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:
97,475 miles
Total Complaints:
498 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace/rebuild transmission (344 reports)
  2. not sure (70 reports)
  3. Honda to pay cost as this transmission was a previous recall (45 reports)
  4. Honda assisted with replacement cost (25 reports)
  5. class action lawsuit (5 reports)
  6. transmission exchange (4 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 10 of 25)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #318

Nov 252010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


Well we bought the car from a personal owner in Texas ( we live in Arkansas). I noticed after about a week of driving it that it seemed to be shifting weird. I told my husband about it but he thought I was just being paranoid (typical woman right? Not) he rarely ever drives it because he has his truck. Well one day him and my 5 year old son decided to take it shopping and as they are driving probably 45 mph on the highway it stops accelerating and just wont go into gear! So we have to have it towed 30 miles back to our house! Then we take it to our local transmission shop and they have to get all the parts from Honda. Honda sent the wrong parts 3 times. So I was out of a car for almost 3 weeks and with two kids in school it was rough! I think Honda should step up and take responsibility!!

- , Gentry, AR, USA

problem #317

Feb 142011

Accord LX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

I was the only owner of my 2003 honda accord LX-v6 with 122,000 miles. after the clear coat of paint came off the car and i took it to MAACO for painting which cost me $1100 in 2010, and the tune up and timing belt and water pump changed in 2010 and all the scheduled maintenance I never thought that at 122,000 mile the transmission would fail on my car. this is my second accord and i was looking to buy a third but now i have serious reservations about buying another honda, a car known as reliable and for its dependability. the first dealer i took it to was Burns honda and they wanted $4000 to repair and replace the transmission. Honda of Turnersville was much more reasonable at $2900. I still think there should be some kind of inquiry into why the transmission failed in the first place and why i should have to fork out all this money with no end in sight. Help i need to talk to someone because one of the best cars on the planet is taking me to the cleaners..

- , Egg Harbor Township, NJ, USA

problem #316

Jan 292011

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 166,000 miles

My 2003 EX V6 transmission failed at around 166K miles. It won't shift in reverse and quite violent on the freeway from 2nd to 3rd but will not shift to 4th or 5th even if the engine rev at 4500 rpm. Found a transmission for $2,369.21 on plus a core deposit of $1,100. It won't be wise to buy a used transmission. I don't know if I can trust a repair shop as they know you have no choice but repair otherwise you can't move the car. So I don't think I have many choice other than finding a mechanic to do the repair and buy myself a tranny. Any advice will be welcome.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #315

Dec 282010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,400 miles


I would like to get a class Action suite against Honda, when I called, they told me my car was brought in and fixed, Spoke to previous Owner, said they LIED!!!! Honda made Junk Trans, and do not want to cover. It is going to cost a fortune to fix, Do not have the money, and have no car to replace!!!! If their is a class action Lawsuite, I want to Sue!!!!


problem #314

Feb 152011

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

transmission failed just like all the other posts with the same symptoms. This is very dangerous especially at highway speeds, somebody is going to die there needs to be a recall

- , Gales Ferry, CT, USA

problem #313

Feb 072011

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Driving in second gear, the transmission slipped as it moved into third. The car had no history of transmission problems. In fact, just three months earlier I had the 50,000 comprehensive service done. After that, the transmission would not engage. I tried adding transmission fluid, but that did not help. I had the car towed to the local Honda dealership, who quoted me $4,125 to replace the transmission. They said it was something internal to the transmission and needed to be completely removed and replaced.

I called other shops in town, which said they have seen this problem a lot with 03 Honda Accords and quoted me $1,800 to rebuild the transmission. I called the dealership back and complained. A car with 55,000 should not be having this type of problem. The dealer then called Honda North America, which said they would split the price of the repair 50/50, at their cost. The final price was $1,733.

The dealer should have talked to Honda NA before quoting me that inflated price. They wanted to see if I would bite. My suggestion to others that have this problem is to complain and demand that they cover at least 50% of the cost. In my mind, this is still an expensive fix to something that should not have happened. Honda should cover the entire cost.

