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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.

8.8

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$1,072.00
Average Mileage:
89,928 miles
Total Complaints:
26 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. 3rd party repair, no way i'm giving dealer more money (13 reports)
  2. dealer replaced all the bearings (6 reports)
  3. replaced all 4 wheel bearings and brakes (5 reports)
  4. not sure (2 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #26

Aug 192010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

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

had to have both front hubs replaced and both rear bearings repacked.

local garage did both rear for around 600.00 (if i remember correctly.)

one front hub dealership did at cost of about 400.00 (if i remember correctly.) had to have them do it as we were leaving for vacation the next day.

other front hub i replaced myself for about 180.00

this is just another common annoying problem with this explorer. i've owned several vehicles that have had over 100k miles on them and i've never had to replace a hub/bearing. to have to replace all 4 on one vehicle is crazy. this thing has not been off-road or hauled anything.

- , Wooster, OH, USA

problem #25

Jun 012010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

It boggles the mind that one vehicle would have 2 bearings fail let alone 3 or more @ roughly the same mileage, how does that saying go 2 things happen at the same time its a coincidence, 3 things happen its a conspiracy!

How about 4. This is proof of either poor design or defective parts. I mean really they are bearings, which for most cars in my experience you may have one fail in 100,000 miles not 4. whats worse is the Ford dealer technicians would replace one and tell me the car is fine, when clearly they have not fixed the horrible vibration issues, then come to find out the noise slowing stops after each wheel, finally ending in all four being bad. How does that happen really? At $700 an axel and only a one year warranty from Ford for their own parts???? now guess what, its two years later and I have bad bearings again????? in just two years and only 10k miles on them... WTH Ford.

At some point this has to be a recall issue you cannot hide behind wear and tear items forever when its this common, just like window regulators on late 90's VW breaking in force at what point do they take accountability for this garbage?

- , Mansfield, MA, USA

problem #24

Jan 042012

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Bought the vehicle in 05 from Car Max. Had issues since day one that Car Max repair kept saying that wsa the 4 wheel drive and they could not seem to fix. ! Car has made a bad humming noise for 7 years. Recently went to Pep Boys who replaced the Hub bearings and stated that this was a real hazard. Now miraculously the noise is completely gone. The labor was extensive, but 1,157 later the car is much more pleasant to drive. Thanks for nothing Car Max!

- , Oviedo, FL, USA

problem #23

Nov 242008

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

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

We have replaced 9 wheel bearings over the last 3 years.It is a pain inn the ass to no end we have replaced the brakes almost every 2 years

- , Terra Alta, WV, USA

problem #22

Sep 232011

Explorer XLT 4.0L Ltr

  • Automatic transmission
  • 161,543 miles

DAMN FORD, FIX OR REPAIR DAILY, I HAD PROBLEMS WITH MY 98 EXPLORER HUB'S AND NOW WITH THE 2003 EXPLORER HUB'S I AM DOING THE WORK MYSELF, THESE 3 BOLTS ON THE HUB ARE A BITCH TO GET AT AND A BITCH TO GET OFF, AND STUPID ENGINEERS PUT A CAST ALUM AND STEEL TOGETHER THAT'S A FIRST NO NO! CANT MIX THE METALS LIKE THAT, AND THE LAST HUB THAT WENT ON THEY USED A SEALER BETWEEN THE STEEL HUB AND CAST,

WHAT A BUNCH OF STUPID ENGINEERS, MAKE IT SO IT CAN BE WORKED ON, CANT GET A SOCKET ON THE BOLTS AND A WRENCH SLIPS AND DOESN'T FIT BETWEEN THE C/V SHAFT AND THE BOLT, AMERICAN CAR'S SUCK, MY STRUTS FOR MY CADDY ARE $600 EACH, NO MORE AMERICAN CARS FOR THIS FAMILY

- , Bertha, Minnesota, USA

problem #21

Nov 012009

Explorer ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Replaced all bearings, to find out 2 months later one of the rear bearings went. I had to pay labor to have it fixed. Now 11 months later another bearing went...i had to pay to have that fixed too......How is it you can drive a car for 115,000 miles and the bearings are fine...After 1 year of driving around in new bearing.. and 2 of them are shot???? Really...am I expected to pay for this?

