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 8 of 25)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #358

Sep 142011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles


I bought my Honda because they were supposed to be reliable. I can't believe the transmission went out completely at 135k miles. I asked the dealer, Crown Honda of Greensboro to help with the charges and they said no. I called Honda corp.and they refused to help with the charges as well.

- , Summerfield, NC, USA

problem #357

Jun 132011

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

I couldn't believe it! Just doing normal driving and the transmissions spikes around 6000 and then dies. Brought it to a good repair shop that specializes in Hondas, and they said it's not worth fixing. They also said that Honda trannnys have gone way downhill.

I'm sticking to Subaru.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #356

Oct 062011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,800 miles

AT 98800 miles my 2003 Honda Accord Ex-V6 suddenly started to choke when it attempted to shift from 1st to 2nd gear. Luckily I was a short distance to my location. Called a Honda dealership and was told they were not at fault and Honda Motors will not cover any costs.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #355

Jun 092011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


OK Everyone. My 2003 Accord EX V6 auto transmission starting slipping at 65,000 miles. I called Honda America (800-999-1009) and got a case number. They said to take it to a dealer for evaluation. As I was doing some errands a few days later, the car became almost completely undrivable--I feared the car would not make it to the dealer and I decided to take it to an independent shop that specializes in Honda/Accura and does very good work and was very close to where I "broke down". They said the computer showed torque converter failure and said that when that fails, it takes out the rest of the transmission.

They replaced the transmission for $3100 (18 month-18,000 warranty), including a transmission oil cooler (you should think about doing that because it gives you more fluid and keeps temps down). Honda America case rep called me back and said to fax a copy of the repair order--the next day they called and said they were sending me check for $1500. That was EXCELLENT customer service.

- , Marietta, GA, USA

problem #354

Oct 142010

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

It is a fact transmission failure is a result of a manufacturer defect because there are numerous cases of people experiencing the same transmission failure with their 2003 Honda Accord vehicles. Honda has acted irresponsibly in that they are not holding themselves accountable for what has already proven to be a serious safety issue. The recall honda issued in 2004 was a band-aid fix and they knew full well the problem would persist down the road. I urge everyone to put the pressure on honda to issue a recall for their failing transmissions. A class action law suit will be filed if it hasn't already and I encourage everyone who has been affected by this to be involved with that.

- , Redondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #353

Jun 012011

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Complete transmission failure occurred while exiting the freeway, loss of forward propulsion. Mileage only approx. 78,000. Dealer, Pacific Honda est. $6400 to fix, including 3 broken motor mounts and leaking hose. Towed to AAMCO, and the est. there was about $4900 minimum. Car was sold as is. Honda America refused assistance although the dealer said they would take 25% off of labor. I am interested in a class action lawsuit!

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #352

May 012011

Accord EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles


Bought a honda thinking it would last and found out later that after 1998 they just turned out garbage transmissions. Very unhappy and wish they would have taken care of these problems before cars break down.

- , Marysville, WA, USA

problem #351

May 012011

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

2003 Honda Accord with only 53,000 miles. While driving on the highway approximately 55mph I attempted to change the line when my car suddenly and abruptly decelerated causing drivers behind me to brake rapidly and this almost lead to an accident. I was in the car with my wife and 4.5 years old son. It was a horrible experience. Next day I took my car to a dealer just to find out that I going to need another transmission and the cost is $4600. American Honda offered 35 % discount but the problem with this is than independent garages quoted repair between $2300- 2900 so in reality it was not real discount.

There is definitely something wrong with this year model transmission and judging by so many complains (and more is posted every day) about the same issue I am surprise that NHTSA is not doing anything about that. I hope that agency is not waiting till someone get badly injured or cause others serious trouble. I am the lucky on, it cost me a money but I am well and alive and so is my family.

In May there was a recall from Hyundai and based on what I found on NHTSA website there was a lot less complains about transmission problem and NHTSA reacted : quoted” Hyundai is recalling 6,169 Santa Fes because a defective transmission may cause "loss of motive power, increasing the risk of a crash," according to the NHTSA” unquoted. I would like to know what rules NHTSA used to differentiate transmission problem. In one case may increase risk of crush but in other not. I also want to know if anyone who works for NHTSA will take full responsibility if there is going to be death or injury caused by not paying proper attention to transmission failure in this case.

All above was sent to NHTSA but I want to add to that. I am the owner of 2003 Honda Accord EX, VIN # 1HGCM66533A017625 and I have experienced premature transmission failure at 53000 miles. I was driving on the highway with my wife and 4.5 years son and attempted to change the lines when my car unexpectedly and abruptly decelerated. We were lucky that there was enough distance between traffic behind us so it did not cause any problem but experience was horrible and it was close and I personally think that this is safety issue and no one wants to way till someone will be injured or killed.

