really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
62,000 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 Element transmission problems

transmission problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Honda Element:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Honda Element Owner Comments

problem #5

Feb 062011


  • 64,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Element. While driving approximately 30 mph, the transmission suddenly failed without warning. The vehicle was towed to the residence. The manufacturer issued a voluntary recall related to the transmission. The contact planned to notify the manufacturer to verify whether the vehicle was eligible for the recall repair. The vehicle had not been diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was 64,000.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #4

May 122009


  • 120,000 miles
My son was driving our 2003 Honda Element to his internship as he has done many times. As he began up a hill and around a curve that turns sharply to the left, he heard a loud crack. The car veered off of the road slightly to the right, less than an inch dropoff. When he tried to steer the car to the left, the steering wheel would not move the car. As the curve in the road began to end, the car moved quickly to the left but still would not respond to the steering wheel. It ran off the road to the left and went into a ditch about 18 inches deep. Then, apparently the right wheel bent up under the car. The wheel broke in two, as did the rotor. The wheel then dug into the pavement and cut a groove into the pavement about 8 feet long. Apparently this rapid slowing down of the right side, coupled with the continued movement of the left side of the car, projected the car out of the ditch and caused it to roll over twice and land on its roof. The airbags never deployed. My son was able to disengage the seatbelt and lower himself down onto the roof and get out of the shattered driver side window. He was uninjured except for some small shards of glass in his right hand and forearm. When we looked at the underside of the car, we saw that the right front axle was snapped in two at the transmission. Both the wheel and the rotor were broken in half. The car was declared "totaled." My concern is that whatever snapped or cracked initially rendered the car unsteerable. I would like an investigation that might perhaps prevent such a thing happening to anyone else.

- Dacula, GA, USA

problem #3

Sep 192007

Element 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles
I purchased a 2003 Honda Element in June 2003 of which had many mechanical and electrical problems/failures. The most significant of these failures proved to be with the drive train mechanism specifically cv boots and steering function. Loud noises developed when turning which grew louder over time as well as a "grinding" sound and vibration from underneath approx. At mid-ale location. The automatic transmission began to slip out of reverse while moving into neutral at will. These issues culminated in my steering ceasing to operate as though "frozen" while I was making a slow left hand turn causing the vehicle to crash into a tree along side of a major street and intersection. The driverside air-bag did deploy and the vehicle was completely in-operable and had to be flat bed towed due to the severity of front-end damage. I completed and maintained all scheduled maintenance stop requirements and yet suffered catastrophic drive train failure at only 82,000 miles. My research on this make/model failures proved to be numerous in number as reported on verifiable/reputable websites. One of which was Honda's own - technical service bulletin's site!

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #2

Sep 092005


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Element rolled backwards while vehicle was in reverse and keys in his hands. ** answer required***

- Memphis, NY, USA

problem #1

Oct 222005

Element 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
On the morning of October 22, 2005 I started my 2003 Honda Element which was parked in my driveway. I quickly remembered that I wanted an item out of the garage and stepped out of the vehicle. I had not touched the automatic gear shift and the E/R brake was on. The vehicle immediately went into reverse, down the driveway, across the street, the open door struck the neighbors mail box, vehicle proceeded up the neighbors drive way striking their parked vehicle, pushing it 2 fee up their driveway. Then the vehicle suddenly went into drive, came back down the neighbors driveway, across the street, up my driveway, into my garage striking items in the rear of the garage before stopping. I reached in to shut the car off then ran into the house. When my husband came out to the garage and got into the vehicle he said that the car was in park and the E/R break was on. There was no damage to the neighbors vehicle and approx $3500 damage to the Honda Element. I believe the transmission/gear box failed and the E/B failed resulting in injury and damage. Vehicle is being repaired at body shop and I have notified Honda and will have them check out when repairs completed.

- Westwod, MA, USA

Not what you are looking for?