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:
54,945 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 5)

problem #90

Sep 012009

Explorer

  • 40,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. When operating the vehicle, the rear hatch door and the rear hatch window became unsecured and opened due to a crack near the rear window wiper. The cause of the failure was not diagnosed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 40,000.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #89

Jun 012007

Explorer

  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. After inspecting the vehicle, the contact discovered that the rear liftgate fiberglass was cracked. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Germantown, MD, USA

problem #88

Aug 102014

Explorer

  • 165,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear panel of the liftgate was cracked. The failure caused the contact's fingers to become pinched when attempting to close the liftgate. The contact also stated that the hinges fractured on the liftgate. The hinges were repaired according to NHTSA campaign number: 04V442000 (structure), but the failure recurred. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was not notified. The approximate failure mileage was 165,000.

- Woonsocket, RI, USA

problem #87

Sep 012013

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 98,645 miles

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

Crack in rear liftgate body panel. May fail during opening/closing and cause injury. This is a known problem with 2002-2005 Explorer. Ford knew about the problem and covered it up. There is a class action lawsuit in progress.

- Alameda, CA, USA

problem #86

Jul 042014

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 101,653 miles
When closing the glass tailgate the right hinge that attaches the glass to the tailgate broke causing the glass to detach from the car and fall hitting me in the left arm updated 09/16/14 updated 3/18/2015

- Wadsworth , OH, USA

problem #85

Jun 072014

Explorer

  • 1,002 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the lift gate window became detached intermittently. The liftgate door failed to close properly and it developed a crack at the bottom. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the lift gate needed to be repaired and the window needed to be replaced. The contact was not included in recall NHTSA campaign id number: 04V442000 (structure). The vehicle was to be inspected, diagnosed and repaired by an authorized dealer. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 1,002.

- Northvale, NJ, USA

problem #84

Apr 252014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 114,124 miles

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

On February 18th I noticed a crack in the rear glass lift gate molding otherwise known as the rear applique. After a google search I realized this is known defect that Ford Motor Co. Does not recognize officially. There is a class action lawsuit regarding this defect. On April 25th 2014 I opened the rear glass lift gate to get something out of the rear cargo area. Upon closing the glass lift gate the entire window shattered into many pieces and actually put three cuts on my arm. I have looked into this online and found many owners of the 2002-2005 Ford Explorer's, Mercury Mountaineer's and Lincoln aviator's all had this cracking of the rear applique. Also found out whether or not a crack was visible many people had the rear glass shatter upon them while closing the glass lift gate. Right now I must pay for the entire repair out of pocket, insurance doesn't cover it since they say I have a $1000 deductible. The cost for the glass was quoted at $495.25 plus tax. I also will have to replace the rear applique which covers a portion of the glass window at an additional cost. Not sure why this is not covered by Ford since the window shattering can cause injury and therefore should be classified as a huge safety issue. I will get this fixed and keep my receipts for all repairs and hope all owners of the vehicles listed above get some sort of reimbursement.

- Corpus Christi, TX, USA

problem #83

Mar 312008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
2003 Ford Explorer. Consumer writes in regards to humming/whining noise in the rear end of vehicle and a frequent leak in the differential. The consumer stated several components such as the ring an pinion, bearings, seals and gear and pinion were all replaced. However, the issue remained unresolved. Also, the rear hatch was cracked. When the consumer inquired about a replacement and its cost, the dealer advised against the replacement/repair as the new hatches had the same problem. The vehicle overheated and had to be towed to the dealer. A diagnosis revealed a damaged thermostat housing.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #82

Nov 142012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,300 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the tailgate had cracked underneath the rear window. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 103,000 and current mileage was unknown. Updated 04/18/2013

- Hephzibah, GA, USA

problem #81

Jun 282012

Explorer

  • 91,793 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact noticed a crack on the rear lift gate panel. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostics or repairs. The approximate failure mileage was 91,793.

- Lynwood, CA, USA

problem #80

Jan 012011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 56,543 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 lift gate panel was cracked due to defective material. The dealer denied assistance with the repair because the warranty expired. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 56,543 and the current mileage was 60,000. Updated 08/07/12

- Middletown , NY, USA

problem #79

Mar 152012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
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 #78

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 #77

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 #76

Apr 162011

Explorer

  • 74,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that there was a crack on the rear liftgate, extending up to the window. The contact expressed concern over the possibility of the window separating from the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that the failure was cosmetic and they would be unable to assist with repairs. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure, but offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 74,000 and the current mileage was 77,130.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #75

Oct 012009

Explorer

  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the hatch back had a crack from the end of it to the window. The vehicle was inspected by a dealer who advised her that it was caused by stress from opening and closing of the door. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was approximately 80,000.

- Riolenda, CA, USA

problem #74

Dec 012010

Explorer

  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear lift gate fractured directly underneath the window seal. She noticed when the door was ajar the warning light would illuminate as if she had opened the doors. The dealer advised her that they were aware of the failure, but there was no recall. The vehicle was not inspected nor was it repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 125,000.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #73

Nov 072010

Explorer

  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that there was a crack on the rear liftgate from the top of the manufacturers emblem up to the window. The vehicle was not inspected or repaired fro the failure. The failure mileage was unknown and the current mileage was 130,000.

- Gastonia, NC, USA

problem #72

Nov 082010

Explorer

  • 83,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that there was a crack on the rear lift gate that extended across. There were also three other smaller cracks. The vehicle had not been inspected or repaired. The contact stated that the rear window looked as if it would explode. The current and failure mileages were approximately 83,000.

- Milton, FL, USA

problem #71

Jul 152009

Explorer

  • 38,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. While the vehicle was parked, the contact noticed a crack in the panel attached to the glass of the rear liftgage. The crack was small at first but became larger over time. The vehicle had not been taken to be inspected for the problem. Also, the heated stopped blowing heat and was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that the blend door actuator needed to be replaced. The vehicle had not been repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 38,000 and the current mileage was approximately 46,000.

- Sonora, CA, USA

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