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

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 9 of 28)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #383

Jul 122011

Explorer AWD 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,802 miles

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

ONE COLD MORNING OF COURSE DURING WINTER, ME AND MY FAMILY WERE ON OUR WAY TO CHURCH WHEN I WENT AT THE REAR OF MY TRUCK TO CLEAN UP LITTLE BIT OF SNOW THERE WAS A CRACK BELOW MY LIFTGATE PANEL. ONE AFTERNOON MY TRUCK HORN WAS JUST CONSTANTLY GOING ON (SOUNDING). THE NEXT DAY FROM WORK I DECIDED TO OPEN AND CLOSE ALL MY CAR DOORS PROPERLY. THE REAR LIFTGATE CAME DOWN AS I WAS OPENING IT, COULD NOT CLOSE ANY MORE, IT BROKE OFF OF THE HINGE. I CALL AND TOOK IT TO THE DEALER, THERE WERE NO RECALLS ON THESE ITEMS EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE BEEN HEARING ABOUT THEM.

FORD, PLEASE TRY TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THESE PROBLEMS. I LOVE FORD CAR AND I WANT TO ALWAYS BE YOUR CUSTOMER BUT IF NOT I AM SORRY AND WILL DISCOURAGE ANY FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIENDS TO BUY YOUR CARS. I AM WAITING TO HEAR FROM YOU.

THANKS.

- , Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #382

Feb 152009

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

I share the same problem with the broken panel below the glass on my explorer.

Update from Aug 9, 2011: THERE ARE OVER 440 COMPLAINTS NOW POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE ABOUT THE SAME THING. ARE THEIR ANY ATTORNEYS ON THIS LIST? I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW MANY INDIVIDUALS IT TAKES TO START A CLASS-ACTION. I JUST RECEIVED NOTICE THAT FORD MOTOR COMPANY IS VERY SORRY FOR MY ISSUE HOWEVER THEY WILL NOT BE DOING ANYTHING TO HELP ME FIX IT. I WOULD BE WILLING TO BE THE FIRST PERSON NAMED ON THE CLASS ACTION,IF WE CAN FIND A LAWYER WILLING TO ACCEPT A CASE.

Update from Aug 10, 2011: I HAVE CONTACTED THE LAW FIRM OF AUDET AND PARTNERS,IF YOU ARE TRULY INTERESTED IN GETTING RESULTS ,GOOGLE THEM AND INQUIRE,MAYBE THEY CAN HELP. I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO AT THIS POINT. GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF US.

- , Irmo, SC, USA

problem #381

May 172011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,200 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

I am a person who takes pride in the up keep and look of their car, and having an issue such as this, that I have to pay for out of my own pocket is an annoyance. I discoverd the crack one morning, it ran half way through the panel on the right side, it was approximately 66 F, as the day continued and the temperature rose the crack sealed itself up tightly but as the temperature cooled down the gap in the crap expanded. Ford should cover the entire repiar if not, at least cover half of the cost or atleast lower the price of the repair. Yes, this crack only deals with asthetics, but at times may also allow for water to enter through the crack and start to accumalate behind the panel. A repair price of around $400 is just unacceptable especially since it is a design flaw.

This issue is due to the factory adhensive not allowing for the necessary amount of play for the plastice to expand and contract causing the cracks to appear in either colder or hoter climates. An effective repair method is to replace the factory adhesive with 3M double sided molding tape that will give then panel the necessary amount of flexion. Ford acknowleges that this is an issue and if it wants to continue to see returning and continues increases in customer satisfication, than they need to go back and fix their wrongs.

- , Bethel Springs, TN, USA

problem #380

Apr 012011

Explorer

  • 40,000 miles

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

This is totally unfair. I noticed the crack on the back panel of my 2003 Ford Explore with no explanation of how it got there. Than I start seeing other on the street with the same problem.

Now I learn that its hundreds with the same complaint. WHEN IT THE RECALL?

- , Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #379

Apr 012011

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,000 miles

I think if there are so many of this same problems with the crack in the rear panel it should definitely be fixed by ford with no cost to the customer because it is clearly a manufacturers defect.

- , Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #378

Dec 202009

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

There really should be some recourse for my problem. It seems to be a design flaw and one that should not be my responsibility.

- , Cottage Grove, OR, USA

problem #377

Jan 132011

Explorer ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,518 miles

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

THE CRACK IN THE REAR WINDOW SEEMS TO AFFECT THE LATCHING SECURITY OF THAT WINDOW , AS THE LIFTGATE WINDOW POPS OPEN ANY TIMES IT FEELS LIKE IT WHEN I AM DRIVING. I FEEL IT IS A SAFETY ISSUE AND FORD SHOULD TAKE CARE OF IT.

- , Erie, PA, USA

problem #376

Jan 052011

Explorer 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Ford should really recall this problem. This is obviously a common problem, they should fix it. My father is a retired Ford employee. I have always bought a Ford. I would think they would want a returning customer. Please fix the problem.

- , Middletown, NY, US

problem #375

Oct 122006

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

Members of the Rear Crack Club should caulk the crack in the most obvious color: Ford Blue.

- , Harvest, AL, US

problem #374

Jan 012010

Explorer 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Ok, on the back lift gate, right around where the all important "FORD" emblem is there is a crack from the bottom of the glass to the bottom of the gate. Looks very attractive and mine is by far NOT the only one of these I have seen cracked. The sad part is, I love my SUV, it's the second Explorer I have owned but I am not happy with the way my truck looks right now. In another complaint I told about the paint on the hood being almost completely gone...Sad, Sad, Sad...I fill like both of these should be recalled.

