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 1 of 7)

problem #127

Aug 292018

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 156,110 miles


At 156xxx miles, the transmission began slipping. Cost to repair transmission was far beyond the value of the vehicle itself. Additionally, transmissions for this particular vehicle are in general hard to fine. For a Honda vehicle that was garaged most of the time, and otherwise well cared for, this sort of thing just shouldn't happen. The fact that this appears to be a systemic problem with Honda's of this generation has killed my faith in the brand. This should have been settled by a recall.

- Zac A., Zearing, IA, US

problem #126

Sep 042017

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Transmission slipping, won't catch gears. Don't know what to do.

- bay, Rosemead, US

problem #125

Apr 072016

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I purchased the Honda Accord 2003 because people spoke so highly of Honda..They have their Honda's forever no issue but regular maintenance.. when I first ever purchased the car the transmission had to be rebuilt but it was under warranty so the dealer replaced without issue..that was 2010. Fast forward I paid the car 12/2015 and 4 months out transmission messing up again..took car to AAMCO.. The specialist is recommending a remanufactured transmission. I read this is a known issue with the the 2003...I afraid to invest the money and problem arises again..I need the car to get to and from work ..this is so frustrating..

If Honda is such a Reputable car manufacturer they should take full responsibility of the issue and if not pay full repairs ..maybe recommend to go to their dealers and get it fixed for free or we go to a repair shop of our choice and they at least pay 50% of the cost to resolve issue.. Also can offer people to go a Honda dealer and trade in car for the amount it costs to replace the transmission and consider that a down payment on a new Honda of the customer's choice. Then they would have customers for life. The TCS and the symbol with a triangle and an explanation point the middle lights stay on for 2 years now and my regular mechanic doesn't know what to do. The triangle code comes on as soon as I turn the car and TCS 2 minutes after putting the car in drive. I heard the light issue is connected to the transmission problem.

- pepsii3242, East Orange, NJ, US

problem #124

Mar 162016

Accord EX 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,500 miles


Okay, so I listed this transmission issue as having happened around 2 weeks ago. The reality is that this is the 2nd or possibly 3rd transmission in this car. I had to have the previous one replaced about 3 years ago. Same exact issue, car will not start moving in Drive, I have to downshift and go through all the gears, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. I called a reputable mechanic in my area and the told me it would cost approximately $4000 for a remanufactured transmission. The gears slip and the car will stop moving forward altogether. The last time, the car would not even go into a drive gear, I had to slip my key or something into that little notch next to the Shift handle. This is crazy, I don't understand why we cannot force a class action lawsuit on Honda. This is my second or third transmission. I was fortunate enough to have had an extended warranty on the previous one, but not on this one. I'm so F'ed! I thought Honda's were supposed to be good cars. Don't I feel like a loser.

- elrayox, Santa Paula, CA, US

problem #123

Dec 212015

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

My fourth Honda, we sought out a Honda because of the brand loyalty. Bad call.

Transmission specialists back this up as well, just at one little local shop alone he had 100's of customers effected by this same issue. That's just mind boggling. The issue is much bigger than Honda wants to admit. You don't have to dig much to finds thousands of in depth articles, NHTSA complaints, involuntary recalls, and class action law suits. Unfortunately the recall didn't do much to help the problem as Honda's fix was just to put in the same faulty part. So this resulted in your car going another 50,000 miles before having to replace the transmission again. Some people that were "lucky" and I use that term loosely to have it fail under warranty and have been known to replace it three times in less then 100k, over 100k it's not under warranty. In Canada it's 60,000 miles. The CSR we spoke to mislead us by saying the recall in Canada wasn't affected by the American recall, guess what there is one as well. You just have to dig, but it was pretty underhanded, because the information is not public, it's internal. I have links above to save people time, I could only find public American information however. Honda was unwilling to compromise, this should be criminal.

We may be looking to start a class action suit in Canada please feel free to contact me if you are interested thank you.

- Heather D., Medical Lake, WA, US

problem #122

Feb 112015

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,600 miles

I purchased a 2003 Honda Accord in April/2003. I've been the only owner, and all the maintenance has been done by Honda. This was my 1st car, and I was excited about getting a reliable car. Not so excited now! I recently reached 100,000 miles and not even a month later the transmission fails. I've been doing research and have learned that Honda is doing nothing to help their loyal customers with the cost of repairs. I'm going to replace the Transmission, and will be getting rid of this car ASAP. I'm a new mom, and I don't want to put our lives or anyone else's in danger. I wasn't financially prepared to purchase another vehicle, and now I'm being forced to. I will NEVER purchase another Honda again!

- cesi0921, Hawthorne, CA, US

problem #121

Nov 012014

Accord EX Coupe V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,560 miles


So I bought a used 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 Coupe in 2010 with really low miles, 37,636, thinking I was getting a reliable car. I had owned Honda cars in the past and for the most part, they had been pretty reliable. After getting the car, I took it to a Honda dealership to change the transmission fluid. They did that and also verified that it had the recall fix ( installing an extra 2nd gear oiling tube ) done at a dealership by the previous owner. Noting that in Honda's maintenance schedule it only calls for changing the transmission fluid at over 100K miles, I felt I was taking proper care of my car.

