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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
35,000 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 accessories - exterior problems

accessories - exterior problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #2

May 182007


  • 70,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that there was a crack in the tailgate hatch in the rear of the vehicle. Additionally, the contact stated that when attempting to rent a trailer from U-haul, the company would not rent to anyone with a Ford Explorer which she believed to be a safety concern. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealership where the contact was informed that she would be responsible for repairs. The contact had not spoken with the manufacturer at the time of the complaint. The current mileage was approximately 120,000. The failure mileage was approximately 70,000-

- Moyock, NC, USA

problem #1

Jul 162004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
U-haul will not rent any trailer to owners of Ford Explorer's. U-haul should not be allowed to pick and choose it's customers. If I have a safe and properly equiped tow vehicle like a 2003 Ford Explorer, 4 door, 4X4, automatic, 4.0 liter with a heavy duty towing package then U-haul should not be allowed to tell me I do not have an appropriate tow vechicle. The real reason they decline to rent a trailer to Ford Explorer owners is because the company lawyers told them not to because "U-haul has chosen not to rent behind this tow vehicle based on our history of excessive costs in defending lawsuits involving Ford Explorer towing combinations.

- New Castle, DE, USA

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