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:
99,050 miles
Total Complaints:
36 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced transmission (17 reports)
  2. not sure (15 reports)
  3. drained and refilled transmission fluid (2 reports)
  4. master overhaul, torque converter (1 reports)
  5. repaired transmission (1 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #16

Jul 242009

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles


I had a 03 accord V6 and was going down the interstate when the transmission locked up and a truck almost hit us! I had a brand new transmission put in the car from AMCO but wrecked it one year later..... If anyone is looking for a transmission it's now for sale! 704-732-9495

- , Lincolnton, NC, USA

problem #15

Sep 152010

Accord EX-L 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

This transmission has been giving us problems for a while. We first noticed a problem driving on a sloped road where one side of the car was lower than the other. The transmission would slip randomly like it was coming out of gear. This progressively worsened to the point that the transmission would not shift into third without some creative driving. We would have to get the RPMs up in second and then let off the pedal as it shifted into third. Once the RPMs dropped to around 1200, it would shift. Finally, about a month ago, the transmission just downshifted violently into first gear while we were going about 45. I ended up limping the car home and it has been parked since. Changing the fluid helped some at first but ultimately is not the long-term solution. I have read many complaints on this very transmission. It appears 2003 was a bad year for Honda Accord owners and their transmissions.

- , Caddo, OK, USA

problem #14

Aug 152010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I just paid off that car and now i have transmission problems. Already spend 800 to indentify the problem (my car shop thought its air filters). not sure how much its going to cost me to fix. The winter is ahead and and i do not want to drive this car since i believe it is very dangerous.

- , Waltham, MA, USA

problem #13

Aug 112010

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles


Death trap- On the way home from work my 2003 Honda Accord 3.0 V6 decided to do an unexpected rapid deceleration from 50 MPH to 25 MPH in a split second. It happened so fast when it rammed me into the seat belt restraint I nearly chocked from the jarring. I was very fortunate to have been on a 2 lane hwy and no one was behind me.Otherwise I would have been rear ended. I was really worried about what other tricks the car would do so I gingerly pressed the gas. The engine roared but I was still only going 27 MPH and the RPM's were over 3500. I traveled 3 more miles to get home and the engine raced and shifted roughly the entire time. I put my flashers on because I couldn't accelerate over 30 MPH. I called the Honda dealer to make an appointment. In the meantime we checked the transmission fluid and it smelled burnt. The next day the Honda dealer said the transmission was okay but it needed a transmission flush. It only has 102,000 miles and the manual states this needs to be done at 120,000 miles. when I picked my car up he said he did note that it smelled burnt and there were metal shavings in the fluid. But he said- "the transmission is fine." It doesn't sound fine to me and now I have a car that I'm afraid to drive. The problem is not resolved and the dealer isn't wanting to address the real issue.

- , Waddy, KY, USA

problem #12

Jul 242010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,575 miles

My 2003 Accord started experiencing unintended downshift on the 24th, after years of great care that follows or beats the recommended schedules. When it happened, the car jerked violently. Lucky I was only hearing horning behind me on a 50km/hr road instead of a crash on a 100km/hr highway. Honda dealership says the transmission needs to be replaced. I called Honda Canada afterwards, and they don't deny that they sold a car with a faulty transmission, but would not reimburse a penny due to "high" mileage. I also want to mention that Honda Canada has the worst customer service rep I've ever seen (I was angry on the second call, but I was not rude, and the rep was rude on every facet during both of my calls).

Next time if you buy a Honda Accord (or any Honda car), be mentally prepared that the car might be good for only 7 or 8 years, so you can see the true opportunity cost for leasing/renting if you have to stick to Honda. Also, I'm not sure how the reps behave when your car is within warranty, but when it is out of warranty, be prepared for the rudeness. I will have to give Honda more money to repair this piece of junk, and this will be my last Japanese car. However, I would gladly add my name to any class-action suit that may ensue. These Japanese companies are money grabbers, until someone gets seriously injured or dies due to their faulty design, the they play the victim.

- , Toronto, Ontario, Canada

problem #11

Mar 242010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,750 miles

Was driving the vehicle on busy highway about 45 miles per hour and without any warning whatsoever the vehicle felt like it had been hit in the rear and then decelerated. I maintained control of the car and managed to get it off the side of the road, but was quite fortunate that there was no vehicles immediately following me otherwise it could quite likely have resulted in an accident. Since this initial incident, it has occurred, though quite infrequently until recent.

