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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
93,490 miles
Total Complaints:
22 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (10 reports)
  2. replaced with refurbished transmission (6 reports)
  3. had transmission rebuilt (3 reports)
  4. new tranny (3 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #2

Sep 062006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • 43,000 miles


After only 43,000, engine began high rev where RPMs would go to 2500 then suddenly drop to 1500 (beginning around 30 mph). The engine had a high whine sound the faster I went. Seemed as if engine was not shifting gears properly. Turns out a defect in the transmission converter caused metal shavings in the transmission. Had to replace with refurb transmission. Got a much better warranty on refurbished unit, but will have to think long and hard before buying Ford again.

- , Ashburn, VA, US

problem #1

Jul 292006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • 51,000 miles

I don't know much about cars but 51000 miles seems a little low to have to have the transmission overhauled or replaced. I also know other people who owned 2003 or 2004 Explorers that experienced transmission problems. I will NEVER own another Ford again.

- , Leander, TX, US

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