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.

7.8

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$671.00
Average Mileage:
89,578 miles
Total Complaints:
130 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace wheel bearing (43 reports)
  2. replace complete hub assembly (26 reports)
  3. replaced wheel bearings (23 reports)
  4. 3rd party repair, no way i'm giving dealer more money (14 reports)
  5. not sure (11 reports)
  6. dealer replaced all the bearings (6 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #110

Mar 092012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,000 miles

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

I have had one 1996 explorer XLT before and I loved it because it was my first car, that being said I have quite an extensive amount of time crawling over the inside and out of my car because the transfer case S*it on me about 15,000 miles after i bought it off of my parents for $1,000, but I would consider 450,000 miles a long life for an 'exploder' this one has almost 200,000 miles on it and the wheel bearing is going out on the passenger side probably because the grease boot was off its clamps, this kind of failure I can deal with, it was my error for not checking it regularly. So let this be a warning to you if your looking at this: CHECK YOUR BOOTS!!!!!!!

- , Myrtle Beach, SC, USA

problem #109

Jun 152009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

In 50 years of car ownership, never had a rear wheel bearing go bad. Both rear bearings failed and had to be replaced. Something very wrong here. I believe the quality of the bearings were faulty and probably the result of buying imported cheaper bearings. Bearings probably guaranteed to last until at least auto warranty runs out. After that, it the owners responsibility so what do we care. Where are the recalls for these potentially dangerous part failures?

- , Middletown, NJ, USA

problem #108

Aug 092011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,200 miles

When I bought this vehicle there was a whirring noise in the rear end. Started out at about 25 MPH and leveled out at 60-70. Never got worse, just the same noise all the time. I looked up this problem on the web. It all pointed to rear wheel bearings. So I purchased a set of cheap ($23.00 ea) wheel bearings on E-Bay. I'm a certified technician so I was going to do the work myself. Independent rear suspension is more involved than i want to tackle at home. Took it in to Jennifer's Auto Service Department in Spokane to get it looked at. They diagnosed the problem as a bad differential. All but $180 was covered by the insurance. When I picked it up the noise was still there. I took it right back. They agreed it was the rear bearings. They really didn't do anything wrong. No complaints on them. They do a good job. And me being a technician, I am empathetic. But, Against their advice, they installed the bearings I had purchased. $260.00 this time. And, not covered. It wasn't a week when the r/h bearing got really noisy. Worse than before. The E-bay seller sent a new bearing free of charge. $180.00 this time. It was a week or two later the left side failed. I took it back. We both agreed to not use the same brand. They installed a hub and bearing assembly. $413.00 this time. As I left I remarked "how long before the r/h side goes"! It was about a week or two. I kept driving it till I could afford to fix it. It got so bad it sounded like an airplane going down the road. So we just let it sit. I was afraid it would have a catastrophic failure and leave me with a tow bill. When my wife followed me to the shop she remarked she could hear it from inside her car! The the bearing was egg shaped, falling apart, and got so hot it warped the whole knuckle and hub assembly. Install another hub and bearing assembly (and knuckle). $480 this time. But it's fixed right. All out of my pocket! Ford's rear wheel bearing are defective, the cheap ones on E-Bay are absolute junk (China), the breakdown insurance sucks, I should have use better judgement, etc.,etc., etc. I've never had so much trouble with a vehicle in my life.

- , Newma Lake, WA, USA

problem #107

Jun 012010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

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

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 #106

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 #105

Nov 152011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I had to replace both front wheel bearings within weeks of each other...$600 total. Here we are a month later and now I'm getting ready to replace one of the rear wheel bearings...another $300. I'm just waiting on the 4th one to need replacing also.

- , Springfield, OH, USA

problem #104

Oct 052011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

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

I had to replace both front wheel bearings within weeks of each other...$600 total. Here we are a month later and now I'm getting ready to replace one of the rear wheel bearings...another $300. I'm just waiting on the 4th one to need replacing also.

- , Springfield, OH, USA

problem #103

Mar 052008

Explorer Eddie BauerXLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,681 miles

the wheel bearing failing caused a really awful humming noise and costs a fortune to get it fixed

- , Hamilton, Ontario, canada

problem #102

Nov 242008

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

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 #101

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, MN, USA

problem #100

Sep 102010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

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

This is one of the many, MANY things that has gone wrong with my explorer. I had to replace the passenger side hub assembly (while away on a trip) and now the driver's side is shot as well. And after reading the posts on this site, I am almost certain the humming noise that I've been attributing to my tires is the rear bearings/hubs. Awesome. Thank you Ford for sticking it to someone who, even after taking one in the rear with his 2-door sport, decided he would give you another try. I will never buy another Ford. Ever.

