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hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
72,466 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Ford Expedition engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Expedition Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #43

Sep 182011

Expedition 4WD 8-cyl

  • 83,000 miles


Blew #3 spark plug after starting up from a traffic light. Pulled over to side of road. With vehicle idling, opened the hood, but the vehicle then stalled. Called aaa and had vehicle towed to Ford dealership.

- Woodland Hills, CA, USA

problem #42

Jul 082011


  • 110,000 miles
My best friend's 2003 Ford Expedition blew a spark plug out of the cylinder head while pulling a boat across a highway. This caused the vehicle to be stuck in the middle of the road, and several cars had to slam on their brakes and swerve to barely avoid collision. Upon internet research, I learned that thousands of people had the exact same problem with this same engine in Ford vehicles over several years of production. Ford denies this problem exists and endangers lives everywhere with this motor. I saw this problem myself, and mechanics I have talked to said that these Ford cylinder heads are all bad with this problem. This problem exists for every Ford Triton 5.4 liter V8 engine, so it exists across thousands of VIN numbers.

- Dickinson, TX, USA

problem #41

Nov 032010

Expedition 4WD 8-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
Oil leaking from head gasket on passenger rear of head..... leaks onto manifold where a fire can start. Ford mechanics know that there is a problem. The mechanics say that there is a flaw in the casting in the head. There are numerous complaints of this happening.

- Eden, ID, USA

problem #40

Jul 132010


  • 113,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Expedition. The contact was traveling 55 mph when the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the contact was informed that the vehicle was performing normally. The dealer was unable to locate a failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 113,000 and the current mileage was 117,000.

- Lusby, MD, USA

problem #39

Aug 212010


  • 103,000 miles
Sudden backfire resulting in spark plug ejection. Replaced with helicoil kit.

- Lehi, UT, USA

problem #38

Jul 152010


  • 61,390 miles
2003 Expedition spark plug blow-out. Yesterday evening driving home with my wife and 10 year old son, we heard a loud pop and the a compression sound. Pulled over and inspected the underside of my vehicle and saw no fluids or exhaust defects. Proceeded to pop the hood and realized the noise was coming from the engine block. It was 113 degrees outside and wasn't going to stick my hand in the engine compartment and get burned. Luckily I was not far from my house, so I limped very cautiously to my home. I proceeded to pop the hood again for a more detailed inspection and with a flashlight I could see sparks firing on the top of the engine block. Looked closer and there was a hole next to what appeared to be a long rubber tube. Grabbed my tools and removed the engine shroud to get a better look and that's when I figured it out. There was no spark plug in the hole, I thought maybe Ford has some new technology that this vehicle doesn't use spark plugs just coils of some sort. The coil housings plastic nub was broken off. O.K. that would be an easy fix, close to 8pm getting dark, so I jump into my wife care and drive the parts store up the street. Ask the manager that was there for the part and he asked if the spark plug was still in the hole fully attached. I stated that I didn't see a spark plug only a empty hole, he replied that I have a bigger issue and that I just experienced a spark plug blow-out. Apparently the model of vehicle that I have has had a serious problem with spark plug blow-outs and there hasn't been a recall. And that I would have to get it towed and repaired at my own cost. Why hasn't this problem been addressed nationally? I searched it online and there are thousands of the exact same issues with others. Do I need to be dead for someone to hear that this is a problem with the manufacturing of such components. 2003 Ford Expedition with 60K miles, 40K miles away from recommended tune-up per Ford.

- Florence, AZ, USA

problem #37

Jun 182010


  • 90,000 miles


Driving our 2003 Ford Expedition thru the desert to green river Utah. Loud pop and car shuddered and lost power. Pulled over immediately and had it towed back to price ut. Ford dealer said spark plug blew out of cylinder head. $2000 to re-thread head, $3000 for new cylinder head or $5000 for a new motor. Since our motor had 90,000 miles on it we opted for a new motor. But after researching all the other people who blew spark plugs out of their motor's head I do not feel safe driving this vehicle anymore. Come to discover this has happened to many people who own this type of vehicle with the aluminum cylinder head. This is a manufacturers defect that should be recalled. The public is being sold a defective motor and having to pay unnecessarily when it breaks down. Ford needs to recall these defective engines and fix the problem. These motors are not "built Ford tough".

- North Ogden, UT, USA

problem #36

Apr 022010

Expedition 4WD 8-cyl

  • 78,000 miles
Spark plug ejected from the engine causing the coil to brake as well, and the whole car to smell of gas. This happened once in April, and again the other day (May 17th), on a different plug. It has caused me to lose work, and my mechanic installed a repair kit with a new spark plug. It was $200-$300 for each repair. Ford says its not a problem, but my mechanic has had other cases like this, and stated Ford issued a service bulletin on how to fix the problem. I have contacted Ford, asking them to at least check my other plugs to make sure they are tight, but they were unhelpful. There was no warning in either case. The truck drives fine, and then suddenly starts making a loud noise as its driven, and the whole truck smells of gas. These are the original plugs, and the truck has 78K miles on it. I believe the head needs to be replaced so it doesn't keep happening. I went on different car problem websites, and this seems to be a problem with this model truck.

- Farmingville, NY, USA

problem #35

May 152010


  • 123,789 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Expedition 5.4L that has blown the #3 spark plug 3 times. Each time I have purchased oem plugs. It appears that I am not alone in this experience and many speculate that the thread depth is not enough to secure the plug appropriately.

