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:
94,560 miles
Total Complaints:
126 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (46 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 5 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #46

May 292009

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


Dealer is trying to get some compensation for me on this since I asked, but they're telling me it's $3500 to fix. I'll see what they come back with before I rant too much, but it's very disappointing. File a complaint if you've had problems, too at , and hopefully we can get something done about this!

- , Delta, OH, USA

problem #45

Mar 102009

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 163,530 miles

I was driving home for the weekend from College, I was about 60 miles from home when my car stopped running the RPM shot up and the car just slowed down. I put the brakes on and turn to the shoulder. I turned it off and back on and it went no problem. I continued on my way home and along the way it did it again. I got to a gas station and waited until morning for my mother to get me. So I called Honda and they said its low on Transmission fluid, I put some in and it didn't help. sucks because I'm low income. I haven't got it looked at I hope there a way that Honda can help me so if anybody knows please let me know i need my car badly

- , Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #44

Apr 212009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

Well, my Honda 2003 EX with 64,000 miles did the same problem with the transmission as others have said on here. I don't know what to do; the dealer quoted me $3,500 to fix.

- , Las Vegas, NV, US

problem #43

Apr 092009

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,524 miles


On 4-15-09 I was driving 45 mph and I thought someone had rear-ended me. The transmission slipped out of gear then slammed back in. I was 2 miles from my house and by the time I got there the car wouldn't go over 25pmh and the tachometer was up at 4,000 rpms. I took the car into the dealer and they kept it all day Friday. They called me and said they couldn't find anything wrong after putting the car on the diagnostic machine and test driving it twice. I suggested letting the car warm up for 15-20 minutes and trying a test drive again. They called back and said they still couldn't find anything wrong. My husband and I picked it up and it happened 8 times on the 4 mile drive home. A new twist here...the TCD light came on as well the the check engine light and the "D" indicator light was flashing and a reverse. I took the car back to the dealer and made the service tech drive the car with me in it and "recreate" the problem. At that point he put a scanner device into the fuse box and actually got a service code. He said in case he's not at work when the car gets worked on the code will prove there is something wrong. So, now I had to rent a car for the week and I'm waiting to hear back from the dealer. Also, I called the New York lawyer listed on another post and left my info with them. I tried calling Honda Customer Service but they're closed on the week-end. This is a 2003 Accord with 60, 500 miles on it.

- , Elmhurst, IL, USA

problem #42

Mar 282009

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

Please call this lawyer: 1-212-566-4356. It's time we all get together and do something about this. Honda needs to pay big time for their lies. My car is my only means of transportation; living in S. Florida, it's very hard to catch a bus and I have work and school to get to. I thought that buying Honda meant a peace of mind, but so far, it's been nothing but hell. I don't even have 100,000 miles on my car yet and it's acting the same as all of yours. I hope no one gets hurt because Honda is too cheap to fix their own screw up's.

- , Pompano Bch, FL, USA

problem #41

Mar 162009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,500 miles

This transmission was recalled in 2004 at 18000 miles and had an oil injection kit installed.Transmission started slipping at 64000 miles. I contacted the dealer and was told that it would cost approx $3600 to replace and that I would have to bear the total cost since the warranty was over. I called American Honda in CA and requested a, "goodwill repair". Before they got back to me I got a call from the dealer saying they would replace it on a 75%-25% basis. My 25% cost $892.00. I wrote a letter to American Honda requesting they reimburse me for that amount. They will not. So much for Honda quality and integrity.

- , Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #40

Mar 232009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles


This is ridiculous. I thought buying a Honda meant I was buying peace of mind. I've bought anything but...

I heard lately that there have been problems with the Honda transmissions, but I had no idea. I brought it to the dealer when I was having problems with it shifting a few weeks ago. Now the whole thing is shot. I hardly made it home tonight - I pretty much drove in 1st gear with hazards and coasted the 6 miles.

What will it take for us to get a class action law suit like the 2001 owners!!!

