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 3 of 25)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #458

Jul 102012

Accord EXL 3.O V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Typical car manufacturer BS, this should be a recall they know darn well there's trouble with these crappy cars. Never again will I purchase a Honda of any kind

Update from Feb 5, 2014: Contacted Honda about the issues and the responded with a complete and utter F%^$&%^ou response, closest dealer is 400 miles hose is leaking and there's a risk of fire so car cant be driven and has to be transported at a cost of $500.00. This moron said its my responsibility to get the car there. So if I drive it and it catches fire will Honda pay for it? doubtful.

With regard to the transmission issue they didn't even address it when he responded, but did tell me he didn't understand why I wasn't advised of the 2 outstanding recalls on my car. Thinking it time I got away from the JAP CRAP

- , Fort Mcmurray, Alberta, canada

problem #457

Nov 232013

Accord LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

I purchased a 2003 Honda Accord from a one owner with all the service records. Car is in great shape, low millage(91000). I thought I had found the perfect car for my teenage daughter. Car ran great for the fist two months then just out of the blue started jerking, and shifting gears violently. My daughter was scared to death barely made it home. Now the car is sitting in my driveway and I still owe 2 years worth of payments. I called Honda and they informed me there was a recall on the car that was corrected in 2004 on the transmission, and I was pretty much just out of luck! I purchased this car because of all the good things you hear about Honda but I can tell you this if I do get it fixed I will be selling it and I will never purchase another Honda and I will tell everyone I know to never purchase one. Its a shame when they know there is a problem and wont do anything to fix it.

- , Prestonsburg, KY, USA

problem #456

May 062013

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

My wife and I bought this car to simplify things before buying our first house. Its a Honda, what could possibly go wrong?? WRONG CHOICE

It started out with the car shifting really weird. It would SLAM into gear while shifting, and then other times especially shifting between 2nd and 3rd it would completely slip out of gear. I would shift it into neutral while rolling, tap the gas, put it back in gear and be perfectly fine. Sometimes it would go several weeks with no problem.

In the end the car would leave me completely stranded all over the place. It would come out of gear and nothing I could do would get it back in. I would barely make it to a driveway, shift into park, wait a few min then attempt to go again. On the way home from work one day i had to do this half a dozen times!!!

I never went to the point of the transmission completely failing like some have mentioned on here where the car shifted into 1st on the highway or something, but it was toast there was no doubt, constantly leaving me stranded. I took it to a Honda Acura specialist shop in my area. They rebuilt the whole tranny for $2600ish and gave me a 2 year 24,000 mile warranty.

I'm extremely disappointed that Honda is doing nothing to help us with this. This car had the recall where they installed the hot jet kit. Whatever that was it was completely worthless. Thanks for nothing Honda

Sincerly, Another Screwed Customer

- , Spartanburg, SC, USA

problem #455

Oct 102013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 181,000 miles


I've owned three Honda accords before this one and never had such a problem. Just bought a 2014 Honda accord sport. Was going to send this 2003 Honda accord v6 ex to my daughter in Florida and before I could, night before the transmission goes completely out while driving home. Had to get it towed home because it won't move at all. I've had a 1996 accord LX and a 2002 accord EX and never had any problems. This is an outcry. What the hell! This is a Honda! Honda are you all going to help in this issue? This car (2003 Honda EX v6) cranks and idles like a sewing machine but won't move because of the transmission failure. I've kept up the maintenance throughout my ownership and this? Hell no! We need some relief from Honda.

- , Desoto, TX, US

problem #454

Oct 282013

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,022 miles

I am amazingly disappointed, shocked and upset with Honda of America. The transmission went out on my way to work 2 days ago with no warning, cost if repaired is between $2,600 and $3,600. I bought this car in 06 after leaving NOLA for hurricane Katrina. My Honda was chosen because I wanted to make an investment in a car that would last, there were cheaper options available but I went with Honda based on their reputation for quality.

I understand the whole deal about warranties, but if the dealer would have told me that there was a problem with these particular transmissions I would not have purchased the vehicle.

I guess what is really rubbing me wrong is:

  1. I made the payments every month on that car, it was the first title that I have ever received in the mail. It made me so happy to have the worry of a car note off my mind, but mainly it felt great to start my car with confidence. I took great care of that car and did nothing wrong,

    2. Honda is denying any wrongdoing in the matter and blaming the problem on "internet confusion" even though there was a recall fix done on the transmission in 05.

