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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
31,253 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 Explorer AC / heater problems

AC / heater problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #4

Dec 252012

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 40 mph, the contact heard a clicking noise coming from the A/C heater blend door actuator. In addition, the A/C failed to operate. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technician advised that the blend door actuator needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and advised the contact that the vehicle was not included in any recalls. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and the current mileage was 110,000. Updated 03/07/13 updated 03/11/2013

- Starkville, MS, USA

problem #3

Aug 012003


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The consumer complained of noise coming from the air conditioner.

- Southampton, PA, USA

problem #2

Apr 152004


  • 15,000 miles
While driving/idling heat would be coming out of the air conditioner (A/C) vents on the driver's side. This problem caused third degree burns to the consumer's right leg. Dealership was notified, but did not resolve the problem.

- Seneca, PA, USA

problem #1

Jun 012003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12 miles
On my new Ford Explorer, there is a air conditioner leak is letting 134A gas into the ozone layer. 134A pisses out of the A/C system everytime I use the air conditioner unit.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

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