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.


fairly significant
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
19,350 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

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

Jul 032007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,950 miles


I have a 2003 Ford Explorer that cuts off after take off, but while yielding to oncoming traffic or braking to make a turn. The steering column locks and the car must be brought to a full stop to place in park and restart. This is extremely dangerous. We have complained to our local dealer, dick masheter, who has been unable to duplicate. This problem has been happening since the vehicle was new, but happened twice yesterday.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #2

May 202003


  • 5,600 miles
When returning to vehicle consumer have intermittent problems of getting the vehicle started. After and hour or so vehicle would start up as if there was never a problem. This incident happened six times in the past.

- Antelope, CA, USA

problem #1

Jun 102003

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 500 miles
On numerous occasions my 2003 Ford Explorer XLT has stalled while driving.

- Woburn, MA, USA

Not what you are looking for?