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 11 of 25)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #298

Jun 012010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles


2003 Accord transmission failure related to the torque converter. Looks like a common problem with Accords. Requested good faith repair from Honda customer service. Problem cropped up originally in June, local mechanic cleared out the failure code and the car would not repeat the problem for Honda technician. So they requested that I drive the car until it failed again. Five months later the problem cropped up again. Still waiting for word on good faith repair.

- , California, KY, USA

problem #297

Nov 062010

Accord EX 3.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,300 miles

Total transmission failure on an 2003 V6 Accord with only 55K miles. Waiting to hear if American Honda will cover costs as this transmission was already recalled once.

Update from Nov 21, 2010: Update #1 Honda has offered to cover half the repair cost. The problem is they want $5,000 to fix it. Are they nuts???

- , Valley Stream, NY, USA

problem #296

Nov 152010

Accord Coupe EX-L v6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 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 #295

Oct 152010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


honda should take the responsability to fix at no cost all the transmission failure for all 03 accord

- , Savannah, GA, US

problem #294

Nov 142010

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,992 miles

I owned a 1991 accord until the summer of 2010 when I bought a 2003 Accord EXV6. I never had any real major problem with my 91 in the 11 years I owned it and those were the last 11 years of it's 19 year life. The 2003 I bought from my parents, who were the only owners before me, has been serviced by Honda from day one following the "extreme" maintenance schedule.

I was on the last leg of a 2 hour drive when the problem happened, I was passing a car and while I was passing the car down shifted on it's own forcing me to abort, it was pretty scary and without a doubt dangerous. In the next 10 mins after that it repeated the same thing twice and I pulled over. The car would run fine in D3, so the problem just seems to be with the highest gear. I again tried normal D and the car wouldn't even go into the higher gear anymore and later reverse became hit and miss.

I have been in touch with Honda Canada and I'm not yet sure if they will help out with the problem. The steps should be to have your dealership run a diagnostic and then contact Honda about the problem. So I'm waiting on that and still not sure if I'll get help or not. The person I talked to said I'm out of warranty, have high mileage but I had an excellent record for maintenance in my favor. I hope that pays off.

- , Saint-Eustache, Quebec, Canada

problem #293

Aug 252010

Accord EXV6 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,789 miles

Yep ... another failed '03 transmission in an otherwise good car.

I bought the car brand new, never really had anything serious ever go wrong other than: the common head unit, backlight issue and replacement, a broken stabilizer link, and had the transmission oil jet recall done. My wife loved this EXV6, it was fast, handled well and has been very smooth all it's life seeing that it has been driven very hard.

We initially changed the transmission fluid around 100K. No issues until early this summer when she'd suddenly loose 3rd gear and end up abruptly revving to redline under load. No rhyme or reason, the next hour, day, week... would be fine...then it would return. Did a flush and fill in June at the quick lube and added some Lucas conditioner. No problems until late Aug when it began again. Had it flushed yesterday (Sept 14th) but now 3rd gear is completely gone.

Went down to Brant Transmission today, the tech was really sympathetic, willing to talk, and said he has done a ton of them. He says the problem stems from an initial wearing of one of the (32) clutch plates which loads the transmission with fine debris, which in turn blocks an internal filter (that cannot be replaced or cleaned without pulling the trans!). This slight blockage then becomes worse, until the fluid flow reduction causes a cascading clutch pack wear (burn up), eventually taking out the 3rd gear.

It would cost $3400 for a rebuild (that he cannot warranty beyond 12 months), and he says it will likely re-occur since the faulty clutch plates cannot be replaced with anything better or aftermarket, only the OEM Honda parts. He says the only possible solution would have been to change the trans fluid every SECOND oil change.

The car is pretty much run it's life anyway, so what's the point of putting this amount of money into it? We'll likely spend the $3400 on a down payment on something else. It's a shame really, however seeing as Honda has appeared to have their transmissions pretty much figured out after 03', I'd still buy another Honda, it really was a good car for us. I see newer Acura TL's seem pretty reliable, so we'll look at them to start.

