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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
79,608 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 lights problems

lights problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #2

Jan 222008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,415 miles


Noticed the other day the brake light were stuck "on" after exiting the vehicle and only after tapping them a few times did they turn off. The only place to get a replacement brake on / off switch is via the dealer for approx $95, installation extra. He told me he sells alot of these for Explorer, maybe it needs to go on the "recall list". it potentially will cause an accident if they were to stay on and then have a need to stop quickly the person behind you would not see brake lights come on and rearend your vehicle.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #1

Dec 312007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,800 miles
About 8 - 10 months ago we started having trouble with the speed control shutting off. We also noticed that the brake lights were on sometimes when the vehicle was parked. Finally, Dec 31st, we discovered that the battery had been fully discharged overnight because the brake lights had come on. The part responsible was the brake light switch, which cost $118 parts and labor. The exact same problem resulted in recall NHTSA 04V106000 on the 2003 Ford Taurus. Our vehicle is a 2003 Ford Explorer.

- Asotin, WA, USA

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