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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
96,452 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace intake (2 reports)
  2. replace thermostat housing (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer cooling system problems

cooling system problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Dec 022012

Explorer XLT 4.0L Flex Fuel V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


I had to replace the thermostat housing and it was a huge pain in the butt and a stupid design who makes something like that out of plastic? It costed $80 because I replaced it myself. Shops want $500 or more.

- , Mooresville, IN, USA

problem #2

Jul 182013

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,356 miles

Thermostat housing cracked open while on the Highway. Car over heated. I needed to be towed to my destination. I bought the parts myself and changed the upper and lower thermostat housing along with a new thermostat and o ring. spent $175.00 to have a flat bed tow me. Parts were about $75 from a local parts dealer not FORD. Saved money on labor by doing the job myself. I then needed to get the entire coolant system flushed and filled with new coolant that cost about $125.00 for a shop to do it.

- , Corpus Christi, TX, USA

problem #1

May 112012

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I can't believe Ford would even think of using a plastic intake. What's next plastic pistons? When you have to remove the sensors from the thermostat housing be prepared to buy new ones. They made the housing ford proof. The back yard mechanic can't take the sensors out with out damaging the O rings.

- , Belton, TX, USA

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