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 19 of 25)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #138

Aug 202008

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles


Sorry for a long message and for possible errors, English is not my native language.

I have a 2003 Honda Accord LX V6 automatic. Bought it 5 years ago by spending all the money I had earned during grad school years, thought it should be a reliable car…

My story started by me taking my car to Midas for 90K maintenance where the guys told me the car is in "perfect shape", only the front tires need to be replaced soon. Two weeks after that, the car transmission broke down – the same symptoms as described here: the car would not shift from 2nd gear up, the transmission fluid was burned. I brought it to Midas, Midas took it to a local Honda dealership, where it is right now. I was quoted $3400 to fix the problem.

I looked up the problem on the Internet, found this forum and other websites and called American Honda and asked for a Goodwill Repair. Talked to a guy called Ray I think Hasini was his last name, or something like that. He has asked me to collect all the original invoices and receipts for all of my maintenance for the past 5 years. Believe it or not, I have done so, for all but a couple of maintenance's and faxed it over to him!

Long story short, he at first offered to cover 50% of the transmission parts (not labor). Then he called me and said that he had called a mechanic (Mike) at the Honda dealership and had changed his mind and nothing will be covered. When I asked him what had changed and why he changed his mind, he said the car was at $96K mileage and the warranty has expired. When I tried to explain to him that he had known (and even had told me) about all this already - before asking to fax additional papers and that he had already made his 50% offer knowing this – he just said he made his final decision and would not change his mind. Interestingly, I called Mike after that and Mike told me he has not heard from American Honda in a while, so either Mike or Ray were not telling me the truth – you have to love Honda people.

I tried then to talk to Ray's manager, "Alfred Chen". This guy was constantly pushing me and twisting and bending my words, trying to find all the reasons not to offer a good will repair. For instance, he was saying I should have repaired some problems the dealership has discovered and I had to explain to him, time and time again, that, Midas told me that the "car was in perfect shape" just two weeks before the problem and that I could not fix anything since nothing has been found. But he just would keep on twisting and bending this for quite a while.

I was at lunch when Alfred called me and did not have the paperwork or a Honda Manual on me, unlike him. He used it by lying to me that according to the Manual I was supposed to do a transmission fluid change at 30K and have not done so till my 90K maintenance. That was a lie. Firstly, the Manual says the first change should be done at 60K and not 30K. Secondly, I have done it at 60K, ironically at a Honda dealership! Honda rejected a goodwill repair.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #137

Mar 132009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

53K miles, car was in the perfect shape and well-maintained. Total transmission failure... enough said.

- , Kennesaw, GA, US

problem #136

Feb 272009

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,636 miles

This is an update to my previous complaint.

I called Honda to see what they would cover. Their answer; $0.00.

Their exact words were, "we did a safety recall in 2004, (i purchased the car in 06) so we fixed the problem. You are responsible for any other repairs."

Basically I'm out $3500.00

I will never buy another Honda, Ever!!

- , Madison, NJ, USA

problem #135

Feb 132009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,120 miles


got a call from American Honda claim being reviewed, dealer wants 3360 to fix. my Honda civic had 320K miles when traded, nothing major like that. Upset that a Honda would tear up like that had i BMW before this and it was always in the shop. Traded to get More reliable car. ha. I am hoping Am Honda will take care of most of this problem.

- , Kathleen, GA, US

problem #134

Feb 162009

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

I found this site only after I had transmission failure yesterday on the interstate during rush hour traffic. There really isn't much more I can say that others have not said already. I bought my 2003 Honda Accord in September '06 from my cousin who had bought it new. I basically went to accelerate to pass someone who was going 60mph (the speed limit was 70mph) and my car hit about 6,000rpms but would not get past 40mph! I had to pull off to the side and turn off my car. I was okay the rest of the way on the interstate, but when I pulled off at my exit it happened again. I turned off the car again and restarted it to get to the traffic light. I basically went about 5mph the rest of the way to get to work. I couldn't even pull into a parking spot without restarting my car again!

