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:
101,172 miles
Total Complaints:
24 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (15 reports)
  2. replacement transmission (6 reports)
  3. replace transmission (2 reports)
  4. replace brake switch/solenoid (1 reports)
2003 Honda Accord transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Accord Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #24

Feb 032015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles


My Transmission started slipping. I would come to idle in traffic and then push the gas peddle, only for the car RPM's to rev up but go nowhere. I have to manually shift down to 1st or 2nd gear at times to even get the car to go forward. At the higher gears there is no problem. From what I've read on the internet this is a very common problem.

After 2 repair shop quotes for replacement transmission, I started research online and I realized that this transmission has been a problem from the start. Honda has a recall that is a joke. From everything I read, it appears that Honda should replace all these bad transmissions. I did contact Honda to see about a replacement and was sent to the Dealership for assessment (what a joke- like they are going to admit fault and replace the transmission).

After 3 visits to the dealership, I was told that the transmission was the problem and that it was not due to the recall and it would cost $5,000 to replace the transmission with a rebuilt one. Each visit to the dealership, they wanted to charge me a diagnostic fee. After the 1st visit, they found nothing wrong (imagine that- the 2 previous auto shops found the problem right away). At the 2nd visit they said that the high pressure switch no. 3 needed to be replaced before they could even look at a recall replacement. After spending over $160, I had to take the car back for a 3rd visit, which they proceeded to attempt to charge another diagnostic fee. Only at this visit did they find that the transmission was bad, but not due to the recall and the cost would be $5,000.

When I had contacted Honda America, they told me that I had to go to the dealership and if the dealership could not help me with the replacement, that I could request assistance through their national recall center. That was a joke as well. They gave me a case number and then called the dealership, who said the transmission was not faulty. Case closed. I would have to pay the $5,000 to get my car fixed.

- , Signal Mtn, TN, USA

problem #23

Nov 062014

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles

Once again I am having problems with the transmission. This time it won't move in reverse. WTF is going on with Honda, this is the 3rd transmission I've had to replace while being a Honda owner. Among many other problems I have; air conditioner problem repeatedly, radio having to be replaces 3 times and still not working, power steering problems etc...

- , Chattanooga, TN, USA

problem #22

Aug 012011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

We have had this car into to dealer, transmission repair shops and no one can seem to find out the problem. It could possibly end of costing thousands dt fixing everything that could be causing the problem and never really finding the cause. Don't know why Honda as big a manufacturing company as they are are not interested in working with their consumers. We buy their product and they just forget about the consumer after all is done. They get their money and we get the run around. We also have a 2008 Honda Civic and now thanks to the Accord problem we will never own another. Do you suppose they just keeping saying its not in the transmission hoping that we will finally get tired and not push the issue any longer?

BUYER BEWARE! Thank you for letting us voice our grip.

- , London, OH, USA

problem #21

May 022013

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,800 miles


2nd time i had to replace.. buying a new car now. nothing else to say but stay away from 2003 hondas and acuras

- , Culver City, CA, US

problem #20

Mar 162013

Accord LX 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Well, here I join everyone else! I was at a light, when the light changed I went to accelerate when suddenly there was a loud bang and the car completely was not in gear anymore! I was completely unable to put it into gear. Not even park!!! With the engine running I tried putting the car into park but only got a grinding sound!! Very dangerous situation!! I had to push the car to the side of the road by myself in lots of traffic!

- , Port Jefferson Sta, NY, USA

problem #19

Aug 152011

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

Transmission started slipping at 66,000. The Honda dealership's diagnosis is that it needs a new transmission to the tune of $3500. I asked to speak to the Honda rep, but two days has passed and I have not heard anything yet.

Update from Apr 15, 2015: The local rep offered to do nothing for me. I submitted a complaint with Honda USA. After a few days, they got back to me and offered to cover half the cost. At least it was something. Kinda wishing at this point that I had just traded it in rather than paying the 50% to fix it.

I've owned two Honda Accords in my lifetime and both needed transmissions. One was completely covered, and this was the other. For being a company that is touted for quality, they sure have a lot of cars on Car's Wost Cars list.

