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:
27,493 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

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2003 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #7

Dec 132012


  • 86,000 miles


2 complaints - back rear hatch panel under rear window has multiple cracks live in augusta ga and visit Florida and this seems to be a common problem every make body like mine have this crack and some panel has even fallen off. This has to be a manufacturing problem for this large amount of SUV's to have the same problem see more with problems than without. Also recently had problems with window intermittently not going down and back up after ice storm in augusta this year all four windows stopped going up and down. This also seems to be a common problem with this model and body style of Ford Explorer. Owned a 1993 Ford Explorer eddie bauer had approx. 300,000 miles on it before I got rid of it and the most happened to this car was the transmission and rear brake leak which was the most expensive problem I had. Wish I still had the 1993 Explorer because my 2003 makes me hesitant about purchasing another Ford Explorer no matter how much I like them this one will make turn to another make of car. Once a loyal Ford owner not so sure now. You would think that Ford will be as loyal to us as we are of them, it is the little things that make you frustrated and not wanting to purchase another. If you can't depend on the smaller things how can we depend on them with the larger things. Once a loyal Ford owner.

- Augusta, GA, USA

problem #6

Jul 312003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 500 miles
Multiple issues with my 2003 Ford Explorer which include the electronic mother board having been replaced twice (under warranty), cracked liftgage (not under warranty cost $300), transmission rebuild approx 90,000 ($3000), dome lights do not turn off, door ajar lights, electric rear windows do not open, O/D light flashes and now the final problem after having replaced my transmission in July 2011 is a drive train or drive line issue. At approximately 45 mph after dropping from a higher speed, a thumping happens. Diagnosis for this issue has been 3 days still with no final determination.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #5

Jun 192008


  • 98,000 miles
My back windshield exploded last Thursday while parked in my driveway. Not only did the glass explode, but the fiberglass underneath the glass was pulled away from the backend of the truck in a bowing position. I had the back hinge replaced after the recall, it's been less than 12 months and the Ford dealership in nashua will do nothing for me, stating that they have never seen anything like that before and there are no other complaints. When I asked to speak to the area factory rep, they informed me that they didn't have one. I asked to speak to the manager, who pretty much said, here's your hat, what's your hurry, out you go...he then flagged me as being an "irate" customer. I am a mother of 4 young children, god forbid they had been in the car when that had happened. Ford should be ashamed of themselves..Ford-built strong my leg! anyone interested in filing a class action lawsuit in the state of nh, please let me know, I am going to contact my lawyer today.

- Nashu, NH, USA

problem #4

Nov 152004


  • miles


Glass is literally hanging from the front passanger window frame. This is resulting in obstruction of vision.

- Elgin, IL, USA

problem #3

Jul 122004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Back (rear) window does not close properly. Requires numerous attempts.

- Aguadilla, DC, USA

problem #2

Jul 072003


  • 7,500 miles
While driving rear window exploded without warning. Dealer notified.

- Smithtown, NY, USA

problem #1

May 032003


  • 450 miles
The driver's power window button was very sensitive. The slightest touch/bump caused the window to open fully. The consumer almost had an accident due to this problem, while driving in a rain storm.

- Berryville, VA, USA

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