- , Fresno, CA, US

problem #312

Nov 292010

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,175 miles


Without any previous warning, the transmission suddenly failed to shift into high gear after pulling away from a stop. The Check-Engine light came on and the gear position light starting flashing. Then, the transmission started slipping in and out of gear and I barely got it off the road into a parking lot. All of this happened within one mile at the first indication of trouble! Had the car towed to nearest Honda dealership for investigation and repair estimate. Dealer drained transmission fluid and checked for metal shavings. No more than normal metal was found in fluid. Dealer replaced a solenoid (said it caused the check engine light) replaced fluid and test drove. During the test drive the transmission suddenly down-shifted and dealer said the transmission was shot and the fix was a replacement transmission at a cost of about $3700. I told the dealer service manager that I thought Honda should foot this repair bill since the car had only just crossed 62k miles and the transmission had been serviced by the dealer (60k mile service) earlier in the year. Several days later the service manager said Honda would go in with half the cost making my part $1832 and would include a 3 year warranty. Since this was about the same price quoted to me as a rebuild in several local shops and I badly needed the car, I told the service manager to order the new transmission but to contact Honda again and try to get them to help out some more on it. Honda would not do any better than half since I ended up having to pay the $1832 to get my car back in working order.

This has been a very expensive disappointment! This Accord was my first Honda and it was bought largely on the reputation Honda has for reliability and customer service. Since this transmission now has the 3 year warranty, I'm looking at getting shed of it in about 2.9 years and the next car won't be a Honda.

- , Macon, GA, USA

problem #311

Jan 152011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,600 miles

After my transmission failed at 66,000 miles, my dealer quoted my a cost of nearly $4000 to replace the transmission. I told them I was aware that there was a class action law suit about this issue, and that it was the subject of a recall in 2003-2004, which they apparently did not fix, they said they would follow up with Honda to "see what could be done." A few hours later they called back to say that Honda would pay half the cost of the part, for a discount of $1300, leaving me with a cost of nearly $3,000 with tax included.

Not satisfied, I contacted Honda Customer Service, and after waiting a day and a half, was told that this should be expected with a car that was "so old." Who knew that Honda does not expect their cars to last less than 10 years and less than 70,000 miles.

Unfortunately, I will have to fix the vehicle in order to sell it. I am considering legal action against Honda as this is a know issue that they claimed to fix as part of the recall, and clearly did not fix. I will certainly NEVER buy a Honda again, and will advise people of my experience with Honda.

- , Coral Gables, FL, USA

problem #310

Nov 222010

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,500 miles

Honda Corp only wanted to cover a small portion. They at first wanted a complete service record and refused any type of repair or assistance. Same problem with the first gear. Before that I say I have 2 broken power seats and console lights no longer illuminate. Car had a leaking problem within couple months after leaving the show room floor. Honda and some Toyotas made today are implied quality but has it's share of problems. Should have boughten a used 95 - 2001 and fixed it up.

- , Arlington, VA, USA

problem #309

Oct 202010

Accord EX

  • 68,000 miles

tcs light kept coming on....then noticing a slight slip a few times, always after being on the highway. this started pretty early on...about 50,000 mi probably. (The tcs light). took it to Honda, they said nothing wrong, no codes. At about 60,000 miles, a couple of slips...took it to Honda and had the full 60,000 mile workover. They said they change all the fluids and filters. well, while gone out of town to a wedding, the transmission bucks pretty hard a couple of we had been rear ended or something...then slipping badly, then won't go into gear at all. We were in a town that had no Honda dealership....we called the one in a nearby town, and they recommended we call a local transmission guy. we were desperate...and badly needed to get back home for work. so we called a local guy with a sterling reputation, and he sent over a tow truck and had it towed to his shop, and we rented a motel room. then next day rented a car and drove home, and missed a day of work. mechanic calls us a few days later...the transmission is shot, needs a new one!! So we broke out the plastic and told him to go ahead. then had to drive all the way back (6.5 hours) rent another motel room, rent another car, and pay 3600 dollars! We told him about the 60,000 mile maintenance we'd had done, and he said they did NOT change the transmission filter, and he had doubts about the fluid, because it looked bad. He saved the parts for us, and we drove it home. We then went to the Honda dealership where we bought the car, and they seemed to be dumbfounded, and told my husband that they felt sure Honda would reimburse us for the transmission. 2 weeks later he tells us they won't, because we didn't have it fixed at a Honda dealership, and because they just said no! I loved this car, and had always loved sister and her son both bought Honda after we did, cause they loved ours so much. So I feel awful for them and for us. No more Honda's for us! the sad thing was...we had test driven a couple of Hondas earlier, thinking about getting a new one....which of course now we won't...but the sales people called my husband on his way home from the dealership after receiving the bad news, wanting to know if he had decided about buying a new car! He said...uhhhh, no! So not only did we get screwed big time, but also was out a lot of money for car rentals, gas, time lost from work, meals, tow trucks, and motel rooms. The one thing that the mechanic told us, that I haven't seen mentioned any in these posts, is that this transmission has both an internal AND an external filter....and the external filter had NOT been changed. He thought that might have been a contributing factor. we bought this to the dealerships attention, and he pulled up the maintenance schedule, and it doesn't call for changing out that external filter. We pulled our Honda book out, and under fluids and filters, there is NO mention of that filter at all...nowhere! We told him that if we had known that the filter hadn't been changed, then we would have done it ourselves and maybe saved our transmission. But I don't think Honda even knows it exists, or something. Or maybe it wouldn't have made any difference. Either way, we bought a Honda thinking we couldn't go wrong were we?? also at 60,000 miles, the heater on the drivers side quit working...the Honda dealer charged us for fixing it, but it's not fixed. they wanted us to continue bringing it in while they continued to "try" to fix it...charging us every time., don't think so. Funny though....the dealer guy that gave us the bad news about the reimbursement continues to ask us to bring the car in and let them fix the heater...don't think so!! So, so far, the transmission, stereo, heater, and seat heater, have all gone out...and the headlights have a flicker that's been there since 38,000 miles...but dealership can't find the problem with that either. I'm pretty furious right now, and am not finished yet. I am thankful to find this site, and will be calling the lawyer number, reporting it to appropriate place for safety reasons (forgot the name of the gvt site) and calling Honda further up the food chain. If anyone has any advice on how we could get help getting this paid for, please let me know, and if there is anywhere else I should be reporting this, please let me know that as well. thanks for letting me vent. this has been such an awful experience, and I've lost all faith in Honda.

