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:
114,099 miles
Total Complaints:
32 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (17 reports)
  2. not sure (15 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #12

Oct 022010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,950 miles


I am the owner of a 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 which I purchased at Carmax in Laurel, MD about 2 years ago. The car had roughly 44K miles on it when I bought it and because I had always had wonderful experiences w/ Honda reliability never saw the need to purchase an extended warranty. Big mistake -- at 65,000 miles I 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); 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 some research today & found a website where several people have experienced the same issue ( I live in FL where the problem manifested & 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 ever which conflicts with all of the info which is out there on the web. I got the same story at Brandon Honda when I inquired after I had the repairs done at a great place called B&B Transmissions. The Brandon Honda rep stated that he had never heard of the issue as well & seemed surprised that it occurred when the car only had 65K miles on it. The people at B&B Transmissions told me about a potential recall brewing and were the 1st to tell me to do research on web & retain all my receipts. They really did a superb job at B&B and saved me about $1000 on the repair (I highly recommend B&B, by the way). Of course, that's still money that I shouldn't have shelled out of my pocket! As for the Honda dealerships - they appear to be shameless liars and I hope that the people who they have taken advantage of have some recourse to get just compensation/reimbursement for this major issue. These cars are NOT SAFE TO DRIVE if this transmission problem manifests itself!

- , Riverview, FL, USA

problem #11

Oct 032010

Accord EXI V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

Honda Accord 2003 EXi V6. The same problem started yesterday while driving on highway, all of a sudden accelerator stopped working at the speed of 65 miles (could turned into possible deadly crash). I took the car to nearest Firestone dealer to find out the issue, they diagnose issue with Transmission. I called up Honda Service desk to see if I can get Goodwill Repair as it is a generic issue which several drivers have faced. But all I was told that the car has 124000 miles on it and cannot cover under goodwill repair. I am afraid of paying 3000$ for my repair. There should be some legal action against this or recall should be issued.

- , Stamford, CT, USA

problem #10

Oct 032010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

I had multiple problems with transmission over the whole summer. First it would just downgear randomly as i would drive on backroads at low speeds. When it get worse and worse till the point i would press the speed padel and it wouldn't accelerate i would have to stop. Thats was so dangerous that i haven't drive a car for a while. Now its doing another thing it has flashing drive light and it would torque once in a while but now its doing it in interstate! Thats so scary i parked it yestedrday and iam not going to take my chances.

- , Waltham, MA, USA

problem #9

Jul 212010

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles


After having my transmission fluid changed my husband and I were driving on the highway the next day. After exiting and traveling at 40 mph the car suddenly down shifted into low gear on a very busy congested road during rush hour. The car jerked violently and had we not had our seat belts on we may have gone through the windshield. Subsequently we had to pull over, have the car towed and transmission replaced.

Why hasn't Honda notified owners of this problem? We have never received a recall notice for this problem. This was a very dangerous situation. In all the years of owning cars we have never had this situation happen and never would have thought it would happen with a Honda.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #8

Jul 082010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,500 miles

I was driving down the highway at approx 50 mph. with my 5 year old and 2 year old in the back. At first it started missing the next gear and then all of a sudden it bucked violently twice and a car almost hit me from behind. I came to a light and pulled into a wawa. Once I was parked it wouldn't even go into reverse. I had it towed to a Honda dealership. They called me a few hours later and said, "We drove it around and it seems fine, no problems that we can tell." I asked why that would happen then and if there was anything else they could do. They said they could check the tramission fluid. They called me back and said the fluid was very dark and would change it. Then 20 minutes later they called me back and said they drove it again and it needs a new transmission which would be $3900. WHATTT!!! How can it be "totally" fine and then needs a $4000 repair? Ridiculous! They should have investigated that first before they called me and said nothing was wrong. Needless to say, we drove it off the lot and went to a garage that deals only with repairing transmissions, that comes with a two year warranty. It cost us $2400.We hope this is the end of it, but we will try to get some money reimbursed through Honda. However, i'm not holding my breath.

- , Reading, PA, USA

problem #7

Mar 072010

Accord EX Coupe V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,216 miles

While driving home from a friend's home my car jerked suddenly forward while driving at low speed. When I got on the highway it sounded like the transmission wouldn't get into third gear. When I got home and tried to back into my parking space I realized that the reverse gear was gone.

