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 4 of 25)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #438

Mar 112013

Accord EX-V6 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,200 miles


So much for Honda reliability.The problem started at 7am and car was driven directly to a honda dealer at 9am. Service advisor said the computer showed no problem codes and the fluid was not dirty and I was good to go.

Half way home the trany started slipping.I Got half way back to the dealer and it failed completely.Dealer towed car back to the shop put it on a lift to check for a linkage problem and then told me the fluid was burnt and the transmission bad and had to be replaced at cost of $4400.

- , Newington, CT, US

problem #437

Apr 102010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

I was really upset at the time this happened. The dealership had said it was the torque converter that went out, however they could not just replace that part, since it is inside the transmission. They had said my warranty just ran out and plus the miles were over, however, I remember that these Honda's had odometer errors, it was adding miles on the vehicle, and this was never addressed. However, the Honda dealer did assist any of the cost of repair. Now the replaces transmission, doesn't run as good as my original one, I have returned the vehicle to the dealership with this complaint and was told, it is normal. The transmission was fine. However, you know your own car, and to this day still is not running right. I was unaware of the transmission recall, due to the fact I have moved quite a bit since 2009. I would like to know, do I have a legimate complaint and could I get a new transmission or recover some of my fees from when I had it replaced in 2010. I am still really upset about this, with all the things that are going wrong with this car from the time I purchased it new, I would never buy another Honda.

- , Lakewood, WA, USA

problem #436

Apr 152013

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,800 miles

A few months back I was driving about 40 mph when, attempting to accelerate, the RPM shot up and the car refused to go any faster, it was like I had put the car in neutral. In addition, my check engine and TCS lights came on immediately. This happened twice within the span of a month.

This weekend, like everyone else here, my transmission failed prematurely. After just 130,800 it was out. I was driving along, thankfully on a road with a speed limit of only 35, when my car would not change into 3rd. I couldn't go any faster than 20mph. When I attempted to accelerate the RPM would shoot up and the engine would rev, but it wouldn't go any faster.

When Honda issued the recall on the transmission in 2004 it deliberately "fixed" the problem in a way that would delay transmission failure long enough so that it would fail after the warranty expired.

This is an extremely dangerous issue that Honda needs to be forced to fix. Only when people are killed will they correct this known issue.

I once believed that "Honda's last forever" line, but now I don't. I will NEVER purchase another Honda.

- , Austin, TX, USA

problem #435

Apr 272013

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,500 miles


Brought 2003 Accord in Oct 2010 with approximately 66K miles on it. In December 2010, I had to return it to the dealer because it was shifting very rough, and I would hear a grinding sound while driving to work(approx. 16 miles, round trip). There was a recall on the issue, however, the dealership manager tried to have me pay $285 for shipping costs of the parts. After some haggling for 2 days, he called me back & said they'd pay for it since it was around the holidays (lucky me!). Today, the transmission felt as if it literally fell out out the car! While pulling out of my parking spot, it felt as if I ran over something huge! I put the car in reverse & it wouldn't move. I put in gear(automatic) and it made a loud whirrrring sound,then a grinding sound. I immediately put in park & the noise got louder. I turned the car off & it stopped, looked under the car, nothing. I started car again, put in in gear, no movement & loud noise started again. I turned car off & had to get family members to assist in pushing it to a parking spot. Searched for & found dealer invoice from 2010 repair, and it states "warr. exp. 11sept2013"......Halleluah! I'm calling the dealer 7am on Monday, letting them know I'm bringing it in, and I'M NOT PAYING A DIME!

- , Perth Amboy, NJ, USA

problem #434

Apr 012013

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

It was April Fools day when the wrecker came to my house and took the car to the transmission shop.

I was a fool for buying this model without first checking the history. I am extremely disappointed that the exceptional Honda quality does not apply to this model.

- , Cypress, TX, US

problem #433

Jul 312011

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

I have a 2003 Honda Accord, V6 - the most serious and costly problem is the transmission which I can't afford to replace or have the money to purchase a rebuilt one, I have spent so much money on this car in repairs not including the $500.00 monthly payments that I struggle to pay due to the economy. My problem is when I make a turn (right or left) the car or tranny seems as though it gets stuck in neutral, I accelerate and the rpm will go all the way up to 5 or 6 as if I'm speeding , but the car doesn't move, I have to pull over, put the car in park and then back in drive to start all over again. I have had the transmission fluid drained and filled at the dealer but it still continues to do the same thing and all they want to do or say is that I need to replace the transmission. I've owned 5 cars and this is the worse, It looks good but looks are so deceiving when it comes to this particular car, it's horrible, and I can't understand why it hasn't been a recall on this car because I have read and heard from different mechanics shops that customers complaints (all the time) that have this year Honda Accord have the same problem (THE TRANSMISSION)...I will never in my lifetime buy another Honda and I feel for all the people that purchases one. The dealer treats you so nice when you are purchasing one and after you buy it and the problems starts, they treat you like S#!T!!!!!

