Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. 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:
75,989 miles
Total Complaints:
540 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. Ford should recall (222 reports)
  2. repair or replace tailgate (143 reports)
  3. not sure (101 reports)
  4. replace the panel (28 reports)
  5. need a redesigned tailgate (22 reports)
  6. ford needs to pay for being fixed (13 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 10 of 27)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #360

Jan 082010

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles


Called Ford but they said there was no recall and it isn't a safety issue so there are no plans to do anything about it. We see a lot of Ford Explorers in parking lots and on the highway with the same cracked back panel. Our crack is getting wider, so we're going to have to bite the bullet and get it repaired. It's just a shame Ford won't offer any reimbursement for something that is obviously faulty design.

- , Mascoutah, IL, USA

problem #359

Feb 242010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I thought FORD was a good quality vehicle until i saw the crack under the rear window. i was thinking about buying another FORD vehicle but now im rethinking my decision im thinking about going with CHEVY. I think its a manufacturers defect and FORD should recall this issue.

- , Oceanport, NJ, USA

problem #358

Dec 152010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,108 miles

Since I noticed the crack on the panel, more and more people have said they have the same problem, and I see so many of them in parking lots with the same problem. Obviously, it is a manufacturer's defect. I paid a good amount of money for my car. Because I paid a good amount, I take good care of my car. I expect it to hold up. I want it fixed for free, or at least a nominal charge. Ford knows the problem exists, so they should take care of their customers. Over the course of 35 years, my husband and I have purchased10 Ford autos. That could all change if we don't get some satisfaction from Customer Service!

- , Merced, CA, USA

problem #357

May 152009

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


I have seen this crack on many Explorers. Since this is a design flaw, I feel Ford is obligated to repair the crack at their cost. I definitely reduces the resale value.

- , Austell, GA, USA

problem #356

Jul 152008

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I have seen this problem of crack under the back window of many Ford Explorers and Ford should really fix the problem

- , Budd Lake, NJ, USA

problem #355

Apr 102009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,350 miles

Ford should fix at no cost. This is an obvious use of inferior quality materials. I own three Ford vehicles (Explorer, Expedition, and Mustang). If Ford does not step up and pay for this fix I have purchased my last Ford vehicle. The Explorer also has a corroded hood that I paid for out of pocket $575.00.

- , Punta Gorda, FL, USA

problem #354

Jan 022011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,000 miles


Looks awful and worried water might get into motor for back windshield. Ford should recall because I have seen this problem just in the last month of five other explorers having the same problem. This is a ford problem and not consumer problem. Our car has been stored in garage since new and well maintained.

- , Prospect, KY, USA

problem #353

Jan 092010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Was surprised to see how many of these have this problem. Ford should practice a little good will and repair these for us.

- , Bolingbrook, IL, USA

problem #352

Nov 032010

Explorer LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

Unreal, I have been reading some of the complaints and I am having the same ones;

Cracked panel under rear window

Hood corrosion


Not just a coincidence!

- , Freehold, NJ, USA

problem #351

Jun 162010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

I noticed a partial crack in the rear window panel several months ago on my 2003 Ford Explorer and now it is completely cracked. After driving around Southern California you look to see if other have the same problem, and you would be suprised to see how many Ford Explorers have the same problem. This should be addressed by Ford. TW

- , Fountain Valley, CA, USA

problem #350

Jun 022008

Explorer Limited V8, 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


I think it's terrible that Ford will not recall this problem. I notice this same crack on so many other cars just driving around town. FORD you need to own up to this issue and do the right thing and fix these cracked tailgates.......

- , Redding, CA, USA

problem #349

Nov 252010

Explorer XLT 8 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,000 miles

If Ford is to maintain the progress it has made in the past two years it must fix these defects. Mileage and usage does not enter into the problem. It is definitely defective parts and/ or inferior design. I have bought and driver mant fords in the past. If

ford refuses to correct the problem at their expense, I will Never buy another ford. If Toyota had this problem, I am sure they would issue a recall. They will fix their tarnished reputation. Ford is not going to keep their a reputation if they refuse to correct there obvious design problems.

Pau Brandenburg

- , Burlington, CO, USA

problem #348

Jan 222011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I look around at all the other Explorers that I see on the road and this is such a common occurrence that its not even funny! C'mon Ford!!!!!

- , Chillicothe, OH, USA

problem #347

Feb 032009

Explorer LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

I have seen many explorers with same problem. It should be fixed by Ford.

- , Davie, FL, USA

problem #346

Jul 012010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Ford should fix or replace to correct this problem.

- , Blasdell, NY, USA

problem #345

Jul 142010

Explorer XLT 4,0 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

It is obvious looking at other Explorers of about the same year that this is a widespread problem. What is crazy is that Ford is not doing anything to compensate owners for this defect. The way Ford has pretended this is not a problem will keep me from ever buying another Ford. If they turn a blind eye to the obvious they are not honest nor customer oriented.

- , Eufaula, AL, USA

problem #344

Jan 092011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,547 miles

Common problem for Ford Explorer. Crack is to the right of Ford emblem and occurred during cold weather in Annapolis, MD.

Update from Jan 19, 2011: Updated VIN

- , Severn, MD, USA

problem #343

Jan 082008

Explorer XL 4.0L Flex

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

The panel cracked, I went to the Ford Dealer and was told that the warranty has expired. I was a Ford customer since 1989, at that time my first Ford was an Escort GT,

1n 1993 bought an Escort wagon and a GT, on 1995 a Mustang, on 1997 a Thunderbird, on 2001 an Explorer Sport and on 2003, two Explorer. I still have one and

sold the other. Had the same problem with both. All these cars were bought from Gus Machado, in Hialeah, the sales man was Wicho. I never will buy another Ford, because

Ford does not come forward and recognize the problem. Other than that it is a good truck.

- , Hialeah, FL, USA

problem #342

Nov 182010

Explorer LX 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,768 miles

This is obviously a problem that is apparent by the number of Explorers you see around with the same problem. It is obviously the result of a manufacturing problems or material break down. It is not acceptable for a vehicle that has been taken care of. My vehicle has regular maintenance. The purchase of a vehicle is the second largest investment most people make in their life, it should last for a long time. Car builders use to stand behind their product and I think Ford should stand behind this one. It could eventually lead to other issues like the lock mechanism for the rear hatch and window. Come on Ford stand up and fix it.

- , Westminster, CO, USA

problem #341

Dec 132010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I'd seen this crack on several of these trucks and wondered how hard someone had to slam the door to cause that to happen: and when it might happen to mine. It gets cold enough, and there you go! And I'm in a southern state. I wonder how long it took for Explorers in northern states to crack like this. How long does it take now for water to get in and ruin something else?

- , Fayetteville, GA, USA

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