2003 Ford Explorer Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2003 Ford Explorer as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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13
Known Problems

A failed heater blend door or actuator can cause the temperature control for the HVAC system to stop working. A clicking sound from the dash area would commonly indicate an actuator fault. If the heater gets stuck on the hottest setting, the heater blend door may be broken requiring replacement of the heater box to repair the issue.

A rattling noise from the engine may indicate that the timing chain cassette is worn. Our technicians tell us that installing an updated cassette and timing chain tensioner should correct this concern.

A cosmetic crack may develop on the plastic liftgate trim panel. Ford has released a service procedure to replace the applique without damage the the liftgate glass.

The composite (plastic) intake manifold may crack near the thermostat housing and cause a coolant leak. Ford released an updated manifold that was reinforced to prevent a recurrence. No recall was issued for this problem but Ford did extend the warranty to seven years on some models from the date of purchase.

Various problems with the 5-speed automatic transmission were common. These problems can be more common on the 2002 models with build dates before March, 2002. There are many service bulletins describing the diagnoses and repairs, which include fluid leak repairs, transmission software updates, or internal failures requiring a costly repair.

A ticking noise may develop from the engine due to a cracked exhaust manifold. Damaged exhaust manifolds will require replacement to correct this issue.

The rear wiper may stop working. This could be due to a rear wiper motor that has failed requiring replacement.

The radius arm bushing may wear, causing a clunking or popping noise when driving over bumps. To repair, the bushings need to be replaced. Depending on the severity of the wear, the brackets may also need replacement. Driving with worn bushings will shorten tire life and cause tire cupping (uneven tire wear).