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:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
0 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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #1

Nov 112004


  • miles


On December, 11, 2004, my 10 year old son went to open the back hatch of our 2003 Ford Explorer. On trying to close the hatch, the left hinge holding the glass part broke, dropping the glass but held onto by my son. On trying to place the glass in a secure position to drive the vehicle back home, the glass exploded and lacerated my older son's eye who was helping to try and correct the issue. The tear to his upper eyelid was extensive enough to require a hospital visit and 7 stitches. Ford is now giving me the run around that I would not expect especially since my complaint is based on a faulty hinge (recalled but in supply limbo), broken glass and an injury to a minor. All I wanted was the car to be fixed and secure a loner car. Unbelieveable that they will not take responsibility.

- Phoenixville, PA, USA

Not what you are looking for?