really awful
Crashes / Fires:
5 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
63,235 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Civic Owner Comments (Page 2 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #52

Jan 042010


  • 155,000 miles


We purchased a 2003 Honda chc in 2006 with approximately 34,000 miles. As of January 2010, the car has 155,010 miles. From the date of purchase, there has been a shudder when decelerating from 40+ mph. We have only taken the car to our local Honda dealership for repair and maintenance and have been repeatedly told that there is nothing wrong with the car and that shudder is from an "overload". taking the service department at their word, we have never had any repair work done to remove the shudder or taken the car to another dealer. Over time the shudder has gotten worse. We have also experienced a hesitation when accelerating and then the car will suddenly lurch forward when it hits gear. Again, we were told that there wasn't anything wrong with the car and that we should expect hesitation when the car is switching from battery power to engine power. About 4 months ago, the check engine light came on and we were told that the catalytic converter was in need of replacement. We were given two options-immediate repair or drive until the catalytic converter completely fails. Recently the ima light came on and we took the car for diagnosis. The response was that the battery pack needed to be replaced. In addition, we were told that the transmission is beginning to fail. To replace the cvt transmission, battery pack and catalytic converter will cost approximately $7,500. As I have read the other complaints not only from this site, but also other sites on the internet, I now suspect that we have been experiencing transmission problems all along. We have had several other Honda vehicles. We purchased this vehicle because of the reliability we have come to expect from Honda. $7,500 or more in repairs is unreasonable for any car under 8 years old, especially a Honda.

- College Station, TX, USA

problem #51

Dec 042009


  • 109,000 miles
Vehicle has had a constant "juddering" (vibration) issue when accelerating from a stop. The car was taken to be serviced several times with no defects found by the dealer. The "juddering" has finally resulted in a complete transmission failure with a required replacement. I have read of several problems of the same nature with this particular year, make, and model.

- Walbridge, OH, USA

problem #50

Nov 102009


  • 60,000 miles
Honda Civic hybrid 2003 transmission slippage at 60,000 and 90,000 miles. Dealer changes fluid and 'burnishes the starter clutch', but it does not solve the problem of a faulty transmission. Now they say that it is a faulty egr to deflect the heat from the faulty transmission. There are many posts that refer to other owners with this same problem. Honda needs to face the problem and deal fairly with it.

- Washington, MA, USA

problem #49

Sep 012009


  • 75,000 miles


The transmission in my Honda Civic hybrid 2003 slips when the car is going slow or on an incline.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #48

Sep 012009


  • 116,000 miles
Transmission slipping. Lose of power on acceleration, especially quick acceleration like making a turn. This is second occurrence. In 2007 dealer "burnished" transmission. Now, says can burnish for $200 (which may resolve it temporarily) or can take care of problem, for $1200, to replace starter clutch assembly.

- Greensboro, NC, USA

problem #47

Aug 022009


  • 135,000 miles
There is a known problem with Honda Civic hybrid cvt transmission: "a shudder or judder up to 15 mph requires Honda to drain and burnish the 2003-2005 Honda hybrid cvt clutch.Honda will check the egr valve during this service too. Honda tech article# ats06070" my 2003 Civic is having this problem, which is unsafe because the transmission stutters to engage when starting out from a stop, which can be dangerous if you need to get going quickly to get out of the way.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #46

Jun 242009


  • 91,000 miles


Hesitation of cvt transmission in Honda Civic hybrid 2003 model. The transmission hesitates as you apply gas on the pedal. This hesitation is dangerous when you need to move quickly in certain traffic situations.

- Fair Lawn, NJ, USA

problem #45

Oct 012002


  • 20,000 miles
2003 Honda Civic hybrid has a vibration from the transmission. Dealers said they didn't feel it, then replaced trans fluid. Nothing helped. Out of warranty and its not their problem now. It is dangerous at speed. Honda is covering up a problem and they are at fault by corporate decision to risk american lives. Have gone round and round with Honda use and they still say there is no problem with any of the hybrids. Liars.

- Kansas City , MO, USA

problem #44

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 #43

Feb 182009


  • 74,000 miles
Ongoing problem with my 2003 Honda Civic hybrid cvt transmission. After putting in a ongoing chronic complaint to the manufacture Honda assigned me a case manager who decided to replace the problem transmission and torque converter with a remanufactured one. It was then fine for 7500 miles and now has started over the same exact problem of shudder and slippage as before. The dealer is trying to say it is an egr valve and putting me through the process of running out of the warranty again as they extended the transmission warranty to 100,000 miles and I now have 97,250. Again, as I mentioned before this transmission shudder and slippage is a safety issue (check your previous complaints) and I am a public safety advocate and public safety professional.

- Simi Valley, CA, USA

problem #42

Apr 152007


  • 70,000 miles


2003 Honda Civic hybrid began slight shuddering noise upon acceleration, which eventually got worse, taken in for repair and was told transmission fluid was flushed out 6 times in order to fully clean it out. Not even 3000 miles later shudder came back. Unfortunately, at the time was unable to afford another repair bill since car was still drivable. Now shudder is accompanied by tapping noise only when in gear, slight in reverse but loud when in drive.

- Humble, TX, USA

problem #41

Jan 112008

Civic 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Civic-hybrid. While driving 60 mph with the cruise control engaged, the engine suddenly revved, but the vehicle began to decelerate. The tachometer escalated and the contact pulled the vehicle onto the shoulder. After a few minutes, he attempted to drive back into traffic and the vehicle moved very slowly. The vehicle could only be driven 5 mph; however, the engine was still revving. After the contact shut off the engine for several minutes and restarted it, the vehicle worked perfectly fine for approximately 30 miles. When he attempted to exit the highway, the vehicle began losing speed again while the engine was still revving. He managed to drive the vehicle home and left it parked for a few days. He did not start the engine during that time. A few days later, he drove the vehicle to the dealer and they stated that a new transmission was needed. The vehicle has not yet been repaired and is still at the dealer. The current and failure mileages were 116,000. Updated 02-18-09updated 02/18/09.

