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:
98,928 miles
Total Complaints:
40 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (20 reports)
  2. replace entire transmission (20 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 #20

Sep 012009

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles


Hey do we know if anyone has filed a class action? I am very upset with the fact that my 2003 Honda (which are suppose to be great cars) is having an issue with the transmission already. No one at Honda Problems (800) 999 1009 wants to help! Go figure! Apparently this is an issue and I think all of us Honda owners who had faith in this car should move fwd and file a complaint.

- , Oroville, CA, USA

problem #19

May 012008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Bought 03 Accord EX V6 in 2004 as certified pre-preowned at 44K. Noticed the recall on the automatic transmission with service consisting of oil injector kit recall. Had the recall performed. About 85K miles noticed slight 2nd to 3rd gear hiccup. Went in for AT fluid change. No difference. Problem progressively worsened till about 110K miles. Made due by letting off gas between 2nd to 3rd gear so shifting can happen. When 2nd to 3rd gear fails to catch, car feels stuck in Neutral. Adding gas only revs the engine more. Have to bring car to stop and then re-accelerate. Called Honda customer service. They sent me to a Honda dealer to pay them for inspection to tell me that transmission is bad and that it is out of warranty. Then that Honda will not cover any of the cost. I have filed complaint with NTHSB

- , Roseville, MN, USA

problem #18

Jun 152009

Accord LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I have the same safety issue as hundreds (thousands?) of other consumers about the 2003 Honda Accord transmission. It's failing between 2nd and 3rd gear. I believe it's a safe assumption this failure is due to the ineffectual "repair" done due to the 2004 recall. The recall repair was done at 18,000 miles in 2004. In 2009 at 85,000 miles, Honda says the transmission needs to be replaced to the tune of $3,700. However, the dealership refuses to open the transmission to see if the gear is heat damaged! According to the recall repair procedure, this would show if the damage relates to the 2004 recall, recall repair done or not. At the suggestion of my service adviser (I use the term loosely), I spoke to American Honda. The "customer service" (I use the term VERY loosely) rep, Lauren, asked what I was looking for in the way of assistance. I said a transmission replacement and she immediately informed me, before I even explained the problem, that was not going happen. After I gave her a detailed explanation (not at her promptin, believe me), Lauren again asked what I was looking for. I said I had seen many 80% contributions toward this very repair and I'd be willing to settle for that. She again told me that was not going to happen. She said she truly didn't have any incentive to offer a "goodwill repair" at all as I'd informed her I was trying to sell the car. So, I asked, if I keep the car, you'd be willing to provide me more help? She said yes, as it was her job to keep Honda customers, not help them get rid of their Hondas. ???!!! I advised her that I felt that was akin to blackmail/extortion. She didn't disagree. A couple of days later, Lauren called me back and informed me that American Honda was offering me a whopping $1,300 contribution toward the repair, but only if completed at a Honda dealership (naturally). This means a $2,400 contribution on the part of my daughter, who earns $12/hr. End result: I'm picking up the car from the dealership tomorrow. They are more than willing to let me drive it away (after paying them the $100 for a truly unnecessary diagnostic given the 2004 Accord's transmission history), even though they state the transmission could lock up at any given time. Safe? Concern for the customer? Concern for the community? I think not. This is my 23-year old daughter's first auto purchase. What a let down. I've lodged a complaint with NHTSA and am calling Stamell & Schager. I urge others to do the same.

- , N. Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #17

May 312009

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles


Had worse day ever today as the problems that my car was having just seemed to get worse overnight...... The problem that is occurring sounds the same as the other complaints. My Honda Accord 2003 V6 that I just bought 2years ago will not shift into third gear what is happening is the RPM on the car goes all the way up to 5 or 6 but the car is not moving anywhere it is just stuck like at 20mph. Found out that I still have the extended coverage on the car for 100,000miles guess what my mileage is at 98,000 right now, ironic, huh? So I have an appointment to take the car into the dealer tomorrow lets see what bullshit they feed me because it seems that is all they are doing to the other customers, will keep you posted....... Distressed in Fresno, CA.