I had the car towed to a reputable Aamco shop. My cousin has a local mechanic shop and recommended this transmission guy. They told me that I was looking at a complete transmission rebuild! They quoted me $1,600 low end and about $2,200 worst case scenario.

I called Honda Customer Service and basically they told me that there was nothing they could do for me since the recall work had been done in '04 (a bandaid fix if you ask me!) and because of the mileage on my car. My father will be talking to the local Honda dealership (which I've already had a rough history with) today and I am really not sure if anything else can be done. I may just be forking over $1,600.

I am quite disappointed in Honda because everyone sings their praises. I will not buy a Honda again.

Update from Aug 10, 2009: So, an update... I had the transmission rebuilt at AAMCO in March and paid about $2,200 when it was all said and done. I have a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty with them. Over the July 4th weekend, my fiance and I were driving down to South Carolina for the weekend and my engine light came on. The car seemed to be running okay though, and we kept driving. It smelled like something was burning when we were idling, but we couldn't see any leaks, etc. We made it back to Tennessee alright after the weekend, but were still having issues with the smell and weird jerking sometimes. We took the car to my cousin and of course the indicator light was off at this point. We had the code checked in SC before we left and I cannot remember what it said at this point. Anyway... my cousin couldn't find anything wrong with the car besides the smelly transmission fluid.

The car was running alright until yesterday. I was on my way back to TN after being in Ohio for the weekend and I noticed my RPMs jump up to around 4 and back down to 2. I started freaking out and all of a sudden my TCS light, triangle/exclamation light, and engine lights came on! I pulled off the first exit (middle of nowhere) and parked at a Chevron station. I called my cousin during this time and he was telling me what to look at. I popped the hood and there was smoke coming from around the transmission fluid dip stick. There was oily fluid all over the place. The dip stick was also up significantly. A friendly person came and helped me out a little and I got the card of a local mechanic. He came and test drove the car and at this point the car had cooled off enough to where only the engine light was on.

Basically, he towed the car to his shop, I found a place to stay for the night and it is being towed to the closest AAMCO as I type this update! I've done some more research and it looks like others have had this same follow up problem after a tranny rebuild on this make and model of car. It's like the line pressure is overheating and spewing transmission fluid out of the dip stick. When the mechanic ran the code, he got a 717 code (speed sensor problem). My cousin seems to think that it does have something to do with the fluid overheating, etc. Someone else mentioned something on here about pressure solenoids being destroyed. I think that may be what it is.

We'll see what happens...

- , Nashville, TN, USA

problem #133

Feb 122009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

We bought the 2003 Accord EX-V6 for my wife from Herb Chambers in January 2003. I immediately brought it to a local dealership (Bernardi Honda) and complained about the sluggish shifting from 1st into 2nd gear. Of course I was told that this was normal and everything was ok.

In 2004, at 28k miles, we brought the car in for a recall of the oil jet kit. I complained again about transmission issues. I still have the paperwork, my complaint in the document is recorded as:

"Customer states perform 2nd gear inspection, possible lack of lubrication during certain driving conditions, inspected transmission - all check ok."

In the fall of 2008, the transmission was serviced a Honda dealership and the transmission fluid was replaced.

Today the car has 130k miles on it and the transmission went. It shifts into first, and that is it. No reverse, no higher gears. Now my suspicion that something was wrong with the torque converter from the start seems to have been proven correct.

I have yet to contact Honda about who will pay for this repair. We paid thousands in various other repairs over the last years and we are

