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:
28,500 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 #3

Nov 262010


  • 75,500 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear hatch door has fractured under the glass. She noticed the fracture once the temperature became cooler. The vehicle had not been inspected or repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 75,500.

- Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #2

Aug 112004


  • 10,000 miles
Water runs down front passenger seatbelt apperatus, inside the car. Water damage seen on interior roof from water leaking inside the roof of the truck.

- St. Charles, MO, USA

problem #1

Jun 052008


  • miles
Lift gate frame cracks right in the middle. I was told by cortese Ford in rochester that they have seen several Ford Explorer with this defect and they believe it ha something to do with how the frame is put together.

- Rochester, NY, USA

Not what you are looking for?