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 27 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #56

Nov 192006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles


I was driving 35-40 mph and suddenly my automatic transmission goes in and out of low gear slowing me down suddenly. I now have no reverse, I was afraid of transmission locking up.

- Snohomish, WA, USA

problem #55

Sep 142006

Accord 6-cyl

  • miles
2003 Accord has had a problem with the second gear of the transmission. ***** there was a recall for the transmission problem but the service manager told the consumer that the failure would not be covered under recall. The radio screen was blank.

- Southington, CT, USA

problem #54

Sep 182006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles
: the contact stated upon initial acceleration onto a city street, the vehicle stalled and operated at a reduced speed. After being towed to a dealer, it was determined the automatic transmission needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified.

- Coconut Creek , FL, USA

problem #53

Sep 152006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Since buying my car 2003 Honda Accord ex V6 coupe in 03. I had exhaust problems, radio replacement, park and brake sensor replacement, power outlet wiring problems and the windshield wipers freeze up during heavy rainstorms. This has almost caused a few accidents, but the dealership can find no problem. Last Thursday my car seemed to be hesitating before shifting into either 2nd or 3rd. I couldn't tell for sure. Later that night, the car began to jump into & out of the low gears while starting & stopping at lights. I pulled off the road and the car would not move in reverse (only rev up). After some time, the car jumped into reverse and back into a ditch. After getting back on the road, traveling approx 60 miles per hr, I eased off the accelerator, the car powerfully downshifted to 2nd gear. Had it not been for the seat belt, I believe I would have been injured. My dog was in the car with me & thrown into the dash, then the floor. The tires barked. The car then suddenly up shifted to a higher gear. I made it home that night and drove straight to the dealership the next morning. The car seemed to be doing ok. I arrived and was told to make an apt for next week. Less then 10 miles away the car would no longer shift out of 3rd gear and then would not go in reverse. I drove it back to the dealer. I was told I needed to replace the transmission at my expense, and I was pretty much at fault because I had not completed all my service at Honda. I explained that it was impossible for me to make it to them during their business hours. So, some of my normal oil changes were done at other lube centers. I then asked him about the transmission recall and he said that had nothing to do with my problem. After waiting more than hr while he cut up with employees, I spoke to the location manager and asked about temporary transportation until I could contact american Honda, and he suggested I buy a new car.

- Leesburg, GA, USA

problem #52

May 152005

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord automatic transmission's slips out of 2nd gear (neutral). Occurs intermittently. Dealership could not duplicate problem. Could get no help from american Honda.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #51

Jul 082006

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,752 miles
In the summer of 2003 I purchased a new 2003 Honda Accord ex. I have had this car serviced since then at the dealer and all records are complete. I purchased this car with the assumption that it was an icon of reliability. This past weekend, 7/9/06 this car could have taken my life! while on vacation in los angeles, I was driving along sunset blvd. Just as I was approaching the entrance to the 405 freeway, (probably one of the busiest freeways in the world) my car did a couple of jerks as if the engine hesitated. I decided I had better get to my destination and I got on the freeway. About a mile later, while traveling approx. 65 mph in the center lane, without warning, both front wheels locked up and I skidded to a stop as cars behind me are performing evasive maneuvers to keep from rear-ending me. I could have been killed! the car restarted and jerked its way to the next exit. (there was no shoulder, only a concrete wall). When the car stopped it was completely expired. My life flashed before my eyes. I don't know how we were not involved in a major accident. The car was towed to the nearest Honda dealer. After two day, they determined that it was a "total transmission failure". since I was fortunate enough to have purchased the extended warranty the repair was covered. After questioning the service rep. I discovered that I would not be getting a "new" transmission, I would be getting a "remanufactured" transmission. Is this for real"?? now I am getting another person's problem transmission that has been fixed" Honda has to deal with this situation as it is going to kill someone if it hasn't already.

