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 26 of 28)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #44

Feb 152007

(reported on)

Explorer Limited V-8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,059 miles

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

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, US

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, US

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

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

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

problem #40

Jan 112007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I woke up one morning after the Christmas holidays (after a night of frost) and my car had not been driven in 3 days nor had it been in an accident to find a 12 inch crack down the rear panel on my lift gate under the rear window and around the Ford emblem. Called the dealership and was told that this is a common problem they see but Ford will not cover it nor have they done a recall on the problem. I was told I would have to pay out of my own pocket for the repair which would be around $550. My insurance will not cover it because it's considered a factory defect. I made a formal complaint to Ford Motor Co and they are blowing me off.

- , San Antonio, TX, US

problem #39

Feb 042007

(reported on)

Explorer Limited 4.0 V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

In the shop again! This time, the plastic panel just under the rear window of my 2003 Ford Exploder cracked from top to bottom, about 2 inches left of the logo emblem. There are two other cracks that are less obvious, but through and through, extending from the main crack and towards the emblem. The car was outside in the cold (25 degrees F) and I noticed it when I closed the rear window (not sure if it was caused during the close of the window or by itself. The crack is nearly 1/4 in. wide at the top and about 1/8 inch wide at the bottom. The entire panel seems to have shrunk lengthwise by 1/4 inch and relieved itself of the stress by shattering.

Update from Jun 8, 2009: I submitted a report on this site earlier, but I thought that I would add a bit to this saga. My dealer in Cincinnati, Kings Ford, wants 448.49 to fix this. More than any other post I've seen. My warranty has expired. I called Ford customer Service and they said that I had to bring the car in to be diagnosed. Then I could call them back (presumably to tell me what others have found out - that I'm hosed). I've seen this crack on other cars as well - Mercury's too.

I am so sick of this car breaking on me. Last year, after replacing front and rear wheel bearings and a set of tires due to strange uneven wear and road noise, I found out that the fancy chrome wheels that came with the Limited edition were rotting - Yes rotting - rusting like they were left at the bottom of the ocean. And they were flexing around the hub enough to crack the chrome covering, whic is how I figured it out. (Of course, after showing the dealer - they said THEY KNEW ABOUT THIS PROBLEM - What - are you waiting for my wheels to literally fall off on the highway to tell me? Or do you think I'll be dead enough then not to care?) This is a disaster waiting to happen for anyone with these wheels. Ford did replace the wheels, but they would not do anything about the $2000 or so I had to pay for mis-diagnosed wheel bearings and tires.

Never, ever a FORD again. Go out of business the bunch of you. The sooner the better.

I'm headed to Toyota tonight. Enough already.

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #38

Feb 062007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,735 miles

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

I called Ford myself and was told to bring it to a dealership, which I had already done but they were sold to another location before getting back to me with an answer.

When I take in to another Ford location, if they will not fix it without any cost to me, I will write a letter to Ford's Board of Directors. If I still don't get any satisfaction, I will go to the Consumer Advocate at one of the local TV stations and let them broadcast my story! That's something we all should do if Ford continues to say no.

- , Beverly, MA, USA

problem #37

Feb 032007

(reported on)

Explorer 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Some one is taking action

THANKS

- , Cayey, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #36

Feb 062007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I went to Purvis Ford body shop ( Fredericksburg V. A.) and was told that they receive three to four a week with the same problem and no recall has been issued. $390.00 to fix it. BBB complaint to follow.

- , Fredericksburg, VA, USA

problem #35

Feb 052007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,400 miles

I contacted Ford customer service last week concerning a crack in the rear lift gate. I was told to take it to a dealer to have it "evaluated", then call them back. I did that this morning. The cost would be $310.00 to replace the plastic piece on the back. Ford customer service kept me on hold for over 20 minutes only to inform me that since I had no warranty left, they could not help me. The dealer told me today that they replace these things on a regular basis. They replaced 3 last week and 2 the week before, with who knows how many in total. I told customer service that we had been loyal Ford customers and we expected Ford to step up to the plate and take care of this. He just told me that my only recourse would be to save my receipt and if there was a recall later on, we could get reimbursed!! How many of these need to be fixed before they consider recalling this liftgate. I told customer service that it was really no surprise that Ford sales are down, since they treat their customers like this. I told him that I would tell anybody who would listen that Ford customer service stinks and encourage them to buy something else. So, I thought I would start telling people today.

