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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
63,000 miles
Total Complaints:
2 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace rack and pinion component (2 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #2

Feb 022014

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


So expensive left me without car for days the ball joint came out of wheel.

- , Virginia Beach, VA, US

problem #1

Jan 262005

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles

Rack and pinion went out at 37,000 miles. One thousand miles past the warranty. Found out Ford has had trouble with their rack and pinion over the years. When the dealer repalced the part, they did not tighten up the bolt properly on the steering shaft and they also broke the clock spring on the air bag. Four weeks later it was back to replace the steering shaft and clock spring. Complained to CA Bureau of Automotive Repairs. They can only mediate and are powerless. Sanger Ford in CA refused to do anything to cover their faulty work. Ended up paying about $800. Ford refused to look into it. I would have had to go to small claims court. Done with Ford.

- , Clovis, CA, USA

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