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #39

Feb 132009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,120 miles

same as above on alot of the complaints just got the price $3360 I had a civic it had 320K on it when traded, clutch and timing belts, nothing too major. this is what i call major. I a call into American Honda we'll see what they will do to help if not have a guy that will fix it much cheaper. not happy with this Honda.

- , Kathleen, GA, US

problem #38

Jan 152009

Accord EX Coupe V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

Had transmission recall work done in 2004, when notified of the recall. I've always taken A+ care of this car, with regular servicing done as recommended with Honda, and all work done at dealers with the exception of only one service visit.

In early 2009, at around 123K, transmission started slipping between 20 and 35 mph, with loss of acceleration, engine revving, etc. Took car in to dealer #1 and was told nothing was wrong. Problem continued with more frequency. Was told at dealer #2 today that I need a new transmission that will cost at least $3,500. No offer was made for any kind of good will repair or discount. Dealer #2 says it tried to get some kind of good will service approved, and it was denied due to mileage.

I am very disappointed that Honda isn't doing more to address this with loyal, long-term customers, knowing the transmission problem is a consistent issue with this model, as well as a potentially very dangerous situation. Part of the reason I spent more to get a Honda to begin with (I bought this car new) was to get the reliability, quality, and resale value that are associated with Honda cars. I feel like I got NONE of that in this purchase.

I had bought another new Honda prior to this one and also was consistent with my servicing at the dealers (with no issues at all). Now I'm questioning whether I would ever buy another Honda ever again.

Update from May 26, 2009: The latest update on my earlier report.... Honda has agreed to pay 50% of the costs of a replacement transmission (which I'm thinking is refurbished -- I need to ask). The repair is in progress this week.

- , Columbia, SC, USA

problem #37

Jan 152009

Accord Coupe V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

after having purchased this 03 Honda accord from private owner in MAy of 2008, i had not experienced any automatic transmission problems, however, I kept getting a TCS light to come on. I took it to Honda Dealer to question, after one day of review and $75 for diagnosing, they found nothing wrong. Now forward 7 mos., I begin to get slipping at 2nd and 3rd gear on V6 automatic transmission. It does not appear all the times, however, it has been occurring much more often now. Took to 2nd Dealer, definitely the recall transmission problem, they will repair for $3100, American Honda will do a goodwill adjustment for 50/50, I pay $1550, I told them , that I saw on internet where most Dealers plus Honda are doing and 80/20, with me paying the 20%. I told them I would want that type of deal, and now I am trying to re-negotiate with them on this amount. I have pulled out all the stops, using a previous independent Honda repair guy/friend to get me in touch with Gen Mgr at local Honda dealer to see if he can convince Honda with reports from other individuals on internet who got their Honda dealer to go 80/20.

- , El Paso, TX, USA

problem #36

Feb 112009

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles


I bought the car used, sorry, pre-owned and had the car regularly serviced. But on February 10, 2009 I was driving the car to work and it began slipping out of gear. I work for UPS so I had one of the mechanics look it over. He tells me the transmission is "f*cked". He lowered the car from the lift and I started it up. Every light on the dashboard started flashing. I then put the car in reverse and stepped on the gas, it wouldn't move. After cursing at it for around 15 minutes I tried it again. It went into reverse and I drove the car directly to the dealership where I bought it.

3 hours later, the verdict. "You need a new transmission"

Cost~ $3500.00

- , Madison, NJ, USA

problem #35

Feb 072009

Accord LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

My Accord would suddenly slip out of gear between 2nd and 3rd. I didn't take it to the dealership because last time I took my car there they messed up. They told me a heat shield was loose, and they replaced it, but it was the up front and it they forgot to put the fan back on the radiator or refill the overflow with any antifreeze or reconnect it back to the radiator.

So I took it to an independent shop, and they test drove it and didn't see anything wrong, but I drove with him, and asked him to try accelerating a little faster, and then he could see the problem. So they said it's a bad solenoid, but that it's done damage to the transmission and it's going to need a transmission overhaul, and that they would get back to me on the price. That's where I'm at now.

