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 14 of 25)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #238

Jun 012010

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles


For about 2 months, I had noticed my Honda would change gears roughly. I had taken the car in for its usual oil change, etc. and mentioned it to my consultant and he said it could be the timing belt, given the number of miles I had on the car. Since it wasn't "I can't drive my car" problem and I was going to have to leave it for several hours, I waited until yesterday to bring it back.

I was told the entire transmission would need to be replaced and the cost would be $3905 plus tax. I asked if I had driven it too hard or was it something I did (given the reputation of reliability of Honda's cars, I was very surprised). I was told it was an "internal failure" and it was there was nothing I had done. When we called around to other mechanics, we were told he was seeing "an epidemic" of transmission problems in this year/model of Honda. We talked to the Honda consultant and told him we had always brought our car in to them to be maintenanced and had even bought an extended warranty on the car for 100,000 miles; was there any kind of break they could give us on the price? He talked to his service director and we were able to get the price down to 2928.75 with a 3 year warranty. Still not sure if we should just trade it in or bite the bullet and get it replaced. The blue book value is about $4000, so we aren't sure if it's worth it. Any advice?

- , Huntsville, AL, US

problem #237

Apr 082010

Accord EXL 3L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,700 miles

Honda customer service rep offered me almost nothing to help with repair. This issue is wide spread and will come back to haunt Honda. A class action suit is needed to help victims recover huge replacement cost. Call 212 566-4047

- , Peckville, PA, USA

problem #236

Mar 312010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,177 miles

Transmission failure seems like a common problem with the 2003 Accord. Dealer quoted $4000 to repair, still considering.

- , New York, NY, USA

problem #235

Apr 262010

Accord EX 2.4L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


First problem of any kind with this car but it is a doozy. Tranny started leaking from seal around shaft to left front wheel and increased rapidly. Seal was replaced and failed again almost immediately. Tranny removed for inspection of inside. Mechanism that supports spline shaft to wheels has disintegrated on both sides filling transmission case with shrapnel. Whole tranny replacement is recommended. It seems that Hondas are not all they are cracked up to be. It seems that Toyota's wond stop and Hondas won't go (very far) Was going to buy another soon, but I will try a KIA I think. I don't care for the head-in-the-sand attitude that Honda displays about their weak point. Seems to me that there is systematic problem with Honda transmissions since the 1990's and no satisfactory solution has been found. Oh well, another fairytale myth is crushed.

- , Danbury, CT, USA

problem #234

Apr 272010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Same issue as other folks with the 2003 transmission. Honda dealer in Richardson Tx said it cost $4,698 to fix but Honda corporation would do the goodwill thing and my charge was $2,250 . 3 year warranty on teh new transmission.

- , Allen, TX, USA

problem #233

Apr 192010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Car started acting up about a week ago. It would rev to about 5k rpm under normal acceleration before shifting from 2nd to 3rd. It did this about once every two days and then one day the transmission completely fails at about 10mph while accelerating from a red light. I had it towed the the Honda dealership where after a day of them communicating with their "rep" I was told there would be no deferment of payment for a completely new transmission quoted at $3600. I now have a case with American Honda customer service and the current offer is to lower my part of the payment for a new tranny to $2500. Not enough. The car is also less than a month expired from the Honda Certified powertrain warranty and still under the 100k mark, but this seems to hold no water for getting a new tranny. Will not buy another Honda.

- , Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

problem #232

Apr 082010

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles


The transmission left my wife stranded on the side of the road. Not good.

- , Waverly, GA, USA

problem #231

Apr 052010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

driving, car just stalled while shifting, then a violent "bucking". pulled over. car would not go into reverse. had it towed to a dealer. over 4 grand was the price. waiting to hear back from honda corp. I only have 5 more payments left on it. I bought it used certified from honda.

- , Mont, AL, USA

problem #230

Mar 302010

Accord EX V6 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,180 miles

I purchased a 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 used from a local Honda dealership in March of 2010 and the day I drove it off the lot the transmission jerked, I lost reverse, and soon it just died. The transmission was rebuilt and the torque converter replaced. Car was out of service for a week. Warranty covered it, but if I had no warranty I would have been screwed. I knew I needed to buy the extended warranty, I had a 1999 Accord EX that had the transmission go out at 94.5k miles. Honda did pay for 100% of that, however I have a feeling Honda isn't being so generous these days. This problem is an epidemic and I think the 2003-04 Accord's need a class action law suit like the older Accord's had. Our warranty's should be extended and refunds paid to those who dished out thousands before even getting over 100k miles. Shame on you Honda, you will loose so many customers because of this issue. The worst part, is that it seems the new transmissions are no better than the ones they replace. I hope I can get another 69k out of this one. I advise everyone to change their fluid every 30k miles at least, and no flushes! Only use Honda fluid and change is regularly so that you don't need a flush.

