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.


definitely annoying
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
114,667 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (3 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Sep 082012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,000 miles


Clicking noise on right hand side back passenger tire. It its very annoying,. And I am glad others are having this problem to. I will Seriously have my Favorite Mechanics check it out. And let you all know.

- , Shawano, Wi, USA

problem #2

Dec 012008

Explorer Sport V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

When driving at a slow speed there is a clicking noise in the back. Its getting louder and more annoying.

I''ve had the tires rotated & picked out all the pebbles in the tires, and same issue.

I have NO idea what this could be.

- , Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #1

May 012009

Explorer LX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

I took my car into Costco for an examination of my tires and a rotation since my rear passenger tire was clicking. I thought it was a nail and sure enough they found one. But the clicking noise persisted. I took it back and they checked it in front of me everything and said to take it to the Ford dealer immediately.

I did and Ford called me within 30 minutes and said they fixed the problem which was a screw that was rolling around in the rear bay area cup holder. How bogus! i QUESTIONED THEM AND THEY SAID IT WAS FIXED FOR NO CHARGE! Once they took it out they didn't notice the noise. Being skeptical but trusting I handed in the loaner car and slowly drove my car away. The clicking noise started again in their parking lot. I'm so mad that now I have to start the process again and get in back of the line.

I should have turned my car back in again, immediately, for safety sake but they had beat me down mentally. It was Friday and I figured they wanted to get out of there. Many thanks for the previous articles about the studs striping off and tires falling off. I'll check that out.

Be safe and keep writing.

- , Burke, VA, US

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