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 5 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #496

Feb 272011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 104,560 miles


2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission went out of the blue with 104,560 miles on it. I keep my cars mint and change fluids as recommended by the manufacturer. Honda America said due to that it's past its warranty, age and mileage they are unwilling to due anything. I've read on the NHTSA's webpage about the transmissions failing all in the same way, even my car. Obviously there's a problem that Honda is unwilling at this time to address. My dealer was the only one that cared about retaining my business by taking $250 off the $2600 transmission and eating hours of labor because it took longer than the Honda repair manual said. When my transmission went my engine light came on maybe 50 miles before, I thought it was my gas cap being loose, wrong! right out of no where the engine tacked to 7,000, I slowed down and pulled to the shoulder. I couldn't move forward or backwords, . thank god the engine still ran to keep the car warm. My friend was in the car with me with his two year old, thankfully the transmission didn't kick back in and we slammed into another car, I was on the interstate when it happened. Actually broke down three miles from my dealer. And just his morning a week after being fixed I heard a crunching noise in the front end and then a mile down the road on the way to work the engine light came on, gee I wonder what it would be, gas cap not on tight enough? I had just saved up the $600 dollars for the timing belt and water pump that it due to be changed at 105,000. $3300 for the transmission repair.

- Randolph, VT, USA

problem #495

Feb 282011


  • 72,703 miles
The transmission on our 2003 Honda Accord with only 72,203 miles has gone bad and needs to be replaced. We serviced our vehicle regularly and this should never have happened with such low mileage. Honda wants to charge us over $4000 for a new transmission. We understand there are many complaints on this. We had several recalls on this vehicle, including a service to the transmission shortly after we purchased the vehicle. Please look into this because there is something Honda is hiding.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #494

Mar 052011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord sedan V6 - automatic transmission failure. 125,000 miles. Problems with transmission since 75,000 miles. We took our vehicle into the dealer because the transmission fluid was burnt. Dealer confirmed transmission fluid was burnt. The answer we received was that the transmission fluid should not be in that condition but no problems were found during their inspection.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #493

Mar 062011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 159,800 miles


Was driving my 2003 Honda Accord at 45mph. Suddenly the transmission changed gears from 4th to lilke 1st gear, felt like I hit a brick wall or someone hit me hard. It was very shocking and scary. Took the car to the dealer. They said it needs a new transmission.

- Erie, PA, USA

problem #492

Oct 032010


  • 83,043 miles
The primary purpose of this correspondence is to register a serious safety issue that occurred to my husband and I on October 3 2010, at 4:40 pm. While driving at approximately 65 mph, my 2003 Honda Accord had a transmission failure and lockup. While my husband and I were traveling South on the NJ turnpike the car suddenly jerked as if someone had jammed on the brakes. My husband attempted to slow down by taking his foot off the gas pedal and not touch the brake. The car violently jerked again as it slowed down. As he attempted to get onto the shoulder of the road, the car violently lurched twice more. With each of these sudden, unexpected, violent jerks, we were thrown forward. Thankfully, our seatbelts were on, which prevented us from being thrown forward into the window. The Honda dealership remedy was to replace the transmission with a rebuilt one. The old parts are not available. Although this was the first and only time we had any trouble with the transmission, I think this is such a serious issue which, if circumstances were different, could have caused serious injury or death.

- Voorhees, NJ, USA

problem #491

Feb 282011


  • 84,450 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 30 mph, the vehicle lunged back and forth in a sudden stop and go motion. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for the failure. The dealer advised her that the transmission would need to be replaced. The vehicle was left in the dealers possession and the manufacturer was contacted in regards to the failure. The manufacturer advised that they would assist with fifty percent of the repair costs. The failure mileage was 84,450 and the current mileage was 84,490.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #490

Mar 012011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 89,500 miles


Transmission had problems downshifting and car was losing power. On the highway the car bucked violently and I had to pull off on the shoulder. I was able to continue for a short while before it happened again and had to pull off again. Car continued to be losing power and would not downshift. Was able to make it home, barely, and transmission would not engage in reverse. Had vehicle towed to dealership and contacted Honda usa. Dealership said that entire transmission & torque converter needs to be replaced.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #489

Feb 232011

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 30 mph, another vehicle crashed into the front of the contacts vehicle. All of the vehicle air bags deployed except for the frontal driver air bag. The contact sustained bruising and minor injuries. The driver of the second vehicle was transported to the hospital via ambulance. The vehicle was towed to a collision center. The vehicle was not repaired. The contact stated that the vehicle had received recall repairs two days prior to the crash under NHTSA campaign id number: 10V364000 (electrical system:ignition) and stated that the air bag sensor could have been deactivated. The contact stated there was no light illuminated to indicate an airbag failure. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000. Updated 05/04/11 the consumer stated the transmission was replaced in August 2010 and in November 2008 the air bag light illuminated. Updated 05/09/11

- Fair Oaks Ranch, TX, USA

problem #488

Feb 182011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 71,499 miles
On February 18th, 2011 my 2003 Honda Accord V6 ex-L sporadically and erratically started to down shift. From that point total loss of drive occurred within 10 minutes. Previous traction control warning light stayed on a week prior to this happening. Also a very high pitched whining or grinding occurred a few days prior (thought is was my front brakes). Currently vehicle is at certified Honda dealer waiting for inspection. Mileage 71,499. Transmission flush done at 59,000 and vehicle recall repair was done within 3 months of re-call notice.

- Mansfield, OH, USA

problem #487

Oct 012010


  • 129,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord V6. The contact stated that while driving approximately 45 mph, she noticed that while shifting from second to third gear, the transmission had suddenly failed without warning. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic and they advised her that she needed to replace the transmission. The vehicle was repaired but the failure occurred again one month later. The failure mileage was approximately 129,000.