- North Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #50

Apr 182003

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,000 miles


1 parked car in garage took out key, almost in house when car rolled out of garage down driveway tried to stop car all most ran me over. Car crashed into cable box at end of driveway. Car still in gear. Took to dealer who fixed it. 2. car surges when entering and leaving garage car takes off have to ride brake to keep car from completely taking off, without ever touching gas pedal. Took to dealer. Was told all cars do this and nothing was wrong the car.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #49

May 292006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,400 miles
While traveling on the highway at approximately 65-70 mph my 2003 Honda Accord ex-V-6 bucked real hard. Dropping from 65-70 to about 35-40. The first time this happened I pulled the vehicle into the breakdown lane. I checked all belts and fluids and re-started the vehicle. Sounded like it always does when it starts. I pulled into the right travel lane and continued for about 10 miles when the vehicle did the same thing. This time I couldn't control the steering and unfortunate for me I was bearing to the left through a turn and went off the road. Luckily nobody was injured. I had the vehicle towed (130 miles) to my house, as it was a holiday weekend and had no other way home. So 600 bucks later I contacted Honda the following morning. Brought the car around the corner and several hours later it was determined the transmission needed to be replaced. When I asked about my warranty I was told it expired. My next question was what it would cost to install a new transmission. I was put on hold for about 7-10 minutes. The service manager came back and said Honda was willing to pay for the transmission and fluids if I agreed to pay for labor. At that point I needed a the vehicle on the road so I went through with it. Labor was $1000. I have to bring the vehicle back to Honda tomorrow for an inspection of the transmission and an adjustment at no cost to me. Now.......isn't it odd that in a 5-10 minute period Honda was willing to pay for the transmission but not the labor. Yes $1000 is better than 3-4,000. But why should I pay anything. I think Honda should pay for the tow too.

- New Bedford, MA, USA

problem #48

Mar 012006

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles
This follows a complaint number 10135954 (2nd gear problem, recall #04V176000). Last year, the vehicle was not serviced under the recall because Honda rep. Said my vehicle's VIN was not recalled. Yet, I noticed there are many complaints about the transmission of Honda Accord and their VIN numbers were similar to mine. In the spring 2006, the vehicle started to make noise when it is accelerated. It makes more noise in the afternoon than the morning. I took to a local auto shop and it was diagnosed that the noise was coming from the transmission. The technician stated some parts of the transmission must have been broken or got loose. This problem could be related to the recall # 04V1760000 of this vehicle. I am afraid if this problem will cause transmission failure and thus cause an accident.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #47

May 102006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles
: the contact stated while driving 70mph, the vehicle unexpectedly shifted into second gear and the speed reduced to 20mph. There were no warning indicators prior to the problem. The sudden reduction in speed nearly caused a rear end collision. The vehicle was taken an independent mechanic who determined the solenoid in the transmission gear box needed to be replaced, however the vehicle has not been repaired. The dealer was alerted, but did not inspect the vehicle.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #46

Feb 072006

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles


Transmission failure resulting in lockup and immediate, unexpected stop.

- Wylie, TX, USA

problem #45

Dec 192005


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I just bought a 2003 Honda Accord coupe ex about 3 weeks ago. I got a great deal on the car. It was a Honda certified car which means it had been 150 point inspected before I bought it. The car has just over 60K miles. The transmission gave out this past weekend after only 3 weeks. Was this problem missed in the 150 point inspection....I think so. I checked by 150 point inspection paper after the problem occurred. It seems that the transmission leak box was not ever checked. They must have left that part out. Which means the Honda was not certified, and which also means that it was false advertisement to the consumer that this was a Honda certified car. What are my rights as an angry individual. I was basically lied to in order to get the sell. Thankfully, I bought the extended warranty and the fix is in works now. After reading other people's horror stories with their transmission, I would like to file a complaint against both the dealership and Honda as a company. I am very angry that after 3 weeks of having my car, it is in the shop to be fixed. I was lied to and deceived. If there is anything that I can do as an individual to prevent this to happening to someone else then I will by all means do so. Thanks for your help and consideration in this matter.

