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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
95,050 miles
Total Complaints:
127 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (47 reports)
  2. not sure (38 reports)
  3. rebuild transmission (16 reports)
  4. dealer claims there isn't a problem (10 reports)
  5. honda is replacing the tranny with a rebuilt at no charge (8 reports)
  6. dealer replaced with a refurbished transmission (3 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 2 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #107

Feb 202013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,157 miles


What a piece of crap!!!! Transmission failure every 40,000-50,000?!?!? I bought a Honda because they are supposed to be reliable, long-lived transportation without major repair expenses. I drove a 1998 Jaguar XJ8 for six years and a 1978 Chevy MONZA for 11 years. Despite their poor reputations, both were far more reliable than this over-priced shitmobile.

- laladynow, Mandeville, LA, US

problem #106

Nov 082012

Accord EX-LN 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,800 miles

I have a 2003 Honda accord and last November while driving home on the freeway my transmission slipped out of gear and started making a thudding sound. I could not get out of 1st gear and had to sit on the side of the freeway for help to arrive, about an hour later. I could not exit the freeway because I could not go fast enough to merge past the steady flow of 2 lanes of another freeway merging onto mine to get to the exit that was within eye sight. Honda has refused to help saying that they are not responsidbel for this problem. However every transmission shops states that these transmissions have inherent problems in the design that cause them to fail. They don't cool properly, they have underpowered torque converters, they do not have a changeable filter, and the weight of the 5th gear is causing the cases to bend (they have to be machined when the transmission is rebuilt), all this is why they cost $3800+ to rebuild. On shop even told me that they no longer rebuild the transmissions they just get you one someone else has rebuilt. these transmission have been failing every year since 2003 in the same manner see there were 61 complaints just last year, on average 1.25 a week.

Honda says this is not a safety issue, even though we all would say it is, they call it a mechanical defect. Please see below. This Code of Federal regulations governs vehicle safety, it clearly defines this as a safety defect. I ask that you please write into Honda corporate and send letters to the NHTSA also. Honda should fix this before someone gets hurt.

The United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety (Title 49, Chapter 301) defines motor vehicle safety as "the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle." A defect includes "any defect in performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment." Generally, a safety defect is defined as a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment that:

• poses a risk to motor vehicle safety, and

• may exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture, or items of equipment of the same type and manufacture.

As stated above a safety defect is as a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment (any system, part, or component of a motor vehicle as originally manufactured) that poses a risk to motor vehicle safety.

- K G., Sacramento, CA, US

problem #105

Apr 022013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Driving down the 101 when the transmission went out. The car behind me almost drove right over me. After calling a tow truck, and waiting an hour. I figured out that when I turned it back on it worked, for about 5-10 miles. Then it would go out again. So I limped home, turning my car off every 5-10 miles.

- flyncpa, Westlake Village, CA, US

problem #104

Mar 082013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,800 miles


Along with what everyone else has already experienced, the 2003 Honda Accord (purchased less than a year ago from a wholesale dealer) suddenly started bucking and slipping out of gear - violently - on my way home from work. While my RPM indicator shot through the red, my speedometer was stuck in gear - dangerously and unsafely going from 45 MPH to 5 MPH within 3-5 seconds inside of a mile-long, two lane tunnel. Not only did my life flash before my eyes, but I could see the first 3 or 4 vehicles directly behind me in my lane miraculously avoid what could have easily been a horrific pile-up scene by literally mashing at their brakes (yes, surprisingly, they happened to be at a more-than-safe distance apart from each other, which is the only reason I think the accident was avoided. It was miraculous.

Anyway, the next morning, I took my vehicle to a trusted mechanic where he performed a transmission fluid flush, checked sensors, ran tests on transmission to determine if failing, etc. That was 3 days ago and I've had no known problems with my tranny since. This weekend, I'm taking my car to a Honda dealership where they are going to perform a recall on my power steering hose leak. I'll be sure to request that the service team perform a road test, check fluids again, etc., to confirm that there are currently no symptoms of my transmission failing. I'll post again after my dealership experience with any new developments.

Lastly, I'd like to note that I'm extremely disappointed in the way Honda has handled previous drivers' complaints about this issue and trust that I do feel for you all who have to experienced this. I burned through thousands of dollars in repairs with the two cars I owned prior to my Honda when I finally decided to finance a Honda due to its reputable stance on safety and reliability. I know I didn't purchase my Honda directly from a dealer like most people have mentioned, or have service done through Honda as I've only had my car for less than a year, BUT, it goes to show that despite the difference, a terribly built car is just that - a terribly built car.

Good luck to everyone and let's continue to fight for a much required federal investigation into these cars and the manufacturer who produced them!


- ananda, Alameda, CA, US

problem #103

Mar 152013

Accord EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

With only 132,000 miles on a ten year old vehicle, I am very disappointed that an expensive transmission replacement is necessary on what people generally consider to be a reliable make/model. I am seriously reconsidering buying another Honda ever again. The main reason I bought this make in the past was not for style or features, but mainly their strong reputation for reliability/durability/longevity. I am unbelievably pissed off about this!

