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 9 of 29)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #416

Sep 242010


  • 120,100 miles


The week prior to my transmissions totally failing I begin to notice how rough it was changing from 1st to 2nd gear. The car begins to hesitate before it changed gears as if it was slipping, I couldn't accept the possibility. It was a 2003 Honda (suppose to be a reliable vehicle). Today I was on the expressway taking my youngest son to school and the car jerked violently which frightened me extremely but I managed to pull it together and take my foot off the accelerator and cut on my hazard lights. Drove the car at a very low speed safely off the highway and dropped my son off at daycare. I put the car in low gear and changed gears manually and drove it to aamco. After diagnostic I was told it was my transmissions and it would cost $2800 - $3200 to repair. I just knew it was a sensor or computer issue never in a million years I thought or believed it was my transmission. Previously owning two other older model Honda's before and providing proper maintenance to those vehicles as well as this one. Having driven both over 200,000 and never needing a major repair like a transmissions leads me to believe this was a defective transmission. My beliefs lead to doing a little research to see if Honda already had a recall. To my disbelief there were hundreds of complaints from people having the same experience and their vehicle having even less miles. The series of events are too common for this to be a coincidence. My vehicle will be towed to a Honda dealer in the morning. I will be submitting a complaint with them as well. Please do the right thing and investigate the issue. Hard working people don¿T deserve to bite the expense of repairing something that's clearly a manufacturing issue.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #415

Sep 152010


  • 152,650 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated that the vehicle would not shift out of second gear. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealership to have the repair for recall 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission) performed but the dealer stated that they could not inspect it but they could replace it at the contacts expense. The vehicle was taken to a transmission center where the contact was informed that one of the gears were missing which caused the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The contact called the manufacturer who told him to take the vehicle to the dealership to have the transmission replaced. The current and failure mileages were 152,650.

- Columbus, MS, USA

problem #414

Sep 172010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 40,200 miles
I¿M the original owner of a 2003 Honda Accord LX V6. Since owning the Accord, I have followed the owner's manual and always take my car to the dealer for oil change and routine maintenance due to the suggestion of the service department. After my extended warranty expired last year, I experienced some problems when I was driving. The car would jerk suddenly while cruising normally. I brought it to my local Honda dealer and they told me there was a problem with the car's transmission and that it would have to be replaced for $4000. I have done some research and found that this isn't just a rare problem. In fact, there are hundreds, if not more, people who have transmission problems with their 2003 Honda Accord. Only more than 40,000 miles and less than 10 years, the transmission went bad even when the car was kept in very good condition and maintained accordingly. Now the transmission is currently being rebuilt.

- Cerritos, CA, USA

problem #413

Jul 132010


  • 115,010 miles


¿took 2003 Accord ex to South bay Honda in milpitas on Feb 24, 2010 for applicable recall service¿ 1.they performed recall 08-043 wiper motor inoperable. 2.up shift flaring in second and third gear diagnosed 'said transmission. Recall already performed by anderson Honda 3.problem ¿traced to internal transmission concerns.¿ 4.fluid level ok, but leak noted 5.recommended transmission replace $3,596 6. escalated to mgr who declined to fix ¿contacted Honda America same day explained situation to rep. In recall dept 1.said recall already performed-transmission; transferred to post-warranty svc dept. 2.rep. In that dept said anderson Honda did recall and added ¿jet kit¿ on Sept 28, 2004 at 20,491 miles, (far exceeding recommended period by Honda w/O removing second gear and inspecting and rebuilding transmission if gear damaged) 3.asked whether they took pictures of gear and could provide records of that service¿ rep told me ¿that's internal information. We don¿T give out that information.¿ 4.rep. Said that the problem with transmission. Was not gear lock, was flaring ¿ not covered by recall 5.rep said to follow up quickly ¿ did so but no response. ¿car drove ok, so continued to drive while waiting for response. ¿July 13, 2010 at approx.9:45am while in route to business meeting - car locked in gear on freeway, loud clunk, tires chirped a tad, and car downshifted to lower gear¿ ea ¿drove car slowly in 2nd gear position to dealership on freeway with hazards¿ nearest dealership in fairfield, ca ¿ steve hopkins Honda 'service advisor said definitely transmission. He said ¿I got it to lock up on me here in the lot¿. advised Honda rebuilt transmission repair w/warranty costs $3,750¿ I explained situation in greater detail¿ said he would contact Honda ¿american Honda regional manager refused ¿any and all assistance¿ with the repair. ¿paid over $4,400 in all for repairs at Honda dealership.

