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:
$411.00
Average Mileage:
76,460 miles
Total Complaints:
543 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. Ford should recall (223 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 24 of 28)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #83

Oct 302007

(reported on)

Explorer 4.0lV6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

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

I'm the second owner and I was told the panel cracked before. Now its cracked again. Two of my friends own explorers and had the same problem. Luckily their warranty didn't expire. I called Bell Ford dealer in NJ where I live and they didn't say much to help me. I also drove a blue explorer from Loman Ford on Rte. 1 which had the same problem which they tried to sell to me. I asked them about the cracked panel and got no answer. If there is a problem or a defect we the consumers should have no problem being taken care of or maybe that's it we're just being taken. And Ford is wondering why their consumers are going elsewhere!

- , South Plainfield, NJ, USA

problem #82

Oct 292007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

My explorer had the cracked liftgate as well...it had around 40-50,000 miles at the time...it did it when it was only 2 years old. my dealer fixed it, no questions asked...they said this was a common problem.

- , Madison, MO, USA

problem #81

Oct 172007

(reported on)

Explorer EB 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

The panel broke and looks bad. I started noticing that many of the Explorer's on the road have the same problem. Some have multiple cracks. It doesn't take much research to determine this is a common problem and definitely a design problem.

- , Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #80

Oct 052007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

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

the rear panel cracked, also the panels between windows paint is peeling, it is 4 years old, never seen anything like it. Ford takes no responsibility. Dealer takes no responsibility. I even bought an extended warranty when i purchased the vehicle. Not covered.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #79

Oct 032007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

A few weeks ago the infamous crack appeared on my liftgate. I had already assumed that Ford would not repair it based on the information here. On 10/4/07, while waiting at a light, I hear an explosion. The window on the rear liftgate exploded/imploded. I talk to Ford and they tell me my car is not part of any recalls so I am responsible for the repairs. Now I know why foreign cars are outselling US cars...because US cars suck. Definitely won't be buying another Ford. My sister has a 2002 explorer and the rear liftgate window has shattered twice when closing.

- , Foothill Ranch, C, USA

problem #78

Sep 182007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles

Cracked back panel, as many others have reported. Love the car but thinking of ditching it because of this as well as the door ajar light and a broken visor. You should expect a better made vehicle for this price range at less than 50,000 miles.. When will Ford step up and make these issues right? American car manufacturers wonder why we buy foreign cars, give us our money's worth!

- , New Salem, PA, USA

problem #77

Sep 222007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,250 miles

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

For no apparent reason the "plastic" rear panel below the window lift gate cracked. When first noticed the crack was 2" long. The next day the crack was completely through the panel. Neither the door or window lift section has never been slammed or abused. The Explorer has 41250 miles is always garaged and in immaculate condition. I also have a 2nd 2003 Eddie Bauer Explorer that I bought for my daughter. Both Explorers are "twins" with identical equipment except for the color. The "plastic" rear panel on her Explorer is OK.

Does anyone know what gives??? Is there going to be a recall???

- , Desoto, TX, US

problem #76

Sep 212007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Anoither cracked one here... just showed up overnight.

- , Elgin, SC, USA

problem #75

Aug 202007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

The dealership told me to take the car in when I called to complain about the cracked panel. Once there, I was told Ford would not pay for it because they were only paying certain VIN numbers & my car didn't qualify even though I had the extended warranty. They offered to repair the panel & I was to pay 25% of the bill. I was quoted about $100 out of pocket for the repair. When I picked up my car, I accidentally saw the bill which was a total of $327.19 & they had the nerve to charge me $216. I contested their math calculations but they told me to pay or they would not release the vehicle. After I payed, I noticed that my full size spare tire was missing! Thieves, thieves, thieves.

- , Montebello, CA, USA

problem #74

Jun 072007

(reported on)

Explorer ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

I also have a cracked rear panel. It's right in the middle of the rear door--next to the Ford emblem. I personally know two other people who also have cracks. One of them was able to buy the part and have it fixed by a friend--she said it was $140-160 dollars just for the part. I figure that it is a faulty part and refuse to pay any more money to put in a part that could very well crack again. I will replace it when I am ready to sell the stupid car and I hope that is soon. I will never buy a Ford again.

- , Luling, LA, USA

problem #73

Jun 152007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

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

It is a shame Ford cannot make a product to last more than a couple years without falling apart!!!

