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.

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:
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 25 of 27)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #60

Mar 262007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles

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

I had the same cracked panel below the rear windshield. It started right above the Ford emblem and moved all the way down the panel, and it happened shortly after my warranty period ended. I read about some of the other issues with this and I figured that going to the dealer wouldn't help the situation too much. Luckily, a friend of mind is a mechanic and he was able to get the part at cost: $70. The problem was that it only comes in primer grey. I had to buy Ford paint, and he had another friend of his paint it for me. The paint itself was $60. We just replaced it this past weekend. We had to pull the old one off with the help of a heat gun and glue the new one onto the glass/metal frame. The actual glass goes all the way down to the end of the door. This plastic panel covers the glass along with a metal support. I was worried about leaking but after seeing the interior of this panel, you don't have to worry about that. I really don't know how it cracked, since it is glued fairly solidly onto the metal frame (unless the metal frame twists and/or flexes with use). I now try to lift up the entire tailgate when I need to get access to the back instead of using the small window/liftgate. It was a pain to change, but at least now my Explorer looks decent again. The part should be made of sheetmetal. It doesn't make sense to have a plastic part which can break. I expect to have to replace it again in the future, so I'm holding onto the rest of the paint!

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #59

Mar 192007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

I also recently noticed a crack running through the bottom of the lift gate, and after finding this website, decided to call Ford's customer care line 1-800-392-3673. After being transfered around a few times I finally spoke to a rep who advised me there are no recalls and that Ford is totally unaware of any complaints, before mine, about this issue. They finished by telling me they would definitely notify me if there ever was a recall... what a joke! I have owned 6 Ford vehicles, never again. Maybe everyone should call them, and anyone else who will listen!

- , Dorchester, SC, USA

problem #58

Mar 132007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bouer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles

I have an Explorer and the same problem with a cracked panel most of you have. I have contacted my dealer and Ford about it and I recieved the same help most you have recieved fix it yourself or live with it . It appears Ford doesn't feel they should correct their mistakes when they are minor. What can expect if they are major? Please call Ford and complain with your voice and if that doesn't work lets complain with our wallets and a different auto maker. I bet they will listen then.

- , Lake City, FL, USA

problem #57

Mar 102007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

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

I returned back to my 2003 Explorer after being gone for a few days and discovered two cracks in the panel under the rear window. I thought that someone vandalized the car by hitting the Ford emblem on the back panel.

When I went to the Ford dealer for an estimate, ($366.00), I was told that this is a fairly common problem on Explorers and Mountaineers of this year. I would say that this should be covered by Ford as it is clearly a design flaw that prevents dissimilar materials to expand and contract at their own rate.

- , Wyoming, MI, USA

problem #56

Feb 092007

(reported on)

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I called the dealership about this issue,(the adviser at the FORD dealership indicated he has seen this problem before 4 or 5 in the passed) first they asked if I had extended warranty, I indicated YES (paid extra for the extended warranty) and then they asked about the kilometers (I live in Canada) the kilometers on the explorer is 73000 still under warranty. However this problem was not covered under the extended warranty(of course not). I asked for FORDS head office phone number. I then called FORD head office, they indicated the same thing as the dealership-not covered under the extended warranty. I explained to FORD head office that this issue could be a weather problem, which was told to me by the dealership. I extended my disappointment by telling them the customer service was unacceptable as to this issue was not my fault, it could be a weather temperature issue. I went on to say I will NEVER purchase a ford vehicle again.

Update from Feb 22, 2011: !!!

- , Oakville, Ontario, Canada

problem #55

Mar 072007

(reported on)

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

Approx. two weeks ago I observed several cracks in the liftgate panel. I initially assumed that someone had hit the SUV with a blunt object. Please note that the night prior the temp. was approx. 27 degrees. Last week while picking up my children from school, I observed two Explorers with the same crack in the same area. My wife recommended that I check the internet for complaints. So, here I am, with the same problem.

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #54

Mar 072007

(reported on)

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,437 miles

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

I noticed the cracked panel on Mar 5th. It might be broken between 4th and 6th. I think The cause is a wide range of temperatures. I saw many troubles on the 2002 & 2003 Ford Explorers at this web site. Lots of people said it should be paid for by Ford. I agree with them. I will try to show this web site and my problem and also pictures. My co-worker has had the same trouble which occurred about 3 weeks ago. It seems to be a common problem in Explorers.

- , Port Washington, NY, USA

problem #53

Oct 112006

(reported on)

Explorer

  • 37,000 miles

This crack occurred right after my warranty ran out (of course). I called the dealer and told him my problem and he said that the Explorer sometimes had this problem but they didn't have a recall on it. Since he told me this I have noticed other Explorers with this same problem. I talked to the dealer again yesterday (I now have 41,000 miles) and he said to bring the car in and he would get his manager involved. I am going to bring copies of all the complaints listed (there are a bunch under 2002 Ford Explorer with the same problem) to see if they will cover the repair. I will let you know.

- , Bartlett, TN, USA

problem #52

Mar 012007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

This panel cracked on a cold night (15 deg. F) with the car just sitting in the driveway. From what I have seen and read it sounds like a design flaw with the fact that a plastic part is epoxied to a metal part with a different coefficient of expansion. With the age of the car, it's out of warranty so I have to suffer to cost of repair (to bad it wasn't bolted on, I could get one at a salvage yard).

- , Big Flats, NY, USA

problem #51

Feb 272007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

If everyone would call Ford about this, maybe we could get this covered!!!!!!

- , Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #50

Feb 242007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles

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

My story is similar to ones listed here.

