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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 18 of 27)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #200

Jun 052008

Explorer Eddie Baur V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


P.O.S. FORD! They would not stand by this KNOWN problem. Cost me $800 to fix. Went to three different dealers...they all suck. This is only one of the problems I've had with this Explorer. I am original owner and babied this thing. Paint on hood started chipping right around 50K miles, engine blew out a plug that cost me $1800 to fix. Transmission is slipping, and every single sensor on the thing has gone bad at one point or another.

NEVER AGAIN WILL I BUY A FORD. Quality is NOT job one.

- , Stratham, NH, USA

problem #199

Dec 052008

Explorer LX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

When I got the car it looked fine but as soon as the weather got really cold, there was the "butt-crack" Ford. This makes me mad because Ford knows of this problem yet are doing nothing about it. The least they could do is make a cheap cover up we could put over it like a piece of rubber that looks like it was made for it. But-Nooo, just let it ruin there name, yeah like they need help with that. I would buy the cover up! "COME ON FORD DO SOMETHING!"

Somebody invent this and make some money!!!!!!!!!

- , Orwell, OH, USA

problem #198

Apr 142008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

Well we bought the car and the dealer we bought it from promised it was under recall. Well it wasn't and now we are stuck with the issue. What can we do.

- , Atlantic Beach, FL, USA

problem #197

Jan 022009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles


It appears from other posts that Ford "may" fix my problem. I'll let you know. I won't hold my breath.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #196

Jan 092009

Explorer EB 4.6L Litr

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

This is an update to a previous complaint that I posted on this site and i wanted to share with everyone the Technical service bulletin that i used to get my rear hatch crack repaired FREE of charge with my Ford dealer.

See this link for the PDF file that Ford has but will not share with us because it is a large problem:

Hope this helps everyone as it did for me!

Danny Andrade Livermore, CA.

- , Livermore, CA, USA

problem #195

Dec 122008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Since I have seen many of these vehicles with the same crack, it has to be a defect with the design. Ford should have to fix all of these at no cost. Mine has cracked on both sides of the Ford name on the back panel. That is a good ad for Ford.

- , Raleigh, NC, Pacific Islands (US)

problem #194

Feb 222008

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


I was surprised to find that this is a common occurrence.

- , Arlington, VA, USA

problem #193

Feb 152008

Explorer LX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I have seen cracks under rear window get progressively worse over the last year. One of many Fords with this problem. Let me know if anyone gets Ford to pay for this.

- , Rockville, MD, USA

problem #192

Jan 292009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles

Seems this is a major defect in manufacturing and should be fixed by Ford at cost, at least. The number of complaints on this issue speaks for itself. I would pay $50 bucks considering age of car. I would consider this perforation of the car like a rust warranty for ten years The paint has worn off the plastic pillars between the doors as well. Otherwise a great car.

- , Port St Lucie, FL, USA

problem #191

Jan 062009

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

I have read through all these complaints and find them very interesting. For a few years now I have noticed other Explorers with cracks in the rear plastic panel. I was just glad that it happened to mine yet. Well, a month ago it was really cold for a few days in a row and when I went out in the morning to go to work I noticed the crack. I believe the neighbors heard the loud"s__t" word I yelled. I had become a victim just like all the others. I made a list of off the things that are faulty: passenger seat heater - not working, rear speed indicators - not working, passenger side power mirror - not working. And here's the latest BIG issue: I was parking the car the other day and when I shifted into Park - the gear selector lever suddenly broke off. I had to have it towed to the local Ford dealership. They said it's not a safety recall and that it would be $2,200 to fix it. You can't just buy a new selector level - you have to replace the entire steering column. This is a Limited Edition model and it's just a crappy SUV. Never again will I buy a Ford. My wife has always drove a Honda and has never had any issues like I've had. Well, look out Honda - here I come!!!!

- , Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #190

Jan 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles


I have the same crack as everyone else, and it appeared suddenly after a sub-freezing night. I talked to the local Ford dealership about it, and they said since it was cosmetic it would not be considered a recall issue. Coincidentally, the person parked next to me at the service center had the exact same crack on her Explorer, and while I was driving out of the dealership parking lot, I saw another Explorer with the exact same crack.

The dealership told me they don't do body work, and I should call a body shop for the repair. My concern is spending the money repairing the panel, and it reoccurring again next year. I could probably do the repair myself, but I'd need to have a body shop paint the part for me.

- , Tempe, AZ, USA

problem #189

Dec 222008

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

Since I have seen over a hundred similar complaints I think FORD should recall and fix the faulty panel that is cracked.

- , Windsor, CO, USA

problem #188

Feb 252009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

I just went to the grocery store tonight and when I came out I noticed that rear panel is cracked under the rear window when I got home I asked my husband if he knew what happend he said he didn't know so we were confused until he found this website and we read all these I guess we are screwed...this blows!!

- , Milford, DE, USA

problem #187

Feb 252009

Explorer XLT 3.2L- V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

We noticed a huge crack to the left of the rear door panel last night. At first, I thought maybe an object hit the car and caused this damage, but as I looked closer there was no sign of impact. I called the Ford dealer today to describe the problem and before I could say two words the adviser acknowledged that he has seen a few, and no warranty would cover the problem. He confirmed there are no recalls against this defect, and pretty much I am screwed and on my own!

Ford should pay for this, and I am surprised there are no class action against Ford motor company already. Poor quality, poor workmanship, and no wonder they are going out of business.

- , Mission Viejo, CA, USA

problem #186

Feb 012005

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

When I called the Ford dealer to ask about the problem, they acted like they never heard of this complaint before. I began to take notice of all the Explorers on the road with the exact same crack. I then brought it to the attention of the dealer when I had it in to have the hinges replaced. They told me Ford is not paying for the repair. Why are people sick of the American car companies again???? The same vehicle had the rear differential replaced 3 times due to another design issue.

- , St. Charles, MO, USA

problem #185

Jun 112008

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

i still love my truck until the trano goes

i still love my truck until the trano goes

- , Marrero, LA, USA

problem #184

May 202007

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

At first I thought we had gotten hit when I saw the crack next to the Ford emblem on the tail gate, but after further analyzing the crack I noticed it's a pressure crack and thought one of the kids closed the tail gate wrong. But then....a few weeks later my other SUV an 06' Lincoln Aviator cracked at the same spot, thank god that was a lease and was sent back as soon as the lease was up....Ford has to know of this design defect on this model and needs to make thing right!!!! shame on you FORD!!!!!

- , Indio, CA, USA

problem #183

Jul 042008

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

During the summer my granddaughter was helping to wash the car and I noticed a few days later that the panel beside the decal was cracked. I felt sure that she must have done something, but then just about a week ago I noticed that it was cracked on the other side, and nothing has hit it or anything. After reading other complaints about this, I feel that Ford should give us some relief when we have this repaired.

- , Edwards, MS, USA

problem #182

Jan 312009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,500 miles

Same problem as it seems everyone else is having, the tailgate cracked below the window. My fathers had just cracked the week before and my brother-in-law is a Sergeant for our local police department and they have one as a detective vehicle and it cracked about the same time as my dad's. I called Ford, they said we are on our own to fix it. I asked to speak to someone else and the guy basically just hung up on me. I am not giving up on this problem, I feel it is Ford's responsibility to fix it not mine. I hope everyone who complains about this contacts the BBB and continuously calls Ford everyday to bug the sh*t out of them. Ford is already in trouble I can't believe they feel they can lose the customers they already have. I will never buy another Ford,solely because of how I was treated on the phone, and I hope everyone who has had this problem with Ford will not either.

- , Salem, VA, USA

problem #181

Dec 212008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

My son and myself have explorers. Both have cracks next to the emblems on the rear hatch. Nobody has hit the hatch. It just cracked on its own. This is a factory defect and should be rplaced by Ford. At this point we are sure we will NEVER go Ford again!

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?