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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.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
84,283 miles
Total Complaints:
6 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (6 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #6

Jan 012015

Explorer Limited 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles


This is total bullshit and I want the rest of the "Exploder" owners, as I now call it, to understand that this is unacceptable!! The vehicle shuts down entirely at random when making a turn. No explanation, rhyme, reason, or warning!! Please, if you are experiencing this issue report to US DOT NHTSA!! I have twice now and will continue to do so until something is resolved!!

- , Winneconne, WI, USA

problem #5

Nov 152014

Explorer Limited 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,126 miles

I own a 2003 Ford Exploder as I like to call it! I have read other complaints that explain the exact problem I have had as far as the engine stalling out while braking, turning etc. No one seems to know the cause or resolution to the issue at hand!! How can this not be viewed as a extreme safety issue??!! Today, my wife was nearly broadsided turning into a parking lot when the vehicle died!! Obviously she lost engine power, power steering, and was left defenseless in oncoming traffic!! This has happened multiple times at random.

We live in an area with multiple round-abouts, and we all know how dangerous they can be even with a vehicle operating properly! Does someone really have to die before Ford takes a serious look into this? How many complaints are needed to start a recall process, or where do I go from here? I'm so pissed, it's not like they just give these vehicles away!!

- , Winneconne, WI, USA

problem #4

Aug 302010

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,474 miles

It's just scary driving around in a vehicle that just randomly dies and locks up the steering wheel If any one can help i would appreciate it!

- , Worcester, MA, USA

problem #3

May 222004

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles


when coming to a stop it will die.There is no pattern to this.Sometimes it happens.No warning,then it will start right back up.

- , St.Charles, IL, USA

problem #2

Jan 312009

Explorer 3,2lV6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

the vehicle loses power while driving and will not start for some time. stalls during acceleration and deceleration.

- , Hollywood, FL, USA

problem #1

Jul 042007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100 miles

We have a dangerous issue that the local dealer, Dick Masheter, cannot duplicate. The vehicle cuts off when in a situation of braking such as yielding in an intersection or taking a turn. For obvious reasons, this is extremely dangerous as the steering column locks up upon occurrence. This happens sometimes as often as twice per day and as infrequent as once every other week. It seems to be happening more frequently lately as it happened twice yesterday. We will be reporting later this week. Will update if the dealer is able to duplicate or repair.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

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