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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #13

Dec 272006

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,347 miles


I have had this problem of the door ajar light and running lights staying on. I really don't know what to do about it. It comes and goes for some strange reason. It will be there for a few days then it won't for awhile. I would really like to know what the problem is and get it fixed once and for all.

- , Fort Campbell, KY, USA

problem #12

Apr 102008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6 Flex Fuel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

This vehicle has had so many problems since we purchased it with the most recent being the door ajar light and interior lights staying on. It has now progressed to the radio shutting off when ever it feels like it. I haven't tried the fix of WD-40 yet but will run out and try that in a minute. This has been the most aggravating of all the problems we have had with the truck, it is very hard to drive at night with the dome lights on not to mention how unsafe as well. If anyone has had any other solutions that they have tried and has worked, please let me know.

- , Zeeland, MI, USA

problem #11

Dec 012007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

I can't remember when this annoyance first started. But within the past couple months, the "door ajar" memo stays on all the time. I just hit the rest button after I turn on my car and we're good to go until I start the car again...hahaha. What's annoying is that I can't use my keyless entry to lock my car. I can only use it to open it. And when I press my lock button twice on my remote, it chirps twice. The lights will eventually turn off but not immediately after I lock my car (like normal). I'm sure I can take it somewhere to have someone look at it for a hundred dollars or so...but then how much will it cost me to have them actually fix it?! If anyone can suggest anything, it's appreciated. It's more annoying than anything....

- , Suisun City, CA, USA

problem #10

May 092008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles


I brought the truck in about a year ago letting the service dept know that the Door Ajar light constantly stayed on. You can only imagine, being a Mom, my concern and how many times I checked...double checked...triple checked to make sure NO doors were open. The service dept thought the problem was coming from the rear door and "fixed" it, well it's still on and I believe that's it's triggered from the passenger front door. It will happen off and on, if someone rides up front w/ me or if I open it to get something and use my keyless to lock before closing. Sometimes it stays on for days, weeks, sometimes for only a few hours.

- , Jacksonville, AR, US

problem #9

Apr 092008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,100 miles

Last week, the Door Ajar message started displaying on my screen. The first time, I shut and re-shut all of the doors, and it seemed to work. Over the next few days, it got worse. It would no longer shut off. It seems many others have had this problem. Thanks to Google, and sites like this, I was able to find out what might possibly fix it. I ran up to Wal-Mart tonight and grabbed a can of WD-40. I sprayed it into each of the door latches, and opened & closed the doors 10 times each. It seems it was the front passenger side door with the faulty sensor. When I got around to it, and sprayed the WD-40, opened & closed it 10 times....the message was no longer there! Yay! It may only be a temporary fix...who knows...but I have an almost full can of WD-40 in the garage......

- , Boise, ID, USA

problem #8

Feb 102007

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

ok, first of all, i hate to sound like a typical women that has no idea on how to fix this problem! but really, i have no idea on how to fix this and there is not way in hell that i am paying 300 dollars to have some dumb ass change a switch for me! it is defiantly a pain in my ass! every time you get over 5 mph, your doors are supposed to automatically lock, well all the doors do lock, and then my driver door unlocks because my truck thinks that one of my doors is open! so now i am driving around with all doors except for the driver door locked! then i have to cut all my interior lights off or they will stay on all the time and run my battery dead because the door ajar light is on! really aggravating!!!!!! if anyone knows a way to trip this or fix it some how, please share some info! thank you.

- , Chesapeake, VA, US

problem #7

Mar 102008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles


Sporadically, the "door ajar" warning light stays on when all doors are closed properly. The dome lights also stay on. Makes night driving difficult. Sometimes, they all of a sudden turn off. Recently, when the ignition is off and doors are closed, the dome lights stay on as well as the exterior side mirror lights. Today they stayed on for about 20 minutes. I'm fearful that they may stay on all night and the battery may run down too far to start engine.

- , Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #6

Apr 092007

(reported on)

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

The door ajar light stayed on, then the interior and accompanying mirror security lights stayed on, then the ABS light stayed on... 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.


- , Calgary, Alberta, Canada

problem #5

May 162007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles



- , Northport, AL, USA

problem #4

Jun 152007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

After researching I have found this Door Ajar problem is pretty common on Ford Explorers, Expeditions, and some F-series pickups.

Started once in a while Door Ajar message on the dash. This would trigger the aftermarket alarm. Was hard to figure out which door was causing it. If you open one door at a time you should get a chime. Seemed to be either the driver door or the rear glass.

Sprayed CRC-55 lube/penetrant into all the latch mechanisms. Got better but still not sure if it's fixed or not. I'm afraid it's something worse... I am not buying any more Fords!

- , Largo, FL, USA

problem #3

Sep 182007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


Door ajar light comes on and stays on for days at a time. At first you slam all the doors and the hatch with no luck... Then you start yammering expletives without any relief. This has to be the most annoying of all issues with my Explorer. It seems the issue gets worse when in the sun or hot weather. I'm looking forward to winter, no wait that's when my back lift gate trim cracked.... Gee Ford what else can I expect before 50,000 miles?

- , New Salem, PA, USA

problem #2

Apr 272007

(reported on)

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Door ajar light was coming on intermittently over the last 5 months and then in the last past week it was on continuously. A week into it, my radio stopped for no apparent reason and then the car shut down. The alternator and battery went up at the same time. Cost $550.00

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #1

Feb 222007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I am so annoyed and dissatisfied with Ford, I wake up one morning in the state of Georgia and I have a crack on the back panel underneath the window, now a few days later my door ajar light is on and will not go off. I can't even explain how angry and I am about this, and as usual Ford's customer service and customer relation department does nothing. If anyone is researching or checking into purchasing a Ford Explorer please don't do it you will regret it in the long run!!!!!

- , McDonough, GA, USA

Not what you are looking for?