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:
81,558 miles
Total Complaints:
53 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (39 reports)
  2. wd-40 (3 reports)
  3. crack on hatchback window seems to cause sensor problem, (2 reports)
  4. use brake cleaner or lubricant (2 reports)
  5. just cut out the wires (1 reports)
  6. lubricate latches (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #33

Apr 012010

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles


noticed it a few months ago. happens when it rains but once its hot for a few days it goes away.doesn't cause any issue but is pretty annoying. glad there is a do it yourself fix. gonna try it tomorrow

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #32

Apr 022010

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,281 miles


- , Crowley, LA, USA

problem #31

Feb 132010

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

I went back to my parents house on the weekend and when I pushed the lock but twice on the remote it beeped twice so I opened and closed all the doors including the hatch, pressed the lock button again and it beeped twice again, I just thought what ever because my truck was still locked. Well I didn't think that at 4:00 am in the morning when the factory alarm started going off. I hit the red button on the remote to shut it off. This worked until the alarm started going off at 6:30 am. the only way to get the alarm to stop was to unlock my truck and leave it unlocked. I've also noticed that since the door ajar light has been on when ever I start driving somwhere the doors don't automatically lock. thats safe right!!! I have no idea what is causing this my thoughts have been either moisture is getting in the cracked moulding below the rear window or maybe a sensor in worn out. If somebody out there has any input to fix this problem please let me know.

- , High River, Alberta, Canada

problem #30

Dec 202009

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles


The door ajar signal honks 2 times and the driver side door lock does not work.Also the radio used to work when the vehicle was shut off,now it wont work either.This all happened at the same time.

- , St.Charles, IL, USA

problem #29

Jun 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Door ajar light comes on. When it does, the door locks won't engage, and the interior lights won't turn off. I've owned Fords for years, but this is the last one that I'll EVER own.

- , Middletown, NY, US

problem #28

Jun 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Problem comes and goes. Just another in the long list of Explorer problems. Can't wait to get rid of this POS

- , Middletown, NY, US

problem #27

Aug 032009

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


The door ajar light stayed on and beeping, ... what's next??? Can anybody offer a solution before the dealership starts ringing up the bills for troubleshooting and guessing what might be wrong... at my expense. Your input would be greatly appreciated.


- , Miami, FL, USA

problem #26

Mar 022009

Explorer LT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

The door ajar message is always on. The alarm will not set correctly due to this. It was the beginning of other electrical problems

- , Roanoke, V, USA

problem #25

Apr 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

It's ridiculous how much stuff is happening. The door ajar light comes on even after I slam all 4 doors and the liftgate. It causes the dome light to stay on until I've driven for awhile not to mention the double horn blast when the alarm is set and the random popping of the locks...don't know if they're locking or unlocking. I just had the cd changer replaced because using a paperclip to unjam cds stopped working. The crack in the fiberglass part of the lift gate cracked again less than a year after I fought the dealership to have that repaired 50 miles after the warranty ran out.

- , Richmond, VA, USA

problem #24

Nov 012007

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

Same as everybody with the door ajar crap, lights stay on, alarm will not set. The problem is the location of the door pin switch now a days its inside the latch. A pain to get to but the people with the lubricant have the right fix, whatever you use spray the crap out of all the latches and work them a couple times, not inside the lock. The same road grime that gets on everything else gets inside the latch and fools the thing into thinking that its open. Every door on the thing has a switch inside the latch (including the glass its in the hump in the middle when you open it) so spray away.

- , South Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #23

Jun 032009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles


I walked around car reshutting doors, I never could figure out what was wrong. Hatchback trim cracked, stress fracture....obviously design flaw. When I went online to see if anyone else had same problems with cracked trim is where I found out same people with this problem had door ajar problems...someone stated that crack will allow rain/water into door and malfunction sensor. If original problem were to be fixed, this would alleviate this problem. Unfortunately FORD does not see any problem. In my job we call that DENIAL, it's not my fault syndrome...

