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 7 of 25)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #378

Feb 032012

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,200 miles


This is the third time my transmission has gone out on my Honda Accord, 2003, in the past month. It went bad for the first time mid December, 2011 and I had the transmission rebuilt. I had the car two weeks and the transmission went out again. I took the car to the same company but a different shop as the first shop broke the button on my gear shifter. The transmission was rebuilt a second time. I was told it was a piston in the one of the clutch drums. I got the car back on the evening of Wednesday, January 25th 2012. I drove it home from the shop and parked it in my yard as the next morning we went out of town in our RV for five days. We arrived home Tuesday January 31st. I drove the car on Wed., two miles to the store and on Thurs 1 mile to a different store. This morning, Fri. Feb. 3rd, I went to drive the car, the check engine light came on, the light that shows which gear it is in was flashing, which it has never done and as I put it in drive, it felt like the car had been chained or tied up. It would barely move forward. I drove to a Goodyear that is about one and a half miles away from my house. They checked to see if there were any codes and sure enough, there were two codes for the transmission. They just towed my car back to the repair shop.

- , Lutz, FL, USA

problem #377

Aug 012011

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

It annoying when your car is making so much noise with little or no movement, then suddenly slips into gear and ur off..dangerous too

- , Lagos, L, Nigeria

problem #376

Jan 012012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 206,000 miles

I have a 2003 Accord EX V6 with 206,000. driving on the highway when out of the blue my accelerator just started jerking and felt like I was pressing on the brake or if someone slammed into me from behind. I stopped my car waited a few minutes and started it back up it was driving fine for a few minutes till it started to do the same thing I had to pull over and have the car towed seeing as I didn't want to chance causing another accident. transmission defiantly almost had me killed today for stopping short on the highway. Not very happy with the $4000 bill I am being told it is going to cost!

- , Brighton, CO, USA

problem #375

Dec 222011

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,500 miles


102k miles and my tranny goes. Thought Honda was one of the greatest cars in the world. Tranny would hesitate for a second when shifting and going in and out of first gear. It seems like Im not the only person with the problem. Problem started just before Christmas what a great gift (doesn't help being laid off eather). I checked the fluid and was very dark, so I started going to tranny shops ( due to all Honda has to say is your trannys shot and needs to be replaced for $4500 ya ok). Most shops have been giving me quotes of $1800-$2500 and guess thats cheap. Rust is also another issue with this car. The rear fenders seem to start rusting really fast on these cars luckly mines not to bad yet, just a couple of bubbles. Not sure if I would get another if Hondas gonna treat their customers like crap...

- , Shelton, CT, US

problem #374

Jan 032012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 156,000 miles

have a 2003 Accord EX V6 with 157,000. Today i was driving home from work on the nj turnpike when out of the blue my acculturate just started revving and the car felt it was pressing on the break. I stopped my car waited a few minuets and started it back up it was driving fine for a few minutes till it started to do the same thing i did this for about 8 to 9 time till i got home. transmission defiantly almost had me killed today for stopping short on the highway.

- , Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #373

Jan 032012

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Another 2003 Honda Accord LX V6 with a dead auto tranny @ 115k miles. Happened last evening when driving back home. I was lucky and was driving slow. Haven't called Honda Canada but after reading all the failures on various web sites, may be I should do so. BTW my local Honda dealer is asking around 3000$ (including taxes) for the job (rebuild transmission).

What bugs me the most is that I was planning buying a new car in a couple of months. With the price of the job, I'm pushing that new acquisition later in time.

- , Laval, Quebec, canada

problem #372

Jan 022012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles


Up until now I've never had any issues with my 2003 Honda accord. I was driving on the highway and the car was having trouble shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. If i went over 55mph the rpm meter would redline. The reverse has stopped working and when the car is in D3 the drive light is flashing. I took it to a transmission shop where I live because I didn't want to pay a Honda dealership $100 just to look at it. Had to have transmission rebuilt and 4 solenoids replaced. Total bill $4700. never buying a Honda again.