- , Asheville, NC, USA

problem #49

Feb 242007

(reported on)

Explorer NBX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles

The back panel on our 2003 Explorer just cracked in the last few weeks. There was one small crack that we first noticed a few weeks ago, then last weekend, the big cracks happened. I went by a local dealer to show them the cracks. The service agent said he had only seen this problem once, and there was no recall notice. They said the panel only costs about $67, but then you have to add on the costs for paint, decal and labor. Later that day, I saw another Explorer with a crack in the same place. This is apparently a very common problem. I think Ford should cover the repair work.

- , Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #48

Feb 152007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,500 miles

Just want to fill everyone in on my dealings with this problem. On 2/9/07 the crack was discovered about 2 inches left of the Ford emblem, vertically through the entire panel, with a couple of splinters at one end. I immediately did research on the internet, and found the complaints on this website, www.autosite.com, and www.nhtsa.dot.gov. There are numerous complaints on these websites about this problem. On 2/14 I called the Ford #(1-800-392-3673), and also voiced concerns over complaints of shattered back windows that I thought might be related. I am told they are not, but I am not an engineer. I was given a case #, and told I would have to take the vehicle to the dealer, so that the Ford rep could see the damage and decide the next course of action. I also called the NHTSA and filed a complaint (1-888-327-4236) right after I was done on the phone with Ford, and voiced my same concerns over the shattered window. I received a confirmation # from the NHTSA. That afternoon I took the vehicle to the dealership to try to see the Ford rep. I'll be honest, our family has dealt with this dealership for decades, and I have personally bought 3 new vehicles from this dealership, so it would be in their interest to keep things well in our relationship, BUT I did not mention this point yet to the dealer. At the dealer, I saw a service rep because the Ford rep was not in, and is only there once a week. The service rep stated that the dealership sees this issue quite frequently, and usually if the vehicle is not under warranty, the customer is responsible. The service rep said he would have the Ford rep call me to set up an appointment. By late this afternoon, 2/15, the service rep called me to tell me that Ford was paying for the repairs completely, and that he would order the part, have it painted, and let me know when it was ready for install. My vehicle is no longer under any type of warranty. I know this is long, but I thought this info might help everyone. - dgrover2, Chesapeake, VA

- , Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #47

Feb 202007

(reported on)

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Sad that Ford will not backup there product. This is not a wear and tear part. I understand not wanting to issue a recall, it is not a safety issue, why fix something that is not broken. But if the part does break bring it in and we will fix it no charge, it is not NORMAL.

That is what Ford customer service should be saying.

- , Woodstock, IL, USA

problem #46

Feb 212007

(reported on)

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I am so annoyed and dissatisfied with Ford, I wake up one morning in the state of Georgia and I have a crack on the back panel underneath the window, now a few days later my door ajar light is on and will not go off. I can't even explain how angry and I am about this, and as usual Ford's customer service and customer relation department does nothing. If anyone is researching or checking into purchasing a Ford Explorer please don't do it you will regret it in the long run!!!!!

- , McDonough, GA, USA

problem #45

Feb 142007

(reported on)

Explorer LXT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

My story is very similar to ones listed here. I woke one cold morning and found that the appliqué on my back hatch just below the glass window had vertical crack. No impact on the area, just cracked. I had one non-dealer repair est. at $470 but the local dealership would do the work for $270. Well that estimate was on December 15, 2006 and I'm still waiting on a call to let me know the parts are in.

- , Alexandria, LA, USA

problem #44

Feb 152007

(reported on)

Explorer Limited V-8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,059 miles

I see I am not the only one. I have actually had this crack for about 2 years now and have asked the dealer where I have purchased my explorer if there was anything that could be done about this? All I could do was get it replaced. I did not even bother to ask how much that would cost. I am hurt by this because I have had high hopes for my explorer when I bought it because I even went through the trouble of actually ordering my explorer and waiting 2 months for it to arrive (October 2002). In general I have been pleased with my Explorer, even overlooked a couple of it's flaws but this was the last straw. I will keep my Explorer but my next car WILL BE a Honda CIVIC. The Mustang will be my only reason for coming back to FORD, but that won't happen for a while.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #43

Feb 132007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

I just bought this Ford Explorer and I really like the SUV, but I do not like the fact that there are two cracks in the panel just below the back window. Would like to see it replaced, but I know I can not afford it and I feel this was a big mistake by Ford.

- , Laurel, MT, USA

problem #42

Feb 122007

(reported on)

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,400 miles

Along with all the other complaints, i have a non-impact crack in the rear panel of our 4 door explorer. We had taken it to Don Davis and they stated they could not do anything. I provided pictures. Just one day a crack down the back. We have been long time Ford Customers, but we are on the verge of trading all in and moving to Honda

- , Irving, TX, USA

problem #41

Feb 122007

(reported on)

Explorer LXT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

My fiancee and I just bought a 2003 Ford Explorer XLT less than a month ago. We noticed this weekend while in TN that there was a HUGE crack on the right side of the Ford emblem and a smaller one on the left side. We had not hit anything and NO rock could make that crack. Blah...

So I got online today to look at the possibilities other people might have come across. With that, I called the Ford Customer Care line to speak to a rep. She told me that I needed to take the Explorer into the Ford dealership and work with a service manager to have the problem looked at. While I am there, they would discuss with me the options of financial ways to take care of the problem. I am pretty sure that probably means I am going to be paying out of pocket for this...

I work for a Kia dealership, and I know that if ANYTHING happens like this, we fix the problem for the customer. I just can't believe after all the complaints that we have about this vehicle and the problem at hand that there is no other solution that has been given. I don't like it.

- , Asheville, NC, USA

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