- , Jersey City, NJ, USA

problem #6

Jun 012009

Accord 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles


same as previous complaints about rough downshift thrusting forward as if stepping on the brakes. no one knew what the problem was even at the dealer, stating it may have been related to faulty gas if water somehow had gotten in the supply line at the gas station.

- , Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #5

Aug 082009

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

wow! i wish i had looked at this page earlier...even though i doubt it would have helped the problem from happening. i bought my 2003 accord bout a year and a half ago from a family friend who obviously had no clue about these issues or he wouldnt have even sold me the car. my first experience with the transmission problem was when i was exiting the highway my car suddendly jerked like i had slammed on my brakes. i slowly made my way home and took my car into the dealership on monday because this happened on a saturday. they drove the car and could not get it to do what i said it was doing. since then the car has not wanted to shift gears like its supposed to. i now have the car back at the dealershsip because it happened to me again, but this time it would not go over 25 miles per hour and the rpms were goin above 6000. im assuming from all ive read on this page that i will be replacing my transmission which i do not have money to do. this really upsets me considering that i had a 94 accord for 7 years and loved it..which helped me buy the 2003. im hoping that honda will help..we'll find out when they call me tomarrow. i will be calling that lawyer in ny and NHTSA.

- , Medina, OH, USA

problem #4

May 022009

Accord LX 6v

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

The car just stop working while I was driving on high way. My car always have had services in Honda dealer, but it seem that that is not a guaranty of a good work.

- , Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

problem #3

Jul 142009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

I had problems with this car since day one. Few months after I had it, the engine didn't want to turn on. I took it to the dealer and they said nothing was wrong with it (but the car started working again!) ..2 years later the transmission was acting up and I paid $900 in labor to get it fix (I was told they will pay for the parts but I had to pay for the labor) (such nice guys huh? yeah alright!) 6 months later while driving on the freeway the car just went to a complete stop! I got it to turn on again and drove it to a gas station. The transmission somehow messed up the radiator and miraculously, HONDA repaired it for free, transmission and radiator!! 2 years 6 months later the transmission starts jerking, I take it to the dealer and guess what? I have to get the transmission replaced and they want $4000 dollars to get it done? They must think I'm crazy to pay that money and then have to do it all over again in 2 years!!! This is crazy, I will never purchase another HONDA again and I WILL discourage anybody from doing it!!

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #2

May 082009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

I am very disappointed to encounter a severe transmission problem on my 2003 Honda Accord after only 82,000 miles. Since this was a new model year I was sure to get the maximum extended coverage - so I am covered for the repair costs.

However, I am very disappointed to find that Honda will only warranty the replacement transmission for 12 months/ 12,000 miles. This means that the value of my auto investment has been severely impacted. From reading the additional complaints about transmission failures, it seems evident that Honda experienced undetected qualify control/ design issues just prior to introducing this new model Accord.

In the best interest of customer relations I think Honda needs to recognize that there is a transmission quality control issue and provide the appropriate relief to those customers that invested in their product. The warranty for any replacement tranmissions should be at least 3years/36000 miles.

- , Pompano Beach, FL, US

problem #1

Nov 162008

Accord Coupe V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,826 miles

The car jerks violently when you drop down from highway speed after about a half hour or more at speed. Once it's warmed up and then you try to move around at city speed and in start-stop driving you're in for some dangerous gear movements. You get anything from slight bumps and glitches to violent full stops.

Having heard that the local Honda dealer is a pain (by all accounts) we tried the nearest out of town dealer for a quote. Well, that next service manager looked terrified right from the start and was basically ready to do anything at all as long as we left and took it elsewhere. He started by pretending he'd never heard of such a problem, as seems to be the norm for Honda by all accounts, but let's just say that I knew that he knew that I knew that he knew that I knew he was lying his butt off. The quotes he did give were way, way into the thousands of dollars but it was evident he wanted no part of it (and we were ready to pay). Scared to work on or assume responsibility for a Honda product?

So, best I can figure it's not his problem now and he doesn't want it to be. That indicates to me a recurring issue and that means I'll be dealing this mess.

This is how a company kills itself.

- , Owen Sound, ON, Afghanistan

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