- , Lakewood, WA, USA

problem #371

Dec 292011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

Like everyone else here, My 03 Accord Transmission just went out. I've had the car for 6 months. Started to notice a hesitation when it shifted between 2nd and 3rd. Then, while driving 70 mph, it slammed down into 2nd gear, almost causing me to be rear ended. When the car is hot, it won't shift out of second gear or go into reverse. I haven't gotten any repair estimates yet, but from reading the other posts, I'll need about $4,000. This is my 3rd Accord. The other 2 were manual transmissions. I think this will be my last one. Recall it Honda!

- , Woodbury, MN, USA

problem #370

Dec 262011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Was driving 65MPH down highway, transmission failed, and had to cross four lanes of traffic to get to open shoulder. Have not had it fixed yet as it is so incredibly costly, I may end up getting a new car. Ridiculous. Honda should have recalled and properly fixed this years ago.

- , Silver Spring, MD, US

problem #369

Nov 242011

Accord EXL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,000 miles

click to see larger images

transmission failure

Just pulling out of the driveway. "Thunk", sounds like we are dragging something. Try to shift into reverse, drive, park. Nothing but metal on metal grinding noise...

- , Hopkinton, MA, USA

problem #368

Dec 022011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,605 miles


2003 accord ex,v6 (Bought used in 2005) transmission flushed every 35k. Transmission would slip a little bit from day one. This morning, while going to work, transmission made a loud clunking sound and died as I was making a left turn merging onto a busy road. I almost got T-boned by a F250 pickup truck. It seems unbelievable that my $11,000 dollars 2000 dodge neon (piece of crap car) made it to 200k with no major engine or trans failures and the 2003 $27,000 dollars accord did make it to 150K. Car is currently in my garage, don't know yet if I will junk it or fix it. We just bought a Ford for my wife, if I decide to junk the accord I will most definitely stay away from Honda and I will tell all my family, friends, and co-workers to steer away from Honda.

- , Smithfield, RI, USA

problem #367

Jun 112008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Honda replaced transmission just had to pay $900.00 for labor.

- , Riverside, CA, USA

problem #366

Oct 122011

Accord V6 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,523 miles

The first time the transmission slipped, I was accelerating in Chicago traffic. It slipped then down shifted and damn near got me run over by a tractor trailer. When it finally quit it stranded my wife and daughter on the side of Interstate 265 outside of Louisville. Scared my daughter to death, trucks flying by at 70 mph at night. Easily could have been hit.

What is the NTSB waiting for? Someone to get killed I guess. Well almost got me, my wife, and my daughter.

We took the vehicle to Neil Huffman Honda in Clarksville, IN. Of course they failed to mention that this was a known issue with the car. Sold me on the transmission fluid needing flushed and changed. I plan on having a pointed discussion with them. Of course they would have been more than happy to install a reman tranny for $5000. What a crock, and it is criminal. I am going to file a complaint with the BBB on them.

This is my fourth Honda, and will be my last.

- , Crandall, IN, USA

problem #365

Jul 072010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

I am very angry because I have been using public transportation for approximately four months because my car still isn't fixed. It costs $2,100 to repair and I only paid $700 thus far and I still have to make car payments too. All I want is my car fixed the weather is changing and I don't want to stand on a cold bus stop to go to work when I could get in a warm car and drive.

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #364

Jul 282011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

The reason I bought this car was the new car sticker in the lot that said 'First tune-up at 100,000 miles' I thought that's the car for me - reliable for a long time. I have a busy job, busy life, etc and can't be slowed down or irritated or saddled with major car repairs - so I was sold.

Imagine my disbelief when my son and grandson were at a major intersection during rush hour traffic and the transmission died - just like that. Thankfully a really nice man stopped to help, towed my son out of the intersection and arranged for a tow truck, right to a transmission place as he said he knew that's what the problem was. Boy was he right, total transmission replacement for $3,215. Of course no warranty left on car which is why we skipped the dealership - couldn't afford their prices.

