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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
60,000 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

problem #1

Feb 132007

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


My 2003 Ford Explorer was serviced at dick edwards Ford in junction city, ks to replace a left hand rear axle shaft seal on the 12th of febuary 2007. Vehicle was picked up at the dealership by my wife. On the 13th of febuary she was driving home from work (about 3-5 miles) she called me on her cell phone and said she could hear noises, smelled something burning and the rear of the car was moving around and the brake pedal was low. I told her to proceed home with caution. When she arrived home I looked at the vehicle, and noted the LH rear wheel assembly was at a 30 deg angle. I called dick edward Ford and they informed me to have it towed to the dealership. Today they implied it was a bearing failure. I looked at the vehicle, spoke to the mechanic and I noted it was a rear axle shaft retention nut malfunction. The nut had backed out on the axle to the point that the assembly was about depart from the vehicle. The mechanic wanted to blame the axle bearing, which was destroyed. This nut if improperly torqued, or the assembly is not installed properly prior to torquing the nut, the nut can become loose and back off, especially since it is rh thread, there is not a cotter pin or anything holding this thing together, only a torqued nut. They then told me that they would not pay for it as it was a coincidence this happened. I refuse to pay. I have pictures of the vehicle setting in my driveway. I should have taken pictures at the dealership when it was taken apart. If my loved one had been on the interstate doing 70 mph this would have probably have allowed the wheel assembly to depart from the vehicle resulting in a catastrophic accident. And possible death to her as well as others. How many other vehicles out there with the same poor engineering design ?

- Milford, KS, USA

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