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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
80,400 miles
Total Complaints:
2 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. pay $700 to mechanic to replace compressor completely (2 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer AC / heater problems

AC / heater problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #2

Mar 252008

Explorer LT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,800 miles


Compressor went out, loud noise along with bad smell. They also had to replace a manifold line. Of course this happened at the same time the front bearings went out. A lovely $1500 repair bill and that was with a Ford employee discount!

- , Spring Hill, KS, USA

problem #1

Mar 072008

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

Purchased less than month ago. Started hearing loud engine noise. It was so loud you had to turn the stereo up loud to cover it up. Took it to local trusted mechanic. They said it was a part related to compressor gone bad. Had to eventually replace with new when they found more parts broken-making the compressor go bad.

- , Warsaw, IN, USA

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