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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Honda Accord:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 20 of 25)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #118

Mar 142008

Accord EX 3

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,025 miles


Oh and to top it off my car now does this thing where it won't go out of park and it just sits there. Stuck. You have to push the brake over and over, turn the car off and on and then maybe if it feels like it, it will go. Now this never happened prior to my having the transmission replaced in March 08. This started to happen a few months later in September 08. And to top it off when I had the transmission replaced, I also had to have the motor mounts replaced as well....

Update from Mar 7, 2013: Well it did it again. At 169,400 miles (for the third time since I have owned the vehicle) the transmission has failed me. Yesterday as I was driving in traffic on the 405 freeway, I was breaking to slow down and sure enough, the car began downshifting up to 4 RPM's and then back to 2 RPM for each gear, also with long and hard jerks that were ridiculously scary! Since this has happened to me before (transmission failure) I recognized it was the transmission when the "D" green light indicator on the dash began blinking. I can't believe that HONDA will not recognize this as a major issue for this make/model/year. I have lost complete faith in Honda's and will never purchase one again. Before I couldn't trade it in as I was upside down on the loan, not that it is paid off, I will be getting rid of the this LEMON!!

- , Long Beach, CA, US

problem #117

Dec 042008

Accord EX-L 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,003 miles

So here i am at 88K miles and a failed transmission. I just had the fluid in the tranny changed, and then it started to shift roughly. I took it back to the dealership and they said there was nothing wrong with it. Then a couple weeks later the car began to shift roughly from a stop until 4th gear. I booked an appointment to have the dealership look at it again. Before i could get to the appointment, the transmission failed while driving home in rush hour traffic. It would not shift into 3rd and would down shift dramatically. The traction control turned off and the check engine light came on, as well as the Drive indicator light began blinking.

I had it towed to the dealership and they confirmed the transmission would need to be rebuilt. I have called Honda and while the rep said Honda would most likely cover a portion of the repairs, he was not certain until someone higher up got back to me in 2-3 business days.

I do not understand this. my prior car was a jeep and i got the Honda for reliable transportation. I drive 70 % highway for business and take very good care of the car as it is my first Honda and i worked so darn hard to pay it off. The only problems i have had with this car is the main head unit failing after 36000 miles, which Honda replaced for free.

With the economy the way it is and the fact that i will have to spend thousands of dollars on my car to fix it upsets me greatly. While this is a step up from my Jeep in terms of reliability, I think i will look into other makes next time.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #116

Nov 212008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

I was aware of the warranty recall and had the inspection done on it 3 years ago (60K) and they didn't replace the transmission. Now 2nd gear slips and I took it to the dealer and told them about the recall. They inspected it and said that the recall was for a mechanical failure and mine was a hydraulic failure???? WHAT??? They would be happy to install a re manufactured one for $3500.

I called the 800 number others had listed on this site and the Honda rep said that what I described should be covered under this recall but they needed the dealer to call in the diagnostics. So my interpretation and the Honda rep interpretation of the recall is that it should be covered but it is left up to the dealership's interpretation whether it will be covered! When I called them back they were scrambling for words and back pedaling on what to say. They said that he would talk to the tech and call me back again. I am not sure what will happen but I know that I am not keeping this car much longer....

- , Logan, UT, USA

problem #115

Nov 082008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


Experienced complete transmission failure while my wife was driving.....a very scary experience, since the car inadvertently downshifted at relatively high speed. Later, the transmission slipped completely, and would not go into gear. We had to have towed 50 miles to the dealer. The dealer called the next day to inform us that the transmission was shot, and that they had called Honda Motor to arrange a "Goodwill" replacement, essentially splitting the cost (approximately $2600 total), and I paid $1323.00 for a re manufactured transmission. I like to know what possible steps I can take with Honda Motor to make a claim for reimbursement of the out-of-pocket expenses. Both the dealership and Honda reacted to this as if it has happened many times before, so I suspect it to be a common design flaw, and probably worthy of pursuing as a manufacturing defect that should have resulted in complete recall.

- , Dover, DE, US

problem #114

Nov 252008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

My Honda's transmission failed today. It seems its going to cost me around $3000. I didn't expect my Honda transmission to go bad so soon as I took my car for service regularly.