Still working through a local dealership to sort out who pays what, as Honda Corporate believes that replacement of the transmission is necessary.

- , Orange Park, FL, US

problem #10

Feb 282010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles


I had my transmission fluid replace at 90K and now it's 3 months later and at 108K. This problem came about very suddenly. My Honda Accord was running fine until last Sunday when it decide to unexpected downshift and caused the car to suddenly stop. I was cruising at a slow steady speed when it happen and if I hadn't had my seat belt on I probably would have smashed my head into the windshield. I was only a couple blocks away from home so I decided to drive it home with it jolting and shift irregularly all the way. When I finally got home I tried to put into reverse to back it into my parking spot but the gears wouldn't engage right away. It took about 3 tries and about a minute of blocking traffic in the parking lot. Since my mechanic wasn't open Sunday I had to wait to take it to him the next day. I towed the car there and when the first mechanic tested it he couldn't find anything wrong. The car seemed to run fine. However, when the second mechanic took it for a spin the problem was obvious. The car needed to warm up for the problem to appear. So, they gave me two options, drain and refill the fluid and clean the solenoids for $200 or replace the transmission for $3,000. So, I decided to go the cheap route to see if that would help. It didn't. My car would run fine for about 20 miles and then started acting up. So, Google the problem and ended up at this site and was amazed to see all the complaints. So, following the advice of other owners I called Honda Corporate and of course they told me I needed to see the dealer first. But then I read the comment of the another owner that said his problem was because he had too much fluid in his transmission. I will check my fluid level and post an update. I wonder how many people starting having transmission problems after they've had transmission service.

- , San Diego, CA, US

problem #9

Feb 192010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

The car downshifted to first gear when I was driving at about 50 mph. Luckily it was night time and there was little traffic, or it could have been disastrous.

I have filed a complaint at and will now contact Honda customer service to request a good will repair.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #8

