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 1 of 3)

problem #53

Dec 012016

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


Seriously haven't been able to lock my doors in a YEAR AND A HALF. Started after having the car for about a year. Bought used with insurance money. Locking the doors arms the alarm, and because the "door ajar" sensor is malfunctioning, it triggers the alarm, thinking that someone has forced the door open. Always seems to happen in the middle of the night. Even manually locking the doors will trigger the alarm later. Problem seems more frequent after heavy rain. At this point, I don't bother with keeping anything valuable in the car. Multiple tries with WD-40 and lubricant did not fix it.

- , Gainesville, US

problem #52

Oct 012015

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 176,000 miles

My Door Ajar light has been on for about 3 years now. It comes on and off whenever it pleases. I get woke up to my truck alarm going off all hours of the night. Then like a miracle, the alarm will quit for a few months but the door ajar light still stays on and then it will start back up again. I don't have a clue on how to fix the issue but I am so aggravated I am about to sell my truck to the junk yard and NEVER buy another FORD. Did yall know that FORD stands for F#@$ed Over Real Dirty!! I have always loved Fords until I bought this one!

- , Pineville, LA, USA

problem #51

Jul 032015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

This is driving me crazy. They have replaced the door switch and the ajar switch, still have the same problem every time it rains.

- , Clover, USA

problem #50

May 102015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,000 miles


The other posts on this problem were helpful, but we also sprayed WD 40 into the receptacles located on the inside of the rear door well, on each side, where the plungers go in. That fixed the problem...we will see for how long.

- , Bloomville, NY, USA

problem #49

Nov 012014


  • 109,004 miles

The chime beeps constantly at times after it rains, it's like the door is still open and the lights inside stay on.

- , Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #48

Jun 092010

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

I have a toddler and having the "Door Ajar" signal come on or not turn off after getting out and checking all 4 doors and the rear hatch is very unnerving.

- , Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #47

Jul 172013

Explorer EX 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles


the door ajar light along with the power locks on the driver side stopped working.

- , Noblesville, IN, USA

problem #46

Sep 112011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,632 miles

It started after I left the SUV outside in rain/snow for 5 days. Rode around for a couple of months with the interior lights on and dashboard door light on all the time. I took the light bulbs out of the overhead compartments to stop them from staying on all the time. Took it to my mechanic friend and he replaced the door switch. Left it outside overnight in the rain and it shorted out again. He covered the switch with a plastic baggie and tape; it works great now.

- , Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

problem #45

Jun 062011

Explorer V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,001 miles

Light stays on all the time-tried WD- 40,did not work. dealership wants to charge again to find out what the problem is-I have had it checked twice before

- , Lancaster, TX, USA

problem #44

Sep 072011

Explorer LTX 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,500 miles

just another ford tough problem, maybe they was more so saying tough luck suckers to everyone buying their crap.

- , Swanton, OH, USA

problem #43

Apr 042011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,256 miles


this happens all the time and I am sick of it.It comes on and sometimes it will go off if the doors lock

- , Terra Alta, WV, USA

problem #42

Jun 252011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

door ajar light keeps coming on and "dinging." I checked every door and window and still it dings and flashes at will. I too have a crack in the tailgate just below the back window. I discovered it several years ago about 2006. I took it to Ford Dealership and they were going to charge me to replace it and paint it to match my vehicle. I was angry. I am still unhappy with Ford. I won't buy another one for this reason. If anyone has a cheap solution to the flashing "door ajar light let me know. Thanks, Chweqa in Northern California.

- , Hoopa, CA, USA

problem #41

Mar 012011

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

This first started happening when it rained. The first time it happened; I'm sure I looked like an idiot because I was going around the vehicle opening and closing all the doors and rear lift-gate repeatedly...until I finally decided "WHATEVER!!!" Now; it's random and I never know when to expect the warning to pop up. This is very annoying and I can't wait until I can get rid of this Ford!!

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #40

Mar 232011

Explorer Limited Centennial Edition 4.6L Sfi V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,056 miles

Thanks to this site, WD 40 worked the first time! I sprayed all the doors, opened and closed them 10 times and that was it! Thank you ALL for the info.

- , Visalia, CA, USA

problem #39

Jan 132011

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,500 miles

I have had the Explorer for 7 months and have the the Door Ajar light come on 3 time during that time. It seems to be associated with the drivers door and goes away on it's own. I believe it to be a sensor problem and am going to look into it further. I bought the car form the original owners and I suspect they also had the issue from a comment they made.

The reason I believe it is the drivers door is because this time when it occurred I was the only one in the car, also with car running if you lock the doors the drivers door will unlock itself as long as the door ajar light is on. One of my neighbors is a Dodge mechanic at our local Ford/Dodge dealership he is going to see what he can find about the problem. I will post any solutions or insights he shares with me.

- , Philomath, OR, USA

problem #38

Oct 162009

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

as other people have reported seems to link up with Door Locks not functioning (ours is the driver's door) liftgate ajar signal showing up, etc...........

- , Palos Park, IL, US

problem #37

Oct 272010


  • 90,000 miles

also # 20 term a 5amp fuse keeps blowing for all power door locks and other auto on devices.

- , Avenel, NJ, USA

problem #36

Sep 202010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,489 miles

the door ajar light on dash keeps coming on and the inside lights and the ones on the rear view mirrors outside come on when i stop and turn the engine off, but if i drive off they will go off for a while then come on again, the alarm comes on for no reason at the middle of the night and some times i turn it off and stays off , sometimes it keeps coming on over and over and so on , no one that i have asked know for sure what's wrong with this POS, but i have no other vehicle now so i have deal with it the best way i can, if some one knows what can be done about it , please let me know Thank You.

Update from Oct 19, 2010: The problem so far has been fixed, I went to the Ford dealer and bought the sensor that goes inside the doors in this case the drivers rite at door lock and now when I close the doors the lights go out at the rite time and the alarm does not go off at any time like before, like I said for the moment, the next thing I have to fix now is the clock spring inside the steering wheel , that's what controls the the cruse system and then lets see what comes up next, I will let every one know Thanks.

- , Miami, FL, USA

problem #35

Jun 012010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

Go figure a small little can to fix the problem. WD-40 is amazing! Just spray all the locks and hinges and the light went out.

- , Eagle River, AK, USA

problem #34

Dec 222009

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Started with erroneous door ajar, liftgate ajar messages dome light not going off. We drove very little while we were waiting for our appt to bring car in, but sure enough then the ABS light came on and the brakes seized, Had to have car towed, after a bill of $450. I thought our problems were over. Well, think again. . . it started all over, with a few additions - door ajar (on and off), audible low fuel-but fuel not low, alarms going off for no apparent reason. Once I came off a bumby driveway and they were all going off. Have had the car in twice and no one is any wiser.

Phoned the Ford service dept. thinking they would be able to look into some system and see where these problems have arisen and what the solution was, but apparently that idea is so far out to left field they had no idea what I was thinking.!!!

Does any one out there have any help?

- , Powell River, BC, Cape Verde

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