- , Medfield, MA, USA

problem #132

Feb 262009

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,500 miles


I bought this car in September of 07 for 15k with 59k miles. A year and a half later and 25k miles the transmission goes out. When it happened I was upset but thought it happens and I was going to go about my business and get it fixed. Then, I found this website and 131 other complaints! The same problem, same car, same avg. mileage. Now i'm very disappointed, I bought this car for the reliability. That's why the name Honda adds 7k dollars to the cars value is for Reliability. I could have bought a Ford but I spent an extra 7k for Reliability. Next I take it to the dealership, they tell me to contact the corporate office and they will most likely take care of me because this is a common problem with the 03 accord. The district manager at corporate was rude and basically told me that since I don't spend a lot of money at Honda I am not an important customer. He told me they would not cover any of the cost. I am extremely disappointed in the product and even more disappointed with the customer service I recieved with Honda Corporate. After this experience I will not be taking any business to Honda ever again. Its very sad to see as I strongly believe in the Honda product, but I am very disappointed that Honda in represented by someone who can not make the moral and ethically correct decision to take care of the customer. This is an obvious manufacturer defect and I will be waiting for my recall paperwork.

- , Overland Park, KS, USA

problem #131

Feb 012009

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,302 miles

As all other complaints about the transmission failures I think Honda needs to fix something. They know of the problem but do little to help. I bought my car used with 65K miles on it and at 99285 miles hada small shift problem. I took it to Honda who charged me $200 to change the fluid and then tell me I needed a transmission @ $3500. I contacted Honda hot line and they said they would do a good will repair if I paid $2400 (plus tax of course) they would cover the rest. Since I was not the original owner and I did not have it serviced at 30K and 60K they would not do any more. Still sits in yard and I am still trying to get Honda to belly up to the bar.

- , Laurel Hill, FL, USA

problem #130

Dec 182008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I'm another transmission failure victim of the 2003 Honda Accord EX V6. The transmission started slipping at around 100K miles and then failed at 102K. Honda agreed to replace the transmission under a one-time goodwill split of 40% to Honda and 60% to me. While they had no legal obligation to offer this, it is obvious that Honda is well aware of the problems and is trying to limit expense by waiting for problems to surface instead of recalling and replacing the transmission. The failure of these transmissions could cause a major accident and possibly someone's life and it will end up costing much more to Honda.

- , Clayton, NC, USA

problem #129

Feb 092009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

Car winds out (4K RPM) before it will shift from 2nd to 3rd. Reputable shop found nothing with computer diagnostic, but acknowledged the problem (for $100) and claimed there was a Honda warranty extension for the transmission - not sure how they determined that. When I called my local dealer, they claimed there was no recall or warranty coverage. So I Googled the problem and Voila! - there are hundreds of similar complaints. I scheduled to take it in to the dealer tomorrow. I will report back...................

- , Glen Ellyn, IL, USA

problem #128

Nov 142008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles


After owning 5 Honda's, I was really disappointed with my 2003 Accord V-6. With only 39,000 miles, the transmission slipped in the first three gears and jerked violently as if it down shifted on its own after exiting a major highway to the point where I was lucky to have been wearing my seatbelt. After barely making it to my local Honda dealership, I was told the Torque Converter was bad. I insisted to Honda after reading the complaints on this website that there is a design problem with this transmission, they insisted this wasn't the case. After much complaining, Honda USA finally agreed to pay all but $600.00 and needless to say, this expense really hurt. Honda should recall the transmission but obviously refuses to do so. I am VERY disappointed and probably will sadly end my relationship with Honda.

- , Cherry Hill, NJ, US

problem #127

Feb 062009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

After taking my Honda Accord to the shop for diagnostic testing of the transmission I stumbled across this website as I was researching any history of problems similar to mine. Needless to say I am a little shocked there are so many similarities and with some of the descriptions I feel very lucky that I wasn't involved in a serious car crash. This transmission is a HUGE safety issue just waiting for a tragedy to happen. How do we get our voice heard loud enough to demand a recall?

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #126

Jan 222009

Accord LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,220 miles

I thought Honda cars our reliable my mistake. I guess my next car will be a Toyota. No warning of the transmission going went out at 95000.

