2003 Ford Explorer Review and Model Lineup

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The 2003 Ford Explorer is one vehicle in particular that is probably not a good idea to buy blindly. Any time you look to purchase any vehicle you should research it to learn as much as you can about the specs, performance, reliability and price you can expect to pay. In the case of this particular vehicle it can definitely be more important.

New For the 2003 Model Year

Although the 2002 model saw major changes in the Ford Explorer, 2003 was a tame year in terms of change. The only real alteration was the new NBX package. It included a special cargo basket. Other new options were special BFGoodrich rugged tires, 17 inch wheels, a rollover prevention stability system and a DVD entertainment system.  


This is the area where you should really devote some research and thought. Several systems on the 2003 Ford Explorer have proven over the years to be problematic. This information comes both from mechanics who have worked on the vehicles and people who have owned them. It doesn’t mean that the 2003 Ford Explorer is necessarily a bad vehicle, but you should take the potential problems into account when considering how much you would want to pay for one. If you calculate your potential repair costs over the life of the vehicle and include that into the cost of the SUV, you will be properly prepared. It will also help you to understand what a problem might be if it occurs. Just expecting a problem can make it a bit easier to take when it happens.

Engine Problems

Several problems from various sensors to spark plugs that frequently break when being removed have plagued the 2003 Ford Explorer. These are not rampant in terms of commonality, but they do happen often enough to be significant. The cost to repair them can range from a couple hundred dollars for a sensor to $1,200 or more to repair a broken spark plug scenario. That spark plug is another case where knowing can be a good thing. Make sure that if you attempt to remove the plugs you do so as carefully as you can. If you take it in to the shop for some service that will require removal of the spark plugs, it can’t hurt to let them know about the potential issue, too. Taking a little extra care might prevent the plug breakage in some instances.

Transmission Problems

The four wheel drive system on the 2003 Ford Explorer has a problem that was also present on the 2002 model. That system had a tendency to fail and repairs could cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a thousand or more.

Wheel Bearing Hubs

Another issue that shows up somewhat commonly on 2003 Ford Explorers is failure of the wheel bearing hubs. It can cost in the neighborhood of four or five hundred dollars per side to fix.

Braking Sensor

You might also find a problem with a sensor in the braking system on this vehicle. This equipment failure runs around $200 to get fixed.  

The 2003 Ford Explorer has been known to have some issues with various equipment failures. That is something you should keep in mind when considering purchasing one. While it’s not always a reason not to make the purchase, it is definitely something to think about when you decide how much you should pay. You also need to be extra certain to have the vehicle inspected before you buy it. That’s something you should always do when buying a used car or truck, but in this case it’s even more important.

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