- , Belton, TX, USA

problem #229

Jun 022008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

We noticed that our 2003 Accord was hesitating whenever we drove at high speeds. It was almost like you would hit a wall when you hit a certain speed and then it would draw back and then after a few moments it would kick into gear and you would be able to get up to 60 or 70 mph. The experience was extremely frustrating because we had purchased an extended warranty and thought life was good, it will be replaced and we'll move on. That was not the case, the dealer had sold us a NON-Honda extended warranty during the sale process, which went unnoticed by by either of us at the time. Well, that extended warranty company just happened to have filed bankruptcy a few weeks before we brought the car in. After two dealerships and lots of arguments we ended up with a new tranmission, a 36k Honda warranty and $800 less then we had before.

This was only one of many other ridiculous things that was wrong with the 2003 Accord.

After a few good Honda unfortunately this experience has lead to us never buying a Honda again.

- , East Northport, NY, USA

problem #228

Jul 012009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles


I have had to replace the transmission in this car 3 times! Amazing and frustrating. I contacted American Honda for financial help but they said no. They did not recall for the transmissions on this year, make and model because there were "no fatalities" yet! Unbelievable. If you buy one of these cars...beware...very costly and in my opinion, not worth it.

- , Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #227

Mar 012010

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

Hesitation in shifting, and whining noise for a few weeks. Car would then be fine for first few miles (make sure dealership takes it on "extended" road test) but then would stop shifting into third gear, then second gear then any gear at all. I would be stuck at red light with no power.

Dealership recommended full transmission replacement, and District Manager offered 10% goodwill coverage. I called Honda America (thanks to other reports on this site!) and after a few phone conversations back and forth, the reexamined the case and offered 50% goodwill coverage. Worth the effort!

Honda America asked questions about other Honda's our family owns, for how long we have been going to the dealership etc. I guess they are trying to reward "loyal" customers.

- , Mountain View, CA, USA

problem #226

Mar 172010

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

I bought this new in 2003 and after 7 years of no issues with this Accord, the transmission failed without any previous warning. It happened on the highway, and I was lucky to be able to pull off before an accident happened. I had it towed to the Honda dealer and was called the next day to say it needed a new transmission and would cost $4200. What adds to this is this car only has around 54K miles and I have kept to the servicing schedule (including previous transmission recall). I pushed back on the quote and the dealer followed up with their Honda rep. Today they came back with an offer to cover 75% of the cost and even though I'm still not happy, it is better than the previous quote. I'm the most upset though that Honda tried to "play dumb" like this isn't a widespread problem and told the dealer service department this. Honda really needs to recall this transmission.

- , Cary, NC, US

problem #225

Aug 152007

Accord EX 2.4L I4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

Severe vibration from front of car. Lose axles joints and hesitant shifting. Service manager at dealership worked with me and replaced transmission with a remanufactured one. Also apparently and an axle was bent and replaced that with a used one. That "appeased' me at the time as "stuff happens", i.e. things break.

- , Walhalla, SC, USA

problem #224

Nov 042009

Accord EX 2.4L I4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 176,000 miles

The transmission locks in lower gear when passing gear engaged (intermittent), RPMs jump when engaging transmission (intermittent), severe vibration between 55 and 62 MPH (constant) this is after new tires, balance and alignment (Honda dealership). Apparently Honda only issues one goodwill. This was when they replaced my transmission at 86,000 miles and I paid labor. I realize this is a 7 year old vehicle but the transmission only has about 93,000 miles on it. I am unemployed and trying to put two kids through college. This is my fifth Honda Accord but owner loyalty is of no value. It will be my last Honda! Since the have been made in America the quality has went down anyway. I had issues with the 94 Honda Accord EX.