- Saratoga Springs, UT, USA

problem #34

Apr 052010


  • 108,023 miles
Spark plug had blown out of its place in the engine. At first, I had the check engine light on and I had promptly taken to the shop (ase cert.) but the light didn't come on any more. After the service man ran the test some time later, nothing appeared to be wrong. A day or so later, I was hearing a "clicking" sound under the hood, later, I had lost a spark plug. Which by the way is a horrible noise! I was told by the service technician that it was a problem with Ford vehicles.

- Coaling, AL, USA

problem #33

Feb 042010


  • 77,000 miles


Ford spark plug ejection, 2003 Ford Expedition 5.4L Triton engine. "" has 317 pages of complaints regarding this issue. Ford does not acknowledge a problem. I have had two (2) blow-outs, costing me $1,200 I would like to see a petition for recall started, based on potential fire and safety issues. In my case, I was traveling at 60 mph and lost power while in traffic. I had to carefully pull off highway with very little engine power. This is a serious issue which needs to be addressed. I now own a vehicle that I can not take on a long trip, for fear of having the engine explode again. Hopefully, it will not take a fatality or serious injury to have someone review this problem and take action. The February 21,2007 memo from dot, ref: DP05-005 review is in need of updating. The numbers are now much greater than previously reported. Please review this problem. Ford simply says " not my problem". [xxx]

- Tolland, CT, USA

problem #32

Feb 182010


  • 81,023 miles
2003 Ford Expedition eddie bauer, spark plug on passenger back side ejected from head while I was driving. They were still original spark plugs. Going to cost over $1000 to temporarily fix problem.

- Howell, MI, USA

problem #31

Feb 052010


  • 72,955 miles
1st occurance: 2003 Ford epedition, 5.4L V8 engine. Factory original spark plug exploded while travelling at 60mph.mileage: 72,955. Date: 8/17/08. 2nd occurance: Same engine, original plugs( less above repair). 2/05/2010, miles 77,525. Spark plug exploded while travelling 40 mph.

- Tolland, CT, USA

problem #30

Jan 062010


  • 82,000 miles
My 2003 Ford expediton was making a slight tapping noise all day as I drove around town. When I hit my home town I was a.10 of a mile from my house and a huge banging noise occured. The vehicle lost power and I could smell gasoline vapors. From inspection under the hood I noticed the coil assembly above in the right rear cylinder was broken and the spark plug was laying on the motor. It had blown a spark plug. I had purchased an extended warranty when I purchased the vehicle. I had the car towed and was told they would inspect for repairs. The car was sub-letted out to a Ford dealer. The Ford dealer said that a helicoil repair was what was once accepted but their dealership no longer performed that procedure because it was only a temporary fix. Ford put out a service bulletin that said the best repair is to replace the head but a helicoil type repair would suffice. Because of this temporary fix announcement and Ford's inablilty to admit there is something wrong with the Triton motor built between 1997 and 2008 my extendede warranty company will not make the best recommended fix. Ford needs to be held accoutable. I do not want to put my family of five at risk of breaking down and possible engine fire because of this defect.

- Fernley, NV, USA

problem #29

Apr 062009

Expedition 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,772 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Expedition which was purchased used in 2003. The spark plugs were blowing out of the head and causing the coils to break. This failure has occurred three times within 8 months. The dealer stated that the vehicle would cost over $1200 to repair at the owner's expense. There were no recalls on her vehicle nor for her particular model pertaining to the failure. The failure mileages 96,772. Updated 2/22/10 updated 07/27/10

- Modesto, CA, USA

problem #28

Jan 042010

Expedition 8-cyl

  • 113,000 miles
2003 Ford Expedition 5.4L V-8 engine blew a sparkplug out of the cylinder head.

- Fairview, NC, USA

problem #27

Nov 242009


  • 123,232 miles
One of the spark plugs blew out of the head while I was driving on the highway. There was no external damage, however internal damage to the engine is unknown. This could have started a fire under the right circumstances as raw fuel was being blown through the spark plug hole. This vehicle has the original spark plugs, so this is not a case of someone putting too much torque on replacement plugs. This is a serious issue and after reading the posts on the internet from other Ford owners that have had the same problem, I am convinced that Ford needs to do a recall.

- Shakopee, MN, USA

problem #26

Oct 302009


  • 76,864 miles
While driving my 2003 Ford Expedition down the freeway @55 mph noticed a loud pop and a weird noise. Stopped vehicle, popped hood and inspected. Found #5 coil hanging by harness and #5 plug sitting on manifold. Plugs are original as the truck has on 76,000 miles. No other damage noted. Will helicoil the hole using a kit for this specific problem.

- Tonawanda, NY, USA

problem #25

Sep 042009


  • 102,000 miles
I have park my truck and went to have dinner with my family and upon my return when I start my truck. The engine make a loud sound and spark plug blow out from the engine.

- Diamond Bar, CA, USA

problem #24

Sep 052009


  • 117,000 miles
My 2003 Ford Expedition blew a spark plug out of the engine today. After reading about events leading up to this failure, my auto was acting exactly like all the others. A slight ticking sound while the engine idles. While driving 20mph, a slight loud bam occurred and the engine began to idle hard. The car was towed 70 miles to a repair center near my home and I now am to decide on a new manifold or a coil repair that is risky. How a company can operate with critical engine part that are so poorly designed is beyond my imagination. The internet is filled with complaints of spark plugs popping out of engines in F150S and Explorer/Expedition. It is a shame that such a simple thing as engineering a thread deep enough to hold a spark plug in place for the life of a car is too challenging for a car company. This repair should be the responsibility of the manufacturer. They were able to handle replacing millions of firestones and should be held to a standard close to their reputation as a tough vehicle. Without recourse, Ford will find it acceptable to cut corners and engineer sub par part.

- Chicago, IL, USA

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