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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 8
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 1
Average Mileage:
59,842 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 F-150 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Ford F-150 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #28

Jun 262016


  • 200,000 miles


The contact owned a 2003 Ford F-150. The contact stated that while the vehicle was parked and there was an abnormal odor of smoke. The contact stated that suddenly the vehicle engulfed into flames. The fire department was notified and was able to extinguish the fire. A fire report was filed. The vehicle was towed to the residence. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 200,000.

- Hope, RI, USA

problem #27

Jan 012014


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford F-150. While driving during rainy weather conditions, the instrument panel failed intermittently. In addition, the four wheel drive and the windshield wipers activated independently. The contact stated that the battery needed to be disconnected and then reconnected in order for the vehicle to resume normal operation. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where the battery and the keys were replaced, but the failure persisted. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 80,000.

- Shreveport, LA, USA

problem #26

Oct 082014

F-150 8-cyl

  • 112,000 miles
My 2003 F-150 V8, 4.6L 2wd truck received water damage to the GEM (generic electronic module) causing the windshield wipers to stop working while driving to work on a foggy/dew morning after a rainstorm. The water damage was due to a leak on the loose windshield that caused water to run directly to the fusebox & GEM that controls all electronics in the vehicle. After looking seeking an answer for this problem, I found that at lease a hundred others have had the same windshield leak in the '97-'03 F series vehicles. The GEM could and has caused vehicles to shut off and on and have lights go off and on at a random time if it received water damage. It is very dangerous and needs to be fixed immediately. The windshield is a common problem and many others have suffered from the same problem as me. Thank you for your time.

- Manchester, MI, USA

problem #25

May 122012

F-150 8-cyl

  • 115,000 miles


Vehicle lost all power (in dry climate), including steering, and brakes at approximately 50mph. Came to a stop using the emergency brake. Had two near misses while attempting to come to a stop. Vehicle had to be towed as the ECM (engine control module) was no good. Had prior misfires in engine, which Ford had diagnosed as a bad head valve. After rebuilding the heads, the problem continued (while under use in dry climate). Incident occurred, at which point the vehicle had become disabled. 2nd Ford dealership diagnosed as "electrical problems" which had allegedly caused the vehicle's ECM (engine control module) to short out. No more than 500 miles and/or 3 days after replacement of the ECM and fixing of unspecified "electrical problems" (and in moist climate), vehicle would have periodic misfires which would on occasion be so severe so as to drop all gauges on dash to their "off" positions, but with the engine still running (under stress from supposed misfire which would shake the entire truck). On two later occasions, while idling at a stop light the vehicle would repeat the same condition as with the initial incident, where the vehicle would completely shut-off, with exception that on the repeat occasions, the ECM was still functional and I was able to restart the vehicle. A 3rd Ford dealership was unable to diagnose exact problem but suggested replacement of coils followed by wiring as a possible fix to the misfire. I removed the vehicle to a dry climate and replaced all plugs, coils, and boots for testing. Vehicle successfully functioned under dry, moist, and snowy climates afterwards. Continues in operation and is currently at +/- 155,000 miles.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #24

May 252013

F-150 8-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
The fuse # 29 in the inside cab fuse box has blown twice. The first time is unknown the second time within 10 days of replacing the second fuse. This fuse controls the transmission overdrive, the auto-lamp and belt minder functions of the truck. I have seen on other web pages the same problem we are experiencing.

- Riverside, CA, USA

problem #23

May 102012

F-150 4WD 8-cyl

  • 170,000 miles
Was heavy rain outside then my truck started blowing the horn, heater was turning on and off, lights going on and off by them selves. Figured its part of the issue with the windshield issue Ford knows about since 2002. The notice was *Ford special message #15773 which covered a few vehicles but has expanded to cover other vehicles. Last year, I was on the highway during heavy rain and all the sudden, all power went off, windshield wipers stopped working, radio was going funny, heat was turning on and off, it was difficult to drive. That only lasted for a few seconds but made it where I got off the highway, made it back to my house then brought it to Ford to find out the issue. I opted not to have the work done at that time for the mechanic said its okay for the time being. But corrosion was starting and I needed to have the windshield fixed before the issue at hand could be fixed, because if I didn't, it just would cause the issues a few years down the road again. Looking through, I see you have a lot of "electrical issues" being brought up, and all of them from what I have seen look to be caused by the same issue, mind you that this issue is known from vehicles 1998 - 2003, possibly into the 2004.