- , Midland, TX, USA

problem #308

Jan 162011

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles



I have a 2003 V6 Honda Accord with 95,000 miles. I have always carefully maintained this car and it has never been abused, it still looks new. The car has always had some quirts with the transmission since the day I bought it in 2005. Some times it would take a second or two for it to go into gear and at other times it would surge forward about an inch when starting it. I talked with the dealer and they said it was nothing to worry about.

Today while driving on a county road at 30 mph the transmission tried to downshift while going up a small hill the engine revved up but the car slowed down (transmission slipping). I let off the gas and the transmission finally engaged and I continued on (of course we were 100 miles from home). The problem increased as we continued home. At first third gear slipped until shifting to fourth but, it was not long until it slipped in every gear every time I tried to accelerate. By the time we arrived home we had two close calls with other drivers almost rear ending us (could feel their road rage as they passed us).

When we got home I thought I would see if I could find any helpful information on the internet that might identify the problem. I was very surprised to learn that there were 1000s of others that had the same issue. How could this be kept such a secret? After all, Toyota had a bad floor mat and the whole world was notified. I have owned this car for 5 years and didn’t have a clue it was not uncommon for the transmission to fail when trying to accelerate. Mohamed with Honda America just told me there was nothing they could do, it was my problem. I considered Honda one of the most reliable and reputable auto manufactures in the world. I am shocked that they are aware they have engineered a car with a major defect and unwilling to correct their mistake.

- , Berea, KY, USA

problem #307

Dec 222010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,332 miles



- , Washington, DC, USA

problem #306

Dec 212010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I drive this car often. At around 119,800 the transmission began to hesitate when shifting from park to drive and began making a noise. I was on a highway road with heavy traffic when the car began to make a high pitched noise followed by loud clanks and the car came to a sudden stop in the middle of the road. After several attempts, the car started and I was able to drive it to a safe place where the car came to a stop. It had to be pushed to a nearby service garage. The diagnosis: transmission failure. It may cost anywhere between $2, 300 and 3, 500. After reading all of the automatic transmission problems with Honda Accord 2003, I am convinced that this is a manufacturing flaw in the automatic transmission. I can't afford to pay to have transmission repaired or replaced. I have lost confidence in Honda and it's responsibility to admit that this is a big problem that they should be made to fix at their expense. Definitely, a class action suit is necessary to get Honda to pay for a problem they have known about for some time and have ignored. I could have been rear ended on the highway or lost control of the car and hit or injured self or other drivers. TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE AND I URGE THE US ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE TO INVESTIGATE THE NUMEROUS COMPLAINTS ON OUR BEHALF AND DEMAND THAT HONDA BE HELD LIABLE FOR ALL COSTS TO REPAIR FAILED TRANSMISSIONS.

