pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
91,800 miles
Total Complaints:
31 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (21 reports)
  2. not sure (5 reports)
  3. transmission overhaul (4 reports)
  4. shift cables changed (1 reports)
2003 Honda Civic transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Civic Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #31

Feb 052017

Civic DX D17a1

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,934 miles


Surprise! Another Honda Civic with a transmission problem.

Shortly after purchasing the car I noticed that the transmission would slip when trying to shift. Most of the time the RPM would shoot up 500-600 between gears 2 and 3. When I brought the car into the mechanic they told me that this a common problem with Honda Civics based on faulty gaskets and seals that allow crappy ATF to slip in behind them. I needed a "soft rebuild" plus a torque converter and shift solenoids. This problem had occurred at only 156,000 km (just shy of 100,000 miles for you American folks). I will not be a Honda Civic again until there's a longstanding period of good vehicles. At the very least, I can scoff at anyone who says that I should buy a Civic because they are "reliable". No recall? No extra warranty offer? No thank you!

- Kevin S., lang, BC, Canada

problem #30

May 062014

Civic LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I called Honda to complain about my transmission and they offer to pay half of the cost which they say Around $ 4000.00 to fix and they will pay half. I told them I don't have that amount to get it fixed but Honda said that I ran out of warranty and they cannot fixed it for less amount and so I decided to take it somewhere which charged me $ 1600.00 to replace my transmission.

- Floradema P., Los Angeles, CA, US

problem #29

May 212015

Civic LX 1.7L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

I was getting ready to leave for work one morning and my Honda was parked in my driveway. When I went to turn it on and reverse the car, the shifter didn't want to go in "reverse." It made a really bad noise and it sounded like it was grinding under me, I got scared and wanted to put it back in "park" but when I tried it wouldn't go in either! The only gear it went into was "neutral." After that it wouldn't move so I got it checked out by a mechanic and he said it was done, no more transmission. I had to replace it myself and this infuriates me because Honda didn't want to do anything about it. This is ridiculous and it's costing a lot of hard working American's a lot of hard earned money for something that is Honda's fault! Honda you need to fix this soon. .Shame on you!

- Nick E., Santa Rosa, CA, US

problem #28

Apr 152016

Civic EX 1.7L - 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,000 miles


On Friday 04/15/2016 I was driving to work from taking my son to school & the transmission started acting up. When I would go to speed up a couple of times it would just rev & not accelerate. The closer I got to work the worse it got. By the time I got to work my car was undriveable. It will start & run just fine but will not move in drive or reverse at all now. I had to have it towed home. When I did some research I was finding that seemed like the most likely cause is the Torque Converter / Electric Clutch went out. But then in other research I was finding that the transmission is shot & must be rebuilt or replaced. I have seen thousands of complaints & reports of the exact same issue with the exact same car.

I had another issue with this car on 10/31/2015 with uncontrollable & unwanted acceleration. I have filed that complaint as well. This car has been a nightmare & im not sure whether it would be worth replacing the transmission or just getting rid of it!!

- Tim C., Bethany, OK, US

problem #27

Aug 012014

Civic EX 1.3L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Bought this car new in 2003 and transmission has always had issues starting around 45,000 miles with reving RPMS and shifting from 2nd to 3rd. Dealership has always said "it's fine" or "it's not a problem". Now my transmission has problems shifting from 3rd to 4th and it loses acceleration when driving which really is NOT safe. The check engine light is always coming one when you're driving the car for 30 min or more at a time at speeds over 55 mph. My mechanic says the engine light is coming on as a default because the transmission is failing. I'm really pissed because this transmission has been an issue since I bought the car and I've gotten the run around from Honda for years. Now the car is becoming too unsafe to drive. Unfortunately the value of the car is less than the cost to replace the transmission.

- kmn, Minnapolis, MN, US

problem #26

Feb 232015

Civic EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

My daughter was driving this car in dangerously cold weather and the transmission stopped working while she was driving. The engine revved loudly and the car wouldn't move. This happened as she was driving, and was left in the below zero weather until help arrived to get it moved. We had the car for only a few months and it had no problems that indicated the transmission was bad. The car needs a new transmission with 85,000 miles. We purchased this as a car for our children, because we have other Honda cars and trusted this company. After reading all of the other transmission complaints, I wonder how Honda gets away with this.

- Constance M., Erie, PA, US

problem #25

Sep 012010

Civic LX 2.4L Vtec Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


I was next in line at MCDZ when out of nowhere and with no forewarning, my Civic wouldn't even go. Had to push it out of the way...Well had to buy another tranny, so installed a new rebuilt one which gave out right away only lasting one year. Thank god the AutoZone warranty replaced the dang thing.

So here I am on the third tranny, which we never could get to switch out of first gear. This is crazy, now I gotta pay more out my pocket just to start all over from square one.

