really awful
Crashes / Fires:
10 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
62,838 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Honda Civic engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Honda Civic Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #27

Oct 312015


  • 175,000 miles


On halloween night 10/31/2015, after getting home from taking kids trick-or-treating I was leaving to go to store. While I was backing out of the drive-way I realized I forgot my wallet inside. So I opened the door & went to step out, then noticed I was sticking out in the street a little bit. So I left my left leg out & door open because I was only going to pull forward a couple feet. When I put the car in drive & barely pushed the gas pedal, the gas pedal forced itself to the floor & the car accelerated very quickly. I had no control of the car & tried everything I could to stop it! but it was too late.... the car shot us through the garage door where my leg & foot hit the rock siding entrance going into garage. It also twisted my leg all around & was pinned in between car and garage wall. The car came to a stop when it took my brand new motorcycle I had only owned for 3 weeks & smashed it into the wall!!! it completely totaled my motorcycle. But I was so badly messed up & hurt I couldn't even hardly walk or put any weight on my left leg. After months of physical therapy & lots of doctor bills I am healed, for the most part. I contacted Honda & they did an inspection of the vehicle but didn't find anything wrong with it & released it as a safe driveable vehicle. So I was left with about $15,000 worth of damage including my brand new motorcycle. My full coverage insurance only paid about 3/4 of what I paid for the bike. This was one of the most traumatic crazy things to ever happen to us! im just so lucky & glad that one of the kids wasn't in the garage playing or anyone else got hurt! this could've been sooo much worse than it already was!!!

- Bethany, OK, USA

problem #26

Jun 012015


  • 126,738 miles
I was driving on 695 West high way baltimore, Maryland on June 1st in the afternoon as usual, all of sudden my car was out of control. I was trying to slow down the speed a bit, however my break was hardly to push down. I felt like something got stuck there. At the meantime, the accelerator seems not stop while I was pushing down the break, on the opposite it was increasing the speed... in general, the speed was slowing down but it was super slow. I could tell my car was in a super bad situation. I was very lucky that there weren't lot of cars near to me, I immediately turned on the emergency light and turned my car to the emergency lane. I finally made car reducing the speed to 20 mph while my car was in the emergency lane, but it was still moving that I had to make a emergency break and turned my car off. It was a horrible driving experience I never ever had. I sent my to the repair store, the result is the main problem of my car is the accelerator got stuck that effected the break couldn't slow down the speed, also my break had some issues too. I spent $1,699 to get my car fixed in the end. I think this problem shouldn't happen to any cars, its very dangerous and it will be a big possible to cause the car accident. I think Honda has to take a big responsibility of this incident, and to make sure all of Honda cars won't have this terrible issue.

- Towson, MD, USA

problem #25

Apr 122012

Civic 4-cyl

  • 30 miles
I just pulled out of parking lot onto road knowing that within the next 200 ft I was approaching stop light I was doing about 15-20 mph. I saw the car stopped for light and stepped on my brakes my car never attempted to slow down or stop until it impacted with rear of vehicle stopped at light. 2nd accident: As crossing intresection a car pulled over into my lane I applied brakes and car did not attempt to slow down or brakes work my car did not stop until it impacted with rear of vehicle in front of me.3rd accident: As pulling off from green light approaching traffic at next stop light cars started braking at which time I applied my brakes I was well within stopping distance if my brakes had worked. They went all the way to the floor and the car started sliding and it was as if the car picked up speed after hitting my brakes with both feet. My seat bealt did not work (I hit stearing wheel) nor did the air bag my car did not slow down or attempt to until impact with other vehicle rear bumper. Upon impact I hit the sterring wheel and my knee hit the dash.I have major damage to my vehicle the front bumper is tottally gone, the radiator blew up my car was smoking and the hood is bowed up. The car was not drivable. When the tow truck arrrived and actually saw the impact. He quickly stated " the breaks did not work in your car did they? " I was very surprised but he could actually tell my car did not stop or attempt to stop until impact with rear of other vehicle. And he stated he thought Honda had a recall on these for the brakes and air bags. This car has many recalls and complaints. I'm scared to get in the vehicle again! I need help and advise on what to do next. I do not want another person to go through what I have been through and could greatly lead to fatality. Very concerned about safety of 2003 Honda Civic! I need to know what to do with this vehicle!

