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Ratings on over 1,000 new & used models going back 5 years, from the Center from Auto Safety. Learn more about The Car Book 2018 here. 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:
97,700 miles
Total Complaints:
500 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace/rebuild transmission (345 reports)
  2. not sure (71 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 21 of 25)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

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.

- Ikenna A., 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?

- Kimberly A., Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #98

May 152008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

This is my third Accord. My daughter now drives my second one, a 1996 Accord and still on the original tranny with 240k on it!! I purchase the 2003 thinking that Honda still made reliable vehicles. This transmission blew with no warning while my youngest daughter, who had just learned to drive, was sitting in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic on a HOT!! Atlanta day. Thinking that Honda would surely cover such a repair on a vehicle, that by Honda standards was quite young, I took it my nearest dealer to find out that they would only cover half of the $1800 reman. transmission cost. That's was $850 out of my pocket for a transmission that failed before most "poorly made" American cars do! Now 4 months after the new tranny was installed it is whining constantly. So back to the dealer I go to see if anything can be done.

- Larry P., Decatur, GA, US

problem #97

Sep 082008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


Transmission problems first presented themselves after I had been driving for 45 minutes then got to a stop light, accelerated and the car couldn't find 3rd went forward really fast then caught the gear and slowed down as if I braked really hard. I thought I was going to lose control of the car. This happened twice before I decided to cruise home at 20 mph in 2nd gear.

I took the car to the Elk Grove Honda dealership the next morning. They were unable to replicate the problem and sent the car home with me at no charge. They said if it happened again to stop by and have a mechanic ride with me.

The next day the car couldn't get out of 2nd gear after driving in bumper to bumper traffic for 30 minutes. This happened again on the way home after about 30 minutes. This problem definitely occurs after the car has warmed up. We took the car back to the dealership to take the mechanic for a ride and it wouldn't even go in reverse. We left the car there for an official diagnosis....transmission failure.

After reading all the problems with this transmission and finding that many people were able to get America Honda help out with the repairs, I asked the dealership for a "goodwill repair" from Honda. The dealership was more than happy to call Honda on my behalf. They were able to get Honda to pay for 35% of the repairs. Meanwhile, I am going to be stuck with around a $2000 repair bill. At least new tranny is a rebuilt one that comes with a 3yr/36K warranty.

Thank you Elk Grove Honda for your help!

- Meghan T., Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #96

Sep 022008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

It's a shame to see that all of there accords are failing transmissions, and they won't admit that it is there fault. I have always been a Honda fan but, not anymore. I thought I was the only one, until I found this website. At least I feel better now that I see you all have the same problem.

- Jose R., Moreno Valley, CA, USA

problem #95

Jan 012008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

Frustrated with Hondas inflexibility to pay the entire amount of the repair on a transmission failure that they are CLEARLY having problem with. I even mentioned The customer service representative we dealt with was unprofessional and rude, so much for customer service!

- Marguerite K., Aston, PA, USA

problem #94

Sep 012008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles


Well, I bought my 2003 Honda Accord thinking it was a great car and wouldn't buy a GM or Ford again. If Honda doesn't at least assist in some way with this costly repair, I think they have lost me as a customer. If they do help me with the expense, I would be satisfied. I thought I would have a trouble free car. I have maintained my Accord to the letter.It's a "wait and see" type of situation now, as I called and spoke with American Honda's Customer Service at 1.800.999.1009 and spoke to a Honda Representative.

