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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
52,179 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 #1

Aug 122006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,179 miles


4 items 1 - have owned the 2003 Ford Explorer for 7 months. While test driving, I noticed a hum noise coming from rear tires. Was told it was tread noise. We took it for oil change at very well respected national automotive service shop. I was informed I needed to replace the rear hub assembly that is was critically broken. Waiting to contact local Ford dealer for resolution based on tsb research I have done. 2 - whining noise from air conditioner when accelerating. Don't really know what is going on. Saw this also on tsb. Contacting local Ford dealership. 3 - ABS light randomly comes on. Don't know why and no pattern to when. Contacting local Ford dealership. 4 - cruise control not working. I was driving down the road this weekend, using cruise control. Stopped quickly for a car in front of me. When I started going again, the cruise control wouldn't work and hasn't worked since then. I don't know if it has to do with the brakes. I noticed Ford recalled some cruise control mechanisms in other vehicles but not in the 2003 Explorer.

- Chattanooga, TN, USA

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