- Greenville, SC, USA

problem #24

Apr 032014


  • 36,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Civic. The contact stated that while attempting to decelerate, the engine continued to rev and suddenly accelerated. The contact indicated that the failure occurred multiple times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who was unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 36,000.

- Leavittsburg, OH, USA

problem #23

Feb 152013

Civic 4-cyl

  • 5,858 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Civic. The contact stated that while reversing at approximately 2 mph, the engine rpms increased excessively and the vehicle suddenly accelerated without warning. The contact crashed into a tree, and the trunk was split in half. The contact was not injured. The vehicle was towed to a private mechanic where the failure was not able to be replicated. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure and current mileage was 5,858.

- Silver Spring , MD, USA

problem #22

Nov 212012


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Civic. While driving approximately 40 mph, the vehicle suddenly accelerated independently without depressing the accelerator pedal. The contact depressed the brake pedal but the vehicle would not decelerate. When the contact removed her foot from the brake pedal the speed increased. The contact merged onto a grassy area and shut the engine off. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage 130,000.

- Winter Garden , FL, USA

problem #21

Nov 062012


  • 63,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Civic. The contact stated that while driving approximately 40 mph, the vehicle suddenly accelerated independently without the accelerator pedal being depressed. The contact applied the brakes but the vehicle would not decelerate. As the contact removed her foot from the brake pedal, the vehicle speed increased. The contact merged onto a grassy area and shut the engine off. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic testing but was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 130,000.

- Winnetka, IL, USA

problem #20

Oct 312012

Civic 4-cyl

  • 123,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Civic. While driving approximately 35 mph, the vehicle suddenly accelerated independently without the contact applying pressure to the accelerator pedal. The contact applied pressure to the brake pedal but the vehicle would not respond and accelerated farther. After shifting into neutral, the vehicle came to a stop. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate mileage was 123,000. Updated 01/02/2013 the consumer stated a mechanic cleaned the throttle body. The vehicle began perfoming as it should. Updated 1/7/2013

- New City, NY, USA

problem #19

Nov 252011

Civic 4-cyl

  • 153,928 miles
As I was leaving the parking lot of a shopping center, and about to get on the roadway, I came to a complete stop. When the opportunity came to proceed, I stepped on the gas pedal (throttle) and it got stuck to the floor for approximately 10 seconds. I immediately stepped on the brake pedal as hard as I could, to prevent the car from moving forward at a high rate of speed, however the car kept creeping forward. I managed to engage the emergency brake, which seemed to have helped. As an attempt to loosen the throttle, I shifted the shift lever from "drive" to "park, " back and forth a couple of times, to no avail. As I was about to attempt to turn the ignition key to the off position, the throttle became unstuck. During the incident, the engine was running at high rpms. I took the car to the dealership and explained to them what I had experienced. The master mechanic took the car for a test-drive and confirmed that the throttle was getting stuck. During the actual inspection, the mechanic(s) found out that the throttle body and cable needed to be replaced. The repair was done and I had not had another such incident since then.

- Petaluma, CA, USA

problem #18

Apr 112012

Civic 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Driver had just stopped vehicle in parking spot when it unexpectedly accelerated over the curb and hit another vehicle, also hit shrubs in common area of parking lot. Driver applied brakes and was able to stop vehicle.

- Fountain Hills, AZ, USA

problem #17

Feb 012012

Civic 4-cyl

  • 68,000 miles


Whenever we are going up a the hill the car loss speed and a lot of potency.

- Bellevue , WA, USA

problem #16

Feb 032011


  • 140,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Civic LX. The contact was driving 55 mph when the vehicle accelerated abnormally. The contact was trying to slow the vehicle down when the rpms increased to 2000. The contact applied the brakes and repeatedly shifting between D3 to D1 gears until the vehicle began to decrease in speed. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnosis or repairs. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was 140,000.

