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:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
46,244 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 1 of 3)

problem #54

Sep 062015

Explorer

  • 87,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. While accessing the power liftgate, the hinges fractured and caused the door to abruptly close. There were no injuries. The liftgate was completely removed and placed in the vehicle temporarily. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 04V442000 (structure). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 87,000.

- Attica, IN, USA

problem #53

Feb 092015

Explorer

  • 175,500 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear hatch was open and the hinges that opened the glass fractured. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign number: 04V442000 (structure). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 175,500.

- North Charleston, SC, USA

problem #52

Jan 152015

Explorer

  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear liftgate glass strut brackets and glass hinges were fractured and tilted. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, but was not diagnosed or repaired. The vehicle was also taken to the dealer who stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 04V442000 (structure). The failure mileage was 100,000.

- Brookland, NY, USA

problem #51

Mar 152012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 118,000 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 there was a loud squeaking coming from the rear window. The contact noticed that the driver side of the rear windshield hinge was crooked and the panel was fractured. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where they advised that the hinges need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 118,000 and the current mileage was 121,000. Updated 6/4/12

- Oak Forest , IL, USA

problem #50

Jun 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The vehicle was included in the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number: 04V442000 (structure:body:hatchback/lift gate:hinge and attachments) and was repaired. After the repair, the contact noticed a fracture in the panel under the rear liftgate window. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 70,000. Updated 04/10/12 updatd 04/20/12.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #49

Jul 092011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 99,688 miles
I bought 2003 Ford Explorer in 2008, used, and in 2011 I opened my back glass and the hinge snapped on the left side and the glass started falling, and the only thing that saved the glass from breaking was the right side hinge held. I called the Ford company and they said that I could take it to a dealer and have it inspected, but there was no saftey recall on my vehicle. I looked online and in 2004 the 2003 Ford Explorer was recalled for this very problem.

- Culpeper, VA, USA

problem #48

Jul 132011

Explorer

  • 123,000 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 while opening the rear hatch the lift gate hinge failed off causing the lift gate to hang on by one hinge. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer who stated the hinge needed to be replaced. The contact did not have the hinge replaced. The contact stated the lift gate could have fallen off while driving. The failure mileage was 123,000.

- Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #47

Jul 052010

Explorer

  • 85,000 miles
One of the two hinges that secure the rear liftgate glass to the vehicle recently broke. Under the NHTSA's guidance, Ford previously issued a recall describing and addressing this exact problem. However, Ford claims that my truck falls outside the build dates for the affected vehicles. Several other owners have complained of this issue online, so it appears the recall needs to be expanded to the later build dates.

- Sussex, WI, USA

problem #46

Jun 202010

Explorer

  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. While attempting to open the rear lift gate window, the hinge for the window broke and the glass became disengaged. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed his vehicle was not included in the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number: 04V442000 (structure: Body: Hatchback/liftgate: Hinge and attachments). The vehicle was not serviced for the failure. The failure and current mileages were 100,000.

- Muskegon, MI, USA

problem #45

Apr 102010

Explorer

  • 110,950 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated the rear lift gate hinges fractured and caused the rear windshield glass to fall and shatter from the vehicle. The dealer advised there were no recalls for the vehicle and any repairs would be at the expense of the owner. The vehicle was repaired accordingly. The failure mileage was 110,950 and the current mileage was 113,000.

- Mendham , NJ, USA

problem #44

Feb 082010

Explorer

  • 70,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. While the contact was closing the rear lift gate the hinge broke without warning. Prior to the recent failure the vehicle was taken to the dealership where NHTSA campaign id #04V442000 (structure: Body: Hatchback/lift gate: Hinge and attachments) repair was performed on the vehicle. The repair was insufficient and failed to address the safety defect. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for inspection where the dealer refused to repair the vehicle free of charge. The current and failure mileages were 70,000.

- Sammamish, WA, USA

problem #43

Dec 142009

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear lift gate/applique split down the middle which caused water to enter the vehicle, also known as a cracking fracture of the panel. Recall number 04V442000, structure, body, hatchback/liftgate:hinge and attachments is related to the failure; however, the VIN was not included. The contact expects the manufacturer to be responsible for the repairs since there is an existing recall. The failure mileage was 104,000. Updated 01/12/10 updated 01/15/10.

