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.

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hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
101,733 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 Lincoln Aviator drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Lincoln Aviator Owner Comments

problem #17

Jan 152013


  • 45,000 miles


On my 2003 Aviator the door ajar light comes on at various times during the day and night. My interior lights flash and my car alarm goes off. It's been doing this for about two years, but has gotten worse this year 2016. My battery has died twice in two days. So frustrated with this vehicle. Was summoned over the intercom in a department store and at work saying that a Lincoln SUV's alarm was going off and that the lights were flashing. I knew it was mine. I hit the alarm button on the key fob which cut off the alarm for about 30 seconds and it started up again. When driving at night, the door ajar light comes on which makes my interior lights flash quickly and makes it difficult to drive because of the glare of the interior lights being on. The door ajar light comes on anytime day or night, stationary or while driving. I bought this vehicle new. It only has 67,000 miles on it now, but over the years, I've had serious issues with the transmission, had to replace 2 wheel bearings, there's a crack near the emblem on the liftgate, the stereo makes loud popping sounds in the back which sounds like a gunshot, sometimes can't get out of park, the gear shift gets stuck! I'm so frustrated with this vehicle. I complained to the Ford company several years ago when there were only 40,000 miles on the vehicle and the transmission was having serious issues, and also my water pump went bad. Their reply was: "we're sorry to hear that, please take your vehicle to one of our dealers for great service repair". I think I bought a lemon!! too many things going wrong with a vehicle that was purchased new and still have low miles!! my windshield sprayer control on the left side on the steering wheel also stopped working suddenly about 5 years ago, I almost forgot about that issue.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #16

Nov 302015


  • 162,732 miles
Takata recall when I park in my drive way my car won't shift out of park I have to have it pushed an rocked back an forth to get the gear to shift an it won't let me drive it in drive gear I can only drive it in 3rd gear it has this jurk when I stop to park it constantly getting stuck.

- New Orlrans, LA, USA

problem #15

Jul 312015


  • 82,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Lincoln Aviator. While the vehicle was parked on an incline, the gear shift cable would not go into drive or reverse. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technician stated that the gear shift cable needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired, but the failure recurred. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was awaiting a diagnosis. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 82,000.

- Millington, TN, USA

problem #14

Apr 012014


  • 90,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Lincoln Aviator. While shifting into reverse, the vehicle hesitated. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the transmission shifter cable fractured and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired; however, several months after the repair, the contact was made aware of NHTSA campaign number: 02V313000 (power train). The manufacturer was notified of the failure and stated that the vehicle was not included in the recall. The failure mileage was 90,000.

- Maylene , AL, USA

problem #13

Nov 022013

Aviator 8-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
My husband and I were driving our 2003 Lincoln Aviator when it basically stopped going and wouldn't change gear or speed up. (this is the second time it's gotten stuck in gear, the 1st time was when it was parked and wouldn't move but the gear shift moved freely). We got it back home and realized again the transmission shift cable had come dislodged. Lincoln had a recall on 25 vehicle regarding this problem, when I called I was told my vehicle wasn't one of them and wasn't included in the recall even thought I'm having the exact same issue. I've complained about the one here one time before and nothing happened. This is crazy. I could've been in a serious accident behind this.

- North Chesterfield, VA, USA

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problem #12

Oct 282013


  • 120,000 miles
Our 2003 Lincoln Aviator continues to experience the same problem - once in park, you cannot move the gear shift to any other gear - it's stuck. Occasionally, my husband can wiggle a wire underneath the brake and gas pedals so we can shift into reverse or drive but this continues to happen. I have been stuck, alone and with our small children. Is there a permanent correction for this issue?

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #11

Sep 162013

Aviator 8-cyl

  • 137,135 miles


I was sitting in park. Just had stopped to make a deposit. Put my foot on the brake & my 2003 Aviator would not shift from park. Called the dealer, got their tow service. The tow guy told me to put my feet on the brakes, my brake lights did not come on. He said that's why it will not shift from park. It is not getting the signal that the brakes were mashed. Got it towed. Dealer replaced the shifter, that they said had gone out that was the issue. Out of $1306 & less than one week later, at the store, got in my Aviator.. can't get out of park. Same issue.. same tow guy called.. he works to get it out of park with a screw driver.. towed back to the dealer. No brake lights indicated=no shift from park to. Is the new shifter for $950 now out? not!!! has to be another issue.

- Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #10

Sep 032013

Aviator 8-cyl

  • 66,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Lincoln Aviator. The contact stated that while attempting to shift into reverse, the gear lever detached unexpectedly. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer for diagnosis. The technician informed the contact that the gear shift assembly would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. There was a recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number 02V313000 (power train); however the recall had expired. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 66,000..... updated 10-17-13 updated 10/23/2013

- Ayrshire, IA, USA

problem #9

Aug 132013

Aviator 8-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
I was backing out of my driveway into the street. Once I was in the street, I put the car into drive and stepped on the gas. The car went the opposite direction- reverse. I double checked the gear shift ( in the center of the vehicle), it was "D" for drive. I made sure it was in the D, and stepped slowly on the gas, and it went into reverse. I tried to apply the brakes, but they didn't engage. I quickly stepped on the emergency brake, and that stopped the car. Fortunately, I was in a cul-de-sac with out other pedestrians or vehicles at the time. It was extremely dangerous to have a car where the shift isn't engaged at all. The vehicle has been always maintained by the Lincoln dealer, and it is being towed to that dealership at this time. It's too dangerous to drive.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #8

Jun 042013


  • 98,000 miles
Last week my 03 Lincoln Aviator transmission shift cable came a loose, it was fixed. Today on my way from work the transmission acted as if is didn't want to shift into the next gear and them the "check transmission" light and "overdrive" light came on. I made it home safely but now will be unable to drive it, until further notice. Will call to check to see if my vehicle was included in the recall. Something really needs to be done regarding the transmission problems regarding this vehicle, before it causes an accident.

