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.

10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
16 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
15 / 1
Average Mileage:
29,609 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #20

Jun 072011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles

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

I own a 2003 Ford Explorer XLT. I started my car up this mourning to go to work. I stepped out of the car to remove an empty cup when I heard a pop from inside my car. As I turned an looked I saw my car filled with smoke. As I went back to the car the passenger side air bag was deployed. There was no warning what so ever. If this would have happened when I was driving there is no telling what would have happened. This car is in very good shape. It has 130000 miles on it. I am afraid of this happening to the drivers side bag now as I have seen that this has happened before to this model.

- Steubenville, OH, USA

problem #19

Sep 062008

Explorer

  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. When the contact started the ignition, the front driver's side air bag deployed unexpectedly. The air bag warning indicator illuminated on the instrument panel and remained lit until the engine was turned off. The failure caused the driver to sustain minor injuries. The vehicle was taken to the authorized dealer for diagnostic testing. The air bag deployment code was displayed during the testing, but the technician was unable to determine the cause of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and sent a letter with a check for $1,000 towards the repair cost. The contact is in the process of taking the vehicle to a different authorized dealer for a second opinion. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 125,000 and current mileage was 130,000.

- New Boston, MI, USA

problem #18

Mar 022007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles
- the contact called about the 2003 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact stated that the air bag light stayed on, and when it was on, the airbag deactivated which was a safety problem. It happened all the time. The fuses have been changed under warranty, and now that it was not under warranty, it was no longer repaired free of charge. The contact stated that she was told by one service station that it was standard for the fuses to blow because of the fuse box location. Another service station told the contact that this was not true that the fuse box was to high in the car for pebbles to be able to get into the fuse box. Also, the windshield wipers won't turn off by them selves, even when the keys were out of the ignition. The contact stated that the airbag light and the door ajar light were consistently on. Moreover, the electronic seat would not move forward or backward. She had the seat repaired twice and it failed again. Finally, contact stated that the vehicle was making a knocking noise in the front and rear of the vehicle's undercarriage. The vehicle clanked stopping, turning to go forward, or just sitting still. The first time the contact took the vehicle for repair she was told by the repair shop that it was the driver's seat that was causing the clanking noise, and the second time she was told that the noise was not something they could identify because during diagnostic testing it did not show a specific failure code. The current and failure mileage were both 114000.

- Mount Airy, MD, USA

problem #17

Jan 262007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,100 miles

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

1. while stopped on the interstate waiting for traffic to move, my 2003 Ford Explorer XLT was rear-ended by another SUV traveling at presumably highway speed. As a result, my SUV was propelled forward, hitting the rear of another vehicle. 2. **drivers side airbag did not deploy.** passenger's side airbag deployed (the driver was the only passenger). * base, and possibly the back, of the drivers seat broke.** (I was restrained in a seat belt.) I hit the roof of the vehicle, hitting my head quite hard on the rubber gasket edge of the moonroof, and when landing I think I hit my nose on the steering wheel. When I landed, the base of the seat broke...when looking at it from the side (looking at the controls), the base of the seat has a bend in it like an upside-down V, and the seat back appears to be reclined. I still have a knot and pain on the top of my head, my neck is stiff and now sometimes pops/cracks/crunches when I turn my head, my left shoulder joint is very sore, and I have some dull intermittent lower back pain. Besides temporary bleeding immediately after the accident, I am unaware of any damage to my nose. 3. no repair has been done. Insurance damage estimate is pending, but I expect it will be considered totaled.

- Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #16

Nov 072006

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
On 11/07/06 was in head on collision with 4 inch steel post, air bag on 2003 Ford Explorer did not deploy. Would like to send photos.

- Del Rio, TX, USA

problem #15

Aug 062005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,668 miles
The contact states the driver's side and the passenger's side air bags did not deploy during an accident. The contact's daughter was driving at 55-60 mph when a dog jumped in front of the vehicle, causing it to hit the dog. The vehicle is in the body shop to be repaired. Consumer has contacted the manufacturer. They told him to take the vehicle to the local dealership to be tested to determine the cause for the airbags not deploying. There was no indication that there was a malfunction with the air bags in the vehicle. The vehicle belonged to the contact's daughter.

- Middlesex, NC, USA

problem #14

May 092005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

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

Consumer stated the vehicle was struck on the passenger side and rolled over. There were two passengers inside of the vehicle one was seriously injured and the second had less serious injuries due to the air bags not deploying on either side. The air bag switch was on.

