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.

6.6

fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
$412.00
Average Mileage:
76,498 miles
Total Complaints:
544 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. Ford should recall (224 reports)
  2. repair or replace tailgate (143 reports)
  3. not sure (103 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 16 of 28)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #244

Sep 272008

Explorer LTD V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

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

My Explorer has been such a great, totally trouble-free vehicle, except for the 1-inch crack that my daughter discovered about a year ago and now has about 1-inch to totally crack across the back panel. We have (sadly) postponed my wife's purchase of an MKT Lincoln until Ford observes the simple courtesy and responds to such a simple "fix". It is the principle of this matter which should have been taken care of on day 1, or 2, or ... But please, Ford, do not abandon your customers.

- , Las Cruces, NM, USA

problem #243

Jun 122009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I have joined the ranks of Ford Explorer owners with the cracked liftgate. I went out one morning to find it "just happened". Since that time I have taken pictures of ALL the other Explorer owners that have the same problem. THERE ARE ALOT OF US OUT THERE. This is obviously a design defect that Ford needs to "own up to". It devalues our vehicle through no fault of our own. Since my car is getting up there in age, I am thinking about a new car and with this unanswered problem, I find Ford a big turn off and would not readily consider replacing it with another Ford. I will be happy to group together to insist Ford repair this at their cost since it is apparent that this repair is not due to anything the owner has done wrong-it is a DESIGN FLAW

- , Matawan, NJ, USA

problem #242

Jul 012007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

2003 Ford Explorer XLT has cracked hatch. 40,000 miles and still under warranty and Ford would not replace. Told it was a common problem and would cost me 2,000-3,000 to replace.

- , Austin, TX, USA

problem #241

Nov 012006

Explorer Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,000 miles

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

I was on line looking for a do-it -yourself fix to the long crack above my trunk and found it was a common thing for this vehicle. I found this crack a couple years ago. I started trying to fix it then let it go. It distracts from the look of my car. I also am afraid to use the back panel door because I thought opening and closing it was what may have caused it. I was also remembering the recall for the back window. Now I know this has to be a factory defect. Saying it isn't a danger doesn't make it right. I have always brought a ford and so had my parents. This will be my last one with this attitude. No wonder they are in trouble. People would always kid me about what they say about what F-O-R-D means (fix or repair daily or Ford backwards is D-R-O-F Drive-in return on foot). Now I am starting to agree. They dont need another bail-out They need to make better cars and take car of their customers.

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #240

Sep 302009

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

I have the same problem with this piece. I don't know when FORD MOTOR COMPANY will recall this, because there are too many explorer with this same problem.

- , Chambersburg, PA, USA

problem #239

Feb 202008

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

I have a crack also. I do think Ford should pay for the repairs.. Cause I also notice that when i wash my explorer It kills the battery because, rain gets in there and cause the lights to go on.. So when there is an electrical fire. It's a problem, How many complaints do they need..

- , Holland, MA, USA

problem #238

Oct 162009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

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

"Cracked Rear Panel" I'm somewhat surprised at how many complaints about this same issue there are. I hope my posting will be the one to put it over the top for Ford to fix this problem. I like Ford products but as a warning this type of thing will keep people away from future purchases. Come on Ford do the right thing.

- , St Clair Shores, MI, USA

problem #237

Sep 152009

Explorer XLS 4.0L V

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

I am joining the club of Explorer owners with the crack issue in the rear plastic piece beneath the rear window.

Discovered it in a parking lot and was thinking that somebody had cut it with a sword, at that time was a 2-3" long and few days later cracked all the way.

Contacted a FORD body shop in Oregon and asked them how much the fix will be and response was about $450. One thing that I was worried, if water gets inside and causes corrosion to the rear windshield wiper motor or even more cracks or damage. The body shop told me that the glass goes all the way to the bottom. I visually inspected it and confirmed that the plastic appears to be just a decorative addition and water getting in the crack is not a big issue, since I will never pay for that to be fixed. Just as some people already mentioned the plastic peace expands when directly exposed to sun light (on warm days) and the crack becomes "thin" (see photo). On cold days it expands to 1/16" - 1/8" (2-3 mm) and therefore becomes wider and more visible.

Contacted Ford at 1-800-392-3673 and filed a complaint, they recommended dealer to take a look and evaluate and go from there. We will see.

- , Des Moines, WA, USA

problem #236

Jul 032009

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,500 miles

I have a 2003 Explorer,and the lower panel below the rear window is cracked. I have seen four Explorers that have this same problem here in Georgia. I know this is not an isolated incident. Ford has a problem and should pay to replace this panel free of charge to customers.

- , Marietta, GA, USA

problem #235

Jun 272009

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

We noticed our cracked rear window panel when rinsing car with water hose thought it was a piece of string while drying with cloth noticed that it was a crack in the fiberglass window panel.Tried to cover it with a God bless America sticker but found out it was fiberglass. Then tried to fill it in with bondo and broke loose both times filled in. Found out the panel was very costly and ford motors wont replace free of charge (no call backs on this) Noticed another one that has 1/2 of it missing don't know if wind blew it out. While in W. Va. noticed 2 more exact same cracks. We put pin stripping over it to cover and so far so good, but we know other 03 explorer drivers will know why the pin stripe is there. (looks pretty cool)

Last week we replaced the tires cause there was a loud humming sound, though we needed tires, although they looked fairly good. Sound still there. Today, Sept 30th, 2009 got worried and took into our mechanic and drove around the block and said the left front wheel bearing went out and had to be replaced and called us to say brakes & rotors were also needed. Cost a bunch unexpected and still have the crack! If only Henry Ford could see us now he'd be tossing in his grave.

