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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
32,000 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #1

Jul 172005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles


Because the ABS light comes on during long drives and remains on until we stop the vehicle, our Explorer has been in the shop on 3 times in 3 states. Weżżve been told that we shouldnżżT worry if the light goes off after stopping. A żżgrindingż noise checked in Colorado for 3 days last year wasnżżT a problem until our rear differential suddenly went "out, " in Ohio. In Illinois, the ABS light came on and stayed on for the first time. We went to the closest Ford dealership, and since it didnżżT remain lit, we were told to get it repaired in Iowa, since it wasn't "major." The ABS rear sensor was replaced. The mechanic said that Explorer with differential replacement were having sensor problems. When the differential was replaced in Ohio, the service rep mentioned a "kit" to replace the differential. Both garages seemed conversant with the ABS sensor and differential problems. The SUV has been maintained at Ford dealerships to ensure systems serviced by mechanics and technicians well versed in Ford products. The ABS sensor light problem recurred in may after a 200 mile road trip, going off after we stopped. My brakes failed when I tried to stop while traveling between 5-10 mph, about 550+ miles into an extended road trip. No citation was issued as the sheriff's deputy said there were no skid marks on the pavement to indicate that I had "jammed" on the brakes. I had pressed the brake pedal to the floor and had no brakes when I hit the back of a penske moving truck. The ABS brakes and "auxiliary" brakes failed on the vehicle, with over $11,000 worth of damage to the front end of the vehicle, even at a low rate of speed, which seems to be a pattern of problems with the ABS. The air bag didnżżT deploy. I reported this to Ford's customer care center on 7/18/2005, got a reference number, and was told I would hear from the consumer advisory group within 3 business days, havenżżT heard from them, yet.

- Cantril, IA, USA

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