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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
89,578 miles
Total Complaints:
130 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace wheel bearing (43 reports)
  2. replace complete hub assembly (26 reports)
  3. replaced wheel bearings (23 reports)
  4. 3rd party repair, no way i'm giving dealer more money (14 reports)
  5. not sure (11 reports)
  6. dealer replaced all the bearings (6 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 6 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #30

May 062008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles


Had to replace both the left and right front wheel bearings, lots of vibration, almost sounded like the all wheel drive was on all the time.

At a cost of $373 per side, the truck is once again very smooth.

- , Merrimack, NH, USA

problem #29

Apr 292008

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,063 miles

Round 2 on the front wheel bearing/hub. First time was at 39,000 miles left front bearing was replaced. This time at 52,000 miles both right and left front bearings/hubs were replaced. How many more times will this happen?? I am so happy that I got the extended service. But jeez how often should a front wheel bearing/hub be replaced????

I used to do just about all my vehicle service and I have never had wheel bearing issues like this Explorer. :(

I am debating whether I should just sell this vehicle while its still worth something. And then go buy a Honda pilot. I own a Ridgeline and have only seen one complaint here on this web sight about it.

- , Parma, OH, USA

problem #28

Jun 162007

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,045 miles

39,000 miles and a wheel bearing needs replaced? Wow! never happened that early to me before and I have owned and operated many vehicles for the last 25 years

- , Parma, OH, USA

problem #27

Apr 232008

Explorer NBX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles


I went in for an oil change and a "wobbling noise on turns". They came back with that my tires weren't balanced and needed to be rotated, my belts and pulley were worn, front brakes and rotors, sway bar bushing was shot, rack and pinion seal was leaking and the rear bearings were starting to go and if I didn't change them "my tire could come off while I was driving". My laundry list of problems ran me $1800. Good times...........

- , East Brunswick, NJ, USA

problem #26

Apr 082008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

I have felt a slight buzz in the steering wheel above 50 mph for the past few weeks. Took it to the Ford dealer who provided the local village idiot to tell me that the Explorer felt normal, gave up on that route. Checked the front end and all seemed ok, no play detected in the front wheel bearings. Rather than risk a front wheel making a break for freedom at 80 mph while on I-95, I decided to replace both front hubs/bearings today; when the hubs were removed I could feel significant roughness in the drivers side wheel bearing. The steering wheel buzz has gone with the installation of new hubs/bearings. Thankfully it is a simple job, and took two hours with only a medium amount of bad language required.

The design of the hub is poor, the wheel bearing seems insufficient for the required load. It looks as if the wheel knuckle would take a bigger ( deeper by 0.5 inches) bearing with a slightly shorter drive shaft. Ford need to come up with a recall/fix for this POS design.

- , Manassas, VA, USA

problem #25

Mar 312008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,300 miles

I purchased the "EXPLOSION" at 53,000 miles thinking it would be very dependable - Always change the oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles, regular tune-ups, Tires replaced, balanced, etc. However, in approximately January, 2008, I started hearing a slight noise in the front end. I am very aware of how vehicles work and knew this was not normal. I mentioned it to my husband who said it could be the Tires making noise, so I just let it go. I asked my brother in law to take a look at the Brakes to make sure they were not rubbing or needed changing. He changed the front Brakes (although they did not look worn) and the noise continued. It reached a point that it sounded like I was riding on huge TRACTOR TIRES! I told my husband that it had to be the Right Wheel Bearing because that is where the noise is coming from. Fortunately he is very Mechanically inclined; purchased the part and replaced the Right Side. I drove it that afternoon and the noise did get better, but not completely gone. When I drove it the next day it now sounds like it is coming from the LEFT side!!!!!!!! Well here we go again! BOTH AT ONCE?????????? I am completely discouraged now (especially after reading all of the other complaints). Guess I should tell my husband to start saving money to replace his on his Truck.

- , Bossier, LA, USA

problem #24

Mar 102008

Explorer LT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles


I understand that this is a very common problem. They day I took my Explorer in, the mechanic had just finished on another Explorer. Said he had repaired two bearings about three months ago and then the other two went out. Nice. I can hardly wait.

- , Spring Hill, KS, USA

problem #23

Mar 122008

Explorer XLT 4.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,394 miles

First I looked at the complaints I noticed a majority were American cars and coming from Detroit...I laugh when people bitch about loosing their jobs in automotive...what do they expect when they produce crap. Front and rear wheel bearing shot at 65K miles and finally fixed the front ones at a cost of $750 bucks. The rear ones are next on the agenda...I will never, ever buy a Ford again...their cars suck and so does their football team...both Ford products...but what would you expect in the way of quality...they reward the Lion's President Matt ' I Haven't got a Clue" Millen with another 5 year contract for having the worst record in Football in his first 5 years, so why would they make a better decision when producing cars? I worked at Ford for a while and I have never seen such incompetence in my entire life. And their company worth is reflected in their stock the toilet. The best thing that could happen to America is they go out of business so they can't peddle their crap...and did I mention the paint flying off my hood because the bozo's don't know how to prep galvanized steel before painting...oh yeah...and the air conditioning compressor went out after 3 years of owning it and I lived in Michigan at the time...where the weather sucks as bad as the auto manufactures do...This is the same company that killed their customers with bad tires and covered it up (and I was a cop and worked a fatality of an 18 year old girl that was killed in a rollover, tire failure accident and comforted her while she lay dying in a flipped over Explorer) and they killed cops when their cars blew up from being rear ended (while other manufactures cop cars weren't) and covered it up...this company should be in front of Congress and then closed down for it's shoddy workmanship and leadership.

