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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 1
Average Mileage:
0 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 - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #1

Apr 232006


  • miles


I was following up on the death of a 1 month that was ejected from a cosco child seat in a motor vehicle train accident. While following up on the death, I was looking at photographs of the vehicle from the investigating Agency. I noticed there were no photographs of the car seat or the passenger side of the vehicle where the train had struck the vehicle. I went to the impound lot where the vehicle was stored and met the father of the deceased child. He was collecting property from the inside of the vehicle. He showed me a stroller and the car seat. The stroller had been ejected from the vehicle and was damaged and the car seat was still inside the vehicle. This car seat and stroller are sold as a set from K-mart and had been purchased in November of 2005 in hutchinson Kansas. Upon looking at the car seat which was rear facing in the vehicle and still strapped in the vehicle by the seat belt. I was informed by the captain of the sheriff's department that one of their officers trained to install child safety seats said the seat was not installed properly. My concern of the accident was that the strap that would have gone over the right shoulder of the child was completely undone from the latch on the back of the child safety seat. The strap on the left shoulder was almost completely undone and I photographed the routing of the strap before removing the seat from the vehicle. The owner of the seat gave me the following information off of the seat. Model # 22-300-swb; 11/10/04 gbib. Reg no pa-25334(cn) permit # 1780-333 dorel juvenile group Inc. From the impact of the train to the passenger side rear 1/4 panel of the 20-03 Explorer, the child was ejected from the child seat and died 3 hrs later from head injuries. From the investigation, I believe there may be a problem with the latching and holding ability on the back of the child safety seat.

- Hutchinson, KS, USA

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