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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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
63,456 miles
Total Complaints:
34 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (11 reports)
  2. repaint hood and roof (10 reports)
  3. re-paint hood (8 reports)
  4. repaint (5 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #34

Sep 082009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,861 miles


Well, put very simply the paint on the roof of the vehicle started to peel away. Some spots are starting to rust other areas of the roof are beginning to peel. I have not fixed this yet. Only solution is to repaint the entire roof. I have not found any other parts of the vehicle where the paint is peeling. It's just the roof so far. Too many defects with this vehicle. I don't think I will purchase a ford again.

- , Corpus Christi, TX, USA

problem #33

Oct 012013

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Purchased this 2003 Ford Explorer Limited with 55,000 miles on it in January 2013. It was garage kept and immaculate. Went to wash the vehicle and noticed an approximaltey 2" area on the edge of the hood that was bubbling and thought this was very odd. We tried to avoid washing this area knowing that it might take the paint off, but eventually the paint has started to chip away.

I did research on the internet regarding this issue and noticed a sea of complaints from other Ford owners and the aluminum hood issue and Ford hasn't recalled and fixed the issue. This vehicle brand new was probably $35,000 - not the amount of money you'd put out for a crappy paint job or parts that don't do their job. Ford should offer to pay for all or the majority of the cost to fix this issue.

- , Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #32

Jan 302012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Paint, peeling off on front of hood. Didn't notice when I purchased truck for 10,000 used - Was behind the bug guard.

- , Freeland, PA, USA

problem #31

Dec 132011

Explorer Eddie Bower V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


the paint on the roof bubbled up and start peeling. with the rain coming this will corrode. We bought the extended waranty from ford along with a paint sealant. However, Ford refuses to fix it.

- , Fremont, CA, USA

problem #30

Jun 092011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I really do not think they prepped for paint job.It is just peeling all they way back to the shine of metal .Seems to be no primer. I've been fixing it myself as it appears. It would be nice if the company offered to repaint my Ford. Then there would be no problem or maybe give me a job and I would show their boys how to really paint!!!!!

- , Santa Maria, CA, USA

problem #29

Apr 012012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

I could have painted the car better myself! Ford should offer some resolution/restitution.

- , Cary, NC, USA

problem #28

Aug 012011

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


I would like another ford why get a ford, when you know this is a defect and problem

it can happen again , and what do you do, this is my 3rd vehicle from you do i get another???? will i recommend ford, no way not ever until my paint is fix

- , Rochester, New York, USA

problem #27

Aug 152008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Paint incompatible with substrate, not a manufacturers problem? Whose? Mine, and hundreds of other Explorers that have this problem. Obviously we are at fault for having our cars painted at the Ford factory. Step up Ford, these problems will be costing you buyers as these owners are in the buying frame of time.

- , Middletown, New Jersey, USA

problem #26

Jul 012009

Explorer XL 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

I see so many Explorers with the same paint problems as mine. The hood peeling and the inside of the doors on the bottom the paint is also bubbling and peeling. It is a very common problem and You know the Ford company's know about it because the body shops do. I went and had a body shop look at my hood they told me it would be point less to repaint the hood that I would be better off getting a new one and have it painted. For the problem would never stop even with new paint job. I have to say I love my suv and it gets a bath and wax once a week and there is no damn reason why this should be happening. I am really thinking I will never buy another one just cause of the paint problem. Plus the new 2012 explorers are UUGGLLYYYY! They are not a suv anymore they are a crossover and I HATE them. Wish ford would pull there heads out of there asses and do something about the paint!!!!!

- , Grand Rapids, MN, USA

problem #25

Jan 012010

Explorer 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

This is not the only Explorer I have seen with this problem, a friend of mine has a Harley-Davidson Truck and his is even worst than mine and he bought it new. You would think with as much as you send on a SUV that the paint would stay on for a good long while. I would also like to know why the paint looks good everywhere else on the truck but the hood looks like crap??? Well I don't feel better and my truck still looks like some cheap foreign model...:(:(:( Not a happy camper...

- , Rainsville, AL, USA

problem #24

Jul 012008

Explorer 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles


Should have never happened. Painted peeled before even paying off the loan.

- , Middletown, NY, USA

problem #23

Mar 022009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

The paint on the hood of my 2003 Explorer has been chipping and peeling for two years now! What's worse is that I've noticed this problem on several other Ford Explorers I see parked in various lots. The car is 7 years old with under 55000 miles and the paint on the hood looks older than the rest of the vehicle. Ford should cover the cost... They didn't cover the cost for me to fix the cracked back hatch and they won't cover the cost to fix the automatic door locks that aren't working. Our 1995 Explorer was built much better than this one.

- , Redondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #22

Jul 052009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

Paint is an issue on a number of parts of the vehicle. The panels are expecially bad. Again, this makes a nice vehicle looks cheap. It should be replaced or repainted.

- , Barrie, Ontario, Canada

problem #21

Apr 082009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Ford Explorers are garbage. I will ensure every single person I meet knows not to purchase a Ford Explorer. I am in the Military and I meet thousands of people every year. "One person at a time".

- , Cottage Grove, WI, USA

problem #20

Oct 012009

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Two years ago the paint started to peel off the front of the hood and has gotten worse since. I have gotten an estimate of $400. to repaint the hood which I considered until I saw My sons 2004 Explorer which has the exact problem. From what I have read Ford will do nothing to correct this problem for anybody. To bad this is the second Explorer for both my son and I and will be our last! It may sound petty but it's a problem and Ford dosen't care.

- , Plainview, NY, USA

problem #19

Aug 022008

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Second of four problems each costing more than $1,000 to fix. This time it is the paint peeling.

- , Pleasanton, CA, USA

problem #18

Jan 102009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

i paid cash for my car and paint should last longer than it is its rusting and making my truck look realy bad

- , Rensselaer, NY, USA

problem #17

Jul 152009

Explorer LT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

The paint is peeling on the front edge of the hood and the roof rail sections. Disappointed with the truck in general. Would not but another.

- , Roanoke, V, USA

problem #16

Aug 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

I purchased this car in Ohio. The car came from Michigan per report that I paid for on the internet. The vehicle was a leased vehicle when it was wrecked. Ok, I am over that part. This is a black Explorer and about 2 or more months after it was purchased, I started seeing these spots (the clear coat was coming off). When I took it back to Buckeye Ford, they said there was nothing they could do. My loan was for 5 years and by then I could do nothing. The paint job sucks and from reading other complaints, Ford should know by now. What does Ford stand for...Fix or Repair Daily? Thanks for nothing Ford.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #15

Jan 012007

Explorer XLT 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I like how after the warranty expires the paint starts peeling. I took it to the dealership where I bought it and they called Ford and said they would call me back after they hear back from Ford. I NEVER received a call back and the dealership is no longer in business.

- , Mentor, OH, USA

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