- , Lorain, OH, USA

problem #234

Jun 272009

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

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

We noticed our cracked rear window panel when rinsing car with water hose thought it was a piece of string while drying with cloth noticed that it was a crack in the fiberglass window panel.Tried to cover it with a God bless America sticker but found out it was fiberglass. Then tried to fill it in with bondo and broke loose both times filled in. Found out the panel was very costly and ford motors wont replace free of charge (no call backs on this) Noticed another one that has 1/2 of it missing don't know if wind blew it out. While in W. Va. noticed 2 more exact same cracks. We put pin stripping over it to cover and so far so good, but we know other 03 explorer drivers will know why the pin stripe is there. (looks pretty cool) Last week we replaced the tires cause there was a loud humming sound, though we needed tires, although they looked fairly good. Sound still there. Today, Sept 30th, 2009 got worried and took into our mechanic and drove around the block and said the left front wheel bearing went out and had to be replaced and called us to say brakes & rotors were also needed. Cost a bunch unexpected and still have the crack! If only Henry Ford could see us now he'd be tossing in his grave.

- , Lorain, OH, USA

problem #233

May 102006

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

I have filed a complaint from everyone from the NHTSA to the BBB including the Consumer Affairs Dept. of the state Attorneys General office in La. I did get a reply from the attorney generals office today and they will notify the local dealer of my complaint. They are to get back with me when the dealer responds to the complaint. My next stop is to picket the dealer!!!!!!!!!!

- , West Monroe, LA, USA

problem #232

Sep 052009

Explorer SXT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

The crack showed up approximately 2 inches to the left side of the ford emblem on the back trim panel. All of the 2003 explorers that I have seen have this problem. I thought I was a lucky one who had been able to avoid it. But, it showed up over the weekend 2 weeks ago. I think it is because the plastic is contracting at a different rate than the metal underneath. When it gets hot, the crack closes up, when it is cold it opens to as much as 1/8th of an inch.

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #231

Sep 152009

Explorer XLT Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Just came out to my car yesterday and it happened to me. Thought I was going to be one of the lucky ones and wouldn't have to deal with it. I called Ford customer service and the girl didn't even know what I meant by the back rear panel. So her answer was "let me look and see if I show any recalls on your vehicle". I tried to explain to her Ford won't recall it, but they should! She was very unhelpful! This sucks because you spend a lot of money to drive around in something that looks nice. And now I am driving a car that is obviously damaged. Wish Ford would step up and take responsibility for the defect!!!

- , Brookville, PA, USA

problem #230

May 122009

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,545 miles

well it seems that i am on the same boat as well one day i was leaving work i noticed a crack in the rear panel door i was shocked so i called ford company that i purchased the suv they said sorry we are not going to fix it its wear and tear , after reading each complaints , i will never deal with ford as long as i live , i tried selling the suv as is with cracks no lucks , yes i should get it fixed but the truth is i will like to show what you get when you by ford

- , Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

problem #229

May 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

just like magic one day good the next day two huge cracks. I hope we, the costumer, get a solution from ford company and get a recall from them

or they will lose costumers I mean $$$$ bigg$$$$

- , Linden, NJ, USA

problem #228

Apr 152005

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles

Problem occurred between signing the deal and vehicle pick up. Dealer fixed before we took delivery.

- , Middletown, NY, US

problem #227

May 152006

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,279 miles

When I first noticed the crack I went to the dealer and was told that it was cosmetic and the warranty had expired so they would not repair it. They did mention that I could pay for the repair around $300. The rear panel has cracked numerous more times over the past three years and now the glass lift is showing door ajar continuously. My local dealer still claims it is cosmetic and not a defect in the manufacturing of the car. The price has also gone up in the past three years but it looks like I am going to have to have it fixed. The cracks have got so bad I think the glass will fall out of the lift gate.

- , Alamogordo, N.M, USA

problem #226

Aug 132009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,900 miles

Like most of the other comments, it just occurred all by itself. I noticed it one morning. I wonder if it has to do with the heat of summer? I haven't yet gotten it fixed--still checking out prices and options. It sure looks terrible. I didn't realize it was such a common problem--seemed like a "fluke" as nothing had hit or damaged it....unitl just today I saw another Ford Explorer of the same year and color (red) with the EXACT same crack! It seems to me an obvious manufacture's defect. I really hope Ford takes responsibility--but won't hold my breathe on that one.

- , Electric City, WA, USA

problem #225

Aug 232009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,348 miles

I don't understand all the complaints and Ford chooses to ignore the problem. This happened two years ago and I complaind to Ford for about 3 months and there answer was there was no recall an there probability wouldn't be.

- , Commerce Township, MI, USA

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