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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
108,438 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. new transmission (2 reports)
  2. not sure (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Oct 282014

Explorer Eddie Bower 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


I got a text from the wife. O/D light flashing .... check engine light on, and now the transmission light is now on. .. I Googled it ....OMG .... I never knew this was an issue. We had the truck for years, never a problem till now. Looks like I need to drop in a chunk of change into the truck now. Perfect timing close to the holidays when I need to save money for other reasons ....

I heard there is a kit to buy and install .... or just put in a new trans .... I am researching a solution that will get us back in a family vehicle we can safely use.

I am open to others and their possible solutions.

- , Bethlehem, PA, USA

problem #2

Feb 022011

Explorer LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,314 miles

The mechanic that I went to says this is a common problem for Explorers! First my transmission started slipping than the O/D Light started blinking went right to the mechanic he opened it up and the band was broken. Does anyone know if Ford is standing behind there transmission problems?

- , Freehold, NJ, USA

problem #1

Mar 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I had bought an extended warranty and had noticed intermittent slippage before the warranty ran out, however, the mechanic said there was a small leak from a seal. Unfortunately they would have to lower whole transmission to fix leak. Was told it wouldn't be a problem. Within the last month, noticed it slipping more & just sounded different on highway. Took to dealership & turns out a band broke & damaged the casing. Am now having to spend over $3500 to replace whole transmission. The mechanics indicated this was a common problem in the 2003 explorer. Did some research and turns out there are a high number of transmission failures on this model at low mileage with consistent reports of "faulty box". Apparently Ford knows about this problem and will only say it's a good transmission, just doesn't last long. Why didn't they do a recall? I'm a 43 year old female and drive my explorer very carefully (no hotrodding, excessive acceleration, etc) and there is no way that a transmission should consistently fail at less than 100,000 miles. If it does, there is a problem & Ford should have stood behind their product...especially if they want people to buy more of their vehicles. In today's economy, I would think that would be a major concern for Ford (but apparently it isn't). I sent them a complaint, however, have never received any acknowledgment!!!

- , Newton, KS, USA

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