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 8 of 28)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #404

Sep 232011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

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

It just really angers me that this is the second 03 Explorer I have owned that has had the same problem!! And I drive alot and within the past few months I have seen at least 15+ other Explorers with the same problem! If there are so many vehicles that this is happening to why can't Ford just fix this!! It is obviously a manufacturer DEFECT!!!! But because it is not a safety thing it's not a big deal to them! Well, IT LOOKS TACKY!!!!! And it is nothing that I have done wrong! The blame is 100% FORD MOTOR!!

- , Joshua, TX, USA

problem #403

Feb 192010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window

I'm the first owner of this 2003 Ford Explorer (third explorer I have owned) and didn't notice crack until my son asked what happened to the rear panel of my car. I was sick to say the least. Mentioned to my friend and she has same problem with her 2003 Explorer too. (my mechanic calls it my exploder) Checked internet to see if I missed a recall only to find hundreds with same issue. Window hinge is also malfunctioning. Hope I can get Ford to fix otherwise this will be my 3rd and final Explorer even though I love the look of the new 2011 if they don't stand behind their design I will go with something different next time.

- , Kent, WA, USA

problem #402

Jul 212011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,634 miles

Just another of many ignored problems with FORD Explorers,this crack problem seems to be related with the door ajar light constantly on as well as remote lock not responding; especially after rain.

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #401

Apr 042011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

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

Went to close rear batch on rear tail lift door and noticed a crack running down the plastic on the panel where the Ford logo is affixed. Other owners have seen my crack and said they have the same problem. Appears to be the result of repeated closings of of the panel. The panel simply does not hold up. Have not taken it to dealer because of past lack of help.

- , Warren, OH, USA

problem #400

Sep 012011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

I noticed the back panel of my explorer had cracked all the way from the window to the bottom. What the Heck?? Today I was in a parking lot and saw another explorer that was identical to mine with the same crack, same place. In reading about the problem on several sights, why would ford not step up and take care of the issue. It happens to be time for a new car and a new explorer was on the list.....not any more.

- , Bend, OR, USA

problem #399

Oct 312011

Explorer

  • 70,250 miles

Problem reported to Ford Motor Co. Consumer affairs office. Was told there was no plan to recall or give Ford customers any help. I am retired and don't have the funds to pay for a problem that was caused by Ford design. They need to take care of this problem. I guess I am a member of the Cracked Ford Tailgate Club.

Gene Talley

Bartlett, TN

- , Memphis, TN, US

problem #398

Sep 082010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

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

I have seen many explorers with this same crack and ford will not own up to the problem and fix it. It looks horrible & it allows water to get into the back tailgate. FORD YOU SUCK!

- , Placentia, CA, USA

problem #397

Dec 052008

Explorer 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

There is a weakness in the construction of this vehicle and every ford explorer I see has the same crack under the window panel in the back. I have actually had someone leave a note when I was in a store asking me to call them if I knew if this was recalled because they have the exact same problem. The paint job is also poor and has bubbled and pealed on the front hood of the car for no reason and now is rusting.

- , Sea Girt, NJ, USA

problem #396

Sep 152011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Called Ford about the problem of cracked panel below the rear window, a common problem

for Explorers. Ford confirmed the problem, but when I asked if the panel had been corrected, they said no changes had been made. So Ford is selling a defective panel to repair a defective panel. Volvo and Subaru had the same method of gluing on the panel to rear window, but they don't have a problem. Ford had produced a inferior product in the panel and refused to correct so that if you pay yourself to have the panel fixed, there is a good chance it will happen again. That why there is so many complaints.

Bad engineering.

- , Centennial, CO, USA

problem #395

Feb 282011

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I just discovered a crack that runs from the bottom of my lift gate window around the ford emblem to where it lifts separate from the entire lift gate. It runs vertically. I had just moved my car this winter from southern california to utah. I thought my daughter had done something to the car. As it turns out when I took it to the ford dealer for another problem and I showed it to them they actually told me that there was a brief time that they were taking care of the problem that it was something that had occurred in other explorers. She even asked her boss, I guess, if they could honor the period before and fix it but came back with a "no" answer. I was told it would cost around $350.00 to fix. Needless to say I'm not going to repair the crack.

