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
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
13,500 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

Aug 152006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Temperature control does work. Failure of blend door or evaporator assembly heat does not work and windshield defrost does blow warm air. Blend door motor or plenum box is at fault.

- N. Barrington, IL, USA

problem #1

Aug 202003

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles
While driving at under 50 mph, there is a squeak that comes from the engine compartment. It sounds like a rusty suspension spring. However, this squeak is heard at exactly 35 second intervals. I found this to be associated with the air conditioner. If it is turned off, the noise goes away. The noise is present anytime the ventilation system is on. I took the automobile to courtesy Ford in poulsbo, Washington. I was told that the noise was normal. I find this hard to believe. I dont think Ford would want its automobiles going down the street with an intentional loud squeak. I think this is somehow associated with what ever contorls the air handling system, such as the computer. Help me find an answer.

- Poulsbo, WA, USA

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