- Gentry, AR, USA

problem #486

Jan 212011


  • 160,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the automatic transmission was slipping and would fail to engage into gear when driving 5 mph and up. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who rebuilt the transmission but the failure was not corrected and persisted. The vehicle was not further repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted in regards to the failure. The failure mileage was 160,000.

- Hopkins, SC, USA

problem #485

Feb 082011


  • 73,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that while trying to place her vehicle in reverse it would not move. The vehicle was inspected by the dealer who advised her that she needed to replace the transmission. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages was approximately 73,000.

- River Forrest , IL, USA

problem #484

Feb 132011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
03 Honda Accord that had recall work on transmission in 04 down shifted from drive to second gear at speeds higher than 55 mph. Like the breaks were applied. Now it will not operate out of second gear and no reverse.

- Soddy Daisy, TN, USA

problem #483

Feb 102011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
I own a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6. The cars transmission has been slipping for months now, and Honda has not even offered to help correct the problem. I have called numerous times, and they say that until total transmission failure occurs, there is nothing I can do about it. Now the transmission has failed, while I had a client in my car last Friday. We were both jolted forward as the transmission slipped out of third gear and suddenly the engine revved up to 7000 RPM's. I apologized to him, dropped him off, and brought it straight to my local Honda dealer. If this had occurred on the highway, there would have been serious damage or injuries to other cars or drivers. I noticed there is a recall on a part in the transmission, and this hasn't been fixed yet"?" now I'm seeing hundreds of other people that this has happened to, and I can't believe that this is not a safety issue!!! if my client or I had been injured in an accident occurring from the faulty transmission, there would be multiple lawsuits filed with Honda for negligence to fix the parts. This needs to be addressed by NHTSA and Honda immediately!!!! if anyone can offer me advice, please do.

- South Boston, MA, USA

problem #482

Feb 102011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 76,000 miles
While driving to work which is about 10 miles from home in our 03 Honda Accord ex, the engine started to rev up and the car began to slow down the more I tried to get it to move the worse got. When I called the Honda service dept. I was told that the transmission needed to be replaced. The car has 76000 miles and was told that the cost to repair was about 3800 dollars for a rebuilt trans and that I would have to pay for it because it was out of warranty. This transmission should be replaced by Honda as they have done in other years because it is a life safety issue. I hope it does not take loosing a life to resolve this matter. I was thank full that I wasn't driving on a highway going at highway speeds.

- Whitehouse St., NJ, USA

problem #481

Feb 112011

Accord 4WD 6-cyl

  • 111,500 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6: Automatic transmission slipping out of gear; either to neutral and reving high or violently downshifting. It has been slightly noticable for a while but not enough to think it was dangerous. Then within the past 2 weeks it has become more pronounced and dangerous. This occured multiple times on on the highway within a 15 miles drive. Multiple accidents were barely avoided when the downshift or slip would occur with other traffic on the road. I am concerned for my safety and others as this will likely lead to complete transmission failure and end with a crash. I have not taken any steps to fixing this yet becasue I know I will be told I need to buy a new transmission which seems unreasonable when a universal problem is apparent among this model/year of car.

- Eden Prairie, MN, USA

problem #480

Jan 312011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
I own a 2003 Honda Accord automatic, V6 and it has been having transmission problems for about a month now and Honda has offered only for me to go in and replace my transmission completely for $4616. This all began spontaneously, a week after I went in to Honda to get an oil change. The car will not pass 20mph unless if you step on the gas extremely hard, a couple of times. This now occurs everyday and everytime I use the car to go anywhere. This is dangerous because in the middle of possibly doing 30mph the car will drop down to 20mph and not want to go faster.

- Brockton, MA, USA

problem #479

Jan 282011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 64,000 miles
Honda Accord 2003 ex 6 cylinder, green with 64K miles two days back while on my way to a restaurant in New York city on 1-495 I got 2 major jerks I was about to bang into the car in front of me all this happened on my birthday and then when I got a parking on the street my car reverse gear stopped working. People were honking on me. I went to a Honda dealer today and they said the transmission is gone bad. To replace they want $4158. I called Honda America hoping for some help but all in vain. They said to contact the service manger and the regional filed manager. But after seeing all the post I don't think so any action will be taken. May be they will give me some discount that all that too when I will beg for it. My car has just $64K miles on it. I got my transmission fluid changed by the same Honda dealer 2 months back. Is there any way or any news from NHTSA " is there a recall" this is really dangerous !!! Honda sucks big time !!!!

- East Meadow, NY, USA

problem #478

Jan 272011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 72,000 miles
Transmission on 2003 Accord has began to fail. Transmission slips and often violently slams into gear when down shifting or placing vehicle in reverse. The problem is fairly consistent each time the vehicle is driven. Nothing has been done to correct the problem, and Honda has now twice claimed that "they can't duplicate the problem." Research has shown that this problem is endemic to the 2003 Accord, and the ultimate (and inevitable) failure of the transmission presents a safety concern. Users have reported the vehicle violently quitting at freeway speeds, narrowly avoiding rear-end collisions, etc.

- Torrance, CA, USA

problem #477

Dec 312010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The consumer stated there were problems with the vehicles second gear. The mechanic checked the vehicle and informed the consumer it would cost 3,900 to replace the transmission. Prior to going to the mechanic, the discovered a recall had been issued for her model and year vehicle. The consumer reported the problem to the manufacturer and several days later, she received a message which stated the warranty on her vehicle had expired. The consumers husband contacted Honda and he was informed that since regular transmission maintenance was not performed on the vehicle no assistance would be provided. Updated 03/03/11 updated 04/21/11

- Hope Mills , NC, USA

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