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:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
77,733 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #6

Jan 102008

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Bearings in Ford Explorer almost seized.... this could cause a major problem if they had not been replaced. 3 out of four at one time?

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #5

Oct 022007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. While driving 25 mph, the rear end of the vehicle suddenly slumped and the rear driver side tire detached from the vehicle. The wheel, brake, rotor, lower control arm, and axle were damaged. Repairs were made. The current and failure mileages were 50,000. Updated 01/09/08. The dealer replaced brake pads and rear end vibrating. Updated 12/12/07

- Oxford, GA, USA

problem #4

Sep 112007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. As a mechanic was repairing the emissions module on the vehicle, he noticed that the coil springs failed. The failure was repaired. The current and failure mileages were 52,000. Eq-10203418-4200, received 12/12/07 (2 doc). Updated 12/12/07

- Depew, NY, USA

problem #3

Feb 262006


  • miles


Have had mechanical problems with my 2003 Ford Explorer which should not have occurred with the least amount of miles on it. Have had rear brake sensor replaced 2 times under warranty, front axle seal replaced under warranty and rear axle bearing replaced with 44000 miles and now the rear axle seal is leaking on the right side. The mechanic who does my repairs stated the axle seals are on backorder due to the amount of Explorer the seals are defective on. I have not received any recall information on the seals as I believe this is a safety concern. Could you please check into this defect. I believe there were several defective parts used on the 2003 Ford Explorer that have not been recalled or reported. Thank you.

- Union Hill, IL, USA

problem #2

Apr 102003


  • 29 miles
There's a loud and severe vibration when the truck reached speeds between 59 - 63 mph. The dealership, in attempts to correct the problem, has replaced the tires 3 times, rotated the drive shaft several times and neutralized the engine motor mount yet the problem still exists.

- Clarksburg, WV, USA

problem #1

Jul 022003


  • miles
Consumer stated that while driving at high speeds vehicle will vibrate heavily. Dealer notified.

- Northridge, CA, USA

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