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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
78,715 miles
Total Complaints:
8 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (4 reports)
  2. complete rebuild of transmission (internal hydraulic leak) (3 reports)
  3. dealer under recall notice inspection with option to replace (1 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments

problem #8

Jun 182003

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,107 miles


With in 30 days of buying my 2003 Honda Accord I got a envelope in the mail from Honda Canada stating premature heat causing gear failure (transmission) I took my car to the dealership they installed a gimmick cooler line to help cool 1 gear? but, I asked if the dealership if would buy back this car (30 days old) I mention to the manager at Penticton Honda this is infuriating , this won't work . I felt it was a Band-Aid on something more serious than they (Honda Canada) was informing me about . Transmission is the one part you do not want to fail ,it will never be rebuilt right. 12 years later I had changed the transmission fluid every 25,000 kms recommended was 50,000 .I'm a car guy I tried to take care of this car the best I knew how in hopes it would pay off in the long run I'm not sure given the severity of this issue in this model year. I don't know how my car lasted this long . 190,000kms things started failing in the transmission first transferring power 3-4 under throttle the shifts seemed sluggish then power transferred abruptly was the first sign of serious trouble ahead for me. After a road trip with this issue, becoming a serious concern for me ,I took this car to a mechanic friend of mine , he pull the transmission plug and began draining transmission fluid the burnt smell and torched color of the transmission fluid was a surprise and extremely upsetting .I phoned the dealership to request when the last transmission fluid change was done (with in 20,000kms) since this service things have gotten so much worse the transmission flutters 1/ 2/ 3 are all problems ,I also notice bizarre shifting patterns short shifting a gear double upshifting , strange abnormal shifting patterns a huge delay shifting from park to drive or reverse all indicators she's going to get very messy. I am so stressed about this I refuse to consider to sell this car privately , and screw someone in to a nightmare 03 accord/ I am so disappointed with Honda because they knew their Band-Aid approach would cover their asses out of the warranty stage they should have offered me a create transmission option - instead they screwed me over with a stupid cooler line ,I mentioned to the manager at the time this is BS Honda treats car guy's like this making me feel stupid for arguing I should've been louder , perhaps legal action now is a after thought Honda Canada are cowards Penticton Honda treated me like this and to think I was going to trade this in tomorrow for a used Honda . After I found this sight I have more information to better base future decisions , I will never buy a Honda again , never speak well about Accord ownership of being screwed over like this . Penticton Honda for not pushing Honda Canada to supply a rebuilt transmission your hung out to dry . If you see a v-6 accord for sale turn and run their not worth nothing , look at the 08 accord's problems (transmission) intervals of very crappy cars being sold to the public , that never should have been. 5 plus years ago I phoned Honda Canada referring to this car as a prototype . Wish this got dealt with now/ when it should've been . Now I got a boat anchor in the driveway . I can't name 1 manufacturer that cares.

- , Penticton, BC, Canada

problem #7

Nov 122014

Accord LX 2.4L V-Tec 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

Total loss, not worth fixing!! Gear slipping 3rd gear, linkage broke off.

- , Boca Raton, FL, US

problem #6

Jan 032012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 156,000 miles

have a 2003 Accord EX V6 with 157,000. Today i was driving home from work on the nj turnpike when out of the blue my acculturate just started revving and the car felt it was pressing on the break. I stopped my car waited a few minuets and started it back up it was driving fine for a few minutes till it started to do the same thing i did this for about 8 to 9 time till i got home. transmission defiantly almost had me killed today for stopping short on the highway.

- , Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #5

Aug 072009

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,400 miles


Last Friday I started my 2003 Accord EX and noticed the engine light stayed on. Next day, I drove to the dealer for a diagnostic. After three hours they told me the oxygen sensor has to be replaced (cost around $400 part & labor) and advised me to replace the transmission because of the excessive wear. They weren't be able to give me an exact quote but said it would be $2,500 or higher! I was shocked! My car has been lightly driven and well maintained in the dealer. It has only 30,400 miles on it! I looked up on internet for information and called the Honda Customer Service. The guy was nice and said Honda America will contact me within 48 hours. They did but the most they can do is knock off $1,000 from a $2,900 replacement. I'm not happy and I won't buy another Honda and I will tell everybody I know not to buy a Honda!

Any idea about a class action Lawsuit?

- , N Bethesda, MD, USA

problem #4

Apr 092009

Accord EX-V6 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,992 miles

This is the first major problem experienced on our Accord - we bought it new in 2003 (was it a mistake?). I noticed the transmission reving as I brake (no matter how fast/slow I'm driving). Apparently there was a recall on some 2003 models (my VIN is not included). I called the dealer/service manager and was told that my VIN has no recall other than the windshield wiper assembly - this is what I had also been told when I inquired with Honda Canada. A mechanic I know said that he suspects premature gear wear and the need for a new transmission/rebuild in the near future. Until then, we are to change the transmission fluid often.

- , Hanmer, Ontario, Canada

problem #3

Apr 132009

Accord EX-V6 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,720 miles

The transmission began to rev upon breaking, even if travelling at low speed. A local mechanic checked it out and suggested the premature gear wear as the transmission fluid revealed such. I contacted our local dealer (where I purchased the car new) and was told there was no recall on my VIN (though it's doing the same thing that those recalled did). VERY FRUSTRATING - Is there any help in Canada?

Update from Jul 29, 2009: Now - to better describe the problem -- the rpm reveal that the transmission is not reving as I'm braking, instead this should be described as loud tire noise --- like a lawn tractor winding down.......

I'm still searching for options.

- , Hanmer, Ontario, Canada

problem #2

Oct 012008

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,500 miles

Honda will not cover cost because warranty was for 6 years or 75,000 miles -- I want to now how to start a lawsuit against the company for their systemic problem that has not been rectified -- this blunder caused by them has cost me 2350.00 dollars for a rebuild.

- , Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #1

Jun 182004

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

The 2003 Honda Accord with V6 engine was recalled for potential (and soon to become a chronic problem) premature failure of the automatic five speed transmission. This is nearly identical to the previous generation Acura TL five speed automatic transmission. Both transmissions have bad premature wear issues, but in the case of the Honda a fix was put in place. The car was recalled in 2004 to have an inspection and an oil cooler installed to cool the transmission gears. Now after 69000 miles the transmission is still going strong although signs of wear are starting to show (late shifts when cold, hesitates on shifting from time to time).

The key question is did Honda really fix the problem or just delay it? Only time will tell. The fix was someone time consuming although it was free. The car was left for a full day for the repair to be made - about 8 hours. This is still better than my last car, which was a 2001 Acura TL - the transmission failed at 60000 miles and was replaced, no fix was developed and it is expected to fail again at 120000 miles (I sold the car).

- , Short Hills, NJ, USA

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