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Acura is Honda’s luxury brand, so naturally, many customers may assume that an Acura is as reliable as a Honda is. While that is generally true for the Acura TL, that isn’t the case for its 2003 model year. Here’s why you should avoid the 2003 Acura TL at all costs.

The 2003 Acura TL’s transmission problems

According to Car Complaints, the worst problem that many owners of the 2003 Acura TL had was related to its transmission. Not only were these issues common, but they were also very expensive to fix. Additionally, some of these transmission problems even led to a crash. 

For example, Car Complaints says that, after an average of about 114,000 miles, many 2003 TL owners reported that their car’s transmission was malfunctioning. Sometimes their transmission would shake suddenly and other times their transmissions would go to a different gear by itself. In any case, the solution to these transmission issues was the same. Most owners simply replaced the transmission in their 2003 TL.

Unfortunately for their wallets, the average cost for these transmission replacements was about $2,800. That said, that wasn’t the last of the 2003 TL’s transmission problems. Car Complaints also reports that, after an average mileage of about 60,000 miles, many owners reported various other similar, but usually less severe transmission issues.

These transmission problems in particular were responsible for, according to Car Complaints, five crashes, one fire, and seven injuries. Similar to the other transmission issues that 2003 TL owners had, these issues also generally involved the 2003 TL’s transmission either shifting gears by itself or causing the car to shake and jerk after the driver shifts gears. 

The 2003 Acura TL’s airbag issues

While transmission problems were the most common and frequently complained about thing relating to the 2003 TL, it also had airbag issues. To be fair to Acura and Honda, neither of those companies produced the airbags on the 2003 TL, but they’re both still responsible for letting those faulty airbags into their car in the first place. 

Instead, a company called Takata was responsible for creating those airbags, and many of its airbags have been recalled in the past. This is what happened with some of the airbags in the 2003 TL. As Car Complaints mentioned, a lot of 2003 TL owners were subject to a Takata airbag recall, and for good reason. 

Car Complaints says that seven crashes, six injuries, and unfortunately, one death were caused by the faulty airbags in the 2003 TL. Many of those airbag issues were minor, but in the worst cases, the Takata airbags simply failed to deploy.

The 2003 Acura TL’s speed control issues

Another issue that the 2003 TL suffered from had to do with its speed control. This issue wasn’t very common compared to other cars, but for the 2003 TL in particular, it was one of the more common problems. As its name would imply, the 2003 TL could simply have issues with its speed controls.

For example, instead of being idle, some 2003 TL owners reported that their car would actually stay at high RPMs, and that forced the owner to shut the engine down completely instead of idling. That said, some owners also reported that their 2003 TL would accelerate by itself, much like what the most problematic model years of the Toyota Camry did.

Those situations were less frequent, but it could still happen. As a result of these speed control issues, Car Complaints says that four crashes have occurred. Fortunately however, Car Complaints mentions that no injuries, fires, nor deaths have happened due to those issues.