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:
78,818 miles
Total Complaints:
22 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (8 reports)
  2. complete rear end repair, replace wheel bearings (7 reports)
  3. ring and pinion replacement (5 reports)
  4. clutch pack replacement in rear end (2 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #2

Dec 252003

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • 5,000 miles


At around 1,000 miles I started hearing a slight whine coming from the rear-end of my Explorer. At first I ignored it but, as a few more miles were added to the odometer, the noise increased in intensity. The car now has 5,000 miles on it and the whine is louder by a lot. It's only noticeable when the car is in positive torque. When you let off the gas the noise stops.

I visited the dealer and they confirmed the noise. The next thing they told me was they didn't have a repair for it! I contacted Ford customer service and they told me the same thing. They also said that their engineering department was working on identifying the noise and how to go about fixing it. They hoped to have a procedure for fixing it sometime in the future. My response was, 'Ford has been building cars for 100 years and you're telling me they don't know how to fix this problem??' Answer: yes

Needless to say, I am not happy with Ford motor company! I guess the only option left me is to keep after them.

- , Belchertown, MA, USA

problem #1

Jan 192005

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • 24,000 miles

The problem has to do with the rear differential of the Explorer. The noise is a slipping sound in the rear of the vehicle during a take off from a stopped position. /mostly happens when turning from a start. 2 friends of mine had purchased their explorers around the same time and one had to have his rear differential repaired at around 20,000. The other friend has about 29,000 on his and has the same identical symptoms. He thinks it is a gear in the rear end.

Not sure if this is a problem with most of the Explorers but it is quite a coincidence that 2 close friends, purchasing the same vehicle around the same time, around the same mileage, are having similar problems.

Have scheduled an appointment to take out to dealer to get serviced next week.

- , Frederick, MD, USA

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