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.

3.1

definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
45,019 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #16

Oct 182010

Explorer

  • miles

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

My 2003 Ford Explorer has only 70,000 miles on it and three out of the four wheel bearings have had to be replaced, at a total cost of over $1,100. The mechanic told me that this could cause a dangerous situation such as abnormal tire wear or the wheel coming off during driving. This potentially unsafe situation warrants a recall by Ford.

- Allston, MA, USA

problem #15

Apr 092010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
The front bearings on my 2003 Ford Explorer have gone out in the past two weeks. The vehicle has 75,000 miles on it. The car stopped steering and I had a very difficult time driving it to the nearest repair station. Had I been on the highway it would have been a disaster. The right front bearing went at the beginning of the month and the left at the end of the month. The mechanics that worked on the vehicle stated that they see many of these. Additionally we had to replace the rear strut assembly since the spring actually snapped. This too was familiar to the mechanic. When researching this issue I have found that many owners have the same problems. The mechanics I have spoken to stated that wheel bearings should not go that soon and that this is a hazard that should be fixed.

- Cos Cob, CT, USA

problem #14

Jan 122010

Explorer

  • 140,000 miles
I suggest you check the one url shown below - there are over 400 examples of Ford springs fracturing because of a defect in the spring material. www.consumeraffairs.com/automotive/ford_springs.html I have two broken springs - I called Ford to ask if they would fix the defect of course they said no way - NHTSA has not forced us to do a recall.

- Salem, NH, USA

problem #13

Mar 012007

Explorer

  • 67,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. While driving between 50-60 mph, the contact heard a loud grinding noise coming from the rear suspension. He took the vehicle to the dealer and they replaced the rear bearings; however, the failure recurred two months later. The vehicle is currently being repaired at a repair shop. Through online research, he found numerous complaints for this identical failure with other Ford Explorer. The failure mileage was 67,000 and current mileage was 109,000.

- Okmuldee, OK, USA

problem #12

May 072009

Explorer

  • 100,000 miles
2003 Ford Explorer 4 dr. Rear coil spring is broken. No rust on outside of spring, but its broken due to bad metal used to make it.

- Hartford, WI, USA

problem #11

May 072004

Explorer

  • 2,900 miles
I bought a 2003 Ford Explorer XLT right off the lot brand new. Within months I noticed a small wet spot in the rear of the vehicle. After my first oil change I mentioned it to where I bought the vehicle and the told me that my differently is low but not leaking. Then I asked what about the wet spot on the ground. With 7 months from that a huge puddle from the rear of my car on vacation with the vehicle and drop it at a Ford dealer it's my rear differently seals. Fixed that paid for it because they say where and tear. About 1 year later same thing get it fixed about 1 year and half same thing and continue to fix it. Talk to Ford Motor Company they say it is out of warranty but when I started calling them in 2004 it was only 5 months old and I paid for the piece to be repaired. Today my vehicle is back in the shop for a fourth time same exact problem although now the Ford dealership says the axle is frozen in there and they need to break it before fixing the rear differential. Why hasn't this been recalled. Seeking help for this lemon!!!!

- Saugus, MA, USA

problem #10

Jul 152007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact heard a loud whining sound coming from the rear of the vehicle while accelerating and decelerating. The service manager stated that he could not find anything in his computer that was related to the failure. There are currently ten NHTSA service bulletins related to the failure. The current mileage was 76,000 and failure mileage was 55,000. Update 09/10/08 the consumer was told the rear axle may have to be replaced. Updated 09/11/08.

- Island Park, NY, USA

problem #9

Oct 152007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. While driving 30 mph, the contact heard a whining noise coming from the vehicle. The noise becomes louder as the vehicle travels faster. The whining appears to be coming from the rear suspension. The failure mileage was 120,000 and current mileage was 144,800. Updated 04/14/08. The consumer stated the transmission was replaced at no charge by Ford at 55,000 miles due to a defect. The 4-wheel drive makes excessive noise when in gear. Updated

- Saddle Brook , NJ, USA

problem #8

Mar 172008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,400 miles
Recently had to have the rear bearing and hub replaced B/C it was going bad. Repair shop informed me that it was very dangerous B/C the wheel could come off while driving and it was walking wearing the brake pads out unevenly resulting in additional safety concerns. The repair shop is replacing bearing assembly and all brakes. I have researched this and notice many other people having similar issues. It only was detected B/C we thought the transmission was acting up which was still under warranty. So we took it in. If we hadn't, my family could have been seriously injured if the wheel came off and/or brakes failed due to bearing being bad causing brakes to wear unevenly. The repair cost about $1500.

- Conroe, TX, USA

problem #7

Apr 162007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,500 miles
My 2003 Ford Explorer limited, with 59K miles, developed a loud roaring road noise that seemed to be coming from the tires. Inspection by the Ford dealer identified 3 defective wheel bearings. The right front and both rears. I know that wheel bearings should not fail with such low mileage so I instructed the dealer to replace the 4th bearing which they said was not making noise because I wouldn't risk a failure while driving. I kept the old bearings and it is not possible to determine which one they thought was good. They are all extremely difficult to rotate and there is very obvious roughness during rotation. My extended warranty covered the cost of the first three. My primary concern is the short lifespan of bearings. The front bearings were so bad that I feel sure an extended trip would have caused catastrophic failure. My second concern is that Ford has not acknowledged this problem. On-line research has confirmed that I am not the first to have bearing failure before 60K on a 2003 Explorer.

- Gulfport, MS, USA

problem #6

Mar 012007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

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

The vehicle shakes or vibrates when turning the wheel right or left at low speeds.

- Bartlett, TN, USA

problem #5

Jan 012005

Explorer

  • miles
2003 Ford Explorer rear end noise started at about 30000 miles.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #4

Nov 202003

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,000 miles
There's a loud roaring noise in the rear end when the gas pedal is depressed. Dealership indicated that this is due to a glitch in the redesigned rear end, but there is no solution at this time for it.

- Clayton, NC, USA

problem #3

Oct 122004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
The rear-end of the vehicle made a humming noise when traveling between 30 mph and 45 mph. The owner has taken the vehicle to the dealer, as well as contacted the manufacturer who was not doing anything to assist the consumer. Provide further details.

- Unadilla, NY, USA

problem #2

Jul 012004

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Various complaints involving the 2003 Ford Explorer XLT. Consumer believed that noise on vehicle was coming from rear. Repairs and/or replacements were made on: Front and rear suspensions, transfer case, and seals in the rear axle due to leak. Now, consumer is waiting for a new axle assembly to be replaced on the vehicle. Also, a cooling system noise on vehicle but dealer coudn't find the source of the problem.

- Statesville, NC, USA

problem #1

Feb 242004

(reported on)

Explorer

  • 2,500 miles
While driving at low speed consumer heard a noise coming from rear of vehicle. Dealership serviced vehicle, but could not duplicate the problem.

- Silver Creek, GA, USA

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