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 6 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #476

Jan 212011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 87,504 miles


We were traveling, approx 2 hr dr. Noticed very little revving up but would kick into gear, maybe an hour into the drive, transmission started slipping causing a hard stop and go motion. Had to manually shift vehicle until the vehicle would not shift anymore. Engine revved up to 6 & 7 and would slow down then speed up on its own. Vehicle would not shift and would not reverse. Let the car rest for about an hour and it would be fine for about 5 mins then start up again. Had to tow the vehicle to the dealer where they said the recall was fixed and I may have to purchase new transmission.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #475

Feb 082007

Accord 6-cyl

  • 66,513 miles
The transmission on my 2003 Honda Accord failed at 66513 miles. I've replaced it and the replacement transmission in now failing at 118000, miles.

- La Canada, CA, USA

problem #474

Dec 202010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 130,400 miles
2003 Honda Accord recalled in 2004 to install oil cooling line in transmission due to overheating issue. Transmission has never shifted smoothly. Transmission started shifting very rough from second to third gear with a loud noise and shutter. After it was warmed up it would slip. Within a week it failed completely. Fluid was black and smelled burnt. Mileage was 130400. Honda dealer replaced transmission for $4500. I was not able to get any goodwill help with the cost from the dealer or Honda customer service.

- Oswego, IL, USA

problem #473

Dec 012010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 104,000 miles


I have a 2003 V6 Honda Accord that has reached 100K that has a completely failed transmission. While driving down the freeway to work my car violently down shifted in which I almost lost control. I immediately pulled over and checked to see if my car could switch between all the gears. When I felt confident I continued my trip. The car seemed to drive fine to my destination so again I felt comfortable to drive it home. I decided to take side streets home and good thing I did. My car again after traveling around 40 mph violently dropped to first gear. The car shook so violently that my sunglasses flew off. Again I pulled over and double checked switching between gears. I then proceeded to head home in which I traveled carefully at very a low speed in which now my car just sits. I understand failure happens but a car should not fail after only 100K miles. I had an extended warranty on the car in which it was regularly maintenance, unfortunately my warranty recently expired. In 2004 there was a transmission recall for my cars model that was to correct a possible failure of the part. Although this was supposedly corrected, there was still a failure of the transmission. I then brought my car to a local Honda dealership that has many times performed service maintenance on my vehicle for diagnosis. They then proceed to tell me that I need to replace my transmission for a cost of $4500. I was outraged that I would need to pay the amount for an obvious faulty part and I let them know that. I was then told that, "well, how long do you think a transmission is supposed to last?", which further enraged me. My college car of another make made it to 250K miles, and probably even more, until it was donated to charity. Now I'm currently dealing with Honda in hopes to resolve this matter. I'm hoping that they are willing to take accountability for their faulty transmission and salvage any respect and confidence that me and my family have for Honda vehicles.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #472

Dec 092010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex appears to down shift randomly while driving. Causes severe jerking of car. Sometimes is unable to shift gears. Very unsafe to drive. Local dealer says that it is the transmission and that the cost to fix it would be around $4,000. Problem appears to be common with this year and model. Honda non-compliant in fixing the issue.

- Henderson, NV, USA

problem #471

Jan 102011


  • 97,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While driving approximately 30 mph the transmission failed and the vehicle shifted out of gear; when the rpms increased it shifted back into gear. The failure continued to occur. The vehicle was driven to an authorized dealer. The dealer advised him that the vehicle needed a new transmission. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The failure and current mileages were 97,000.

- Mechanicsburg , PA, USA

problem #470

Jan 102011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles


While driving my 03 Accord exv6 the transmission slips and will not go into gear. I was merging onto the highway today and the car went to 6000 RPM before going into gear. I am looking into getting the transmission repaired or replaced with a remanufactured one. I brought the car in for the 04 recall on 12.14.04 after waiting 10 weeks for an appt. It was then modified with lube pipe kit. The transmission has never been right from the beginning it has always slipped. I see there are many many complaints about this. Why isn't there a recall or any recourse from Honda? this car was 1 day short of being a lemon. I sent repair documentation to Honda hq in ca previously.

