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 25 of 25)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #18

Jul 112007

(reported on)

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 198,000 miles


I guess I can join the crowd. Purchased the accord due to quality rep.... Had to have the first transmission replace under warranty at 32,000 miles. I travel on the road for a living, and after 160,000 miles on the "second" transmission; it failed and left me stranded in the middle of the mountains in TN. I was nearly run over by an 18 wheeler. They are quoting me $3200 to replace it, and are having problems finding a transmission. Does that tell you something??? No replacement parts to go around. Will never buy a Honda again. Do you think I'll have any luck w/Honda on some reimbursements???

- , Greer, SC, USA

problem #17

Jul 212007

(reported on)

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Just got a call from my girlfriend that my car broke down in the mountains of Tennessee. Same complaint others are having. You get plenty of RPM but the car barely moves. It's already cost me $150 to tow it to Rusty Wallace Honda and another 200 or so for a rental so she can get back home. If it only broke down near home I would be happier. I am kinda scared from what people are saying it's costing to repair. I will definitely be calling Honda about this issue to see if they will split the costs.

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #16

Mar 292007

(reported on)

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

So far the honda dealership is requesting $90 to figure out whats wrong... the tranny is blown thats whats wrong. they are telling me so far its out of warranty and its not up to them its up to honda... they don't seem to stand behind their cars.

I'll let you know the outcome

- , New Hyde Park, NY, USA

problem #15

Oct 112006

(reported on)

Accord EX

  • 30,000 miles


Car wouldn't shift out of 2nd. I pulled out onto a major highway (with cars coming) and the car shifted into neutral. That could have been really bad. I do have to give Honda cudos on this one. They fixed it and gave me a rental to drive around. Although once again, performed poorly on communication.

- , Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #14

Mar 082007

(reported on)

Accord EXL 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

I previously owned a VW that had a bad habit of acting up and spending weeks in the shop. So, after consulting with a few Honda-owning friends, I decided to trade in my beloved Jetta in hopes that an oil-change-only Honda Accord would fair better. To my disappointment, I have had far more problems with my Accord in the 25 days that I've owned it than in the 7 years I owned my Jetta. Within 15 days of purchasing the Accord my brakes failed, my suspension "froze," and my transmission failed. AAA towed it to the dealership, where it took them a week to put in a "new" transmission (by the looks of it, the thing has been to hell and back) and refused to supply me with a rental car. They also found a problem with the suspension that they claimed to have fixed but no problems with the brakes.

In the 3 days since I've had my car back, the transmission is hinting at failing again, it pulls horribly to the right when the breaks are applied, I have gas in my oil pan, oil leaking out of my intake manifold, and it whines like a diesel bus when accelerating, among a few other problems that don't necessarily pose a horrible threat to safety. Those problems were all found by simply lifting the hood and looking - Lord only knows what I'll find when I actually have a mechanic pull the car apart and search.

All in all I want nothing more than to get rid of this car. I've had to put my life on hold and have had to add almost an hour to my morning commute just to ensure that I'll have time to pull over and deal with the car malfunctioning and still get to work on time. That's not exactly why I bought the car...

This is the 3rd car I've owned in my life and by far the worst. Not only am I disappointed that the all-mighty, reliable Honda has made such a horrible car, but I'm also disppointed that the dealership tells me I'm lying about these obvious problems.

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #13

Jul 122006

(reported on)

Accord EX

  • 56,600 miles

After owning American cars my entire life and having many problems with quality, I decided that I had had enough. I chose a brand new 2003 Honda accord EX (known to be an icon of reliability). Up until this past weekend, (7/9/06) I have had good luck with this car. At 56,600 miles and all service records from the dealer complete I had been enjoying this car. Now comes the incident which could have taken my life!! While in Los Angeles, I was approaching the entrance to the 405 freeway(probably one of the busiest freeways in the world), when I felt the car hesitate and lurch a couple of times as if the engine was cutting out. I decided I had better get to my destination as soon as possible. While on the freeway, the car seemed to shift harder. As I was traveling at approx. 65 MPH, with no warning both front wheels LOCKED and I skidded to a stop in the middle lane of the freeway! My life flashed before my eyes. I don't know how I WASN'T involved in a major accident. I managed to limp to the exit where the car expired. It wouldn't start or move. I thought, thank goodness I purchased the extended warranty! If I had been hit by other cars, Honda would have been staring at MAJOR lawsuit! The Honda dealer has informed me that it was a "total transmission failure" and they would be installing a "remanufactured" transmisson. So now I am getting another persons old transmission that has been fixed up! This really makes me upset and uncomfortable about this car. How can I trust the Honda name and reputation. Does Honda know that lives are at stake here??

