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:
91,746 miles
Total Complaints:
12 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (8 reports)
  2. dealer replaced wheel bearing (3 reports)
  3. replaced wheel hub (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #12

Jan 012012

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,274 miles


Bought 2003 ford exporer used in 2008, have had both front bearings replaced cause of noise, and now an even worse humming noise has started. When stepping on gas from being stopped it seems as though it is in 4 wheel drive, and when im driving the noise gets louder the faster i go. Took to ford and they said the noise was from the wheels being low of air, and they set the tire pressure and said the noise was gone. Well when i was driving away from the dealership the noise was still there. Getting pissed with how much money I have wasted fixing this POS

- , High River, Alberta, canada

problem #11

Oct 092011

Explorer LTX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,777 miles

My front end is making a loud cracking sound. I have replaced my tires twice in 1 year. The wheel bearing hub assembly is so expensive. Why isn't there a recall on this mess.

- , Stone Mountain, GA, USA

problem #10

Aug 242011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,077 miles

PIECE OF SH*T CAR!!!! I've had to replace brakes three times and I'm not a last minute step on the brakes person (and had only 75k on the third replacement!!), two of the four electric windows haven't worked in 2 years... had the main window panel replaced and they worked for about 2 months, then the OPPOSITE two windows stopped working (one of them being the drivers side which SUCKS when you have kids and drive-thru's!!), then one day, boom, they go back to the OLD two windows not working! Had to pay about $300 about two years ago because the A/C went out! And I don't know if anybody has had this happen (even though I saw another black Ford Explorer with the exact same thing), but I have a deep "crack" in the hatch that's right in the middle, underneath the back window!

Now the latest has been the loud, grinding, whirring sound coming from the front left wheel... took it in today and they had to replace the front left wheel hub. I'm just sooooo thankful that nothing happened as my 17 year old son has been taking it to L.A. once a week for the last month. Ford NEEDS TO RECALL THIS SH*T!! I've been unemployed for over two years and can't afford this bull-sh*t, especially with such low mileage and just driving kids around town! Will NEVER, EVER, EVER buy a Ford again!!

- , Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, US

problem #9

Jul 102011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,500 miles


After the transmission, brakes and now the wheele bearings going, m Daughters Toyota Sequoia is looking better all the time.

- , Palm Beach Gardens, fl, USA

problem #8

Sep 102010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

We purchased a used 2003 Ford Explorer. When we purchased it had a loud humming noise that we attributed to the aggressive tires that were on it. We were told by the dealer at purchase that they had replaced all the wheel- bearing hub assembly's on the vehicle. We now found out they only replaced one front passenger bearing after putting new tires on the vehicle and not eliminating the humming noise. We are looking into replacing the back wheel hub assemblies at a cost of $291 per rear hub and $350 for the remaining front hub. The dealer used vehicle inspection is a joke!

Wish we would have found this site before we bought this vehicle. We love our explorer but at this rate can't afford to keep it. We got screwed by the dealer again. This is only one of the problems we have had in the last six months since we purchased this vehicle. Windows, rear hatch window hinge broke, cracked back door.

Is there someplace you can get a printed report of the repairs done to a vehicle by the dealer with out having to pay for it or taking the dealers word for it?

Update from May 6, 2012: As of February 2012 all hubs have been replaced by our local trusted Certified mechanic - It is so quiet you would not know it is the same vehicle. This is after one Ford tehnician told us it was the tires and another at a different dealership told us it was the pinion gear.

As of May the noise has returned a little hoping it is just low tire pressure and not another hub going out again.

- , Liberty Center, OH, USA

problem #7

Sep 082010

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,458 miles

would like ford to repair this problem at their expense as it is definitely a weak link in these vehicles. maybe we need mr.nader to investigate?

- , Binbrook, ON, Canada

problem #6

Aug 192009

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,865 miles


apparently this is an on going problem with these bearings /hub assemblies

- , Binbrook, ON, Canada

problem #5

Jul 062009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

had to fix more than once! friend has same year, her 3 times. tires hum! loud,noisy!

- , Plymouth, IN, USA

problem #4

Jun 182010

Explorer 2WD V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

Ok so i bought my '03 explorer used, maybe the first problem. i always heard bad things about explorers, but i loved the way they looked, and a buddy of mine at the fire house had a '05 4wd v8 with no problems. Anyways so about 5 months ago i started to hear the first squeak about 5 months after purchasing it used from a FORD dealer (jim o'neil ford). Another guy from the firehouse who also worked at another ford dealer in the area said it was most likely the belt squeaking. Then the ABS light comes on so i take it to the dealership he works at and he hooks it up for free to the computer and updates my software and all then finds out the sensor on the front left wheel is triggered the ABS light and it's the wheel bearing.

I still have yet to fix it. And just yesterday i got another thing going wrong with front right wheel, just this time its not a squeak its a grinding but only the occasional. I read into this site heavily tonight and found out about lugs being sheared off, and it makes sense that when the bearing locks up it shears the lugs so i took the caps off the rim to check lugs and left them off and when i test drove it, it sounded better for some reason less squeak, and the occasional grind from the right when i turn.

Now i looked under the vehicle and found on my right front tire a wear in the metal from what looks like when i turn left it makes contact on a piece attached to the frame and theres another mark in the same spot on the left front tire just not as bad so maybe something is out of alignment too.

Like i said its not fixed yet and i am also a volunteer firefighter and make at least 2 runs a week to my station for alarms so i give my vehicle the occasional driving along with some balls out driving. And i was told the owner before me only used it to drive on the highway as part of her job.

- , New Albany, IN, USA

problem #3

Jan 112010

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

I have a roaring sound when the car is in motion....I initiallly thought it was the transmission. I think it may be the wheel bearings at this point..Will take to the dealer for repairs as soon as possible....

- , Portsmouth, VA, USA

problem #2

Jan 152009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

when driving straight the left wheel has a loud roaring noise and gets louder when the wheel is turned to the left but quietens down when turning to the right. I think this is my last Ford vehicle I will purchase. I also have a flashing security alarm light on dash that never stops flashing when parked ...drives me crazy.

- , Flomaton, AL, USA

problem #1

Apr 042007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

Bought the vehicle new and have had no problems until now. A wheel bearing went on the front left side and I had it replaced for around $450.

Of all the things that could go wrong, a wheel bearing?! Maybe they should work a bit harder on purchasing better parts and stop trying to get me to buy the Kleenex box that fits in the center console!

- , Small Town, OK, USA

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