- Little Ferry, NJ, USA

problem #469

Jan 082011

Accord 6-cyl

  • 97,067 miles
The last week of December 2010, around 96,930 miles, the automatic transmission on my 2003 Honda Accord V6 began to have problems shifting from second gear to third gear when in D4, reluctantly sliding into gear between second and third; I would have to back off on the throttle for the transmission to complete the shift. I also tried driving around town with the automatic transmission in D3 to see if that would overcome the sliding and hard shifting; it did not. The automatic transmission also began to have a noticeable hard downshift when hot, creating a pattern of very surprising hard downshifting that got worse very quickly. One time, when I was slowing down from 45 mph for a stop light, it downshifted so hard I inadvertently knocked it into neutral with my right arm. The unpredictability and severity of the hard downshifting caused me to immediately park the car. When hot, there are times when the transmission will now not shift above second gear and only reluctantly goes into reverse. This change occurred over the course of several days for a total of 67 miles traveled. When the transmission is cold it shifted normally on the way to the way to the facility that works on my Honda: They were able to duplicate the erratic and hard downshifting when reaching operating temperature. The automatic transmission failed at 97,067 miles; the car was purchased new in August of 2003. The automatic transmission unit is being replaced with a rebuilt automatic transmission unit as I am told there are no new units being manufactured (per Honda). On the failed unit I had the Honda 2nd gear oil jet recall performed on the transmission in September 2004; transmission drain and flush at 42,000 and 95,000 miles; and transmission drain and refill at 60,000 miles. I had driven 8200 miles in October 2010 (fairfax, va. To seattle, wa, and back) without a problem. I have observed the manufacturers required maintenance schedules.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #468

Jan 072011


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that while driving approximately 35 mph the transmission had failed by her trying to accelerate and it had hesitated. She had to shut the vehicle down and restart again in order to get the vehicle moving. The vehicle stalled on the contact about 4 different times upon leaving her location. The vehicle was inspected by a independent mechanic who informed the contact that there was a transmission failure and for her to call Honda. The manufacturer was contacted and they informed her that the vehicle was repaired for recall NHTSA campaign id number (04V176000- power train:automatic transmission) prior to her purchasing the vehicle. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 90,000.

- Barnegat, NJ, USA

problem #467

Jan 052011


  • 160,000 miles
Transmission started to slip out of gear @ 66K miles in '06. Car was being leased and still under lease, took to dealer and they replaced transmission free of charge under "good faith". just today the replacement transmission is starting to slip out of gear while driving. Car now has 160K miles. There is obviously a problem with this year transmission as I have had two now and am having issues w/ the replacement.

- Temecula, CA, USA

problem #466

Dec 222010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 94,335 miles


In 2006, owner requested dealer to replace transmission as part of manufacturer recall. Dealer opted to inspect the affected gear and install oil jet kit in lieu of transmission replacement. In 2010, transmission failed unexpectedly and without warning while driver was operating the vehicle on highway at highway speed. Transmission locked into 1st gear and would not up-shift, creating an immediate threat to life-safety due to inability to maintain highway speed. Danger was especially severe due to lack of shoulder on roadway, limited sight distance, and time of day (night time). High likelihood of serious injury and/or death to vehicle occupant and/or other drivers. Entire transmission must be replaced to correct problem.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #465

Nov 152010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6, transmission failure. Transmission fails to shift into gear leaving driver with no power.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #464

Nov 222010


  • 56,000 miles
Transmission begin slipping between 2nd and 3rd under hard acceleration, as is typical for this year Accord, indicating eminent tranny failure. Took the car to Honda dealership and asked for a goodwill repair after hearing the cost of transmission replacement ($3700). Honda offered to cover 75% of the cost, which I accepted.

- Gainesville, FL, USA

problem #463

Dec 202010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 98,900 miles
Honda Accord 03 transmission failure, I just recently bought an 03 with 97K miles and after about 3K miles (1 month) the gears started slipping. I was visiting family 3 hours away from my home when the car wouldn't go into 2nd gear, or 3rd. This is very frustrating. I was lucky not to have been hit by other vehicles on the highway.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #462

Dec 152003

Accord 6-cyl

  • 98,050 miles
My 2006 Honda Accord coupe V6 has been diagnosed with transmission failure at a Honda dealership in bethesda, md. After picking the car up from tiresplus to get new tires I proceeded to drive home on 395 from alexandria, va to Washington DC. As I approached a traffic light my car began to jerk and down-shift. I attempted to accelerate but the car would just jerk as other drivers swerved around me. I could not drive above 35mph. My car revved to 4000 and 5000 rpms at those low speeds for about 4 miles. The repair bill is estimated at $5200 to install a new transmission. I have not experienced any major, non-maintenance related engine problems with this car prior to this.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #461

