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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
89,583 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Ford Explorer electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #1

Oct 272006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,583 miles


I bought a 2003 Ford Explorer the end of April 2006 at time of purchase ABS light was on- dealer fixed problem within first 1 1/2 weeks of purchase after ordering a part. Now 6 months after purchase the check engine and O/D light come on unexpectantly. Within 1 week of lights coming on car stops on me unexpectantly. When taken to a repair shop for I am told I need a new alternator and a rebuilt transmission as the SUV slips out of 2nd and 5th gears. I didn't purchase an extended warranty due to thinking it was still under original warranty and just purchased. I felt the dealership should have overhauled the vehicle and made sure everything was working up to par. I now have a repair bill of almost $2000 and don't feel responsible for it.

- Rochester, NY, USA

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