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.

8.2

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,765.00
Average Mileage:
88,028 miles
Total Complaints:
25 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (12 reports)
  2. rebuild transmission (6 reports)
  3. ford needs to recall (3 reports)
  4. needs solenoid body (2 reports)
  5. replace transmission (1 reports)
  6. replaced transmission with a jasper rebuilt (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #25

Aug 302015

Explorer XLT 8 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,000 miles

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

Oh how I wish I had found this page before today. Just bought the Ford "Explosion" and now I want to spew chunks. It was half an hour after purchase that the OD/Off light came on and the tranny began clunking.

I live in the rural mountains of TN and it's going to up to the "good old boys" to do the repair work. I'm a single mom and as if I didn't have enough problems ... Thank Ford and to the a**hat that sold me this vehicle without a mention of the problem. I don't know where to go for repairs that's not going to charge me my first born and I'm surely not set up to pay Ford.

Can anyone tell me the average number of labor hours this will run to replace solenoid body? Or for replacing the tranny?

Do I purchase a rebuild?

Excuse me whilst I go loose my dinner.

- , Turtletown, TN, USA

problem #24

Oct 012013

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Transmission giving up soon, not even at 160000 miles yet. Eid all the transmission changes on time.

- , Saint Paul, MN, USA

problem #23

Mar 212013

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

Ford Explorer just plain sucks. They have so many problems once the new smell wears off. Problems Ford is aware of but don't want to fix. They just expect us poor suckers to suck up the repair bill while they reap their billions in profits.

- , Edgewater, FL, USA

problem #22

Jun 102014

Explorer XLT 4.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,000 miles

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

Please, pardon the length of my rant! it seems to me that only getting 158,371 miles on a vehicle that should (being basically a truck) go for 250,000 - 300,000 miles is absolutely absurd!

GET UP OFF YOUR ASS FORD AND RECALL THESE TRANSMISSIONS - OR AT LEAST SUBSIDIZE THE REPLACEMENT! AND BY SUBSIDIZE I MEAN MORE THAN SOME TOKEN PAYMENT! 60% SUBSIDY AT MINIMUM, UP TO 80% OF THE COST - DEPENDING UPON MILEAGE.

The current issue first began a little before June of 2014. Really noticed the "clunking into gear" a few weeks later. Took the vehicle in to have brakes installed and an oil change. When I picked the vehicle up after the maintenance, my mechanic asked me how long it had been "slamming into gear" - as he phrased it. I told him I think a couple of weeks. He immediately mentioned the issues with Explorer transmissions. He also said that the "slamming into gear" is usually one of the preliminary signs of the transmission going bad.

This is a 4x4 vehicle. It is an automatic 4x4, meaning it is in operation as it needs to be. You can shift it into 4x4 if you decide to, however, there is little if any need to ever do so. The vehicle detects slipping and transfers traction to the other wheels. We had an issue with the 4x4 seemingly being engaged "full time" several years ago in 2007. This of course was approximately 14,000 miles after the factory warranty had expired - thankfully we had purchased an additional warranty from another company - this issue went on for approximately one month. Going from a transmission shop, who sent us back to the Ford dealership - total cost was approximately 2,600.00 - 2,700.00.

No issues with the transmission since then - until back in the early summer of this year (2014). As mentioned above, it began clunking into gear at first. Then it began really "slamming into gear" as you shifted into reverse about late August, or early September. Took it into mechanic again, this time for inspection. He one again, this time very adamantly, told me be prepared for the transmission to "go". He said the "slamming into gear" seemed noticeably more pronounced to him than the prior time.

I began searching online for info about recalls, or other people with similar Explorer issues. That is when I came to this site. I saw one complaint where someone said their O/D (overdrive) light began flashing on and off one day, and the next day the vehicle stopped moving right in the middle of making a left turn!

So… here we are now. Our O/D light began flashing in early October while my wife was on the highway heading home from work. Thankfully, she made it home with no issues. My mechanic has told me in no uncertain terms that he will not put a used transmission in (which makes perfect sense), nor will he put a dealer rebuilt transmission in (again, makes perfect sense). He has stated that he will only put a Jasper remanufactured transmission in this vehicle.

THE ONLY THING IS - I DO NOT HAVE ANOTHER $3,000.00 DOLLARS JUST LYING AROUND! $3,500.00 IF THE "CORE" GETS DAMAGED! SO THE VEHICLE SITS UNTIL I GET THE MONEY TO REPAIR IT - OR I WIN THE LOTTERY, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST!

The vehicle is sitting in my driveway. I do get to start it once in a while, since the engine is in excellent condition (thanx to my mechanic, and regular maintenance). This has been, and still is an excellent vehicle, except for the transmission. I cannot replace the "utility" of this vehicle for the same amount of money it would take to replace the transmission - if I could, I would just by another SUV.