- , Canonsburg, PA, US

problem #18

Jul 162011

Accord EX 2.4L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,400 miles


Basically never had probs with honda and recommended it to alot of my friends who now drive honda. Big mistake being my first vehicle that i just paid off on june 13th was quite happy. Then baam hows this for a good surprise. Very un pleased and looking into trading it in for a pinto. much cheaper then the 23k i paid for the honda and prob have just the same probs - the 20k extra

- , Haltom City, TX, USA

problem #17

Oct 202006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,000 miles

There have been infrequent (and inconvenient) occasions when the transmission cannot be shifted out of park, necessitating use of the the shift unlock slot next to the shift lever with a fingernail file to unfoul what ever is causing the problem. The dealer says transmission brake lock switch recall is not relevant to this problem. So I keep a nail file close by and ready to resolve the next lockout.

- , Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #16

Oct 062011

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,200 miles


- , Monroe, LA, USA

problem #15

May 012011

Accord DX 2.4L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

After having our transmission locked up and sliding into a ditch across the road. (thankfully nothing bad happened). We took our car to our local mechanic because warranty was out and Honda services are expensive. They diagnosed the problem to be a seized transmission and that they have had quite a bit of 03 Honda Accord s to have this problem over the years. I researched for a recall and found one exactly matching the description... but after calling to get information on ours, they said our car "does not apply" and did not care of the danger it can cause to anyone owning a 03 Honda Accord with a faulty transmission.

- , Aumsville, OR, USA

problem #14

Sep 122010

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles


Transmission went out last summer and I had replaced in October. I am a full-time paramedic student and this is twice in two years in which I have been left without a vehicle because of Honda's shady transmissions they put into the 2003 Accord EX. Honda said being that my car was over its warranty (by 7K miles) they would give me $300 off of $3500 to replace my transmission. I went to a transmission shop locally, (they are a national shop) and had rebuilt for $1800. Unfortunately they had to get the torque converter from Honda and low and behold, it has failed in less than a year of use.

Never again will I buy another Honda. The quality of cars they are putting out is sub-par at best.

- , Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #13

Jul 012010

Accord 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

its late at daughter has car and her daughter is 6 yrs. old and with her when this you try to guess how pissed off i am.this is supose to be a dependable car.

- , Mayslanding, NJ, USA

problem #12

May 052010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Transmission was replaced with 38,000 miles due to a complete failure. Honda dealer assured me that it wouldn't happen again and again it has happened at 120,000 miles. Transmission won't pull car and there is grinding in the transmission

- , Pikesville, MD, USA

problem #11

Feb 012010

Accord LX 2.4L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

Car complained about low voltage on the throttle position sensor. 1st fix attempt: Replaced battery $75. Went away for 3 months. Problem returned now transmission shifting erratically and very late! 2nd fix attempt: Replaced alternator $175. Problem persisted! 3rd fix attempt: Replaced throttle position sensor with aftermarket one $80. Shifting problems resolved!

Now the freaking thing won't shift out of Park unless I press the interlock override button. 1st fix attempt: Checked fuses, replaced burned out brake light $7. Still doesn't work! 2nd fix attempt: Replaced sensor on brake pedal $10. Does not work! Arrgh! 3rd fix attempt: I GIVE UP! I could replace the solenoid on the shifter but I'm just going to get rid of this car. At this point I'm just going to jam the override button at the on position! Last time I ever buy an automatic!

- , Denver, CO, USA

problem #10

May 262010

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,010 miles

This is the 3rd transmission that has gone out. 134,000 miles and 3 transmissions seems to be the best Honda can offer. Honda says they'll give me a price break on fixing the tranny....$3300....Thats the best they can do? Add to this situation the fact that I've had the car re-painted twice. The forest green just faded off the trunk, hood, and roof of the car. The remote audio controls on the steering wheel no longer work, the lights that illuminate the audio/cd/clock component dont work,the sun roof exploded into cracks while I sat at a traffic light(nothing had hit the sun roof). And there are many other things too.

Update from Jun 22, 2010: I also have a continuing problem with the car losing power suddenly with th TCS light coming on. This has gone on for 3 years. Twice the problem was suppose to be fixed but it keeps coming back. Removing the gas cap and putting it back on solves the problem....for just a little while.

- , Vista, CA, USA

problem #9

Dec 242009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,730 miles

Well, Merry Christmas!!!!!...