- Richard G., Hobbs, NM, US

problem #24

Nov 272014

Civic LX 1.7L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,322 miles

Let me just start off by saying, don't buy a 2003 Honda Civic! Don't get me wrong, I love Honda's but this year sucks! There is a long list of problems that I won't mention in this comment but the first one one the list is the transmission. It failed at 85,000 just like the other reviews said and I had to pay $1775 to have the transmission rebuilt. If you want to save yourself a major headache I would stay away purchasing a 2003 Honda civic.

- steveo, Chandler, AZ, US

problem #23

Sep 042014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,561 miles

Car died while going 65 on a very busy highway with no warning at all. Cost $2500 for rebuilt transmission. Car only has 31,000 miles on it.

- martypnj, Belleville, NJ, US

problem #22

Jul 062013

Civic LX 1.7L

  • Manual transmission
  • 105,633 miles

Transmission bearings made a lot of sound. So I changed the transmission for another.

- Catherine J., TOURVILLE, QUÉBEC, canada

problem #21

May 172014

Civic EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 186,000 miles


I was 9 hours away from home and the transmission started acting funny and wouldn't let me go over 35 mph. When I hit 35 mph the engine would rev up and not be in gear. Then after trying to limp the car back to a good shop it finally stop going into gear and would just rev. I checked the transmission oil and it was fine and was not burnt. The shop checked out the car and said the transmission put, went out. They quoted me a lot so I took it to another shop and they put in another transmission for cheaper.

- beebs208, Lexington, SC, US

problem #20

Apr 122014

Civic LX

  • Manual transmission
  • 135,000 miles

Bought the honda civic '02 1 yr ago w only 128,000 miles from original owner. Car looked like garage kept and only minor dings and dents and no other problems. But needed transmission job and I got a rebuilt trans. Drove mostly in town but never had problems when on the highway (75mph) until now. This month started popping out of 5th into neutral when going about 165-175. I've paid over $6,500 for the car so far and don't have money for more repairs. I'm going to contact the Honda America Corporation as someone suggested because this is a typical problem w honda manual transmissions, and they should have corrected it by now or pay for replacements.

- Jana S., fort collins, CO, US

problem #19

Jul 132014

Civic EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

We bought this car because Honda's are such great cars. I am very disappointed that the trans went. It is going to cost over $4000.00 to get it fixed.

- Marjorie M., Towaco, NJ, US

problem #18

May 102013

Civic EX 1.7L

  • Manual transmission
  • 87,133 miles

This problem started last week, the first gear just does not work at all despite I press the pedal correctly, I also discovered that doesn’t need to press the clutch pedal to put the first gear, so, I had to move the car starting with the second gear, then discovered that neither third gear worked. Yesterday, finally didn’t work anymore the first and third gear, just can only move the car in second, fourth, or reverse. Just the first gear and second gear feel like they don’t mesh

Update from Jun 28, 2013: It was changed all shift cables

- Fernando Q., San Francisco, Heredia, Costa Rica

problem #17

Nov 152011

Civic LX 1.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

Transmission failed on the way to class, I accelerated and third gear didn't engage the transmission felt like it was in neutral. and the D light on the dash started to blink.

- Angel S., Littlerock, CA, US

problem #16

Aug 162012

Civic LX 1.8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

We bought are Honda because it had such good reviews Ha ,i don`t know who designed there transmission but they need to start from scratch again maybe throw an a American tranny in it ,because your rep is going south fast.We was thinking about getting another civic before this but not now .What happened to me was to weird,i took my wife's car to the dealer for a oil change,and a inspection sticker,and a free car wash,i waited about 1 1/2 hours that was great,but soon as i left the dealership the transmission shifted from 1st to 2nd and 3rd well no 3rd and just revved like neutral called the dealer and told them I'm trying to make it back,well made it back the guy took it for a ride he said it was fine i said ok before i could make it to the 1st light there was having trans problems again back to the dealer needs a new trans 3,300.00 i just could not believe we was going to buy another civic now we are thinking twice.They need to stop selling there junk or put a warranty on it !

- Leonard&Maria K., Spring, TX, US

problem #15

Aug 212012

Civic V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

2003 Honda Accord V6 and at 90,000 miles the third gear is completely gone. Out of nowhere, with no warning at all, the transmission would not shift out of second gear and it would randomly jump up to 6,000 rpm with no power be delivered. Took it to the shop and sure enough, transmission is shot.

Why did we buy Honda? Because it was supposed to be a reliable vehicle. Not so much. There are over 400 complaints on this site for the EXACT same problem. Now we are out nearly $3,000 to fix a problem that Honda CLEARLY knows about but refuses to own up to. Instead, they issue a recall on a stupid ignition switch problem that costs them pennies to fix. This is the wife's car and she is incredibly lucky the tranny did not go out on the freeway or I could be writing this from a hospital waiting room. Own up to your mistakes Honda!!!! All transmissions for this make should be recalled and fixed at Honda's expense. I called the stealership to see if there was anything they could do about it and they said there is nothing they can do until Honda actually issues a full recall. I plan on telling everyone about this experience and can confidently say I will not be purchasing a Honda ever again.