- Garland, TX, USA

problem #44

Nov 292005

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,800 miles
The contact stated the automatic transmission slipped while driving 65-70 mph on the highway. When this occurred the transmission went into a fail safe mode, and the speed suddenly dropped down to 35 mph and second gear. He managed to drive the vehicle to an independent repair shop. The mechanic performed a diagnostic test and determined by the codes that the inner third gear clutch and hub failed. The contact was alerted that there was a Honda upgrade kit available to fix this problem. The manufacturer was contacted. The automatic transmission was replaced. However, the repair was made at the contact's expense. There have been no further problems.

- Brentwood , CA, USA

problem #43

Oct 212005


  • 46,385 miles
2003 Honda Accord hesitated from a stop and made an unusual noise which also occurred when driving. The vehicle was taken to a dealer who determined that the automatic transmission had to be replaced. Since the vehicle was still under warranty to consumer only had to pay for the diagnostic test. The consumer did some research and found that there was recall on the transmission (recall number 04V176000). She never received a notice.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #42

Sep 272005

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,153 miles
A recall notice was received by me from Honda. I took my car to Honda and they said they would inspect the transmission. After inspection they said there was no damage and they said they installed a supplemental cooling jet. 9 months later I was in the middle of an intersection and the transmission failed. Honda replaced the transmission with a rebuilt one but they will not cover the labor cost and they also will not verify that the rebuilt transmission is any better design than the original which failed. The recall id # is 04V176000. The Honda case # is N012005-09-2200467.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #41

Sep 062005

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles
The contact was complaining about a second gear problem with automatic transmission on 2003 Honda Accord. He said it matched the description in recall 04V176000. Second gear did not work properly. He noticed this on 9-6-05. He called a Honda 800 number, and they told him this vehicle was not included in the recall due to VIN.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #40

Aug 242005

(reported on)

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord transmission was damaged by what was to believed to be insufficient lubrication.** answer required***. the vehicle was part of recall 04V176000 which was for heat buildup in the transmission. The consumer received the recall when the vehicle had 46000 miles. Now at 70000 mile the transmission needs to be replaced. The consumer believes the damage to the transmission was done during the first 46000 miles and requested reimbursement from the manufacturer.

- Victorville, CA, USA

problem #39

Aug 022005

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,140 miles
Car was recalled in 2004 for transmission. At that time mileage was very low and transmission was modified, not replaced. On August 1, 2005 I took my car to baron Honda, patchogue NY, due to transmission shifting problems - while accelerating transmission would go into neutral, not second gear. Baron returned the car that evening stating there was no problem. The following morning (Aug 2nd), while traveling at 60 mph, upon easing up on the accelerator the car violent dropped into second gear, slowing it dramatically and throwing me against the seatbelt. At the time I was in heavy rush hour traffic. This occurred several more times as I tried to get to the right and off the highway. After towing, Honda city, levittown, NY, diagnosed a complete transmission failure. Honda replaced the transmission (over warranty at 44,000 miles) under their goodwill program. Despite this I feel that I was placed in a very dangerous situation due to both a faulty transmission and the first dealers failure to properly evaluate and diagnose the problem. This car has had numerous problems (recalls, rocking driver seat, catalytic converter failure) and lacks the quality of my previous Honda vehicles.

- Holbrook, NY, USA

problem #38

Aug 062005

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 19,200 miles
Transmission locked causing crash-see recall no 04V-176 affecting certain Honda models, however my vehicle which is a 4cyl. Honda Accord was evidentially not part of the recall.

- Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #37

Jun 272005

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,371 miles
The transmission on my Accord was part of the recall to inspect the 2nd gear. The transmission start to slip on the month of June in 2005. Then it got worst a few weeks after the first occurrence and later stall completely. I was able to drive the car in first and second gear after I restart the engine. I brought the car to the dealership and first they didn't find any problem with the transmission. They finally find the problem and need to replace the whole unit.

- Horn Lake, MS, USA

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