- , Minooka, IL, USA

problem #34

May 052008

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

I called Honda Motors and they covered all but $644.35 of the repair. However, in my opinion they should have done a recall and covered it all.

- , Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #33

Oct 102008

Accord EX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,500 miles

Haven't seen much about people on this site with 4cyl engines having this problem...but i'm sure as hell one of them. Exact same thing is happening to me. Sending my car in to Pohanka Honda (MD) tomorrow morning. Calling American Honda THIS morning to let them know it's going in, and to talk in advance about goodwill repairs. I'm way out of warranty (133,500mi) but they honored a goodwill repair on my junk CD/stereo, so hopefully they'll be good on this one. I followed the posted link and lodged a complaint on NHTSA site (I encourage everyone else to do the same, it doesn't take long). This is what I sent in the narrative:

"Transmission slips violently out of gear once the engine is warmed up, and the RPM's go over 2700. Occurs during acceleration (from a stop or when merging/passing on the highway) and when trying to maintain speed up an incline. The rapid deceleration when the car slips out of gear on the highway and especially on inclines on the highway sends all the surrounding drivers into evasive maneuvers to avoid collision. This event occurs whenever the car gets warmed up (after about 35-40 minutes of driving). Car is being sent to a Honda dealership for repairs, awaiting the final verdict but I believe they will be trying to charge me almost $6000 for a brand new transmission. As far as safety is concerned my car slipped out of gear on my way to work on I 97 Northbound (main Baltimore/Annapolis artery) going up an incline in heavy traffic moving at approx 70mph. Several cars had to dive onto the shoulder and I had to go into the median grass to avoid a massive rear end collision during morning rush hour."

- , Salisbury, MD, USA

problem #32

Oct 072008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Hey, thought I would weigh in with my experience with my 2003 EX-V6 Accord's transmission:

I had a 1992 Prelude Si for 10 years, but unfortunately, I did not change the timing belt, and at 104K miles, it broke and blew the engine. It was, obviously not the fault of Honda, but mine, and it cost me an expensive repair. Soon after that, I started looking for a new car. I still wanted to buy another Honda, and really thought the Accord had the best to offer compared to others in its class.

I bought my car new in Nov 2002, at a dealer in Richardson, Texas. Got it for a pretty good deal, and absolutely loved it. The big selling points for me were the responsive engine, the very comfortable seats and ironically, the smooth shifting transmission. At the time, I thought I had made a very wise choice. In 2004, the car was recalled for an inspection of the tranny, and an "oil jet" was added to help with a supposed overheating issue.

The car performed flawlessly up until late 2007, where I noticed that every once in a while the tranny would "slip" between 2nd and 3rd gear. If I let off the gas a bit, it would engage fine. This occured off and on during the winter of that year.I was out of town often earlier this year, so the car did not get a lot of driving. The problem would pop up occasionally, still disturbing, but not a major concern. But, about that time is when I did some web research and found this site and noticed that I was not the only one having this problem.

In July this year, we took a trip to Oklahoma to visit some relatives. It drove fine on the way up there, but the problem showed up again while there with more alarming incidents. We were driving along a small country road, doing about 20mph, and the car was not only having trouble shifting into 3rd, but there also was some metallic, grinding noises coming the tranny. I drove it around a bit more and the noise and slipping stopped. We were able to get back to our destination without any more issues. We came back to Dallas without any more problems.

In August I took the car in for its 60K maintenance, and told the service adviser about the tranny, and he said they would look into it. Of course, it ran fine for them, so they did the service on the car, which included changing the AT fluid. They said it was dark, but otherwise there was nothing else wrong with it.

Which brings me to the last week (10/7). That day, on the way back from a doc appt, the car again was failing to go into 3rd, and letting off the gas did not remedy it this time. I drove the car around the block a few times and it would not go into 3rd hardly at all. I came home and read the blogs on this site again, and got the number for Honda (1-800-999-1009) and called them to see if they would be willing to work with me on a repair. They were very nice and told me that since it hasn't been officially diagnosed by a mechanic, that they could not do anything for me until then. They gave me a reference number and I headed off to Rusty Wallis Honda in east Dallas.