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #99

Mar 022011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,567 miles

just found out the front wheel bearing is gooing out on my truck cant belive how much it gonna cost just read all other complaint on the same thing please let me know if the any recalls i cant afford to fix this

- , Crawfordville, FL, USA

problem #98

Mar 242011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

Regrettably I must add a comment to this site. I too have a 2003 Ford Explorer with 129K miles on it. The vehicle is my pride and joy, and I love it! However, I noticed that the vehicle swayed at highway speeds. While dropping my 1995 Toyota Corolla off at the mechanic to replace the left front wheel hub and bearings (227K miles), I happened to make mention to the mechanic that the Explorer sways at highway speeds. He agreed to diagnosis the problem. The next day the mechanic called my cell and stated he took the 2003 Ford Explorer for a test drive and it was all over the road. He remarked that it made no noise and he was amazed to find that both the left front and rear bearings were so badly worn that the wheels could have dislodged and caused serious injury or death. The mechanic replaced the left hubs and bearings at a cost of$669.00. Last year I had the rear differential replaced and I only drive the truck on weekends. Sadly, my wife is now afraid to drive the Ford and would prefer to drive the Toyota. Frankly, I’m coming to the same conclusion as just this evening the ABS light came on and I’m certain it will cost another several hundred dollars. My next stop after this repair will be to the Toyota dealership.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #97

Apr 182011

Explorer 4.0L V6 Flex Fuel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

click to see larger images

wheel bearings failed wheel bearings failed wheel bearings failed

I purchased this vehicle from a government fleet auction at about 77,000 miles for $10,000. At that time it would make a whining/ whistling sound in cold weather on the highway. At about 90,000 miles the car started to vibrate and hum/ whine on the highway, and make a whirring noise when making a sharp turn. I thought it was the transfer case or rear differential, but it turned out to be the front bearings. I went to Napa and purchased two bearings for $150 each (the cheaper ones go bad fast) and installed them myself. All the noise and vibration went away. If you are thinking about doing this yourself please keep reading. This is no simple task because there are three bolts that fasten the front hub to the steering knuckle, and they are so tight that I broke a wrench and a ratchet, and in the end had to cut them apart with a cut-off grinder through the small gap that I created. I am healthy and strong, but with all my 210 lbs. ape strength and a breaker-bar, break-loose spray, and a blow torch, I couldn’t get the things to hardly budge. A bearing pulley is necessary to get the axle out of the hub to get a socket over the screw head, and a 5lb slide hammer is absolutely necessary to pull the hub forward out of the steering knuckle. It may be worth it to just pay the $400 -$700 and have a shop do it. So, I got the bearings fixed, and now after getting the transmission fluid changed at a transmission shop, the owner found a piece of what looks like a snap ring and metal shavings. Oh boy!

Update from Jun 24, 2011: I purchased this vehicle from a government fleet auction at about 77,000 miles for $10,000. At that time it would make a whining/ whistling sound in cold weather on the highway. At about 90,000 miles the car started to vibrate and hum/ whine on the highway, and make a whirring noise when making a sharp turn. I thought it was the transfer case or rear differential, but it turned out to be the front bearings. I went to Napa and purchased two bearings for $150 each (the cheaper ones go bad fast) and installed them myself. All the noise and vibration went away. If you are thinking about doing this yourself please keep reading. This is no simple task because there are three bolts that fasten the front hub to the steering knuckle, and they are so tight that I broke a wrench and a ratchet, and in the end had to cut them apart with a cut-off grinder through the small gap that I created. I am healthy and strong, but with all my 210 lbs. ape strength and a breaker-bar, break-loose spray, and a blow torch, I couldn’t get the things to hardly budge. A bearing pulley is necessary to get the axle out of the hub to get a socket over the screw head, and a 5lb slide hammer is absolutely necessary to pull the hub forward out of the steering knuckle. It may be worth it to just pay the $400 -$700 and have a shop do it. So, I got the bearings fixed, and now after getting the transmission fluid changed at a transmission shop, the owner found a piece of what looks like a snap ring and metal shavings. Oh boy! For more detailed instructions on changing the front bearings swing by: http://conceptxchange.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/changing-the-front-hub-assembly-on-a-2003-ford-explorer/

- , Spokane Valley, WA, USA

problem #96

Apr 172011

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

It happened very suddenly. My wheel started making crazy clunking noises and when I was making a u turn on my street, it felt like the wheel came off. I looked and it seemed okay. I got in, drove to my parent's house to work on my car because I thought it was the brakes. I changed all the brakes and attempted to drive off when the noise returned with authority this time. Now the car was making so much noise it was hard to not worry. It can't be towed unless on a flatbed now.

I read up on the bearing issue and it seems that this problem is too common and once it happens you have to keep replacing the bearings..sometimes within months. WTH is wrong with Ford? Bearings shouldn't just go out like that on a commuter car. It's not like I was offroading with it.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #95

Aug 022010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

A lot of whoooing noise and rough driving.cost me over $300 but can't remember exactly

- , Methuen, MA, USA

problem #94

Feb 212011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

I used to love my truck. It starting to cost way too much the way it is built the labor is most of the bill,which is ridiculous.

- , Methuen, MA, USA

problem #93

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 #92

Oct 012010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

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 #91

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

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