The Honda Accord has gained a strong following of devoted owners over the past four decades. While the Accord has earned a reputation for being one of the most reliable vehicles available, research from CarComplaints.com suggests that some model years are less reliable than others. An online automotive complaint resource, CarComplaints.com collects data from site visitors, cross-references it with NHTSA consumer complaint data, and develops graphs to show automotive defect patterns.
Overall, the data compiled by CarComplaints.com shows the Honda Accord to be a very reliable vehicle with few consumer complaints, with the exception of two years. The 2003 and 2008 Honda Accord stand out for having an exceptional number of consumer issues and complaints, making them two model years that you should avoid.
The history of the Honda Accord
The ’70s were a turning point for U.S. automakers for a variety of reasons. Americans’ love for full-size vehicles with powerful engines and an overall attitude that there was an endless supply of oil led U.S. manufacturers to continue producing vehicles that appealed to consumer’s desires.
Even as federal regulations began to push up the cost of new vehicles due to safety and emission requirements, low gas prices caused the U.S. auto industry to continue producing cars and trucks that were bigger, faster, and more powerful and luxurious.
Attitudes began to shift in the ’70s when an Arab oil embargo caused fuel prices to rise and created an unforeseen demand for smaller vehicles with greater fuel efficiency. A slow response by the entire U.S. auto industry combined with another oil crisis in 1979 opened the market to small fuel-efficient cars from foreign automakers.
By 1980 inflation, unemployment, and interest rates were all high, throwing the U.S. economy into turmoil, causing huge operating losses for U.S. automakers.
In the midst of this economic turmoil, Honda, a Japanese auto manufacturer, introduced a groundbreaking vehicle to the U.S. market in 1976, the Honda Accord. Originally designed as a compact hatchback, in 1989, the lineup expanded to include a sedan, coupe, and wagon. By the ’90s, the Accord had transformed into an intermediate-sized vehicle, with one platform sharing different body styles and proportions to improve its competitiveness. So where did things go wrong?
The 2003 Honda Accord
According to data collected by CarComplaints.com, the 2003 Honda Accord has experienced extensive issues with transmission failures, with the transmission beginning to slip and eventually requiring replacement shortly after the odometer reaches 90,000 miles.
Transmission failure has been a significant problem for several Honda models through the early 2000s model years, causing the manufacturer to extend the transmission warranty to 93 months or 109k miles for the 2000-2001 model years as part of the settlement to a class-action lawsuit.
While this is good news for owners of 2000-2001 Honda Accords, owners of other model years have no such protection on the transmission, which has an average repair cost of over $2,000.
The 2008 Accord
There have been several significant issues reported with the 2008 Honda Accord, including poor brakes, excessive oil consumption, & uncomfortable seats. In 2010 Honda was in court again defending itself against another class-action lawsuit for premature & excessive brake wear.
Honda stated in 2011 that a software update to the variable cylinder management (VCM) could remedy the excessive oil consumption, but the manufacturer still had class-action lawsuits pending.
While not a mechanical issue, 2008 Accord owners have continually voiced complaints about uncomfortable seats in the vehicle. These issues are not limited to a particular body type and have been reported among owners with a wide range of individual heights and weights. Seating complaints include reports of back pain and leg circulation issues and are most likely due to poor lumbar support, cushioning, & seat angle.
Many consumers have stated that they did not notice how uncomfortable the seating was during the test drive. Still, for many, it became noticeable after a period as short as 15 to 20 minutes.
Over the years, the Honda Accord has proven to be a very reliable vehicle with few significant issues reported. Faithful owners have become repeat buyers and strong advocates for the quality offered by Honda. The Honda Accord may have developed an excellent overall track record, but the 2003 and 2008 model years are vehicles that consumers should avoid at all costs.