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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
113,167 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (3 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Mar 042013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


Transmission been making a humming noise for quit some time and now is in need of a repair.

- , Port orange, FL, USA

problem #2

Oct 082010

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 143,000 miles

This has to be THE WORST car I've ever owned. The O/D light came on and I was told I needed a new transmission. I shell out 1200 dollars to get a rebuilt transmission and guess what? The issue is still there. This time Im told the Solenoid packets need to be fixed. Ok, whatever. Not even a week later, the car makes a loud explosion type noise and the car sputters and slows down. Guess what? I cant get it to go over 20 MPH! So the whole way home I had to ride with my hazard lights on in a 50 MPH zone. Im so pissed because Im a single mom and will have to come up with the cash for a down payment for another car. You suck ford

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #1

Jul 152009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,500 miles

Our 2003 explorers' service engine light came on only 2 months after purchasing it. It started hesitation waiting in the drive thru line at chic-fil-a. Had to pull out of line and pray I could get my son and pregnant wife home safely. There was also a rattling sound coming from the engine area. We saw the vehicle online at a good price and with another child on the way the suv would be great. I own a 97 escort and a 2004 mustang and have always been a Ford Man. Iam starting to think differently and will most likely never buy another ford.

The explorer has been at The Local Ford Dealer for almost 3 weeks.. First they say that the service engine light indicated a pcv hose failure. Second the rattling noise is a defect in the Torch Converter, which requires a new transmission. Our extended warranty co. will not pay for a new trans because Ford could not prove it failed.. Its just a noise and they dont cover noises, however if you continue to drive it and not get it fixed or serviced you are not covered either. A catch 22...

The best part is that Ford receives bulletins from corporate that tells them about defects and things to look for and the noise in the transmission turns out to be loose springs in the torch converter. They are instructed to replace it.. I think NOT. Why would I put another FORD defected part in??? Now they want almost 600 bucks (2 truck payments I thank you FORD sh*t)! for diagnostics, new hoses and the rest in labor to take apart a trans they already knew was sh*t.

Will keep yall posted. Dont be fooled by the looks of a prestine vehicle . Our explorer is so clean you could eat off the floor. WOW what good is that if its not even safe? Will try my luck @ Ford customer service.

- , Hammoton, NJ, USA

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