While the current Explorer is a vast improvement over its predecessor, it competed in a market with many more choices. Still, its steady ride and versatile, well-designed interior made for a well-rounded package. Its main drawbacks were an unrefined V6 engine and unimpressive performance on our off-road course.
Alerts
There are 7 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
NA
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
NA
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS standard. Side air bags available 1999-2001, standard from 2006. Head protection air bags available from 2002, standard from 2008. ESC available from 2003, standard from 2005.
Road Test

While the current Explorer is a vast improvement over its predecessor, it competed in a market with many more choices. Still, its steady ride and versatile, well-designed interior made for a well-rounded package. Its main drawbacks were an unrefined V6 engine and unimpressive performance on our off-road course.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear, 2 third
Drive Wheels
4WD , Rear
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
2-door SUV
4-door SUV
Transmissions Available
  • 5-speed Manual
  • 5-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 4-liter V6 (203 hp)
  • 4-liter V6 (210 hp)
  • 4.6-liter V8 (239 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2003 Ford Explorer owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Alignment

"When the ball-joint job was done, the shims were not put in and threw off the front-end alignment resulting in steering being off center. Once an alignment was performed the steering was centered"

Anonymous, CT (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
Ball joints

"The front end made noise like something was going break."

James R., NC (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.5-L V8)

"Noticed steering was not as precise as before. Had vehicle checked by mechanic & determined that ball joints were worn. At 118k miles I feel that this is normal maintenance."

Anonymous, PA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Had to be replaced, they were worn."

Anonymous, OR (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"had popping noise, replaced ball joints"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"The ball joints were worn out and the assembly is one piece so I couldn't replace just the ball joints. The cost was around $550 for both up front"

Anonymous, NC (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"The ball joints were worn and had to be replaced"

Anonymous, CT (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"They were worn out after 200000 miles"

Anonymous, CT (2003 Ford Explorer 4.0-L V6)

"I feel the ball joints had premature wear. Adding grease joints would help alleviate the problem"

James L., SC (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.0-L V6)

"I had major suspension problems which required almost 6,000 worth of work. I seriously considered junking the vehicle but I was very happy with it till then and can now say I am happy I did make the investment"

Eric O., BC (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
Bushings

"the bushings system has been replaced twice since I bought the vehicle"

C M., NJ (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Power steering leaks

"Fluid has to be added on a regular basis to enable power steering."

Lynne V., NJ (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)
Power steering pumps and hoses

"Power steering pump failed and had to be replaced"

Terry K., TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)
Shocks or struts

"see previous comments re major suspension work"

Eric O., BC (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
Springs or torsion bars

"2 rear springs broken in 2 places on each spring"

Anonymous, FL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Broken rear spring. Needed replacement"

Anonymous, MN (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.0-L V6)

"Torsion bars started to fail at 90,000 km. Replaced. Required replacement is needed again now"

Kim H., AB (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
Steering linkage (includes rack and pinion)

"A small plastic bushing on the steering rod wore out and broke. The steering wheel wobbled. Ford does not have a replacement part nor do they sell the entire steering assy. I had to go to a salvage yard and cannibalize parts to fix the steering."

Anonymous, VA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Steering linkage has suddenly began catching as the steering wheel is turned. It takes more force to turn the wheel. Happens at all speeds and circumstances. Over the last two weeks the car has become undrivable"

Anonymous, VA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Tie rods

"Noticed loose handling at highway speeds. Investigation revealed worn ball joints (discussed previously) And worn tie rod ends. I feel that this is acceptable wear with 118k on the vehicle. Replaced worn parts, vehicle now handles perfectly."

Anonymous, PA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"tie rod was also replaced"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"The whole front end wore out seemingly at one time and the car was driving erratically. Fortunately I brought it in for a very expensive repair job before an accident occurred"

Keith G., NJ (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Wheel balance

"Front end had a wabol"

James R., NC (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.5-L V8)
Wheel bearings

"Both rear wheel bearings went out prematurely. On the left side, the axle had to be cut out sine it was so rusted to put in the new bearings"

Dennis-Ellen S., CO (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Looks like I have to replace the bearings every other year. Even with major brand USge"

Anonymous, OH (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"rear wheel bearings need replacement about ever 4 years"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Replaced rt front wheel bearing 3 times"

Anonymous, FL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Noisy bearings"