- , Spring, TX, USA

problem #22

Feb 162006

Explorer 4.0L/245

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Just want everyone to know. I have a 2003 explorer and the door ajar light and dome light would stay on until I reach a certain speed, dome and side mirror lights go on and off at signal/stop lights. The back side windows at times stop working, the alarm go off when car is locked at times. Reacts more during warm and summer more that cold weather. Went to a Ford dealer 2.5 years ago, they said could not find problem.

Thanks, George

- , Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #21

Jan 272009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

About 2 weeks ago, my door ajar indicator would stay on, even after I checked and made sure every door was tightly shut. The dome and mirror lights would also stay on. Within driving about 100 feet, it would turn itself off. Yesterday it decided to stay on permanently.

I also notice that while the door ajar light is on, my side power mirrors will not work.

Additionally, the lock/unlock power button on the driver's side door will not work.

Also about 2 weeks ago, the radio would immediately stop playing once I took out the keys, whereas it used to stay on, even after I removed the keys, until I opened the driver's side door.

All of these issues seemed to have occurred around the same time.

I just had a costly repair on this vehicle less than 6 months ago (bad wheel bearing). I REALLY am not ready to have to dump another huge sum into fixing this heap.

- , Union, NJ, USA

problem #20

Jan 042008

Explorer XL 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

First, when I tried to adjust the power mirrors, the dome light and door ajar light would suddenly come on. $400 later the dealer said I had a loose ground wire in the drivers door. Now, anytime I drive in wet weather the door ajar light stays on and the dome light doesn't go out until I start driving (over 10mph), but the ajar light stays on. Today, the dash starts clicking for several seconds and then the doors unlock....every 30 seconds as I drive down the road. Arrrrrgh!!! WD-40 has not worked for me.

- , Rootstown, OH, USA

problem #19

Dec 242008

Explorer LX 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,426 miles

Turning the interior dimmer switch to off. Turns off interior and mirror lights off. Door ajar light stays on, but you can see to drive with out interior light on.

- , Mill Run, PA, USA

problem #18

Dec 012006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I had my door ajar problem looked at by my friend (who works on cars) and he just used PB blaster to fix the problem. But about 6months later it happened again. So I went to the store and got the PB blaster my self and it fixed the problem to my driverside door once again. Its been a few months and it seems to have went away for good!

- , Chicago, IL, US

problem #17

Apr 262008

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

The door ajar light on my Explorer would not turn off, I found the simplest, least elegant solution. I just cut the door wires out and "shorted" the door latch sensor out. This way the door thinks it is permanently closed. Cheap, quick and the light never comes back on. Only down side is that the auto power cutout is deactivated when the door switch is removed.

Guess that is the downside of buying a Ford.

- , State College, PA, USA

problem #16

Sep 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

The door ajar light doesn't stay on all the time, but pops on and beeps intermittently. This is the most annoying issue but not the only. The cruise control stopped working one day, then worked the next. Several lights on the radio are out. Bought my last Ford for sure.

- , Colorado Springs, CO, US

problem #15

Apr 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

The door ajar indicator was on and the dome light wouldn't shut off. I sprayed WD-40 in the door hinges, locks, receivers, etc. and it fixed it. Now it's part of my routine maintenance. Annoying problem to have...but I've had WAY worse with this vehicle. (wheel bearings, brakes, seals, broken body panels, faded panels, broken CD changer)

- , Toledo, OH, USA

problem #14

Jun 132008

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,001 miles

I went to my local Murray's Auto parts store to get some assistance. You know, everyone goes to an autoparts store to buy parts and complain to the parts person about the trouble. I got there and explained that the DOOR AJAR light would stay on. this happened prior to this posting and I just slammed the back door..... it was the last thing I was in and well what else. the girl at the parts counter gave me a can of WD40 and told me to spray the hinges. this did work and has been even at this post.

- , Mt. Prospect, IL, USA

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