Print this page 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:
94,500 miles
Total Complaints:
2 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace entire door and window (2 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #2

Oct 162012

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles


hatch panel crack led to rusted hatch latch assembly failure

The rear hatch cover issue that so many people experienced is the root issue to allowing water to penetrate inside the hatch assembly. In our case since we garaged the vehicle our cover bowed out instead of cracking outright. Within a year or two of it leaking, the weld holding the inside latch failed and the hatch window will not stay closed. The dealer only sells a replacement window hatch assembly (window glass, interior panel and hatch - it is over $1700 and color matching is no longer available for my model either.

Ford should do a recall on this issue as the leaking will lead to other issues like mine.

- Shawn O., Burke, US

problem #1

Jan 012006

Explorer XLT Sport V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

The door always was getting out of alignment, constantly had to have it repaired, but the light never went off, always said the door was ajar. We finally had to replace the entire door, still the light stays on.

- ladonnahawkins, Belfair, WA, US

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