Andy H., ON (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"This explorer platform is notorious for left front wheel bearings going bad. I replace L Drivers Side with high quality parts almost annually"

Robert S., PA (2003 Ford Explorer NBX 4.5-L V8)

"The mechanic who fixed the spark plug also fixed the bearings because of two broken studs on the right front wheel. He stated that these bearings often fail. and these will likely fail within 2-3 years also, OEM parts"

Anonymous, KY (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"Have replaced the rear wheel bearings several times.(at least twice on each side).First one went when car was only 6 yeas old"

Mike R., MI (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"All 4 wheel bearings failed and had to be replaced at major expense"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"Made a loud roaring noise from rear. Had both replaced. Also had the front ones replaced. Should be a recall"

Anonymous, NY (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"The passenger wheel bearing hub had to be replaced due to wear and tear. This was done along with a tire rotation, balance and alignment. The vehicle is now in excellent condition"

Joseph V., NY (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Doors or sliding doors

"split or crack in rear door hatch"

Jerry B., IL (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.0-L V6)
Heated or cooled seat controls

"Right front seat heater failed"

Anonymous, IL (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)
Locks and latches

"Electric lock on drivers door does not work"

Anonymous, ND (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Sunroof

"Leaking because of drain clog"

Anonymous, IL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Tailgate, hatch or trunk

"Vertical crack in liftgate panel below window. Ford has always denied responsibility for this very common problem in Explorers of this vintage."

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer NBX 4.0-L V6)

"The hatch / glass became disconnected on one side. There is a crack in the hatch from normal use"

Ann B., IL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"The rear glass hinges broke and I had to have them replaced"

Anonymous, UT (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

"Plastic on the exterior cracked"

Donald S., FL (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"The plastic panel on the lift gate always cracks on models 2003 to 2005. Ford wouldn't fix after warranty expired, claiming the matter was cosmetic"

Anonymous, GA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Plastic horizontal piece beneath tailgate glass cracked into common on This.. model explorer, paint cracks on bumper"

Jim M., FL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"cracked"

Wayne V., CA (2003 Ford Explorer 4.0-L V6)

"Although an early recall, the hatch hinges were askew and needed to be replaced. The panel below the hatch window is cracked in several places. I've seen this as a common problem with all Explorers of this vintage. Elected not to repair to risk same"

R M., FL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"The molding that is glued to the rear window cracked vertically at the Ford emblem"

Ronald H., PA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"crack on liftgate between rear window to hatch latch"

Leland S., TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Like EVERY Ford Explorer built in 2003 my Ford Explorer has a crack down the middle of the tailgate due to a major design flaw that Ford refused to acknowledge, or recall although they did fix them for about 6 months only for the cracks to appear again because the design flaw was not fixed. The crack in mine has gotten larger and deeper and any day now I expect the back glass to blow out like I has for so many people. I would ENVER buy a Ford again based on the fact that they did the complete"

Stephanie C., GA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)
Windows

"Driver's side window rolled down and became stuck in the down position."

Michael V., WA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"passenger front electric window motor died. hard to replace."

Anonymous, VT (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Power window assembly for right rear passenger door failed and required replacement."

Phil A., CA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Right-hand front side window fails to operate even though all tests indicate it should work. The specific problem has not been found."

Paul B., ME (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"driver side window always works the other three intermittent"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"can not open or close window with switch"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"electric window motor on passenger side stopped working. hard to replace"

Bruce B., VT (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Antilock system (ABS)

"ABS sensor was replaced."

Anonymous, MT (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"one ABS Sensor kept malfunctioning"

George P., NC (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"ABS light stays on all the time, Have had it in three times for adjustment, works for a few months then its back on, so I have stopped paying attention to it"

Jerry S., MI (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"The ABS system failed and had to be fixed"

Anonymous, OR (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"Went out about 4 years ago. Just one of the number of peripheral issues we've had with this year of Explorer"

Anonymous, PA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
Calipers

"front calipers froze up. couldn't drive"

Anonymous, VT (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"One of the rear calipers began not releasing the pressure brake pad away from the rotor causing a drag effect and heat build-up. Repairs were made a a Ford dealer in Florida since I was 1000 miles away from home, on vacation. Both rear calipers and pads were replaced new along with both new rotors, since both should be replaced at the same time on the same axle"

Anonymous, VA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Normal routine brake wear

"front brake needs replacing."

