2006 Honda Accord SE; photo by Laurance Yap. Click image to enlarge
By Chris Chase
Like the Toyota Camry it competes with, the Honda Accord has practically become a brand of its own in the thirty-plus years since it was first introduced here in North America. This is due in part to its reputation for excellent build quality and long-term reliability – which makes it a bit surprising that the current generation Accord hasn’t proved to be quite as reliable as earlier models.
The seventh-generation Accord arrived in North America for the 2003 model year sporting what is arguably the most controversial styling applied to an Accord in the model’s three-decade-long run. But the rest of the formula was there, including a choice of four-cylinder or V6 engines, and manual and automatic transmissions.
The four-banger was a 160-horsepower, 2.4-litre engine, while the V6 displaced 3.0-litres and made 240 horses. Transmissions were a five-speed manual that was standard in four-cylinder models, and a five-speed automatic that was optional in four-cylinder cars and standard in V6 models;
2006 Honda Accord EX-V6; photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge
the coupe could be had in a higher-performance model that paired the V6 with a six-speed manual.
In 2005, Honda brought out a gas-electric hybrid model that took the unconventional approach of pairing a V6 engine with the electric motor, making it the most-powerful Accord model in the line-up with 255 horsepower. In 2006, horsepower was bumped up to 166 for four-cylinder cars and 244 horses for V6 models, and for 2007, Honda added a sedan with the V6-six-speed manual powertrain previously found only in the coupe.
Fuel consumption is, naturally, lower in four-cylinder models, where Natural Resources Canada estimates are about 9 L/100 km and 10 L/100 km (manual and automatic transmission, respectively) in city driving, and 6.3/6.5 L/100 km on the highway. For V6 models, expect consumption around 11.5 L/100 km in the city and 7.3 L/100 km on the highway for both automatic and six-speed manual models. Consumption figures for the hybrid model varied widely in the three years it was sold; this might be related to the fact that real-world consumption was typically much higher than the published numbers. Initially, the hybrid model was rated at 7.9 L/100 km (city) and 5.9 L/100 km (highway), but subsequent model years (2006 and 2007) got higher ratings: 9.5 and 6.4 L/100 km (city and highway) and 8.2 and 6.1 L/100 km (city and highway).
2007 Honda Accord Hybrid; photo courtesy Honda. Click image to enlarge
Where the hybrid model let down owners in terms of its higher-than-expected fuel consumption, it seems the seventh-generation Accord hasn’t quite lived up to Honda’s reputation for quality. Browsing the forums at DriveAccord.net, there are a few issues that seem to crop up in an uncharacteristically high number of cars.
One problem that has been well-documented is a problem with the five-speed automatic transmission used in the seventh-gen Accord. The problem stems from a too-small bearing that can overheat and cause catastrophic transmission failure. For more information, check these threads (here and here) at DriveAccord.net, as well as the Transport Canada Recall on the matter.
I also noted what appeared to be a less-common issue of the automatic transmission torque converter not locking up at highway speeds.
2007 Honda Accord; photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge
A common issue inside the seventh-gen Accord is an HVAC/radio display that stops working; it doesn’t affect functionality of the climate control or sound systems, but obviously affects user-friendliness. Honda issued a technical service bulletin in the U.S., but it’s not clear if one was issued here too.
The radio head units themselves are apparently troublesome too, with CD changers that stop working and take CDs hostage.
A grunting or grinding noise that occurs as the car is driven away after being parked overnight is apparently normal and is caused by the anti-lock brake system performing a self-check.
There is a more concrete problem with the brakes, with many owners complaining of prematurely warped front rotors and, in cars with rear disc brakes, rear rotors that rust.
2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 coupe; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge
Check this thread at DriveAccord.net for a complete list of issues that the administrators there have compiled based on forum posts made by seventh-gen Accord owners.
Crash safety appears to be mostly top-notch: Accords crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) earned five stars in frontal crash tests and four and five stars in side impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the seventh-generation Accord “good” ratings in frontal offset and side impact tests, but 2003-2004 models without side airbags got a “poor” score. Side airbags were standard across the line from 2005 on, but in 2003 and 2004, bottom-end DX models didn’t get them (these base models also got rear drum brakes, where others got rear discs, though anti-lock brakes were standard everywhere; traction control was only offered on V6 models).
