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:
57,600 miles
Total Complaints:
5 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace axle seals and bearings (3 reports)
  2. not sure (2 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #5

Jan 122011

Explorer NBX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


.Found leak during oil change and staining of driveway. No help from ford

- , Monroe, NJ, USA

problem #4

Mar 022009

Explorer EB 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

The rear differential is leaking. Replaced the rear seals..a typical repair job on these explorers

- , Cumberland Center, ME, US

problem #3

Feb 082009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,000 miles

Very upset that the Rear end seals needed to be replaced at 24,000 miles!!! That is ridiculous.

- , Spring Lake, NC, USA

problem #2

Jan 012008

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles

35000 Mi. leaking seal in rear axle, Ford refused to repair . With all the problems they have had , it's a shame they can't try and keep the people who brought there damn junk. Back to GM for me or a import.

- , Hagerstown, IN, USA

problem #1

Mar 262007

(reported on)

Explorer 3.0 V-6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I purchased the new 2003 Ford Explorer from the dealer and was never told by the salesman that it was a "flex-fuel" vehicle that comes with significant cost increases to standard replacement parts like fuel filters, $130! So far I have replaced the transmission, front differential pinion seal, front passenger hub and bearing, and rear differential seals and bearings. I can't throw $100 bills at this vehicle fast enough to keep it on the road. Ford will not acknowledge the problem, (maybe because they lost $6.1 billion in North America for 2006 alone).

Currently the "blendor" motor for the heater fan went so I have no heat as well. Thank goodness it's spring so I can wait to shell out another $1500 to rip out the dash to replace that part.

Do yourselves a favor and run away from the Ford Dealer. There's a reason they lost a total of $12.6 billion worldwide in 2006. They charge too much for their vehicles and they have both design and manufacturing defects in their drivetrains that they will not own up to.

If they offered the GM 10-year, 100K drivetrain warranty, they'd be out of business in 5 years.

- , Freehold, NJ, USA

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