And as the owner of a 2005 Odyssey, I'll be paying close attention to transmission fluid changes, I'll definitely step up the frequency! Cheers and good luck to 03' owners still running.

- , Craig, ON, Canada

problem #292

Oct 222010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles


My transmission went out while at a stop light. The transmission had slipped a couple of times in the previous two weeks but very little warning. The day it failed, the car kept slipping out of gear and finally died. The tow guy said that it went into reverse for him up onto the truck but a mechanic checked and the transmission is definitely gone. It will cost between $1,800-$2,300 for a rebuilt transmission. I'm not sure at this point to put that much money into this car so for now I will park it. I do not have this kind of money right now and fortunately have another car to use in the meantime.

- , Lexington, VA, USA

problem #291

Oct 052010

Accord EX 3.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles

As Honda is considered one of the more reliable and desirable vehicles to own. I am very disappointed to learn of a transmission problem involving the torque converter and no recall or information about the problem made available to the consumer. As this problem just started, I am in the process of getting quotes to repair the transmission. I feel Honda should share in the cost or make it a recall considering the known issues and repair at no cost to the consumer. I guess the days of an import vehicle going the 200,000 miles + is no longer valid.

- , Vinton, VA, USA

problem #290

Oct 222010

Accord LX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,758 miles

Transmission went all of a sudden. What a piece of junk!

- , Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

problem #289

Oct 242010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,999 miles

Same as everyone else, Transmission Failure at over 50mpg, knocking in rear of vehicle, almost a accident, couldn't reverse. But amazingly Honda isn't responsible for a true recall. As more of these cars get up there in mileage, someone is going to get hurt. Sad that it takes a serious accident for a class action suit or highway board to seriously investigate this. I had to pay the dealer $2500 for a car with a faulty tranny. Extremely dissatisfied with Honda. My next vehicle for sure was gonna be a acura, now I just can't remain loyal to the brand

- , Bronx, NY, USA

problem #288

Apr 222009

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,492 miles


Took extremely good care of my car. Have owned 3 other Honda's before this car and have never replaced any major parts on them. Right after the car was paid off I have replaced the A/C compressor and the transmission. I decided to check to see if there might be a recall on them and found out that other people have had the same problems I have had with there transmissions failing. I have owned many cars in my lifetime and never replaced a transmission much less one with such little millage on it. I could understand if the car was mistreated but it wasn't. The dealer can attest to that. I would be embarrassed to put out such a poor product and not recall it especially after so many complaints. I wish I had done this sooner because I don't think I have ever been so angry at a car dealer as I was when they called about the transmission. They have lost a loyal customer because I will never buy another Honda again after they sold me an inferior product and didn't stand behind it. They wouldn't even reduce the price the only thing the manager could do for me was loan me a car. I was going to send a nasty letter to the corporate office but someone stole out identification at that time and I was dealing with that and forgot all about it until now. Thanks for giving me a chance to file a complaint against having to replace a transmission that I feel should have been recalled.

- , Grand Prairie, TX, USA

problem #287

Jul 262006

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,911 miles

Bought car 5/31/06 this was the first transmission replacement.

- , Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #286

Jul 172008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,625 miles

American Honda paid 75% of the cost to replace the transmission. This was the second transmission replacement since I bought the car in 2006. The transmission lasted 45,714 miles.

- , Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #285

Feb 092010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

satisfied and hope they will help me to get a recall to have my car fixed and be free and happy.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #284

Oct 012010

Accord EX 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

There needs to be a class action lawsuit for this model transmission

- , Columbiana, AL, USA

problem #283

Aug 262010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles

Thank goodness we were not still on I-95 traveling 60mph when my car came to a stop! We were turning onto a secondary road when all of a sudden my car wouldn't move! I had two six year olds, my sister in law with me and it was pouring rain! No indicator light, no warning what so ever. We purchased a Honda Accord in good faith, thinking this would be the car we could depend on for safety and reliability. Boy were we wrong!