- Fremont, CA, USA

problem #412

Sep 022010


  • 106,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. While traveling 40 mph the contact noticed that the vehicle would no longer accelerate. The vehicle was not diagnosed and there were no prior warnings. The contact called the dealership and was informed that recall 04V176000 power train: Automatic transmission did not apply to her VIN. The current and failure mileages were 106000.

- Hayward, CA, USA

problem #411

Aug 012010

Accord 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex-V6, 76,000 miles: Automatic transmission slips, causing violent downshifts, erratic shifting, and an undriveable condition. Condition occurs after car is driven for at least 20 minutes. Non-Honda shops have replaced fluids, sensors, but to no avail. Honda dealer had previously installed a jet kit in 2008, and their eval today says the entire transmission must be replaced at a cost in excess of $3,200.

- Chula Vista, CA, USA

problem #410

Sep 132010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 111,000 miles


My 2003 Honda Accord V6 was dealer kept from initial purchase till today. Recently as of 9/13/2010 my transmission was slipping. The mileage on my car is 111,000. The Honda dealer after investigating has quoted me approximately $4,640 for a transmission replacement. I am out of warranty period according to Honda americas in ca and therefore nothing can be done.

- Reston, VA, USA

problem #409

Sep 122010


  • 107,000 miles
Transmission has gone out twice in a year. The torque converter keeps failing. The more research I have done has brought to light the consistency of this problem across the country. Both times I was on the freeway and my car began shifting erratically and almost caused me to be rear ended by semis. How this is not a safety concern is beyond me. Luckily my goddaughters were not in the car to be injured. Luckily I was able to swerve away from danger and "safely" pull off to the side of the road. Somebody needs to do something about this, and soon. Below is the date for the second incident. The first occurred last July 2009.

- Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #408

Jun 062010


  • 112,000 miles
On numerous occasions the engine's rpms increase but the transmission does not engage. Have taken the vehicle to dealer, each time the tech's are not able to duplicate the problem. On occasions I have come very close to causing an accident on the highway as the vehicle is not able to accelerate to the prevailing speed of the other vehicles. I'm concerned for my and other people's safety.

- Downey, CA, USA

problem #407

Sep 052010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
2003 Honda Accord LX 3.0 V6 transmission failure, transmission fluid burned, locked up causing inability to stop almost resulting in an accident 80,000 miles. Very high cost of repair estimated at 50% of blue book used vehicle price. High number of complaints about this problem are being filed all over the web and a recall should be issued with customers being reimbursed for repairs.

- Fairfield, OH, USA

problem #406

Sep 042010


  • 164,500 miles


Vehicle suddenly jerks as though you're hitting the brakes and then accelerates, then the transmission seems to fail. Incident occurred as I was driving at 50 mph. Sudden jerking of the vehicle as if I had slammed on the brakes and then accelerated as if I had slammed on the accelerator. Then back to the jerking sensation until I was able to pull to the curb and come to a complete stop. I strongly believe I would have caused a severe accident with major injuries if another vehicle had been directly behind me.

- Vacaville, CA, USA

problem #405

Jul 202010


  • 113,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord. The contact stated while driving at 50 mph up an incline in rainy weather, the vehicle was hesitant to accelerate. In addition, the vehicle would shift gears abruptly and abnormally hard. The contact had a tune-up performed at a local repair facility but to no avail. The dealer was unable to duplicate the failure and advised the vehicle was safe to drive. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure became progressively worse over time. Whenever the accelerator was depressed, there was a lengthy hesitation before the vehicle would engage from 40-60 mph. The contact was able to locate a recall for her year, make and model (NHTSA campaign id number: 04V176000: Power train:automatic transmission) the dealer advised her VIN was not included. The VIN was unknown. The vehicle was never repaired. The failure and current mileages were 113,000.

- Fort Worth , TX, USA

problem #404

May 122010


  • 49,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Accord transmission slips between second and third gears. First noticed getting on freeway in bad traffic. If I had kept foot on gas it could have caused wreak with high speed traffic on busy freeway. I took foot off gas for a split second and it shifted. Avoiding high speed areas I was able to shift by backing off the gas between second and third. Took 2003 Honda Accord to dealer and was told it was a transmission failure and needed new transmission.

- Titusville, FL, USA

problem #403

Sep 052003


  • 2 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Accord ex. While the contact was driving approximately 55 mph, the vehicle began to shake with an intense vibration. The "check engine" warning light illuminated. The warning indicator remained illuminated until the engine was turned off. The failure recurred on two separate occasions. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and the technician informed that the transmission would need to be replaced. Also, he reset the transmission code. The contact stated that the transmission had been previously replaced twice. The failure mileage was 2.

