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CarComplaints.com Notes: The 2003 Ford Explorer one of our worst vehicles on record. "Avoid like the plague" is putting it lightly.

The 2002-2005 Explorer has a very well-established record of expensive transmission failure at under 100k miles. The Explorer has an enclosed transmission which is typically replaced with a rebuilt transmission at a cost of almost $3,000.

Another common problem for the 2002-2003 Explorer is wheel bearing failure at around 90k miles, with a typical repair bill of $500 to $1000 depending on how many wheel bearings failed.

Adding insult to injury, the 2002-2005 Explorer also has a massive problem with the rear panel cracking. While it's a minor annoyance compared to transmission failure, ironically the crack usually goes right through the Ford logo.

7.8

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$521.00
Average Mileage:
79,405 miles
Total Complaints:
22 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (9 reports)
  2. broken blend door motor needs replacement (7 reports)
  3. replace the blend door actuator (5 reports)
  4. smash it into a tree (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer AC / heater problems

AC / heater problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #22

Jan 122012

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

If there is a simple solution anyone could share to fix the heater at a no or low cost. Sad thing is I used to be able to fix my own cars and now a days it is just not that simple.

- , Santa Maria, CA, USA

problem #21

Feb 172012

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Just replaced the transmission a year ago ($2,000). The door ajar light stays on, ac doesn't work and now this. The clicking noise drives me crazy. I've never been a fan of American cars but I gave in on this one and I've regretted it since the day I bought it.

- , Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #20

May 102010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

It seems cheep plastic gears inside actuator motor teeth wore away which causes clicking noise, FORD is aware of this problem and will lie to you stating the whole dash must be removed and costs an estamated 800.00 dollars to repair. I had bought the part from ford and replaced it myself in about 2 hours, and did not take the dash apart!

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #19

Oct 012011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I just spent $2,000 dollars in January on my 2003 ford explorer. Now I have another problem October of the same year 2011. Now I have this clicking noise that comes from behind my heater and NO HEAT, blows cold air. Ford should do the right thing and recall the 2003 ford explorers. I sent FORD an email and explained this and they basically said there is nothing they can do. This will be my last FORD vehicle. So many problems, so much money. Ridiculous.

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #18

Sep 232010

Explorer LX 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

A few times over the past summer, I lost a/c funstion but I got it back after playing with it. Right now, both a/c and heat work. But I get a clicking then a bang when I turn the knob un "Hot/Cold". After researching it tonight, I realize that I will inevitably lose function of a/c and heat...it's a matter of time, until I get the blend door actuator replaced. This is about $300 more than I have after spending $1000 on my current transmission problem (that still isn't fixed and getting worse by the day!)

- , Lunenburg, MA, USA

problem #17

Feb 082011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

It really sucks that a plastic motor causes this sh*t

- , Walden, NY, USA

problem #16

Nov 112009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

This is ridiculous. Ford has a lemon on their hands with this model. The engine runs fine, but the accessory department stinks. A "common" problem with this model??? $500-$800 to fix? This is the last Ford I will ever buy! A $35,000 sticker price should be a guarantee that it is a quality car. Not so with Ford. Never again. Oh yeah, Ford, thanks for the recent run on your stock. I turned 10 grand into 75 grand in about 1 year. I'll take some of that and buy...you guessed it...Something NOT a ford!!!

- , Rio Rancho, NM, USA

problem #15

Feb 032010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,000 miles

The actuator or whatever that thing is is out in passenger area failed.works up front still thank God.I don't have $500+ to screw with it.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #14

Mar 122010

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

With all the problems I've had with this vehicle I think the only solution is to get it going at a high rate of speed, jump out and let it smash into a very large tree. The heater clicking noise just started so thank goodness spring is right around the corner! Since I first got this vehicle I have had to replace the steering rack, both hub assemblies, rear differential, have had electrical problems in the doors, door ajar light stays on and now this clicking noise in the heater. It just does it when the controls are on heat, not on air. Of course I have NO heat at all. A year ago I noticed a strong draft coming from the glove box as I sat in the passenger seat so I just stuff a towel in there in the winter. You just do what you gotta do. I also have a problem with the gas gauge. It was still under warranty when that happened so I took it to the dealership. I took it to Jim Keim Ford Dealers in Columbus, Ohio( Just want everyone to know what ace mechanics they have there). The gas gauge wasn't moving when I filled the tank up. It would eventually go to full a day later. It was winter so I figured it was just sticking ,but thought it could be fixed. They must have thought I was a stupid female ( I'm brunette by the way) so they told me it was a safety feature with this model and that I was filling the tank up and starting the engine too fast. I was dumbfounded that they would even try and slide that one past me. I told them to show in the owners manual where that nice feature was located and they couldn't. It was then that I decided my next car would not be a Ford.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #13

Jan 182010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

I will add this to the long, growing list of problems I have had with this vehicle: 1) Crack below the rear window, 2) Rear differential replaced 3) Bubbling paint problem on hood (repainted, but its bubbling again) 4) rear passenger window won't roll down (fixed but broke again) 5) Back up sensor goes off every time I back up and then turns itself off 6) Door ajar light stays on which causes the ignition key alarm to go off 7) radiator cap replaced 3 times 8) car overheats while towing, but the temp gauge doesn't move, 9) battery went bad, but the gauge never changed, and finally 10) No heater in the dead of winter and a lovely clicking noise that keeps time with my chattering teeth.

