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 7 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #456

Dec 012010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 153,521 miles


2003 Honda Accord ex. Transmission failed at 60mph on I-40 in nashville, tn car bucked and came to stop in traffic. Car was fine, transmission went, hard time getting car off the interstate.

- Pegram, TN, USA

problem #455

May 012010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Accord, manufactured in Canada. I have always had this car serviced in the usa. Beyond my transmission issues and other issues, I have not been able to deal with Honda ca or Honda usa. My spouse was driving to work in May 2010 when the car down shifted greatly, locking it into 2nd gear. Thankfully he was not on the highway. I had it towed to our Honda dealership to diagnose the issue. Indeed the transmission was out and I would need a new one. I took it to a local, less expensive repair shop to have it diagnosed and repaired. It was a shock that my car needed a new transmission! neither Honda would help me with a "good will" discount so I was out $2000. The dealership wanted $3500 for a new transmission. It seems like many owners of this year/make/model have had this problem, which is unfortunate and saddening. At repair, my car had approximately 90K miles on it.

- Scottsdale, AZ, USA

problem #454

Nov 152010


  • 117,000 miles
I was driving to work when the gears where shifting down or not shifting at all. Good thing I was only 10 miles from work and coasted to work until I could get it to a local auto shop. Once there, the shop informed me that I need a brand new transmission. We now are in the process of putting in a rebuilt transmission for $4,000. I called Honda to see what they could do and they have refused to help. I want to make sure that others are aware of this situation and should have a recall. The car is a 2003 Honda Accord V-6 with 117,000. We keep up on all the car maintenance and this should not happen. Unacceptable.

- Lino Lakes, MN, USA

problem #453

Jul 012010


  • 165,000 miles


I own a 2003 Honda Accord that is having constant problems shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear (automatic transmission). This has caused me numerous issues merging onto the highway because the vehicle fails to accelerate. I have nearly caused accidents and have had to make emergency stops on the side to try to work through this issue and get the vehicle to shift and accelerate. The shift from 2nd to 3rd fails almost every time.

- New Castle, IN, USA

problem #452

Nov 142010


  • 144,000 miles
While in top gear the transmission would suddenly shift out of gear causing a jolt. Within 20 minutes of this happening for the first time the car would no longer shift into top gear but I was able to get home in lower gear. The car has been owned by my parents and myself since it's purchase, it has never been driven in a radical manner and it has been serviced at a Honda dealership following the extreme maintenance schedule. The transmission is to be changed and the PCM also. The car has 144000km. I have seen that in the us Honda is covering the transmission in these years for up to 160000km as a result of a class action suit. Honda Canada unfortunately has no such coverage and the deal they are offering me is 2800$+ tax for the repairs instead of the 7000$ they claim it should be costing me. Independent transmission company's have given me prices of 2500$ and 2800$. it makes em feel that they give me an extreme price so that they can give me a "rebate" which works out to not being a deal at all. I'm very disappointed that Honda is not standing behind their product and that their product is no where near the quality that gave Honda the reputation it earned in the 90S.

- Saint-Eustache, 00, USA

problem #451

Nov 162010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 112,000 miles
On November 16, I was driving with my wife on the interstate at about 75 mph. Suddenly, the tires locked and squealed enough that I could smell the rubber. Both of our seatbelts locked out because of the deceleration. About 1/2 second later, the car continued normally and we slowed to 55 mph. We proceeded to the nearest exit and experienced another sudden deceleration that was not as severe as the initial one. We pulled into the nearest parking lot and I got out of the car to check the brakes. They appeared normal. When I shifted the transmission from park to drive, the entire car shook with a pronounced "clunk." When I shifted the car back to P and returned it to D, it shook the entire car again. The car drove normally around the lot, so we started driving to the dealership. The car would not shift past second gear once we got on the road. We pulled into a parking lot and had the car towed the remaining distance to the dealership. Maintenance has been performed according to the owner's manual service schedule. My research found hundreds of similar issues with 2003 Accord transmissions. The local dealership said they had never seen this issue before. The dealership will charge over $4400 to replace the transmission. Other websites suggested contacting corporate Honda directly to request "goodwill" financial assistance. I recalled the details to the representative who would not offer assistance because it was outside of warranty. The representative also stated they had not heard of this happening to any of their 2003 Accord, which is highly suspicious given the 100S of complaints that I found.

- Clarksville, TN, USA

problem #450

Mar 132007


  • 87,000 miles


2003 Honda Accord transmission failure. Slips out of gear, 1,2, gears. Will do this on a turn, or hitting a bump in the road.