I can see my Christmas present is to myself about $4000 unless some miracle happens with all this complaining. I hardly have any miles on my car and my other car was a 91 Accord before this one. I was hoping not to have problems, but I have had nothing but problems with the 03 V6 Accord.

TCS light on all the time, window sticking, dealer ruining my visor and headliner and steering wheel (incompacitated, disadvantaged, loser your job you were trained for! ), doorhandle chrome part came off, passenger seat broke,

and NOW my tranny is slipping! Just Great!

Mind you I am not a read neck from Ca. (although I live where they crop farm and milk cows). I actually take very good care of my car, always serviced, garage parked, and rarely passengers. I think I just bought a lemon. Most of the others on here have double the miles, which I NEVER had a problem ( normal maintence only ) with my 91 and had 250,000 miles on it when I sold it. I had my 91 for 11 years! It is very sad that I come to find all these complaints on here about the 03 Accord! I won't know what is going on because of course my car breaks on Christmas when everything is closed for 3 days until Mon. Just my luck!

Well just wanted to add another.. hopefully something will come out of this.

- , Turlock, CA, USA

problem #8

Sep 202009

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

I've been in a mild panic since the transmission in my 2003 Honda Accord started doing some bad things a few months ago. First came the rough shifting (I tried to ignore it and pretend that I was being oversensitive), then came the violent downshifts (usually when I was going 20-30 mph down an incline and applying the brakes gently), and now the car refuses to shift out of 2nd, sometimes 3rd, gear. I've been managing the issue with denial and laying off the accelerator to give the tranny a chance to catch up but, tonight, in highway rush hour traffic, I experienced about a minute of true terror when the engine just revved and the car went nowhere while I attempted to accelerate. It did upshift finally and I got moving again but was scared the whole rest of the way home. I'm still in denial that this six year old car is going to need an expensive transmission repair/replacement. It's a Honda! It's only a 2003! As if I didn't have enough problems! The car that I depend on to commute to work has a bad transmission? Ugh! How did this happen?

- , Austin, TX, USA

problem #7

May 262009

Accord LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

My 2003 Honda Accord won't go into gear. This happened once or twice a few months ago, then nothing, so I paid it no mind. Then a couple of days ago, it started happening all the time. I use the shift lock release button to get out of park. The fix was to replace the brake switch/solenoid.

- , Wilton Manors, FL, USA

problem #6

Nov 292008

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

...and here I am, sitting at a truck stop after my Honda decided it no longer wants to shift into gear. It's the day after Thanksgiving and I'm trying to get home to work sunday. This has been a bit of a shock after only a few sporadic issues over the last month or so. the transmission had slipped as it goes from 2nd to 3rd gear momentarily, before catching and continuing normally until tonight. Over the course of an hour it went from harmless to dead. Now, as I'm sipping bad coffee and wondering what to do next (AAA decided they didn't want to recognize the premium membership I've been paying annually--with customer care closed till Monday) and seethe with thoughts that Honda must know this is a common issue. I have been a huge Honda advocate until recently (I have a Honda motorcycle and even a Honda lawnmower for God's sake!), but I will be getting an attorney before they can say, "that'll be 4 thousand dollars for your new transmission, sir," if they decide not to play a major role in satisfying this situation.

I need to get back to finding a tow company, but will be back to update with the results of the issue. sigh good evening.

- , Republic, MO, USA

problem #5

Feb 012008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I was so surprised to find this site and see that so many other people have had the same problem as me. It comes as such a shock. In terms of caring for my car, I always do what Honda advises, and even they said I had a pristine record.

I reported my problem to Honda months ago (the car doesn't go into gear at around 20 miles) and they kept telling me that nothing was wrong. They did not keep a record of my complaints and the last time I was there, they implied that it was my word against theirs. At that point, I complained to the owner of the dealership, and it is only then that I got any attention. They are going to replace the transmission for me and said that I would only have to pay $135.00 out of pocket for the whole job. I was wondering why they were being so nice until I found this site.

I have been such a loyal Honda fan and enthusiast for 15 years but I fear that both their product and their service are slipping. Sadly, I am losing confidence in the company and will have to think twice about my next purchase.

- , Fort Lee, NJ, USA

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