- , Fresno, CA, USA

problem #16

May 262009

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,000 miles

Really rough driving and won't shift out of 2nd gear. hope it's still in the warranty.

- , Frisco, TX, USA

problem #15

May 072009

Accord EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Yesterday I was driving home, stopped at a stop sign, took off from the stop sign and the RPM's went to 6000. I backed off and then the car went into third. I immediately took it to Honda and they said to change the transmission fluid and told me that it should be changed every 30,000 miles, which the manual says 100,000. Then he told us that they have had problems with 2003 Accord transmissions. We had the transmission fluid changed and the guy flushed the system 10 times and it still wasn't clean. So we are going to get rid of this car. I have had two other Honda cars and was so pleased with them and this is such a disappointment. Called Honda the lady who answered gave me all kinds of excuses until I told her that I know there are hundreds of 2003 Accords out there that have this problem and she put me on hold. I told her that I would sign the class action suit against Honda with the lawyer to get my money back for their inferior transmission. I also told her that I don't want to get the same transmission and have this happen again in a few years or months. They gave me a case # and said that someone would get back to me in a few days because I am out of warranty. Not very happy with the response from Honda.

- , Manson, WA, USA

problem #14

Mar 102009

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,408 miles


Honda Accord 3.0L V6 2003 model is for sure a beautiful car to ride, especially for long distance traveling. It is very stable and negotiates good with brakes. The annoying part is that the gears in the automatic transmission system are sure a big defect to the beauty of the car and so it sucks real bad. I completely regret buying it.

Mike Atoe

Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa

- , Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria

problem #13

May 152008

Accord LX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I bought the car with 30,000 miles and it ran like a charm. I noticed a shake when shifting into 3rd gear. Honda couldn't find the problem. We changed the transmission fluid and for 600 miles no problem. Well its baaaaccccck, and even worse than before.

I have extended coverage to 70,000 miles and it just turned 50,000.

- , Ocala, FL, US

problem #12

Oct 242008

Accord V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Transmission was slipping slightly going into 3rd and after a week it would slip from 3rd into neutral and it was hard to get past that point w/o going very slow. I barely made it home and had it towed to the dealer the next morning. The dealership (Goodson Honda North Houston) was excellent.

After reading this web site I decided to call Honda Customer Service. They called back on Monday and finally called again (after I had left at least 6 messages) on Thursday after the dealer had already addressed the problem and negotiated the price. This issue should have been addressed on Monday. Meanwhile, I am renting a vehicle. I'll stop rambling....bottom line is that the service manager kept me informed and ended up getting me a great deal through her manager and his manager. I ended up paying just over $1,000 (vs. $3600) they said because it was a certified pre-owned that was out of the mileage warranty but had not surpassed the length of time warranty.

Dealership was fabulous but Honda Corp did a poor job of service recovery....very surprised.

- , Magnolia, TX, USA

problem #11

Aug 302008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

Okay folks, first thanks for all the great info here on AutoBeef. Without it I wouldn't have known what to do. The car first had trouble on a steep hill. The car wouldn't shift to 3rd gear and I was stuck at 25mph going up. The trouble was intermittent and I couldn't reproduce it on demand. First thing I did was call Honda Corporate and report the problem. My car only had 67k+ miles on it and just hit the 5 year mark. I couldn't prove that it was a transmission problem though. I took the car to my non-Honda mechanic. He replaced the solenoid, no help and upgraded my computer with the dealer, also no help. I started keeping a log of the problem. Where, when, what I was doing when it happened. I took the car to the dealer and the dealer was absolutely fantastic. Twice I went out with the Honda mechanic and couldn't reproduce the problem. I left the car overnight with the dealer and let folks there drive the car. Still no repro. Meanwhile the corporate rep kept calling me, but I knew without confirmation from the dealer I couldn't get anywhere with corporate. After a month of trying to get the car to fail on demand it finally happened. Tip #1 if it happens then don't turn off the car when you get to the dealer. Tip #2 if you can avoid the freeway getting to the dealer do it, even though it means driving with your hazards on. I drove home on the freeway and when I hit my hill the car acted up and I turned it around and went back to the dealer. This time I was able to show a service manager the problem and he confirmed it was the transmission. Folks, I had the best experience with this dealer. I dealt with three different people in the service department plus one of the mechanics. They never dropped the ball. There was always someone that would step up to help me if the last person I talked to was not available. Okay more tips: It helps if your car was serviced regularly, my mechanic faxed my records to the dealer to show how well I took care of my car as the original owner. The quote from the dealer was $3322. I ended up paying less than 1/3rd. When I filed my complaint with the corporate office I told them that we had two new Honda Accords. Mine, a 2003 and his a 2004. The corporate office was great too. Once my issue was confirmed they followed up to make sure the dealer was following up with me. If your dealer is lame go to another. I was not working with my original dealer! Keep good records or use a reliable mechanic that does. Be persistent and systematic. Keep track of when and where the issue happens. Being methodical can help you track the problem. Best of luck folks!