- , Largo, FL, USA

problem #72

Aug 122007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Panel is cracked below the glass, Brought it in to get the recall on the lift part fixed, but they wouldn't cover the panel.

Spare tire carrier broke, cable doesn't wind up, Rear differential leaked $500.00 later the differential is fixed

Other than than I have been happy with my ford, the dealer also fixed and covered other issues.

- , Princeton, MN, USA

problem #71

Jun 232007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,500 miles

Same story as the others on this site.... cracked on a cold winter day while sitting in a parking lot. Didn't even have to open/close the rear window to do it. We've had this vehicle since new in 2003 and its the first vehicle my wife loved enough to actually take good care of it. She still won't let me sell it even after all of this.

In January '07, I took it to Winner Ford (Newark, DE), the dealer that sold me the Explorer when it was new. They quoted $345.75 and said since I was out of warranty and there was no recall, I would bear the cost.

I contacted the Ford Customer Relationship Center. They blew me off a day later. Then I wrote a polite letter (not email) to the CRC, to Ford's general office address in Detroit, and sent a copy of my letter to Winner Ford. I thought a three pronged stick might get someone's attention. I included pictures and printouts from this web site showing how many of us have the same problem.

Within two days of mailing the letter, Winner Ford contacted me and told me that I am a valuable customer, they appreciated the way I presented my case and they were going to cover the cost and try to get compensation from Ford.

One day after Winner called, a representative from Ford's Detroit office called inquiring about my letter and problem. I told her that Winner was stepping up and gave her Winner's contact information. She called me back again two days later to be sure I was satisfied.

At about the same time, the CRC sent me another form letter blowing me off again. They don't even mention the specific problem I complained about, just a non-specific "we reviewed your claim and feel we were correct in denying it blah, blah, blah".

In summary, I will probably be buying as many cars as I can in the future from Winner. That dealership sells several different brands, so a Toyota, Saturn, or some other brand might be in my future. I believe Ford was going to step up. It sounded to me like she was going to tell me that they were going to come through. The Ford CRC center seems terrible to me. Yes, I am probably biased because they denied my claim, but in my opinion they did not ever seriously consider my claim. I felt totally blown off. I have the mailing addresses I used if anyone is interested, but I got them right off the Ford website.

- , Newark, DE, USA

problem #70

Aug 042007

(reported on)

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

This is the second time the rear panel has cracked. Will Ford ever get it right?

- , Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #69

Aug 042007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,000 miles

Same here. got the crack in the tailgate at about 10,000 mile mark. ford will not even look at it, the dealer said yes we know about it, but ford will not cover it. guess will have to wait until it falls off and hurts someone before they take to bite on this.

- , Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #68

Jul 252007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Wow, I didn't realize how much of an issue this tailgate is. What a horrendous design!

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #67

Jul 042007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,070 miles

The vehicle was not even being driven and was parked inside the garage when the cracked rear panel on the liftgate took place. My husband called to tell me what had happened and I began writing down the license plate number of several other vehicles with the identical problem. We took it to our local dealer, Dick Masheter, who told us that the problem was normal and expected. This is not normal, expected, or acceptable. My family has had many of these vehicles and this has never happened. Ford needs to redesign to resolve this issue -- in addition to paying for the repair.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #66

Apr 302007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles

The first time this happened, the dealer replaced the part for free while they were changing the defective hinge (recalled item). Now that the base warranty has expired, they refuse to cover the cost of the second crack under the extended warranty. What are the odds that they replaced the first defective part with a second defective part? Incidentally, half the panel fell off after a trip through a TOUCH-FREE car wash!!!

- , Groton, MA, USA

problem #65

Apr 292007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

I noticed this past winter, 1/4 inch wide crack running from top to bottom of panel (with another small crack near the bottom running diagonally down from the main crack). I figured it was somehow my (or someone elses) fault. My sister noticed it and then this past week wrote to me saying she was behind an Explorer on her way to work and noticed a crack in the exact place and the same shape as mine. So - did some research - here I am.

- , Syracuse, NY, US

problem #64

Apr 192007

(reported on)

Explorer EB V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I did my part and contacted FORD Customer Relations and documented the crack in the rear panel. We'll see where it goes from here.

Problem: crack in rear door panel (below rear window) AND upper tailgate hinge broke ( due to no reason ).

- , Prosper, TX, USA

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