- , Sunnyvale, CA, USA

problem #113

Nov 232008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I bought my V6 Accord (used, with about 49k miles) about 8 months ago when I lived in California . I'm a US Air Force Officer, and I was about to change stations which would require a drive halfway across the country. At the time, I owned a 2000 Ford Focus with 120k miles on it. I liked my old car, but had a few too many problems with it and didn't trust it to make another long haul. I wanted something newer, with a reputation for reliability.

Where did I turn? Honda, of course! Anyone who I've ever talked to brags about their Honda - a friend of mine form work still drives his late 80s Civic that has 200k+ miles on the odometer.

I absolutely loved my Accord from the day I drove it away - great styling, design, etc. Fast forward 7 months. My TCS light would come on intermittently - it might light up on my 10-minute drive to work, then not come on again for another two weeks. I didn't think much of it. Two days ago, as I was merging onto the interstate, the car simply wouldn't shift up or down. If I depressed the accelerator hard, the engine would simply rev up as if it was in neutral. Furthermore, the car wouldn't shift out of whatever gear it was in (2nd, I'm guessing) as I accelerated, and I couldn't do more than about 40 mph. Luckily there are too many people out on the roads here in Wyoming, or it could have been dangerous. I got off the interstate, and turned the car off/cranked it back up at a light. It drove fine until I was a few hundred feet from my apartment, when the transmission went completely haywire - it was like it couldn't find the right gear, and was skipping all over the place.

I went out to move my car about an hour ago, and while in drive, I could hear the gears grinding, unable to catch. I'm going to give Honda a call in the morning, we'll see what happens. So much for Honda's reputation for reliability. I guess I'll give Toyota a shot next.

- , Cheyenne, WY, USA

problem #112

Nov 112008

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles


39000 and a new transmission needed. This is not why I bought a Honda!!!

- , Lyndhurst, OH, USA

problem #111

Nov 042008

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

My transmission also went out on my 2003 accord with only 85,000 miles and of course no warranty coverage left. I noticed on/off the TCS light would come on but really no warning until about a week or two before it failed. Around the time of failure, I noticed an unusual noise coming from the front end of the car when I made turns and when my husband checked the transmission fluid it was very low. Coming home from school one day all of a sudden my car was stuck in low gear and wouldn't up shift, when I stepped on the gas the tach redlined and I barely made it home. Later that evening I went to the store and everything was fine with it but that night it failed on my husband on his way to work and the next morning it had to be towed to the nearest Honda dealership which was 40 miles away. We are the second owner of the car and the previous owner left maintenance records showing the car was well taking care of. We also had the 60,000 and 75,000 mile maintenance done on it plus oil changes every 3,000 miles at the dealership we subsequently had it towed to. It took a 1 1/2 weeks to get it back with a transmission replacement. The dealership called Honda on our behalf to get a "goodwill" repair and Honda ended up paying 60% of the cost, so we ended up paying $1050 out of pocket. I am convinced the dealership already knew of the problem b/c right from the start they called Honda to help cover costs before I even mentioned what I had read on this site. I originally bought this Honda b/c I wanted a car that was going to last and I've always heard what a great car it is. Well I will never buy a Honda again since they screwed me over on this! This repair couldn't have come at the worst time for me financially and I feel there is no reason I should be paying for a transmission replacement in a 5 year old's truly ridiculous!!

- , East Liverpool, OH, USA

problem #110

Aug 012006

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

I can't believe that Honda put out this kind of %@#$!!! We purchased our 2003 Accord EXL V6 brand new. I really had no problems with it until the warranty ran out. At around 61,000 miles I started noticing slipping, then the traction control light comes on in the dash. I take it to the Honda dealer which they looked at and found nothing. About another thousand miles down the road and the transmission completely failed. We had extended warranty coverage so we only paid the deductible to have a "used" transmission put in the car. (yeah, that fine print in the coverage stating they could use "used" parts - my bad) I thought that perhaps it was just a fluke and we just got a bad first transmission in our car; I was wrong. We have 86,000 miles on this car and the piece of junk is going out again!!! I too am a multiple Honda owner and have owned previous Accords that lasted 200,000 miles with no problem. I'm seriously thinking about changing my loyality to a company that won't recall this when they know good and well it's junk!! I'm hoping that a class action lawsuit will get going so I can add my name to the list!!