- , Port Ewen, NY, USA

problem #20

Oct 012010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

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

my front bearings failed and i was able to replace them myself.. got the parts from a internet company, but now i have to repair the rear... the noise is a lot less but i have to take the knuckle to a shop because the bearings are pressed in... yuk..i must say i also needed to replace the serpentine belt twice already.... i have a Camry with 250k and i am still running everything original other than brakes, timing belt,water pump and oil pump. normal wear repairs... wish ford could make them like that..read a couple of threads on the whistling in the rear end...( not the bearings ) harmonic balancer and oil viscosity might be the culprit... i guess I'll turn the radio up for that one..i don't like stripping differentials..good luck everyone

- , Monroe, NY, USA

problem #19

Jul 092010

Explorer XLT

  • 88,000 miles

More problems with the Explorer. Transmission, wheel bearings, exterior trim falling off. Terrible design by Ford

- , Drexel Hill, PA, USA

problem #18

Oct 022010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

I have a ford explorer to with the same f.. problem, wheel bearings, it sucks because I was so proud of ford, and argue with my friends all the time by being on the ford side!!! I bought it with a 90.000 miles and I drove it for two years, now it has 147000 and gives me a lot of headaches, I just got done the brakes all 4 the wheel bearings, and steel. I have some noise from the front I have no idea what that is , the service engine light turning on and off ,abs light the same, the cruise control an the horn doesn't work too, looks like I have to spend a lot of money for the repair,bought the car have to bring the money not to spend them!!!! I think the European cars are much better!!!

- , Boston, MA, USA

problem #17

Dec 012009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

So I bought my 2003 Ford Explorer and everything was fine until about 65,000 miles. I noticed a noise coming from the rear and thought it was tires. I replaced the tires and no change. It progressively got worse so I took it in and was told it needed wheel bearings by two different mechanics. I replaced at that time the right front and right rear, cost $525.00 for part and labor. When I got it back about a month later I started to notice a noise again, so took it to same place and he said the remaining two were bad also. I again replaced them the left front and rear Costing $ 550.00. Since then I have had to replace the Right front again and both the rear back ones costing $600.00.

So in total including the originals my vehicle has had 10 wheel bearings on it. This is unexceptable and ridiculous!!!. I don't know what to do anymore and am very frustrated to say the least. The parts came from a well known establishment and I am hoping I can at least get some of my money back. I found a new mechanic who changed the last two and said they were extremly bad and was surprised to know it had only been about 16 months since they were changed. FYI beware of buying a ford. I will never purchase another one..There are other things wrong with this vehicle and my best friend also has owns one and has sunk thousand of dollars in to it also.

- , Vassar, MI, USA

problem #16

May 102010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

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

We have the 2003 FORD EXPLORER EDDIE BAUER EDITION, and noticed a whining sound starting when you were driving it. We weren't really sure what it was, til we realized it was wheel bearings. The noise was so loud tho, we couldn't figure out which one was making the sound. Til one day, the noise got a lot worse and it was coming from a back wheel. We replaced that one and still could hear the noise from before in the car when driving it. Long story short, we ended up replacing all 4 wheel bearings, which I add, is not cheap at all. And low and behold, we once again hear the same noise. We think coming from the back once again. This is ridiculous that you would have this much trouble from a car. I have never had this many wheel bearings to go out on one car alone. FORD is a joke obviously and needs to make their products with better quality. I still owe on this vehicle and this is one of a few problems we have had. The most recent being the transmission, and now it cant even be drove, so I am paying a car note on a car that cant be used. What a JOKE!!!!

- , Staffordsville, KY, USA

problem #15

Aug 072010

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,200 miles

I also heard a load roaring noise coming from my car. I even thought it was my tires. I first replaced both of the front tires. Cost me about $500.00. Then it continued so I bought another set of tires ($700.00). The noise kept getting louder. Then there was the thumping I have been feeling under the drivers side. I had all 4 hubs replaced for $1,536 dollars and there is still a thumping noise coming from the drivers side.