- James P., Geneseo, NY, USA

problem #93

Aug 042008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,975 miles

My husband, a former Honda Mfg employee, and I decided to purchase a new 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 after having owned a 1990 Accord EX. I personally didn't like the new body style and was leaning more toward the Toyota Camry. My husband, with his loyalty to his product, convinced me to purchase the Accord. As I did my homework, I was impressed with the safety features and the consumer reports that I read. In addition, I knew Honda's reputation for manufacturing quality reliable vehicles. It was an excellent car until a few weeks ago, at 99,975 miles, when while at a local fast food restaurant I put the car in reverse to back out of my parking space. As I placed the car in drive on an incline, it never went into gear. I simply rolled down the incline. I managed to dodge traffic and to roll back into a parking space where I turned the car off and started it again hoping that the problem would fix itself. After several attempts the car jerked into gear and finally moved forward. As I had hoped, it seemed to adjust itself and I continued to drive it. I was on a local busy street, a couple of days later, when I attempted to accelerate after being stopped at a traffic light and the car revved up but would not move. I shifted from drive to neutral back to drive and it jerked into gear but would slip out whenever I slowed down. I eventually pulled the car over and called my husband to take it to the dealership. When I got home, I investigated the issue online and found that there had been a recall to prevent transmission failure. I was relived when I learned of the recall because (1) I knew that a car with a reputation such as the Honda Accord wouldn't have a transmission that would fail so quickly and (2) if it did that Honda would do the right thing and correct it at no cost to the customer. My husband's initial question to the dealership service tech was wheter or not the transmission problems we were experiencing could be a result of the recall. The service tech seemed more concerned about about the number of miles we had on the car. We were told that if the mileage was more than 100,000 miles that Honda would not honor the recall even if it was related. Fortunately, we were just a few miles from the 100,000 mile mark. My husband asked what would be the consequence of not having the recall procedure performed, and he responded that 2nd gear would fail as a result of overheating. We were told that a diagnostic of the transmission would have to be performed with a scope and a camera to determine if 2nd gear had in fact failed and if Honda would cover the cost of the replacement. We received the results of the diagnostic two days ago (late Friday evening) which indicated that 2nd gear had not failed, but that the clutch had "burned up". My question was if the recall piece was to prevent overheating that would damage 2nd gear, why wouldn't the same overheating cause the clutch to burn up?, The tech had no answer but was pleased to inform my husband that even though the the repair didn't fall under the recall that Honda would pay 50% of the $2800 cost to replace the trany simply because the car was only 5 years old and had less than 100,000 miles. We were also told that they couldn't get to the repair for two possibly three weeks. Initially no offer of a loaner car was made, even though my husband and I have been inconvenienced for two weeks awaiting the results of the diagnostic. However, my when my husband gave them the go ahead today (Monday) to replace the transmission, he inquired about the use of a loaner car for the duration of the repair. We were provided an older model Accord to drive at no cost, for which we are grateful.

We are appealing to Honda Customer Service to cover a larger portion of the cost to replace the trany and have been told by a Customer Service Rep that our case will be given priority and that we should receive a call back.

We will keep you posted of the outcome.

- Yolanda J., Gadsden, AL, USA

problem #92

Aug 182008

Accord EX 3.0vtec

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles

Earlier this week, I noticed that it was taking a while to change from 2nd to 3rd gear. So I made an appointment with a auto shop nearby to have it checked out. The mechanic discovered that the transmission was indeed failing and that he didn't know how long it'll take until it's completely out. I inquired about how much this would cost, and he quoted a little over $3,000. When I got home that day I called the dealership service center where I bought my vehicle 18 months earlier to check if I had any warranty that would cover the repair. I was so relieved to find out that I did have the warranty. So I got my car fixed and got it back 3 days later. Although it's driving smoothly right now and I noticed better gas mileage, I have some doubts as to how long before a transmission problem occur. I'll give it until next year to improve my credit score a little bit before I think about trading in this vehicle for something newer and more reliable.

- Roger L., North Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #91

Feb 042007

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

transmission failed in February 2007, leaving me and my 2 young children stranded on a major interstate.

1 week prior to this, I had the 60,000 service completed on in it and 2 days later, the car starting shaking and riding roughly. Took it back to the Honda service department and called Honda corporate the same day to voice my concern.

Honda replaced the transmission at no cost to me.