    Lastly, a local dealer said they would give me $1200 for my car as a trade and that they would probably send it to an auction!! I am not disputing the value because it does need a transmission but the car looks amazing, the engine is in great shape, new tires etc. I truly believe that if the transmission would not have been defective on these models my Honda would have lasted to 300,000 miles easy.

    I still cannot believe this happened.

- , Little Rock, Pulaski, USA

problem #453

Oct 102013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,721 miles

I have owned my 2003 Accord for 10 years. It is in good condition and the majority of the maintenance was done at the Honda dealer, however it was always maintained in accordance with the manual. I only had 53,721 miles on the car when it started to shift roughly and eventually it just stopped. I was horrified. I went online and found there were over 3,500 complaints filed regarding Honda transmission problems. Prior to purchasing my Honda, I owned a Subaru which had over 200,000 miles when I got rid of it. Never once did I have any transmission problems with my Subaru. I also owned a Ford Mustang that I never had a problem with the transmission until well over 180,000 miles. I purchased my Honda based on the high ratings and reports I had always heard about Honda. I now think those high ratings were unwarranted. Needless to say, I am very disappointed and I don't think I will ever purchase a Honda car again nor will I recommend Honda to anyone else.

A very disenchanted Honda Owner.

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #452

Oct 062013

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles


The cost to repair is 50% of the car value. This is just ridiculous! I cant even sell it as is and buy another used car

- , Round Rock, TX, USA

problem #451

Feb 012013

Accord EXL 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

My transmission is going out. There are metal shavings in the transmission fluid. It grinds when it shifts gears. It also lags and jerks when shifting.

- , aurora, IL, USA

problem #450

Sep 102013

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

I will NEVER buy another Honda product. I am in shock that my 2004 Honda Accord, top of the line, fully maintained & looks new still, would die without warning on the freeway with a complete transmission failure. Then to find out that this is a well known, documented problem on these cars but Honda continues to sell & not stand behind them is absolutely unbelievable! to purchase the transmission is $4,870.!!!!!!plus the cost to install makes this 2004 car a piece of JUNK! Called dealership I purchased the car from and they said "sorry Honda wont do anything". They said that the 2003 didn't really have transmission problems, REALLY???? That's not what I am hearing or reading. The whole reason I spend so much money on the car is because they are supposed to be so reliable and run for ever. Buyer beware this is not the case!!!!

Now I am talking to people and heart there Odyssey had transmission failure, I'm hearing about Civics with the same problem, turns out Honda makes a faulty transmission, period.

Amazing that a company could know they have a huge problem including a previous class action suit against them and not have the decency to at least make the replacement part affordable. Who puts in a $5k fix on a car worth $8 or $9k???? DO NOT BUY A HONDA~ SPREAD THE WORD as a public service!!!!

- , Carmichael, CA, US

problem #449

Nov 262012

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles

WHAT THE HELL. I bought my used Honda from Russ Darrow in Madison, WI. Thinking I could trust a FRICKIN dealership to not sell me a LEMON. GUESS WHAT, I WAS WRONG. They refused to acknowledge that the Honda had a problem and I've taken it to multiple mechanics. Zimbrick says the transmission is a dud. RIGHT AFTER I COULD NOT RETURN THE DAMN CAR WHICH HAS NO WARRANTY, THE TRANSMISSION STARTED TO ACT UP. I WILL NEVER EVER SHOP AT RUSS DARROW EVER AGAIN AND I WILL NEVER BUY A HONDA AGAIN. I trusted Russ Darrow and Honda to buy my first car. WELL F*CK THAT. I'm going to Toyota and RUSS DARROW CAN SUCK A BIG ONE.

- , Prairie Du Sac, WI, USA

problem #448

May 052013

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles


First transmission had to be replaced in 2008 (5 years from date of purchase)....another 5 years and another transmission needs to be replaced. No warranty this time. NO transmission on any care should go out after only 5 years. 2003 Accord trany is reported all over as bad and they replaced mine with another BAD one.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #447

Apr 172012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

TERRIBLE AND DANGEROUS transmission failure!!!!! I have taken my car to every regularly scheduled maintenance and oil change during its entire lifetime and have even taken my car in a month ago for a checkup.