- , North Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #12

Feb 272007

(reported on)

Accord EX 3.0 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles


As with other people with the same car, I was driving on the Highway at 60 mph and the transmission went from 5th gear to second gear. This happened twice in one minute. My passenger thought I slammed on the breaks while driving for no reason. I realized after that we could of been killed by getting rear ended. I got off the highway going very slow. Then the car would not go in reverse and I realized it had to be the transmission. I had it towed to a Honda Dealer I work with. Unfortunately, the dealer couldn't find the problem at first. However, the service guys at this dealer are much better than others and kept the car for a week, taking it out daily until the problem happened again. Honda replaced the entire transmission at their expense. While my dealer was great, my concern is if Honda is aware of this? Will it happen on the new transmission? And the fact that how the transmission failed was absolutely so dangerous.

- , Hoboken, NJ, USA

problem #11

Feb 202007

(reported on)

Accord ES 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles


- , Dallas, TX, USA

problem #10

Jan 302007

(reported on)

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

Driving north from Toronto the rpms jumped to 7000 and the car slowed down. Got to the shoulder of the highway luckily I was in the next fair sized city when this happened (Barrie, ON). Got CAA (AAA) to tow me to Barrie Honda and was back on the road in a rental in less than 1.5 hrs. If this had happened another 100 miles north (I was on my way to Sudbury for business) I may have turned into a popsickle by the time someone got to me. The temperature was -6 degrees last night in Northtern Ontario. I just got my LCD screen replaced as good will gesture by Honda Canada and have placed a phone call to them regarding this. I'm guessing this could cost $2000. All my service has been done at Honda and I just had my expensive service done with a transmission check. I love the car but it is becoming a money pit.....

- , Toronto, ON, Canada

problem #9

Jan 032007

(reported on)

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles

They replaced it under warranty.

- , Prairieville, LA, US

problem #8

Nov 152006

(reported on)

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles


It's really frustrating that you buy a car that is supposed to be so reliable but turns out to be a clunker in a new body. May be I'm being a little extreme but from my experience it has been one thing after another even though you follow the suggested maintenance. I have never seen a transmission fail so fast. I had the recall fixed approximately one year ago. Now granted, I never had a problem before the recall. The first symptom was that the transmission slipped while driving, seeming as if you put the car in neutral, it eventually shifted back in gear. The next day, I planned to drive my car to the dealership to get it checked out, but my transmission did not last that long. I was fortunate that I was able to creep my way off the interstate but could go no further. I got my car towed to the dealership. I guess the service people didn't believe that my car was having problems even though it was dropped off on a flat bed tow truck. A few hours later, they took my car for test drive, as you can guess, the transmission failed on them. The only thing I can laugh about is that they had to push it back to the shop, feel a little of my pain. I asked the service manager if this has ever happened before. According to him, this was the first time. I guess he is not be aware of this web site. I strongly believe that the corporate office is fully aware of the problem but as much as possible trying to avoid the liability, leaving their customer screwed. As far as I am concerned, anything less than 100% of the cost to fix it is not enough. It would take a miracle for me to buy another Honda.

