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:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
650 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 #2

Aug 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 300 miles


I have had my Explorer since May 27. It had 11 miles on it when I bought it. The first time it would not start it had 300 miles on it. Eventually I did get it started, brought it to Ford and they could not find a problem. The 2nd time the same thing happened I had 2300 miles on it. I had it towed to Ford. When it got to Ford it started and they could not find a problem. This happened again at 2500 miles and 2700 miles. Ford still has it now. They have had it for a week and still do not know what is wrong with it. The problem occurred on June 5, July 8, July 25 and August 21. So far all work has been warranty but I have been without my vehicle 21 days in the 3 months I have owned it.

- Oswego, NY, USA

problem #1

Jan 052003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,000 miles
The remote door auto lock does not always work when remote pushed. This happens very often and with both remotes. When this problem exists, the radio gets crackly too. Been to Ford in Plymouth, mn but can't find problem. If I should need to use in an emergency, this could be a major problem.

- Coon Rapids, MN, USA

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