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:
116,856 miles
Total Complaints:
6 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (6 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer accessories - exterior problems

accessories - exterior problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #6

Dec 152011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles


I moved to MN from WA State, traded the rain for four seasons. Like everyone else, I've had electrical gremlins as well (radio turns off, won't turn back on for 10-20 seconds). Lately the back-up alarm switch (on the dash to the left of the steering column) turns itself to 'off' and is argumentative when trying to turn it on (why would there even be an option to turn it off?) Now - starting yesterday into today - the alarm goes off... Yesterday it went off twice and I used the key fob to turn it off. But then the interior lights and puddle lights wouldn't turn off! What in the world...?! I went out, checked all the doors (fine) and turned the lights on/off. Turned truck on/off. Eventually scrolled dash lights off - which turned off the problem lights.

Day two of alarm going off. After reading all the other comments about this - I'm not hopeful. Going back to Toyota or trying a Chevy. Last Ford I'll own, without a doubt.

- , Hastings, MN, USA

problem #5

Jul 022011

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,004 miles

my alarm keeps going off for no reason and the door ajar light comes on and off while driving. Also the emergengy brake light comes on and off while driving and makes the alert sound.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #4

Mar 012011

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

This is a random problem that has been happening recently. All of a sudden; the alarm just goes off. Sometimes it's several times a day/night; sometimes just once. I believe it has something to do with the "door ajar" issue that's also happening with this vehicle.

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #3

Feb 072011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


Same problem...alarm goes off at random...usually at night...neighbors are pissed...tried the WD40 luck...took to dealer who told me to leave it with thanks...went to car alarm shop...didn't like their lack of ideas on how to fix...

Has anybody had any luck in finding a fix to the problem?

- , West Hills, CA, USA

problem #2

Jul 182010

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

This Explorer, which we bought brand new, has issues that started with a door ajar light and has gone down hill from there. the alarm goes off at all hours of the day and night. It does not seem to matter on the outside temp, but does seem to be worse when it has rained. The doors lock and unlock on their own as we are driving and the interior lights and mirror lights stay on. I have also had problems with the transmission, rear diff. door window regulator on the power window. The cable, from the factory was not around the nylon pulley and the cable sawed off the upper pulley and the window fell to the bottom of the door. I have replaced numerous electronic components, switches, blend door motor for the heat and AC. Luckily, I am good with mechanics and have diagnosed and fixed most problems my self. I have put a lot of parts on this vehicle. I have owned GM , Dodge and Ford products in the past. This have been my worst SUV ever. It is my very last Ford vehicle. Not bitter, just decided to vote with my pocket book.

- , Georgetown, TX, USA

problem #1

Mar 092010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,135 miles

Can anyone explain to me why in the hell the alarm of my explorer just started going off for no freakin reason? Got woken up three times in the middle of the night. I thought someone was trying to break in to my car until it happened again when I was standing next to it in the daylight. This is driving me and the neighbors crazy. If anyone has a clue let me know.

- , bentonville, AR, USA

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