- , New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #7

Nov 172006

(reported on)

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles

I bought a 2003 Honda Accord EXL from Superior Honda in Omaha, NE. When I went to pick up the vehicle after signing paper work, it had a nearly flat tire and the gas gage was below empty. Well done, Superior. But that's fine. In 3 months I have had the car serviced 4 times. Two thing were on the inspection checklist as having been checked but clearly were never checked. Still, that's fine. On my way to Minnesota from Omaha, the transmission started to go out. I was in the car with my wife and daughter and the temperature was freezing. We made it to our destination 6 hours away but we just barely made it. I drove the car the next day the the transmission went out completely. No gear would engage. Spent 3 hours on the phone with MN HOnda dealerships trying to get car fixed on a Saturday. No one was open for transmission repairs. I got the car into a dealer on Monday, missed a day of work, but I got a rental car which Honda has agreed to pay for and they finally agreed to pay to have the car towed to their shop. I haven't picked up my car yet so we'll see if they really pay. In any case, I called Superior Honda in Omaha, NE to see if they could get the car to me in Omaha so I wouldn't have to spend 12 hours in the car on Saturday. They literally laughed at me and said they were under no obligation to do this. This may be true, however, the customer service was very poor. The sales manager, Jay, was very rude and finally transfered me to the service manager, after telling me numerous times that I never should have been transferred to him and telling me that they were "under no obligation" to help me. Well done Jay. As I have only had the car 3 months and have had numerous minor issues with the vehicle, a broken horn, TCS light won't go off, etc. I was getting very mad but remained calm on the phone when transferred to the service manager. He had a bit of customer service skill, but was very interested in proving to me that I had no legal action against them. When I said that the very least customer service they could provide would be to pay my gas to and from MN to get my car, he said that he doubted they would do that but he'd ask his manager. That never happened. 3 days later, I'm stil waiting for the call.

I called MN and the transmission will be covered under the warranty. This whole experience has made me sick. I have considered getting a lawyer and demanding my money back; initial purchase price plus tax, title and license. But I really like the car. If anything else fails, I may persue legal action. In any case, I would stay away from Superior Honda in Omaha, NE.

- , Omaha, NE, USA

problem #6

Nov 222006

(reported on)

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

OK, after a few days of my transmission not shifting into 3rd. my car finally finally broke down. I loved my V6 Honda Accord until today! What a piece of junk! The tramsission completely failed on me. On my way to work this morning at 5am, I am on the freeway driving 60mph and the it slips out of gear, I am almost at 7,000 RPMs and slowing down, it is out of gear and cannot put it back in... as I am trying to get to the right shoulder I pray that I don't get hit by one of the drivers storming by me doing 70-80mph. I pulled over stopped the car, turned off the engine. Started it again, tried to put in gear.. it worked this time, so I got back on the road... this happened several times, until I finally got the work. This is very unsafe and it is totally ridiculous that a 3 year old car's transmission fails like this.

It had just enough life to get to the dealership where I bought it. (Well, actually to the front of the dealership... a cop car gave me a push with his car to clear traffic because it stalled at a light right before the dealership entrance) you can imagine how angry I was when I walked into the dealership. After ripping the service dept. guy a new ass they hooked the car up to the diag. machine and said the tranny was toast. (I coulda told them that..) well, about five days later they fixed my car free of charge and now it runs great.. I got it back yesterday but I decided to get rid of it in a few months just in case more things go wrong with it.

- , Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #5

Nov 032006

(reported on)