Feb 152010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,500 miles

15Feb10..Slowing down as I was entering my daughter's school zone; I noticed my (03’ Accord V6) car was "jumping" as the rpm's went down from the No No Zone. In the line this lightly reoccurred several times. After dropping her off about 2 miles way (doing 35 mph) I had to slow down as I saw that I was approaching a red light. This caused a sensation of me getting "rear-ended"; however, no one was directly behind me. My Accord's nose went down as it "attempted to stop; while my rpm's raged up and then down, within seconds "releasing" my car into a really slow speed. Knowing a car would soon be directly behind me; while terrified, I proceeded to the light. I scanned my dashboard and there were NO indications that anything was wrong with my car. Puzzled, I looked back to see if I “overlooked” something and ran over it and NOTHING was in the street. No check engine lights were on..NOTHING appeared wrong. When I got home, I tried to valet park my car (as I always do); and, she would not go into reverse. I had to make a u-turn and parked in front of my home. I checked all my liquid levels and they were fine. Then I took it into Honda Mall of Georgia and test drove it. By 1/2 a mile, it did that "slamming on the break" sensation; it even freaked out the service rep when we test drove it! She grabbed hold of the dashboard and door directing me to, "Stop immediately and go back to the dealership!! This is VERY dangerous and can cause an accident." She said that she, "has NEVER felt that before and thought that it was a transmission error and that could run me $3k for a new one." Mind you she stayed like that til she saw the lot of Honda!! I informed her that my car was apart of the 04' recall and if she thought that the gears could be messing up. Now that I’ve entered the 85k mileage problem zone, like other 03’ V6 owners. She didn't go into detail (being that she's not a mechanic) and stated that I had to pay for someone to diagnose it. The next day, 16Feb10, I was told that I would need a new transmission costing me over $4k. When I asked what went wrong she couldn't tell me, she just said that, "We don't 'repair' transmissions; we can only replace them.” Ensuring me it was NOT the recall parts, but that my “clutch” was just bad. And to “pinpoint” the problem, it would be and extra $1k to dismantle it and rebuild it b/c American Honda won’t accept it “taken apart.” I called American Honda; currently, I’m still waiting to see if they will extend the recall warranty or if I’m stuck with the $4k bill. I had to give them copies of all the work done to my car and I got as much as I could (not knowing that I’d need to do this). 23Feb10 (mind you I’m paying for a rental) I was told that it was going to cost me $4,449 to “replace” my transmission. It was an internal problem with my transmission’s 2nd gear and there was nothing that they could do, but to offer me about an $800 discount for the labor time cost (goodwill repair kicked in I guess). They told me that it was out of warranty and that that was the best that they could do. My daughter’s grandmother spoke with her mechanic and he said that he could replace it at $1400. However, after picking up my car from the dealership (it’s only been day two) he didn’t get that “rear ended” sensation yet. So, he wants me to drive it and bring it back when it happens again. Even if I bring it back..according to American Honda they won’t cover the “costs” b/c it’s not a Honda dealership, but I HAVE to fix my car and still owe over $7k on her!!! ugggggggg **After googling and learned that there are thousands of us 03’ V6 owners that aren’t able to get any substantial relief from Honda. If you can’t repair a transmission when it was recalled shouldn’t they have gave ALL Honda’s that were recalled NEW transmissions; vs plugging it up and slapping a 36k mile warranty, that they knew would hold a Honda over; then whip their hands of it leaving it to us to deal with financially and safety wise? 25Feb10 I googled Honda transmission lawsuits I have suddenly discovered faulty V6 transmissions has been an issue since theY2K models. Honda KNOWS they have put lives in these cars that will cause us to get whiplashed and even cause accidents!! I didn’t but a Hyundai, Ford or GM..I bought a HONDA b/c it used to mean was understood that it was such a great automobile; that it’s resale value was better than ANY car on the market!! Being that this is my third and it’s not even at 86k miles AND I was told to put in MORE money for “replacement” than half the value of my car b/c it was CREATED WRONG..shame on Honda!! My first Honda went almost to 200k and my second went well over 220k without someone saying, “Oh, this will cost you $4,449 to fix it; BUT, it’s only guaranteed for 36k miles.” WOW, seriously..I’m soooo miffed that American Honda isn’t even doing ANYTHING about this but “cutting the warranted labor cost by 50% still costing me over $3600 to fix it at the dealership!!!” This is NOT acceptable!! They should be punished!! Seriously, what is it going to take?? A family on the freeway slowing down b/c of traffic and the transmission acts a donkey and they get rear ended and cause a 15 car pileup and die?? OR they just flip completely over?? Father help us..this is tooo expensive and not right! I will keep you posted!! Good luck fellow V6’ers!!

- , Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #7

Oct 292009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

At 91000, the car abruptly downshifted to first gear while going 60 MPH on the highway, nearly throwing the driver into the windshield and nearly sending the car spinning. The auto repair shop initially could not replicate the problem, for the car had not yet warmed up. Then, at 55 MPH, the same thing happened at 55 MPH. Once the car warmed up, the downshift problem and related problems of not entering the correct gear (such as not entering reverse, or lurching after delayed entry into drive) would persist until the car was turned off and cooled down. Honda dealer said there was no program to help us, but that for $3695 they would replace the transmission with a rebuilt one, and we would have to pay the full bill. The national Honda customer service office could not promise or decline to pay anything, even if we took the car to the Honda dealer 20 miles away, but they would not discuss it further if we did not take it to the dealer. We had the transmission replaced at a local shop rather than at the distant dealer.

- , Hunt Valley, MD, USA

problem #6

Oct 202009

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles


Bought 2003 Honda Accord V6-EX, automatic, a few months ago in an excellent condition, hoping that it is a reliable vehicle that I can count on. Yesterday i was getting on a ramp going about 60 mph, when all of the sudden the car shifts down on 1st gear. My wheels locked up and I almost crashed. Later, on low speeds, I noticed that when shifting 1st to 2nd gear the vehicle just jerks really hard. Overall, gears just started changing when not appropriate and the car keeps downshifting at any speed. As I noticed, a lot of other drivers have the same problem with their Accords. I filled complaint with Honda and waiting to hear from their case manager. I highly doubt that anything will be done to reduce my financial burden. I am a college student and pay for tuition on my own; if Honda is not going to help me, then I will have to spend my tuition money on the new transmission and miss a semester of school. I really hope that their conscience will wake up.

