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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
39,000 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (3 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Nov 032007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6 Flex Fuel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles


The engine whistles during cold weather, especially on acceleration. You have to let up off the gas to get it to stop. The noise is very annoying and there seems to be no fix for it. I will not be buying another Explorer, EVER!!!!

- , Zeeland, MI, USA

problem #2

Apr 102007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles

This whistling occurs under a light engine load and @ usually around 2,000 RPMs. The only solution is to stay above or below 2,000 RPMs to get the stupid noise to stop. My next vehicle will not be an American manufacturer. I've given them their chances.

- , Pompton Plains, NJ, USA

problem #1

Mar 202007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

In cold weather an annoying whistle occurs while driving. If you tap the gas pedal the whistle goes away for a short while. The tone will also change in sync with the transmission upshifting. I have had it to the dealers several times. They say it is not uncommon but they have no fix for it. They believe it has to do with the regulation of air at the air intake. On cold drives it really gets annoying having to tap the gas every 30 seconds to get rid of that annoying whistle. PO'd in Canada!

- , Dauphin, MB, Canada

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