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:
91,475 miles
Total Complaints:
11 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. need to replace rear hinges myself (5 reports)
  2. Ford refused warranty coverage, had to pay to repair (3 reports)
  3. not sure (2 reports)
  4. replaced replacement hinges (1 reports)
2003 Ford Explorer windows / windshield problems

windows / windshield problem

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #11

Jul 122014

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,604 miles


click to see larger images

rear window hinge fractured, window fell

On the weekend I noticed a rattling sound coming from the back of my vehicle. Upon inspection I found that the window lift strut detached and caused the window to drop. The bracket completely fell apart. I did a recall search on the Government of Canada Transport Database. Sure enough my 2003 Ford Explorer XLT was recalled for this exact safety issue. (see below) Of course, upon calling the dealership and Ford Canada, our vehicle VIN is not included on the list. Even though the exact same problem occurred in our vehicle. Now we have to fight with the dealership and pay out of pocket. This is bull. Ford, you suck!

Transport Canada Recall # 2004328

Recall Date 2004/09/10 Notification Type Safety Mfr System Other Manufacturer Recall Number 04S20 Units Affected The number of vehicles or components affected by the recall. 24,918 Category SUV

Recall Details On certain 2002 model year vehicles, the ball stud bracket located on the rear liftgate window could rotate out of position on the glass. If this occurs, the window lift strut may detach and become trapped between the glass and the liftgate, possibly causing the window to drop unexpectedly or break. In all of the affected vehicles model year 2002 and 2003, the hinge which attaches the liftgate window to the liftgate body may separate from the liftgate body. If this occurs, the window could drop unexpectedly or break. If the liftgate window drops or breaks, either the person operating the window or a nearby person could be injured. Correction: Dealers will replace the liftgate glass hinge and ball stud bracket (if applicable).

- , Tecumseh, Ontario, canada

problem #10

Aug 012012

Explorer ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

Ford said that it was the way I closed my trunk that fractured it. He told me to place my hand to the left.

- , Hixson, TN, USA

problem #9

Sep 102008

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,748 miles

recall my ass. it took 4 days to get part and ford said it was unfortunate.

- , Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

problem #8

Oct 072013

Explorer Sport XLS 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,000 miles


Window fell and shattered into a million pieces. After contacting my insurance to have the glass replaced found out the reason was b/c of a faulty hinge. After doing some research online I found the recall on the Explorer (not Sport like mine) and it seems like the identical issue. Called the dealer who was of no help since I am technically not part of the recall. I now have a call into Ford directly to see if they will help, but it seems like that is a long shot according to the other statements I've seen. The glass guy told me the hinge malfunctioned due to electrolysis (two different metals reacting against each other) which seems like a manufacturing issue to me. SO... I now have new glass being held in by one working hing, the window latch and tape. In the process of finding the replacement hinges (I guess you can only buy as a pair) and crossing my fingers that they won't have the same issue happen again. I'm lucky it took 10 years for this to occur, but I may not be as lucky next time around!

- , South Elgin, IL, USA

problem #7

Aug 242013

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,663 miles

I bought my 2003 Ford Explorer in 2007, from a now closed dealership that I recently found out were shoddy in how they sold their vehicles and if I knew then what I know now would never have bought the vehicle from them. Anyway, I noticed shortly after the purchase that the right back hinge didn't look right and after further investigation realized that the pin had broken off partly on one side but was still holding together so at that point I didn't get it fixed, due to the fax that the dealership I bought the vehicle from closed down and after looking on line for the price I couldn't afford the cost etc. So at that point I opted to not use the window part of the hatch as much as possible, which doesn't make sense to put that option in the vehicle if you can't use it.

Then this past Saturday, 8/17 I needed something real quick out of the back, while I'm in the middle of a parking lot, so I used to the hatch window only for the right hinge to fall apart and bend the cylinder on that side. Thankfully I was quick enough to catch the glass before it broke or damaged the left hinge etc. I stood holding the glass for fifteen minutes before I was able to get someone there to help me out. We finally had to take cylinder off to be able to temporarily put pin back into hinge area in order to fully close and lock the window into place. I did find out that the part was a 2004 recall, but at that point didn't know whether it had been replaced. When I went to a different dealership I found out it had been replaced, so this replacement was out of my pocket cost, which is ridiculous since OBVIOUSLY whatever problem there was to have the original recall had not been fixed. The only suggestion the dealership had was to not use the window, but that the other hinge would probably have to be replaced too at some point.