Anonymous, VT (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Rear pads worn after 41,000 miles"

Anonymous, WI (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Needed new brake pads and rotors"

Anonymous, ND (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"What I consided normal pads 7 caliper wear"

Douglas G., MA (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"steel in the rotors is too cheap to withstand the heat generated in normal braking over the years causing high spots, pulsating and jerking when stopping. The parking brake is poorly designed causing you to maintain two sets of braking systems in the"

William M., VA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"rear brakes grinding sound, found rear pads worn and rotors grooved, replacing both pads and rotors"

Mark K., OH (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Parking brake

"Pull handle broke."

Anonymous, AZ (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Parking brake shoe fell apart, immobilizing the vehicle"

Anonymous, CO (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"parking break pads were loose and made clunking noise when going slow"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Mechanism in the back wheels was apparently assembled incurrectly since new, but worked sufficiently well that I never noticed a problem. I had it repaired when it reached a point that I noticed a problem"

Anonymous, CT (2003 Ford Explorer 4.0-L V6)
Pulsation or vibration

"had a sever pulsation of the brakes."

Jerry S., MI (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)
Rotors

"Rotors rusted through all four of them, and all had to be replaced"

Jerry S., MI (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"the brakes and front rotors have been replaced twice since I bought the vehicle"

C M., NJ (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Showed normal, but not ready for replacement at approx. 43000 miles.3 years ago"

Douglas G., MA (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"Roters had to be replaced"

Anonymous, OR (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

"Mostly due to lack of freon charging. Also the blend door was inoperable. Discover that issue after moving to the Northeast and wanting to use the heater."

Anonymous, CT (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"the front windshield defroster system quit working, and the rear A/C started making clicking sounds then the compressor clutch locked up and destroyed the system and cost $1800 to replace it."

E A., TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Compressor was leaking; replaced unit"

Lee W., MD (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"It stopped working, had it replaced"

Norman Y., BC (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"Compressor failed and had to be replaced"

Anonymous, IL (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)
Blower (fan) motor

"fan door sticks and knocks in mid temp position. Have to manually open the baffle. Repair quote was too costly to take out the system to determine. we figured out a way around it since it's a back-up car now"

Anonymous, CT (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Blower(s) in dash panel not working at full power, noisy"

Anonymous, MI (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Condenser

"No cool air when air conditioner turned on. Diagnosed by Ford Dealer as a pin whole leak in the condenser. Paid to have new condenser installed. Fixed problem"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.5-L V8)
Electrical failure

"Temperature control no longer functions for warm or hot, loud clicking noise under dash, no heat"

T D., AZ (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"3 Door locks, all interior lights failed. Lights would stay on"

Dennis-Ellen S., CO (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Related to the heater controls...started doing weird things"

Anonymous, ME (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Evaporator

"Failed"

Anonymous, MA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
Heater system

"The ability to direct airflow failed causing the dash to be removed"

Anonymous, VA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Heater stopped working as well as fan"

Anonymous, CT (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"Heat blend failure"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"it may have a vacuum leak but no one can find it. The entire system now does not generate or distribute heat. Mechanics took it all apart and made it worse"

Anonymous, ME (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Refrigerant leaks

"AC refrigerant has a slow leak inside the dash. Repair cost estimates are more than the car is worth (Blue Book). Also, several of the the damper actuators which control the airflow (dash, floor, defrost, etc.) had to be replaced."

Paul W., CA (2003 Ford Explorer NBX 4.0-L V6)

"Refrigerant has; leaked out 4 times over the past 2 years and 2 different shops have filled with dye and are unable to locate source of leak."

Anonymous, UT (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

"Emer. brake cable made contact with "tube/hose" running to back seat AC and caused loss of complete AC in vehicle"

Anonymous, IL (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"Refrigerant hose fittings leaking"

Lou D., CA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Leaks out over one year period. Did this twice. Can't find leak"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford Explorer 4.0-L V6)

"Needed to add coolant. It was expected as this is the first time it has had to be charged since it was purchased. - 12 years"

Anonymous, VA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Alarm or security system (excluding aftermarket systems)

"same as my wife's 2013 flex, the horn system started going off all by itself, I pulled the fuse and traced it back to a bad negative ground in the firewall. No problems since."

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"The alarm goes off at random so I just finally unhooked it"

Anonymous, NC (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Cruise control

"Cruise control turns off or will not activate at all."

