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 4 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #516

May 012011


  • 92,000 miles


I bought a used 2003 Accord one month ago and now the transmission has failed. The car had 90600 miles when I bought it and the Honda dealership said nothing about this model year having a problem with the transmission. I was driving at approx. 60mph when the car slammed to almost a dead stop and the RPM needle jumped to about 6000. I pulled over and shut off the car. I had the car towed to my mechanic and he said that there is a serious mechanical failure in the transmission. The cost to repair is going to be approx. $3500. I called the dealership and they told me it was sold "as is" and there was nothing they could do to help.

- Corpus Christi, TX, USA

problem #515

Apr 282011


  • 179,000 miles
Driving 65 mph on the highway then all of a sudden my 2003 Honda Accord shifts violently into first gear. Could of caused a major accident. Called Honda usa and they said they are unaware of any issues with the 2003 Honda Accord. Does someone need to be killed in or by a 2003 Honda Accord before someone takes action!!

- West Henrietta, NY, USA

problem #514

Apr 182011

Accord 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,500 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact was driving 45 mph when the vehicle suddenly decelerated independently. The contact stated that the vehicle felt as if it had shifted into neutral abnormally. The contact shut the vehicle off and once restarted, the failure persisted. The vehicle was then towed to a local mechanic for diagnostic testing which located the failure at the transmission. The contact called the manufacturer regarding the transmission and the manufacturer advised the contact to take the vehicle to the dealer for a second diagnostic test. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign id number: 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission) but the vehicle was not included due to the recall only effecting V6 engine models. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 94,500. Updated 05/05/11 updated 1202/11

- Warren, PA, USA

problem #513

Apr 222011

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles


At mileage around 33,000 my car Honda Accord (2003) automatic transmission started displaying throttle and transmission failure symptoms. The engine and anti lock brakes lights on dashboard are on.

- Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #512

Apr 202011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
I was on the highway when my car decelerated. I almost got hit by a car behind me and averted an accident. The engine revved way up, but car's speed went down. Later, when I was driving on the street, the car slowed to a stop and would not shift gears either forward or backward. I am reading online that my 2003 Honda Accord is having torque converter problems. It seems that this a common problem for my vehicle.

- Glendale, CA, USA

problem #511

Apr 182011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 103,283 miles
2003 Honda Accord down shifts at highway speeds making it nearly impossible to control. Have not taken it in account no way to get there or car to drive. Transmission problem working on having it fixed.

- Slaton , TX, USA

problem #510

Apr 132011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 81,000 miles


4/13/11 driving on a main route, with morning flow of traffic my car revved as if moving but just stopped moving forward, then would kick back into forward motion, traffic behind, to the right and in front of, no shoulder to pull over - I had 2miles to reach work. Had it towed for inspection, stated the transmission was done asked if the recall had been taken care of. I've never received a recall other than recently-ignition issues. He forwarded me a copy of the recall - had it towed to O'donnell Honda, place of purchase and all scheduled and wanted service since purchase in 2003. They agreed the transmission needed to be replaced. I faxed to them a copy of a recall noting "all" 2003 Honda Accord needed a 2nd gear replacement. I was told, my VIN was not included in the list. I was later told that the 2nd gear was replaced, ? 04 or 05 but no document history other than Honda's was there. I have all of my records and nothing includes that replacement. O'donnell Honda will not replace the transmission at their cost and well, those things happen...what I was told about the transmission going. My car is in mint condition, always taken care of minimal needs and at 81,000 also had experience with the same dealer, my daughters Honda si V-tech, a true lemon and them not standing behind the cars they sell. Our family has purchased three cars from them, brand new, serviced by them but they seem to be loosing their standards.

- Ellicott City, MD, USA

problem #509

Apr 122011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 87,344 miles
Transmission slips. While driving, the transmission will suddenly drop from 4 gear to 3 gear or 1 gear without warning - causing sudden deceleration. Note that since it is the transmission and not the brakes, there is no indication to other drivers that you are decelerating. The other issue is, while attempting to accelerate the transmission will not shift but will rev the engine up to red-line without accelerating. This is where I was almost rear-ended by another vehicle while attempting accelerate on to the freeway and the car would not downshift - but red-lined and wouldn't accel. I've noticed that this seems to be a common problem with 2003 Honda Accord given the number of complaints filed about this same issue so I am somewhat surprised that Honda does not acknowledge these transmissions to be defective and agree to help the consumer fix them. Honda America denied my request to fix this issue.

- Georgetown, TX, USA

problem #508

Apr 132011


  • 73,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that while driving 70 mph, the transmission failed and slipped out of gear. A mechanic was contacted who stated that according to the description of the failure, the transmission would likely need replacing. The manufacturer was contacted who referred him to the dealer for diagnostic testing in order for then to consider providing any assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 73,000.

- Arroyo Grande , CA, USA

problem #507

Feb 242011

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord. Consumer states transmission downshifted violently while driving 50 mph the consumer stated the transmission became stuck in first gear. The dealer determined the transmission was damaged internally.

