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:
68,150 miles
Total Complaints:
4 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (3 reports)
  2. repair fault in intrument panel cluster (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #4

Jan 102012

Explorer XS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


after the engine started, the dome light did not turn off, door ajar warning light on and automatic door lock sis not working. a few minutes later the dome turned off but the door ajar warning still on and automatic door lock did not turn on. some occasions it works & everything turns off. now use manual to turn off.-

- , Norwalk, CA, USA

problem #3

Nov 182010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,600 miles

The oil gauge drops to zero. Just need to find out if there is anyone else with this problem and if there is some underlying major issue brewing like possibly oil pump failure or simply a sensor. I don't even want to think about all the other troubles I have had with this car. It's really a shame because I really liked it. Most likley will be my last Ford, though.

- , Plymouth Meeting, PA, USA

problem #2

Jun 042009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Dashboard gauges work sometimes but mostly do not. It rotates which one is the flavor of the week. Mainly the gas gage though.

- , Flower Mound, TX, USA

problem #1

Jun 292006

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

occasionally the instrument panel cluster will freeze. Huge inconvenience, because you can't tell how much gas you have, and you can't tell how fast you are going. Also, will make radio stay on overnight and drains the battery. Car never powers off!

- , Houston, TX, USA

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