- Spring City, PA, USA

problem #402

Aug 252010


  • 134,000 miles
1. after driving 20+ miles on the highway, the car began "bucking" violently. I took my foot off the gas pedal, but the bucking continued. Then it subsided. As I was coasting (neither gas nor brake pedal was pressed), it began bucking again, with some tire squeals that felt like the car was braking hard. 2. after letting the car sit overnight (engine off), I drove it again down the highway 20+ miles where the same thing happened. It seemed as though it was stuck in 3rd gear. As I approached faster speeds, the car did not change gears, and the rpms continued to climb to 4-5-6-7000. It seemed as though if it tried to change into 4th gear, that may trigger the violent bucking, but whether or not it would change into 4th gear was random (no rthym to it). The light on the dashboard next to the "D" started blinking, along with the check engine light, and traction control light. I am lucky that no one was following close to me on the highway because it could have caused harm to another driver and it's passengers, as well as me. 3. transmission replacement corrected the problem.

- Desoto, TX, USA

problem #401

Aug 262010


  • 69,682 miles
I would like you to consider the possibility of convincing Honda to recall their 2003 Accord due to the fact that when their transmission decides to fail, it violently forces the gear into first. I was delivering pizza in 2003 Honda Accord with little over 70,000 miles on it when my transmission failed and force me into first gear. I was on a 50 mph highway and instantly lost traction. I was able to countersteer and regain control. I believe if I was on one of the 60 or 70 mph highways that I frequently deliver on, I would have not been successful in regaining control due to the fact that the downshift is so rapid and without warning. I have paid 2 thousand dollars for an extended warranty when I bought the car and now the dealership is trying to weasel their way out of their responsibilities. Honda needs to take responsibility for this car just like the other Accord they have recalled. A company shouldn't ignore this life threatening problem for the sake of money. It's just a matter of time before someone's physical life is taken instead of just their money.

- Wichita Falls, TX, USA

problem #400

Jun 152010


  • 78,519 miles
Purchased the car about 7 months prior to the transmission failure. Did notice that shifting was kind of rough but did not think much of it. One day driving up a hill while on the throttle the car was revving but the car was going back down the hill. This problem happened again and again throughout the day then finally the reverse gear and 3rd gear gave out. Honda says that the problem will cost $3600+ to replace the transmission. They said that they are willing to pay $1000 to fix so I would be responsible for $2600 which is still ridiculous. I will never purchase a Honda again. There should have been a recall on this vehicle looking at the amount of complaints.

- Hoover, AL, USA

problem #399

Aug 122010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 94,380 miles
2003 Honda Accord exl V6. Car driven by original adult owners since bought new. Car was regularly maintained, and generally garage kept. At 94,300 miles, started to shift hard from 2nd gear to third, then into 4th. This hard shifting was not dependent upon weather or temperature condition. On the day of the transmission failure, car was driven in town to run a nearby errand. Was driving in moderate traffic when car started to rev up to 6-7000 rpms before shifting into next gear. Whenthe transmission would finally shift, it did so with an audible thump. Then parked car, did errand, returned to car. It started right back up, shifted into reverse and then into drive without issue. Once driving back from errand, car was noticeably loud when shifting from 2nd into third. Eventually came to a stop light. When I tried to accelerate to leave the stoplight, the transmission completely failed, and car was towed for repair. We feel fortunate that our young son was not in the car at the time of the transmission failure, nor was my husband on the tollroad. We feel lucky to have found a local, reputable transmission shop that rebuilt the transmission and replaced the torque converter for $1500. This seems to have been a terrific price on a repair I would never have imagined needing to do prior to 100,000 miles. So much for Honda's reputation for quality and long-lasting reliability.

- Oswego, IL, USA

problem #398

Jul 292010

Accord 6-cyl

  • 61,800 miles
2003 Honda Accord ex V-6 had failed transmission after only 61,000 miles, suddenly shifting into 2nd gear while going approximately 45 mph. Each time this happened, the car would jerk violently, throwing my head forward and slowing the car drastically, as if the brakes had been slammed. This would happen suddenly, with no warning and could have caused an accident, with me being rear ended. I was fortunate that didn't happen. This is too soon for a transmission to go out, which cost me $4,000. This is not the typical quality that I've come to expect from a Honda vehicle, and am very unhappy to have had to spend this kind of money on what I consider a premature transmission failure.

- Winder, GA, USA

problem #397

May 012010


  • 93,000 miles
My Honda Accord 03 transmission is slipping gear and it happens very often. When I am at a stop light and start driving the transmission revs up and do not shift gears for about 5 min. I had to pull over and wait for a bit and then start driving again and eventually it will shift to the 2nd gear and then drive properly. It has happened pretty often and has happened on a rainy day and I thought I was going to get into an accident.

- Port Arthur, TX, USA

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