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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,000 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

Jul 092006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles


We were involved in a motor vehicle accident on the below date. A person went through a red light and hit our 2003 Ford Explorer on the right rear wheel area at approx 40 mph. There was over $ 6,000 in damage on our vehicle. When our vehicle was released to us from the body shop 6 weeks later, our heater, when turned on was making a loud banging sound. It sounded like something was knocked loose from the impact. It is now April 2007, and we have been trying to get our insurance company to fix this. We took our 2003 Ford to capital Ford in carson city, Nevada where we bought 3 new Ford vehicles. Capital Ford told the insurance company that this is a common problem with this vehicle. Allstate, our insurance company told us that we would have to pay "at our own expense" to take the dash apart on this vehicle to see if this was accident related, at 10 hours labor at $ 90 per hour! I have checked all recalls with this vehicle, and called Ford directly, and have found no problem with this heater. Please help us!

- Minden, NV, USA

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