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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
53,275 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 body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #4

Oct 282004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,000 miles


The vehicle was brand new and there was rusting around the windshield, the power doors and the seats were not working, there was a problem with the cruise control as well. Five windshields had been replaced due to constant leaking including the moon roof and the headliner. The power doors did not work. When it would rain, many electrical problems would be present.

- Bayville, NJ, USA

problem #3

Sep 152004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,000 miles
The windshield, moon roof and headliner were leaking. The consumer had the windshield replaced at least 5 times. The owner has been corresponding with the manufacturer for several months. Owner is asking for a new vehicle.

- Bluffton, SC, USA

problem #2

Nov 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles
I was involved in an accident that occured on Oct. 14, 2003. I was making a left turn when I was broadsided by a Toyota Camry going about 20 -30 miles an hour. My Explorer tipped onto the driver side. I was terrified it would roll-over (upside-down) I had no idea how easy it was to tip my vehicle over. Do you have any data concerning Ford Explorer" do you have any suggestions as to what I can do" I'm never getting into that vehicle again but I owe $22,000. Now trade in value is maybe $16,000. The car is still being repaired and will be covered by the other driver's insurance.

- Anaheim Hills, CA, USA

problem #1

Mar 182004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,000 miles
Water leaked into the vehicle on the driver side door. The dealership inspected the vehicle many times and could not duplicate or correct the problem.

- Deerfield Beach, FL, USA

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