Randy H., SC (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"cruise control stopped working. they wanted WAY too much money to fix it at dealer"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"A huge annoyance. It does come back once in a while and then goes out again. Just a symptom of a car built with poor quality control"

Anonymous, PA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
Exterior lights (other than headlights)

"On two occasions, wires inside the steering column broke so the signal lights ceased working. The wires in the repair kit the dealer installed were clearly too short to allow for full tilting of the steering wheel so when a driver tilted the wheel all the way down, the wires broke. Fix was over $200 and dealer uncooperative when I demanded longer wire on 2nd fix."

Leslie P., AB (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"car was in a wreck before I bought it and it takes at least 20min before the inside and outside lighting to turn off."

J S N., LA (2003 Ford Explorer 4.5-L V8)

"Back up lights not working"

James R., NC (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.5-L V8)

"For the past 8 months my Ford has been. in the shop several times...the tail light went out and it was replaced....then the battery went dead so I replaced it...but it still had times when I would go to use it and it was dead...I was then told it was the alternator. It was replaced...then I parked it at the airport for a week and when I returned I had to open it with the key because the remote wouldn't work because the battery was dead....it didn't start...and there was a constant clicking noise"

Stephanie C., GA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)
Interior lights

"all panel lights, gages stopped working"

Anonymous, WI (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

"Interior lights remain on after doors are closed and car is locked"

Anonymous, VA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

"Ever since using one automatic car wash, usually when the car is in the rain and sometimes after washing it, the interior lights stay on for awhile when driving"

Jan P., PA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)
Keyless entry

"Electronic doorlocks on the drivers side caused the car to not start. Replaced it and car started fine"

Anonymous, MD (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"Besides the keyless entry, the toggle for locks on the driver's side door no longer worked"

Kathryne G., IL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Doesn't work anymore"

Anonymous, OH (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Warning lights

"Gas gauge intermittant."

Anonymous, IL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Out of the blue 2 weeks ago the warning lights and a buzzer started going off as we drove. No one has any idea what is happening and we have spent $$ with Ford mechanics trying unsuccessfully to find the cause"

Anonymous, OR (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Door not closed Auto door lock system PVC"

Anonymous, MS (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Wiper motor or washer

"The rear washer hasn't worked since the car was two years old"

Jan P., PA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Loose interior trim or moldings

"rubber molding around doors keep coming off"

Anonymous, VT (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

"Paint on rear deck lid is peeling off."

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Paint beginning to bubble and chip off from edge of vehicle hood closest to driver."

Phil A., CA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Black panel trim has faded"

Anonymous, MO (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"paint along the rain grooves on the roof coming off and the rear hatch below the window broke in two"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Paint on the hood peeled off. Painted over it thru dealer ship but now it is peeling off again -- just on the hood"

Ann B., IL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"Back panel on Explorer cracked on lift gate and the paint has faded a bit on the upper door panels"

Anonymous, GA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Paint cracks on rear bumper"

Jim M., FL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"roof paint cralking"

Anonymous, WI (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

"Paint bubbled and peeled on the top of the truck"

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"Crack appeared on rear hatch"

Anonymous, MS (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Paint failed on roof and rust ensued"

Harry C., TX (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.0-L V6)

"white paint flaking off on horizontal surfaces"

Leland S., TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Rust

"At the corners and joints of the side runner"

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"The front fenders showed some minor rust 1 or 2 years ago. Eventhough we live in interior Oregon, that problem got worse in this last year and is now in 5 places"

Anonymous, OR (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Body is starting rust all over very quickly and badly"

Bruno S., ON (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"rusted through right rear fender and running boards"

Bruce B., VT (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"body is falling apart"

Anonymous, OH (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"The design of the front of the rear wheel wells and rear doors is terrible. Road dirt and salt accumulate and hold moisture thus causing rust"

Ronald H., PA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

4WD/AWD components

"Replaced transmission and auto ovrd dreive"

Anonymous, UT (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

"Right rear wheel bearing and 2 rear rotors"

Anonymous, ON (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

"Complete automatic transmission failure. It literally blew up. Had to be replaced with new automatic transmission"

John P., ON (2003 Ford Explorer)
Differential

"The rear differential locked up and had to be rebuilt. There were some speculation that the fluids had not been replaced, but not entirely sure this was the case"