- , Walhalla, SC, USA

problem #223

Feb 052010

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

Still owe 10k on the car, i didn't purchased the extended warranty now Honda wont fix the problem because its not on the recall list, i went to the Honda it costs thousands to repair, we just don't have the money, this is not right.Per the mechanic my husband spoke with at the Honda this is an every day problem with the 2003 Honda accord transmissions going out. So why no class action law suit or why isn't the better business bureau getting involved.. i have 2 kids and i am broke i cant afford a new transmission i purchased a Honda because of their reputation.. wow and this is what i get!

- , West Palm Beach, F, USA

problem #222

Feb 252010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

This is the second transmission. The first one was covered under warranty, the second wasn't. I didn't think it was a problem the FIRST time, but have had problems thereafter. Honda wouldn't help at all with the second transmission, so paid for it myself. 6 months later, the same problem. The mechanic has had my car for almost a month and can't figure out what the problem is. I don't know what is left to do. This is ridiculous

- , Westminster, CA, USA

problem #221

Mar 082010

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

Same story it seems,had recall notice for transmission,inspected,oil jet installed,thumping into gear on deceleration, complained about it, Paid $130.00 a hit for transmission flush,3rd one at 145,000. Then noticed slipping out of second gear,leading to total slippage intermittantly.Then one morning on way to work tranny downshifted at 65 mph leaving me with only first gear and no reverse.

- , Tamarac, FL, USA

problem #220

Nov 062009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I own a 2003 Honda Accord Ex V6 transmission failed cost almost 5k. Bought car in 2004, 13 days before recall on transmission was released, took back to dealership when I got recall notice, said they fixed problem. Was driving on highway, transmission failed (scared me to death). Took to dealership, was laughed at told not covered under warranty, I called American Honda rep told me it was covered, after 45 min wait on phone, rep told me it wasn't covered couldn't help me. I then faxed letter to American Honda, then phoned again spoke to several reps and was told, "new vehicle limited warranty was expired after 3 years/36k miles, in addition to vehicle falling outside of any good will parameters" therefore claim was denied. Filed claim with VHTSA but haven't heard anything. Thinking about writing Takanobu Ito, President of American Honda. His address: 1-1, 2-chome, Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokya 107-8556, Japan (will only cost $8 to send from VA) He has been in US promoting vehicles, what about addressing issues with Honda transmission failures. Broke and disgusted about treatment! Any thoughts

- , Hampton, VA, USA

problem #219

Jan 302010

Accord EX VL 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

OK, so I'm back...

In Novemeber 2007 I had just passed 43,000 miles. I went on a trip to Gatlinburg with my honey and the tranny started slipping between 2nd and 3rd gear. We made it home uneventfully. In December I replaced the tires and asked the service guy if he happened to notice the tranny slipping. He confirmed my suspicion and thought that it was unusual. I took it to Performance Honda in Fairfield Ohio. After printing out a 1 inch stack of paperwork for all the complaints from this site and placing it on the counter in front of the service manager they did the right thing and replaced my busted tranny with a re-manufactured tranny. Kudos to them! If I'm not mistaken they extended the powertrain warranty to 100K.

Alright, 29,000 miles later (total of 72,000 miles) I'm driving along and I'm noticing the same telltale signs that started it all back in 2007. Rough shifting from 2nd to 3rd on the way up and down. Last night we're headed to my parents in law's home and right before we pulled in the driveway, the car shuts down for no reason...power is still on, just no gas, no pull, nada, just the sound of the radio and me thinking...What the @#$%? and my wife all confused. I've read the stories of this happening to some of you guys doing 60 and 70 miles an hour. Luckily we were only doing about 10 miles an hour.

I'll be calling the dealership tomorrow and seeing what they have to say and see if they'll honor the extended warranty.

BTW, I also went through the recall with the transmission jet thingy...they did not make a big deal about it, just replaced the thing within a day or so.

Last error code on the honda the dealership tried to tell me I had issues with any of 5 different things. I cleared the code (by disconnecting the battery) and went to auto zone as soon as the error code appeared again. Turned out to be the O2 sensor. The dealership wanted $400. I got the O2 sensor for $100 at auto zone and switched it out in 15 minutes myself. I'm not a mechanic or a genius business person but since when was $1200/labor hour a reasonable price to charge a customer? Another O2 sensor went out less than 12 months later...I did the same thing again. It's great to save $600 in overcharged labor costs. All this kinda makes me wonder how much the tranny really costs???

I'm sorry to hear some of you guys are getting the run around and the 50% and 75% goodwill deals. I really think a class action lawsuit is in order for this.

Wish me luck!

- , Hamilton, OH, US

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