- , Owensboro, KY, USA

problem #34

Jan 292007

(reported on)

Explorer LS 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles

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

I got up this morning after the temperature here was 16 degrees last night and noticed mine was cracked. Has anyone had problems with the rest of the rear door with not fixing it? Also does anybody know if the dealership has started taking responsibility for this problem? Probably not.... that would be too convenient for the consumers.. the people paying their salaries. If anyone knows how I can get this fixed without paying out the ass for it let me know.

- , Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #33

Jan 282007

(reported on)

Explorer XT 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

Well I dont need to write it all out again!!!!!! Same as every single one on here. I live in Canada. Are there any other Canadians with this problem, with -30 temps lately im quite worried!!!!! also has anyone had luck with their dealerships? I certainly cannot afford to keep addressing a problem like this!

- , Burlington, Ontario, Canada

problem #32

Nov 072006

(reported on)

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

Just purchased this vehicle from my company. Drove as company car since new. The crack just appeared. They had one recall to replace the hinges on the rear windows of these vehicles. They should replace the window panels, again, as it is obviously a flaw in the material or design!

- , Katy, TX, USA

problem #31

Jan 242007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Rear liftgate panel cracked when the vehicle sat outside one evening with temperature near or below freezing. Crack is approximately 1/16 inch wide and runs vertically the length of the liftgate near the center of the liftgate. Ford dealership said full cost to repair was $322, and that Ford would pay all but $100

- , Plano, TX, USA

problem #30

Jan 142007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

Found this crack under my rear window. Did some searching on the web and found out that this is a VERY COMMON issue (along with the faded black trim panels around the doors). I will call the customer service # tomorrow.

- , El Dorado Hills, CA, USA

problem #29

Dec 092006

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

Add our Eddie Bauer to the list. After first cold spell ( 33 in South Texas) it cracked to left of ford emblem. It's ugly on this beautiful car. I haven't gone to dealer yet , but sounds like it will do no good. We have started noticing all the explorers with this style of tailgate that have cracked in same spot. Also some expeditions. I have owned nothing but Fords for 40 years and own 5 right now. But if Ford doesn't do something about this, as much as I paid for this car , I will never own another.

- , Atascosa, TX, USA

problem #28

Dec 092006

(reported on)

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Vertical crack under rear window, now water will get in the panel. I have read of many 2002 models with this problem, now it looks like its going to the 2003. They may as well close the doors at ford. PS, replacing rear end next week. That complaint is already listed

- , Mobile, AL, USA

problem #27

Jan 132007

(reported on)

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles

Yesterday we noticed the 6-8 in crack from the rear window down past the Ford emblem. I plan to call the dealership today but I don't hold out much hope that this will be fixed by Ford. If I have to pay for this defect it will be the last Ford I purchase.

- , Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #26

Nov 202006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

It seems that Ford would have received the message by now that their customers are not satisfied. With the amount vehicles cost, it's a minimal investment for Ford to ensure return customers. This is not just a matter of a cracked rear valence, it's an advertisement as to the quality of craftsmanship that goes into its widest selling SUV. Come on Ford, this is why you're losing money and the foreign companies report gains. Endorse your product.

- , Spokane, WA, USA

problem #25

Jan 052007

(reported on)

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

I had the same problem and help getting it resolved. I tried to not fix it (mine cracked in a perfectly straight line and you couldn't tell it wasn't intentional. But, the crack spread and allowed water inside the rear door. Can't we do anything about this???

- , Millington, TN, USA

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