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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
95,060 miles
Total Complaints:
5 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (4 reports)
  2. rebuilt transmission twice!!!! (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #5

Jul 032014

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,232 miles


If it isn't one thing it's another with this Ford... This is my 2nd Ford product, 1st Ford was a 2002 Mercury Sable, now this problem child called the Explorer. I've replaced bearings, axles, differential, alternator, wiper motors etc etc. all within a year of owning the car. Now I'm facing a Transmission issue. I first heard this new issue while in reverse, it was making a knocking noise whenever the accelerator is pressed the car jerks and makes loud noise. I just might be done with Ford if this issue's price tag has too many numbers....

- , Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #4

Jul 012011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

I put in gear and have to rev the engine up until it kicks in.

when going up a long hill it grabs and lets go.

I stop at light and have to rev to get it in gear- scraping noise going on when it does this

- , Rumford, ME, USA

problem #3

Jun 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Found out this is a model wide problem. No recall at present. I feel cheated that I now have a vehicle that will surely fail and the company will not stand behind their product. I feel that this is political as the explorer is the number one selling SUV and a recall would be too expensive to the company so they had it squashed. The transmission is crap and should be replaced with another model not repaired.

- , Massapequa, NY, USA

problem #2

Nov 112010

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,070 miles

While parked, as a result of the "engine surge", the car surged forward into the convenience store! This caused extensive damage to the front of the car and store!

- , Calgary, Alberta, canada

problem #1

May 122006

(reported on)

Explorer Limited

  • 36,000 miles

Vehicle was in 7 times for the same issue in 5 months. They finally rebuilt the transmission when I threatened toi insert the car sideways. Then it still wasn't right so they did it again. Still not perfect as the transmission has a rushing noise coming from it. BUT they all do it

- , Auckland, Akld, New Zealand

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