2003 Ford Explorer XLT 4.6L V8 from North America


Ford has made some great cars, and some bad cars... and this is a bad car


- Idle air control valve would get stuck in cold weather, causing the vehicle to stall at a stop if the engine wasn't warmed up. (VERY common on pretty much all 90s-early 2000s Fords)

- Leather seat cover replaced because of a bubble in the fabric.

- Front pinion off the transfer case needed replacing, because of a clicking noise when going from reverse to drive.

- Front driver door cable snapped in cold weather, requiring me to hold the door shut while driving for a few days.

- Thermostat replaced.

- Window motor on right rear door replaced.

- Fuel pump froze on a cold morning, causing the car not to start. Had to tow to dealer.

- Rear axle assembly had to be replaced because of very common defect on 2002-2005 Explorers

- Check engine light is on again, not sure what for.

- Pretty sure one of the rear wheel bearings is on its way out due to the noise (another common problem on these cars).

General Comments:

Do not buy a Ford Explorer from model year 2002-2005. I worked at the Ford dealership as a technician and got a deal on one brand new... and even for a mechanic working at a Ford dealership, I still cannot recommend these model years of Ford Explorers.

Common problems were transmission issues, wheel bearing problems on all 4 wheels, stalling in cold weather (not a problem on later years with wireless throttle), rear axles failing, leaky front axles, V6 engines were of a very poor design, which Ford is phasing out, and a few more I can't remember.

The unfortunate thing is that this is a great looking SUV, and comes in the perfect size. It does drive pretty well, the V8 engines were the tried and true 4.6 bulletproof motor, and the mileage even on the V8 wasn't too bad considering the car can seat 7 and tow over 7,000 lbs. But still... do not buy this car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th June, 2010

22nd Feb 2011, 10:07

My 2003 Sport Trac XLT was recently totaled by a red-light runner.

It had 159,000 miles on it and never had any major repairs except some radiator work after 144,000 miles. My only complaint was the clock never kept time and the dealer refused to do anything about it.

I am going to miss that truck.

22nd Feb 2011, 15:34

My experience with several Ford Explorers is at odds with this review. I own a 2002, while at work we have had a 1997, a 2005, and currently a 2009, all with a V-6.

I did not think much of the 1997, thought it was uncomfortable, very anemic power, and poor gas mileage from the V-6. There was definitely a difference in power from the 1997 to the 2002, a huge improvement.

My 2002 is great, and the 2005 and 2009 have only gotten better and better. None of these have had engine or transmission problems, broken axles, or any of these other problems. When we traded off the 2005 at work for the 2009, it had nearly 70,000 miles on it, and had never needed any repair of any kind ever.

The 2009 rides smoothly and quietly on the highway, and I took it off-roading on Jeep trails in the mountains this summer, and it performed like a 4x4. Great power from the V-6.

I have not had any experience with a 2003, but I could not agree that all late '90s to early 00's Explorers should be avoided just because he had problems with a specific 2003.

2003 Ford Explorer XLS 4.0 V6 from North America


THE BEST and most reliable SUV on the road!


Cruise control was unwired at 1,000 miles.

Motor burnt up and got it replaced for $1500 at 140k miles.

General Comments:

That was the best car that I have ever owned in my entire life.

I bought it brand new, and it was perfect until the mechanic didn't change the water pump and my motor burnt up. I believe that the truck would have kept hauling if they had replaced it, but I replaced the motor, and shortly sold it afterwards.

It had plenty of power coming from a V6, and I pulled a car with it easily once. The gas mileage was great, and it had plenty of room in it.

I loved it, and would like to get a new one.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th February, 2010