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

First and foremost, I am meticulous about maintaining my car and I do all oil/brakes on my own...... Out of nowhere, driving home from work, transmission slips out of gear, engine races, slips back into gear again, slips back out, in, out, in, out...... Stayed in high gear on highway thankfully, made it home, had tranny company tow it the next day. Contacted Corporate Honda, told to bring car to Authorized Honda Service Dept. Had tranny company tow car to Honda ($150 out of pocket so far). Spoke to service dept., tranny is shot, need new one. I stated that my tranny was recalled two years ago (at 51,000 miles, recall NHTSA # 04V176000) and that the fact that I drove this car for 51,000 miles BEFORE the recall work was done, with a perceived significant problem, could have contributed to my tranny failure. Service manager said that the tranny failure had nothing to do with the recall issue. I said OK, "what caused my tranny to fail?". Service manager said "I don't know, we didn't open the tranny up". So, obviously, my next question to him was "If you don't know what caused my tranny to fail, how do you KNOW that it wasn't due to the recall issue?" He stated that if it was the recall issue, my tranny would have "locked up". OK, so I go to the NHTSA website which lists the recall problem and it states that "failure COULD result in tranny lock-up"...... Key word:COULD. Since my tranny didn't lock up, apparently it's my problem. I guess I'm a crappy driver eh? Service guy stated that they "have heard" that Honda has, in the past (hush hush, no one knows this), contributed in the cost of repair up to 50%. I stated that I felt that Honda should pay 100% of cost, a tranny should NOT fail at 83,000 ESPECIALLY if it was a quality vehicle like I believed Honda WAS. Service manager said to talk to corporate Honda 1-800-999-1009. Spoke to Corporate Honda Claim rep..... long story short.... since I was not willing to contribute to the cost of repair, Honda would not either... I am over my warranty "sorry we couldn't help you". I was being nice the whole time..... no ranting or yelling. I spent over $50,000 on Honda cars within two years (Accord+Odyssey), and this is how they treat a loyal and recent customer? I was very disappointed to say the least. My last ditch effort, which I did yesterday (10/2/06), was to call Corporate Honda claim rep one last time and offer to pay 50% of the cost, "would Honda be willing to do the same?"... Left message on her machine... I am currently waiting for a response..... let's see if they reconsider and be the quality Auto giant that they are. If not, then they have awoken a sleeping lion....... I will have an independent tranny shop replace my tranny with a new one..... AND THEN I will have them open up the defective tranny and diagnose the problem, I WILL take pictures, and I may or may not (i. e. disclaimer) post pictures on the Web of what other Honda owners can expect from a Honda transmission. I will let you all know what happens in the next few days. We'll see if Honda does the right thing...... until then, have a nice day people. Oh, if anyone else has experienced anything like this, please let me know....... I set up a yahoo E-mail account specifically for this........ Thank you !!!!

- , Riverhead, NY, USA

problem #4

Sep 292006

(reported on)

Accord EX-V6

  • 98,120 miles

I just had the 90K mile service performed on the the Accord (the car had 94800 miles on it at the time). Part of the 90K service is a transmission flush and fill and replace the transmissoin drain plug washer. Now at 98120 miles (less than 4000 miles since the service) the transmission has completely failed. This evening, (Friday 9/29/06) I was driving down to Waco Tx cruising along at about 70 mph on I35. All of a sudden the engine rpm revved to 5000+ and the car started slowing down. I pulled over and it smelled like fluid burning off on the hot exhaust system. I looked under the car and transmission fluid was leaking onto the road. I had to have the car towed into the nearest Honda dealership. More to follow once I find out what failed, what caused the failure, etc.

- , Lewisville, TX, USA

problem #3

Aug 302006

(reported on)


  • 87,000 miles

This car is crap. I couldn't believe that the transmission failed so badly... as well as the axle. I will never buy a Honda again!

- , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

problem #2

Oct 152005

(reported on)

Accord EX

  • 38,000 miles

I purchased my 2003 Accord with 27,000 Miles on it. The transmission started slipping but only every now and then. I took it to the Dealer, they said they couldn't find anything wrong. About a month later I was pulling into a parking spot and I shifted into Reverse and heard gears grinding. After work I headed to the dealership. On the way whenever I applied the brake approaching a stop light the Transmission was down shifting all the way into first gear. Sending my head slamming forward. I didn't think I would make it to the dealership. When I got there, they had a Technician come out to my car. He had me shift back and forth from Reverse to Drive (Automatic Trans.) Several times it made a really bad grinding noise. The Techinician said the Transmission was shot. It's been about 5,000 miles since it'd been fixed, and again I'm starting to hear noise.

- , Tacoma, WA, USA

problem #1

Jan 242005

(reported on)

Accord LX

  • 55,000 miles

With the car being LESS than 2 years old and with only 55,000, I can't believe the transmission went. My husband does a lot of traveling on business so it was mostly highway miles and we had no choice to get the car fixed. The dealer seems to think he did us a HUGE favor by putting in a refinished transmission at a cost of $1,600, but to me this car should not have had to have a transmission replaced in the first place with it being less than two years old. What a piece of junk Honda makes and I urge everyone who reads this not to buy any type of Honda vehicle.

- , Grand Island, NY, USA

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