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
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
10,762 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #4

Jul 302003

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50 miles


Ref: ODI id number : 10016221. I have the same problem with my 2003 Explorer as the referenced problem. When I get out of the driver's seat, the seat belt does not fully retract. Unless I physically "throw" the excess back into the vehicle, the door gets shut on the belt. I had to have the plastic button on the belt replaced because the door broke the original one.

- Dumfries, VA, USA

problem #3

Nov 092004


  • 43,000 miles
The front driver's seat belt will not retract back, and the seat belt would be to loose for the consumer to wear. Dealership was notified, but did not resolve the problem.

- East Earl, PA, USA

problem #2

Feb 042004


  • miles
Driver's side front seat belt did not not retract. Consumer took vehicle to dealer for inspection, and mechanic replaced the seat belt twice already due to worn out parts.

- New Holland, PA, USA

problem #1

Jan 012003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The seat belts do not fully retract causing the seat belt to jam the door locking mechanism, resulting in the door not closing properly and opening at any given time!

- Montauk, NY, USA

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