- Sattlebrook, NJ, USA

problem #40

Jul 312008


  • 120,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda hybrid with 146K on it...the car started making slipping and grinding noises when coming out of a full stop. I noticed that a lot of other people are having the same exact issue at various intervals and are getting the run around from Honda dealerships-replacing transmission fluids, brandishing, etc. Only for the problem to return. At this point I have a vehicle that costs enormous amounts of money to fix-$1300 catalytic converter, $4000 ima battery pack reset/purchase, $750 transmission fluid change. This is really a big problem. It seems like people have been absolutely fooled into buying the car with no support from the manufacturer. This is not an isolated incident and many hybrid owners have found this to be an expensive and frustrating repair-not to mention the other costs. People feel like they're driving lemons around. My repairs that I recently found out about because the car did not pass emissions will cost me more than what the car is worth. The issue of the slipping and grinding when coming from a full stop needs to be addressed by the manufacturer and recalled to be repaired at no cost to the owners. This particular slipping started approximately 2 years ago. I had a transmission fluid replacement at that time and it seemed to take care of the problem only to have it return about 10K later. This is an ongoing cycle. I feel like I'm being gauged by the dealerships and the manufacturer who is refusing to address this issue-among many other ones.

- Buckeye, AZ, USA

problem #39

Aug 052008


  • 28,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Civic hybrid has a shudders on start-up from a stop. Was told that changing the cvt fluid twice fixes the problem and that Honda has posted a technical bulletin about this issue. Other hch owners have stated that changing the cvt fluid is only a temporary fix and that it is really a faulty clutch problem. Why isn't Honda being held accountable to recall and fix this problem?

- East Granby, CT, USA

problem #38

Mar 012007


  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Civic hybrid. While driving 40mph, the engine the vehicle would lose power which caused the vehicle to slow down to 3-5 mph. The dealer inspected the vehicle on two occasions however they were unable to diagnose the failure. They advised him that if it occurred again he would have to shut the engine off and restart it again to be able to have the vehicle run well enough to get to the destination. They changed some of the fluids and some electronic boards. The failure mileage was 45,000 and current mileage is 83,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- San Clemente, CA, USA

problem #37

Jul 222008


  • 74,259 miles
2003 Honda Civic hybrid with numerous problems with car shuddering when slowing down and then taking off again. This has been occurring regularly since July 2, 2007 at 74,000 miles. It has been in the dealer 6 times for this cvt slippage. The very first documented problem however was April 20, 2003 at 9783 miles with the transmission slipping when placed into reverse and then suddenly catching. The slippage is worst in hot weather. Been brought in and misdiagnosed or delaying tactics to circumvent the extended warranty by the Honda dealer each time. This is despite a safety recall for this very same problem in Japan, india, and indonesia, Honda notified nhsta in a letter to associate administrator Mr. Kenneth weinstein of the office of safety assurance of this recall in those countries.. since than american Honda extended the warranty on the cvt to 100,000 miles but according to all the complaint sites I have been able to monitor Honda instead uses delaying tactics until the extended warranty runs out. This is a safety issue, as can be seen by the numerous near miss testimonials on your NHTSA filed complaint narratives. I am a ems battalion captain for a major metropolitan fire/rescue department and respond to deaths and serious injuries on a daily basis. I am also a respected public safety advocate and the initiator of senate bill 486. I believe this issue warrants serious investigation. I believe deaths and serious injuries have probably already occurred from this safety hazard but were never reported nor recognized as to the cause. Please investigate.

- Simi Valley, CA, USA

problem #36

Jun 302008


  • 70,000 miles
After numerous problems with our 2003 Honda Civic hybrid, the cvt transmission is slipping so badly the car can barely take off from a stop and peters out when going up a hill. This latest problem occurred soon after the transmission judder problem was corrected under warranty. Now american Honda is having the dealership replace the entire transmission on warranty. Although this is a known issue with the 2003 cvt transmission, american Honda continues to refuse to issue a full recall, claiming it is not a safety issue. We have a recording on our answering machine from the assistant service manager at our Honda dealership saying that the car is not safe to drive. There are many more 2003 Honda Civic hybrids on the road with this serious issue. Fortunately, we have not been involved in a crash with this unsafe vehicle. I understand that the Japanese government mandated a recall for this generation of Honda cvt transmissions in Japan and parts of southeast asia. Hopefully, the NHTSA will see to it that this faulty vehicle?S problems are addressed in our great country as well.

- Boring, OR, USA

problem #35

Jun 172005


  • 36,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Civic hybrid. While accelerating from a stop light or stop sign, the vehicle vibrates and makes noises. The vehicle slows and then surges forward intermittently. The current mileage was 61,000 and failure mileage was 36,000.

- Winter Park, FL, USA

problem #34

Nov 012007


  • 140,000 miles
I own a Honda Civic hybrid 2003. Several months ago the vehicle started to jerk (judder') upon acceleration at low speeds. I took my vehicle in to be serviced, and they 'burnished' the transmission and said to come back if the problem persisted. The performance was fine for a few thousand miles, when the judder returned. Once again, I went back and they performed a second burnishing. The problem has since returned.

- Corvallis, OR, USA

problem #33

Jun 182008


  • miles
Cvt transmission problems, egr valve problems, oxygen sensor and catalytic converter problems, all items had to be replaced over the last 2 years-most recent catalytic converter.

- St Augustine, FL, USA

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