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.

3.3

definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
41,280 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #9

Mar 312008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles

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

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 #8

Jun 062007

Explorer

  • 87,000 miles
2003 Ford Explorer have defective rear ring and pinion gears. Starting with a whine, the misalignment and wear could cause the drive train to seize up. Replacement parts by dealerships are also inferior, and only provide ~ 40-45K miles of relief.

- Richmond, KY, USA

problem #7

Oct 212008

Explorer

  • 52,381 miles
Vehicle was serviced in July, 2008 and mechanic at country Ford noted noise from rear of vehicle. While driving on vacation in Oct. 2008, I noticed noise in rear which was noticeable at 35-40 mph and getting progressively worse. Brought vehicle to country Ford and they found the rear carrier bearings worn and had to replace the rear differential. Cost was $1132. Vehicle not under warranty (52,000 miles). Vehicle has been maintained as per Ford guidelines at country Ford service, levittown, NY.

- N Bellmore, NY, USA

problem #6

Jun 012006

Explorer

  • 70,000 miles

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

I can't seem to get the front differential to stop leaking - neither can my mechanic. My mechanic has replaced the "crush washer" (where the driveline connects to the differential) a couple of times. I was told the differential was manufactured by dana. I don't want to replace the differential because my driver's side front half-shaft will probably have to be replaced also... the threads on the end of the spindle have rusted off. I'll probably also have to replace the (lf) wheel bearing. (I think I'll have to because I had to have the Ford dealership replace both rear wheel bearings back when the vehicle only had 36,000 miles on it) not critical stuff here - just a nuisance. Thanks.

- Livonia, MI, USA

problem #5

Aug 012007

Explorer

  • 65,000 miles
Severe rear end noise has been happening for over a year now. Rear differential now needs to be changed. Although there are technical service bulletins the dealership will not work with me on the cost of these repairs. I have also had a sensor replaced twice and it is now broken again.

- Denham Springs, LA, USA

problem #4

Jul 312006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 94,800 miles
I recently purchased a 2003 Ford Explorer with 94,000 miles on it. Within 2000 miles the rear end began howling so much that my fiance is afraid to ride in the vehicle as the thinks something is ready to break. I read some forum posts to learn that this is a common problem with the 2001-2004 Explorer. Ford should fix this problem as it is clearly a mechanical failure that will leave a family stranded on the side of the road.

- Bristow, VA, USA

problem #3

Feb 132003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 600 miles

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

At 600 MINIwinding in rear end deler said drive it and see if it gets better it did not so at around 2000 mi damerow Ford replaced all bearings and seals problem worse then before seals went out, and had to be towed in to damerow Ford replaced rear end with tested rearend same problem at 2400 mi same problem at aprox. 3000 mi later damrow replaced with another svt rear edn this was also, tested and again at 19,000 mi and ait was replaced at mackenzie Ford at 25,000 mi it was replaced again and now it has abad vibration noise 40 to 70 mi and above at 28,000 it goes back tommorrow we will see what if nothing they can do.

- Cornelius, OR, USA

problem #2

Oct 042003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 235 miles
2003 Ford Explorer - loud whining noise from rear drive line around 55-70 mph.

- Great Mills, MD, USA

problem #1

Aug 012003

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,500 miles
I bought a 2003 Ford Explorer 4WD V8 June 4, 2003. About 1 month later, and less then 2,000 miles on the vehicle, I started to notice a vibration when driving between 60 and 70 mph. The vibration became more noticeable and I took the vehicle in for service at star Ford in glendale in early August. The service department believes the vibration is coming from the drive train, probably the rear axle assembly. I was notified that there was a technical service bulletin for this problem on 2002 - 2003 4WD Mountaineer and Explorer and that the engineers at Ford were working on fix for this problem. After discussing the vehicle's problem with the quality control manager at star Ford, I brought the vehicle back to the service department in an attempt to correct the vibration problem. But, the attempt to correct the vibration did not work. Now, I am left with a vehicle that has a vibration, that seems to be coming from the drive train, which the engineers at Ford Motor Company have not been able to determine the source or cause, and the mechanics at the dealer cannot fix. I am extremely dissatisfied and would like the vehicle replaced or my money refunded.

- Glendale, CA, USA

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