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
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
10,333 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Ford Explorer wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Jun 092007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,000 miles


My Michelin cross terrain tire blew out at the sidewall. It was a clear sunny day, 30 mph, on a smooth highway. I check my tire pressure regularly so I know the tire was properly inflated. I contacted Michelin and they referred me to melody lakes tire and auto. My wife called and the receptionist told her it wouldn't do any good to come in but she could. The receptionist told my wife the problem was "heat infraction?" and it was not covered. It is incredible to me a receptionist, over the phone, can diagnose tire problems. Michelin, nor the dealer had any intentions to determine why a blowout occurred, let alone try to fix it. I will forward this complaint to the NHTSA and hopefully you will have to listen to them. I have 4 more of those defective tires which I have no idea when they will blow!! updated 02-01-08.

- Quakertown, PA, USA

problem #2

Jun 122005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Contact states while driving the right driver's side tire blew out. The entire side of the tire came apart where it was glued.

- Portland, CT, USA

problem #1

Sep 092004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving a loud popping noise was heard from inside of the vehicle. Consumer was able to pull over and noticed that the passenger's front tire sidewall blew out. Consumer called for road side assistance to change the tire. Consumer drove the vehicle to the dealer for a replacement of Michelin tire.

- Springfield, VA, USA

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