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
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
144,426 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace seat belt (2 reports)
  2. not sure (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Feb 262015

Explorer LS 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 226,610 miles


The problem with the seat belts. They don't have enough spring action to retract, causing the belt laying down and getting caught on the door, causing the door not to lock properly. Had opened several times on me. Both the driver or the passenger side. It needs attention from the dealer to replace free, since it is a factory defect or the engineering department.

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #2

Sep 082014

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,820 miles

Seems as though too many shortcuts were made in putting together this vehicle. Things are falling apart even though the vehicle has been treated with TLC.

- , St. Thomas, VI, USA

problem #1

Jan 012006

Explorer XLT

  • 111,847 miles

This was a 'very slow from the beginning' problem, hardly noticeable but noticeable. In the beginning the seat belts were slow to retract then they got SO SLOW or would not retract at all got jammed between door and door jam. I lost track as to how many times I was unable to close both my front doors due to sluggish seat belt retraction. Now the driver's seat belt is tough to pull out for the passenger to use.

Whether with this, or other problems, why is it when I go to Ford and ask about any recalls there's nothing. And why is it when I go to Ford and mention a particular issue the service people lie to your face and say "this is the first complaint we've heard about this issue". We thought politicians were born liars.

- , Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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