- Windham, ME, USA

problem #22

Mar 092011

F-150 8-cyl

  • 97,557 miles


I have a Ford F150 and within the last 4 months I have had 3 ignition coils/spark plugs go up in it. I called Ford and they told me it has been a problem and to hold onto my receipts in case there is a recall in the future. While I was at our local Ford dealership getting my truck worked on they also told me they have had a lot of fl50S coming in with the same problem do you know if there will be a recall on the F150 ignition coils/spark plugs ?

- Elkins, WV, USA

problem #21

Mar 092011

F-150 4WD 8-cyl

  • 97,557 miles
I have a Ford F150 and within the last 4 months I have had 3 ignition coils go up in it I called Ford and they told me it has been a problem and to hold onto my receipts incase there is a recall in the future while I was at our local Ford dealership getting my truck worked on they also told me they have had a lot of fl50S coming in with the same problem do you know if there will be a recall on the F150 ignition coils ? thank you for your time.

- Elkins, WV, USA

problem #20

May 302011


  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford F150. While the vehicle was parked the contact stated the horn began to blow on its own and black smoke began to escape from the windows. The fire also began near the fuse box. The contact extinguished the fire with a fire extinguisher. A fire report was filed. The insurance company had not concluded there investigation regarding the cause of the fire. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 62,000.

- Florence, CO, USA

problem #19

Jan 012006

F-150 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford F-150. The contact stated that all of the interior lights would continue to illuminate even when the vehicle was shut off. The failure began to recur intermittently. The contact also stated the vehicle would also intermittently stall while driving at various speeds. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer where the contact was told there was a leak within the door panels and windshield. Due to the leak, water was getting inside of the vehicle and causing a short circuit in the wiring system. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 60,000 and the current mileage was 150,000. Updated 05/13/11

- Peachtree City, GA, USA

problem #18

Jan 242011


  • 41,050 miles


Left dealership after lo-jack installation. Entered traffic lane and began lightly braking for approaching signal. I felt two forward surges and then increasingly rapid acceleration. I checked rear view mirror and then pressed on brakes with the sound of the racing turbo charged engine filling the cab. I then moved the gear out of drive and in my haste saw I had it between reverse and park. I brought it back to neutral and then the sound subsided. The entire acceleration incident lasted less than 10 seconds. The truck was immediately returned to dealership and then reported incident to the manufacturer.

- Benicia, CA, USA

problem #17

Jan 012009


  • 75,000 miles
My Ford F150 super crew has a recurring problem in that it continuously blows a certain 5 amp fuse. This fuse disables the automatic lights, the automatic door locks and the overdrive system. I took the truck to the local Ford dealership. They replaced the fuse and charged me $52.50. They did not fix anything. I found an identical complaint on your website from Nov 30, 2008.

- Paducah, KY, USA

problem #16

Sep 182010


  • miles
2003 Ford F150 burns while driving down highway - total loss - starts in engine.

- Columbia, TN, USA

problem #15

Aug 022010


  • 143,688 miles
Coming home to va from Ohio we were going through the mountains and had to keep flooring the truck. The spark plugs acted like they were fouling and the truck sputtered home. We came home and our mechanic said we blew out or ejected two spark plugs on our Triton 4.6L 2003 pick up truck. He said it would have to be repaired by Ford and it would probably cost about $900. We found out this is a recurring problem on the new non-plug wires trucks using a series of coil, over plug coil connectors specifically on the Triton Ford truck motors. Why hasn't NHTSA contacted Ford. We smelled gas the whole way home; about 500 miles after it happened. If the gas fumes ignited it would have burned my truck up but could have hurt my wife and three grandchildren riding with us. [xxx] I bought the mechanic eight sparkplugs *$6.99 each, then eight coiled/sleeves $52 each and a new coil unit $163, he is having a company heliarc-coils to repair the sparkplug seats. This is a very poor design, and had I known this when we bought the truck, we wouldn't have. I sent Ford motor a customer service complaint as well. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Suffolk, VA, USA

problem #14

Oct 312009


  • 93,864 miles
Windshield leaks and is frying my electrical system. 2003 F150. I have read numerous articles on Ford needing to fix these issues.