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #10

Jul 202008

Accord EX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,500 miles


Hey another complaint to add to the list, I have an 03 Honda Accord V6, It all started when my transmission started shifting roughly into 3rd gear, after one week, and while I was 2 hours from home merging onto the interstate it would not shift into 3rd, just the RPMs went way up and the tranny light came on, fluids were good! I turned the car off and tried again! got a few miles and it slipped out of 5th gear and put me on the side of the road. I finally managed to get it home after 6 hours of danger on the hwy! Took it to the dealer, who said I need a new transmission, cost 3,900, after asking about the Honda goodwill, the price is now 2600. Wow way to rip me off! I looked up my vin and see that they supposed to have fixed the recall issue in 05 on the trans, but looks like it did no good! Also my AC went from ice cold to hot in 5 sec, took to 3 dif places all priced repair at over $1,000!

- , Zebulon, NC, USA

problem #9

Mar 062008

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

There is a recall out for a revision to the oil cooler return line to increase lubrication to the second gear. My car wouldn't shift out of 2nd gear and they are telling me I am responsible for replacing the whole transmission on my car. I only have 80K on it and just had the transmission serviced a few months ago.

- , Santa Ana, CA, USA

problem #8

Dec 062007

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

This issue has occurred 3 times in a little less than 1 month. A transmission repair shop agrees it could be a solenoid issue (or perhaps hydraulic). It is not likely electrical as more likely a warning light would flash. I will wait and see if it gets better. The mechanic said it could start working normally all the time or will appear more frequently (thus allowing him to properly diagnosis it.

My biggest concern is that if I need to accelerate quickly, I may not be able to depend on all the horses my V6 can offer. I have two children, and I do not want to find out how well I installed their carseats (very well thank you) but still have a rear-end collision because I cannot accelerate safely is unacceptable. Sometimes, you must absolutely depend on your car to perform. I will drive less aggressively with regarding pulling into traffic (allow for more room in case of failure), but sometimes you must have your car perform to avoid causing a pile-up or being unnecessarily rear-ended by someone not paying attention.

- , Spring, TX, USA

problem #7

Oct 102007

(reported on)

Accord V6 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I have seen postings on this board about the 2nd to 3rd gear slip that occurs on the V6 transmission. I have had this problem with my car for some time also. It generally isn't much more than an aggrevation (except for the few times it has occurred in rush hour traffic and the worst time - during a funeral procession where I was the 4th car). Basically, I wanted to shed a little light on this problem. First of all it actually isn't a slipping problem. What is happening is that the solenoids that disengages 2nd gear and engage 3rd gear (this is an electronic transmission not vacuum)under light acceleration are not powerful enough to actuate through their full length of travel. I don't know how this arrangement is on this particular transmission, but typical electronic transmissions have 1st and 3rd on one solenoid and 2nd and 4th on another. Again I haven't seen the schematic of the actual tranny, but these are the basics for most. Sometimes the tranny makes a single bang when it shifts out of 2nd and other times the engine just over-revs with no violent bang. The best thing you can do is to manually shift the car to 2nd "D2" and drive to a place where you can engage Reverse then Drive 'D' and take off with medium acceleration (better if you can drive in reverse for a few feet stop then take back off in Drive "D"). The worst thing you can do is to continue to rev the car in this slipping state. First of all this definately won't get the car to shift correctly. This will eventually damage the tranny for reasons that are too involved to explain.