American Honda covered half the cost with a "goodwill" deal. I told them I thought they should be covering the entire cost, they said no. Go figure! The next day I told them I realized they couldn't cover the entire cost because they would be admitting to guilt and wrong-doing due to a faulty transmission. I asked them if they would be waiting for someone to die before having a recall, this problem IS A SAFETY ISSUE!! This isn't the first problem we've had with this car - I am so very disappointed and now broke!

- , Jefferson, ME, USA

problem #282

Sep 232010

Accord EX-L V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 74,000 miles

Our Accord has ~74,000 miles and the transmission was starting to slip. I took it into the dealer that does my servicing, and they told me it would cost:

- $5,400 for the transmission - $500 for brakes - $400 to replace a heat shield that is loose

The mechanic said that it is dangerous to drive a car with the transmission in its current state. I purchased a 100,000 mile warranty when I bought the car (it expired in January). This is a tough pill to swallow. I have been diligent with servicing the car, and now I'm hit up for $6,300 dollars in repair for a car whose blue book value is ~$9K.

I looked online and saw that there are an unusually large number cases of where the 2003 Accord V6 transmission fails early. Per the advice on these sites; I called Honda and asked for a goodwill repair. They offered to reduce the transmission work to $2,900, and would not assist with the brakes or heat shield. Honda said they do not repair their transmissions; the only recourse is to install a new one ($5,400)

I understand that this is not a new car; but Hondas used to have a reputation for quality that would have their cars last to 125-150K miles and beyond. I asked what the dealer would give us in a trade, and they said $3,000. Obviously, they don't have faith in these cars either.

Wikipedia noted: "Despite the Accord's reputation for reliability, the V6 models were plagued by transmission failures and were even included in class action law suits against the company (4 cylinder models were also affected, but not to the same extent). This caused the Honda Corporation to extend the warranties for the 2000 through 2001 models to 7 years or 109,000 miles (175,000 km). "

Looks like Honda is having a great run from 1999 through 2004. I hope a class action suit is filed for the 2003 model year. My plan was to let my son drive this car to college when it reached 100,000. Now I have to dip into college savings to pay for it. This is our family's third (and last) Honda.

- , Libertyville, IL, USA

problem #281

Sep 172010

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

Ok, this is the 2nd transmission replaced in this car. Out of warranty by 6K miles. Warranty on the last transmission was 3 yrs/36K; it lasted 42K and 2 years (to the day!). Honda offered to pay 50% of parts/labor which is better than the 50% off parts only they offered the first time. I just hung up the phone with American Honda, where Dawn very nicely told me that my years of Honda cars and loyalty are only worth 50% off parts/labor.

This car is clearly an issue. Honda is not standing behind their product. They should be ashamed. This is my LAST Honda. This year of the car has serious transmission issues and should be recalled. There is no reason I should have to put over $4K into 2 transmissions in only 2 years. Honda, please admit it's an issue and return everyone's money!

- , Marshfield, MA, US

problem #280

Feb 092010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

bought a honda because thier so reliable...oh yea sure, starting having transmission problems right out of warranty at 38000 miles,,,,guess what the district mgr doesnt want o do a goodwill repair,,,oh well guess he wants a bigger bonus,,,,guess what folks , i am through with honda

- , Crescent City, CA, USA

problem #279

Oct 182010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Well Transmission went from I think my tranny has a problem to all sudden have to replace Trany, as of today am supposed to get a call from Rep with estimate which am not to happy to pay for , on my previous visit for regular maintenance I mentioned to Honda rep I felt trany slip and seemed gear was off a bit after I had reg maintenance done and I asked rep if they looked into the trany issue I was told they checked and all was normal .

a few months later am driving and all sudden rpm goes up and car stalls next thing I know D marker starts flashing and check engine light goes on so next day off to dealer repair center car gets checked and guess what, I need a new trany

and this is where am at , at the comment contemplating what I should do.

- , Bell, CA, US

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