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #109

Jan 012008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

so I have a 2003 accord and I had to replace the transmission on it in January of 08. After I got it back the car seemed a little bit slower to me but I just figured it was the new transmission warming itself up. Now mind you my car had aprox. 57k miles on it. Still a very young car. Now its October of 08 and would t yea know it my transmissio. Is failing again. Now I literally baby my car. Change fluids, oil, do whatever I can to make sure "my Honda" can and would always remain my Honda. Now at 68k miles not even 20k on the new tranny its shot again. My waranty ended in June. Go figure right?!?! So I call the dealership and let them know the new tranny they gave me is already shot. So what do they tell me???? Come in and well give ya another one. But they didnt tell me I would b paying for it until after I got diagnostics ran on it. I laughed at them wen they told me I was going to have to pay out of my own pocket. So I asked for the supervisor and showed him the slip of the new tranny they installed and he turns to me and says yea sorry nothing I can do to help you out here ur warantee ran out I can't do anything for you. What a load of sh*t honda has come to. This lawsuit I've been reading about going through give me a number to a lawyer covering alot of us and I'm in for the lawsuit.

Anyway I owned a 88 accord ex manual transmission and that didnt go on me until thr car had 187,356 miles on it. I shouldve just kept that car and bought myself that new transmission for it :,(. And I will never buy Honda again if they don't fix my problems free since they couldn't gives a damn tranny that would remain good. And to think two wks from now I was going to trade this car for the 08 model. Fat chance I want this problem with that too.

- , Langhorne, PA, USA

problem #108

Oct 272008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,975 miles


I was driving and about to merge into the freeway when I step into the petal, noticed my rpm jump up high and I couldn't get any power to speed up. then it took about 5 seconds to kick into gear to get moving. it wouldn't say in gear so I had to call a AAA to tow it to the Honda dealership. It would be in the shop for 3 days and I had to rent a car while it was in the shop. it would cost me 2899 to replaced with a new transmission, I had previous Honda with 230k with no transmission problem and family and friends had Honda accord with over 100k with no transmission problems, but I have to question the 5speed automatic transmission reliability. I think Honda knows about the transmission problem and that's why it was recalled to fix the problem in 2004. I feel that I should have to pay for replacing my transmission because I feel that Honda didn't correct the problem in the first place and caused my to waste time and money on fixing and renting a car. I'm still waiting for the response from the Honda America case manager because I already paid for the expenses. I have to wait and see if they will help pay for any expense that I had to pay for up front

- , Apopka, FL, US

problem #107

Oct 212008

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,841 miles

Drove locally to a clinic, and was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for about 30 minutes before getting there. About a mile from the clinic, as I was going to accelerate from full stop in red light, the car will not budge. The engine revved but no forward movement--like I was stuck in neutral. Called AAA and towed the car to a Honda dealer. Was notified later that I need a transmission replacement, and American Honda will cover only 25% of the $3000. So now I'm stuck with the $2300 bill. I think this is unacceptable, if there are these many cases listed here. At least they should have paid for the part, which is like 50% of the cost. Anyways, tried arguing with them, but won't budge. As far as I'm concerned, I'll never buy another Honda or Acura until they've admitted their wrong and pay for the transmission cost. I'm also telling all my friends, families, and everyone I've come in contact with to avoid Honda/Acura at all costs. I've been maintaining this Accord according to the owner's manual, replacing the transmission fluid every 30k at 60k, 90k, and 120k, so I don't see what else I could have done to prevent this, as it seems to be a design flaw in the transmission. Hope a lot more people with an Accord 2003 will report this problem once their cars hit 100k+ (of course, I do hope they never get a transmission failure in the first place...but it seems like it might happen, just like it did for all of us here). If somebody wants to start a class action lawsuit, leave me a comment/message, and I'll get back to you.

- , San Mateo, CA, USA

problem #106

Oct 062008

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I bought a 2003 Honda Accord last year in September. I traded in a Chevy Impala for this honda. I have heard so many people talk about how good Honda's cars are. Well they were dead wrong. My car gear will not shift to 2nd gear! When it get to the speed of 20-30 the RPM goes to 5 and it make a loud noise. After I take my feet off the gas, it finally slowly make it way to 3rd. I have almost gotten hit twice with my children in the car and I get blowed at everytime I am at the red light or stop sign. Just is so annoying! I took to a mechanic and I was told I needed a new transmission. I can not afford this right now. So I did so research on what I can do and the recalls. I called America Honda and told them my situation. I was told that my car had passed the warranty, which is 36,000 or something. I was also told that there was a recall in 2004 and my car was checked for transmission problem and a revision to the oil cooler return line was done. They told me that there is probably nothing they can do! This is not fair, if you did work on this car and still the transmission goes out, is this my fault? I refuse to pay for this when it is well known these Honda Accord have transmission problem. I am going to look into getting a lawyer! This is a danger to me and my children!

