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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,242 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #4

Nov 262003


  • 15,900 miles


The truck stalled while driving. When the incident occurred the truck lost all power steering and brakes. The dealership ran a diagnostic test but no failure code was found.

- Calabasas, CA, USA

problem #3

Nov 262003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Vehicle was returned to dealer for bad idle and shut-off condition after placing vehicle in reverse or drive, dealer responded that the vehicle comes from the factory with a less than desirable idle and that there is no fix for. I believe that this should have been divulged. As I would not have bought this vehicle with such a problem.

- Hoover, AL, USA

problem #2

Aug 112003


  • miles
While driving the vehicle at any speed and without warning, the vehicle would stall out. This caused the driver to have the vehicle towed to the dealership. Please provide any additional details.

- Mount Vernon, TX, USA

problem #1

Feb 152003

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,497 miles
The vehicle lost power while driving, which caused the consumer to pull over. 2003 Ford Explorer lost power while driving, causing the driver to pull over.

- Orlando, FL, USA

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