- Stowe D., Severn, MD, USA

problem #90

May 122008

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


Yes, I'm one of the new trany people. I took my car in to the dealership to have the transmission serviced along with some other minor work. They changed the transmission fluid on a Thursday and on Saturday the transmission went out.The dealership did get Honda of America to replace the transmission for free. I had to pay $250.00 for freight on the new transmission. In talking to the parts clerk, he said Honda of America had to build a new transmission rebuilding facility in the USA in order to handle this problem. You can only get a rebuilt transmission for your Honda, never a new one. I now have a 36,000 mile warranty on my new transmission. I love my accord, but I will be selling it soon, never to buy another Honda. I left my name and information with the New York law firm for the class action suit and ask you to do the same. I may be one of the few who have a new trany paid for by honda, but this is still WRONG, WRONG WRONG.

- Conrad L., Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #89

Aug 152008

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,354 miles




- Beau C., Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #88

Aug 092008

Accord EXL 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I am another '03 Accord owner with a total transmission failure (at 67,000). I just got my car back from dealer repair shop today. I found this site when researching the problem and was helped a lot by the comments others left, and so will now add mine in hopes that it will help the next person. I'm not going to focus this post on my disappointment with the car - others are doing a good job of that - but want to pass on what saved me at least some money on the repair. Here goes:

1)Symptoms of failure were exactly the same as others have noted. With no previous warning the car started to not engage in gear when leaving a light and then, bang, would find a gear. When decelerating to a stop it would suddenly also downshift hard. 2) My car was out of warranty, but I noticed that some on this site were getting Honda to pick up some or all of the tab. I followed advice from post #55 who said to call Honda USA,,800-999-1009, and ask about "GOODWILL REPAIR". I did this before going to the dealership. They gave me a reference # and told me I had to take it to the dealer to get a diagnosis before going further. 3) At the dealer service department I described the problem, told them I had called Honda already and gave them the reference #. I mentioned that I saw on the internet that this problem was epidemic and that I noticed that Honda was picking up 75-100% of the cost. The service guy didn't admit nor promise anything but said that he had seen them pick up to 90% of the otherwise $3,000 tab. (He said it was good for the customer to pay in some small portion because it gave you a 3yr/36k warranty where as a totally free replacement would not. ...not sure if this may have been just a line. I am only passing on what he said). 4) Service Department confirmed transmission failure, but said that before they could offer any Goodwill discount they needed the car history and maintenance records, which is fair since the dealer had no records on the car at all. (I had bought it used with 10k miles from a private seller and had always taken it to a local shop which does only Honda repairs with Honda parts but at a much lower labor rate. The only work I ever had done at the dealer was the recall gear inspection which I had done at 15k miles when I got the notice) I keep good records so was quickly able to provide them the info they needed; HOWEVER, I am one that only takes good, not excellent care of my car so I knew this may hurt me (I did not always do my maintenance as regularly as I should...often went three thousand miles beyond schedule). 5) Dealer said that they would only do 50% ($1,500) since the car had not been purchased or serviced at their dealership. I lobbied for 80% since I have in the past and now more recently purchased other cars from them. Was politely told 50% was the best they would do. 6) I took their offer even though my own local shop could have done the repair for the same exact amount (the dealer really inflates the cost!). But I wanted the 3yr/36k warranty that I would get through the dealer since there is a high likely hood of it having more problems from what I read.

So, that's my experience. I didn't get Honda to pick up as much as I have heard from this site and the service guy that they can, but half is better than none. Had it been that over the years I had regularly had my service done at their dealership or any Honda dealership I would not have settled for less than 90%.

I'll end by noting that I have owned 6 Honda over the years and have never had anything like this fail, especially at lower mileage like this. (I used to have a Dodge Caravan and with those it was just common knowledge that at 75K miles the transmission and the a/c were going to go). Too bad Honda may be losing it edge on reliability and customer service.

- N P., Fort Lauderdale, FL, US

problem #87

Aug 052008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

It's pretty sad when the car only has 75,000 miles and the transmission prematurely fails because of a faulty torque converter. This seems to be a common problem, that Honda should be fully aware of, but to date, there has been NO RECALL. The timing belt isn't scheduled to be changed until the car has 105,000 miles but the transmission needs replacement at 75,000. What is wrong with this picture???? The US consumer has to deal with the hassle of faulty equipment and Honda is counting their money all the way to the bank. Perhaps there is a good attorney out there who would be interested in a class action lawsuit against Honda for selling the US consumer a piece of crap.

