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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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
74,177 miles
Total Complaints:
15 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (8 reports)
  2. replace faulty ABS sensor (4 reports)
  3. replaced the pressure switch on the master brake cylinder (3 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #15

Nov 062013

Explorer XS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


The first problem with door ajar warning light and dome light did not turn off and automatic door lock did not lock were still an issue. now the ABS warning was on and off. I took the car to have mechanic on 11/19/13, I should today how much it will cost me.

- , Norwalk, CA, USA

problem #14

Feb 082009

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,962 miles

what bull. $350 for a light that stays onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

- , Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

problem #13

Dec 012012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

ABS light kept coming on and off. Brakes would get mushy off and on. Had to have sensor replaced for 80.00.

- , Freeland, PA, USA

problem #12

Mar 022012

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 173,154 miles


I swore I would NEVER buy another 02-05 explorer, but I did...the price was right (so I thought...free would have been too much ugh)

Replaced ABS sensor, all the brakes were redone (including emergency brake), codes scanned and cleared countless times, mass air flow sensor cleaned (it cleared the abs code on my 94 explorer), and finally gave up. It stays on all the time but my brakes work, and I can stop...so i would suggest to just leave it alone.

- , Edmonton, Alberta, canada

problem #11

Sep 222005

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,845 miles

The ABS sensor kept coming on. Went to Ford dealership and they fixed it immediately as the SUV was under warranty.

- , Poughkeepsie, New York, USA

problem #10

Mar 012011

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

The ABS lights keep coming on at random intervals. Sometimes, the brake pedal seems to "stick/vibrate/grab" when I hit the brakes. Also getting 4x4 message on instrument panel. Had the brakes (all around) repaired in Dec. 2010, but this is still happening.

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #9

Sep 152010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles


For about 8 months my ABS light on the left of the dash comes on. I cannot find anything in the handbook that would explain why it still does that. Anti-Lock Break System. I've told my automechanics about this. All they keep telling me is does the light STAY on. I say no. Well they say if it's not on when they service my vehicle for whatever normal oil changes, or brakes, etc., they will not go further on the issue. The light STILL comes on maybe twice (2-3xs) a week. Sometimes early in the morn 7:30am or in the evenings after 5pm. Sometimes it stays on for 2 mins, others times for over an hour. What in the world ? I don't know WHAT to have serviced or looked at. Help.

- , Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #8

Jun 022010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,000 miles

Had a continuous problem with my ABS light intermittently on. Would last for several day and then clear. Took it to the Ford dealer and they wanted to replace the front ABS sensors and the ABS control unit based on the ABS code. I decided the Ford dealer was full of s*&^t and decided to look at the problem myself. I had noticed that the Cruise control would kick off on its own with out me touching the brake and than a few minutes later the ABS light would come on. The Ford dealer said this is unrelated, and they would need to look at Cruise Control module.

I borrowed a copy of the Ford electrical trouble manual and saw that there is a pressure switch on the brake master cylinder that is used by the ABS unit and the Cruise control. Resistance should be less than 5 ohms ( new switch was 0.2 ohms ) my switch was 1K ohm. I replaced the switch and it cleared the intermittent ABS problem and the Cruise control issue.

- , Manassas, VA, USA

problem #7

Sep 012008

Explorer EB 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

This repair is common on these explorers......just pay them so you can get an inspection sticker

- , Cumberland, Maine, USA

problem #6

Jul 012007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

At first the ABS light would come on every once in a while accompanied with a little jerking of the breaks when the light was on. The light would go off, and there would not be a problem with the breaking. I had the problem checked out at Midas and was informed that the sensors needed to be replaced (cost approx. $300). I decided to wait and see what happens after I made sure that everything else on the breaks was working properly; after about a month the ABS light remained on permanently and ever since I have not had any problems with the breaks that now work without ABS. With the faulty sensors that Ford put into the Explorer, they should have installed a switch to turn the warning light off.

- , Lawton, OK, USA

problem #5

Nov 202007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles


Could not get a Maine State Inspection sticker with ABS Light on. Forced to get dealer to fix on the spot.

- , Cumberland, Maine, USA

problem #4

Jun 052007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

I bought my '03 Explorer 3 months ago and it had 38,000 miles on it. It now has 42,000 miles on the odometer. My ABS light came on for the first time during a long 5 hour drive and remained on for the rest of the trip. Since then, it has come back on several times. Sometimes it stays on, other times it will go away on its own. I got a 5 year 100,000 full warranty when I bought it. Should a problem such as this be covered under the warranty?

- , State College, PA, USA

problem #3

Oct 242006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

ABS Light stays on because Ford used a poor quality sensor for the ABS system. The ABS Light still on. My car have 51,700 miles now and the brakes still good. But it will be fixed one day!!!!!!!!!

- , Clevaland, OH, USA

problem #2

Sep 272006

(reported on)

Explorer NBX

  • 37,500 miles

The ABS light keeps coming on. Ford says "We are aware of the problem. Try erasing the computer and resetting the code." Thanx for pretty much nothing!

- , Egg Harbor Township, NJ, USA

problem #1

Apr 122005

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • 68,200 miles

This is the second time it happened. First was when mileage is at 34,000 and still under warranty. Now I don't know how much it will cost me?

- , Columbia, MD, USA

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