- Phoenix , AZ, USA

problem #13

Jan 182005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Driving on semi-clear road about 40 mph, air temperature was -7 degrees. Hit black ice and went off the road and into a ditch. The Explorer hit a tree stump on the front left corner of bumper and wheel. The truck did not roll over during the accident. Both the driver and passenger were wearing the seat belt/shoulder belt. Both frontal air bags failed to deploy. The driver sustained a fracture/compression of the L1 vertbrae (spine) due to the seat belt (seat-belt syndrome). The truck sustained heavy damage to the front, front wheel and engine area. The repair mechanic did perform a check of the air bag system during the repair of the vehicle and the system checked out as normal. No air bag system part had been replaced during the repair.

- Mexico, NY, USA

problem #12

Jan 192005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The consumer hit a telephone pole at 30 mph when he/she tried to avoid hitting another motorist. The air bags did not deploy upon impact. The manufacturer was contacted by owner.

- Sidney, ME, USA

problem #11

Dec 272004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles
When the consumer hit a deer at 35 mph the air bags did not deploy. The consumer continued to drive.. after hitting the deer the air bag gases deployed and spread throughout the cabin of the vehicle. However, the air bags did not deploy. After impact, the air bag indicator light on the dashboard remained illuminated.

- Beaufort, SC, USA

problem #10

Sep 242004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

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

While driving about 50 mph, the owner was hit from the front of vehicle, into the side of another vehicle yet the air bags failed to deploy. Provide further details.

- Ruckersville, VA, USA

problem #9

Aug 302004

Explorer

  • miles
Wife was involved in a crash and air bags did not deploy. Question: Are air bags set to deploy depending on impact speed and or force?

- Oak View, CA, USA

problem #8

Jun 072004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,322 miles
I was recently involved in an automobile accident while driving my 2003 Ford Explorer. Another driver pulled out from a stop sign directly in front of me while I was traveling approximately 40 mph. My Explorer experienced significant damage to the front end. The entire front end of the vehicle needs to be replaced. During this accident neither of the front air bags deployed. I am just begining to make contacts to try and get an explaination as to why the air bags did not deploy. Digital photos of the damaged vehicle are availble.

- Mays Landing, NJ, USA

problem #7

Apr 142004

Explorer

  • miles
When driving 65 mph, another vehicle cut in front of consumer's vehicle. This caused the consumer to lose control of the vehicle and hit a guard rail head on. Upon impact, both front air bags did not deploy.

- Canton, MI, USA

problem #6

Nov 202003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,081 miles
I was involved in a front end collision with my 2003 Ford Explorer. Photographic evidence clearly shows the point of impact with a large pole to the left of center towards the drivers side. The passenger side air bag deployed, the drivers side air bag failed to deploy. I sustained serious head injuries due to a concussion as a result of the air bag failing to deploy. I don't know my speed because I had fallen asleep while driving, but it was fast enough that the passenger side air bag did go off. I believe my resulting injuries and lost of work would have been significantly less had the drivers side air bag deployed as it should have.

- Plymouth Meeting, PA, USA

problem #5

Aug 072003

Explorer

  • miles
While driving consumer was involved in a frontal crash in which neither driver nor passenger side air bags deployed. Contact has been made with the dealer.

- Lindenhurst, IL, USA

problem #4

Jun 262003

Explorer

  • miles
Consumer states that vehicle was in a collision. Upon impact, both front air bags did not deploy. Dealer notified.

- Colonia, NJ, USA

problem #3

Jul 052003

Explorer

  • miles
While driving 50-55 mph vehicle went off the road into a ditch and hit a telephone pole. Upon impact, front air bags did not deploy.

- Petersburg, MI, USA

problem #2

May 252003

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Explorer, on May 25, 2003 I was taking an elderly lady from a boarding home that I volunteer at, to the cemetary. I got her in the Explorer, turned the key on and the driver side air bag exploded, I never even got to put the car in gear or anything..my husband (gordon shernan) talked with Ford Motor Company and because of the vehicle being over warranty, they weren't the least bit concerned. I would really like to know why one went off and not the other, and why it went off by just starting the vehicle. I feel this is really a safety issue, not only did it scare half the life out of both of us, but makes you worry every time you get in a car with air bags. If I had been driving on a road way, I certainly would have had an accident. I find it very lax on Ford Motor Company part that they are not concerned at all. Fortunately I walked away with just a sore chest, shoulder and stiff neck.

- Richmond, ME, USA

problem #1

Mar 222003

Explorer

  • miles
The vehicle was involved in a head-on collision at 35 mph. Neither the front driver nor passenger air bags deployed.

- Taylor, MI, USA

Not what you are looking for?