- Dayton, OH, USA

problem #449

Nov 152010


  • 96,500 miles
Driving home a couple hours ago the transmission violently downshifted to first gear when I was accelerating on the parkway doing about 65mph. Threw me violently forward thank god I wear my seat belt or else I probably would have went through the windshield. Would not shift up out of first gear after the initial downshift. Pulled over and restarted my car. Continued about ten minutes really slowly in the right lane until I got off at my exit. I steadily began to brake coming to a red light and all of a sudden it downshifted to a halt making the person behind my slam on their brakes and come to a screeching stop. Continued to drive down the 25mph residential road leading to my house at 20mph because any more acceleration shot the rpms up to redline. When I got to my house I also realized that when I put the car in reverse, the reverse gear does not activate and instead the car just revs as if it is in neutral when giving it gas. This is ridiculous and a serious safety issue to say the least. Since purchasing this car I have always babied it and had the scheduled maintenance performed. There are hundreds of issues like mine and it is known by Honda that these transmissions are a problem. They should stand by their reputation and fix or replace the transmissions free of charge.

- Old Bridge, NJ, USA

problem #448

Nov 082010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 98,563 miles
Pulling onto a major highway and the acceleration stopped as if the car was in neutral. No prior warning or engine light. Almost was rear ended by a truck going atleast 55 mph. Car had to be towed to princeton Honda where I originally purchased the car. Since the car had 98,563 it was out of warranty despite the gear 2 recall in 2004. Princeton Honda quoted $4200 for a rebuilt transmission and America Honda would offer 25% as a good faith discount bring the price to $3,600. The car was worth $7,200 on kelleys blue book as a trade and Honda princeton who sold be the car was only willing to offer $4,000 as a trade if I bought a car off the lot. I had few options and settled at a trade value of $5,000. So much for Honda's having a great resale value!

- Langhorne, PA, USA

problem #447

Nov 072010


  • 122,000 miles
My car started making a grinding noise when im going into second gear and then finally on Sunday 10-7-2010 I was driving on the freeway and almost got hit by an 18 wheeler because my car would not accelerate and my brakes wouldn't stop the car. I was right by an exit so I coasted off and thank god there was not a car in front of me. My car was towed from a gas station through my emergency road side assistance and delivered to the local Honda dealer in ridgeland, Ms. I was on my way from la to tn from an army training. The dealer called me the next morning to let me know that my transmission was heating up so bad that it was spitting out the fluid and that's was another reason my brakes locked up because of the hot transmission fluid got into my brake pads. I will have to replace the entire transmission, the dealer quoted me a price of $3880 to repair my car and $300 to replace the brakes. I could have been in a serious life threatening accident and almost was because of the transmission failure. I was also traveling with my 7 and 8 year old daughters. I think that Honda should recall the transmission for the 2003 Accord ex or at least pay to have the transmission replaced.

- Clarksville, TN, USA

problem #446

Sep 052010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 87,556 miles


My 2003 Honda Accord 6 cylinder auto transmission is slipping. When the car heats up and I try to will not shift into gear.

- North Versailles, PA, USA

problem #445

Oct 242010


  • 99,787 miles
2003 Honda Accord with approximately 99878 miles was traveling South on the bronx river parkway in westchester @ approximately 45mph, when the car started violently shaking and knocking from the rear, the car began swerving and almost hit another vehicle, I safely pulled off the road and then couldn't reverse the vehicle. Then shifting gears the car would violently go into gear. There are many logged problems with the Honda Accord transmission and as these vehicles get North in mileage they are gonna cause a serious accident. I pray someone looks into this problem before a fatality or serious injury happens because Honda does not to issue a proper factory recall. This incident happened on a narrow highway @ over 40 mph, speed whereas serious injury can occur ! the defective Honda transmission is a safety issue.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #444

Sep 132010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Honda Accord. Consumer states problems with vehicle transmission the consumer stated the transmission intermittently malfunctioned as it shifted up and or down through second gear. The transmission would slip and not engage into the next gear. Power to the wheels would be lost and the engine would rev up to about 5500 RPM. Also, when driving at low speeds, an abrupt shift would sometimes occur when applying slight acceleration/deceleration. In general, shifts in lower gear sometimes did not seem to be as smooth as normal, either taking too long to move from one gear to the next or sometimes shifting abruptly. The consumer stated a recall was issued regarding the transmission. Repairs were made on October 5, 2004, but it appeared the repairs did not permanently resolve the defect. The consumer stated only an oil jet kit was installed as a temporary fix. The second gear of the transmission has since failed. Honda refused to replace the transmission. They stated the vehicle was out of warranty. Updated 12/13/10

