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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
86,493 miles
Total Complaints:
6 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. compressor fails (2 reports)
  2. compressor burst open had to replace (1 reports)
  3. not sure (1 reports)
  4. rear system leaking, needs a new accumulator (1 reports)
  5. refill a/c system (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer AC / heater problems

AC / heater problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #6

May 142010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 6-4.0L-F1

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles


Back in May of 2010 my AC went out in the dead of Summer. I found out 2 days later that the compressor had a large hole in the side of it, pieces continued to fall off until there was a hole the size of a grapefruit. I had it repaired at the cost of $550 which was quite a bit of money. I don't know if all Ford Explorers are having this problem but my mechanic said that he has never seen a compressor with a hole in it. Compressors are made out of metal that is pretty thick and do not easily break apart like mine did. I THINK FORD SHOULD PAY SOME OF THE COST OF GETTING OUR VEHICLES REPAIRED, especially if the problem is happening with all explorers.

- , Bedford, TX, USA

problem #5

Sep 082010

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,937 miles

This has been a very hot Summer in the Southern US, I thought it was the extreme heat. When I could no longer accept this as the problem, I took to a a/c repair Store. The compressor was bad, the fan blower was doing ok...just blowing hot air. After the new compressor, and I had it later checked to be sure it was is still not cool enough. The air temp coming out is much higher than in my son new Chey truck,..his blower is much stronger the Ford Explorer.. blower is pitiful..Also this was repaired under warranty in 2004... one bad year model....or is all years????

- , Angier, NC, USA

problem #4

Jan 012010

Explorer AU Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,671 miles

All the other Explorers that were sold at the same time have the exact same problem. How many times does the a/c need to be refilled? It has been like this from new and never once have they let me claim it under warrenty.

- , Wanganui, Aramoho, New Zealand

problem #3

Jun 012008

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles


Third major repair not covered by ford, $1,400 to replace the Accumulator, find leak in the rear AC system

- , Pleasanton, CA, US

problem #2

Jul 032009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

A/C compressor has failed and had to be replaced every 2 years. Now that I'm on my 3rd compressor and the extended warranty has run out, the entire A/C system has to be replaced

- , Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #1

Mar 042009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,351 miles

Had all new lines put on last August, new seals in compressor and told it is all good. Found it was not working a couple weeks ago at same time they told me that rear springs broken, ball joints worn out and bearing going on axle.

Pretty sad considering its never been off road or driven hard.

Dumped it at used dealer for a used Nissan, will never buy Ford again !!!

They gave me $5000 for an SUV with 110,000kms, loaded. No wonder the foreign car companies survive while the big three are dying.

- , Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada

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