- , Orange, CA, USA

problem #394

Oct 022010

Explorer EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

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

My daughter and I went shopping, nothing out of the ordinary and when we went to the back of my 2003 Ford Explorer to open the tailgate, OMG!!!!!! There was a big ugly crack down the back tailgate from the window down, I didn’t do anything different and where I parked no one could have backed into it or hit it. I have been the only owner of my Explorer, Ford won’t do anything, is there any recourse that I can take, it is a manufacturers defect, I have seen others with the same problem, I am so upset, I hate seeing that big ugly thing in the back of my vehicle, I take such good care of my vehicles and don’t even like seeing a dent let alone an unsightly crack that is in no way my fault, what and who can I go to. I am buying a new vehicle in August 2011, now I am not sure that I even want to buy a Ford or a least not another Ford Explorer, however, I strongly think and feel Ford should be held accountable for their manufacturer defects and should pay for the tailgate to be replaced or fixed, it will reduce my trade in value when I sell it to a dealer or an individual..

- , Newington, CT, US

problem #393

Feb 112010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,100 miles

For the last couple of years every time I drive by and pass a Ford Explorer - no matter what the year of the car - I notice thery all have a a crack right under the rear window. I don't know if I'm glad I'm not alone or irritated that no one from Ford has stepped up to fix the problem. I think I am "MORE IRRITATED".

- , Greeley, CO, US

problem #392

Jan 022011

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I noticed my SUV with the same issue as everyone else, a crack in the back panel. First it started out with a small crack then continued to spread. I thought that someone hit my SUV, but start noticing a lot of Explorers with the same issue. Something needs to be done immediately. If a class action lawsuit is started, I am willing to be apart of it. Ford is wrong to allow such a situation to continue to happen.

- , Conyers, GA, USA

problem #391

Sep 162011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,490 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

I had this crack fixed once under warranty. It has reappeared.

- , Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #390

Aug 242011

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

VERTICAL CRACK JUST TO THE LEFT OF THE FORD EMBLEM FROM TOP TO BOTTOM ON REAR WINDOW HATCH. I HAVE SEEN 8 OTHER EXPLORERS IN TOWN WITH EXACTLY THE SAME CRACK IN THE SAME PLACE. I AM CONCERNED THAT IT WILL GET WORSE WITH TIME. VERY DISAPPOINTED THAT FORD IS NOT DOING REPLACEMENTS. I WAS TOLD THE REPAIR WOULD COST ME $450.

- , Winter Park, FL, USA

problem #389

Mar 192011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,579 miles

I'm not the only one in this situation, now that it's happened to me every time I'm on the road I see lots, if not many, with the same problem. FORD should have had this rectified a long time ago. This is my last FORD purchase.

- , Luquillo, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #388

Sep 012011

Explorer Eddie Bouer 4.6L V8

  • Manual transmission
  • 35,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window

This started being just over an inch long, and once the Winter and Summer came through, the crack grew.

- , Longmont, CO, USA

problem #387

Jan 012011

Explorer LTD

  • 85,000 miles

This cracked panel thing is really poor on Ford's part. They must have had a Co-op engineer design that liftgate. They didn't take into account the very basic physics of differential expansion/contraction. Sad. This is on top of a recall for this liftgate (another problem). I hope that someone got fired over this one. But, more than likely they got promoted instead. Pure incompetence.

- , West Chester, OH, USA

problem #386

Aug 312011

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,983 miles

I realize my vehicle is old, but this happens to all of these vehicles, not just mine, so it needs to be taken care of by Ford!

- , Enumclaw, WA, USA

problem #385

Dec 012009

Explorer LS V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Ford needs to redesign this flaw and fix all of its Ford Explorers at their expense.

- , Roseville, CA, USA

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