- Ivy C., Houston, TX, USA

problem #86

Jul 102008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,800 miles

Honda recalled this problem in 2004, and performed an inspection they said with a "digital camera" looking inside the transmission. Honda said no need to replace the trans and installed some kind of ATK kit. Recall was due to problems between 2nd and 3rd gear. Honda should have replaced the trans way back then, at 16,999 miles. Instead we lived with this until almost 65,000 miles. American Honda refused to pay for the fix, and is still refusing. The case has been appealed and if Honda doesn't pay for the transmission rebuild they face additional actions. Until this is resolved in our favor, we warn anyone not to buy a Honda Accord or any other Honda product.

- bernhard, Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #85

Jul 242008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,200 miles

Same problem as the rest of you. On vacation 300 miles from home at 9pm, the tranny downshifts to 2nd gear while driving 55 mph. The tires chip, engine near redlines, wife and infant son thrown against their seatbelts. Tranny then upshifts, runs smooth for 45 seconds, then does it again. Repeat several times until I come to a redlight. Car never gets above 2nd gear again. Nurse the car back to where we are staying and I check the transmission fluid level. Everything looks fine, both color and level. I let it cool down and try it again by myself an hour later. This is when I find there is no reverse. Next day, I limp to the dealership where they tell me the transmission is shot. $3,300 for a new one. Meanwhile, I have the added inconvenience of getting my family home, then going back down after it is fixed to pick it up. Looking for Honda to stand behind their product w/ a goodwill repair. American Honda says they will only pay half since they feel half the usable life has been consumed. I am severely disappointed in a car company I have had 100% faith in until this point.

- Jeremy D., Fitchburg, MA, USA

problem #84

Aug 052008

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

I'll join the Transmission Failure Club ,My 03 has about 83k on it.It started shifting very rough from 2nd to 3rd.Anyway Ive heard that the new transmissions(05 and up) are pretty much bullet proof, Updated larger shafts,a better lubricant filtration system,Anyone got any facts on this info? thanks

- Mike H., Naples, FL, USA

problem #83

May 092008

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

For several months, the car had been stuttering on gear shifts around 25 or 30 mph. I'd feel it start to shift and then there'd be a jerk a second later as it finally went into gear. On several occasions on May 9 and 10, 2008, the transmission would start to shift (effectively, go into neutral), but fail to go into the higher gear. The only way to keep it moving was to limp along at 20 mph until I could pull over, shut off the engine, and restart, which would allow me to drive a little more before it gave out again.

Replacement was covered by the extended warranty, but I had to pay a $50 deductible. Pretty good compared to the $3500-4000 I would have had to pay without the warranty, but the fact that that was even a possibility, given only 72,000 generally gentle and largely highway (no-shifting!) miles, has really soured me on Honda. If this were a Ford, maybe I'd feel lucky to have made it 72,000 on one transmission, but I expect better reliability from Honda. I didn't buy this thing for its looks.

- Martin S., Allen, TX, USA

problem #82

Jul 092008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

A lawyer in New York is collecting data for a Class Action Suit.....Phone number is 212-566-4356. Add your name to their growing list.

- Charles W., Florence, SC, USA

problem #81

Jun 012008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,351 miles

I guess I'm just another one to add to the list... I too bought a Honda because of reliability and previous Honda's that ran great (previous owner of a 1988 civic and a 1990 accord).

Bought the car with 86k on it, noticed rough transmission in the first few months, brought it in before warranty ran out, they said it was fine, and then at 110k, right after the warranty ran out, transmission completely died.

I figured they would cover the cost of the replacement, as it is a known problem, and because I brought it in before the warranty was up. No such luck. The best we could get was Honda Canada to pay 1/3, the dealer 1/3 and us 1/3. Which worked out to just over a grand. Could have been worse I guess, I just think Honda should take some more responsibility when they are trying to market their cars on reliability. Talked to my neighbor after the fact who has a 2001 accord which is on its 3rd transmission. This scares me - I kinda feel like its not over!!

- leahjz, Calgary, AB, Canada

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