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.

10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
74,160 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #89

Jul 052011

Explorer

  • 80,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated there were two large cracks below the rear liftgate, located near the manufacturer's emblem. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for inspection. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified and they were unable to provide assistance. The approximate failure mileage was 80,000.

- Lawrenceburg, TN, USA

problem #88

Jun 022012

Explorer

  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear lift gate detached from the hinges of the vehicle. The dealer was notified and stated there was a recall but the contact's VIN was not included in the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number: 04V442000 (structure: Body: Hatchback/liftgate: Hinge and attachments). The manufacturer was notified and offered no assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 55,000.

- Sioux City, IA, USA

problem #87

Apr 302012

Explorer

  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact stated that a crack was found in the rear door panel. The crack was noticed while the vehicle was parked in the contact's garage. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was not contacted and the vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 125,000.

- Okeana, OH, USA

problem #86

Dec 012010

Explorer

  • 53,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the window on the rear hatch developed a crack and the hinge was bent due to defective material. The manufacturer was notified and stated that the repairs associated with NHTSA campaign id number 04V442000 (structure: Body: Hatchback/liftgate: Hinge and attachments) were previously performed. The manufacturer would not provide further assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 53,000 and the current mileage was 64,000.

- Bayville, NJ, USA

problem #85

Mar 152012

Explorer

  • 160,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that there was a fracture in the rear lift gate hinge, making it impossible to connect the rear tailgate door to the vehicle. The dealer and manufacturer were notified, but the NHTSA campaign id number 04V442000 (structure:body:hatchback/liftgate:hinge and attachments), did not include the VIN. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were approximately 160,000.

- Maumelle, AR, USA

problem #84

Jan 152012

Explorer

  • 180,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the glass on the rear hatch bottom molding was cracked. The vehicle was taken to the dealer but was not repaired. There were no recalls for the failure. The manufacturer was notified who offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 180,000 and the current mileage was 186,000.

- Flossmoor, IL, USA

problem #83

Mar 152011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that she noticed a fracture on the lift gate window. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where they advised her that she would have to have the panel replaced. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 39,000. Updated 04/26/12 the consumer also stated the rear differential was replaced.

- Puyallup, WA, USA

problem #82

Feb 272012

Explorer

  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. While examining the vehicle, the contact noticed that the rear glass hatch housing was cracked in half. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the contact was informed that the rear hatch needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The current and the failure mileages were 120,000.

- Brunswick, GA, USA

problem #81

May 192010

Explorer

  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact noticed a crack at the rear hatch back under the rear window. The contact stated that the crack was becoming wider when the hatch back was opened and closed. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 30,000 and the current mileage was 40,000.

- Kansas, MO, USA

problem #80

Nov 012011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. While parked, the contact noticed that the panel below the rear window hatch was cracked. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostics where the technician stated that the rear panel would have to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 59,000. Updated 03/21/12 the consumer stated the rear panel connected to the back rear window cracked underneath the rear window and has weakened the rear view window. The seal has rotted out due to water seeping into the defective cracked panel. Updated 04/09/12 water seeped into the cracked panel and caused corrosion and electrical problems. Updated 05/07/12

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #79

Jan 022012

Explorer

  • 110,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear tail gate door developed a cracked. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who did not offer any assistance since there were no recalls related to the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 110,000 and the current mileage was 112,000.

- Los Lunas, NM, USA

problem #78

Feb 142012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
Back glass hatch has a hairline crack to the left side of the Ford embelm. Just suddenly apperared, after no impact.

- Brunswick, GA, USA

problem #77

Sep 272011

Explorer

  • miles
I noticed a crack on the rear hatch trim panel under the window out of nowhere. Also, the paint on my hood and quarter panels has been bubbling and peeling off in huge chunks. It would seem they should do a recall on these issues since there are so many complaints.

- Westerville, OH, USA

problem #76

Nov 302011

Explorer

  • 166,079 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford explored. The contact stated that the rear lift gate glass shield cracked and shattered. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer nor was it repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 166,079.

- La Puente , CA, USA

problem #75

Dec 012010

Explorer

  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that there was a crack on the frame of the vehicle starting from the bottom of the rear glass going down toward the manufacturer's emblem. The dealer and the manufacturer were notified of the failure but denied any assistance with repairs to the vehicle. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 86,000 and the current mileage was 96,000.

- Yorktown, VA, USA

problem #74

Oct 102011

Explorer

  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated the rear liftgate glass bolt brackets detached from the hinges, causing the glass to detach. There was a recall associated with the defect under NHTSA campaign id number 04V442000 (structure: Body: Hatchback/liftgate: Hinge and attachments) but the vehicle was ineligible for the recall repair due to the build date. The vehicle had not been repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 85,000.

- Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA, USA

problem #73

Aug 252011

Explorer

  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The vehicle was included in the recall under NHTSA campaign id number: 04V442000 (structure:body:hatchback/liftgate:hinge and attachments). After the repairs were performed the contact attempted to open the lift gate which separated from the strut and detached from the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who replaced the hinges. The approximate failure mileage was 70,000.

- Ashville, NC, USA

problem #72

Aug 012011

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
My 2003 Ford Explorer has a cracked rear panel. This is the second time it has happened. The first time it was covered by warranty and Ford repaired it at no charge. This time they will not. I was told it will cost approximately $300 and it would happen again. The crack develops right in the middle of the panel under the rear window.

- Harahan, LA, USA

problem #71

Sep 142011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Explorer, ran to the store last night to buy groceries. Loaded things into my truck, closed the door and things were fine. Arrived home to remove the groceries and there was a 6 inch long crack on the rear hatch of my truck right beside the Ford logo and rear windshield wiper. I take pride in my vehicle and keep it clean and the outside body is perfect; until this happened. I am disappointed that I called Ford and there is no recall in regards to this, but there are hundreds of complaints online about the exact same issue. I want Ford to pay for the repair of this. I have been a loyal Ford customer and so has by family since the early 1980S. I will probably never purchase another Ford as this is just another issue that Ford won't acknowledge.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #70

Jul 082009

Explorer

  • 42,000 miles
Dear mayzel, I appreciate your timely response, but I must admit that I am more than a little disappointed (and confused). I am reading Ford Explorer recall #04V442000, "Ford recalls 2002-2003 Ford Explorer vehicles for liftgate glass" (see below), and it seems to cover my model year and my situation exactly. The lift hinge has stripped out the bolt three time, leaving the glass to hang from the other hinge (and struts). Can you explain why this recall would not apply? sincerely, bill dascomb dear william, this is mayzel from Ford's customer service department. I have read your email regarding the back hatch glass concern of your 2003 Ford Explorer. I am truly sorry to hear that you are having this issue with your vehicle. I have personally checked our resources and verified that your vehicle is not involved in any recalls or csp's at this time. Many factors are used to determine these such as warranty status, vehicle history, customer contacts, dealership comments and so forth. I have reviewed if any available coverages may assist in your repair request. There is not active esp to cover the part or the repair and the vehicle is outside of any applicable warranty. We recommend that your vehicle be inspected by a Ford/Lincoln/Mercury dealership to determine the cause of any symptoms your vehicle may be experiencing. Once you have the repairs completed, I strongly suggest that you keep the original receipt for the repairs, so that in case a recall will be issued in the future, these receipts may be reviewed by your dealership's service manager for a possible refund. Thank you for contacting Ford. Sincerely, mayzel customer relationship center Ford Motor Company

- Redding, CA, USA

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