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 steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #1

May 042007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


For about a week strange noises were observed upon shifting from park into reverse. During a 5 mile trip into town, power steering pump noise was observed when turning. Upon reaching destination I experienced difficulty maneuvering into a parking space and observed a lot of steering pump noise. Upon return home I checked the reservoir to find it extremely low and a check under the vehicle revealed fluid had been leaking and distributed all the way to the back of the vehicle. Upon filling and starting the vehicle, no apparent location was observed except the connection to the rack & pinion looked to be leaking but the only evidence was apparent lack of dust build up which was evident around the attachment plate which indicates there has been enough flow to remove buildup from leaking condition.

- Bainbridge, GA, USA

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