- , Berkeley Heights, NJ, USA

problem #305

Nov 262010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,300 miles

I was driving and the car would slip out of gear or would not go into gear. It progressively got worse really quick. At one point the car slipped out of gear while I was on the freeway. Pretty scary feeling when you cannot accelerate when you need to. I took the car to the closest Honda dealership. They said it could possibly cost $3900 when I dropped the car off. My jaw just dropped when I heard that. After they looked at it, they said I would need a full transmission replacement. That's what I assumed after researching the problem. The updated quote was $4,673 with parts and labor. Are you kidding me???? How much is my car worth???? Anyway, I will be looking to get a second and possibly third opinion.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #304

Nov 242010

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,005 miles

Total, unexpected, no warning transmission failure while traveling 75 mph in the left lane, in heavy traffic. Lucky I was not killed. Thanks Honda....My American made Chevy Suburban had 60K more miles when its transmission needed work....oh and I tow a 6,500lb boat with it through the Utah desert. My Accord can’t even haul me to and from work without transmission failure.

- , Salt Lake City, UT, USA

problem #303

Dec 102010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

I bought my 2003 V6 Honda Accord brand new from Freeman Honda Dallas.I have done every recommended maintenance,records of every time I took only to dealership to work on my car. No warning or lights, it just stop in the middle of traffic, transmission went out with only 130,000 miles.

- , Dallas, TX, USA

problem #302

Dec 032010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,500 miles

I purchased my car brand new in January 2003 and after my Accord was recalled in 2004 for the 2nd gear overheating/exploding, I decided I better follow the maintenance schedule closely after the recall was fixed. I have probably had the transmission fluid changed (only at Honda dealerships) more often than necessary. It has been changed no less than once every 2 years as the maintenance book suggests independent from mileage. I had my transmission fluid changed two weeks ago and a couple days later my transmission began slipping. It did not want to shift into 3rd. I would ease of the gas and it would shift properly. This happened about once a day for a week. The problem went away for about 3 days but it did seem to shift more firmly than normal. I left work on Friday afternoon and while pulling out of the parking lot I had 2 HARD jerks when it began shifting. I went to get on the highway and my car would not shift into 3rd gear. I limped home after going 40 mph maximum and contact the dealer where I had the service done. They asked me to bring it in and I was able to make it to the dealership Saturday morning. Diagnosis - transmission has failed. I have an open case with Honda about this and the dealership says that I have all the maintenance records and my mileage is well under 75k. They are having their district manager contact Honda about this also and did provide a free loaner. I am waiting for my Honda case manager to contact me at this point. If Honda does not pay for this repair, I will never be a Honda car owner again. For a transmission to fail this quick, shows that this part is faulty. The 2001 and 2002 Accords have an extended warranty and this should be extended to 2003 with all the transmission failures that have occurred.

Update from Dec 10, 2010: Honda paid 40% leaving me with $2700 to pay on my own. Corporate Honda rep was more than just rude to me. Honda has now lost a customer for life. I will tell as many as I can my experience with hopes to get word of mouth out about the way Honda is now building their vehicles. I think we can all agree that extended warranty on the transmission for 2001 and 2002 Accords and Civics must be extended to the 2003 Accords and all consumers should be refunded for repairs already made. The Honda dealership I dealt with was wonderful and has provided me with a lifetime unlimited mileage warranty on my transmission. They fought as hard as they were able to get the costs covered but corporate Honda will not take the responsibility. I have contacted my lawyer and hope to recover my lost funds in the future.

- , Vienna, VA, USA

problem #301

Nov 152010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

My car only has 71,000 miles on it and the transmission is trashed. This is absolutely ridiculous for the amount of miles and excellent care this car has received. I have patiently been waiting for the case manager at Honda to call me back in response to my inquiry for help with this situation. I was totally loyal to Honda and my entire family owns them but this just may make me stray to another maker. I'm so disappointed that a Honda product has failed to live up to its reputation and hopefully they will do the right thing and make amends by covering the cost to replace my transmission.

- , Schaumburg, IL, USA

problem #300

Nov 222010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 184,000 miles

Just paid car off a month ago and then this happens.Only have this one car so we are out of transportation.And cannot afford this type of repair now or in future. Could Honda please help in the repair and costs of the transmission. We are very upset not to mention stranded without a car. Also having problems with electrical, the windows are making sounds like it wants to open but cannot.

- , Newmarket, NH, USA

problem #299

Oct 292010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

The "electronic" transmission for Honda Accord "03 and "04 models has a MAJOR flaw, in the way it functions. Honda should be able to replace the whole tranny, or give rebates to those of us having to shell out additional monies for a rebuild or used one.

they should stand behind their product 100%. I've been told by many mechanics, that they usually never see any Honda's with tranny problems until well over 200K on the car. Given that Honda supposedly fixed the problem with the recall, and then it goes out after 75K, should be a sign that they really didn't FIX it, they put a band-aid on it. This car was well over $20K new, and it should not be having major transmission problems.

Makes me re-think Honda's integrity.


Dana Donald

- , Pflugerville, TX, USA

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