The car gave me a few problems on the 4 mile drive over there, but I pulled into the service bay and explained all the above to them, and they said they'd take a look at it. After sitting in the lounge for about an hour, the service adviser came in and sat down and said that the tranny was definitely not shifting properly, and that it would need to be replaced.

I was prepared for the worst regarding my costs, but he proceeded to tell me that he called Honda and they said that since the car only had 60K miles on it, and had the maintenance kept up on it, that they would pay for up to $3K on the repair, and that my part of the bill would be 'only' a $200 deductible. I was in a bit of a shock that they were willing to pay that much of it, and mumbled something to effect of "OK, that's great news..". They said that they'd have to order a refurbished one, and that I could come in in a couple of days. I told them I thought I could get home and come back when the tranny came in.

They called a couple days later and I took the car in and left it and they gave me a ride home as they were out of loaners. Late the next day (10/10), they called and said it was done and they test drove it and it checked out OK on the road. I got my sister to drop me off at the dealer, paid my $200, and drove off. My sister and I drove up to Richardson on the freeway to get some dinner and car drove like it was new, no problems whatsoever.

The service advisor told me that the transmission was a refurbished one from the dealer. Not new, but since it was a refurb, it would carry a 3 year/36K mile warranty good nation-wide. I was thrilled they would pay for most of it, as I was laid off in January of this year, and did not need to pay a lot for an expensive repair. My kudos to Rusty Wallis Honda for them handling the call to corporate and for Honda agreeing to pay that much.

It is disturbing though, to know that this is such a rampant problem with this transmission for this model year, and to a lesser extent other years. Honda makes great engines, but from what I've read, their trannies leave a bit to be desired. I will keep my car as long as I can, and hope the AT and the rest of the car will last me a few more years, as I cannot afford a new one anytime soon. Whether it be another Honda, I don't know, guess I will have to see how this car lasts over the long haul.

Sorry for the long letter, but thought my experience would be of some value to you who may be going through a similar difficulty. Like in my case, and some others on this site, I would strongly advise on callling Honda using the 1-800 number listed above before you take it to a dealer or repair shop to see if they'd be willing to pay for some of, or most of, the cost of repairs.

- , Mesquite, TX, USA

problem #31

Jun 022008

Accord EX Coupe 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

Gears started slipping while I was on the freeway. The car revved really high and would go no faster that 30 mph, then would almost come to a stop. After resting, would act normal temporarily, then sometimes jerk forward upon acceleration. When took car in to dealer said I needed to replace 4 motor mounts (this was causing the slipping) and get a transmission flush. After taking a full day to complete the repair, discovered that I needed a new transmission. Had 5K miles left on powertrain warranty, so they replaced for free. But did not call it a recall repair. Then still made me pay for transmission flush on the old tranny. Mind you, I had never taken possession of the car this entire time. It was with them for a full week. This was really messed up. The flush alone cost $150. Still having issues. Since the transmission replacement, my key gets stuck in the ignition and my gear gets stuck in park. Have to take my key out, push it in the gear release lever (by auto gear), put in neutral, take key out, put back in ignition, start car, shift to reverse or drive and then go. Lotta crap huh. They say it's a brake indicator sensor malfunction and that it costs $300 to repair. Didn't have this problem until they replaced tranny. Now 2 months later, car is blowing white smoke from engine. This car is a piece of crap. My TCS light stills comes on for no reason.

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #30

Jul 222008

Accord EX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,020 miles

I started having the problem about 3 days ago, right after changing the battery i'm not sure that has anything to do with it though. I'll be driving around 30 to 45 mph and the trans will start slipping going into third gear, also it will down shift on it's on very aggressively. I called Honda incorp and they said there was not an issue," which is bs since you can see all the other complaints on this same car". I guess i will just have to see what I can do and hope this company helps me out.