- , Marina Del Rey, CA, USA

problem #22

Mar 082008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

The driver side rear hub assembly is currently being replaced because the bearings failed. I took it to the shop and they were unable to get the bearing out to replace them so they have to replace the entire hub assembly. The mechanic said my he was surprised my tire hadn't already fell off while I was going down the road.

- , Muskegon, MI, USA

problem #21

Feb 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,992 miles

Our company has another 2003 Explorer and we just replaced the real wheel bearing on it. Now, our second 2003 Explorer is making the same noise. So it looks like this too will have to be have the bearings replaced. This is my first experience with Ford and it is not a good one. The vehicle has been extremely well maintained. Often the 'check engine' light also comes one, but there is no obvious problem.

- , Barrie, Ontario, Canada

problem #20

Feb 182008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


All Fords are piece of &%@. Bought mine at 59000 perfect condition 5000 miles later wheel bearing issue all 4 bearings loud noise from front and rear transmission slips and is hard sometimes shocks are all dead car is very slow bad mpg like 11 engine belt is loud now might have to spend at least 2000+ to fix this sht and sell it %$^%#(&^$%##*%& ford

- , St. Paul, MN, USA

problem #19

Oct 252007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

OK, had 3 bearings go bad this time after already replacing one at 50k. Dealer again indicates this is no big deal and typical wear and tear. When asked if at least we're replacing the remaining 3, they admit one of the failures is a repeat of the one that went at 50k. Totally ridiculous.

- , Fort Thomas, KY, USA

problem #18

May 232007

(reported on)

Explorer LX 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Just put Explorer in the shop, for a noise in the front end, found that both the front wheel bearing were bad, back in February had it in the shop to replace both back wheel bearings, the mechanic told me the front needed replacing also, I told him he was full of crap because there is no way all 4 wheel bearings could fail at one time. Now guess what, 3 months later I am replacing both the front wheel bearing, at my expense.

What are the odds of all 4 wheel bearings failing on a "QUALITY" vehicle. Ford tells me I have to pay for repairs, $500, seems like there is a problem with the wheel bearings, I would understand if I was driving through water and mud, but that is not the case. A poor product and Ford should stand behind their product, but in this case they do not.

"Ford Quality"--hardly the case.

"Ford, a better idea"--Hardly the case.

- , Hallettsville, TX, USA

problem #17

Apr 012003

Explorer ES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

For the first three years I had to complain and complain to the dealer about the "roar"

in the rear and they finally admitted that they got a bad batch of bearings and they ended up replacing "every" bearing in the vehicle, one complaint at a time. I won't buy

another Ford.

- , Warrior, AL, US

problem #16

Feb 042008

Explorer EB 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

Just another problem in a growing list of problems with the vehicle.

- , Amherstburg, ON, Canada

problem #15

Jan 272008

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,500 miles

Three of four wheel bearings are being replaced now (along with one rear axle) Differential may also need to be replaced. How can Ford justify this at 55,000 miles?

- , Flushing, NY, USA

problem #14

Jan 272008

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,500 miles

Car is in the shop now with three out of four wheel bearings needing replacement (along with one rear axle). Expecting a $1700 bill. After completion of these repairs, they will listen to see if rear differential is also making noise; if yes, add another $1000.

- , Flushing, NY, USA

problem #13

Dec 172007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

I purchased this 2003 Explorer because I own a Ford Ranger and I have had great

service out of it. But the Explorer is crap. It started making a noise in the front end

about 20,000 mile ago and the only answer I got was it is the tires. So I put a new

set on it. It was a little quieter but got louder. We had it fix but feel like the

front end bearings were poor design on Fords part. I am in the market now for a car

to replace the Explorer. I will tell you this I will never own a Ford again.

- , Easley, SC, USA

problem #12

Dec 192007

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110 miles

I have had the 03 Explorer since new. At 61k and 66k I had replaced both front wheel bearing assemblies with factory replacements. Now at 110k I am having the same problem this is crazy $180 per bearing if you do it yourself, this should not be happening every 50 -60k miles

- , Manchester, NH, USA

problem #11

Sep 262007

(reported on)

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,700 miles

I bought this SUV in 2006. Its a 2003 with 30,400 mi. On Mother's day of 2007, I was on the parkway going about 65. I heard a loud sound and then we almost tipped over. I swerved all over the road and almost hit two different cars. Thank goodness the exit was right there. I got out and looked around to see the blowout. All the tires were filled. No blowout. I started looking at the tires closely. My rear passenger tire had no bolts on it. I called a friend. He came and lifted the car up with a jack. The tire fell right off!!! We couldn't believe it. There was nothing there to hold it. I had to have it towed and everything. It was very scary!!! I can't believe they know what's going on, and not fixing the problem. I had to have all the tires fixed. I can't believe they are risking peoples lives for money!!!! I bet they are NOT driving their FORDS!!!

- , Egg Harbor City, NJ, USA

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