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
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
44,733 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 262006

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,114 miles


I was having excessive road noise and car was not handling properly due to a bad driver's side wheel hub assembly.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #2

Dec 042004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles
Whining noise coming from rear became louder 41,000 mile on odo dealer advised rear wheel bearings seals and strut inserts, we had the repairs made $1000 one year later we noticed more noise and chatter when turning, dealer advised rear differential needs rebuild, and new clutch packs. We are having the repairs made at this time. These are expensive problems Ford should be held responsible.

- Buffalo Grove, IL, USA

problem #1

Mar 262005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,084 miles
While driving at interstate speed, the vehicle began to vibrate. When I pulled off the interstate, I noticed that 3 of the 5 threaded lugs were broken on the right rear wheel. I had to be towed on a flatbed towing vehicle to a Ford dealership for repairs. The dealership replaced the wheel assembly, hub assembly brake shield and lug nuts. It should be noted that the wheels were rotated on March 11, 2005 by a local Ford dealer prior to the incident.

- Franklin, IN, USA

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