Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. Notes: The 2002 Ford Explorer is hands-down our worst vehicle on record. "Avoid like the plague" is putting it lightly.

The 2002-2005 Explorer has a very well-established record of expensive transmission failure at under 100k miles. The Explorer has an enclosed transmission which is typically replaced with a rebuilt transmission at a cost of almost $3,000.

Another common problem for the 2002-2003 Explorer is wheel bearing failure at around 90k miles, with a typical repair bill of $500 to $1000 depending on how many wheel bearings failed.

Adding insult to injury, the 2002-2005 Explorer also has a massive problem with the rear panel cracking. While it's a minor annoyance compared to transmission failure, ironically the crack usually goes right through the Ford logo.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
102,924 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Ford Explorer accessories - exterior problems

accessories - exterior problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #19

May 102012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles


I've been having an issue with my truck saying the door is ajar when it's not. While driving, the inside light will come on and lock/unlock the doors. I noticed it usually happens either while its raining or if it just finished raining. Someone else I know who has the same vehicle (year/make/model) says the same thing happens to his vehicle. I'm wondering if you have heard of this before and if so, what steps do the manufactures take in deciding whether or not a vehicle needs to be recalled for a specific problem? any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated!

- Antioch, TN, USA

problem #18

May 282011


  • 123,968 miles
This requested recall involves a 2002 Ford Explorer having an automatic transmission. During normal use, the shift lever breaks off at a cast rotating cylinder that transmits the torque from the gear shifter to push and pull the cable that puts the vehicle in park, drive, neutral, and reverse. The vehicle also had a tendency to jump out of park even before the part broke which caused the vehicle to roll back and almost pinned me between another vehicle when the vehicle rolled back and crashed into a vehicle parked downhill. This was a near miss accident. Ford wants to charge $1500 to replace the entire steering column. We elected to junk the vehicle at this time until another solution can be found. Vehicle still drives if you reach your hand and push/pull the transmission cable to shift the automatic transmission into gear. We can send the broke off section of the part if you will return it. On the internet, there are many reports of the same failure for years 2002 through 2005 Ford Explorer.

- Edmond, OK, USA

problem #17

Oct 102010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 83,000 miles
O/D light flashes for a few days then at around 25 mph the gear switches into neutral and runs very rough then the car is thrown forward. Had a rebuilt transmission (we were told we were getting a brand new transmission and paid extra for it!) at 83K miles on Oct 15, 2010 then Feb 5, 2011 the same exact thing happens. The dealer cannot take the truck for another 5 days and refused to give me a loner car because it is not under the warranty. Please note: Below I put in the first incident date, Feb 2011 is the second incident date. In may of 2009 I was told my engine failed at about 76,000 miles. We did buy the extended warranty and we were covered. The Ford dealership told us we were not covered. They had our truck for 3 weeks until the warranty people called the dealership and let them know it should be fixed. We also had a rental car or a loner car under the warranty. They refused to pay for a rental car and said they did not have a loaner car available. It took 4 more weeks (in total 7 weeks) to get the truck back and never paid for the rental.

- Brookfield, CT, USA

problem #16

Feb 082010

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 89,998 miles


Doors will not shut in the freezing cold weather. Went out to the Explorer tonight, got in, shut the door and proceeded to drive. I take the highway on ramp and my drivers door flew open. I stopped and tried to shut it and it just bounced open again and again because the latch was frozen. I finally get it to stay closed, drop my passenger off and then the passenger's door wouldn't close either. I drove all the way home holding my passenger's door closed. This truck is the absolute biggest piece of garbage I have ever driven in my life. If you are reading this complaint and have not yet purchased an Explorer I strongly urge you to reconsider.

