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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
35,300 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Oct 212006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,800 miles


While parked in my driveway, which is on an incline, I proceeded to start the car and shift from park to reverse. The gear shift lever broke off into my hand. I was fortunate because I was not on the road or highway, nor did I back over a child, cat or dog, etc. It would have been disastrous if I were on train tracks and the train was coming and I couldn't get out of gear, or try to park on a hill in san francisco, or downshift to make it up a mountain grade. Towed vehicle to tuttle click Ford. Received quote from them as well as santa margarita Ford. (over $600 difference. Quote was doubled when the vehicle was towed to tuttle click vs over the phone quote!) car was then towed to automotive plus where a reliable mechanic replaced the entire steering column, as Ford recommended. Also, a rental car was needed, and there was a "diagnostic" charge of $50. I saved the old part for inspection/legal action.

- Mission Viejo, CA, USA

problem #2

Sep 022004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,100 miles
2003 Ford Explorer...during yield to turn left and then making left turn steering wheel locked as if someone had pulled key out of ignition causing vehicle to steer left into oncoming traffic. Vehicle was moving between 5-15 mph at time of failure. Turning off vehicle and restarting we found that steering again released and we were able to drive vehicle home. I took vehicle into dealer next day and they said they "could not duplicate concern" of course it happened for the first time at 27,000 miles, ,,very unlikely to get it to happen the day they look at it. They did however replace the complete steering column to remedy an additional problem where the shift selector would pop into drive(after accellerating)even though it indicated the selector was in drive already. I need immediate remedy to this problem and have since contacted Ford Motor Company hoping for help. Consequently not related to the steering locking problem the rear window on the left rear has had 3 repair attempts to fix a intermitt inop problem, ,,and the blower motor was replaced because it makes noise...I have 4 Ford in my family(F150 and F250) that we have been very happy with however we have now lost complete confidence in this particular vehicle...seems the dealer just doesnt know or want to do anything additional!

- Ramona, CA, USA

problem #1

Sep 242003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,000 miles
The vehicle projects a significant whining noise from the rear end and a vibration forward through the steering column. The vehicle is unsafe to drive and the dealership will not offer us an alternative vehicle to use. We have been informed that the manufacturer will need at least 3 months to figure out a solution.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

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