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:
97,182 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 fuel system problems

fuel system problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Mar 212014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles


The O/D light came on. I had to let off on my accelerator pedal to get my car to shift into 2nd gear. Sometimes I would push on the accelerator and at 4000 RPM, my car would shift. After taking the car into the transmission shop, the technician told me that the band for second gear snapped and a rod starting grinding which dispersed metal into the transmission. The rod as well as the gears, solenoid, and the torque converter had to be replaced. The cost of this repair was 1700 dollars. Should my transmission be going out this soon" why wasn't there a recall for this transmission"

- Reseda, CA, USA

problem #2

Jan 152014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 83,547 miles
This event has happened twice now my 2003 Ford Explorer has excelerated without warning ! and while trying to stop the vehicle. The second time ending in an accident. I have only had this vehicle just under 2 months ! the floor mats are not the problem here. Once I was in reverse and a power surge came over the vehicle the brakes would not work didn't result in an accident but was somewhat afraid of it. I was coming home last nite turned into my drive and the vehicle excelerated without warning brakes did not work at all ended up smashing into my Ford escape that could have bin my little girl or someone's child! will not drive this vehicle again. Have had Ford most all of my life never seen this before! there's a lot of exceleration problems listed on this site I think it's time for a recall before someone is killed thanks for your concern!

- Fredericksburg, OH, USA

problem #1

Sep 042012


  • 123,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while refueling, a large amount of fuel sprayed out of the filler neck. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 123,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Virginia Beach , VA, USA

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