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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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
72,408 miles
Total Complaints:
20 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (13 reports)
  2. wd-40 (3 reports)
  3. use brake cleaner or lubricant (2 reports)
  4. just cut out the wires (1 reports)
  5. turn interior light dimmer switch to off (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #20

Jul 032015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


This is driving me crazy. They have replaced the door switch and the ajar switch, still have the same problem every time it rains.

- , Clover, USA

problem #19

Nov 012014


  • 109,004 miles

The chime beeps constantly at times after it rains, it's like the door is still open and the lights inside stay on.

- , Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #18

Jul 172013

Explorer EX 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

the door ajar light along with the power locks on the driver side stopped working.

- , Noblesville, IN, USA

problem #17

Jun 012010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles


Go figure a small little can to fix the problem. WD-40 is amazing! Just spray all the locks and hinges and the light went out.

- , Eagle River, AK, USA

problem #16

Apr 022010

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,281 miles


- , Crowley, LA, USA

problem #15

Nov 012007

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

Same as everybody with the door ajar crap, lights stay on, alarm will not set. The problem is the location of the door pin switch now a days its inside the latch. A pain to get to but the people with the lubricant have the right fix, whatever you use spray the crap out of all the latches and work them a couple times, not inside the lock. The same road grime that gets on everything else gets inside the latch and fools the thing into thinking that its open. Every door on the thing has a switch inside the latch (including the glass its in the hump in the middle when you open it) so spray away.

- , South Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #14

Jan 272009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


About 2 weeks ago, my door ajar indicator would stay on, even after I checked and made sure every door was tightly shut. The dome and mirror lights would also stay on. Within driving about 100 feet, it would turn itself off. Yesterday it decided to stay on permanently.

I also notice that while the door ajar light is on, my side power mirrors will not work.

Additionally, the lock/unlock power button on the driver's side door will not work.

Also about 2 weeks ago, the radio would immediately stop playing once I took out the keys, whereas it used to stay on, even after I removed the keys, until I opened the driver's side door.

All of these issues seemed to have occurred around the same time.

I just had a costly repair on this vehicle less than 6 months ago (bad wheel bearing). I REALLY am not ready to have to dump another huge sum into fixing this heap.

- , Union, NJ, USA

problem #13

Jan 042008

Explorer XL 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

First, when I tried to adjust the power mirrors, the dome light and door ajar light would suddenly come on. $400 later the dealer said I had a loose ground wire in the drivers door. Now, anytime I drive in wet weather the door ajar light stays on and the dome light doesn't go out until I start driving (over 10mph), but the ajar light stays on. Today, the dash starts clicking for several seconds and then the doors unlock....every 30 seconds as I drive down the road. Arrrrrgh!!! WD-40 has not worked for me.

- , Rootstown, OH, USA

problem #12

Dec 242008

Explorer LX 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,426 miles

Turning the interior dimmer switch to off. Turns off interior and mirror lights off. Door ajar light stays on, but you can see to drive with out interior light on.

- , Mill Run, PA, USA

problem #11

Apr 262008

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

The door ajar light on my Explorer would not turn off, I found the simplest, least elegant solution. I just cut the door wires out and "shorted" the door latch sensor out. This way the door thinks it is permanently closed. Cheap, quick and the light never comes back on. Only down side is that the auto power cutout is deactivated when the door switch is removed.

Guess that is the downside of buying a Ford.

- , State College, PA, USA

problem #10

Sep 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles


The door ajar light doesn't stay on all the time, but pops on and beeps intermittently. This is the most annoying issue but not the only. The cruise control stopped working one day, then worked the next. Several lights on the radio are out. Bought my last Ford for sure.

- , Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #9

Apr 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

The door ajar indicator was on and the dome light wouldn't shut off. I sprayed WD-40 in the door hinges, locks, receivers, etc. and it fixed it. Now it's part of my routine maintenance. Annoying problem to have...but I've had WAY worse with this vehicle. (wheel bearings, brakes, seals, broken body panels, faded panels, broken CD changer)

- , Toledo, OH, USA

problem #8

Dec 272006

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,347 miles

I have had this problem of the door ajar light and running lights staying on. I really don't know what to do about it. It comes and goes for some strange reason. It will be there for a few days then it won't for awhile. I would really like to know what the problem is and get it fixed once and for all.

- , Fort Campbell, KY, USA

problem #7

Apr 102008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6 Flex Fuel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

This vehicle has had so many problems since we purchased it with the most recent being the door ajar light and interior lights staying on. It has now progressed to the radio shutting off when ever it feels like it. I haven't tried the fix of WD-40 yet but will run out and try that in a minute. This has been the most aggravating of all the problems we have had with the truck, it is very hard to drive at night with the dome lights on not to mention how unsafe as well. If anyone has had any other solutions that they have tried and has worked, please let me know.

- , Zeeland, MI, USA

problem #6

Apr 092008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,100 miles

Last week, the Door Ajar message started displaying on my screen. The first time, I shut and re-shut all of the doors, and it seemed to work. Over the next few days, it got worse. It would no longer shut off. It seems many others have had this problem. Thanks to Google, and sites like this, I was able to find out what might possibly fix it. I ran up to Wal-Mart tonight and grabbed a can of WD-40. I sprayed it into each of the door latches, and opened & closed the doors 10 times each. It seems it was the front passenger side door with the faulty sensor. When I got around to it, and sprayed the WD-40, opened & closed it 10 times....the message was no longer there! Yay! It may only be a temporary fix...who knows...but I have an almost full can of WD-40 in the garage......

- , Boise, ID, USA

problem #5

Mar 102008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Sporadically, the "door ajar" warning light stays on when all doors are closed properly. The dome lights also stay on. Makes night driving difficult. Sometimes, they all of a sudden turn off. Recently, when the ignition is off and doors are closed, the dome lights stay on as well as the exterior side mirror lights. Today they stayed on for about 20 minutes. I'm fearful that they may stay on all night and the battery may run down too far to start engine.

- , Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #4

May 162007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles



- , Northport, AL, USA

problem #3

Sep 182007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

Door ajar light comes on and stays on for days at a time. At first you slam all the doors and the hatch with no luck... Then you start yammering expletives without any relief. This has to be the most annoying of all issues with my Explorer. It seems the issue gets worse when in the sun or hot weather. I'm looking forward to winter, no wait that's when my back lift gate trim cracked.... Gee Ford what else can I expect before 50,000 miles?

- , New Salem, PA, USA

problem #2

Apr 272007

(reported on)

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Door ajar light was coming on intermittently over the last 5 months and then in the last past week it was on continuously. A week into it, my radio stopped for no apparent reason and then the car shut down. The alternator and battery went up at the same time. Cost $550.00

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #1

Feb 222007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I am so annoyed and dissatisfied with Ford, I wake up one morning in the state of Georgia and I have a crack on the back panel underneath the window, now a few days later my door ajar light is on and will not go off. I can't even explain how angry and I am about this, and as usual Ford's customer service and customer relation department does nothing. If anyone is researching or checking into purchasing a Ford Explorer please don't do it you will regret it in the long run!!!!!

- , McDonough, GA, USA

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