NHTSA — Power Train: Automatic Transmission Problems


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
26,009 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 Mitsubishi Lancer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Owner Comments

problem #19

Dec 302003

Lancer 4WD 4-cyl

  • 100 miles


I have two issues which seem to have both already been reported. 1. while driving the transmission will idle high while driving, but the vehicle is not speeding up. Then without warning the transmission catches, and the car lurches forward. This is a random issue that happens daily with the vehicle. Servicing the transmission has not fixed the problem and continues to be a problem to this day. 2.the heater/ac control know became very difficulty to change between heater and A/C. the switch has finally broke off, and now I'm unable to switch between heater and A/C. I have done research and this also seems to be a problem that has not been resolved. I have found most other auto owners have paid for the replacement, but only to have the same problem occur again. I have done research on both of these issues and is has been reported as far back as 2004, and at this point I do see any recalls by Mitsubishi to fix either of the problems.

- Tracy, CA, USA

problem #18

Jul 292010


  • 114,000 miles
When driving my Lancer either on city or highway, it refuses to shift. The rpms go up, but the car wont accelerate. It actually slows down as if I'm pressing on the brakes (and im not) then out of nowhere the gear will shift and the car lurches forward unexpectedly. It does this all the time. The last time it did it I ran into a car. This is a huge hazard. When I step on the brakes the car almost stops, then jumps forward about 2 feet before actually stopping. This is a horrible thing to do to a driver. The car literally has a mind of it's own and the dealership refuses to do anything about it. I've seen complaints about other owners with the same issue and all of them say that their transmission died completely thus leaving their car permanently motionless. I can't even look forward to getting this fixed...I can only look forward to.....nothing. I can't sell the car nor get a new one because I've spent so much money on this Lancer and nothing fixes it. I was told that it was the brake pads, the transmission fluid, the catalytic converter, the tires, the gas pedal line, and air in the brakes... I had all of these things replace and no cheap costs and it's still not fixed. Please! order Mitsubishi to recall this defective transmission! it should be a crime to sell such a defective and deadly product. Mitsubishi should be investigated! also, when the car's rpms are above 4000, the power steering dies and I cannot turn left or right, thus I lose all control of the vehicle. I've taken it to the henderson nv dealership and they said that there was no type of recall and everything should be fine....I've nearly crashed and probably could have lost my life countless times. Countless. Mitsubishi should be banned from making vehicles in America!

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #17

Feb 282006

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
I bought my 2003 Lancer ES when it had 16,000 miles on it, by about 30,000 miles I noticed that the automatic transmission seemed to be slipping, sometimes when driving and I would let up on accelerator to slow and then would depress accelerator again the car would act like it was in neutral, car did not accelerate, this happened on the highway and at slow speeds, 30 miles an hour or slower. On 8-25-05 I took the car in to the dealership at northtowne Mitsubishi and reported this problem and that the right passenger ball joint had failed inspection at 34000 miles. I asked the dealer to look at transmission at the same time, I was told they would check it out, I was told that this type of transmission developed a memory and if one person drove it harder that another this could happen, sounded like a bunch of hooey to me, but I don't know much about cars. I took the car back in on Dec. 30, 2005 for a recall on car, something to do with the emissions and again complained about transmission, was told again, nothing to worry about. Now my car is making a whining noise, took the car to a Goodyear service center and was told my transmission was the problem and needs repair, my car has approx 43000 miles on it. The dealer never put on my service tickets to look at transmission, just to check over vehicle. I feel they were trying to put me off till my car went out of warranty. My powertrain is now still under warranty but the rest is not. I am very upset.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #16

Dec 242005

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles


Ever since I bought my car 2 years ago it has sputtered and jerked but at first not that bad. The last year has been the worst. It stays revved up and then it will kick into gear. Finally christmas eve it broke down. The mechanic told me it is a hair line crack about 2 inches long on the transmission housing. Sure enough there is and I have a dead car.

- Gresham, OR, USA

problem #15

Oct 132005

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,603 miles
Automatic transmission slips/skips while speeding up around twenty five miles per hour, and this occurs when breaking quickly. When breaking quickly, car will then jump forward when the transmission catches. I believe this has always slightly been there, but I believe my slow driving has masked the issue. I had the transmission fluid changed and then the dealer did two recall changes, and after the skipping issues was very much there. After reading the other complaints, I am sure this is the tip of the iceberg. PRD.

- La Grange, IL, USA

problem #14

Sep 242005

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,000 miles
A few weeks ago my vehicle become very tough to shift out of park when parked on any incline or, uneven surface. Once the gear selector wouldn't even move and three people had to stand behind the car and push it forward to allow me to shift out of park. I've taken it to city Mitsubishi in jacksonville fl. And they have informed me that the best thing to do is stop, put it in neutral, set the E-brake, then put it in park. I feel this is un-necessary considering it only has 25,000 miles, I'm the original owner, it's under factory warranty, and it wasn't doing this 1000 miles ago. I have left it there and will be contacting Mitsubishi motors on Monday to see what my next course of action is.

- Kingsland, GA, USA

problem #13

Jan 032005


  • Manual transmission
  • 4,000 miles


The vehicle sticks in third gear. The consumer has located similar complaints on the internet.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #12

Mar 142005

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles
The transmission is skipping. The car would drive by itself without me accelerating, the rpms would be at 3-4 X1000 rpms while the car is stopped at a red light or something else worse.