Fast forward about 4 yrs later, and almost 40K miles, the transmission starts slipping badly. I check the fluid and it's not low, but is not bright pink either. Starting to look discolored. I take it out to test again, and it goes into neutral while driving. I pull over and take a deep breath. I start it up again and limp home in 2nd gear. Now I know I have transmission problems on a car with only 76,500 miles on it. Research tells me this is a faulty transmission design, but that at 11 yrs old, Honda isn't going to do anything for me. I don't even bother to ask, even though Honda knows they built a faulty transmission and it should last more than 76,500 miles with proper maintenance.

So I looked around for a reputable transmission shop local to me and pray the car will make it there and I don't have to have it towed. I did make by driving very easy and babying the car. The shop inspects and the next day tells me a re-build is needed. I pretty much had already resigned myself to this. The shop seems well run and licensed and ATRA members and all that. They quote me $3,360.00 for a rebuilt transmission with a 3 yr/50,000 mile warranty. I say go ahead. What choice do I have? The car is nearly worthless if it's not running, and at only 76,500 miles, theoretically, I should be able to get another 100K miles out of it with only regular maintenance, assuming this badly designed transmission doesn't fail again. The shop did say they used improved, upgraded parts and that with proper maintenance ( regular 25K fluid changes ), it should last.

It just sucks having to spend $3,300+ on a car with only 76,500 miles on it. I would have just junked it and bought something else if I could have afforded to. Thanks Honda. This will be the LAST Honda product I will ever own.

- guitarzan, Pittsburg, CA, US

problem #120

Oct 292014

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

2003 Honda Accord EX V-6 w/80,000 miles, it's pretty much the same problem I've read on the net, slipping gears, whining and clunking. This was a recall trans that they stuck a Band-Aid on with the fluid cooling jet a year after we bought the car and said there you go ,all better now. I know they knew this was just a way to avoid liability and say problem fixed when obviously it is not.

So now the dealer who says he's looking out for me, yea right, and will replace with a rebuilt trans for only $3,500. His help was taking $320 off labor. Whew, what a relief. That $320 was going to send me to the poor house, thank you helpful Honda dealer.

So what I need to know is how others are coping with this misery. Any law suits or recalls any one heard of? HOW SAD WE ALL HAVE TO YELL AND SCREAM AT THESE COMPANIES TO DO THE RIGHT AND HONORABLE THING.

- ronniecalifornia, Banning, CA, US

problem #119

Jun 072014

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles

We were coming home from a 2 hour drive and as we got off the freeway, the car wouldn't accelerate. The rpms moved but the car stayed in low gear. Had we been on a street road it wouldn't have been such an issue because we would be driving at relatively low speed. Because we were coming from a higher speed and trying to prevent other cars from hitting us, it was terribly inconvenient and dangerous. From now on I have to worry about passing other cars on the freeway/highway, turning, anything that would require me to accelerate because I don't know when it's going to quit. Getting a new transmission is not a cheap fix and we don't really have the finances to fix something that Honda knows is a problem but not willing to accept blame.

- csoregon, Corvallis, OR, US

problem #118

Jul 192014

Accord EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles

This is the second time my car has slipped out of least that's what I'm assuming. Again, coming home from a long highway trip, we were trying to accelerate after a stop light before having to merge into one lane. We were starting at 0 mph and made to about ~25 mph, when the car wouldn't accelerate. The rpms moved but no acceleration. This is terribly inconvenient because we don't have the money to spend on a $3600 transmission and Honda should be held responsible for crappy transmissions.

- csoregon, Corvallis, OR, US

problem #117

Jan 262014

Accord LX 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,318 miles


This is the fifth Honda we have owned and have NEVER had a transmission failure on a vehicle we have owned. We have had Honda's that had over 220,000 miles with no transmission problems. The dealer tried to help with cost but due to out of warranty could not. We have used Honda to do maintenance, change the fluids frequently, keep the car garage kept. We called Honda and were told by the first person it is four times the miles for warranty coverage. They would not admit to a known failure on this transmission. We requested a supervisor call so we could get them to assist with the cost, we didn't expect them to pay all but some towards the replacement. A supervisor called and said it is out of warranty and would not agree or admit there is a known failure or to pay any portion of the cost to replace the transmission.. When we said there was a class action lawsuit they said their records do not show this.

We were considering buying a 2014 Honda Pilot and will NOT buy one. If Honda does not build a reliable car or is not willing to stand behind a transmission with known failures why would anyone want to risk purchasing a vehicle that will be unserviceable. Honda has really dropped the ball on this. This will cost them more in future sales and service than paying a portion of the replacement. Poor business decision and only adds to bad PR.

- johnnyc28, Yorktown, VA, US

problem #116

Sep 092011

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

OK. My transmission started to give me problems in 2011, OK, so I thought this is low mileage for a Honda Accord, maybe it was something I did. I paid over $3300.00 to get the transmission rebuilt. The service man said that this year model was not a good transmission for Honda. The transmission was slipping in the lower gear. So I got it fixed, wished I would have traded it right then.