- lamordnt, Portland, OR, US

problem #14

May 012007

Civic LX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles

Brought the car in three times to different Honda dealers. No one could "duplicate" the problem. Transmission started to slip and hesitate at 33k. at 44k, a dealership finally "duplicated" the problem after the warranty expired. Replaced transmission. Honda only payed a portion because the warranty expired. Did not "believe" there was anything wrong with transmission at 33k because it could not be "duplicated" by dealer. even though it was documented there was a problem.

- dysmetria2, Joliet, IL, US

problem #13

May 072010

Civic EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

My Dealer is charging me $3,800 to replace the transmission, this should not have failed this soon.

- Brian G., Ashburn, VA, US

problem #12

Nov 062009

Civic LX 1.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,500 miles

I have a 2003 Honda Civic LX Coupe with 70,500 miles. It has been shifting weird since the summer (hard shift), but with the cold weather it has started to go South really fast. I have done 3 auto-trans fluid changes on the vehicle all at a dealership, along with all of the proper scheduled maintenance there as well. The fluid changes were at the following intervals:

15K miles 31K miles 58K miles

Anyways, my auto-transmission problems are as follows:

- unless i let the car heat up for 5-10 mins, when accelerating the car sounds like it is going in reverse and whines very loud - shifting gears 1-2 is a jolt - shifting gears 2-3 is a long shift - shifting gears 3-4 is a long shift

I took it to several shops, including the dealership where I purchased the vehicle. All of them said that the transmission is dying and will need to be rebuilt, however the dealership said that Honda does not allow dealerships to rebuild transmission, rather they have to get a factory rebuilt transmission from Honda directly for the repair.

The rebuild shop quoted me between $800-$1500 depending on the parts that need to be replaced, and the dealership quoted me $2,900 for the factory rebuilt transmission. The rebuild comes with a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty and the Honda factory rebuild transmission comes with a 3yr/36,000-mile warranty.

I told the dealership that I want them to call Honda Corporate and ask them to pay for some of this repair, because an auto-transmission should not fail at 70K miles especially since the fluid was changed 3X with Honda fluid at a dealership, as well as having all proper maintenance done at a dealership. The dealership got back to me and said that Honda Corporate is willing to chip in $1,000 for replacement transmission, so now my bill will be down to $1,900. That's satisfactory to me and while I feel that my transmission was built with the same defect that the 2001's were built with (my 2003 Civic had a 2002 build date and could possibly have a 2001 auto-transmission), Honda is not required by any means to replace my transmission for a vehicle that is nearing 7 years old and 70K+ miles.

I am getting the replacement transmission on Wednesday, and it will run me $1,900 which is all inclusive (taxes, fees, labor, etc). The factory rebuilt transmission from Honda will come with a 3yr/36K-mile warranty so for the next 3 years I am guaranteed from having any kind of transmission issues. I am satisfied because Honda has at least recognized there is a problem with their early 2000's transmissions in both their Accords and Civics. While I will never purchase a Honda Civic again, I will still consider Honda in a future purchase, and would probably not go with anything except for an Accord or CR-V. I feel that Honda tried to squeeze more profit margin out on their 7th generation Civics at the expense of quality, and what is to stop them from doing it again on their 8th generation? I can already tell they went cheap on the quality of the interior plastics on the 8th generation, so that's one of many reasons why I will never go with a Civic again.

Background on my Civic ownership history:

I used to own a 1997 Honda Civic LX Sedan. It was a hand-me-down vehicle from one of my parents. I took the vehicle up to 92K miles and it never had any issues. I only had to change the brakes twice on that vehicle, and the rotors only once. Everything done on it was routine like what I mentioned above, along with oil changes, spark plugs, tires, etc. Everything else on the vehicle was original including the suspension. It was running perfectly fine at 92K miles, and in early 2003 Honda came out with special financing along with big rebate incentives for their 2003 Honda Civics. The financing was 0.9% APR and I got $2,000 instantly off the price of the new Civic. I couldn't give up this offer, expecting to get the same level of quality that I had with my 1997 Civic. With my trade-in, their $2,000 incentive, more haggling, and another $2,000 down-payment, I was able to walk away with a brand new 2003 Honda Civic Coupe in Rallye Red for $151/mo for my monthly payment. It was an offer I couldn't resist so I did it. Biggest mistake of my life because I know my 1997 Civic would still be running today as a 12-yr old vehicle with what would be 160K+ miles. Granted, at that point it would need a timing belt and new shocks/struts, but I bet the transmission would still be running perfectly fine!

Well I learned my lesson on that one...so with my new transmission I will probably just run this 2003 Civic into the ground. If the factory transmission lasted me 7-years/70K miles, if I got another 70K out of my 2003 Civic I would be happy. Is that likely to happen? Who knows...but I'm at least guaranteed for another 3yrs/36K miles. Since it's only a 5 mile drive to base every day, I won't even come close to hitting the mileage warranty limit.

- jgg204, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, US

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