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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
82,990 miles
Total Complaints:
9 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (7 reports)
  2. number 20, 5amp fuse needs to be replaced in the fuse box (1 reports)
  3. unplug battery for 10 mintues and allow computer to reset (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #9

Jun 012008

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


My very first new car was an Escort. I have since owned 2 Explorers. The last one had paint issues and now this one has had multiple issues to include; transmission slipping and clunking into gear at 74000 mi replaced under warranty, hood paint bubbling replaced under warranty, black panel between doors peeling, door ajar light going on, paint cracking and chipping on roof in wells, cracked panel on back hatch, and keyless remote not working. My husband called to ask if there was a recall on this after he spotted several Explorers with cracks in the 5 days since it has happened and was told by Huntington Beach Ford that this was not covered by ford and it would cost approx 300 for part, and ? $ to paint.....He has been trying to get me to buy another vehicle and if i do, i will have to go with another American built vehicle with better customer service than Ford if they do not step up to the numerous complaint.

- , Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #8

Sep 072011

Explorer LTX 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,500 miles

just the driver door ,the most important one. not good in a accident situation

- , Swanton, OH, USA

problem #7

Nov 072010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

The doors on this vehicle are supposed to lock automatically when it's in gear (Reverse/Drive). Lately; if my "door ajar" warning is flashing, the doors won't lock like they're supposed to. I have to hit the lock button manually. When I do; the doors lock, but the driver's side door-lock unlocks itself, and I have to manually push the lock mechanism into the "locked" position.

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #6

Jun 012009

Explorer LT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles


Door locks stopped working. Had to unplug battery and let computer reset.

Lots of electrical glitches with this unit.

- , Roanoke, V, USA

problem #5

Feb 022009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,300 miles

So they put those key pads on the side of the truck to be able to get into your car if it is locked right, well they never mention that it is only if the car is not running! SO don't start your car to get it warm, which it takes forever now that the heater blend door has been replaced and go get some coffee, cuz the automatic locks just might turn themselves on and lock you out of your car thus causing you a $75.00 for popa lock to come and let you into your F(fix)O(or)R(repair)D(daily)!!!!

- , New Cumberland, PA, USA

problem #4

Jun 272008

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,109 miles

you know, this is my first FORD and maybe my last. I've had my eye on an '03 SVT MUSTANG with the blower. My Ford explorer before had a problem with the DOOR AJAR issue, which the prev. post gave you my fix, this truck is having a REMOTE/DOOR OPENER issue. I've looked at both fuse locations:( under the hood and under the dash by the driver side) and both fuses are good. I've checked the batteries charge and it rated at 3.1vts. does anyone have another idea to check?

- , Mt. Prospect, IL, USA

problem #3

Jun 022008

Explorer Limited 4.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


Seems that their is a short in the wiring some place that causes the fuse to blow. It impacts the door locks, theft sensor, auto seat adjust and many other items. It is the number 20 fuse in the fuse box and it is just a 5 amp fuse. The dealer who worked on it charged me $500.00 and didn't/couldn't fix the problem. The World Ford in Gulf Breeze, Fl in now out of business. I wonder why!!!!!! Can anyone here give me a permanent fix for the problem. Someone told me that it's in the door wiring harness which gets weak with use on the drivers door.

- , Mary Esther, FL, USA

problem #2

May 142008

Explorer Limited 4.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Had theft sensor replaced by dealer for $500.00 but it still continued to blow the 5 amp fuse under the dash. In my manual it's fuse number 20. When it blows the power seat and door locks fali along with the theft sensor on the dash quits working. Seems to be a short in something. Can anyone help!!!!!

- , Mary Esther, FL, USA

problem #1

May 092007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

I have power locks on my vehicle. When I hit the lock and unlock remote, the front passenger door fails to respond. It also doesn't respond to the drivers door control buttons on the door panel.

- , Montebello, CA, USA

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