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
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
4,500 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

problem #2

Mar 162004

(reported on)


  • 1,000 miles


Vehicle stalled intermittently. Consumer took the vehicle to the dealer, and left it there for 30 days. Dealer was not able to duplicate the problem.

- New Carrolton, MD, USA

problem #1

Feb 042004

(reported on)


  • 8,000 miles
When driving at 40 mph vehicle jerked and then stalled. When stopping at a red light the lights on the gauges came on. Consumer had to put vehicle in park, then restart it. Consumer took vehicle to the dealership. Also, consumer test drove vehicle with the mechanic, but the problem recurred.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

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