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. 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
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
58,427 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #7

Sep 292005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,550 miles


Engine cut off while running, when I turned on high beams. Engine rpms and engine accelerated, when I turned on high beams loss control of acceleration, when fog lights were turned on. Message center flashed "check transmission", O/D off (overdrive off) flashed, when fog light were turned on.

- Purcellville, VA, USA

problem #6

Dec 062004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,031 miles
At times, with the cruise control off, if any button is pressed, the vehicle rapidly accelerates.

- Kyle, TX, USA

problem #5

Aug 012004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Consumer lost control of vehicle and an accident occurred. The vehicle began to shake from right to left. The consumer could not control the vehicle. The vehicle was moving on it's own. The air bags did not deploy. The consumer crashed into the border wall, spun around, and stopped on the other side.

- Hartsdale, NY, USA

problem #4

Aug 192003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,000 miles


The vehicle stalled while driving at 40 mph. The consumer had the vehicle towed. The vehicle would not restart. The fuel pump was replaced. The anti theft light had come on along with the RPM's going up. The problem could not be found. The valve boot and the solenoid was replaced. Soon after, the vehicle died again twice after two repair attempts.

- Menomonee Falls, WI, USA

problem #3

Jun 112004


  • miles
While driving vehicle suddenly accelerated. Consumer was able to maintain control of the vehicle, and drove it to the dealer for inspection. However, mechanic could not duplicate the problem.

- Streator, IL, USA

problem #2

May 182003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 609 miles
Vehicle rolled backward with keys removed and Ford said no defect found.

- N Matewan, WV, USA

problem #1

Apr 302003

(reported on)


  • 11,000 miles
When the vehicle was backed out of a parking lot it suddenly accelerated. The vehicle took off backwards and hit a tree.

- Melburne, FL, USA

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