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:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
0 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 #3

Feb 122007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Brake & accelerator pedals too close together. Many times applying brakes will hit accelerator at the same time and the accelerator wins. Primarily going from reverse to drive or drive to reverse, but has also happened in traffic. (V8 2003 Ford Explorer).

- Staunton, VA, USA

problem #2

Oct 012004


  • miles
Consumer has been waiting for recall 04V442000 concerning rear liftgate glass repair since October. Consumer contacted Ford several times, and was told the parts have not come in. Also, while driving and upon depressing the accelerator pedal and releasing foot off it vehicle surged forward. Recall campaign

- Saint Charles, MO, USA

problem #1

Feb 192003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While attempting to park in a parking slot, I slowly eased into the slot and without warning the vehicle sped up and hit a pole damaging it and denting the vehicle license plate and holder.

- Alpine, TX, USA

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