- Mount Prospect, IL, USA

problem #11

Jan 182005

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,520 miles
Ever since I bought my car I've been having trouble with it, the check engine light stays on, at first the dealership I bought it from, rockland Mitsubishi in NY, said it was just a sensor in my gas tank, but after fixing it, it kept coming back on. Finally they told me it was my fault, I had to turn my car off completely before pumping my gas, close my tank tightly, then start my car back up. This back and forth continued until my normal warranty ran out. At 70K miles, my transmission started skipping, and my engine began puttering. Finally took it to Mitsubishi again, they said they took care of it. At 80K now, my transmission as completely died, I took it to aamco and they say I need a completely new transmission.

- Binghamton, NY, USA

problem #10

Jan 062005

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,000 miles
Upon driving my 2003 Lancer, I've noticed that periodically the transmission will skip and the car will do a jerk. It alarmed me because at that time the car had only about 11,000 miles on it. I am concerned because I haven't even had the car a year, and I thought I was getting a quality vehicle. As I looked on the complaint board I realized im not the only one with this issue. Is Mitsubishi aware of this problem" and if so, what are they going to do about all of these cars" if anyone is having the same issues please contact danielle@847)619-5879.

- St Charles, IL, USA

problem #9

Nov 182004

Lancer 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,224 miles


I purchased a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer ls, frm the mmsa co. Used parking lot, with only a 100 miles. Car seemed to run fine, and then it started to randomly revv and them stall. It wasnt that bad at first, but 06/04 it became a problem. Id stall about 8-12 X a day (avg.), id taken it to the mitsu dealers who all said: They fixed it, couldnt replicate the problem, or there was nothing wrong. While on the freeway, I started to brake and then realized that I had no power to my car- it had stalled in motion. All lights were on on dashboard and the lenght between me and the other car was inevitable. Even when I had taken it to a dealer only 4 days before who said they fixed it. I ended up totally my car and recieved many injuries, and Mitsubishi didnt even help me. At the time of my crash I had just hit 10000 miles- I should not have had a problem like this with a brand new (basically) car.

- Rabcho Palos Verdes, CA, USA

problem #8

Nov 042004

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles
When driving my vehicle the transmission does not shift gears properly. Normal operation of the vehicle leads to slipping transitions from gear to gear making it difficult to maintain/reach/sustain speed. This occurs in both highway and city environments. I have had the car serviced according to manufacturer's recommendations of every 3000 miles. I have about 40000 miles on the vehicle at this point. It started doing this at about 6000 miles. I have had the vehicle checked multiple times. When taken to the dealership they informed me nothing was wrong. I have changed the transmission fluid as well as all filters. I was told this is 'normal' for the car. I do not think however that this is a typical behavior for new vehicles.

- Chardon, OH, USA

problem #7

Jun 062004

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,500 miles
When driving my vehicle the transmission does not shift gears properly. Normal operation of the vehicle leads to jerky transitions from gear to gear and results in the inability to gauge the amount of pressure need to maintain/reach/sustain speed. This occurs in both highway and city environments. I have had the car serviced according to mfg'R recommendations of every 3000 miles. I have about 35000 miles on the vehicle at this point. It started doing this at about 4000 miles. I have had the vehicle checked multiple times. When taken to the dealership they informed me nothing was wrong. I have changed the trans. Fluid as well as all filters. I was told this is 'normal' for the car. I do not think however that this is a typical behavior for new vehicles. I have also had a problem for the past 1500 or so miles with my breaks squeaking. When I try to stop or pull out from a parking space they have a squealing sound. I have also had this evaluated at the Mitsubishi repair shop and was informed they are fine.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #6

May 112004


  • miles
While shifting vehicle jerked and shook uncontrollably. Consumer was able to maintain control of the vehicle, and drove it to the dealer for inspection, but mechanic was unable to duplicate the problem.

- Bonita Springs, FL, USA

problem #5

Feb 272004


  • miles
While driving consumer smelled a burning odor coming from the vents. Vehicle stalled. Consumer had vehicle towed to the dealer for inspection, and mechanic determined transmission needed to be replaced.

- New Rochelle, NY, USA

problem #4

Aug 052003

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Automatic transmission is slipping at first gear on 2003 Lancer ES. This car is only a year old and has less than 6,000 miles on it. I should not have this problem.

- Mesa, AZ, USA

problem #3

Jul 152003

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles
Continuation of ODI#10023954--within 2 weeks of repair on transmission (replaced valve body)--car repeated the same symptoms would not kick into gear to get on freeway or would jerk and lurch, slipping and sticking. The dealer replaced 6 parts on the outside of transmission--never looked inside for internal damage even though an independent mechanic told me there was probably internal damage when the valve body failed.

- Tacoma, WA, USA

problem #2

Jun 102003

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,200 miles
Transmission on my 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer is failing--went to get on freeway and had no speed--pedal was to the floor when it finally kicked into gear. It lurches and jerks and slips gears. The Mitsubishi service dept. Tried to tell me nothing was wrong with it--when I took the technician for a ride we got ten feet and it jerked and clicked into gear--they say the transmission body valve is failing--ordered the part--told me it was safe to drive the car until it is fixed even though it is getting worse everyday, and I am leary of driving it on the freeway. It is under warranty, but I feel either this is a defect or I got a lemon. More to come after the repair.

- Tacoma, WA, USA

problem #1

Jan 242003

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20 miles
When I drive my 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer ES at 20 mph and want to increase the speed and press the gas pedal, the RPM of the car will increase and the speed of the car will decrease and all of a sudden, the speed will increase as if the gears in the auto transmission just engaged. I almost got into an accident. I took my car to the dealership and they said that everything was fine and changed the transmission fluid. But it happened to me again even though the dealership changed my trans. Fluid. I suspect the auto transmission is defective and is potentially dangerous.

- Bartlett, IL, USA

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