- Lynn, MA, USA

problem #15

Jun 092010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
The side curtain airbag spontaneously deployed upon side door closure of a Ford Explorer. The vehicle was sitting after re-fueling. Concurrent with and immediately prior to the deployment of the airbag, the door alarm system was chiming that a door was ajar, and after inspection by a mechanic it was determined that the security/door warning system module has failed. Ford was sent the airbag module for inspection, and has yet to provide the results of the module inspection - after a period of more than 5 months. Further problems persist with the electronic system. The door ajar alarm continues to sound at random intervals, the interior lights flicker on and off at random intervals, and the door locks repeatedly lock and unlock, all of which cause a distracting potential safety hazard while driving.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #14

Sep 022010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 71,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer gear shift lever broke off while in drive. The lever is connected to a soft aluminum cylinder thru a U shaped end and a pin. The cylinder sheared at the base of the U as a result leaving no way to shift or get the key out after turning the motor off when I finally got stopped. Repair cost is $1400 for a new steering column plus labor. Cannot buy small part that broke separately so Explorer is not fixed. A picture of the problem can be seen at this url

- Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #13

May 012010


  • 60,000 miles


Rear passenger side door will not open from inside vehicle.

- Frankfort, IL, USA

problem #12

Jan 012010


  • 176,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer door locks will not function properly in freezing weather, doors pop open while driving!

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #11

Mar 302009


  • 76,000 miles
I bought a 2002 Ford Explorer with 19,000 miles on it also thinking what a great deal I have had the truck for 3 years it now has 76,000 miles on it. The check engine light has been coming on and the O/D light will start blinking I tow a boat so I took it to a transmission shop they said it was very common for this to happen with the year of truck that I have. They said the cause was servo piston bore what ever that means they also said that if I donżT repair it for $2,400 that the lights will continue to come on and the truck will continue to slip. The other weird thing is I'll be driving and I hear a ding you know the sound you have when you leave your keys in the truck but I'm driving my truck when this happens and the door lock will go off like I'm locking the doors. I really love my truck the body is in excellent shape I still owe on my truck so buying something new isn't an option. The sad thing is I tow a boat every weekend and IżM worried that something might happen.

- Reno, NV, USA

problem #10

Mar 172009


  • 350,000 miles
My SUV was parked in the driveway. I pushed the rear window release button to open the rear window and it exploded. Glass fragments were found up to 12 feet in all directions. The noise it made was loud, like a shot gun had gone off. A professional auto mechanic told me that my rear window regulator must have malfunctioned. Clearly this is a design flaw that Ford should rectify and fear for the safety of anyone owning/using this vehicle. I'm currently searching for replacement parts.

- Saint Cloud, FL, USA

problem #9

Jan 032009


  • 101,589 miles


Severe cracks in back window housing. Crack is so severe, consideration of window falling out is possible. Information panel registers door ajar which consequently flashes internal lights, re-locks doors, sets warning bells to go off. Often, door ajar does not register, but electric locks lock re-lock and lock many times with warning bells going off, interior lights flickering, many times in one instance. All activities happen intermittently, without cause or reason causing severe distraction to driver. Theft alarm goes off after vehicle has been locked several hours; for no apparent reason. When unlocked and re-locked, continues to go off intermittently. I believe the rear window housing break is the root of all this activity.

- Redding, CA, USA

problem #8

Jan 182008


  • 119,000 miles
For the last couple of years during the coldest part of the winter, the doors on my vehicle refuse to latch. I have tried warming the car up longer, spraying the insides of the door with solution that is supposed to unfrozen windshields and locks (even though there never is ice or water seen) & nothing works. Last year, it even refused to latch after letting my daughter off at school, even though it had latched when we left the house a mile earlier. When I turned the corner out of the school parking lot, the door flew open & almost took out a mailbox. I have called Ford regarding this concern, & they say there is nothing they will do since it has 119,000 miles on it & the warranty is over, even though I believe it is a huge safety concern! as it is getting colder here, I am very worried about driving this vehicle, as my daughter and young grandson are using this vehicle at this time. I spoke with someone who actually works at the Ford factory & he said this problem is due to the doors not being fitted correctly & in the winter the seal is.

- Cameron, MO, USA

problem #7

May 232005


  • 70,000 miles
Crack developed in area below lift gate glass. Now the door ajar light goes on and off, as well as the buzzer. The glass does not shut properly and is inoperable and the area below the glass has completely fallen away.