- , Ringgold, GA, USA

problem #29

Mar 032008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

I have a 2003 Honda Accord Ex with a V6 engine that the transmission has been missing gears and it completely stall at times. This problem has been a pain in the ass. To replace the transmission it is costing $4000.00 at the Honda dealership. One day I was at a meeting 2 hours away from home, when this mf started acting up. So, I took it to the Honda dealership in this town. I told them that the transmission had a hard shift, missing gears, and would not catch a gear for at least a minute. It took them all day to tell me the problem. I decided to do some research about the transmission, can up with that had replaced some transmission on the 2003 model. So I took it to dealership where I bought it brand new from and ask them about it. They replied that they did the service repair on the transmission. They told me that I needed to contact the Honda Mfg. Company about the transmission. I called this damn place up until today I still have not received a call back. I have a 1996 Honda Accord (bough new) with 286,000 miles on it and it is in better shape than the 2003. Please if anyone know of a lawsuit against this matter please forward the information

- , Pine Hill, AL, USA

problem #28

Jun 102008

Accord 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Honda of America is fixing my car under the Goodwill repair issue.

- , Perris, CA, USA

problem #27

Sep 152004

Accord EX Vtech V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

Well,I bought a 2003 Honda Accord EX fully loaded with the VTECH engine in 2003 from a friend/Co Worker and shortly after buying the car i started to receive Recall notices from Honda for a Transmission failure on the 2003 Accords. So i brought it in sometime in 2004 with approx 30,000 miles to have them do what they needed fo the recall. They had me leave the car for the day so they could inspect the gears in the transmission and they took a picture of the transmission and ended up installing the cooling line. So now i have 66,000 miles on my Honda and my mechanic has always maintained my car because of course i rely on my car to get to work etc... So i take very good care of it knowing how important it is to keep it maintained. But recently i was having the power steering pump replaced which is a whole other disaster by my mechanic and he took my car for a test drive after he was done replacing that and he said your transmission is not shifting properly and some other terms i can't remember.I have noticed some weird behavior also but since i drive it everyday it's hard to feel or hear the same things so it took him to verify what i had been experiencing from the time i bought the car to now it's got progressively worse so he said you need to bring it to Honda asap. So I did and they are charging me to diagnosis it which i don't agree with since there is a known recall on this transmission. They drained my tranny fluid and there is metal in it and i need a whole new transmission at approx 3400.00. I said no way this should be covered under the Factory Recall and they then said well we did fix ti back at 30,000 miles and put the cooler line on, while obviously it doesn't work. So i said well there is something wrong with it and i want it fixed at Honda's expense. Again they said they did and where did it say that they would fix it again and i said where does it say that you won't. So i then called Honda of America out of Torrance California and opened a case with them and the girl took my complaint and said the same thing as the dealer it was fixed already and i said no it was not. So she gave me my case number and said I need to call back with the cost of repair and a diagnosis which i did not know so i called back spoke to someone else and they added it to the case notes and said it was going to be escalated to the group that handles these kind of complaints. I got a call today from someone in that dept and he asked a few questions and said you have denied our offer to pay 1600.00 of the 3400.00 to fix and i said yes i should not have to pay for a Transmission replacement that is clearly due to the Recall and i explained that i was on the computer searching and finding all sorts of the same issues and others with all Honda's and he was a little quiet then and said he has to call the dealership for more info and will get back to me either today but probably tomorrow so now going into the 2nd day with no car. I explained to him i am not some 16 year old kid racing around and beating on my car i am in my late 30's and rely on my car to get to work and have always babied my cars and done all maintenance when needed. I am so dissatisfied with the way this is being handled it's amazing they are still in business. If you search on Google you will find so many complaints and Class Actions suits going on with Honda you will never buy a Honda again and it's all models and years. I don't know what else to do but wait for hopefully a good phone call form Honda of America that they are going to fix it and put a new tranny in not a used or rebuilt one. Also even if they put a new one in, it seems there is a design flaw and it will happen again so this really is not a good solution but better than nothing.

- , Vista, CA, USA

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