American Honda is not taking any responsibility for this problem. Funny thing is that they did when this problem start surfacing, my friend had same problem at around 50,000 miles in 2007 (his warranty expired at this time) but American Honda replaced his transmission at no cost to him. So is there double standard treating customers or they did not realized severity of the problem then. I can provide his VIN # just to proof that.

After my transmission failed I did some research online and was surprised to find so many people complain about the same problem. So this is not isolated problem but very wide spread issue. Shame on you Honda. I guess they became another greedy company.

Then I found out from my friend who worked for company called CRS ( Company Remanufacturing Specialist ) located in Mahwah New Jersey which specialized in transmission rebuilding, that they rebuilded a lot of transmission for 6 cylinder Honda and there was some design / construction problem with most if not all transmissions manufactured in USA. He pointed out especially to one of them which wrong material used for transmission oil pump gears was causing them to grind and chew aluminum and in effect contaminating oil and leading to solenoid valves failure and some other issues. I do not have enough funds or resources to persuade this but I am sure if someone (lawyers) would look into this they would find much more info and proof that this is manufacturing problem on Honda side.

To add to injury American Honda settled lawsuit in California and paid 5.5 million dollars to lawyers instead fixing their own problem and take care of they own customers, people actually buying their product. But at this point I do not mind to who they pay to as long they pay for their own mistakes.

- , Garfield, NJ, USA

problem #350

Sep 032011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

Purchased a honda because of its reputation. Never thought the transmission would go out. After doing research I found out I got hosed. There are many other complaints with the same problem within similar mileage.

- , Miami, FL, USA

problem #349

Jun 012011

Accord EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,101 miles

C'mon Honda!! 75,000 Miles!!! Transmission went out on the highway with my kids in the back seat!! All of a sudden, the car jolted twice and then would no longer shift gears. Brought it in to the dealer and the quoted $4000 to replace.....Tried to work with American Honda to help cover the bill, but they refused. Stated it was too far out of warrenty. Bought the Honda for reliability and to get to at least 100,000 miles - but fell far short of that. I was extremely dissappointed with this car, and will not be purchasing another Honda.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #348

Dec 132010

Accord EX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


I paid big buck for my 2003 EX Accord thinking I was getting a great car. Turns out it wasn't as good as my ford truck. I will never buy another Honda. No more GM's either. Honda knew those transmissions were crap when they recalled them. They screwed me once but not again. I bought a Nissan.

- , Greenwell Springs, LA, US

problem #347

Jul 282011

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

My first problem with the transmission occurred in April of 2010. I took it to the Honda dealer and they said that it would cost $3500-4000 to replace it. I simply couldn't afford it, so I took it to an independent transmission facility and it was rebuilt for $2000. I complained to the dealer that a Honda transmission shouldn't need replacing with only around 90,000 miles. Of course, they didn't care. On July 28 of this year, I was heading to Maryland and the transmission failed again on Interstate 95 while I was in the left lane. This is 2 hours away from my home. AAA towed it to an approved facility in Delaware. Now it is going to cost $3800 to fix. I called Honda headquarters and they were less than helpful. I told them why I couldn't get the transmission fixed at Honda either time. The manager's reply was "Well, now you are out another $3800!" Nice, huh? I told them I wanted to write a letter to corporate and he gave me the address, but added, "You can write them and they will call you to say that they received your letter, but they will not change the policy." Not only am I out the $5800 for fixing the transmission twice, but I had to get a rental to get back home. This was my family's 6th Honda...I guess it was the last.

- , Brick, NJ, USA

problem #346

Jul 082011

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

I purchase a honda thinking i would not have to replace a transmission for a very long time at least until it had 160,000 miles or more. i guess i was wrong. Will rethink buying honda in the future.

- , Lancaster, TX, USA

problem #345

May 272011

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,256 miles

I can't believe transmission could fail on a car with mileage less than 60K. Also, it happened out of a sudden with no warning on the dashboard. It was a risky situation but worst could have happened. A little research shows that there are many people experiencing transmission failure with this particular model which is directly related to safety of the people aboard. Honda should do a recall or adjust their policy to replace this kind of failures with transmission with cars with such low mileage on it. It has always been serviced at Honda dealership with no issues noted on the last visit.

