Print this page 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:
No data
Average Mileage:
60,000 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. was under warranty and ford replaced door and fixed problem (2 reports)
  2. not sure (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer electrical problems

electrical 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 #3

Mar 012012

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles


Well not sure what happened yet, but my explorer just caught fire and burned to the ground

- Peg P., Chelsea, VT, US

problem #2

Jul 082008

Explorer LX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

the drivers window had been faltering for a few days and then i was leaving my place of work and i smelled this plastic burning smell and looked down and saw green smoke coming out of the window button console. I was freaking , i pulled over and turned everything off. then i thought hmmm i'll just go back into my secured parking place and the minute i turned on the key it started smoking again. I called the dealer and asked them how was i going to get my truck to the shop and they said call a tow truck and have it brought it. I was coughing from this smoke and the interior of my truck smelled for days. i had to get a rental car for 3 days while they ordered the part. i was really pissed i had to come up with this money upfront ( even though i had this extended warranty) and then i had to pay 200 deductible. its a crying shame that such a new vehicle would have problems like this. OHHH the truck had already been in the shop to get the window motor behind the drivers seat fixed too just 2 months earlier... i love my truck its a beauty but its the biggest piece of crap i have ever owned....

- cher98115, Seattle, WA, US

problem #1

May 142004

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,000 miles

Myself and my son were sitting in line at a fast food restaurant when smoke started filling up the car. I moved the car and we both jumped out. I saw that it was coming from the electrical that rolled the window up/down. We put the fire out with water that the fast food chain gave us.

- Rhonda Atkinson 8., Trafford, AL, US

Not what you are looking for?