Sedans & Coupes

The 2003 Honda Accord’s Worst Problems Are Really Expensive

The Honda Accord entered the market more than 40 years ago. Today, it is the best-selling midsize sedan in the United States. The popular vehicle fits the needs of both families and commuters, offering standard safety features and fuel efficiency. Consumer Reports rated the 2003 Honda Accord a four out of five across the board for comfort, performance, handling, and reliability. Despite the rave reviews from places like Consumer Reports, there are a few problem areas with this model that can lead to costly repairs.

The 2003 Honda Accord

CarComplaints.com stamped the 2003 Honda Accord with its “Avoid Like the Plague” rating. The reputable review page stated that the 2003 model has a reputation for expensive transmission problems. There also appears to be issues with transmission failure in earlier-model Accords dating back to 2000.

After a class-action lawsuit was filed for widespread problems in the 2000 and 2001 Accord models, Honda extended the warranty on the transmission to 93 months/109,000 miles. Unfortunately, this extension does not apply to other model years that are plagued with similar problems.

Widespread transmission failure

Owners report that when the 2003 Honda Accord reaches 90,000 miles, they start to experience issues with the transmission slipping. The inability to get the car into gear, leaking fluids, and unintended downshift are common occurrences.

One owner commented hearing noises saying, “The noises gradually progressed from soft whirling sounds to a loud sound that sounded like a mix between a machine gun being fired and a beached whale.”

These reported noises are signs of the transmission beginning to break down. Once a failure occurs, the transmission has to be replaced. Owners report the average cost for this repair is $2,750. Being an older model, some people choose to junk the car and consider it a loss instead of paying for the expensive repair.

Stereo backlight issues

Honda Accords have been experiencing problems with the stereo backlight for quite some time. Consumers reported that the light goes out starting at around 72,000 miles.

A recall was issued, and Honda started covering the repair costs for up to 7 years/100,000 miles. Now that the warranty period has expired, owners are left to pay for the repairs on their own. Initially, the entire radio system was replaced for an estimated cost of $800. A cheaper alternative was eventually offered, when mechanics started replacing the PCB for approximately $300.

According to Car Complaints, this problem can be remedied in most other vehicles by replacing a $2 bulb. This makes the cost of the Honda repair quite excessive for owners.

A user on Car Complaints stated, “It is a serious issue, especially at night … when your windshield starts to fog and you have to guess what your climate control is set at while you’re trying to drive, keep on the road and not kill yourself or anyone else … no buttons are lit and you’re fumbling/feeling around in the dark … it’s very dangerous.”

Body and paint problems

Another common issue with the 2003 Honda Accord is that the clear coat comes off the vehicle, leaving owners with a hefty repair bill and an unsightly car. Owners report that when the clear coat starts to peel, white spots start to appear and rust forms on portions of the vehicle.

An owner claims that the problem is so common that, “when you see them on the road, you know right away it must be a Honda Accord.”

The issue typically starts to happen as the vehicle closes in on 100,000 miles. There is no other way to fix the problem than to have the car repainted. Honda will not cover any costs related to this issue, leaving the owner with an expensive repair bill of around $1,800.

The 2020 Honda Accord


RELATED: The Honda Accord Is Just as Luxurious as the 2020 Acura TLX

The new 2020 Honda Accord does not encounter the above-listed problems, although it is already experiencing recalls. Several issues are being addressed through NHTSA involving the brakes, seat belts, airbags, and drivetrain. The most recent recall involves 1.4 million Honda vehicles experiencing problems with the fuel pump. There are currently 32 Technical Service Bulletins on the 2020 Honda Accord.

Consumer Reports still gives the 2020 Honda Accord an overall score of 82 out of 100 when it comes to performance. The responsive handling, fuel economy, and comfortable ride outweigh the negatives in this new sedan.