I was still so shocked over the issue. It was the first time we had bought a foreign car and I had heard you could drive a Honda up to 300,000 miles with no problem - it would run for ever, yada, yada, yada. So I thought I'm going to go on-line and see if anyone else had experienced the same problem and I found pages and pages about the 2003 Honda and transmission failures! I also read where there had been a recall in April, 2004 to bring in and have gears looked at - never got that notice either.

I've had many American make cars and never had a major issue with any outside of normal wear and tear like batteries, brakes, tires, etc. I bought what I thought was a fail safe car when it came to repairs and now I run into this major problem.

I'm also irritated as it was a major job, had to be fit in between other customers and the shop had to have it for two weeks - had to get rides to and from work - what a pain!

Then who has $3200+ just laying around so we had to use all of our vacation money and cancel our vacation on top of it!

Bottom line - based on the complaints I've read and research I've done, Honda certainly knows they have a problem with this transmission but did not recall like they did the 2004 (which seemed to have less complaints). Seems like Honda pays for some peoples parts but not others - how do you arrange that?

I will never buy another Honda and tell everyone I know my story. I hate companies who duck their responsibilities and don't stand behind their products. Buy American brands from now on - I think they've caught up on technology and are just as good!!

- , Waukesha, WI, US

problem #363

Sep 192011

Accord EX VTEC-6cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


The Service Manager, at Cambridge Honda, drove it home, because it wasn't acting up at the garage, AND DIAGNOSTICS SHOWED NOTHING. THERE WERE NO WARNING LIGHTS. He, Joe, said he "almost went through the windshield on the highway" on his way home. He said repeatedly that he was almost killed. THAT'S RIGHT THE HONDA SERVICE MANAGER SAID HE ALMOST WAS KILLED!!! Which is what could have happened to me or any other Honda Accord owner. If this happened in inclement weather, I'd be dead in a ditch (it's New England so those days are coming). The car lurched at highway speeds and at low speeds. It lurched speeding up and slowing down. If I put the car in neutral, and just applied some gas to the pedal, the tachometer (RPM) needle jumped around all over the place.

Only until the service manager got it back to the service garage did any service lights come on. How convenient.

Their proposed solution: Step one: replace transmission fluid (material, parts, labor) = $120 Step two: replace transmission solenoid (parts labor, etc) = $500

If that doesn't work (which he admitted had a low probablility): Step three: replace entire transmission. Est. Cost: $4300

Total potential cost: approx $5.000.... AND/OR MY LIFE.

- , Watertown, MA, USA

problem #362

Sep 022011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

I can't believe how Honda has not responded to their transmission issue, my transmission failed at 78000 miles!

- , Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #361

Oct 012011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

I am an owner of a 2003 Honda Accord. I have always thought of Honda as being very reliable car to buy but Now I will def think twice before buying a Honda. I was in the market to buy a 2012 Honda but now, I will look into others before making my decision. The dealer itself told me that they have had many issues with transmissions on 2003 accords but there is not recall or fix from Honda. Honda has quoted me $4700 for the fix. I am very much interested in the class action lawsuit.

- , Boyds, MD, USA

problem #360

Jul 132011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

Had the same problem. Some type of pump in the transmission that overheated. The car would rev but not accelerate. Went to a very reputable transmission company and the price was what I expected. Ouch. Next car will be a Toyota.

- , Bennington, NE, USA

problem #359

Oct 132011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

I was driving my Accord (EX, V6, 76K miles) on the freeway, going 65mph when my car violently downshifted multiple times within a 5-10 minute period as I struggled to get off the freeway. I was nearly rear-ended multiple times before I managed to exit. After collecting myself, I drove home facing the same sporadic issues as I accelerated to 6000 + rpm to maintain 60 mph. All in all a nightmare. Honda refuses to pay for it or address the transmission defect and I'm forced to pay at least $2500 for a new transmission.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

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