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:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,284 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 windows / windshield problems

windows / windshield problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #20

Sep 012009


  • 40,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. When operating the vehicle, the rear hatch door and the rear hatch window became unsecured and opened due to a crack near the rear window wiper. The cause of the failure was not diagnosed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 40,000.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #19

May 152015


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the glass and the window on the rear liftgate panel cracked. The contact stated that the dealer replaced it three times, but the failure occurred because the material was not made to expand or contract based on the weather. The failure mileage was unavailable.

- Hardy, VA, USA

problem #18

Jan 082015


  • 177,201 miles
While the vehicle was parked in front of my house, the rear window exploded and I have a cctv video showing it was not smashed out. After reading that there had been a previous recall issued in 2004, I contacted Ford to inquire about the recall status. They informed me that the previous owner of the vehicle had already brought it in for this recall. After the recall repairs to prevent the rear window explosion, it still exploded later on.

- Almont, MI, USA

problem #17

Jul 042014

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 101,653 miles


When closing the glass tailgate the right hinge that attaches the glass to the tailgate broke causing the glass to detach from the car and fall hitting me in the left arm updated 09/16/14 updated 3/18/2015

- Wadsworth , OH, USA

problem #16

Jul 052012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Rear window hinges broke for the second time. They were fixed once with recall and are now broke again. Also the back lift gate panel has cracked.

- Winona, MN, USA

problem #15

Jun 012007


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The contacted stated that the rear window panel was fractured near the bottom. The contact was concerned that the window would fracture from the vehicle and break. The manufacturer was contacted and advised that there were no a recalls. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 30,000.

- Oregon City, OR, USA

problem #14

Aug 012009


  • 67,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. The rear windshield has developed cracks, which subsequently caused the windshield wipers to fail. She took the vehicle to the dealer for inspection, but they did not perform an inspection. The manufacturer advised her to repair the vehicle, and if her model type was recalled, she could inquire about reimbursement. The vehicle was in the process of being repaired. The current and failure mileages were 64,000.

- Buena Park , CA, USA

problem #13

May 142008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,330 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer. While driving 55 mph with the cruise control activated, the cruise control failed without warning. The vehicle was taken to a dealer and they stated that the cruise control wiring failed. There is a recall for the vehicle speed control, but his VIN was not included. The recall number was unknown. The current mileage was 11,550 and failure mileage was 11,330. Updated 06/25/08. The consumer stated after the dealer fixed the recalled rear hatch probelm, the cargo hatch flew open while driving down the highway. A

- Bremen, IN, USA

problem #12

Mar 062007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles
-the contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer eddie bauer edition. The rear window cracked near the location of the Ford emblem. The NHTSA website listed several related complaints. The manufacturer was aware of the defect, and will not authorize the repair. The current and failure mileage were both 49,000.

- Lucedale, MS, USA

problem #11

Feb 092007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles
- the contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer XLS. The contact stated that there was a panel below the rear window that cracked in half vertically. The vehicle was parked in the driveway, and when he got to the vehicle he found it that way. He had not driven the vehicle that day. The contact was concerned that there were many complaints concerning this problem. Also, the rear window of exploded. The failure and current mileage were 48000.

- Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #10

Jan 252007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,890 miles


- the contact owns a 2003 Ford Explorer eddie bauer edition. The rear window cracked near the location of the Ford emblem. The NHTSA website list several related complaints. The manufacturer is aware of the defect and will not authorize the repair. The current mileage was 50,000 and the failure mileage was 49,890.

- Owens Borow, KY, USA

problem #9

Jan 262005


  • 30,000 miles
While driving 35 mph rear window shattered. Dealership was notified, but did not resolve the problem.

- Lorain, OH, USA

problem #8

Feb 242005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 16,000 miles
Owner was driving on a residential street at approximately 25 mph when without warning the rear glass shattered. Owner contacted the manufacturer and was informed that the vehicle was not included in the recall due to VIN. Manufacture stated recall only applied to 4 door model, not 2 door model which the consumer owns.

- Cliffside Park, NJ, USA

problem #7

Oct 012004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 16,100 miles
A consumer safety campaign 04520 was received for the rear glass falling out or cracking. Consumer took vehicle for an oil change and the dealer did not have the part for the vehicle. Consumer was concerned that someone will be injured, and he will be liable for the injuries. Manufacturer stated no parts have arrived yet.

- Johnstown, PA, USA

problem #6

Aug 162003


  • miles
Glass of front windshield leaking, we had it resealed and it is again leaking and the new seal is lifting. The rear liftgate window was leaking and the water was leaking in between the inner and outer panels. When the liftgate is opened one gets an unexpected shower. This too required repairing. Dup

- Brockton, MA, USA

problem #5

Jan 312004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,500 miles
Ford Explorer XLS. Rear window shattered for unknown reason. The window appears to be under alot of tension.?

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #4

Jun 012003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 16,000 miles
Rear glass opened while driving. Loud whistling noise coming from under dash/engine. No power. Stalls on take off.

- Marbury, AL, USA

problem #3

Aug 172003


  • miles
2003 Ford Explorer sitting in garage. Rear hatch glass exploded as hatch was half way to being closed.

- Madeira Beach, FL, USA

problem #2

Apr 282003

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving the 2003 Ford Explorer, the right rear window shattered under normal driving conditions.

- Paterson, NJ, USA

problem #1

Dec 022002


  • miles
Consumer stated that rear lift gate glass shattered while vehicle was parked in a "cool" parking lot on a "cool" day.

- Kenner, LA, USA

Not what you are looking for?