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:
No data
Average Mileage:
60,000 miles
Total Complaints:
6 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (4 reports)
  2. replaced max air door (2 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer AC / heater problems

AC / heater problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #6

Apr 012003

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles


There is no change in the fan from Max/air to regular setting. Also compressor seems to shut down around 75 mph. When you reduce speed, then it starts blowing cold again.

- , Savannah, GA, US

problem #5

Oct 202014

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

I think Ford used faulty parts because I just paid $1700 a year ago to fix blend door.

- , Virginia Beach, VA, US

problem #4

Jan 112013

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

Heater fan does not switch to high when you turn the dial to three. If you bang on the front of the dial, it will then switch to a higher setting!!!!!!!

- , Freeland, PA, USA

problem #3

May 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles


The fan in the front of the car does not blow hard even on max a/c. Estimated cost to repair was $1200 so we are living without it in the 100 degree days in Texas. Have friends that have the same problem.

- , Austin, TX, USA

problem #2

Jul 202007

(reported on)

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

There is a door that closes when you select MAX AIR. It falls off of its shaft and blocks the air intake path for the cabin air! Open the hood and carefully snap off the passenger side black grate at the base of the windshield. Remove the painted rubber inspection plate under the grate. Start the truck, turn on the A/C and open the glove compartment door. Look thru the inspection opening at the base of the windshield on the passenger side while someone switches from MAX to normal air conditioning. You should be able to see into the passenger cabin when normal air conditioning is selected. When you switch to MAX AIR you will see the door close. If you don't see it close, it fell off of the shaft and is now blocking the intake air path to the passenger compartment. I bought the air door assembly from the dealer parts department, removed the door from the new assembly. I was able to remove the old door and slide in the new door. I worked from the inside of the car behind the glove box, removing the old door and installing the new door thru a small space between the plastic boxes. I am not saying it is easy. It helps to have the new door assembly to look at and see how the door is installed. I would recommend you have a professional install the door. It's a shame that we have to diagnose our own problems. Hope this is helpful. Actually I hope this is not your problem and it turns out to be something that is easier to fix!

- , Diamond Bar, CA, USA

problem #1

Jul 232006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • 45,000 miles

I turn on my A/C and even though it blows cold air it doesn't blow worth a squat and its very loud. I called the dealer and spoke with a mechanic and was told that nothing can be done. I don't accept his answer and would like any answers. Thanks Oh yeah, I live in AZ and man its hot here.

- , Mesa, AZ, USA

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