- , Ravenna, OH, USA

problem #125

Jan 282009

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,895 miles

I was taveling 200 miles on business yesterday (one way) when I passed through a small town and began to accelerate as I was leaving the town but the car would not cooperate. I turned back to the small town because something wasn't right and parked at a gas station to ask for help. I was told to go to a local business so they could check it out but the car would not go into reverse or drive. I waited a while then the car drove fine so I took it to the local business. They test drove the car and confirmed that it was slipping in and out of gear and that the transmission fluid was black and it smelled. In addition, I had the car repaired the week before (new rear break pads, tire rotation, oil change -when the dealer called to tell me I should replace the transmission fluid because it was very dark - which I did).

I cancelled my work appointment and I continued on my journey after being told I could make another 50 miles to a Honda dealer. (This small town did not have a tow agency available) I made it (barely) and was told they would put in a "used" transmission for a total of $2327 with 120 day warranty (yes 120 days!). I asked what the price would be for a rebuilt transmission and was told it would be another $1,000 for a total of $3200 (ish). I then was told by a friend that this website was out there and I then called the 800 number.

I had the car towed home last night ($466 for 200 miles) after paying the local dealer $11 for car rental (two hours) and $83.38 for driving the car to tell me I was correct in my assumption that I needed a new transmission. Total cost thus far: $560!

I called the 800 number and was given a case number and a recommendation to take it to my local dealer who will do another diagnostic assessment (and charge me if I don't have the repair done there). I took the car to a local tranny company and they diagnosed it for "free" then I took it to the local Honda dealer and informed them of the whole story - they said they would get back to me with details later. I did get a quote from a reputable company about the rebuilt transmission cost and they recommended that I make sure they (Honda) don't inflate the price. (I am not sure I can prevent that from happening). I am also concerned about the warranty miles/time when it is all done.

I am basically in a holding pattern right now and I am hopeful that I can get my dealer to pay a significant portion of the cost. I too, loved my Honda, kept up with repairs and servicing etc. I intended to keep this car for several more years; however with this impending issue I am not so sure... Time will tell...

- , Sioux Falls, SD, USA

problem #124

Jan 282009

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Experienced trouble with the transmission during freeway driving conditions trying to make a passing movement. Car slipped out of gear, rev's pushed to 7,000 with no acceleration. Avoided an accident and went to the next service station. Noted that the fluid level was low and filled to level. Slipped out of gear several more times. Had transmission flushed at a local oil change business, drove 120 miles on freeway and seemed fine. Return trip: not so lucky. Slipped out of gear again and was towed. I'm in the process of negotiating the repair at the dealer.

- , Canal Winchester, OH, USA

problem #123

Jan 162009

Accord EX Coupe V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

So the transmission on my 2003 Honda Accord EX Coupe V6 goes on me Friday morning, 1/16/09. Luckily, I was about a mile from my house. I was able to pull the car into a parking lot, shut the engine off, then after 10 minutes start it back again and pull off to my house.

I had a tow truck come tow it to nearest Honda dealership, which ran me $80. After Honda received it, it them about 5 hours to diagnose the problem - transmission needed replacement. They told me it would run $3500. So of course, I was livid. I'm only 5,000 over my extended warranty and this happens. It's almost like Honda programmed the car to break down after 100,000 miles.

After doeing research, I came across this site and about 7 other sites detailing the same EXACT problem as mine. That made me even more pissed off. So I called Honda Corp Customer Relations @ 1-800-999-1099 and gave them a piece of my mind.

When I spoke to the Honda Customer Relations rep I told him the issue and that i came across hundreds of similar complaints from Honda customers online. So he sent it to a case manager. The case manager (Simon) was supposed to call me back within 2 business days. NOPE, didn't happen. So on the 3rd business day I called and spoke to Simon. I gave him a my story. he then explained that I'm not under warranty and that Honda is not obligated to cover costs, BUT what would I be willing to pay to resolve. So I told him "labor costs only." So he said he would send to a field rep in my area and they would contact the service center then call me back. After about a day, Honda Service Center (where my car was) called me and said that Honda agreed to pay for the cost of the part, but I would have to pay for the labor (about $700).

That being said, I do suggest that if you're questioned by the Case Manager regarding what would you be willing to pay, telling them "20 - 35% of the cost of labor" IF YOU ARE OVER WARRANTY! ALSO make sure you mention that you have come across these same complaints online. It works!!!!

