Honda Accord 2003-2007 problems, fuel economy, photos

Updated: October 12, 2019

The 2003-2007 Accord is a roomy well-designed mid-size car with good handling and firm ride. The Accord scored well in government crash tests. The 4-cylinder Honda Accord is good on gas.

Honda Accord 2003 interior
Honda Accord interior. Click for a larger view

It comes as a front-wheel drive four-door sedan or two-door coupe, with a 4-cylinder of V6 engine.

The interior is nicely finished. Front seats are comfortable and supportive even on long trips. The rear seat space is generous. The trunk is large and the rear seatbacks fold down to accommodate longer items. When it was newer, the Accord was one of top recommended cars, however with age, problems are starting to show up. Some model years fared better than others; read details below.

Powertrain: Two engines were offered: the 166-hp 2.4L 4-cylinder K24 and smooth and powerful 244-hp 3.0L J30 V6.

Honda Accord 2.4L 4-cylinder K24 engine
Honda Accord 2.4L 4-cylinder i-VTEC engine.
Click for a larger photo

Transmission choices included a 5-speed automatic or 5-speed manual. A 6-speed manual transmission was available in late EX V6 models. The K24 engine is well known and is used in many Honda cars. It is a fuel efficient low-maintenance workhorse, but you need to make sure it's not running low on oil. It's known to consume oil at higher mileage.

Fuel Economy: The 2007 4-cylinder automatic Accord is rated at 21/31 mpg city highway or 25 mpg combined. The 2007 4-cylinder automatic Accord can travel for up to 431 miles (693km) on one 17.1-gallon (64.7L) tank of gas, in mostly highway driving. The 2007 V6 Accord with an automatic transmission is rated at 18/26/21 mpg city/highway/combined.

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Handling and ride: On the road, the Accord handles well with good road feel. The steering is responsive and precise. The ride is firm but comfortable. The wind and road noise are noticeable at higher speeds.

Honda Accord 2003
2003 Honda Accord. Click for a larger photo

The 4-cylinder engine is strong enough for daily driving, while the V6 is one of the most powerful in its class.

Timing belt or chain: The K24 4-cylinder engine has a timing chain, but the 3.0L V6 does have a timing belt that needs to be replaced at recommended intervals.

Pros: Fuel economy in 4-cylinder models, V6 power, good handling, responsive steering, safety ratings, roomy interior, easy to maintain.

Cons: Road and wind noise, paint chips easily, automatic transmission problems in early models.

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Overall: The 2003 and 2004 Accord have the most reported problems, and failing transmissions in the V6 Accord are reported by many sources. For example, as of October 2019, there are 914 complaints for the 2003 Accord and only 103 complaints for the 2005 Accord under the 'Powertrain' section at the NHTSA website. This means that the 4-cylinder 2005-2007 Accord is a better option. On the other hand, as of October 2019, the 2004-2007 Accord is listed as "recommended" at the Consumer Reports website. There is also this Youtube video of the 2003 Honda Accord hitting 400,000 miles.

Problems: There are numerous complaints about automatic transmission failures, mostly in 2003 and 2004 V6 models, although there are some transmission complaints in 4-cylinder models too. Replacing the transmission with a used unit or rebuilding it can cost over $3,000.
A ripped intake boot (snorkel) can cause lack of power, Check Engine light and the code P0171. It's a cheap part and is easy to replace. Read more about it here: Vacuum leaks.
A starter motor can go at higher mileage. The cost to replace a starter is between $300 and $550.
Rear O2 sensor failures are common ($250-$430 to replace).
Excessive oil consumption is mentioned often too.
The audio & HVAC display not working is another common issue in early models. The solution is to replace an audio unit, although there are many Youtube videos describing the repair of the circuit board inside the audio system.
A bad A/C clutch or clutch relay can cause the A/C not to work. See these Youtube videos.

What to look for when buying a used Honda Accord: Don't buy a car if the "Check Engine" light is on before you know what the problem is; once we have been contacted by a person who bought a Honda Accord over eBay with the "Check Engine" light on. After further diagnostic, It turned out that the engine needed to be rebuilt due to lack of compression in one of the cylinders. Check the automatic transmission fluid. If it smells burnt or looks very dirty, avoid the car.

During a test-drive, watch out for anything irregular with the automatic transmission; it is a weak spot. If there is a "clunk" or a long delay when shifting into Reverse, avoid the car. When inspecting a car, check the engine oil level; low oil level could indicate possible oil consumption.

Watch out for a noisy power steering pump. Make sure to test the CD changer. Check if the stereo and the heater control lights are working; if not, the repair could be expensive. Read more What to look for when buying a used car. This post has a well-done summary of common issues: 7th Gen FAQ. Before buying a car, have it inspected by an independent mechanic.

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Maintenance: The Accord's paint chips easily; repair the chips and scratches in the paint before they get corroded. In the Rust Belt, it's good idea to rust proof the underneath of the vehicle to protect important components.

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Check the engine oil level regularly, especially if the engine uses oil between the oil changes. When checking engine oil, If it appears too dirty on the dipstick, get the oil change done. Checking the oil level is easy. Read our maintenance checklist with illustrations. With a V6 engine, be easier on your transmission. Change the transmission fluid in recommended intervals, using the original Honda transmission fluid. Once a year, have your car inspected in a garage to keep it safe. If you need an owner's manual, here is the link: Where to find an owner's manual.

Engine oil capacity:
Oil change, including filter:
2.4L 4-cylinder engine: 4.4 US qt. (4.2L)
3.0L V6 engine: 4.5 US qt. (4.3L)
Recommended oil viscosity: 5W-20.

Honda Accord Safety ratings: In the NHTSA frontal crash tests, the 2003-2007 Honda Accord received five stars for both the driver and the front passenger. In the frontal offset crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2003-2007 Honda Accord received "Good" overall rating. By Samarins.com Staff