- , Richmond, VA, USA

problem #21

Sep 012012

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,000 miles

What a piece of sh*t! How do you build a vehicle and charge $28,000 with a transmission that does't last 100,000

miles. Wtf? Would've been a great car if not for the crap transmission. STAY AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , north ridgeville, oh, USA

problem #20

Sep 032010

Explorer XLT 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

clunking transmission, od light, slipping in gear, replaced converter and switches, Ford does not acknowledge.

- , Bedford Hills, NY, USA

problem #19

Apr 092012

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

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

FIRST OFF I BOUGHT MY 03' FORD EXPLORER FROM CARMAX WITH 103,000K ON IT WHICH I KNEW WAS HIGH BUT I NEEDED AN SUV FOR A REALLY LOW PRICE. WELL I DROVE IT HOME THE DATE OF PURCHASE (APRIL 7,2012) AND PARKED IT. DIDNT DRIVE IT THE NEXT DAY THEN DROVE IT TO WORK MONDAY, 2 DAYS AFTER PURCHASING AND NOTICED THAT EVERYTIME I WAS ON HIGHWAY AND FLOORED IT FOR 2-3 SECONDS THEN TOTALLY LET OFF GAS THERE WAS A 1-2 SECONG DELAY ON LOUD CLUNK SOUND EVERYTIME I DID THAT. ALSO 90% OF THE TIME I WOULD FLOOR IT TO PASS SOMEONE OR TO GET INTO TRAFFIC IT HESITATED AGAIN FOR 1-2 SECONDS BEFORE IT GRABBED AND STARTED ACCELERATING. I KNEW SOMETHING WAS UP WITH THE TRANNY. THE NEXT MORNING I CALLEDCARMAX AND THEY HAD ME BRING IT IN SINCE I WAS STILL IN MY 30 DAY USED VEHICLE WARRANTY AND MADE THE MECHANIC GET IN WITH ME TO SHOW HIM THE PROBLEM. HE AGREED THAT SOMETHING WASN'T RIGHT. SO SINCE CARMAX DOSENT DO TRANSMISSION WORK THEY SENT IT TO AAMCO WHO AGAIN CONFIRMED THE PROBLEMS. CARMAX GAVE ME A LOANER AND AAMCO TOOK APART THE TRANNY AND FOUND THAT SOME TYP OF TRANSMISSION INTAKE BOLT OR TRANSMISSION INTAKE SOMETHING METAL HAD SNAPPED AND METAL WAS ALL THROUGHOUT THE TRANSMISSION. LONG STORY SHORT AAMCO HAD TO REPLACE ALL THE GEARS, THE BANDS, THE TORQUE CONVERTER, AND A FEW OTHER ITEMS . PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING ON THE INSIDE OF THE TRANSMISSION HOUSING. IT DID THAT MUCH DAMAGE. I DIDNT HAVE TO PAY A PENNY AND CARMAX REALLY TOOK CARE OF ME. THE FINAL REPAIR COST WAS RIGHT AROUND $2000, AND IF IT HADNT OF BEEN UNDER WARRANTY I WOULD HAVE BEEN SCREWED SINCE I DIDNT HAVE THE MONEY. SO I PRETTY MUCH GOT A NEW TRANNY, NEW FILTER AND NEW FLUID IN IT AND NOW IT RUNS PERFECT. THANKS AGAIN TO CARMAX AND AAMCO, THEY REALLY TOOK CARE OF IT FOR ME QUICKLY. HOPE THIS POST HELPS SOMEONE WITH A SIMILAR SITUATION. LASTLY, CARMAX DID NOT COUNT THE 7 DAYS IT WAS AT AAMCO AGAINST MY WARRANTY TIME SO SINCE I HAD IT FOR 3 DAYS BEFORE BRINGINGIT BACK,I STILL HAVE THE OTHER 27 DAYS OF WARRANTY ON THE REST OF THE VEHICLE FROM THE DAY I GOT IT BACK PLUS A 1 YEAR WARRANTY ON THE TRANNY THROUGH AAMCO, AND A 6 MONTH WARRANTY THROUGH CARMAX SO IF SOMETHING HAPPENS AGAIN WITHIN 6 MONTHS I WILL TAKE IT TO CARMAX INSTEAD OF DIRECTLY TO AAMCO SO THAT I WOULD GET A LOANER AGAIN FROM CARMAX AND WHICH AAMCO DOSENT DO. AGAIN I HOPE THIS HELPS SOMEBODY. REMEBER IF ITS THE SAME PROBLEM I DESCRIBE ASK THEM TO CHECK SOME SORT OF TRANSMISSION INTAKE BOLT OR TRANSMISSION INTAKE VALVE OR SOMETHING OF THAT THAT SORT. I KNOW ITS A TRANSMISSION INTAKE SOMETHING.

- , COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, USA

problem #18

Jul 012011

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles

My second major complaint would have to be for the transmission. When in use the transmission does a couple of clunking or kick backs. There is something seriously wrong with it and as i stated in my previous complaint it must be a factory defect because this vehicle is only 45000 miles and has only been used mostly for work purposes! Please contact me in advising what can be done or if i could get some help with this. thank you

- , Miami, FL, USA

problem #17

May 262011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

I just bought my beautiful 03 Ford Explorer in Feb of 2011, I have only had it 4 months and I now need to replace the Transmission. I am a single mother of 4 kids and this is a severe inconvience to me and my family since we have no other transportation. I have called around to every place to get quotes and all I get is $1500 and up and quiet frankly I don't have that kind of money. I can't believe this hasn't been recalled yet concidering the amount of complaints that this vehicle is getting. I bought it privately so there was no warrenty on the vehicle so now I am stuck with out of pocket expences which is completey unfair to me if Ford knows that something is wrong with the tranny and they keep getting complaints. Hopefully my complaint will push it to get a recall going to save us Ford owners money, I love my truck but just can't afford to fix a $1500 problem.

- , Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #16

Sep 072010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,650 miles

Went to Ford and they wanted 4,000 bucks. These peaple are out of there mind. First I asked about the cost and they looked it up on the computter and said 2800 bucks. When I asked weather that encluded instalation, they said no. Go to the service department to find out. Twenty feet to the service department and they said 1200 bucks instalation charge. Ford was the problem and not the answer so I went on-line and found Jasper in Indiana. They list all the dealers that are authorized to install their equipment. A local shop ordered it and when it came in they called me to make a date to change it. A few days later they installed it with a after-market cooler (required for warrenty) 3years/100,000 miles. Now a year later, i got a small oil leak from the rear seal on the tail shaft and went in to have it checked out. Now they tell me I got a rusty yolk. I said, No yolking? You changed the transmission and didn't see the rust? They said it's hard to tell if the rust is on the sealing area or not, but you need a new yolk since it's pitted and can't be cleaned. They put in a new seal and a rubber cup over the tail shaft to keep out dirt and water and "by the way, you need new front upper ball joints as the rubber grease cups are gone. Whats next with this car, the driver?

- , Palm Beach Gardens, fl, USA

problem #15

Jun 092011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,233 miles

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

My 2003 ford explorer transmission is going out. I guess this is a common problem and ford won't do anything about it. If you know its an issue then just do the right thing....

- , Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #14

Apr 152011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

We got another Ford Lemon! I don't know how Ford manages to be profitable with the lousy "crapmanship" of their products! We just bought this citrus car in September of 2010 and we are sooooo screwed. Cant fix it cant sell it!!!!!!!

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #13

Feb 122011

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

So I've bought this vehicle from a car dealer, hasn't been a month either. Now I'm stuck with paying to get the transmission rebuilt, how is that fair? I'm making monthly payments on it and have to pay full coverage, now this?! Are you serious? So, if there's something that anyone can help me with it'd be awesome, gonna pay around $2500 for that after I've paid $5000 down and still gonna make payments on it for 3 years, now I know that I overpaid, but that's what I get stuck with for not having good credit. So one small voice won't be heard but there's got to be something that a whole group of voices can do. Is there some kind of lawsuit against Ford?

- , Marysville, CA, USA

problem #12

Jan 032011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

Afraid am joining a growing population of unsatisfied Ford owners. Vehicle has always had issues going into reverse with a delay but now the shuddering when tranny downshifts between 55-65mph and RPMS go from 3200 to 2000. Annoying and am afraid now to give this car to my 16 year old. Called Ford at 313 322 3000 and got someone very willing to listen and very willing to be of absolutely no help. Imagine that! Ford gets a big "F" from me and I will never buy another Ford again. Quality ain't Job 1 at Ford. False advertising as usual. Effe me.

