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:
10 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
13 / 0
Average Mileage:
125,861 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

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #25

Jul 282016

Explorer

  • 319,000 miles

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

The contact owned a 2003 Ford Explorer. While driving at an unknown rate of speed on a highway, the contact was involved in a head on collision with another vehicle. The air bags did not deploy. The other vehicle rolled over and the contact's vehicle stopped at the median. A police report was filed. The contact sustained a mild concussion, a bruised sternum, back and neck pains. The contact received medical treatment. The vehicle was towed to a yard and destroyed. The vehicle was not diagnosed by a dealer or mechanic. The approximate failure mileage was 319,000.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #24

Aug 102015

Explorer

  • miles
"takata recall"I brought the truck and the airbag light was flashing 4X4 lights flashing also, smelling oil coming from the deferential on the back axle. Now, the transmission started slipping and he changed a part. Then, the transmission started to slip again. Also, I wanted to switch to another vehicle but he declined it. He said " he put to much work into the truck and all the parts are new in which only the tires and muffler was revolved ".

- Albany, NY, USA

problem #23

Nov 132013

Explorer

  • 95,404 miles
The contact owned a 2003 Ford Explorer. While driving 35 mph, another vehicle crashed into the front end of the contact's vehicle. The front driver side air bag failed to deploy. The contact sustained injuries to the head, back, and knees that required medical attention. A police report was filed. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 95,404. Updated 09/27/16

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #22

Jun 052016

Explorer

  • 143,000 miles

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

I lost control around a ben going 35mph after it got done raining and got in an accident hit a telephone pole and farm post after spinning about 4xs car is totaled air bags never went off

- Elmer, NJ, USA

problem #21

Feb 132016

Explorer

  • 150,000 miles
I was driving in minus 20 degree celsius to take highway 15 North from just after panama bus station. In the entrance, my car start to slow down to the 5 kmph. In the back of my cars were all on their hazard light and being mad at me. So I drive back to my home taking the next exit. I wish somebody could take the videos and sent to the Ford company to let them know my situation.

- Saint-Lambert, NY, USA

problem #20

Nov 132015

Explorer

  • 100,000 miles
The contact owned a 2003 Ford Explorer. While driving at 50 mph, the front and rear driver side tires blew out, which caused the vehicle to flip over several times. The air bags failed to deploy. A police report was filed. The contact suffered injuries to the lower back, arm, and knees. The passenger suffered an inflammation of the lower back. The driver and passenger both required medical attention. The vehicle was towed to an independent facility. The vehicle was destroyed. The approximate failure mileage was 100,000.

- Medina, OH, USA

problem #19

Oct 212015

Explorer

  • miles

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

My daughter and her fiancÉ and put their 10 month old and their 8 year old in the seatbelts and my daughter got in the car (she is pregnant) and shut her door and her fiancÉ got in and shut his door and the curtain airbags went off and the back airbags. They were in park at the time. There was not reason for the airbags to deploy. They only had liability insurance so they won't pay anything. I called the Ford dealer (who I just bought a $50,000 2015 Ford Explorer from him January 2015) and he said I could call the service desk who was no help. Stated there is no recall. Anyone I can call? this is crazy and dangerous!!!!

- Parkersburg, WV, USA

problem #18

Oct 212015

Explorer

  • miles
My fiancÉ and I put our 10 month old and our 8 year old in the seatbelts and I got in the car (I am pregnant) and shut my door and my fiancÉ got in and shut his door and the curtain airbags went off and the back airbags. We were in park at the time. There was not reason for the airbags to deploy. I only had liability insurance so they won't pay anything. I called the Ford dealer (who I just bought a $50,000 2015 Ford Explorer from him January 2015) and he said I could call the service desk who was no help. Stated there is no recall. Anyone I can call? this is crazy and dangerous!!!!

- Mineral Wells, WV, USA

problem #17

Sep 142014

Explorer

  • 260,000 miles
The contact owned a 2003 Ford Explorer. While driving 45 mph, the contact lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a guardrail. The air bags did not deploy. The driver suffered lacerations to the left arm and required medical attention. A police report was filed. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 260,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Fountain Inn, SC, USA

problem #16

Dec 282014

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 138,000 miles
Air bag light blinks when started and then remains on. I haven't had it checked out yet but I was seeing if there was a recall on this to see if it would cover the cost to fix.

- Madison, IN, USA

problem #15

Dec 112014

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 155,600 miles

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

In the early morning hours of December 11, I was driving to work when without warning both side curtain air bags deployed. There were no cars behind me and there were no oncoming traffic so I was able to pull off the road without incident. Upon inspection there was no damage anywhere to the vehicle. As of now there is no reason why they deployed.