- Toledo, OH, USA

problem #15

Feb 232010


  • 141,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Civic. I had pulled out of my small road onto a rural highway heading into town to take my 14 year-old son to school. I had accelerated to about 45 mph and needed to slow for a car in front of me. I took my foot off of the pedal and the car continued to accelerate. It didn't just stay stuck at the speed I was going it took off like I had it floored. I had my son look down and check the mat and he even pulled on the pedal but it made no difference. I controlled the speed somewhat by pushing on the brakes with both feet very hard and was able to keep from overtaking other cars. Luckily, the intersection I crossed did not require me to stop and I was able to push on the brakes hard enough to be able to pull over and turn the car off in the parking lot of a local mechanic. The brakes were smoking badly. The mechanic saw how frightened I was and came out and started the car and it was still revving at full throttle. He shut it off and said they would push it in later. When they did look at it later, it wasn't doing it anymore. They drove it and it didn't do it again. I called the local dealership(ike's Honda in marion il) and they brushed me off. I then called the Honda company. They called me the next day and offered to do diagnostics for free if I brought it to the dealer. They wouldn't commit to fixing it. I had it towed there(on my insurance because they rep. Never called me back even though I left 2 messages) because I was afraid to drive it. That was fri., February 26,2010 and I have not heard from them yet. What happens if they don't find anything" I am afraid to drive the car again. I was very lucky the first time. What happens if they say the found something? are they really going to let me drive off in it if I can't afford to fix it"

- West Frankfort, IL, USA

problem #14

May 022009


  • 86,000 miles
On ~5/2/2009, Saturday morning, I was driving my 2003 Honda Civic, cross 141th street from North community to South community after yard sale, at ~15mph speed. When I cross the street, I found a SUV pass from West to East, then I try to stop my car, however I can not stop it. Then I have to turn left (East), then my car right front crashed with the SUV left side. I remembered I push the brake gear, however it can not stop, I also used my right hand to move the gear to the N, and push my the brake so hard, then my car stopped about 300 feet away from where the car crashed. I just don't understand why at that time it takes me so long time and so far away distance to stop a car at a speed ~15mph (happened only this time). Another thing about this car: When I set up cruise control for this car, it will automatically accelerate higher than what I set up. Suppose I try to set up 65mph on highway, the car will automatically accelerate to more than 70mph. Now I can not use the cruise control system in this car.

- Fishers, IN, USA

problem #13

Oct 202009

Civic 4-cyl

  • 47,531 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Civic hybrid. While parking the RPM's began to increase rapidly and the vehicle lunged forward. The contact was forced to shift gears into park to avoid crashing into another vehicle. The contact confirmed that the pedal was not stuck when the vehicle accelerated. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The dealer diagnosed the vehicle and stated that there were no failures. The dealer concluded that the floor mat pushed the accelerator pedal down causing the RPM's to increase; however they trimmed the floor mats around the pedal. The failure mileage was 47,531. The consumer stated she put the vehicle in reverse while attempting to parallel park, the vehicle lurched backwards on a flat steer after her foot was off the accelerator. She quickly braked to avoid hitting the parked car that was behind her. The vehicle did stop, but simultaneously the engine accelerated greatly to an RPM far greater than flooring the accelerator. She quickly out the gear shift in park and turned the ignition off, which stopped everything. The consumer stated the sudden acceleration, occurred three separate times. All three incidents happened, at very low speeds. The consumer has since sold the vehicle. Updated 12/02/14

- Santa Barbara, CA, USA

problem #12

Dec 262009

Civic 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Civic hybrid. While driving 75 mph on the interstate when the accelerator pedal extended to the floor without the contact applying pressure to it, then the rpms increased. He then firmly pressed on the brake pedal and the vehicle started to slow down. The contact was able to continue driving. The failure has occurred approximately 7 to 8 times. Honda was contacted and stated that they were not going to repair the vehicle since the failure was related to the cruise control. They also advised the contact to have the vehicle diagnosed by the dealer. No repairs were made to the vehicle. The failure mileage was 130,000. The current mileage was 207,496. The consumer also stated the brakes did not work well on a rough road when going down a hill. Updated 05/13/10.

