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Safe to buy an '03?

jakobjones

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Year, Model & Trim Level
`06 XLT
So I've decided not to rebuild the trans on my '92. I found a 2003 Explorer that's caught my eye. It's an XLT 4WD with the 4.6L V8. It's got 60,000 miles on it. Carfax shows clean title but it's been through three owners. First owner is listed as a fleet vehicle with the subsequent two being private owners. Right now a small dealer nearby has got it.

So the question. I've been reading horror stories on the '02-'03 models particularly regarding the transmission. Honestly what is the rate of failure on these '03's? I'm not really price constrained here. What model year would everyone recommend. I think the newest models (2006 - present) are repulsive with their japanese style interiors.

Thanks,
Jake
 



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the 03 tranny should be different than the 02.
03 is 5r55s and 02 is 5r55w. they stuck with the 5r55w, and its still goin in the 09 and 2010 models, so im guessing it should be a little more reliable than the 02's tranny. plus many replacements should be out there.

also, since it only has 60k, lots of places will give you a warranty for somethin like a thousand bucks on your tranny if you get it flushed before 70 or 75k.

ive got a warranty on the ranger from valvoline on my tranny up to 235k as long as i keep getting it flushed every 30,000 miles, and if my tranny breaks, they will give me a thousand towards a new one, so you could consider somethin like that... if you buy the car.

good luck!
 






negative on the tranny bud, the 5r55W is used in all gen 3's minus those with AWD, they have the 5r55s (which has a very short 1st gear). I have an 03 4.6L 4x4. and i love it, this truck is a beast...the only problems i have had with it are shooting spark plugs...and thats because i drove it like a race car for awhile lol. Your pretty safe with going with an 03...and 03 is your BEST bet if you want to mod it for power, after 03 everything went electronic and there are literaly like no mods for them. Im going to drive this truck into the dirt!! my tranny has 109K miles and i JUST had to have a sylanoid pack put in when i did my engine change (my fault im sure!).

P.s. the base model new explorers have terrible interiors... but i would KILL for the interior out of my dads 08 limited...its like a cadilac man!!!(he has real wood in the door panels!!!)
 






You're not giving me a high degree of confidence here. Sounds like I should plan on the transmission going out at some point and the engine might go too? Oh boy.

Jake
 






nah, not really...i have an 03 with 166k and transmission is lovely. i did a tranny flush and filter replacement around 120k and it ran even smoother...my only qualms are the front end irritations ive been having...bearing replacements, ball joints, etc...i think i've put roughly 4k into the front end alone since i've had it...maybe the initial owner didn't take much care of it, but i do know the bearings are a pita and you will be replacing them, somewhat frequent because they are actually built into the hub...
 






the only reason i have had any problems with my rig is because i drove it like a nascar bud. Mine is also pretty heavily modified (stock is 206 ish rwhp...mines closer to 275ish)...I replaced the motor because it was cheaper than the cost to repair the rest of the spark plugs if they blew, and because i didnt refill the transmission when i did my engine swap, it blew the sylanoid pack on start up. these are great trucks...very relyable and robust. you will get years of service out of an 03, even at this point of the game.
 






i like them alot my father owns one. i also work on them at work they are a piece of cake to work on pretty much everything takes a half an hour
 






negative on the tranny bud, the 5r55W is used in all gen 3's minus those with AWD, they have the 5r55s (which has a very short 1st gear). I have an 03 4.6L 4x4. and i love it, this truck is a beast...the only problems i have had with it are shooting spark plugs...and thats because i drove it like a race car for awhile lol. Your pretty safe with going with an 03...and 03 is your BEST bet if you want to mod it for power, after 03 everything went electronic and there are literaly like no mods for them. Im going to drive this truck into the dirt!! my tranny has 109K miles and i JUST had to have a sylanoid pack put in when i did my engine change (my fault im sure!).

P.s. the base model new explorers have terrible interiors... but i would KILL for the interior out of my dads 08 limited...its like a cadilac man!!!(he has real wood in the door panels!!!)

thanks for the correction, i totally had my years screwed up!
so it was in 05 or 06 that they switched to only using the 5r55s as the 5spd, and dropped the 5r55w.... my bad, and sorry for the incorrect info.

anyway, with an X with that low of miles, if you take care of it, it should be totally fine, and last you years and years to come
 






Well I certainly don't plan to mod it and I don't do any racing. I do a reasonable amount of towing with the '92.

Jake
 






these gen 3's have a GREAT towing capacity. you should do well for yourself if you decide to pick one up... the ONLY thing i dont like about mine is the fact that is gets around 10 mpg in town unless i granny foot it and then i can get close to 12...great highway fuel economy though.
 






^I always get 15-16 in town without driving like an old man. I even managed 21 on the highway. Maybe its just the Mods you did to it hurting you?
 






Zerodevil-did you get my PM a few days ago?

To the OP-Every car will have a problem. I have an 02' and have rebuilt the tranny and transfercase. But like zerodevil, I drive like I stole it:D I am now in need of changing the front wheel bearings and also have a little drip from the rearend. Sucks, but I feel this vehicle is worth it because it's so much fun to drive and very capable.
 






I bought an 03 (4.0) in August of 07 with 60,000 and now have 127,000 without serious issues. No transmission trouble, no whining rear end, no blend door issues. Economy on gas since I've owned it is 18.9, on corn squeezins 16.8.

I have had only a minimum of maintenance: plugs, brakes, alternator, 1 wheel bearing, and evap problem from hell (no significant cost yet, just can't find the problem. I think I'll have to go to the dealer and have it smoked) and a faulty brake light switch.

At this point, I'm confident in the vehicle and at this mileage problems could occur with any vehicle. I'm happy with mine.

That's right, I said it - Kudos to a 3rd gen.
 






Zerodevil-did you get my PM a few days ago?

To the OP-Every car will have a problem. I have an 02' and have rebuilt the tranny and transfercase. But like zerodevil, I drive like I stole it:D I am now in need of changing the front wheel bearings and also have a little drip from the rearend. Sucks, but I feel this vehicle is worth it because it's so much fun to drive and very capable.

People think Im crazy when I say my explorer is fun to drive, I love driving this everywhere. IMO it handles the curves amazing for a full size SUV.
 






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