Update from Oct 24, 2009: Honda dealership contacted Honda Motor Co. and offered me a 50% discount. So, my total now is 1700$. I am very far away from being satisfied. After calling to the Honda Motor Co. myself and explaining them what has happened, a representative told me that a case manager will call me back the next day. He did call me back, his name is Ronald Rubinoff. He declined my case or any additional help because apparently I am not the first owner and don't have all service records. I told him about a possible class action lawsuit and he said, I quote "It is your right" and damn right I will complain! I am really disappointed with Honda. Think twice before you buy Honda...then don't buy it! I am filling an official complaint letter and if they don't do anything about it afterwards, then I'll call Stamell & Schager Law firm: (212) 566-4356

- , Dallas, TX, USA

problem #5

Sep 132009

Accord Ex 2 Door Coupe V6 Vtec

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

I purchased a 2003 Honda Accord 2 door with the V6 VTEC engine from a Honda dealer in late March of this year. (Less than 6 months ago) The car had just over 93,000 miles on it and now it has just over 106,000 miles. So I've only driven it about 13,000 miles since I bought the car and most of those miles have been on the highway. My past experience with Honda cars has been outstanding until this 2003 Accord. As a matter of fact, my last car was a 1999 Honda Accord that had over 296,000 miles on it and only then did it start having transmission problems. (That's why I decided to go ahead and trade it in on the 2003 Accord.) Since my history with Honda cars has been so good I didn't even blink an eye about the 2003 Accord having 93,000 miles on it when I bought it. Unfortunately that decision has come back to haunt me. On Thursday, September 10, the transmission acted up when I was accelerating from a stop. Somewhere between 3rd and 4th gear the RPM's shot up to about 5000 then came right back down. I now know that this was caused by the transmission dropping down at least a gear or two causing the RPM's to suddenly surge. The very next day, Friday, September 11, I took the car to the dealer I purchased it from and had them change the transmission fluid because when I got home on Thursday I looked at it and it was almost black. I also told the service adviser what happened the day before and they simply changed the fluid and said nothing to me about any potential problem. At any rate, on Sunday, September 13, my wife and I took a trip that was about 130 miles each way. The transmission did the same thing it did to me on Thursday. But only one time. (On the 1st leg of the trip) On the way home, the real problems started. As I've previously read from other complaints, I was traveling about 75 to 80 miles per hour then all of the sudden the transmission dropped from 5th gear down to 1st or 2nd. The tires actually screeched and thank God I was holding on to the wheel firmly when it happened and the car behind me was not too close. Needless to say, it really frightened me and my wife. So I slowed the car down to about 60 MPH and it did the same thing, 2 more times, almost in succession. We were very close to a rest stop and pulled in. So we sat for about 15 minutes to decide what to do and made the decision to get back on the road. When I put the car in reverse, nothing happened so I had to push the car out of the parking space. The car did engage in 1st gear but that was all it would do. So we ended up driving at about 3500RPM for the rest of the way home. The entire time we had the hazard lights on and kept going from the right lane into the emergency lane. I was careful to not let the engine RPM get much over 3500 knowing that I was at least protecting the engine that way. We almost had one accident when a car came up on us too fast and almost hit us from behind. I thought for sure the SUV was going to flip over when the driver finally realized how slow we were traveling. How that car car didn't filp into us or onto the median God only knows. Anyway, this whole time the check engine light never came on. Neither did any other warning light. That is until we stopped again to let the transmission cool down. This time we let the car sit for over 1/2 hour and the transmission did in fact try to shift normally, but only for about 2 seconds. At that time, the check engine light and the TCS warning light came on. Also, the green light on the dash that showed the car was in D1 started blinking. And of course the transmission was stuck in 1st gear again. We finally made it home and I had my wife take our other car and follow me to the dealership. I took the car to the dealership I bought it at and left it there with an explanation of what happened and put the key in the night drop along with an explanation of what happened. (I am not willing to mention the Dealer name at his time) The very next day, Monday morning, September 14th, I called the dealer to see what the problem was. To make a long story short, they told me the transmission needed to be replaced with a remanufacturered one AT A COST OF $3800.00!!!!!! That is more than 1/3rd the price I paid for the car from them less than 6 months ago! They told me since the car was out of warranty, that they were really sorry but that was the best they could do. They also said Honda of America would not assist me in this matter either. Needless to say, I was very upset about the situation but maintained my cool when I was talking with them. On the advice of a friend, I then called AAMCO transmissions and they offered to fix the proplem for no more than $2200.00. It might turn out to be less because they just started working on the car today. I am having the manager take detailed pictures of the transmission after they take it out and before the tear it down. I am also having him take picturs of the damaged parts as well. He believes the torque converter is going to be completely shot but will not know until they open it up. One thing I forgot to mention. When I told the service adviser what I was going to do, all he did was badmouth AAMCO transmission and then offer a small discount. Once he did that, I knew I was making the right decision. Being in sales myself, rule number one is to never talk bad about the competition. As a professional salesperson, you are supposed to convince the customer to do business with you without knocking the competition. At any rate, I also called the law firm that is mentioned in another complaint I found on this website, who is putting together a class action lawsuit against Honda for the problem with the 2003 Accord transmission. As of today, they have over 600 registered complaints and plan on filing the suit in the near future. I URGE you to do the same. The firm name is Stamell & Schager and their phone number is 212-566-4047. I will also be filing a complaint with Honda of America and getting a case number. The law firm suggested I do this. (I was planning on it anyway but did not know about the class action suit until I found this website.) I will also be sending a copy of the complaint to the dealership owner and plan on including this website address in my complaint. There is no doubt in my mind that Honda has been aware of this problem for a long time and has not acted in the public's best interest to fix this very serious, potentially life threatening, transmission problem.