- Rowling Heights , CA, USA

problem #11

May 302003


  • 1,000 miles
2003 Honda Civic ex with 5 speed standard transmission and with cruise control. When using cruise control, if I shift gears, after I disengage the transmission and before I re-engage the desired gear (I.e., switching gears from 4th to 5th or 4th to third or a similar operation), cruise control does not disengage, engine revs up to redline, and I must manually kill cruise control by tapping brakes, or I can leave cruise control on, and shift into desired gear. The point is, the car is either suppose to kill the cruise control operation automatically, or at the least, not rev the engine up in an uncontrolled method. This has been happening since I purchased the car brand new (with 0 miles on it, right off the delivery truck). I thought nothing of it until I read that the Toyota computer system may be the source of unintentional acceleration.

- Collierville, TN, USA

problem #10

Feb 222009


  • 52,000 miles
2003 Honda Civic hybrid. Original owner car has 52 K. recently I experienced a near death accident because the engine rapidly accelerated by itself as I exited a slight uphill driveway. As I approached the end of the driveway I stopped before turning onto the road, I heard a thud or clunk and then the car lurched and sped rapidly into the road which was wet from rain. The car skidded and fishtailed L tried to apply the brakes but they were unresponsive. I tried the emergency brake which did not respond either. The car did a 360 turn and had gone almost 200 yards from where it exited the driveway. The engine sounded like it was going to blow up. I could smell smoke. All of this happened in under 30 seconds. By some merciful force, the car hit the mud embankment on the side of the road and thankfully no other cars were on the road. I jumped out of the car because the engine was still racing and I could not turn it off, I ran across the road because I wasn't sure if the car would blow up or keep going. After a few seconds I ran over again and could turn it off but the emergency lights did not work. The car was towed to the oakland, ca Honda dealer where I purchased it. They performed a basic diagnostic test and told me the car is ok to drive and nothing is visibly wrong with it except for the dent on the front bumper. They have closed the case. In the past this car has been serviced several times for a recall due to a problem with the cvt (continuously variable transmission) because it judders after coming to a stop. I do not believe that Honda has adequately researched my case. A car should not accelerate as mine did and I believe that the fact this model has already had a recall on the transmission warrants a more than cursory evaluation. Honda is risking the safety of hundreds and thousands of peoples safety by not trying to determine why my vehicle sped out of control by itself. I plan to investigate further in thanks that I am alive.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #9

Apr 102008


  • 65,000 miles
2003 Civic hybrid- 80K miles. Bought in 2006 with 60K miles. The vehicle hesitates when accelerating from a stop. There is about a 5-8 second delay in pressing the gas and the car going, which has caused me to almost be rear ended a few times. The vehicle also slows down extremely rapidly when the foot is removed from the gas pedal. Even with no pressure applied to the break pedal. To ordinary (not hybrid) cars, it seems like I am pressing my brake, they just see me slowing down, but there are no lights to warn them, I have almost been in two really bad car accidents that were avoided by mere inches when: On the highway I have taken my foot off the accelerator to slow my vehicle, but I did not need the breaks since the car slowed down so fast on it's own. I threw on my emergency lights and tapped the brake to signal to cars behind me who were moving much faster still. I think that Honda should put in smaller lights or a different safety light when you remove your foot from the accelerator on the Civic hybrids, to avoid rear-ending accidents due to rapid decrease in speed with no usage of the braking system. History of problem: During test drive vehicle made slight shudder noise and hesitation before starting to accelerate. The dealer told me that it was a normal noise for hybrids. I foolishly believed him. A few months later the shuddering was worse and I knew that it wasn't a normal noise for any transmission to be making at 60,000 miles! over the last 2 years I have taken the car to the dealership many times to "fix" this problem, which is only patched up and the shuddering comes back a few thousand miles later. Honda knows about this problem and has a service bulletin for it, yet their dealerships try to put off fixing the problem until someone's warranty is almost over, or over. Honda needs to be held responsible for this faulty vehicle. A recall should be done at the very least, to fix the cars driving around with bad transmissions.

- Mount Prospect, IL, USA

problem #8

May 122006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles
: the contact stated while parking the vehicle, with the brake pedal depressed, the vehicle accelerated uncontrollably. The vehicle was initially traveling less than 3 mph. The vehicle went over the concrete barrier and hit a wall. There was a police report taken at the scene. Although the seat belt was worn, the contact sustained minor injuries. The vehicle was towed to the dealership, but has not yet been inspected.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

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