- North Chesterfield, VA, USA

problem #7

May 032013

Aviator 8-cyl

  • 158,000 miles


I had just got home with my vehicle from the repair shop, had a vacuum hose replaced. I could not get my key out of the ignition. I kept trying & was finally successful at removing the key. Now the gear shifter is stuck in park and will not go into any other gear. I just got it back from the shop & still can't drive it due to getting it in gear. This really does need to be looked into & they need to do a recall. I have seen a lot of complaints about this problem. I have 2 more years to pay it off & then it is gone.

- Shallotte, NC, USA

problem #6

Oct 012012


  • 110,000 miles
The differential and transfer case both need to be replaced. I have had 2 mechanics look at it and they are both saying that the differential and transfer case both need to be replaced.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #5

Sep 242012

Aviator 8-cyl

  • 143,145 miles
The shifter knob on my 2003 Lincoln Aviator broke off. The shifter was locked in place in drive and you are unable to shift into any other gear except the gear you're in. It seems that a very cheap plastic piece broke under the shifter knob and the dealer quoted me $1200 dollars to replace the entire shifter assembly. I have checked online and seen that this is a very-very common problem among owners. There is no recall for this issue, but this is surely a severe safety issue. I am not sure how many complaints it takes but this is a horrible safety issue. Also, this vehicle has a whole array of front and rear differential issues along with a severe clunking noise when the vehicle is 1st put into reverse, drive or downshifts after acceleration.

- Blacklick, OH, USA

problem #4

Nov 282011


  • 126,450 miles
Shifter knob on 03 Aviator broke off. The shifter was locked in place in drive at a greenlight. It seems that a very cheap plastic piece broke. The dealer quoted me $1200 dollars to replace the entire shifter assembly. I am checking other options but seeing the further I look the more common this problem. I am not sure how many complaints it takes but this is a horrible safety issue.

- Greenville , SC, USA

problem #3

May 102011


  • 172,000 miles
Transmission shifter breaks and locks in place. The result is to leave the vehicle occupants stranded in a dangerous neighborhood where their personal safety is at risk. The problem is a broken $5 piece of plastic contained within the shifter knob. However, Ford refuses to supply the $5 piece and instead requires the vehicle owner to purchase the entire shifter assembly (which costs almost $1000). Based on the number of backorders for this piece at any one point in time, it is apparent that Ford is aware of the problem and is not taking steps to remedy. The only remedy that they offer is to force the consumer to pay $1,000 in order for consumers to gain access to the $5 piece of plastic. This happened to me when I was out of town on a trip with my family. We had pulled off the road, but left the car running. When we went to place it in gear, it refused to shift out of park. We were unable to push the vehicle or move it in any way because it was stuck in park. The sun went down and we were stranded. I am unemployed and while I could afford a small repair, I couald not afford the expensive repair (the dealership also needed to charge for their labor, so the quote was over $1500). After being stranded overnight, I convinced the dealer to just show me how to shift the car without replacing the shifter. Now I have to keep the gear shift knob removed (which subjects the mechanism to accidentally have the overdrive button pushed). With the knob removed, I can lift the rod to shift into gear and then must lower the rod (manually) to lock it into the selected location. Failure to lower the rod allows the shifter to move freely and also prevents the keys from being removed once the shifter is again in park. Fords unwillingness to provide an economic solution provides a safety hazard to consumers who trusted Ford to do the right thing. Please help!

- Norwalk, IA, USA

problem #2

Nov 012004

Aviator 8-cyl

  • miles
Multiple failures in 2003 Lincoln Aviator. Difficulty turning, starting, jerk in steering wheel, vibration in tires, gear changer loose and ect. The consumer purchased the vehicle with 18 inch rims but Ford requires 17 inch rims to be legal (oem) equipment. The consumer felt that this was maliciously dishonest sale of an automobile. The side fender had a gauge on the inside, the rear storage section leather ripped, the tire monitor system kept coming on with a warning sign from the computer of a mechanical defect, difficulty starting the vehicle, jerking in the steering wheel, noise in the steering wheel, noise in heating/vent bubbling, passenger front windows were rattling, there was motor noise upon acceleration, front end noise, rear hatch rattled and was shaking, the wheels squealed and rubbed, the doors did not automattically lock when the vehcile was engaged into drive, and the engine knock as if it were running rough. When the service tech tried to shift the gear lever out of park, the entire gear lever had come apart in pieces. The consumer stated that the vehicle was worse than ever. Currently when the brakes were applied the steering would go out of control, jerk left and right, shaked out of control and unable to steer.

- Newnan, GA, USA

problem #1

Sep 012004

Aviator 8-cyl

  • miles
Consumer states that dealer put aftermarket rims tires on vehicle. The vehicle experienced the following; difficulty turning the vehicle, heater bubbling making noises, difficulty starting the vehicle, jerking in the steering wheel, noise in the steering, noise in the heating/vent bubbling, pulsating in the steering wheel, vibration of the tires, the tire monitoring system had to be cut off reconnected and adjusted, the passenger front windows rattled, motor made loud noises when the vehicle accelerated, front end noises, rear hatch rattled and would shake, the wheels squealed and rubbed, the wheel jerked when taking off, the gear changer lever was loose, the vehicle would shake and vibrated when in motion, and the engine sounded as if it was knocking or running rough.

- Newnan, GA, USA

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