I will be uploading the pictures of my transmission in the next day or two for all to see.

I believe that Honda should be held accountable for this problem no matter if the car is under warranty or not. They obviously have a design flaw/ or flaws, with this transmission. Maybe its simply not built tough enough to handle the horsepower the V6 VTEC puts out in the 2003 Accord. Eithery way, this transmission, if it has not already done so, is going to get somebody killed or seriously hurt. Traveling at highway speeds, this car is definitely not safe given my experience and apparently the experience of many other 2003 Accord V6 owners.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Please look for the photos I will be adding in the next day or two. They may be quite helpful to others who are dealing with this issue.

Update from Sep 17, 2009: I had the transmission rebuilt by AAMCO for $2200.00 plus tax. The transmission was COOKED! (Especially 2nd and 3rd gear). And, according to AAMCO, the only way for the 2nd gear on this transmission to be inspected was to have the transmission removed, then taken apart into three pieces. The technician told me that he does not believe there was any way the dealership could have inspected this gear with any sort of camera or scope since there is no way to visually see the gear without doing what I described above. The technician who rebuilt my transmission has been doing this for 32 years. I will report more as the story unfolds. And believe me, it's far from over.

Update from Sep 27, 2009: I uploaded two pictures last week of the torn down transmission parts but they never appeared here. Sorry folks. I will update as I can. This issue is still far from over.

- , Grayson, GA, USA

problem #4

Jul 252011

Accord EX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

Only rant is before I bought car Honda did an inspection where they took a picture of the 2nd gear in the engine through the fill plug. The pictures showed no problem with the gear so a new transmission was not installed.

The original bill was $4400 and Honda took off $1500 and the dealership helped a little so my final cost is $2450 plus tax.

My gripe is if there is a problem with the manufacturing then they should fix it for the consumer.

- , Monroe, OH, USA

problem #3

Mar 022009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,633 miles

Car down shifted into second gear at 80 mph! Good thing I was going straight in no traffic. I am glad I found this sight before I go to Honda. I wonder how many accidents this has caused?

- , Olds, Alberta, Canada

problem #2

Jan 152009

Accord ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,751 miles

)3 Honda transmission problem. I've read most the complaints on this site and they're all the same so no reason to bore you with the same details. My wife was driving home yesterday and the tranny downshifted hard, them slipped out of gear. She got it to work again but noticed it shifted hard at the signal light, spinning the front tires. I called the 800-999-1009 number and requested a reference number and "goodwill repair". The guy pretended not to know what I was talking about. He said I had to take it to a dealership first and get it diagnosed. He said Honda is willing to help sometimes but it's on a case by case basis. The dealership told me the same thing. 58,751 miles. Honda should be open to a full repair! I'll let you know what happens but it's definitely getting sold.

- , Folsom, CA, USA

problem #1

Dec 132008

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I was on the Long Island Expressway at 70 miles per hour when the vehicle suddenly slipped into second gear, posing immediate threat to occupants and motorist around us.

- , Garnerville, NY, USA

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