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:
Average Mileage:
87,319 miles
Total Complaints:
9 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced both rear sets of struts & springs (7 reports)
  2. not sure (1 reports)
  3. replace strut/spring assembly (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer suspension problems

suspension problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #9

Jul 202015

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


The L REAR COIL SPRING broke in 2 places. I have so far felt no change in handling or ride, but I drive gently. The springs should NEVER break on a properly built car that never goes off road!

- , Omaha, NE, USA

problem #8

Feb 272014

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

I'm not very happy with this vehicle. At the moment I have 3 broken coil springs, the trim on the rear glass door is cracked. I had to completely rebuild the engine because the cassettes inside the engine shattered. I was able to rebuild it myself and save me some money, but it is a very difficult job. At the very least I know how to work on cars, but at the same time the rebuild was an unnecessary expense.

The coil springs really pissed me off. As thick as this steel is I don't understand how they can just snap. I'm thinking it's foreign defective steel from all the scrap we send over seas?? If it wasn't that I paid so much for this thing I would have just junked it after the engine blew, but I have this thing about getting my money's worth. I like Ford but it's pretty difficult to defend them when you have to replace parts that should last the life of the vehicle.

ON a brighter note I have a 20 year old Ranger that I haven't had to put much into, and it purrs everytime I start it. Ford should build all their vehicles like they do their pick-up trucks!!!

- , Sheffield Lake, OH, USA

problem #7

Sep 022010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

rear driver side spring broke one day. heard it let go and thought i ran something over. didn't really notice a difference in driving though. took it to garage and he said to replace it but didn't need to have it done right away as it wasn't close enough to tire to shift and rub tire.

I replace both rear springs myself so the cost wasn't nearly as bad as taking it to dealer/garage. was able to pick up both springs from advance auto parts using coupon codes to save about 40% on springs.

this is only one of several major issues with my 2003 explorer.

- , Wooster, OH, USA

problem #6

Jul 272011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,900 miles


Took my Explorer to Sears for an oil change. Technician called me and said left rear coil spring is broken in two places! Recommended replacing both springs at the same time since the springs have been a problem on Fords. Cost will be abut $500! I realize the car has more than 100,000 miles but it has never been off road or driven harshly. I have encountered pot holes here in Northeast Ohio where we raise some of the largest crops. Have found Ford hard to deal with.

- , Warren, OH, USA

problem #5

Jun 012010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Called Ford and they refused to recall the Explorer even though they know 9 out of every 10 Explorers have one or both springs broken. They said they recalled the Taurus for bad springs. That's okay because I don't never intend to buy another one if that is their position.

- , butler, OH, USA

problem #4

Sep 102010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Everywhere I take to get an estimate, they tell me Fords are having a real problem with all their coil springs. Maybe if they used good metal this wouldn't happen. Wake up Ford, you have sold me my last car, will go Chevy at least they last alot longer with better metal.

- , Ashland, OH, USA

problem #3

Aug 272009

Explorer XLT 8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,400 miles


Just out of warranty I was told I would need new tires and springs. The spring caused the tire to cup. Ford made no attempt to resolve the problem.

- , Natick, MA, USA

problem #2

Jul 162009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6 Flex Fuel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,465 miles

click to see larger images

broken coil springs broken coil springs broken coil springs broken coil springs

Rear suspension rock 'n rolled. Felt every seam in the road. Whole rear end shuddered, rattled. Mechanic stated that most 2003s exhibit this problem with at least one broken spring.

- , Yarmouth Port, MA, USA

problem #1

Jan 282009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,108 miles

It appears this is an ongoing significant problem that ford has to be aware of and should be dealing with. Serious Safety issues could result, was found during a scheduled oil change.

Truck has never been taken off road or abused, pretty sad.......

I should have known, extended warranty is up and I'm going to have to spend 700 bucks or so to have it repaired.

No more fords ever !!!

- , Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada

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