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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
106,667 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (2 reports)
  2. repair/replace transmission (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Nov 072014

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


Little by little when the car automatically shifted a jolt was felt, especially when braking and the car had to go down to 1st gear. Took it to a transmission repair shop and had to uninstall, repair the transmission and install again. Mechanic said it was due to normal tear and wear.

- , Calexico, CA, USA

problem #2

Oct 152012

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Transmission seems to shift roughly. Sometimes it doesn't want to shift into another gear at all, just pauses. That has only happened a few times though. Overall the issue is just an annoyance. Nothing we have gotten fixed.

- , Mascoutah, IL, USA

problem #1

Apr 012013

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

This piece of crap had all 4 wheel bearings go bad ,The ac compressor blew up, and now the trans is jerking and having a hard time shifting between 2nd and 3rd gear

- , Waynesboro, PA, USA

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