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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
39,100 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 #1

Nov 182004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,100 miles


At 8000+ miles in January 2004, my driver's side seat heater broke. I turned the car in to the local dealer service shop for repair. Since the vehicle was still under warranty the dealer replaced the faulty component, a shorted switch. I used the seat heater for approximately two and a half more months until it got warm. Now it's November 2004 and I went to use the seat heater, and again it is broken. The dealer confirmed that it is the same problem that occurred in January. However, since I travel a lot in my vehicle, it is no longer under warranty and the part's warranty has also expired, 12 month/12000 mile. My complaint is that since the same part broke with limited use, the dealer just treated the symptom of the problem and not the cause. By replacing the switch, they didn't find out exactly what caused it's failure and therefore didn't fix my vehicle while it was under warranty. Now they want to charge me for fixing the seat heater again.

- Newport News, VA, USA

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