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.

8.5

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,825.00
Average Mileage:
126,495 miles
Total Complaints:
17 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. ford should recall (12 reports)
  2. not sure (5 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #17

Oct 022015

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 178,000 miles

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

Ford needs to recall this issue. My O/D light is flashing. The symptom is that it doesn't shift from 1st to 2nd gear very good. This causes my MPG to lower. I have not done anything to this explorer to cause this problem and feel that Ford should help out with this one.

- , Richlands, NC, USA

problem #16

Jun 032015

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I had to replace the motor 2 years ago as the gears for the timing chains are plastic and now the transmission needs replaced. I can't afford another 2800 to fix the transmission after 5000 for the motor. Body is in good shape and have kept it up but now with the transmission that seems to be a problem in these vehicles, Ford needs to step up and fix it. I still owe on it so I can't afford to have it fixed. Love the vehicle but can't afford to fix it.

- , Massillon, OH, USA

problem #15

Mar 102015

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,790 miles

WHEN I LOOKED UP THE PROBLEM ON THE INTERNET, SEEMS TO BE COMMON PROBLEM, CODE SAYS SENSOR. DEALER WANTS TO REPLACE TRANSMISSION, WAS WARNED ABOUT THAT TOO. I THINK PEOPLE REPLACED THE SENSOR ONLY TO NEED THE SERVOS REPLACED SOON TOO.

- , Wichita, KS, USA

problem #14

Jan 152010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,500 miles

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

Unbelievable that a vehicle in this day and age can have a transmission failure at 83k miles. Ford didn't warranty the failure, however the Ford Dealership would install a new transmission and guarantee it for a 100k for a cool $3700. The vehicle rolling out of Detroit wasn't designed and assembled with the same confidence, so sorry Charlie, no 100k warranty there for you! My suggestion, buy Korean! They offer 100k bumper to bumper. Tough for a 'buy American' guy like myself to suggest, but I am not going to prop up Detroit with repair dollars any longer.

- , Bend, OR, USA

problem #13

Feb 232015

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 178,000 miles

I bought the truck in 2003 brand new, but in 2010 the transmission starting given me problems. The mechanic advised that I need a modular that had to come from JAPAN and this was when they had the crisis. Therefore, my truck was in the shop for a week. After the part was added the O/D light came on and the mechanic cleared the issue and it came back on. He stated I had to drive the truck to get to know the part. Well, years later the O/D light and check engine would come on. Now, recently the transmission went out and the mechanic advise I lost the 2nd and 5th gear $2400 later. I wouldn't get my truck for a week. I'll give you update after I receive it back from the shop.

- , Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #12

Aug 222012

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

considering i have to dish out of pocket over 3000 to fix the transmission, sucks. My explorer was only at about 60,000 miles and the transmission goes out. Now i have my explorer parked, I currently now am driving a chevy and had no issues. People talk crap about Ford all the time and i agree with them. All they care about is money and not fixing what they did. I have had numerous issues with this vehicle.

- , Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #11

Oct 182014

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 191,403 miles

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

I have not had the vehicle fixed yet. After receiving the estimate of $2400, I started trying to find a second opinion. I've had 3 different mechanics say "You need to call Ford about this! They have all kind of issues with the transmission on this year and make. They should fix it!" That's what prompted me to do an internet search for recalls, assistance with fixing it, etc. I even called Ford and all they wanted to do was add me to their database.

I would really love to know if this is a widespread problem and what the company is doing about helping to resolve it. I cannot afford to get the vehicle fixed, and that puts me in a really serious situation.

- , Jonesboro, GA, USA

problem #10

Mar 212014

Explorer LS 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 191,934 miles

The Ford Explorer has major issues such as wheel hubs that are really terrible , universal joint and transmission issues. This will be my last purchase of a Ford vehicle.

- , Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #9

Feb 082013

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,800 miles

I have the same issues as all the other Conplaintants; O/D off light flashing, check engine soon light flashing , 2nd gear straining and strugging through the transition. I Changed transmission oil , but to no avail. My mechanic is going to check the solenoid next. In the mean time he advised me to stay away from hills and steep inclines.

Thats easily said than done here in Southern California.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #8

Jun 012012

Explorer V6 4.0L Lt

  • Automatic transmission
  • 180,000 miles

I think it is ridiculous that FORD has been aware of this problem and has done nothing about resolving it..I will NEVER buy a Ford again for this reason

- , Clarksburg, MD, USA

problem #7

Apr 012012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

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

It appears that Ford should have had a recall for these transmissions. They also have problems with their less than quality paint jobs.

- , Cary, NC, USA

problem #6

Nov 012011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

80,000 easy miles - no towing - shouldn't be slipping gears. Transmission slips going from 1st-2nd and 2nd-3rd gears.

- , Roseville, CA, USA

problem #5

Feb 082012

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

Called Ford Customer Service and they took all my info and basically said thank for buying a Ford but nothing can be done because there are no recalls or special notices regarding this vehicle. I just spent $1,385.00 having a differential rebuilt. I am out of work and could use some consideration from Ford.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #4

Aug 012010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Alright I have always been a ford fan. My Maiden Name is Ford, But I thinking twice on buying a Ford again, I can't remember the day it started doing this stuff, My O/D Lights is flashing i don't have the money to fix it i am paying for other things and i need to sell it because it is expensive for Insurance For me because i'm young. I wish i would have known about all this before i Bought this vehicle. This Is really Irritating Because Ford Won't fix the problems that people are having, They Piss me off. I'm Recommending for people to not buy A Ford Explorer EVER!!!!!

- , Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #3

Sep 062011

Explorer LTX 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

These commercials about ford tough needs to stop, false adv. I had a ford extended warr. and thought the trans didn't sound right ,but kistler ford in toledo ohio that I paid to have put on their comp. told me it was fine. Is it me or should it had picked out the problem before me? now 12 k later it is practically un-drivable. so much for buying a 4+4 to get to my job plowing roads in the winter which was the whole reason I purchased the piece of crap.

- , Swanton, OH, USA

problem #2

Sep 142011

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,996 miles

I have already replaced the transmission once along with various other things on this vehicle.It is a piece of sh*t and I will never own another ford in my life!!!!!!

- , Terra Alta, WV, USA

problem #1

Jul 102007

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

I purchased the truck used in 7/2007 and noticed the long delay shortly afterward. I went to two different Local Transmission shops, both were highly recommended for quality of work and price (rare these days). I was told by both "The long delay is the way the transmission works". I worked for a manufacturer that built Automatic Transmissions GM, Ford & Chrysler types, and all types ALWAYS applied the clutches almost instantly. The delay is not good for the clutch friction plates !!! I guess I could label it "Engineered for Failure". Please respond with all comments and facts known.

- , Plano, TX, USA

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