The load roaring noise is gone but after I have spent all this money. Taking my car back to dealer this weekend to try and figure out what the thumping is.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #14

Apr 202010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Had front wheel bearings replaced, now can hear noise coming from the rear end...rear bearings next.

- , Deerfield Beach, FL, USA

problem #13

Oct 102008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

If several people are complaining about the same thing, I believe there is a huge problem. All my bearings are going bad. Within a years time I have had to replace 3 wheel bearings. This is something that never happens on on most vehicles. What the hell, this is definitely a recall issue to me!!!!!

- , Orlando, FL, USA

problem #12

Aug 202009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

Yeah along with the tranny my wheel bearings are bad 3 or four so they tell me at 47K miles on my beautiful 2003 Ford Explorer! :-( This thing is a POS!

- , Northville, MI, USA

problem #11

Aug 272009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

First my front bearing went, then i'm driving down the road and th erear bearing went. Ridiculous. So many people are having problems and ford is allowed to just keep collecting money from people who can't afford to keep replacing these piece of crap parts.

- , North East, PA, USA

problem #10

Feb 202007

Explorer XLT 4.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

OH MY GOODNESS!! THIS NOISE IS ABOUT TO DRIVE ME INSANE. I GET OFF THE GAS CONSTANTLY TRYING TO STOP THE HUMMING NOISE COMING FROM MY REAR END. THIS IS THE SECOND EXPLORER I'VE OWNED AND I WILL NEVER OWN ANOTHER ONE BECAUSE THEY BOTH HAVE THIS SAME PROBLEM WITH THE REAR ENDS. THE NOISE WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY! WE REPLACED FRONT WHEEL BEARINGS AND ONE ON THE REAR BUT THE PROBLEM STILL PERSISTS. FORD YOU'RE JUST NOT DOING A GOOD JOB!!!! I USE TO LOVE U, BUT NOT ANYMORE.

- , Greensburg, LA, USA

problem #9

Oct 212008

Explorer XLS 4.0L L6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Just another in my ongoing series of horror stories with this miserable vehicle. Ford sucks... and they know it.

- , Honesdale, PA, USA

problem #8

Apr 172009

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

The front and rear wheel bearings failed on my 2003 Ford Explorer all at once. The vehicle is driven to and from work on paved payment with no off-roading. The wheel bearings should not fail at 67,000 miles. I have owned 2 other cars with higher mileage and this never even came up as a possibility. Ford pointed out the problem, but failed to admit it was a design flaw. I asked how many have they replaced around that mileage and they said a lot. I wonder how many Toyota's, Nissan's, and other foreign companies have this problem? I can't seem to find 100 (if not 1000's) of complaints on them, yet, I find them on the Exporer!

I am saddened to say I am no longer buying American. Start making a better product to show you need to make $65 an hour. The only accountability being shown towards this company is it's low stock price and decline in auto sales. Too bad they didn't fix problems like this before people started buying foreign cars.

My advice to future owners. Please do not waste your money. Take it from other people who lost theirs to help you know enough about this vehicle to not waste yours.

- , Olmsted Township, OH, USA

problem #7

Mar 012009

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

I had to replace all 4 wheel bearings after 62,000 miles. It seemed like such a coincidence that at first I thought the mechanic was trying to pull one over on me until he showed me them one at a time.

It's like Ford put toy bearings on the truck. They look totally undersized for the job. No wonder they failed. The last few miles driven in the Explorer sounded like an airplane taking off, with the wailing and droning sounds especially loud in the front end.

What the hell is Ford thinking---there is no chance anyone who goes through this after just 62,000 miles will ever buy a Ford product again. These are expensive, time consuming, and safety issues. Ford is so shortsighted its unfathomable. My Explorer has been, by far, the most expensive car to maintain I have ever had.

- , Longmeadow, MA, USA

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