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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:
69,727 miles
Total Complaints:
11 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (7 reports)
  2. crack on hatchback window seems to cause sensor problem, (2 reports)
  3. sprayed wd40 on the door hinges (1 reports)
  4. use pb blaster (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #11

Aug 032009

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


The door ajar light stayed on and beeping, ... what's next??? Can anybody offer a solution before the dealership starts ringing up the bills for troubleshooting and guessing what might be wrong... at my expense. Your input would be greatly appreciated.


- , Miami, FL, USA

problem #10

Mar 022009

Explorer LT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

The door ajar message is always on. The alarm will not set correctly due to this. It was the beginning of other electrical problems

- , Roanoke, V, USA

problem #9

Jun 032009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

I walked around car reshutting doors, I never could figure out what was wrong. Hatchback trim cracked, stress fracture....obviously design flaw. When I went online to see if anyone else had same problems with cracked trim is where I found out same people with this problem had door ajar problems...someone stated that crack will allow rain/water into door and malfunction sensor. If original problem were to be fixed, this would alleviate this problem. Unfortunately FORD does not see any problem. In my job we call that DENIAL, it's not my fault syndrome...

- , Spring, TX, USA

problem #8

Feb 162006

Explorer 4.0L/245

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Just want everyone to know. I have a 2003 explorer and the door ajar light and dome light would stay on until I reach a certain speed, dome and side mirror lights go on and off at signal/stop lights. The back side windows at times stop working, the alarm go off when car is locked at times. Reacts more during warm and summer more that cold weather. Went to a Ford dealer 2.5 years ago, they said could not find problem.

Thanks, George

- , Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #7

Dec 012006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I had my door ajar problem looked at by my friend (who works on cars) and he just used PB blaster to fix the problem. But about 6months later it happened again. So I went to the store and got the PB blaster my self and it fixed the problem to my driverside door once again. Its been a few months and it seems to have went away for good!

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #6

Jun 132008

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,001 miles

I went to my local Murray's Auto parts store to get some assistance. You know, everyone goes to an autoparts store to buy parts and complain to the parts person about the trouble. I got there and explained that the DOOR AJAR light would stay on. this happened prior to this posting and I just slammed the back door..... it was the last thing I was in and well what else. the girl at the parts counter gave me a can of WD40 and told me to spray the hinges. this did work and has been even at this post.

- , Mt. Prospect, IL, USA

problem #5

Dec 012007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles


I can't remember when this annoyance first started. But within the past couple months, the "door ajar" memo stays on all the time. I just hit the rest button after I turn on my car and we're good to go until I start the car again...hahaha. What's annoying is that I can't use my keyless entry to lock my car. I can only use it to open it. And when I press my lock button twice on my remote, it chirps twice. The lights will eventually turn off but not immediately after I lock my car (like normal). I'm sure I can take it somewhere to have someone look at it for a hundred dollars or so...but then how much will it cost me to have them actually fix it?! If anyone can suggest anything, it's appreciated. It's more annoying than anything....

- , Suisun City, CA, USA

problem #4

May 092008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

I brought the truck in about a year ago letting the service dept know that the Door Ajar light constantly stayed on. You can only imagine, being a Mom, my concern and how many times I checked...double checked...triple checked to make sure NO doors were open. The service dept thought the problem was coming from the rear door and "fixed" it, well it's still on and I believe that's it's triggered from the passenger front door. It will happen off and on, if someone rides up front w/ me or if I open it to get something and use my keyless to lock before closing. Sometimes it stays on for days, weeks, sometimes for only a few hours.

- , Jacksonville, AR, USA

problem #3

Feb 102007

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

ok, first of all, i hate to sound like a typical women that has no idea on how to fix this problem! but really, i have no idea on how to fix this and there is not way in hell that i am paying 300 dollars to have some dumb ass change a switch for me! it is defiantly a pain in my ass! every time you get over 5 mph, your doors are supposed to automatically lock, well all the doors do lock, and then my driver door unlocks because my truck thinks that one of my doors is open! so now i am driving around with all doors except for the driver door locked! then i have to cut all my interior lights off or they will stay on all the time and run my battery dead because the door ajar light is on! really aggravating!!!!!! if anyone knows a way to trip this or fix it some how, please share some info! thank you.

- , Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #2

Apr 092007

(reported on)

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

The door ajar light stayed on, then the interior and accompanying mirror security lights stayed on, then the ABS light stayed on... what's next??? Can anybody offer a solution before the dealership starts ringing up the bills for troubleshooting and guessing what might be wrong... at my expense. Your input would be greatly appreciated.


- , Calgary, Alberta, Canada

problem #1

Jun 152007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

After researching I have found this Door Ajar problem is pretty common on Ford Explorers, Expeditions, and some F-series pickups.

Started once in a while Door Ajar message on the dash. This would trigger the aftermarket alarm. Was hard to figure out which door was causing it. If you open one door at a time you should get a chime. Seemed to be either the driver door or the rear glass.

Sprayed CRC-55 lube/penetrant into all the latch mechanisms. Got better but still not sure if it's fixed or not. I'm afraid it's something worse... I am not buying any more Fords!

- , Largo, FL, USA

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