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:
82,250 miles
Total Complaints:
2 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (1 reports)
  2. replacement of 4x4 modular (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #2

Oct 012009

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


I began to notice that the "4x4 High" light would flash from 10-15 seconds every couple of minutes. I went online to try and determine what was causing this. I learned that the 4x4 modular that converts the truck from 2-wheel drive to four-wheel drive sits behind the glove compartment and that was probably shot. Your 4-wheel drive will not work at all until this is replaced, it will not manually or automatically go into 4-wheel drive. I took it to a transmission shop and sure enough the modular was bad. I was quoted a price of about $600. The part alone was going to be $400 and the labor about $200. I have yet to get it fixed, luckily this winter has not been to bad and I will just have to wait till I have the extra money to get it fixed.

- , Honesdale, PA, USA

problem #1

Oct 242008

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,500 miles

Very similar to the O/D light situation, the 4X4 High light will come on, flash 10 times then stop for about 5 minutes then repeat. Based on reports from the O/D issue and other sources it appears that the 4X4 module has failed. The problem originally started while I was responding to an emergency call, you can just guess how angry I was. So far it is still running, and the 4X4 is still working. I will be getting a diagnostic performed ASAP to find the actual full cause.

- , State College, PA, USA

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