- Washington D.C., DC, USA

problem #42

Jun 162009

Explorer

  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the hinges for the rear liftgate fractured and almost caused the glass to disengage and cause injury. The manufacturer stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 04V442000 (structure:body:hatchback/liftgate:hinge and attachments); therefore, they would not assume any responsibility. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 130,000.

- Portsmouth, VA, USA

problem #41

May 192009

Explorer

  • miles
My wife and I own a 2003 Ford Explorer. Under NHTSA campaign id number 04V442000, the liftgate glass struts brackets and glass hinges were allegedly repaired. One of the glass hinges that was allegedly replaced had failed. The hinge pin for this hinge has been sheared off in a similar manner to the problem with the original hinges covered under the above referenced recall. My Ford dealer and Ford are entirely unwilling to address this issue under the original recall, stating that they have met their obligation. Since the ┐replacement┐ hinge has failed in the same manner as the original I am left with only two possible explanations. The ┐replacement┐ part is similarly flawed or the part used in the recall was not the replacement part. Regardless of the explanation, a safety issue remains with the glass liftgate on my 2003 Ford Explorer and it is my belief that this directly relates to the above recall. The liftgate glass has not (yet) fallen, but with a failed hinge such a accident will occur.

- Springfield , OH, USA

problem #40

Apr 022009

Explorer

  • 165,000 miles
We have owned the subject 2003 Ford Explorer XLT since it was new. The rear liftgate hinge holding the rear glass failed. I understand that this failure is the subject of NHTSA recall #04V442000. Ford informs me that they will not fix this continuing safety defect because they replaced the hinge once before in 2006. I have no record of such a repair, not do I agree that Ford's policy of only performing one replacement is valid. Even if they did replace it once, the design is clearly defective and the safety issue still remains. I would expect NHTSA to direct Ford to properly fix the problem, rather cause me to pay Ford for yet another replacement for the ineffective one they previously performed.

- Annapolis, MD, USA

problem #39

Feb 262009

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,555 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the liftgate hinge broke on the right side and the left side of the glass was wedged inside the roof. If the hatch had not been wedged, the glass would have shattered onto her feet or caused injuries. The dealer stated that the VIN was excluded from NHTSA campaign id number 04V442000 (structure:body:hatchback/liftgate:hinge and attachments), although the failures were identical. The vehicle was repaired at the contact's expense. The failure mileage was 74,555 and current mileage is 74,575. 4/01/09 updated 04/07/09.

- Westfield, IN, USA

problem #38

May 072008

Explorer

  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. When the contact opened the liftgate, the right hinge swung out and became detached. The hinge nearly struck his child. He called the dealer and was notified of a recall on his year, make, and model vehicle for this identical failure. He called the manufacturer and was informed that his VIN was not included in the recall. The contact believes that if the failures are the same, his VIN should be included. The recall number was unknown. The current and failure mileages were 70,000.

- Islip, NY, USA

problem #37

May 142008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,330 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. While driving 55 mph with the cruise control activated, the cruise control failed without warning. The vehicle was taken to a dealer and they stated that the cruise control wiring failed. There is a recall for the vehicle speed control, but his VIN was not included. The recall number was unknown. The current mileage was 11,550 and failure mileage was 11,330. Updated 06/25/08. The consumer stated after the dealer fixed the recalled rear hatch probelm, the cargo hatch flew open while driving down the highway. A

- Bremen, IN, USA

problem #36

Mar 072004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear window hatch has a piece of plastic under the glass, which holds the window in place. The plastic has cracked all the way through the window. The current mileage was 75,000 and failure mileage was 8,000. Updated 04/02/08.

- Indiananoa, IA, USA

problem #35

Feb 262008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The rear liftgate window suddenly blew out while the vehicle was parked. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that it was a common failure, but they could not explain the cause. The vehicle is currently at the shop being repaired. The contact has pictures of the failure. The current and failure mileages were 72,000. Updated 03-31-08 after doing some research, the consumer discovered the gas in the struts that hold the top portion of the rear hatch can explode when cold weather is a factor. Updated

- New Albany, IN, USA

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