- , East Hartford, CT, US

problem #432

Mar 202013

Accord Ex Coupe V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 147,560 miles


For the 2nd time since I bought this car new in Dec 2002, the transmission has gone out. The 1st time was at 84,000 miles. Research (and a Honda plant engineer) told me this was caused by a design flaw in the '03 transmissions--no internal cooler & no way to hook up an external cooler, so the transmission gets hot & fails.

The 1st time Honda agreed to cover 1/2 the cost, only because I bought the car new from the local dealer. That cost me $1300 & they put in a 'remanned' transmission. I knew I would have trouble again because the design issue was not addressed, but thought I would have at least till 160,000 miles. Nope. Complete failure at 147,500. It won't go in to reverse, drive or even park. This time it went out in the middle of a busy intersection with my 1yr old granddaughter in the car. I am going car shopping today.

- , Waldo, OH, USA

problem #431

Feb 162012

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,935 miles

Transmission failed and had to be rebuilt at a local shop. Mechanic told me this is a common occurrence with the year and model; the transmission repair shop had just rebuilt a transmission on the same year vehicle two weeks prior.

I'm waiting for Honda to issue a recall so I can be reimbursed for this very out-of-pocket expense.

I will be thinking twice before I consider buying another Honda again!

- , Campbell Hall, NY, USA

problem #430

Mar 072013

Accord EX-VL 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,339 miles

This is my 3rd Accord V6, loved them, always had faith. Always kept up with the maintenance, especially with this last one due to my retirement. Thought this would be my last car. Last car, no - last Honda, yes! Felt a slip when backing out of store parking lot - 15 minutes later, on a stretch of unpopulated road, it crapped out, big time. Doing about 55 MPH and it felt like I threw it into neutral. Took me forever to nurse it on home - coasted on the shoulder most of the way. Had it towed to Honda and their best offer was $4900 to repair (swap) or a trade in value of $2100 as it stood. Sweet, huh? Also said they could do a salvage trans. with 80,000 miles on it for $3800. Oh, yeah, let's put an 80,000 mile transmission in this old lady's 69,000 mile car and charge her 4 grand. Don't think so.

Had it towed out immediately and had one installed thru a friend of a friend for a MUCH more reasonable price. Working great and will give me all the time I need to shop around for a new car - which definitely will NOT be a Honda.

PS: Honda called me back several days later and and " because my car was so clean and in such good shape", upped the trade in (as is) to $4000. Suck an egg, Honda!

- , Whiting, NJ, USA

problem #429

Nov 212012

Accord EX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

Honda was once good, now is crap. The transmission gave no signs of anything going wrong and just quit working. It wont shift into any gear. We were going down the road at 60MPH and the car just down shifts to 1st gear and locks up the tires and the car starts sliding till it slows down. We finally make it home and the car wont shift at all now. So it was a total loss with no help from Honda as usual with this problem. So I started looking the transmission over really good to see how hard its going to be to replace and the more I inspect the transmission I find numbers all over it from where it is out of a junkyard. So this car has already had 2 transmissions go bad in it not counting all the other people on this website that has had the same problem with no help from Honda. They know the problem with this year and transmission, how dangerous it is, and how much money its costing people to fix it alone. Honda needs to help these people out. This is beyond of a simple recall this is endangering peoples lives including mine and my family.

- , Ringgold, GA, USA

problem #428

Jun 202012

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,457 miles


I bought the 2003 honda accord from a local honda dealer and less than two weeks I was having transmission problems. They then told me that I bought the car AS-IS and that it was now my problem. Since I live in Idaho there is no lemon law. Now I have to suck up the cost. Why is there no recall on this. I have owned multiple hondas and this is definitely the last one I will own!

- , Boise, ID, USA

problem #427

Feb 102013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

WOW! I never expected the transmission to fail so miserably without any warning. Today while I was driving the gear started to slip and shifting down. The transmission worked long enough to safely park the car on the street. But that was it after that I was S.O.L. I am glad this incident did not happen in the middle of the freeway which could have placed me and other innocent people in harm’s way.

