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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
102,000 miles
Total Complaints:
1 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer clutch problems

clutch 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

Oct 172012

Explorer Sport 4.0L V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 102,000 miles


I had to replace the slave clutch cylinder at 50K miles - cost $700 because they also had to remove the transmission to do it. At that time, Ford's 7-year, 100K warranty didn't cover it because Ford determined that it is not technically part of the drive train. Now, at 102K miles, it's hard to shift again, and I was told by a reputable shop that it was either the hydraulic system, or failure of the pressure plate, and repairs could go to $1600, in addition to checking the transmission gears for damage. This was actually a side issue since the car is in the shop for repairs to a failing rear differential. Estimated repair for that is between $1250 - $2250 depending on what they find. Now facing a possibility of more than $4,000 in repairs (and no hope that it won't happen again), I plan to just move the car to my brother's house while I weigh my options - which include scrapping it. This car has been babied and garaged, both at work and at home, the entire time I've owned it (2nd owner since 30K miles). It had a 7-year, 100K warranty on it so it was usually Ford who did any work, and it went in for all scheduled maintenance. It's no wonder that Ford didn't need help during the bailouts -- rather than recall for defects, they've engineered their cars for the owners to replace most significant parts at least once. Neither Ford, nor their dealers, take any responsibility for these massive repairs at low miles but do offer you credit so you don't have to pay it all off at once - if you have good credit that is. It's very surprising to me,given the similar experiences on this site, that there have been no class-action suits.

- , Fountain Hills, AZ, USA

Not what you are looking for?