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:
12,310 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 #2

Oct 132006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,600 miles


The seat belt is cutting through the plastic on the height adjustment where the belt comes out of the hole, which potentially could wear out the belt and cause it break in an accident.

- Salem, MA, USA

problem #1

Jun 232005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20 miles
My 2003 Ford Explorer has had an ongoing problem with seatbelts and the remote entry. This has been going on since we bought the vehicle. Ford refuses to address the problems.the seatbelts do not retract properly and they cut into the plastic. I am afraid that these seatbelts are defective and I worry that they will not work in a crash. The dealership has replaced these seatbelts but the problem is still there. The remote entry does not work all of the time. It does not allow you to lock and unlock the doors. The dealership told us to replace the batteries which we did but that was not the problem. They refuse to replace the remotes.

- Brockton, MA, USA

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