Terry K., TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"The rear differential has independent rear suspension and is notorious for being noisy and repair prone. Mine is very noisy with what I believe to be gear noise rather than bearing noise. I plan on repairing it with new gear set and bearings myself"

John G., AL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Differential had been making increasingly loud noise for years. finally had it overhauled"

Alan P., GA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Once repaired by the warranty and had to be rebuilt on the same pinion bearing problem"

Masa O., AB (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"Have had to replace gears once, then had to replace the whole differential do to failure"

Jerry S., MI (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"Seals leaked, Gear damage, had to replace differential"

Anonymous, MI (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"It is noisy. seems to be an issue with this year model but Ford ignores it"

Anonymous, AR (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)
Driveshaft or axle

"The traction control sensor ring on the rear axles split and came loose causing the traction control and four wheel drive systems to be inoperable"

John G., NJ (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

"It collected water inside Driveshaft. Driveshaft was also leaking fluid around seal."

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Front rt. cv joint and wheel bearing failure"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.0-L V6)
Transfer case

"Failed, had to replace"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Catalytic converter

"CHeck engine light/computer indicated I needed to replace the catalytic converters. Not too bad a job for a DIY project. Has run well since."

Glenn O., NC (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"thermostat housing ruptured at freeway speeds causing the exhaust system to shut down the motor. Had to replace the whole system to just start the engine."

E A., TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"The temp housing blew apart on the freeway while hauling a small trailer. The steam from the housing clogged up ALL 3 catalytic converters and the dealership took 5 days to diagnose it, plus they damaged my rear bumper pushing it on/off the rack."

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Check engine light came on. Dealer says cat conv. bad. wanted $2000.00 to replace. Price is ridiculous!!!"

Anonymous, OK (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Check Engine readout says I need a new catalytic converter. Haven't replaced it yet, but will soon"

Glenn O., NC (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
Exhaust leaks

"rust"

Anonymous, NE (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Muffler

"Muffler rusted out and had to be removed."

Lynne V., NJ (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

"Entire exhaust had to be replaced from catalytic converter to end pipe under the bumper"

John P., ON (2003 Ford Explorer)

"Muffler was rusted out at 138,000 miles, had to be replaced"

Kurtis W., IA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
Pipes

"rust"

Anonymous, NE (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"tail pipe rusted"

Anonymous, ON (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Emission control devices (includes EGR)

"At 200000 miles and no major repairs did not meet Texas/factory inspection emissions requirement. On high mileage vehicles, what can you expect. I am very pleased with Ford Explorer's"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.0-L V6)
Fuel cap

"check fuel cap light came on and would not go out. fuel cannister and fuel tank had to be replaced"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)
Fuel gauge/sender

"Sending unit in the tank stops working periodically."

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"Fuel Gage goes down past 3/4, Gage drops to empty. Restart vehicle and Gage goes back up. If left alone fix engine light comes on. Maybe sending unit"

Larry C., CA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)
Fuel injection system

"whole new wirning harness was required"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"3 of the injectors had to be replaced"

Armando V., NJ (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.5-L V8)

"Fuel/air supply to engine disrupted by dirty fuel/air supply equipment. A clean-up by a good mechanic fixed problem with no parts required"

Richard G., PA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)
Fuel pump

"Fuel pump stopped working - had to be replaced."

Guy R., TX (2003 Ford Explorer 4.0-L V6)

"car would not start, fuel pump had to be replaced"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)
Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

"Service engine light on indicated failed O2 sensor. Was replaced and fuel economy seems to be better."

Anonymous, HI (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Air or water leaks

"stopped up sunroof drains"

Anonymous, VA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"Routinely leaks water into the passenger side floorboards."

Michael V., WA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"The passenger side floor regularly gets wet when it rains. We have been unable to locate the leak."

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Seals and/or weather-stripping

"seals leak around engine"

Kenneth T., FL (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"The seal at the bottom of the front doors has come off. This does not appear to cause water to come into the vehicle but they dangle down and had to be cut. I put them back but they kept falling off."