- awalker88, Bethany, CT, US

problem #102

Dec 182012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Adding to the extensive list of Honda Transmission failures from 03-04. Look it up, 1.1 million Honda's were recalled in 2004 due to a transmission issue, plus a large class action suit was paid by Honda to those occurring accidents from failed transmissions.

After they so called "fixed" the issue the later of the Honda transmission were still failing but not being covered under warranty. My transmission was always a little slower getting into gear from park to drive or reverse but I never thought it was an issue until it was too late. I have 115k on it now and the transmission is bad. I bought the Honda certified and expected this would serve me well for many years to come. I'm working with America Honda now and my local Honda dealer to see what can be done. I was told as it is a certified Honda they would send the claim it to the regional service rep even though I'm 15k over my certified warranty. I will make an update with what Honda has to offer, if anything at all. These transmissions are a serious issue or I would not be taking the time to write this complaint. I paid good money for a certified Honda and expected more.

- gnh, Central, NH, US

problem #101

Oct 092012

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,154 miles


I bought my 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 8/8/08 with 69,998 miles and not even a year yet on 2/19/09 with 75,082 miles my transmission failed on the highway during rush hour and I was lucky enough to make it to the emergency lane. I couldn't drive over 30-40 MPH i guess that the higher gears wasn't working and the reverse wasn't working either. I had bought the extended warranty which was like an extra $1,500 so the Honda dealer had to replace it which cost $4,000. Since they put in a new transmission I thought I would be all set but a couple of weeks ago (10/9/12) my transmission fail on me again and its only been 3 years since they replaced it. This time I'm not so lucky because my extended warranty ran out last year and i called the Honda dealer and they said that a brand new transmission should last more than 3 years but since my car was no longer under warranty they couldn't help me. I just got my car back a few days ago and it cost me a total $3,400 to rebuild the transmission. I went to the Honda dealer to buy a reliable car but now i feel like I have been scammed by Honda. If I knew what i knew now I would never have bought this car because who knows how long its gonna be till my transmission fails again.

- ssuy, Providence, RI, US

problem #100

Sep 102012

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

I so mad I only have 68000 thousand miles and I need a transmission

- Felicia S., Columbus, OH, US

problem #99

Apr 012012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Dealer looking at car... I am scared :( I do not have $4000.00.

- desmakmb, Northbrook, IL, US

problem #98

Jun 052011

Accord EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,010 miles

Transmission had been slipping out of gear for year, and I finally had to rebuild the tranny for $2700. I drive 10,000 miles/year, and a Honda can't make it to even 100,000 miles?

It's a shame. The Accord handles beautifully, but this problem should have been acknowledged by Honda long ago. I never even bothered to come to this site until I got the car fixed, and after seeing all the complaints, I realized that I won't be buying a Honda again any time soon.

- Rob E., Solon, OH, US

problem #97

Jul 012012

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles


very bad problem, i can't fix my car because it's too expensive to fix it, Honda is asking $5000

- Faisal A., Winchester, VA, US

problem #96

Apr 102012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

My wife got this car as an "upgrade" over her 2001 civic last summer.

At first the it was very sporadic but my wife was reporting that the car would slip out of gear, RPM's would go up and basically the car would have no power until all of the sudden it would slip back in gear. Today she called me saying that it did it the entire way to work and was scared to drive it home. I took the afternoon off and met her over and drove it to the dealer. On the way there, twice on the highway it slipped out of gear going 60-70mph and only pumping the gas would get it back in gear. As I was getting off the exit, i was able to accelerate at the light but as soon as I hit the intersection, nothing.....only RPM's were going up. Car had no power. I got stuck in the middle of the intersection as I repeatedly put it in park, 1st gear, 2nd, 3rd, reverse, back in drive, etc. Nothing. It was basically stuck in neutral. After about 15 minutes of people screaming and yelling at me to get out of the way, I was able to get it going again and made it to the Honda dealer. They still have it and I have not heard what the diagnosis is. Having read all of these complaints, I fear the answer already. Tranny is dead. American Honda will be hearing from me.

My last car was an 2002 Accord that started having tranny issues. At the first sign, I traded it in for a new NON-Honda. Wish I would have in this case as well. Sigh......

- Adam K., Nashville, TN, US

problem #95

Feb 242012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles

While driving at 40 mph, my car violently down shifted, almost like I had slammed on the breaks. It continued to randomly shift at different speeds, making a sudden halt, like down shifting from 4th to 1st gear. Very scarey!!!!! Since I purchased the car I have noticed a very rough shifting pattern from 1st to 2nd and also down shifting when coming to a stop. I have asked the dealership twice about it and they said there was no fail code and that there cars do it to. They said it was normal and nothing was wrong with the car. I was also told every time I got my oil changed that the transmission fluid was black and needed to be changed. Seemed excessive and oddly strange that there is no problem with the transmission!