- , Plain Dealing, LA, USA

problem #105

Oct 282008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

2003 V6 accord - transmission failed at 46,000 miles, Oct 2006. Honda replaced at no charge, as it was a certified used car under warranty. Now, 2yrs later and ONLY 30,000 miles on the replacement, it has failed again. Honda is deciding if they will pay for replacement. Dealer offered to accept 2003 as trade-in (offered $10,000) on a new Accord priced at $30,000. My 1999 Honda Accord lasted for over 123,000 miles before I traded it in on this one. It was still running strong. SHOULD I RISK ANOTHER HONDA??????

- , Powder Springs, GA, US

problem #104

Oct 102008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

03 accord auto v6, trans started slipping from 2nd gear into 3rd. took to Honda dealer and because the car is almost 6 years old they payed the trans I had to pay the labor. It costs me $702. I think Honda should pay it all. I must be a factory defect. They said it is now a three year 36 thousand mile warranty.. nothing in righting to that.. hope it lasts.

- , Colton, CA, USA

problem #103

Sep 252008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Honda will only pay 30% of the transmission cost--that's outrageous, since the transmission 2nd gear had a recall in 2005, and the Honda dealership person said that recall fixes sometimes don't work perfectly and can result in total transmission failure down the line. Even if there hadn't been a recall, you don't expect a transmission failure after only 92,000 miles, 5.5 years--it is proof of low quality


The Honda brand broadcasts its reputation for high quality--well, the reality is that my Honda transmission was low quality, and Honda expects me to pay for their low quality. Honda is not being fair. BTW: I drive conservatively, was never in an accident with this car.

- , Oakland, CA, USA

problem #102

Oct 122008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,747 miles

This is known problem that many 2003 Honda Accord owners seem to have. However, when I called the Honda America Corporation at 1800-999-1009 as suggested and spoke to someone at extension 117760, he told me that he "had never heard of any problems like this" and has "many friends and family with 2003 Honda Accords and would be embarrassed if this were true". Never heard of?! One search on Google told me quickly that this is a known and well documented problem. Bottom line: Honda offered to cover only 50% of the $3388 bill and could not do anything more for me.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #101

Oct 092008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

VISIT THAT WEBSITE! Everyone here, if you have experienced this problem, let the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration know about it! As we all know, the transmission failure can cause a severe deceleration while on the freeway and the car shifts into first gear. This can cause loss of control as the wheels lock up, and/or a rear end collision. REPORT THE ISSUE! The administration needs to hear from people!

- , Valencia, CA, USA

problem #100

Oct 092008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

I used to be a Honda fan and i used to have a 1984, prelude and that car was so reliable but had to sell it because the parts got costly. I bought a 2000 accord, V6 in 2005 and by 2006, the transmission kept slipping out of gear anytime i got to a red light. I had to sell it and i bought a 2003 accord 2 months ago and guess what, it will not move in any gear while i stop at a red light and it keeps making weird noises. I guess i'll have to go back to Toyota's.

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #99

Oct 032008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

My 2003 Honda Accord V6 is a piece of crap. I bought it brand new had it custom made direct from the factory zero miles. To make a long story short I've been having problems with the car driving since January 2008 took it to Bryan Honda in Fayetteville, NC they checked it couldn't find out the problem. They acted like they didn't even know about the faulty transmission. One of the Service Dept employees told me they aren't supposed to tell the customer this but call 1800-999-1009 and complain and they will assign me a caseworker on my case. I called Honda was a assigned a caseworker. I told him while driving my car it started jerking into gear really hard I almost lost control of my car and that it completely stopped moving in all gears.The caseworker assigned me a case number and said someone would call me back within 24 hours. They called yesterday and offered to pay $1900 of the $2900 bill. This is bull crap, they should pay for all the bill. Can anyone give me the number to a lawyer?

- , Fayetteville, NC, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?