- , Rainsville, AL, USA

problem #373

Jan 292004

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,981 miles

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

After many years of holding only half the panel in place, my car is tail-less now [the back panel is totally gone]. First it cracked, of course it was replaced. Then, it cracked again. We decided that it "normal" after seeing all Fords with the same problem!!!. I used to like Fords. In fact I have Ford cars most of my life. But this last Ford has been a pain in the neck, too many defects, including the A/C that never shuts down, even when I turn it off. The Ford dealer told me that "it was normal" hahaaa and never fixed it.

I am ready to buy a car but it is not going to be a Ford! No, thanks.

- , Edinburg, TX, USA

problem #372

Dec 162010

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

The tailgate crack appeared after a cold weather snap. I hardly ever use the liftgate. when I found out my nephew's, explorer did the same I started checking others on the road and sure enough, there were quite a few with the same crack. We have always owned fords but I will rethink this body style. Ford should definitely fix.

- , Alton, IL, US

problem #371

Mar 012011

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Ford has service bulletin out about problem - knows ita a problem but does nothing to fix it. I had to have the back sensor replaced (283.00) due to broken panel - now I have to replace the panel - Ford should fix it.

All the blogs say it's due to sudden temp changes and was really cold recently and it's not usually.

Why can't Ford deal with this!!!!!!!

I own 4 Fords and I'm not sure I'll ever buy another!

- , Santa Maria, CA, USA

problem #370

Mar 012011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

I bought this vehicle from a private party. We did not see the crack at first until the first day we owned it. I did an internet search to see how to fix it and found all these complaints. Looks like a poor design. I have found other areas on this vehicle where there is poor design. The 2nd row middle seat latch, the recessed handle on the rear cargo area is broken. Its all thin plastic that cracks and breaks. Go on the Ford Explorer forums and you find all kinds of recurring problems with Gen III Explorers.

- , Newma Lake, WA, USA

problem #369

Jan 122011

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

Sent an email to Ford Customer Relashionship Center, telling them about the cracked rear panel and how I found online quantity of similar complaint, even some mentioning that Ford was fixing it and only charging $100 to the customer. I also explained that it is my 4th Ford vehicle since 2000. They responded with a pre-written generic email stating there is no warranties, Field Service Action/Customer Satisfaction Programs on my vehicle....

I was planning on buying a new Explorer this fall - it's now out of the question - Ford = never again.

- , Plantation, FL, USA

problem #368

Feb 112011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Shortly after having the rear window hinge fixed, and the paint protection the dealership suckered me into to lower my payment, I noticed a 1/4" split (crack) just under the back hatch window, starting on the hatch door. This crack is in the center on the door and just starting at the top under the window. I am hoping it does not get worse. From what I am finding I don't think I will be that lucky. Love my explorer but it is very costly to repair.

This and the window problems Ford has should be recalled!!!!

Although I love my explorer I will never buy another.

Update from May 6, 2012: 5/6/12 This is now cracked down to the Ford logo.

- , Liberty Center, OH, USA

problem #367

Sep 122010

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,000 miles

PLEASE NOTE: Submitted problem reports may not be accepted in whole or in part. If accepted, reports may be subject to modification in order to be posted to the AutoBeef database.

WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REMOVE ANY CONTENT THAT IS DEEMED INAPPROPRIATE.

- , West Palm Beach, FL, US

problem #366

Jan 272011

Explorer Limited Centennial Edition 4.6L Sfi V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,524 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

This part was replaced by the paint & body shop repainting the whole car for me only to have it crack again 13 or 14 months later! Parts are only limited to 12mo or 12k miles. Most of us have this same problem. I spoke to Ford about this and their response was, if enough owners report this to them they might look into a recall on this part. So all you owners out there put a call into Ford @ 1-800-392-3673 and complain! Even if you haven't repaired this yet, you might get it repaired for you at their expense. If you have, they will reimburse you as long as you have the repair bill.

- , Visalia, CA, USA

problem #365

Feb 192011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 6-4.0L-F1

  • Automatic transmission
  • 205,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

I recently had repairs done to my car after an accident and when I picked up my explorer the crack was in the panel just below the rear window. I found out from the Ford Dealer that this was a common problem with the Explorers. I contacted a friend of mine whose sister also has an explorer and she had the same problem. This crack is very visible and it makes your vehicle look really bad. Ford should replace this panel for its customers since it is a problem that happens with all of their Explorers. I also found out that it would cost me about $500 to repair it. WILL FORD PAY ANY OF THIS COST FOR ITS CUSTOMERS?

- , Bedford, TX, USA

problem #364

Oct 012008

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Well...I guess I'm part of the "rear crack" club...that sounds even worse when you say it out loud!

I will never buy another Ford. Their customer service is the worst. Quality is a joke. Ford is a big joke. But I guess the joke's on us...they are the ones laughing the whole way to the bank.

I should be happy the vehicle is still operable but of course, I had to replace the transmission already and that wasn't cheap. Now the car smells like it's burning coolant so I'm expecting to have to pay for a blown head gasket or radiator. Oh great car God in the sky...please let it be the radiator because I don't want to sink any more $$$$ into this piss poor excuse of a vehicle.

I hate you Ford. I hate everything about your company from your lame excuse of "customer service" to the con artists that you call "certified dealer repair" people. They are certifiable alright. They should all be sent to the loony bin for the crap they try to pass off as "damaged" when in fact it's lack of quality and defective to begin with.

You suck Ford and I'm making sure everyone I ever come in contact with knows this. Ripping people off with crap cars and trucks is the most UNAMERICAN thing you do and you do it well. Congratulations...you stink.

- , Zephyrhills, FL, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?