- Heidi D., Moses Lake, WA, US

problem #94

Jan 272012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

I was driving the car and Check engine light turned on and speed went below like a gear slip it was dangerous. I checked the car from Airport transmission and they said it will cost 3000$ to rebuild or to replace transmission .As a student its expensive and I had faith in Honda cars I was regular with maintenance and this is annoying

- anisha.samant, Rochester, NY, US

problem #93

Dec 162011

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I was driving to work today and my car suddenly downshifted into 1st gear when I was running about 45 miles per hour. It began jerking and after pulling over it would not go into reverse. If I was on the freeway this could have caused a serious accident. This is a major complaint with 2003 Honda Accord owners. Something needs to be done. I have always loved my Honda but after reading all of the complaints and seeing that a recall has not been made, I think they are setting someone up to die! This is ridiculous!

- Candace B., McLeansville, NC, US

problem #92

Dec 172011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,500 miles

The problem started with high-pitch whining noises. A few days later the car had a delayed engagement when shifting from Reverse into Drive. On my way to the mechanic, my car jolted and slipped from (approx.) 4th gear into 2nd, while driving approximately 40 mph. The engine would rev and only accelerate to about 25 mph. The problem persisted in traffic, but I was able to pull into a parking lot. I had the car towed and transmission flushed. When I left the mechanic (an independent, not Honda dealer), the car was still not shifting into Drive properly and the auto shifting was not smooth. A day later I scheduled an appointment with a Honda dealer who, after a $115 diagnostic, told me it was an "internal mechanical failure in the transmission" and would cost $4200 for a rebuilt transmission, using remanufactured parts for the rebuild. In 2004 Honda issued a recall/remedy (NHTSA # 04V176000) for the transmission OR a revision to the oil cooler return line. Whoever owned my vehicle in 2004, brought the car in for this recall, yet here I am today, with a complete mechanical failure at 90K miles. An independent mechanic estimated a transmission rebuild at $2500-3000. I've opted not to fix this transmission, but to sell the car as is. With the body and interior of the car in good shape, new brakes (installed about six months ago) and a host of other positive attributes, I'm sure someone with the skills to rebuild, will purchase this vehicle and get several more years. I am extremely disappointed with Honda for not issuing a complete recall and leaving many of these vehicles on the road, where a major accident is bound to happen.

- meo, Milwaukee, WI, US

problem #91

Oct 042011

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

I have a 2003 Honda Accord EX V6. About two months ago I started feeling the car wasn't feeling right. As I was driving, it felt like the gear shift had been knocked down in to neutral, but was still actually still in drive. When this happend, the RPM's would go up and the car felt like it wasn't going anywhere, just coasting, then it seemed to just jolt back to where it should be. The problem wasn't happening every time I drove, but recently it started happening more often and for longer periods of time. I take the car to one place to have all my work done on it, so I took it there, but they felt the problem might be internal and recommended I take it to a transmission shop. They did diagnostics on the car and drove it. The result, the car is going into transmission failure. The transmission fluid is black and burned and has debris in it, and they said that the clutches are also burned. They won't know the complete picture until they take the transmission apart and get a good look. It is 5 days before Christmas, I don't have the money to fix it or we will not have any Christmas and now I have no transportation to do anything! Soooo frustrated. I thought Honda's were suppose to be such good cars, but I have had nothing but problems with this one. It doesn't seem like a transmission should go out at 113,000 miles and I have had so many people say the same thing. Now that my transmission is going out, I read up on it and find out there was a recall in 2004 for the 2003 Honda Accords. WHY, am I just finding out about this??

- pcochran, Lutz, FL, US

problem #90

Aug 152011

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,300 miles

My transmission appeared to slip on the way home from work. The next morning I took it to a recommended transmission repair shop. On the way there the transmission would suddenly drop down one or two gears. I barely avoided being ass-ended. At the next light the car wouldn't go into gear it would just sit there and rev, I shut it off and restarted it and it started to go. Several times it just randomly started shifting up and down gears.

The repair shop confirmed the problem, they said the torque converter was bad along with a list of other things. They had me call Honda to see if there were any recalls, if it was under warranty, No to both. Honda said basically I was on my own.

The repair took two days and cost me $3700.00. This will be my last Honda.

- Joe K., Point Pleasant, NJ, US

problem #89

Mar 122011

Accord EXL 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

So I was driving on the freeway and had no problem until out of nowhere the car slips out of gear and revved up really high. I had to pull off the freeway before the car completely stopped... had to get it towed 25 miles home. since then its been over 6 months and haven't had the car fixed.. it cost way too much to replace and i am also unemployed... so I'm just paying the car off. its just sitting in the driveway :(

- Robert R., Lomita, CA, US

problem #88

Apr 122011

Accord EX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,947 miles

I have a 2003 V6 accord EX with about 90,000 miles on it. Last month, the transmission started having difficulty shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. The same stuff honda had a recall for. Took it to the dealer. They said, I need a new transmission! Would cost about $5,000 to fix. See if they would help. The dealer asked me to open a case with American Honda. After a week they called. American Honda called. They offered me $250 towards the replacement of a transmission!!! Hardly anything. I had a heated argument with the person!! She did not budge! Did not care if I bought a honda again!!

Got it fixed at a repair shop. Paid a lot less! If you have the same problem, feel free to contact me..


- paresh84, Paramus, NJ, US

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