All in all, I would say that Honda Corp handled it well (6 out 10 on a performance scale). I would have liked to pay NOTHING, but $700 is much better than $3500.

- , Fort Washington, MD, USA

problem #122

Jan 102009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,250 miles

My transmission failed 1/10/09 on my 2003 Honda Accord EX V6. I was driving and tried to accelerate. Then, all of the sudden, it was as if my car had been thrown into neutral. Of course, I checked it, and I was still in drive. I only had 77,250 miles on it. The dealer's service rep said it will be a $3,500 out of warranty repair.

The independent transmission shop down the block estimated the repair at $1300 to $1700.

Since, I am a loyal customer (this vehicle is my 3rd Honda bought brand new and get my cars serviced at the dealer), I called (800) 999-1009 (American Honda Customer Service) on 1/12/09 for a "goodwill repair" and was assigned a case number and assured a call back within 1-2 business days. At the end of the day, 1/14/09, I received a message from the case worker.

I spoke to her 1/15/09 and we negotiated from $3500 down to $1129.32 (parts covered, I pay labor and taxes)

They ordered the parts on 1/15/09 and my car was ready 1/23/09 by 10:30am.

I also incurred 4 days of rental car charges (approximately $155).

I followed up with phone calls 1/19, 1/20, 1/21, 1/22 for status updates.

All in all, it turned out acceptable in my mind. However, it was not something I expected from a car company with such a high reputation for reliability.

- , Orlando, FL, USA

problem #121

Jan 022009

Accord 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,980 miles

My Accord has been a great car, but the transmission needed to be rebuilt. It was slipping out of gear frequently - most concerning while merging onto the highway because my car wouldn't pick up speed until it fell into gear again. I did my research online, learned that many people have had a problem, and called Honda America. They ended up covering the repair at 80%. Although I was disappointed that my Accord needed a new transmission at 105K (completely out of warranty), I was really impressed that Honda was willing to cover most of the repair. I'll buy a Honda again.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #120

Jan 032009

Accord LX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,531 miles

I am a 25 year old student who was only able to own a car through a generous loan from a family member. This is my first new car and I chose the Honda Accord for the reliability that comes with it. I have gotten my oil change nearly every 3000 miles, I have replaced the brake pads, tires, battery, and all the other maintenance required. I treat my car as my first born child. So a week ago I started to notice the transmission was having trouble shifting from 3rd to 4th gear. I took to my car to my mechanic who has never steered me wrong and got the transmission fluid flushed. The car initially seemed ok until three days later when the car would not shift out of 2nd gear. I took the car to my mechanic and he checked for the transmission for leaks which he found none. I called customer service of Honda and they told me that they would not be able to file my claim for assistance until I took my car to one of their dealerships. I take my car there and they alert me that my transmission has suffered corrosion from the inside. I asked him what the cause was and he had the nerve to mention rough driving as a cause. He said nothing about all these other honda owners having trouble with their transmissions. They also said it would be 4800 dollars to replace. I told them to sit on it till honda is done investigating my claim and we will all see what happens when they do. I am not excepting anything except a full repair and an apology for not alerting me of this issue before it ruined my transmission.

- , Rockville, MD, USA

problem #119

Dec 132008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,200 miles

Drove 134 miles of a 137 mile trip to my company Christmas party (1st one with this company) and suddenly lost acceleration. Stepped on gas pedal but car would rev with no acceleration. Stuck in neutral. Pulled over on extremely busy highway. Tried putting car in reverse and drive. No movement whatsoever. Car was towed (so far $72.00 out of pocket) and is approximately 140 miles from home. Will call Honda customer service on Monday a.m. to see just what they will tell me or how and if they will get involved in repair or replacement. Bought a Honda based upon the tremendous feedback received from numerous friends that swear by them and decided that this would be my choice for my first brand new vehicle purchase. I hope that I'm not facing a $3000.00 repair bill.


- , New Bedford, MA, USA

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