I bought this car brand new on March 2003 with the hope that if I kept the maintenance it will lost for a long time. Well, I kept the maintenance and now about 160K the transmission dies on me with no warning. What kind of faulty transmissions and feedback sensors is Honda engineering? Reliability is king in today's competitive car market and Honda has definitely lost my confidence. I honestly was contemplating to replace this car with another Honda accord in the very near feature. However, after today I think I will do my research and find a more reliable and safety oriented brand to keep me and my family safe.

- , Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #426

Jan 272013

Accord EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,229 miles

I have a few months left before this car is paid off and was very excited not to have a car payment, but a few days ago while on the freeway my car started jerking violently while slowing down on its own. I was able to get off the freeway and park my car, but was stuck in someones driveway for a few minutes because the car would not reverse, Nothing like this has ever happened before with a car I have owed and it was very scary. I could have easily had an accident or caused someone else to have one. I took my car to the shop the next day only to find out that I need a rebuilt transmission for a small fee of $3400. I can pay off my car with the cost of replacing this transmission. Whats extremely odd to me is that the check engine light never came on and that very alarming because this issue can potentially harm not only the driver of the vehicle, but other drivers surrounding the vehicle. I've had three Honda's, but this experience has me skeptical about the safely of Honda's and if I ever want to purchase one again. I probably won't!

- , Oakland, CA, USA

problem #425

Mar 012011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I am a little late with this report but I need to vent. I had a 2003 Accord V6 where the transmission died after about 100,000 miles. It did have some “recall work” done early where they attempted to fix some cooling issue. But they would not replace the dead transmission at a reasonable cost when it eventually crapped out. But then I assume the replacement would have died soon enough anyway. I had a similar problem with a 1999 Honda Odyssey that I also got rid of. And my neighbor has a 2008 Odyssey where it had a recent recall for a transmission firmware update. I am done with Honda…FOREVER! I am now with Subaru. Check out their defect trends on this very same site.

- , West Bend, WI, USA

problem #424

Dec 302012

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,500 miles

I have a 2003 Honda Accord V6. At 64,500 mi., the engine light went on and Honda says I need a new transmission. Should Honda replace the transmission at no cost to me in view of the problems associated with Honda transmissions?

- , Rockville, MD, USA

problem #423

Jan 162013

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,915 miles

Transmission started slipping. Took it to dealer (Manly Honda in Santa Rosa, CA) who quoted me $4700 to replace. Dealer also wants to replace engine mounts for an additional $700. I called Honda Customer Care and they said they will not help with a "good will" repair. I have never missed a service and have taken great care of this car. I don't have $5k so I'm going to call some transmission shops to see if I can get it rebuilt cheaper. This is my last Honda EVER!

- , Rohnert Park, CA, USA

problem #422

Jan 022013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

Transmission started slipping. Mechanic tried to fix a solenoid that was stuck open but didn't help. Had the entire transmission rebuilt. 3 visits later and a week and a half with no car -my car is drivable again. My mechanic didn't do a fabulous job as my car is now louder than it was but that may just be the mechanic. After hearing this is a consistent problem with 2003 Honda Accords I'm pretty upset and will think twice before purchasing another Honda which I had always planned to do since I love the car.

- , North Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #421

Nov 152012

Accord EX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

First Honda was a 600 Sedan. Had one of the first Preludes to the east coasts.

Involved with racing them in SCCA in the 70's

Have own 2 more this decade.

Very disappointed and might not buy another

- , Mount Pleasant, SC, USA

problem #420

Dec 282012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Apparently transmission failure has happened to many 03 accord owners. It's a shame Honda won't do anything about it. Oh well, looks like they'll just keep losing customers.

- , Leesburg, VA, USA

problem #419

Nov 202012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

Transmission failed just after 100k miles.... would slip out of gear, and then violently downshift to 1st gear while driving 65+ on the highway. Not safe!! So....I called Honda of America and they were totally unhelpful - "You should expect to have to pay for some routine maintenance at that number of miles." So..... a transmission failing is routine?? "No, we didn't say that." And that was that. Their resolution included "we made note of your issues." Thanks..... great help, especially considering how many problems there have been. The dealer where I bought the Honda (Fairfax Honda) won't even return my calls/emails about the problem, since they don't want to deal with it. Honda of America sucks, and so do the dealerships. This was my 3rd Honda I've owned, and my last. Thanks for the crap customer service!

- , Washington, DC, US

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