- Nes Hope, AL, USA

problem #13

Nov 142004


  • 15,000 miles
My 2003 Ford F150 truck has a recurring problem in that it continuously blows a certain 5 amp fuse. I was told by a technician at the Ford authorized service where I have my service work done that he has seen about 10 of these cases. The problem is a cowl leak that allows water on an electronic module located under the dash. The fuse will blow predictably 2 to 3 days after a rain or wash. The safety consequences are: 1. the blown fuse disables the feature that automatically turns on the headlights & taillights thereby becoming an accident risk particularly when the driver has become accustomed to the automatic control of the lights; 2. the blown fuse disables the feature that automatically locks all of the vehicles doors when the transmission is shifted into drive thereby exposing the occupants to carjacking and other personal dangers; 3. the blown fuse disables the pushbutton control for shifting the transmission into and out of overdrive which could pose a hazard in snow and ice conditions or driving in mountainous terrain. Based on these indisputable safety hazards the manufacturer should be required to recall all vehicles subject to this condition and repair/replace as necessary to eliminate the possibility of these hazards.

- Taylors, SC, USA

problem #12

Apr 152008


  • 36,000 miles
In April 2008 the battery was dead on the truck. Battery was replaced and truck still would not start. After we were finally able to get the truck started it was taken to the local dealer where it remained for 2-3 weeks. Service department determined that the cluster ($700) was bad and replaced it. (we have since been told by other mechanics, if the cluster was bad we would not have been able to start the truck, so why was it replaced.) the truck was brought back home and the next time it rained the battery was again dead. Again truck was taken to the dealer service department. This time they determined that it was leaking around the window gasket ($100) and replaced this. 2 months later another rain and again a dead vehicle. Truck was again taken to the dealer where it remained another 2 weeks. After several phone calls and complaints it was determined that they did not know what was wrong with the vehicle and needed to call the main technicians. We still have no idea what is wrong with the vehicle and keep it in the garage. Truck can't be driven if there is any hint of rain because we don't want to end up stranded. We live in a small community and this is the second truck, same model and year, that we know of in our area that is having this same problem. Obviously there is some issue with the electrical systems in these vehicles as it does not appear to be limited to a few. This truck only has 37, 000 miles on it and is a complete waste to have unless we lived in the desert. I think all Ford owners need to ban together and sue Ford for aggravation and non functional vehicles. Never again will I waste my time buying a Ford vehicle.

- Corbin, KY, USA

problem #11

Jun 052005


  • 10,000 miles
On 5/5/2005, we purchased a 2003 Ford F150 heritage edition 4X4. It had only 10,000 miles on it. On June 5, 2005, just one month after purchase, I returned home from my aunt's house. About 5 minutes later, the truck was on fire. The truck was totaled and released to the insurance company. At the time, we were told 2003 Ford were not included in the recall and now they are.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #10

Apr 282008


  • 130,000 miles
Water leaked into the cab trough the windshield and shorted out the GEM module and corroded the fuse box. No leak was evident before the short out of various electrical systems.

- Waconia, MN, USA

problem #9

Oct 162007

F-150 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,850 miles
Truck speeds-up wide open after cranking and going from park to reverse or drive!! this is the second time I've filed a complaint with NHTSA -the first time was on 5/30/07. Since the last filing my F150 truck has had a "speed-up occasion" three times in Aug. '07 and three times in Oct. '07 the last time being on Oct. 16, '07. Sooner or later these speed ups will cause an accident!! see also ODI 10192039

- Thomaston, GA, USA

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