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.

6.2

fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
$300.00
Average Mileage:
67,188 miles
Total Complaints:
33 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (19 reports)
  2. Ford should recall it (7 reports)
  3. take to a body shop and paint (7 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #13

Feb 262006

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

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

Just like all the rest. Came back from skiing and there it was...the crack of death over the Ford logo. Maybe it was a message from ? Couple hundred bucks later and a week or two the replacement piece fell off. Poor body work at the dealership. This vehicle has had problems since day one from computer module, ($800) faulty engine light sensor, ($100) gears in the differential ($1200), cruise control ($400) and most recently, the entire transmission, ($3300) and not yet 80,000 miles. Ford is staying in business with all the repairs as these all seem to be pretty common issues. Edsel was just the beginning.

- , Roseburg, OR, USA

problem #12

Jun 052009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Came out one day to get in the car and there it was....crack running from center of hatch to base of hatch. Stress crack running just to the left of FORD logo....I called Ford and they said noone has complained of this problem. If I fixed it, it would just occur again begin what I believe to be design problem with it since I have seen so many other cars on the road with the same flaw. I have been additionall have a problem with the door ajar light. After reading other complaints...I now realize the door ajar has to do with the hatch not being securely/completely closed with the crack. Otherwise I have had no problems with this vehicle.....I sure wised FORD would fix this obviously design problem.

- , Spring, TX, USA

problem #11

Jan 042007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Add me to the list. Plastic cracked on the rear door by the Ford emblem. I was told it was due to metal and plastic glued together but having different expansion rates. The crack has "only" been cosmetic- it doesn't allow water into the vehicle. Junk engineering.

- , Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #10

Jun 012005

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

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

finish almost completely gone now,really a cheap finish by Ford.I guess a Lear jet is more important to them than customer satisfaction and doing a quality job.

- , West Columbia, SC, USA

problem #9

Jan 012007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

The exterior of this 2003 Explorer looks terrible. I have paint issues on hood, paint peeling & cracking on trim between & around windows and the plastic trim is all fading. I've also had issues with interior trim (fabric pulling out on seat retainer & visor), visor vanity cover broke off, flash on molded A and B pillars (plastic that holds seat belts for both driver and passenger). This is my 5th Ford Explorer product - and my LAST Ford purchase. I've had 3 Explorers with a warranty recall on rear window. This is terrible.

oh- I forgot about the seat belts not retracting properly.

- , Zeeland, MI, USA

problem #8

Jan 012007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

see comments on complaint relating to paint issues on hood - I am a very very disappointed Ford owner.

- , Zeeland, MI, USA

problem #7

Jan 222007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

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

Paint fades and flakes off between windows, on black painted surfaces. Caused from the sun. You can't leave this vehicle in the sun!

Quality product!

- , Minden, NV, USA

problem #6

Jun 012007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

Fading body panels just makes the thing look cheap. I looked all over for a faded 4 Runner, Highlander, Rav 4, Cr-V, Pilot, Pathfinder, Xterra.....I got nothin'! Expeditions, Explorers are all over the place....fancy lookin'. Looks aged like a fine wine.

- , Toledo, OH, USA

problem #5

Aug 012007

Explorer XLT 4.0L, V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

This is crap, how does something like this go unnoticed, someone should put it in the news. I have my plastic panels fading at the top. It is ugly and need to be replaced.

- , Lombard, IL, USA

problem #4

Jul 012007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

I noticed the finish on the black trim between the windows peeling this summer. Silly me, I thought it was maybe because of the RainX treatment that I had put on the car at the automatic car wash. Now I see that others have the same problem. So I can just chalk it up to having purchased a poorly built Ford.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #3

Oct 292007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

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

At around 50,000 i noticed the black panels between the door were fading at the top and noticed they were peeling...not very attractive.

- , Madison, MO, USA

problem #2

Aug 152007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V-8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

DON'T HAVE ANY PROBLEMS RE. ANY CRACKS IN THE TAILGATE, AS REPORTED BY UR NUMEROUS READERS, BUT I HAVE NOTICED THIS YEAR AN UNUSUAL FADING/CRACKING OF PAINT IN THE TOP CORNERS OF ALL FOUR DOOR PANELS (INCLUDING BOTH TOP CORNERS OF TAILGATE), WHERE THE THE DOOR MEETS THE TOP TRIM... SEEING AS MY VEHICLE IS BLACK IN COLOR, U CAN UNDERSTAND HOW THIS PROBLEM IS QUITE UNSIGHTLY... BOUGHT IT USED FROM CARMAX, SO I'M GONNA B RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY COSMETIC REPAIRS OUT OF POCKET... I LOVE GENERALLY LOVE THE TRUCK, EXCEPT 4 DEPLORABLE GAS MILEAGE, BUT MAY RECONSIDER "EXPLORING" DIFFERENT VEHICLE OPTIONS WHEN PAYMENTS R UP

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #1

Jan 142007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

Started noticing that the glossy black window panel trim was starting to fade around 50k miles. Now it looks pretty bad. I've never used harsh detergents or other cleaning material on the car. Looks like it is losing it's finish.

- , El Dorado Hills, CA, USA

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