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:
104,791 miles
Total Complaints:
242 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (95 reports)
  2. replace with rebuilt transmission (52 reports)
  3. replace the transmission (39 reports)
  4. complete overhaul recommended (18 reports)
  5. rebuild transmission (16 reports)
  6. rebuilt transmission installed (8 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 13 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #2

Aug 062007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V-8 AWD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,600 miles


I'm a loyal Ford fan, but it seems America only makes parts designed to fail. We wonder why Toyota and Honda are always high on customer satisfaction and sales every year, this is why. My 2003 Explorer is in excellent condition, garaged and meticulously cared for. The transmission light came on with only 33,600 miles on it. Had it looked at and said it was the solenoid body and cervo overdrive unit. Pissed. Plus Ford is going to help me with the cost as its just out of the yearly warranty but not the mileage. It's still going to lump me for over $600.00.!! Toyotas are looking better every time I see one, so this may be my last Ford product.

- , Erie, PA, USA

problem #1

May 012007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer` 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,000 miles

First of all lets just say that I love my Explorer. Its my Second one. My first was a 96 xlt and it worked great. I just bought a 2003 eddie bauer explorer and baby it. I always do the maintenance required use synthetic oil, etc. then with no warning at 29,002 miles, my O/D light begins to flash rapidly and my message console says check transmission. I turn my car off, then back on and the light goes away. Then next day the light returns and I immediately take it to a automatic transmission specialist. They say the problem has to do with the clutch slipping at high speeds and I must replace the Valve body and possible the Torque converter. The valve body is 700 bucks installed and the torgue converter is 23000 bucks. The car is over 3 years old so I'm off Ford's warranty and I'm pretty frustrated with major repairs at only 29K miles. Also, when the light went off, I though it was just a sensor because the thing drove PERFECTLY. But they say work must be done and I trust the place that I brought the car to for repairs. After reading all of theses posts it seems like there are a TON of problem with 2002 and later explorer transmissions. I'd like to fix the car and keep driving for a long time but I'm not willing to pay a ton of money again when it hits 60,000 miles. I only hope that the parts that are going into my vehicle now are better than the original ones that came with it. I'm not saying I hate Ford just yet but I'm pretty upset at this problem so far.

- , Anchorage, AK, USA

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