Of course, none of these warrant a recall according to Ford.

Ask me if I will EVER buy another Ford. Go ahead, ask me.

- , West Bountiful, UT, USA

problem #12

Jan 062009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I am very upset that Ford cannot detect this problem before hand. The clicking noise started right after the warranty was up. They must have a remote control at the dealer place.

- , Cypress, CA, USA

problem #11

Sep 302009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

There is clicking, sometimes banging noise from my front heater...it only blows cold air...i have to heat my car with the heat from the rear blowers..at high speeds this does not help...i'm glad the weather has been mild so far..i will have it looked at tomorrow because i probably have a wheel bearing problem that needs to be looked at...i was happy with my Ford until now...when it rains it pours...

- , Penn Hills, PA, USA

problem #10

May 222008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

TURNED ON THE A/C ONE DAY AND THERE IT WAS...CLICK, CLICK, CLICK,!!!! The a/c still works, but do not change the setting or the click turns into a BANG , BANG, BANG...annoying, but i still get a/c and heat so I will have it looked at when one of them goes out.

- , Belews Creek, NC, USA

problem #9

Apr 152009

Explorer SL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles

I CANNOT believe Ford will not stand behind their product!!!!!!!!!!! This will be the last one I will purchase that is for sure! Now that I am searching and seeing how many people are having the same problem with the same car!!!!!!!!!!!! This is a shame! We have NO HEAT at all in the car now, it was 32 degrees this morning and I do not have $600-$1300 just to fix the heat on my car because of a broken blend door! I am a lady and am soooooooo tempted to try to fix it myself if I wasn't afraid I would totally screw it up! My three year old will be wrapped in blankets I guess!!!!!!!!

The rear ac started this loud clicking noise after only having the car one year!!!! It eventually stopped working!!!!!!!!!!! What a crock!!!!!!!

- , Seneca, SC, USA

problem #8

Sep 012009

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

This is really bad and now its getting cold outside and my heater does not work. I wish I would have known this problem before I purchased the car.

- , Louisville, Kentucky, USA

problem #7

Sep 092009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,900 miles

LISTEN, ALL FORD EXECUTIVES, GET IT TOGETHER OR ELSE FORD MOTOR COMPANY WILL END UP LIKE GM HAS. AMERICANS WANT QUALITY WHEN THEY PURCHASE AMERICAN CARS AS AN AMERICAN I EXPECTED TO GET QUALITY WHEN I PURCHASED MY FORD EXPLORER THEREFORE, I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT THE NEXT VEHICLE THAT I AM GOING TO PURCHASE HERE NEXT MONTH WILL BE FOREIGN. I HAVE FRIENDS WHO HAVE TOYOTAS, HONDAS AND OTHERS WHO HAVE HAD PROBLEMS WITH THEIR AUTOS BUT ALWAYS WERE MINOR. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AMERICAN MADE CARS GET IT RIGHT OR GET THE HELL OUT OF THE BUSINESS, DO MORE WITH LESS DOES NOT SATISFY US AMERICANS.

- , Detroit, MI, USA

problem #6

Nov 022008

Explorer XLT 4.0L Ff V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

No really sure if this is the problem, but the ac makes a clicking noise (front and back), the air doesn't shift so its difficult to demist, the air is weak ( even with a new blower motor fitted), ac air is not very cool, no heat at all. Given the engine broke, its hard to test and I can't be asked to fix it as I am forced into selling the car virtually for scrap!

- , Gainesville, FL, USA

problem #5

Jan 172009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6 Flex Fuel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

There is an awful clicking noise coming from the dash when I turn the heat all the way up, if I turn it back to the next mark the noise stops. The clicking also happens when starting the car no matter where the heat/cool selector knob is set at. This is just one of many problems that I have had with this vehicle. I really wish I could dump the thing but I just can't afford a new car. From what I have read so far it sounds like it could be the blender door broken. Does anyone know if this motor is something that I could replace myself, and if so how long does it take to tear it all out and put it all back together?

- , Zeeland, MI, USA

problem #4

Nov 012008

Explorer ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

I've had more than one problem with my Explorer. ABS light repaired twice, gear shift on steering wheel had to be repaired, you couldn't tell what gear you were in. Heater started making a banging noise along with a clicking noise, I was told by the dealer it was the blender they would have to remove the dashboard to get to it and then it would cost me $1300. to repair. The fan clutch has also been repaired and the transmission was slipping. I can't wait to get rid of this vehicle and something other than a FORD.

- , Red River, New Mexico, USA

problem #3

Dec 152007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Everytime I turn the rear AC or heater on I hear a loud clicking noise coming from the rear blower. I assume that it will be a matter of time until it will go out completely. With all the different problems that I've been running into with the Explorer, I'm planning on driving it until it falls apart, and then buy a different brand (after owning a Ranger, two Mustangs, an F-150 Super Crew, and this Explorer, one might think that I'm a Die-Hard Ford guy. Well, I was until I bought this Explorer).

- , Lawton, OK, USA

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