Nov 262010


  • 138,300 miles
Transmission started slipping out of gear and/or would not go into gear. It progressively got worse in a matter of couple days. At one point I was on the freeway and it slipped out of gear. It seems to work when the car is just starting. Once the car is warmed up, the real issue begins.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #460

Dec 132010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I have a safety concern with my 2003 Honda Accord ex that was purchased six (6) months ago. I've noticed while driving this vehicle, the automatic transmission gears are locking up, which slows the car to a near stop, without any prior warning. My car slows down as if I, while driving, shifted the car to neutral. When this happens, regardless of how hard I press the accelerator, my vehicle fails to pick up speed until I come to a complete stop, press the brake and proceed to drive the vehicle again at a very slow rate of speed. On three occasions, I have experienced this deceleration, which causes my check engine light to turn on. I had to coast to the shoulder of the road, come to a complete stop, put the car in park, put my emergency lights on and attempt to make it home safely. This is a tremendous safety concern that can easily lead to a rear end collision/accident on the road due to the abrupt slowing down without prior warning. To continue to overlook these complaints and concerns regarding the automatic transmission problems/defects with the 2003 Honda Accord is serious and could possibly lead to death if a solution is not address in a timely manner.

- Jackson, MS, USA

problem #459

Dec 082010


  • 128,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord ex. While driving approximately 60 mph, the transmission suddenly failed when the contact depressed the accelerator pedal. The contact tried to downshift but nothing changed. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer but the vehicle was not inspected. The contact referenced recall 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission) but stated that the repair work was performed in 2005. The contact called the manufacturer who offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 128,000.

- Cedar Rapids, IA, USA

problem #458

Dec 032010


  • 67,500 miles
My complaint pertains to the transmission failure that has occurred 3-December 2010. Purchased new, single owner/driver. This transmission was recalled in 2004 for the 2nd gear of the automatic transmission because it would over heat and possibly explode destroying the transmission. I had the "fix" Honda implemented for this recall done shortly after I received the recall notice. I have had the transmission fluid changed at the Honda dealership only a minimum of every two years as Honda advised me to do pertaining to their maintenance schedule and my driving conditions. I had my transmission fluid changed 2 weeks prior to the transmission failing and it would slip out of 2nd gear going into 3rd gear at a frequency of once per day for three days in a row and then would not happen for a couple days. This issue was resolved by letting of the gas and the car would shift into 3rd successfully. It will fail to accelerate when it shifts from 2nd to 3rd gear. It varies in time when it will re-engage and it has left me in a dangerous situation several times and there is no warning for this failure. It has been reported numerous times and seems to be a common problem of this year and model. Recently I pulled out onto a roadway and began to accelerate, when the transmission failed to engage when shifting into 3rd gear, en route traffic caught up to me and my abrupt failure to accelerate/merge with traffic, caused a near accident of several of those vehicles that were approaching with wet road conditions as to my vehicle that was abruptly stranded and non-mobile. I was nearly rear ended and had no warning that this failure is going to occur. The car that was behind me was able to swerve to the shoulder to avoid striking my car with the front end of their vehicle. I believe this to be a serious safety issue and am very concerned as I have read of hundreds of the exact same issue I have with the same 2003 Honda Accord I own. Honda has a serious problem.

- Vienna, VA, USA

problem #457

Nov 302010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles
My wife bought this car brand new in 2003 and recently experienced a failure of 3rd gear in the automatic transmission. Transmission will not shift into 3rd gear and goes into neutral mode. Will continue on to 4th gear only if you back off the throttle, which slows the vehicle down in the process. This puts the occupants and vehicles behind you at risk of a rear end collision. Problem is the 3rd gear clutch pack in the transmission that is used in the 2003 Honda Accord V-6's. local transmission shop said that this part has been on local backorder from Honda for 9 months and does not know when new parts will be available. Called Honda corporate and they said that there would not be any help since the car is 7 years old/108K miles. Only choice was to use a transmission out of a salvage vehicle, which could lead to another failure since the salvage transmission would also be subject to this failure. This has been a recurring and known issue for 2003 Honda Accord V-6's and it would be nice to see them issue a tsb for this issue and replace the transmission under warranty.

- Spring Hill, KS, USA

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