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #443

Nov 022010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 81,000 miles
(1) Honda Accord 2003 automatic transmission fails to shift, slips down to lower gear causing car to slow suddenly. (2) reported transmission issues at 60K miles to Honda, asked to pay for repeat flushes etc. Discovered this is a known issue. Took car to dealer 5 days ago (for 3rd time) for diagnosis. Honda reported no transmission issue. 40 miles later (yesterday) car slipped repeatedly down to 2nd causing RPM to spike to 5000 and engine braking to kick in. Was in middle of busy intersection with car that would not engage in gear and accelerate out of path of oncoming traffic. Nearly hit multiple times - by cars traveling 40+mph. Extremely disgusted. Honda knows this is an issue - why no recall? being stalled in traffic or stranded at the side of the road is a safety issue - especially for women. Dealer acknowledged today that car needs a new transmission - after telling me 40 miles ago that the transmission was fine. (3) raised case with american Honda and am now awaiting outcome.

- Waban, MA, USA

problem #442

May 172009


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated when the vehicle was shifted into a lower gear, she noticed that the vehicle made a noise and vibrated. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the dealer told her that the vehicle had previously been repaired according to recall 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission). The vehicle had not been repaired again. The manufacturer had not been notified. The current mileage was approximately 230,000. The failure mileage was approximately 150,000.

- Forest, MS, USA

problem #441

Oct 022010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,900 miles
Owner of a 2003 Honda Accord ex V6, automatic transmission. At 65,000 miles had to replace the transmission because it was downshifting violently. The problem only occurred when the car was hot (driving more than 30-40 minutes); I experienced the problem 3 times. It felt like slamming on brakes and I was afraid that I would get rear-ended since the problem seemed to occur on major highways after traveling at higher speeds. I did not wait long to get it diagnosed & fixed because this was obviously an accident waiting to happen. I did some research & found a website where several people have experienced the same issue ( I initially took my car to kuhn Honda in tampa to get it checked out - they said it needed a transmission ($3700). They acted like they had never heard of these cars having this type of issue which conflicts with all of the info which is out there on the web. I got the same story at brandon Honda. The brandon Honda rep stated that he had never heard of the issue & seemed surprised that it occurred when the car only had 65K miles on it. The place where I got it fixed told me about a potential safety recall for this exact same transmission problem. As for the Honda dealerships - they appear to be shameless liars who are ignoring a big-time safety issue. If the car can down shift to the point where you go from 35 to 60 mph to about 20 or 25 mph you risk causing a major accident. I hope that the people who have been taken advantage of have some recourse to get just compensation/reimbursement for this major safety issue. These cars are not safe to drive after this transmission problem manifests itself. You will be gambling with your life (and that of others) if you drive the car with this problem.

- Riverview, FL, USA

problem #440

Oct 282010


  • 133,000 miles
While traveling on highway 95 at 70 mph, transmission suddenly downshifted like putting on the brakes throwing passenger forward in the seat but not activating the seat belt restraint. Transmission then shifted normally for another 20 miles when the same incident occurred again. This time at 50 mph as I had slowed and moved to inner lane because of previous incident. Car currently at Honda garage where I am told I need a new transmission.

- Locust Grove, VA, USA

problem #439

Nov 232009


  • 85,000 miles
My transmission failed after I attempted to put my car in park. I filed a complaint last year with BBB and was rejected. Now I am notified by Honda about a recall that has a direct relationship to my failed transmission a safety recall has been issued regarding this exact possibility that happened to me.

- Worcester, MA, USA

problem #438

Oct 182010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 transmission failure. Driving on freeway off of exit gaining speed, suddenly car will not shift into 3rd gear or accelerate. Engine revs but drops to only maintain 20mph. Cars behind me have to break and swerve around me. The car was a hazard trying to negotiate on freeway, was unsafe on any road. Honda had 2004 recall for small part on this transmission but is unwilling to help with financial assistance although this is a very common problem. The complaints are numerous as is documented so far. Dealership is asking $4800 to replace and states they are replacing 2003 transmissions at least once a month with varying mileage.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #437

Oct 202010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
Transmission failed while driving, almost causing an accident.

- Fort Mcmurray / Alberta / Can, 00, USA

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