- Blaine, MN, USA

problem #506

Mar 102011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 108,000 miles


I was driving in morning traffic when I tried to accelerate my Accord begun to jolt and almost caused me to be rear ended by a huge cement truck. I was able to turn my car off and on again which allowed me to pull off the freeway. I bought my Honda because I thought it would live up to the Honda name for quality, but I was horridly wrong. My torque converted failed causing catastrophic damage to my transmission. I like others was left stranded on the side if the road, holding keys to a now broken 2003 Honda Accord ex and a huge repair bill. I tried calling Honda usa but my issue and request fell on deaf ears. Im completely taken back by Honda as a company after this and will never buy one of their products again!

- El Cajon, CA, USA

problem #505

Mar 282011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
While driving my 2003 Honda Accord all pulling power was lost. The car behaved erratic before I was able to safely pull over to the side of the highway. I had the vehicle towed to norm reeves Honda for service and was told the transmission was bad and needed replaced.while having my tranmission rebuilt by dan transmission shop the mechanic pointed out to me that he will replace my transmission filter because it never gets change at Honda. I call Honda and spoke to several service advisors about what get done to a tranmission during service? they all said the same thing a drain and refill of fulid and there is no filter. When researching further I found out that the parts department has filters in stock but never hardly sell the filter unless a mechanic buys it to replace while rebuiding the transmission. There is a lot of Honda of the year 2003 that had a recall early 2000. My car was one, Honda replace a second gear on the transmissions for problems that year 2003 hondaaccords was having with over heating. Honda is not replacing a filter part and say it dose not exist when it does. When I call Honda and this time insisted there is a filter, the service advisor will only then tell you that the filter exist but does not get change during service.because it is a sealed part othe transmission. I believe after experiencing this type of transmission failure in my car that it could be prevent if Honda would fix the desing flaw of the transmissions. This could had had been pevented if a 30 dollar part can be more easy to replace and inxepensive and time consuming as to why I think Honda do not replaced the filters or sell a lot of the filters on the market to millions of costumers who are probably like I was in the dark and think they are getting a fresh transmission service but all the time. Riding in a car that will failed unexpectedly.this is very dangerous had I been rear ended an my whole family killed no one probably would supected it was a trans failed.

- Cerritos, CA, USA

problem #504

Mar 212011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 59,708 miles
Honda failed to notify the customer of potential transmission failure despite many industry complaints. My vehicle's transmission was replaced at personal cost. This lack of transparency poses a public safety hazard.

- Ronkonkoma, NY, USA

problem #503

Apr 032011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 71,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord with 71,000 miles on it just experienced a complete and total failure of it's transmission. The car is not covered by any remaining warranty's, but it's clear that this failure was common in this make/model of car.

- Cambridge, MA, USA

problem #502

Mar 262011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord V6 began having problems shifting gears while driving after just ~65,000 miles. I took it to the dealership for inspection and needed to have the transmission replaced. After telling the dealership I read about multiple problems with these Accord, they contacted the "district manager" who offered to cover 50% of the replacement cost. Needless to say I am not very happy with Honda.

- Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #501

May 012007


  • 71,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 35 mph, the vehicle began abnormally jerking forward. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technician replaced the transmission under warranty. The contact stated that three years after the transmission was replaced, he began experiencing the exact same failure. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who informed the contact that the transmission would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 71,000.

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #500

Mar 032011


  • 85,000 miles
Driving car on freeway when it lost transmission, engine still running but no power to the car. Managed to coast to a safe stop; lower gears still functioning then. Drove in D2 to mechanic, lower gears now do not work reliably -- as soon as it gets hot it locks up. Transmission has to be completely rebuilt or replaced. Recall repiar was previously according to dealer records but does not seem to have worked.

- Oosterhout, Noord-Brabant, 00, USA

problem #499

Mar 262010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 71,000 miles
Transmission failed all of a sudden while driving on highway. No reverse gear, no proper power to forward gears.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #498

Mar 192011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 108,000 miles
1. normal driving conditions. I attempted to accelerate and when the transmission down-shifted to second gear it didn't engage and the engine revved to the limiter before I was able to let off the gas. When I let off the transmission engaged a higher gear and I was able to continue. Later when I tried to accelerate away from a stoplight the car wouldn't engage second gear again and just coasted to a stop no matter what I did. 2. the failure occurs as soon as the car warms, but occasionally it will engage suddenly and slow the car dramatically if I am traveling at a higher rate of speed. I was almost hit when this occurred once. 3. the dealership wants to replace the transmission with a "re-manufactured" Honda transmission for $3500.

- Springfield, MO, USA

problem #497

Mar 102011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
Making turn to an on-ramp the RPM's in my 2003, V6 Honda Accord with automatic transmission increased to 6000-7000, after making the turn I lost all drive power and pulled to the side of the road. I stopped the car, turned off the engine and found nothing obvious under the hood. After restarting the car, it would not move in either forward or reverse. Had the car towed to Honda dealer, diagnosis was a blown transmission. It will cost $3500 to have the transmission replaced with a rebuilt transmission. Car mileage is approximately 105,000.

- Klamath Falls, OR, USA

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