- , Norwalk, CT, USA

problem #11

Dec 022010

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

Ford should recall all transmissions from 2000- today... this is a on-going problem...I called the Ford National Headquarters today... they said the only way they can recognized that there is a problem is for people to call them and file a complaint.....please call Ford @(313) 322-3000 they may help you and others.... (but never buy another Ford)

- , Riverview, FL, USA

problem #10

Sep 012010

Explorer Limited 4.6 V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

Well I have a 2003 Ford Explorer Limited. I bought it with just under 60K on it and thought I was getting into a good SUV with lower miles that would be a worry free car. I was wrong. Since than it seems like every time I bring it somewhere for some routine maintenance I leave spending at least $500. All of that aside the most recent problem is a loud clunk/whining noise when decelerating. It started at around 77,000 miles and has progressively gotten worse. I took it to a garage and was told that it was coming from the transmission and that it was a common problem in these years V8's. They said they have seen it a lot and without a good fix other than getting a new trans./engine!! Their advice was to get rid of it before the engine/trans. goes, only problem is I owe more than the damn thing is worth so now I am stuck paying for a truck that could break down any day. Thanks Ford!! you can rest assured I will NEVER buy a Ford of any kind again.

- , Tonawanda, NY, USA

problem #9

May 042010

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,301 miles

I love my Explorer, but the transmission clunks on the automatic downshift. The prolbem started around 87,000 miles. The dealer told me it could cost $4,000 to fix and it was not worth reparing. I must admit, I have driven it past100,000 miles since then. I thought I would have this vehichle for atl least 200,000 miles without a problem, but that was the expexctation of the older models. Ford really disapointed me on this model because this was the firs vehicle I bought with my spouse, so it has it has a special meaning since we crashed in a 1995 Explorer and walked away WITHOUT A SCRATCH when we were dating. My wife has asked me why I would ever consider buying a Ford again after the company has obiously bailed on the 2003 Model. I have no valid no reasnable excuse. Her family loves Toyota, and I have to constantly defend my choice of vechicle. Do me a favor please, just own up so I can buy another Explorer!

- , Atlanta1, GA, USA

problem #8

Sep 202010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,510 miles

EVERYONE PLEASE READ!!!!!

I am definately not happy about this situation. I have always owned american made cars and never have had an issue with the transmission going out at 80,000 miles. I have done a huge amount of research on this problem. It's really ridiculous that ford knows about this problem and they won't recognize it is an issue. I called Ford Motor Company's World Headquarters Division today. They told me that they have had no complaints about the transmission going out on the 2002 - 2004 models. I am asking everyone who owns one of these models and have had problems with the transmission to call them and complain. They will tell that they cannot fix it, but if they get enough complaints they will recognize the problem. Anyone who has had their vehicle fixed will get a refund. ( you have to have kept your receipts for service) and anyone who still needs the problem fixed they will pay all costs to repair isses. So everyone please call or write to them and complain. I am a single mom and I really need my vehicle fixed. Ford is a multi-billion dollar company, they are gonna pay or else I will get a class action lawsuit together. (Believe me they don't want this to happen).

Ford Motor Company World Headquarters Division One American Road Dearborn, MI 48126-2798 (313)-322-3000

Please Note: You have to call the number above do not call a ford dealership they cannot help you!

If anyone has questions or concerns please feel free to email me princess030105@yahoo.com

- , Roseville, CA, USA

problem #7

Jun 202005

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,000 miles

2003 Ford Explorer Limited. Bought it new. Always had problem. Transmission serviced. Now at 79k miles. Still have shuttter when shifting and clunking when shifting from reverse to drive. Also, when placed in drive, a dwell and then a forward lurch. I asked at the dealership when transmission was serviced. They offered no solutions or fixes. I believe this is a recall situation. I wish the dealership, Mac Haik in Georgetown ,Texas and Ford would man up and deal with the problem..

- , Georgetown, TX, USA

problem #6

Dec 212008

Explorer Beigh V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

Hi there every one looking at this .I am from Australia and i bought a explora 2003 limited v8 secondhand that i bought in December 2008 that i payed 40.000 aus dollars for and it only had 20.000 klm not miles and that was a good buy i thought because these cars here to buy are $65.000 new . WE get ripped off bad here. well when i bought the car in the first week i had lights on the dash passenger vanity plastic cover broke .STANDARD THING I FOUND OUT. Radio was locked out by previous owner and ford wanted 150 dollars to unlock . Took it out and put a new 1 in .BY the way they wanted $2500 rip off .didn't pay in end . About a couple weeks later clucking noise in trany just thought it would pass then coming back from a break for a week on the freeway smoke coming from under car . Trany fluid leak dripping on exhaust .so just cept going till i got home .booked in to ford front tranny seal. lost car for week get car back 1 day later the other seal went back in another week later . back home and 2 days later same thing what the F#*K is this for real the car had been in to get fixed up more times than i had actually owned it for. Finally got it all fixed up no probs with oil leak so far. But i still have a clunking sound in tranny that i never got fixed buy the storeys i have been reading about it i am worried now I didnt think anything of it before. Only happens now and then though. If anyone hears of anything getting done about these problems by FORD please let me know.

- , Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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