The transmission failed catastrophically in the middle of a freeway and I almost ended up causing a huge car crash involving multiple cars. After doing some research, I have found out that this was a known problem by Honda involving a recall in 2004 and class action lawsuit in 2006. This is dangerous and negligent of Honda to not replace the transmissions without charge on EVERY vehicle that is known or possible known to have this problem.

- , New York City, NY, US

problem #446

May 182012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,490 miles

It was Friday evening in heavy DMV traffic on I95 when it wouldn't go when I pressed the accelerator. Luckily, my good friend is a great mechanic (not to mention, maintains my car through preventative services) which recommends purchasing a new/rebuilt one. I have 2 payments left on a 5year loan, ouch!

- , Upper Marlboro, MD, US

problem #445

May 282012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Transmission failed while driving. Took the car to an independent transmission dealer to have it rebuilt. After finding out Honda was having issues with this transmission called Honda to complain. Honda would not do anything since I took it to an independent dealer and not an authorized Honda dealer.

Feel Honda was not honest upfront about them having transmission issues and terrible customer service since they didn't want to help pay for the repairs.

- , Louisville, KY, USA

problem #444

Aug 102013

Accord LX L4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

I was behind a bus and was trying to change into the next lane. As I step on the gas pedal the car jerked forward and made a loud clunking noise. I thought I was rear-ended at first, but then I realized the transmission was shot when the car wasn't speeding up as I tried to accelerate. I put the transmission in park once I was able to coast safely onto the side the road and it started to make a loud whining noise. At the moment, I'm not sure what to do about the car. I'm a student and I really can't afford to have the transmission replaced.

- , silver spring, MD, USA

problem #443

Jun 092011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

After getting a transmission service (the fluid was already dark by that point so it was on its way out), the transmission started to violently shift gears both up and down, from speeds anywhere from 10 miles an hour to 45 . On the way to the transmission shop it shifted both up and down at 45 miles an hour almost randomly, I left it there and walked 7 miles to work only to get a call that it needed a total rebuild for $2800. Even now I have problems with leaks.

- , Burnsville, MN, USA

problem #442

Aug 162013

Accord EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

My sister-in-law was driving the car on the highway at 60mph when it suddenly began to violently decelerate, as though somebody had jammed on the brakes. We managed to drive the car to the dealership.

When they tested the car the next day the transmission destroyed itself and they barely managed to drive it back to the dealership. If it had failed the previous day when my sister-in-law was on the highway she could have been killed.

- , Redmond, WA, USA

problem #441

Jan 172013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

I purchased my first Honda Accord based on what I heard about their reliability and long life. After driving the car for seven years I was in agreement that is was indeed a great car just over 100,000 I had complete transmission failure. I had no warning or signs of any issues I just drove it to work one day and on the way home it would not shift into gear. I am very frustrated and angry to find out that this is a very common problem and Honda is not accepting any responsibility. I talked with a mechanic from a Honda dealer who acknowledged that this is a common problem but Honda has made no recalls to address the issue. This will be my last Honda, going back to American made in the future.

- , Mount Vernon, OH, USA

problem #440

Feb 162013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I was driving 30mph. All sudden my car stopped and I was unable to start the car. I tow the car to meineke and they said transmission is failed and $5000 estimate was given by them to fix this issue.

I called Honda care and they said your car had a recall for transmission problem and now your car is not under warrantee.

I am very upset since last week and don’t know what to do.

- , Herndon, VA, USA

problem #439

Apr 012012

Accord EX 3.0L Vtec V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

Just like everyone else here, I love my 2003 Accord for everything except the transmission. At first it was small clunking, or slipping, few and few in between. I had transmission fluid changed by dealer when I purchased it with 48k miles on it. I had it changed again at 80k and again at 90k and the problems have only gotten worse. Now the transmission clunks loudly, it over-revs sometimes because it disengages too early and engages the next gear too late, and most recently, the transmission has been slipping so bad that when I come to a stop some smoke comes out of the hood.

I filed a complaint with Honda and I am taking to to my dealership this upcoming weekend to see what can be done about. Hopefully something, because if it is nothing this will be the last Honda I own.

Update from Feb 8, 2013: Spoke with Honda Corporate and they said "hey, here are some rocks, get to kickin."

They said these are individual owner issues and without a warranty they will do nothing. Honda dealership wants $4k to fix the transmission.

This thing is going to Carmax ASAP.

Won't be buying or recommending Honda to anyone, ever.

- , Citrus Heights, CA, USA

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