If the ONLY OPTION is to not use the window to keep the hinge from breaking then WHY HAVE THE HINGES THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE AND NOT JUST A SEALED WINDOW!!!!

- , Bridgewater, VA, USA

problem #6

May 102011

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,900 miles

I went to ford dealer on 6-6-2011 and asked if this was covered in recall that shows up online at ford and they said no because my vin is just past the date of June 23rd 2003 when the door sticker says 06/03.How am I suppose to know that my vehicle was assembled after the 23rd and did that part get installed at ford before or after the 23rd. I think they need to add my vehicle and all 2003's to the list.

- , Goshen, OH, USA

problem #5

Sep 172010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles


Looking back I should have kept looking for an explorer and not purchased this one. When purchasing my used 2003 Explorer the rear window hinge was cracked and the rear hatch window was tilted slightly. We had this fixed shortly after we purchased it at our expense because the dealer would not fix it before we purchased the vehicle. I just found where Ford had recalled vehicles for this broken hatch window hinge.

Why did our dealer not agree to fix this if it was a recall? I am calling Ford on Monday to file a complaint. I noticed that shortly after they had repaired the back window hinge that the back hatch is starting to crack.

I realize I purchased a used vehicle with 115,000 miles but did not expect these expensive repairs while making payments and within 3 months of the purchase. Especially since the dealer supposedly inspected it. Consumer beware: get an independent vehicle inspection before purchasing don't take the dealers word for it.

- , Liberty Center, OH, USA

problem #4

Jul 312010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,313 miles

so there was a recall on original hinges that were I was told an 8mm hinge replaced with a 10 mm hinge recall in 2004, so mine were replaced in 2005 and again this happens to to new hinges? are the 10 mm hinges really that reliable? I think not! They will still fracture and the window will crash out...

- , Chelmsford, ON, Canada

problem #3

Feb 212010

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

One day I pop open the rear door window to load somethings in car shut it and there it was... an ugly crack on the rear hatch of the truck. I was under warranty and Ford said they couldn't cover it. Once, it happened I noticed it all the time on other Explorers of this year range. I also noticed that the new models have a different door.

I just spoke to a women who I met who's Explorer also has the problem.

- , Oakland, CA, USA

problem #2

Apr 012010

Explorer XLT 6 cyl 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

On my wedding day my wife and her friends are using my explorer to move supplies and call me that the rear glass wont shut. So upon inspection and barely being able to get the glass to latch, I notice a few days later the hinge pin is out of whack and the entire hinge is crooked. it slowly just is getting worse until the other day as Im driving down the interstate the door ajar beeper is constantly going off and the interior light is flickering on and off like the door is ajar. So inspecting I realize the glass is so out of whack and the right hinge actually finally came apart I tried to open it and it falls into my hands. (not light and Im fighting it because the struts are still attached. Had to remove the struts and fight the glass to get it to latch again. now the glass is on with a left hinge which is supporting all of the weight and the latch at the bottom. Ive emailed the dealerships in my town earlier this week on Monday, and none have had the decency to reply,

i'm guessing because they just expect to pay out of pocket rather than dealing with the work to fix this recalled problem. I wanted to trade my explorer in this year for a brand new car but I will see by the way this is handled if I ever want to buy a ford again. Good guest service is a good reason that most people are scared to try something new. Bad service is a good reason to find something new. We will see!

- , Bettendorf, IA, USA

problem #1

Jan 272008

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

Hinge supporting rear opening window fractured. I was very lucky to catch the glass and preventing it breaking. I found a TSB on the internet and found out well over 100,000 2003 Explorers were recalled for exactly this problem. Because my truck was assembled six weeks after Ford claimed they had solved the defective hinge problem, they refused to pay for the repair. E-mail and telephone correspondence with Ford was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. Even though my hinge failed exactly the same way all the recalled hinges did, Ford insisted that my hinge couldn't be defective because my truck was made after they "solved" the problem.

- , Flushing, NY, USA

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