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:
0 / 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 lights problems

lights problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #1

Oct 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles


I have recently bought 2 brand new Ford from champion Ford in shreveport Louisiana. My brand new Ford XLT Explorer 2 door sport has been in the shop for various repairs longer than I have had the vehicle. The vehicle was purchased on 09/27/2003 since then the hood had to be re-painted, both side body molding has been replaced, the front turn signal light came loose, both bottom exterior body door trim had to be replaced, interior trim piece below the rear window broke and had to be re-placed, but the main problem is a vibration in the motor/transmission that vibrates the dash I have spent already over $60 in gas back and forth to dealership, me and my wife have taken off two days at work costing us over $500 in loss of pay, I have already paid the first truck note and insurance payment and now the truck is back at the dealership for repairs for approximately one more week of repairs. On 10/17/2003 the truck was brought back to the dealership and my wife drove another Explorer of the same make/model and had no problems I then was told by the service mgr. That this problem was inherent to this make/model. I then approached the sale mgr. With the hopes of either exchanging or trading up too the 4 door model to help defray the profit loss. It was explained to me that the vehicle had already depreciated some $4000 and that to swap vehicles it would cost me an additional $75 an up a month car note. I have contacted Ford Motor Company who basically told me I was stuck with the vehicle even though the dealership has had the vehicle longer than I have had it. I was sent from employee to employee mgr. Of this to mgr. Of that. I would appreciate any information or ideas you could provide me with this situation. This vehicle is to be my wife's truck and I would like her in a safe truck that is safe for her to travel in. The dealership has already replaced the cosmetic faults but has stated that this problem is of doubtful outcome.

- Pineville, LA, USA

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