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.

2.2

hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,075 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #9

Jun 302011

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 135,000 miles

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

My 2003 Ford Explorer had a "thunk" noise from day one. Ford dealership "could not duplicate" the complaint even though I took it back multiple times. Had to replace the torque converter at 70K miles and now at 135K miles the whole transmission and another torque converter for rattling again. Od/off blinking light and check transmission notice came on with erratic shifting and loss of 2nd and 5th gears. Replacement of trans eliminated "thunk" and my $4600. Similar complaints without any acknowledgement of faulty materials or engineering by Ford has plagued hundreds if not thousands of Explorer owners. Where is the expected investigation of these problems" why do we have to wait until accidents or injury to have faulty autos recalled? why are spark plugs ejected more of a safety concern than transmissions that leave drivers without proper moving capability on the highway? where is the recall for these units"

- Middletown, NJ, USA

problem #8

Jan 032008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles
Typical Ford Explorer tranmission problem having to do with the torque converter. Od light flashing. Nothing done to envoke this problem and no events leading up to the failure. Just driving on the highway.

- Londonderry, NH, USA

problem #7

Dec 012007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles
2003 Ford Explorer transmission failure at 62,000 miles.

- Monroe, NY, USA

problem #6

Aug 252007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

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

Torque converter failure. Converter "rattles", needs replacement. Prior complaint to dealer about "lurching" and "clunking" were found to be "non-duplicative" during warranty period.

- Middletown, NY, USA

problem #5

Feb 202007

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,600 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Explorer with 51,000 miles. On 2/13/2007 O/D light started flashing and service transmission message appeared in message center. Took to an independent service shop and was told it was probably the torque converter. Had it transferred to a transmission shop where they removed the transmission pan and found metal shavings. They said it is the torque converter and I will need a partial or full rebuild, they will not be sure until they remove the transmission. They also mentioned they have seen this in multiple vehicles and have had to replace a large number of Explorer transmissions for similar problems.

- Mechanicsville, VA, USA

problem #4

Oct 252006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,739 miles
2003 Ford Explorer XLT torque converter causes transmission to lurch and slip unexpectedly. Fearful of driving this vehicle because the transmission might lock up. Ford is aware this is a common problem with their 2002 and later models.

- Godley, TX, USA

problem #3

Apr 032006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

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

NHTSA 10003163. Noise from converter housing. SUV has 42,272 miles and dealer estimated $1200 repair. Ford knew there was a problem with tsb #17050.

- Sparks, NV, USA

problem #2

Sep 222005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,908 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. Noise coming from the front of the car. The dealership could never find the origin of the noise. The fourth time when the contact took the car to the dealership, they found that the origin of the noise was the torque converter. The dealer changed the torque converter on 9-22-05. The contact sold the car a few days after 9-22-05. The contact was disappointed with the service they received from the dealer. When they were trying to make the trade, the dealership offered them $13,000, and when they went back the dealership offering them $10,000. The contact wanted to file a complaint because she felt there may be a defect in the torque converter, and she wanted to complain about it to the dealership'.

- Glen Gardner, NJ, USA

problem #1

Jun 172004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,425 miles
Took my SUV into Mr. Tire to replace all 4 tires. Left Mr. Tire & my O/D light started to flash @ 35 mph. Took SUV back to Mr. Tire to have them look at it. I wasnt sure if they might have cause it or not. They did a diagnostic on it & found a code P0741 tcc. They told me it could be just a selenoid or the converter. Either way, its not locking up to do a 1:1 conversion for overdrive to save on gas & prevent overheating of the transmision. They told me to go immediately to a Ford dealership. I went to purvis Ford service department & they did their own diagnosis. Purvis Ford found that the converter is bad & coming apart. They also said it was overheating & this type of transmission for my vehical for that year was a bad transmission. Also they've had customers w/ this exact problem w/ as little as 100 miles & some w/ as much as 100,000 miles. For a 120K mile "maintenance free" transmission (w/ exception of changing out the transmission fluid) this sure seems to be an expensive transmission. What is more interesting is that Ford wont replace the transmission w/ the original type of transmission. Instead they wanted to put a different one in that has an external cooler & filter. Totalling $3300 not including tax. It was also told to me by purvis Ford's service department that Ford has had numerous problems with their transmissions on these vehicals. 2 other people alone was in their shop for rebuilds on their 2003 Ford Explorer transmissions. Why doesnt Ford voluntarily recall on this & replace them w/ this "new" type of transmission at no cost to the customer. Right now I am not happy w/ Ford & I will not keep my SUV nor will I buy another one. This is the third problem I've had with this SUV that has costed me big $$$$. I would not recommend anyone buying a Ford SUV. At this time I have not had the transmission repaired due to high cost. The SUV is currently in my driveway not being driven to avoid furhter damage to the transmission.

- Fisher, IL, USA

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