As far as the Honda dealer telling you he can't diagnose the problem without actually experiencing it, that is an absolute LIE!!! As soon as the car goes into that slipping mode the onboard diagnostics in the car's computer register a Torque converter malfunction code (not sure exactly what the verbage or code number is, but it is specific). In essence the computer sees a lot of spinning at the crank and nothing occuring at the transmission. This code cannot be interpreted by a certified mechanic any other way. Honda knows this problem exist (obviously) and should be correcting it in the remanufactured transmissions. Based on what I have read, it doen't appear that is the case. So it isn't guaranteed you will not have this problem with a replacement.

I feel your pain in dealing with dealerships (their service techs hate fixing these types of problems - they don't make as many service hours on this type of repair therefore they don't make as much money). Remember, Honda is an engine company (the best)... not an automatic transmission company (third worst behind Chrysler and Ford). The comment someone else made on buying a Honda with a manual tranny stands on its own. They have tons of experience here. All their automatics have some kind of flaw. Buy a Toyota if your looking for a good drive train.

- , Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #6

May 022007

(reported on)

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

The transmission problems with Honda is an on going problem. They are JUNK! I will not buy another Honda again. I encourage all Honda people to dump their Honda and buy anything else. Tell everyone that the transmissions are bad all the way from 1998 (for sure) up to 2003 and beyond to 2007. Honda Corp. was no help. They even admitted the problems with the transmissions. It won't shift out of first to second or shift out of second to third. That is why Honda had a recall for an oiler tube over second gear. They knew the problem existed. The transmissions are JUNK-JUNK-JUNK-JUNK-JUNK. Don't buy a HONDA!

- , Dubuque, IA, USA

problem #5

Mar 032007

(reported on)

Accord EX 3.0 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I have had this car since nov 2002 and recently when driving the car it will not shift in 2nd or 3rd gear ( around 30 mph). The RMP up to about 7-8 and I have to pull over while driving. After I pull over and put the car in park and sit there for a while, I then proceed to drive every and thing seems fine. I almost crashed when merging on the express way because it would not shift gears around 30 mph. At first I thought it was it because was really cold here in Chicago -10 below for almost a month but now that it has warmed up to normal winter conditions it still is happening. After reading about all the same type of complaints I know there is something wrong with the transmission. I have also noticed that the shifting is not quiet like it used to be it has become rough. I'm in grad school and need to keep this car at least it's ten years old. I bought this car because Honda has a outstanding reputation . it pisses me off that there are transmission problems this early in the cars life, especially a Honda.

- , Evanston, IL, USA

problem #4

Nov 212006

(reported on)

Accord EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

My car is not shifting into third... why is this happening... this car is supposed to run forever without much expensive maintenance...

- , Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #3

Nov 132006

(reported on)

Accord LX 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,700 miles

This happens 3 weeks after I had my 45000 major service at Honda's dealer. They suck, why can't they detect it early?

- , Fremont, CA, USA

problem #2

Oct 022006

(reported on)

Accord EX

  • 40,000 miles

damn sh*tty ass honda accord 2003, just got dis car for not even 5 months and the transmission don't run no more. dat sh*t don't even run up to third gear it went pass third gear to 5th gear instead. thank buddha i bought extended warranty!!! brought that sh*t into the shop got it tested through the computer they said the whole transmission is gone/done with, they have to put in a whole new transmission. and dat car only had 40,000 miles on, when i got it it was 32,000 miles n it's already done with. The honda company need to get there sh*t tested and put in correctly cuz their shietty ass cars aren't working right.

- , Sacramento, CA, US

problem #1

Jul 152006

(reported on)


  • 60,000 miles

After going to the dealer twice and being told there was nothing wrong I found this site and see I'm not alone. I haven't had it fixed because they don't see any problem. This just ticks you off when you buy what you think is just about the best thing on the road..

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

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