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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
30,000 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 body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #2

Jan 212008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Crack developed without apparent cause in plastic panel below the rear window. I've noticed this in many other Explorer of similar years.

- Avon, IN, USA

problem #1

Apr 062007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
2003 Ford Explorer. The back door panel that has the Ford emblem on it is cracked in half from the top to the bottom next to the emblem. I see many of them like this. Ford wants me to pay for this defect. It's their defect. Updated 09/16/08.

- Land O Lakes, FL, USA

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