Less than 2 years later it started doing the exact same thing. In the lower gear the car would not go into gear properly. So I took it to a mechanic and he bought a used transmission for this model. So they put the transmission in, get this, this transmission have the exact same problem, I don't even get it off the lot. Then he goes and gets another transmission to replace the one he originally had to replace and that has the exact same problem. I have never been so discussed in my life. How in the h*** can you have 3 transmission with the same problem. Unless this is a Honda problem that they did not make right.

I have always been supportive of Honda because their cars are reliable, but you will not have to worry about me being a proud supporter anymore. I had to buy a new car while my freaking car is still in the shop, been there for 5 months trying to find a transmission. I think this is sorry and there was a problem with this year model and Honda should be held responsible for this mess. Janice a very unsatisfied consumer.

- jbmurchison, Sanford, NC, US

problem #115

Apr 062012

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

At 92k I should not be replacing my transmition. The dealership says its "just back luck" but are charging me $4195 to repair and then I find out it is a common problem.

I am looking to get on a class action lawsuit if one gets started.

- sheilay, Verona, WI, US

problem #114

May 012012

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

This was my deceased husband's car pride and joy that he was meticulous about and maintenance was done on a regular basis. I am upset that this has happened with only 50,000 miles. I have heard the dealership is being sued by a major insurance company for overcharging for repairs and thought $3600 was quite high.....and now I see the reason for the suit.

I am being very nice because I know everything can be worked out but I will be calling Honda this week to see what can be resolved. Thank you for letting me vent!

- Marilyn T., Highland, CA, US

problem #113

Aug 192013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,320 miles

I have owned many cars in my life and i have yet to ever have a transmission fail. A few of them had over 250k when i sold them and i am very surprised to see that Honda makes such a bad transmission in such a nice car. i have read at least 300 complaints about this very issue on a 2003 model yet honda seems not to care. i was a chevy man before i bought this car and now comparing them i really believe i made a mistake buying this new. Sad to that Consumer Reports rated this high when i bought it and still has a high rating for a used car. I own quite a few Honda products and never had any real problem with them. Sad to see they are as bad as the other companies when it come to known problems with a car. this car has had mostly highway miles on it since it was new. looking at 3500 bucks for a rebuilt transmission. It does upset me that they have become just like Gm and the others. guess my next car will be a chevy. i still have a 94 pickup and i have never had any major problem with it. Shame on honda for not recalling the 2003's with the other cars that have this problem. This complaint especially with the dealer and manufacturer not caring enough to do the right thing. I guess they are being added to my dodge list (They'll be No dodge in my Garage. )

Update from Sep 5, 2013: Since no help from Honda and transmission problems were starting to get much worse i decided to get rid of the car. Honda used to make a good car. But with all the problems they have and them not wanting to help with anything i have bought my very last Honda. I was looking at between 3500-4000 in repair costs for a rebuilt transmission with only a 12/12000mile warranty. The book value for the accord was in the 5500-6500 so i decided to just cut it loose. So now i'm on a mission to tell everyone i know about it. Buy something else, let's see if Honda likes that.

- Jimmy K., Harrisburg, NC, US

problem #112

Apr 302012

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

The transmission slips out of gear when I accelerate on my 2003 Accord, V-6.

- Adam R., San Carlos, CA, US

problem #111

Jun 152011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,250 miles

Car started about a year ago slipping out of gear when stopped at an intersection or while moving. No warning sound or jerks, you would just notice the engine racing and no acceleration. Started complaining at the Honda dealer a year ago and they said there was nothing wrong. Again this week it slipped out of gear while driving and the dealer repeated their mantra - nothing is wrong. It doesn't do it often, but when it does it is very disturbing and dangerous. Going to a transmission place tomorrow to see if they do anything. I would like to get it repaired before it causes an accident or completely fails.

- Mike B., Independence, MO, US

problem #110

Sep 122012

Accord EX 3.0L V6 Vtech

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,700 miles

I figured a Honda Accord EX is worth more than 148,000 miles. The transmission going out is surprising. I don't race anyone (which I figured would wear on the car more) and I take care of it. I have had it since 2007, I know now to do research that when I buy a Honda to look up the history of the model. It is just upsetting because now I have to decide to buy another car or fix the one I have. With the transmission going out I don't know if I can trust my car anymore or Honda. Annoying.

- Ricky S., Wichita, KS, US

problem #109

Mar 142006

Accord EXL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,655 miles

Had to rent a car again to get to work. I guess as long as I own this car I ned a backup car for when it is in the shop!

- jawebb, Garden Grove, CA, US

problem #108

Jan 172013

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

I called Honda and although they know about problems with transmission on Honda Accords 2003 they told me that my mileage and age was out of the warranty and recall period. Really sucks. On Monday my car was worth 7K, on Thursday I could trade it in for 1K at best.

- Alexander T., Newbury Park, CA, US

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