- Friendswood, TX, USA

problem #6

Jun 212008


  • 113,000 miles
When attempting to shift from drive to park, the gear shift lever broke from the steering column, making it impossible to change gears. The engine remained running with it in drive. I turned the ignition off & it could not be restarted (ie, ignition/interlock system). The steering wheel wouldn't turn either. The entire steering column (not just small broken piece) had to be replaced (cost=$1372, $897 for parts). As of 7/2/08, 61 exactly the same incidents have been reported via complaints filed with NHTSA website. Some vehicles complained about have experienced this part failure twice. These complaints have been filed under the components - steering: Column, power train: Automatic transmission, power train: Automatic transmission: Gear position indication (prndl), power train: Automatic transmission: Lever and linkage: Column shift, steering: Gear box (other than rack and pinion), steering: Gear box: Shaft sector, steering: Wheel and handle bar, other or unknown this is an obvious design and/or mfg/material defect & it correlates (in many other complaints) with another defect - very difficult shifting of gear lever to or from "park? & ?reverse". 61 reported incidents of the parts failure are significant, but there are obviously far more than have been reported via NHTSA complaints. The defective gear shift part poses serious safety concerns. If the gear shift lever breaks while the vehicle is on a street or expressway (but stopped momentarily by necessity), the driver would be unable to change gears or push and/or steer it to safety, thereby creating a dangerous traffic situation with a high potential for bodily injury. NHTSA has more than adequate data to initiate a defect investigation & should immediately require Ford to provide a full disclosure of the number of steering columns that it has sold as a result of this defect. I have the old steering column (and the broken piece) as well as several pictures of them.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #5

Jun 202008


  • 160,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer, O/D light is blinking, check engine soon light stays on continuously. Rear end makes noise, ABS light stays on. Truck shifts hard from reverse to forward. Shifts hard and makes cluncking sound from 2nd to 3rd gear and will not go in to over-drive at all.

- Vancleave, MS, USA

problem #4

Jun 012008


  • 52,000 miles
Door ajar light comes on. Recycled engine checked all doors and again light comes on. Or while driving, the doors automatically unlock. The alarm sounds for no reason sometimes. Sometimes the interior lights comes on and stays on usually when I have trouble with the door ajar issues.

- Webster, NH, USA

problem #3

May 102008


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact received a recall notice for the vehicle speed control. Ever since the vehicle was purchased approximately 1.5 years ago, she has had to tape the rear passenger side door shut to keep it from opening while driving. The failure occurs at speeds of 35 mph or lower. The dealer claimed that they would repair the door at the time of purchase. The recall number was unknown. The failure mileage was 120,000.

- Palmdale, CA, USA

problem #2

Jun 052005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Automatic door lock system.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #1

May 122006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
My 2002 Explorer is also having the same problems which have been previously noted by other Explorer owners. The whining when reaching 50-60 km/hr, which goes away when you take your foot off the gas, the slipping and shuddering of gears and sometimes passing gear never kicks in, the ABS light comes on (usually after the truck has warmed up and it doesn't seem to happen when the weather is really cold), the ABS is now starting to act up, wherein it randomly activates itself even while on dry pavement and the brakes feel mushy when this happens. Now the locks are randomly not working. I would like to share one instance about the passing, shuddering, slipping was when I was traveling on the highway with my kids, I pulled out to pass, and when I stepped on it the truck shuddered so hard, that my daughter, who was coloring a mother' day card, actually scribbled when it shuddered, if that makes any sense. She was po'd at me asking me why did I do that and now her card was ruined. We have had the transmission in for service and were told nothing was wrong. We had the transmission fluid changed and the truck worked fine for about 2 weeks and then back to the same old problems. My husband and I are seriously considering trading this piece of crap vehicle off and we have decided that it will only be imports from now on. Ford needs to wake up and start fixing all of these problems or they will be finding themselves bankrupt in no time. I was brought up as a kid in Ford; 67 T-bird, Ford ltd, 1/2 ton truck, 3/4 ton truck, 78 Ford T-bird, Ford Taurus, my first car being a Mercury lynx, then a 93 Ford festiva, hubby owned a 93 Ford Ranger 4X4, 98 Windstar, my mom owns a 96 Explorer and so on. My friend just got rid of her 2000 Explorer which she lovingly named her 'Ford exploder'. thanks for listening to my rant and I really hope that with everyone's input that something can be done about this.

- Warman, 00, USA

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