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Weather stripping around doors comes loose & is torn around all doors, But taking into account the age of the vehicle, if I were keeping it for myself, I would have these replaced"

Mike R., MI (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)
Squeaks or rattles

"squeak and rattle in the body"

Kenneth T., FL (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"Front suspension squeaks, needs ball joints replaced as they cannot be greased"

Anonymous, NV (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.5-L V8)

"very annoying squeaks from front end (i think). they want loads of cash just to diagnose it, not counting fixing it"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"Loud rattles coming from rear door/window"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Transmission rebuild or replacement

"THere has been hesitation in the shifting for a couple of years, but recently got much worse so am having the transmission rebuilt this week."

Glenn O., NC (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"Transmission stopped shifting"

Lou D., CA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Transmission just went out no indication of a problem. Serviced on a regular basis"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"caused by Ford mechanics not installing amsoil transmission fluid correctly"

Anonymous, MA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"At 60,000 miles my transmission had to be replaced"

Anonymous, MO (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)

"Servo Bores in the transmission case wear and after several years the bore wears so bad that the servo breaks when engaging the 3rd gear band. THis is common in approc 80k intervals"

Robert S., PA (2003 Ford Explorer NBX 4.5-L V8)

"Transmission had to be totally rebuilt TWICE since new. (As well as differential twice.)"

Masa O., AB (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"Transmission light went on and had vehicle towed to the dealership"

Edward P., IL (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"Transmission had internal issue requiring either replacement or rebuild"

Brad N., WI (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Engine rebuild or replacement

"Original engine failed - typical for the year I assume. We had it replaced simply because my wife really liked the Explorer and wanted to keep it rather than shop for something new. The new engine has been fine."

Paul B., ME (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"At 138450 miles the engine seized up due to an apparent timing belt failure. The design of the engine requires removal of the engine to replace the timing belt located at the rear of the engine. I had a re-manufactured engine installed for $4500.00"

John G., AL (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Plastic thrermostat housing failed,, coolant lost and engine overheated and was a total loss"

Donald S., FL (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"Timing chain failed and caused damage to engine which had to be replaced"

Harry C., TX (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.0-L V6)
Head gasket

"When the car overheated, I had a new thermostat and water pump installed. The certified repair shop didn't notice that the head gasket was in need of repair. When the head gasket blew, the ford dealership had the car for a week and never was able to"

Jack R., CA (2003 Ford Explorer Limited)
Timing belt or chain

"While I was driving the car suddenly started to run very roughly. I took it into the dealer right away. He told me a chain had broken and it would cost $5000 to fix it. This was more than the car was worth so I sold it for salvage"

Thomas C., SD (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Backup or other camera/sensors

"Backup camera failure varies from not working at all to periodic functioning"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
CD player

"CD failed"

Anonymous, MO (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"will not play or eject tape"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Failure of TWO CD players since owning vehicle"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"Have a 6 pak system, does not play anymore and will not eject the cd's"

Anonymous, OH (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)
Steering wheel controls

"stuck out of gear"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Slipping transmission

"Had a rebuilt transmission installed in 2012, still having problems with slipping"

Anonymous, CO (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Sometimes when at a stop, vehicle pauses after gas pedal applied and then it "catches" and moves forward"

Anonymous, DC (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
Transmission sensor or solenoid

"Overdrive solenoid broke, causing vehicle to loose 2nd gear and overdrive. An aftermarket fix was installed and has return the transmission to good performance"

Kurtis W., IA (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

"The sensor went bad. I had no issues before this or problems with this vehicle"

Edward P., IL (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Oil leaks

"The usual small spots in the garage from the seals leaking a bit. Under the engine, drive shaft, rear differential."

Anonymous, CT (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"intake manifold seals"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0-L V6)

"Front and reat differential, and the oil pan"

Michael S., WI (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

"Head gasket on left side leaks oil"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0-L V6)

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

What Owners Say

Overheating

"I was always dealing with over heating with oil and water pump. Got tired of taking to the garage repair."

Lamont E., CA (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.5-L V8)
Thermostat

"Thermostat housing is plastic and it cracked, lost coolant and overheated engine. Fortunately, engine was not damaged"

Robert N., DE (2003 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0-L V6)
Water pump

"I just felt that I had a lemon for this car."

Lamont E., CA (2003 Ford Explorer Limited 4.5-L V8)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Spark plugs or wires failure

"The number 8 spark plug blew out from the engine. The requirement to fix was to drill out the old spark plug part place a helicoil before installing a new spark plug. The mechanic stated this was a typical problem with Ford aluminum blocks"

Anonymous, KY (2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.5-L V8)
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