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
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
6,000 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

Mar 242004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


The rear seat (cushion portion) was dislodged and threw the person sitting in the seat with a seat belt on up against the back of the front seat. This has happened on several occasions with sudden stops. The dealer has looked at it several times and can find no way to anchor that portion of the seat in.

- Dewitt, AR, USA

problem #1

Feb 012004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles
Consumer had to have the spring on the second set of seats repaired because it was extremely tight. Even after the adjustment the spring was still too tight/strong. Consumer went to a Ford dealer and explained to him just what the problem was. Consumer was told by Ford that he should call NHTSA and complain. Consumer pulled the level to adjust the seat, and the seat came down with so much force that it split. Consumer stated this was dangerous because if a child would pulled the level he or she would certainly be injured.

- Novi, MI, USA

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