

- Spring, TX, USA

problem #78

Dec 222007

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles
My 2003 Accord V-6 ex tranny failed at 83K. Honda dealer says 3rd gear gone. What if he's wrong. If thermal breakdown shouldn't matter which gear. Fluid levels were fine. Went out going downhill! dealer wants 3K for rebuilt tranny. I disagree that I should pay for a part that will fail again. Not my fault their part is faulty.

- Calpella, CA, USA

problem #77

Nov 202007

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,800 miles
The automatic transmission on my 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 failed suddenly while my wife was driving. Luckily, she was able to steer the car to the side of the road and avoid an accident. But this failure could have been catastrophic in heavier traffic. I bought the car new and have had it serviced according to Honda's recommendations. The car had 64,800 miles on it when the failure occurred. Although Honda paid 25% of the cost, I was still left with a substantial bill for a repair that should not have been necessary at the car's age and mileage. Moreover, I believe the transmission problem in certain Honda V-6 vehicles is a known defect--one the company has not adequately addressed. Honda recalled '03 Accord V-6S in '04 to retrofit the transmissions with oil jet packs to correct an insufficient lubrication problem. The fix apparently didn't work. I'm concerned the transmission in my car might fail again with more serious consequences.

- Roswell, GA, USA

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