- Concord, NC, USA

problem #14

Nov 182014

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
Front end accident did not deploy driver airbag, however passenger airbag deployed with no occupant in seat.

- Smithtown, NY, USA

problem #13

Jun 242014

Explorer

  • 189,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph in heavy rain, the vehicle hydroplaned, flipped over, and crashed into a rail. The air bags failed to deploy. A police report was filed and one injury was reported that required medical attention. The vehicle was destroyed. The VIN was unavailable. The manufacturer was not notified of the issue. The failure mileage was 189,000.

- Elyria, OH, USA

problem #12

Sep 042012

Explorer

  • 112,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 20 mph, the air bag warning indicator remained illuminated. The failure recurred whenever the engine was in operation. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic for diagnosis, who was unable to locate a trouble code. The failure persisted. The manufacturer had not been notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 112,000.

- South Dallas, WI, USA

problem #11

Jun 262013

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 101,034 miles
Traveling North bound on highway 99 in chico ca, between exits 385 and 386, the side air bags deployed. This was in the middle of a construction zone but there was little in the way of debris on the road or bumps to have caused the air bag deployment. My head was violently thrown toward the center of the vehicle but I managed to maintain control and so there was no subsequent accident. I noted the little orange light glowing on the dash telling me the air bags had deployed. I suffered from a sore / stiff neck and a recurrence of major tendonitis symptoms in my left ear. The local Ford dealer could not isolate the exact cause of the un-commanded air bag deployment and the matter is still with our auto insurance company.

- Yankee Hill, CA, USA

problem #10

Mar 262013

Explorer

  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while traveling 5 mph, the side curtain air bags deployed inadvertently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer however, the dealer was unable to determine what caused the air bag deployment. The manufacturer stated would provide no assistance. The failure and current mileage was 125,000.

- Alberquerque, NM, USA

problem #9

Jan 182013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 142,056 miles
Travel approximately 55 miles per hour southbound on sr-99 both the left and right side head curtain airbags deployed for no reason while I was driving with my 2 year old daughter and 3 month old son, both in appropriate child safety seats. The vehicle was not hit, I did not swerve, nor step on the breaks. Nothing occurred in the vehicle to warrant or cause the airbags to deploy. The force of the airbags struck my head causing head and neck pain, but more importantly it could have caused an accident or even death had I swerved and it caused an accident with another vehicle or caused my vehicle to crash out of control.

- Chico, CA, USA

problem #8

Oct 272011

Explorer 8-cyl

  • miles
I have a 2003 Ford Explorer. I had stopped and was waiting for a mail carrier to finish putting mail in a mailbox when I was rear-ended. The other driver hit me at high speed. I was subsequently pushed into the mail carriers vehicle---even though he tried unsuccessfully to get out of the way. I don't believe I hit the mail carrier at high speed, but still it did cause damage to the back bumper of his vehicle and light damage to my front bumper. The truck then rear-ended me again due to his speed and inability to stop. Neither air bag in the front of my vehicle deployed. My vehicle was totaled due to the damage from the rear-end hit. The only door on my vehicle that opened correctly was the front passenger door. My seat on the front is apparently broke and laying flat. The cargo area was pushed into the third seat, the third seat into the second seat, etc... I'm not sure if the airbags should have deployed or not. But, if they should have this really needs to be looked into. I believe my injuries would not have been as severe if the airbags had deployed. I have what I guess may be classic whiplash type injuries. Back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain; as well as, my elbow was hurt; and both wrist from trying to grab the steering wheel to prevent myself from being thrown into the steering column or windshield during the second hit from the rear. Anything you can tell me that will help with these questions? I am being asked by other people that know about the wreck why the airbags did not deploy.

- Sallis, MS, USA

problem #7

Feb 012011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the horn was defective and the airbag light illuminated on the instrument panel. A local mechanic diagnosed a defect within the steering column. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified but did not offer assistance. The failure mileage was 95,000 and the current mileage was 100,000. Updated 08/10/11

- Foothill Ranch, CA, USA

problem #6

Aug 012008

Explorer

  • 850,000 miles
Own a 2003 Ford Explorer the air bag light blinks then stays on constantly while the car is running. I am concerned about my safety whether my air bag is actually working or not. After searching the internet apparently several other Ford owners are having the same problem. Also I have a cracked panel on the back hatch, I have seen several Ford Explorer with the same crack and at the same location, took the Ford dealer in clarksville Indiana was told it was due to weather, was told several Ford Explorer owners are complaining about the same problem but unfortunately Ford is aware of the problem but not doing a recall. Was told would cost around $300 to replace the panel the Ford dealership instructed me to file a complaint because they have seen too many themselves.

- Clarksville, IN, USA

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