- , State College, PA, USA

problem #344

Jan 182011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

In my fifty years of ownership of autos too numerous to count, this is only the second time I've experienced a transmission failure. The first was a 1956 Studebaker I owned in 1963. So my Honda now joins an elite category of manufacturers of defective parts.To be fair to Studebaker, a previous owner's mechanic replaced the valve body with the wrong one which led to the failure. The Honda failed from an obvious manufacturing defect. Actually Honda recalled this model in my first year of ownership to rig up a way to squirt more fluid into the top of the transmission. The recall specified that the transmission would be 'inspected' and if already damaged from the design, it would be replaced .So the design was faulty from the get go A design that resulted in the most expensive repair I've ever suffered through. Honda should have extended the warranty since one doesn't have to read too much here to find a major pattern of Honda transmission failures. But you have to believe the dealerships love this by providing a steady stream of high dollar income from the defective Accords. But those like me who have experienced this defect will likely look elsewhere when trade-in time comes.

- , Starkville, MS, US

problem #343

Oct 152008

Accord E V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

Driving my vehicle only 1000 miles above the extended warranty... and my car force shifted down to first gear and almost threw me through the window.. the scariest thing that ever happened to me in my life actually..... Ironically my car had the recall, and they told me nothing was wrong.. but I do remember bringing it back right away because of strange shifting and sounds when going from 1st to 2nd gear....... Cost me $2600.00 .. Was a bad time in my life because I was in the police academy at the time. Very stressful.. couldn't fight with Honda.. just had to pay and get back to PT formation! Things tend to happen at bad times. Car was over $30,000 and it shouldn't have died... currently have $173,000 after rebuild and now engine has a vacuum leak. Not sure if I will get another Honda.

- , Haledon, NJ, USA

problem #342

Jul 012011

Accord EX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,021 miles

I have read all the info on the transmission problems that 2003 Honda Accords are having and today my engine reved up and the car would not move in a line of traffic. Scared the sh*t out of me. I finally made the drive home that should have took me 10 minutes took me 30. It ran fine yesterday. There was no warning. Now they are telling me it will cost $4000.00 to fix. Well Honda you just lost a customer for life. My husband always said Fords are best.

- , Washington C. H., OH, USA

problem #341

May 242011

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

My car started jerking several weeks ago and took it into our trusted auto mechanic and they diagnosed transmission failure. They told me that this happens frequently with this year of Honda and to take it to a Honda dealer since common knowledge that transmission has defective parts. They also told me to contact Honda customer care. The mechanics who work on my car were originally Honda certified repair techs.

Did all of that starting on May 24, 2011 and after several weeks of waiting Honda said it would cost around $3700 for a rebuilt transmission of which I must pay around $2200.

I have appealed again because everyone, including the Honda dealership, has admitted it is defective parts. Plus I made some calls to several transmission rebuild outfits and the general consensus it would cost me $2100 for a complete rebuild as well as the information about defective Honda transmissions for Hondas running from 2001 to 2005.

My argument is that Honda knows this is a defective transmission, I have provided the proof that this car has been well-maintained throughout its life and that everyone else’s rebuild quotes $2100.

They argue that I am not the original owner but one reason we bought the car from the original owner (my mother-in-law) is for Honda’s “well-known” reliability and how they stand behind their cars.

- , Toledo, IA, USA

problem #340

Jun 242011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,215 miles

While on a trip from St. Louis to the Chicago area 6-23-2011and just north of Springfiled, IL the transmission made a pronounced sound, slipped into neutral, and I had to make an emergency stoppage in heavy highway traffic to the side of the side of Interstate 55. Smoke was pouring out from under the hood. I opened the hood and the smoke was emanating from the transmission area.

We got towed ($136.00) back to Springfield, IL and as it was past 6:00 PM we had to leave the car at a local recommended transmission shop. The shop has informed us that the transmission was "burned up" and need to be replaced to the tune of $3,400 for factory rebuilt with 36 month, no mileage limit guarantee.

To get transportation to where we were going and back to St. Louis cost almost $300 in rental car fees. This does not count what it will cost to return to Springfield, IL to retrieve the car once it has been fixed. The transmission service business there said they have repaired another four or five 2003's, and my Honda mechanic in St. Louis said he had done four as well.

What was normally a four hour plus trip turned into nine hours.

The car has 148,215 miles and has been well maintained.

This has shaken my confidence in Honda. We have owned six Honda's in the family, but this is the only V6.

- , St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #339

Jun 222011

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,750 miles

I just found out it will cost me ANOTHER $2400 to rebuild the transmission for the 2nd time in 3 years. I am SICK. I will NEVER ever buy another Honda product. I just paid it off last month. I am SO ANGRY.

- , Houston, TX, USA

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