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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
90,516 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 (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #2

Apr 132005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,837 miles


Three wheels on my 2003 Ford Explorer were replaced due to cracking of the "chrome" finish in the hub area, the 4th was not done since there was no cracking at that time; it now requires replacement. I am dealing with that at this point but I am concerned that this cracking may be more than the finish material; it may be the casting itself. If this is the case this could be a serious problem. I am curious if there have been any other reports of this and should this warrant an investigation by your department. The numbers for this wheel, from the dealer work order, are: 3L2Z-1007-ka and A801881.

- Holliston, MA, USA

problem #1

Sep 252003


  • 4,000 miles
While driving, the front right wheel pinion disengaged.

- Flint, MI, USA

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