Not surprisingly, used Accords are not particularly cheap. According to Canadian Red Book, used values range from a (not so) low of $14,100 for a 2003 DX sedan to $36,550 for a loaded 2007 Accord Hybrid with navigation. If you can make do without V6 power, a $20,000 budget will get you a 2005 LX-G model; you’ll be stuck with a 2004 model if you want a V6 for about 20 grand.
2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 coupe; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge
The Accord has always been a very pleasant car to drive, but aside from V6 models – and especially V6 models with the six-speed manual tranny – not a particularly exciting one. That’s apparently alright for the many drivers who have taken Accords home with them, who seem to have few beefs with the car’s performance. Any disappointment seems to stem from the car’s less-than-Honda-like reliability. Don’t get the idea that these are terrible cars: they’re not. This seventh-gen Accord simply doesn’t live up to Honda’s bulletproof reputation.
My usual advice for any car with known issues stands – if you must have one, get it checked out by a trusted mechanic and do your research: check out my recommendations in the online resources section below.
Start your search at DriveAccord.net; this is the best Accord-specific site I was able to find. You should be able to find what you need there, but if you want to try for second opinions, you can also try HondaTech.com and CRXSI.com, though these sites don’t consolidate either troubleshooting information or seventh-generation Accord information. HondaAccordForum.com and V6Performance.net look like they might be useful, if not quite as promising as DriveAccord.net. The also-rans include HondaUnited.com, CordClub.com and TheAccordForums.com.
Related articles on Autos
- Test Drive: 2006 Honda Accord SE four-cylinder sedan
- Test Drive: 2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 Coupe
- Test Drive: 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid
- Test Drive: 2003 Honda Accord EX-L sedan
- Test Drive: 2003 Honda Accord EX-V6 Coupe, six-speed manual
Owner Reviews on autoTRADER.ca
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004143; Units affected: 85,184
2003-2004: Certain operating conditions can result in heat build-up between the countershaft and secondary shaft second gears in the automatic transmission, eventually leading to gear tooth chipping or, in very rare cases, gear breakage can occur. Gear failure could result in transmission lock-up. Correction: On vehicles with 24 000 kms or less, the dealer will update the transmission with a simple revision to the oil cooler return line to increase lubrication to second gear. On vehicles with more than 24 000 kms, the dealer will inspect the transmission to identify gears that have already experienced discoloration due to overheating. If discolouration exists, the transmission will be replaced. It discolouration is not present, the dealer will perform the revision to the oil cooler return line.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004410; Units affected: 15,362
2004-2005: On certain vehicles, a tear in the fabric of the driver’s front airbag occurred after apparent contact with the inside surface of the airbag cover during deployment. A torn airbag may not offer the same level of protection in the event of a crash thereby increasing the risk of injury to the driver. Correction: Dealers will install a protective fabric flap between the airbag module and the airbag cover.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2007013; Units affected: 9,043
2004-2005: The seat position sensor (SPS) detects the driver’s seating position and adjusts the airbag inflation pressure accordingly in the event of a crash. This is primarily to lessen the inflation pressure for smaller statured drivers who usually sit closer to the steering wheel. In the affected vehicles, the SPS harness was incorrectly attached to the 8-way power seat frame. Over time, the sensor harness could break which would cause the airbag warning light to be illuminated, and the SPS to fail. A failure of the SPS causes the airbag deployment to default to full inflation pressure, regardless of the seat position. Full deployment of the driver’s airbag could increase the risk of injury for smaller statured drivers in a frontal crash. Correction: Dealers will replace the seat position sensor wiring harness.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2007088; Units affected: 11,637
2005: On certain vehicles, a manufacturing fault with the fuel pump relay could cause the coil wire in the relay to break. If this happens, the fuel pump will not operate and the engine may not start. If the relay fails while driving, the engine may stall without warning and a crash could occur. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if required, replace the fuel pump relay.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005348; Units affected: 52
2006: On certain vehicles, the front impact sensor bolts were not torqued properly during vehicle assembly. If the bolts loosen or fall out, the sensor may fail to properly detect a crash, possibly resulting in delayed or non-deployment of the front airbags. Note: All affected vehicles were in dealer inventory and were inspected and repaired as part of the initial investigation.
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.