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.

CarComplaints.com 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.

2.8

hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,262 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #22

May 102009

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer limited edition while idling at a stop light, the drivers side front airbag deployed without warning. She had experienced between 5-6 major collisions/crashes with the vehicle and suspects that the failure of the airbags were due to the incidences. The manufacturer did not speculate that the previous crashes caused the airbags to deploy. The manufacturer would not take any liability for the failure, and repairs cost over $3,000. No repairs had been made to the vehicle to date. The failure and current mileages were 131,000. Updated 11/23/09. The rear pinion seal was leaking. Updated 11/24/09

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #21

Mar 312008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,300 miles
Leaking rear axle seal.

- Necedah, WI, USA

problem #20

Jan 072008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Currently own a 2002 Explorer XLT with only 65K miles on it. The transmission is in need of a rebuild because is slip from time to time. The rear differential seals are leaking. The entire rear of the vehicle makes a humming noise so I suspect that a rear bearing is going bad. Not to mention the 4wheel drive system has not worked since I bought it a little over a year ago. I've had intermittent issues with the air bag control module and also the backup alarm system. There is nothing but poor write-ups about this truck all over the internet. All the same problems I'm experiencing are problems many other drivers have also had.

- Norton, OH, USA

problem #19

Mar 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Yet more leaking read differential seals. Rear end howling also, has been for about 15,000 miles now. 79,000 miles currently. I will have to change the rear seals again, and will inspect for the howling noise again. May have to change pinion bearings!" as a mechanic, it is unbelievable to me that we would be having seal and bearing failures at such low mileages. Bad aluminum housing castings maybe? bad machining? too much slop at the rear half shaft, causing premature wear on the seal faces" what ever the reason, Ford is not making much effort to repair. And they seem surprised that folks are buying foreign trucks. (Toyota trucks)

- Eagle Point, OR, USA

problem #18

Apr 172007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles
Rear axle seals and wheel bearings. We have had to replace the rear axle seals on June 4, 2004 with 4, 000 miles, and on Jun 16, 2006 with 69.600 miles. Also had to replace rear hub bearings and assembly on April 17, 2007 with 74,000 miles. This is obviously a recurring issue, and I have been told this is a common Explorer problem. All work on this vehicle has been performed by reputable Ford authorized dealers/service, and would expect work to last longer than 1-2 years.

- Round Lake Beach, IL, USA

problem #17

Mar 302007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I was told that the 2002 Ford Explorer has rear seals leaking. I need to get these replaced as soon as possible because I will have to replace the drive train if it fails. I have 119,000 miles on the vehicle, but I always had it serviced with Ford. I have done some research and apparently the seals have been failing at low miles. I felt the seals were defective because there were some with this problem with low miles. Apparently the dealers waited until the warranty expired. I felt if the vehicle failsed this would be a safety issue. Ford has produced more defective Explorer. I am now faced with a large repair bill.

- Waskom, TX, USA

problem #16

Mar 152007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I have a 2002 Ford Explorer. I have had to replace the transmission at 51,000. I have also had to replace the rear seals axle seals on both sides and they both need it again.

- Gaylord, MI, USA

problem #15

Sep 112006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,246 miles
After several attempts to diagnose transmission problem while under warranty, Ford finally found a problem at 46, xxx miles (not covered under warranty, but Ford offered a $1000 deductible). Burt Ford of arapahoe Ford Inc. Centennial, Colorado replaced the automatic transmission with a remanufactured serial# 0302462W and replaced the rear axle ring and pinion gear set, bearings, and seals (Sept. '06). We received a Ford powertrain service part warranty until 06/17/2008 (7yrs from original owners date of purchase). We are taking the vehicle back to service now (Mar. '07) for the same problems to champion Ford of sandy, Utah after 6,000 miles of use.

- West Jordan, UT, USA

problem #14

Oct 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
Thumping noise from drivers side front end in the wheel area. The noise is most noticeable at between 40 and 60 mph during acceleration. It also becomes a humming noise as the gas pedal is released and the car is coasting or decelerating. Had new tires put on then new brake pads and rotors. Nothing fixed the problem. Talked to my brother, another loyal Explorer owner, and he had same problem diagnosed as a bearing needing replacing. He also told me about a leak on his garage floor in the rear middle of the car where the rear axle is. I told him I have same exact spot of something leaking on my garage floor. We read about all the seal problems with the axle and needing to be replaced. He spent over $1000 on the front bearings and now in for another big bill for the seal problem. I see we are not alone in our Explorer disappointments. All with the same problem. Come on Ford, back up your vehicle and pay for these defects to your SUVS.

- Plainfield, IL, USA

problem #13

Sep 272006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
I noticed a fluid leak from the rear axle of my 2002 Ford Explorer and took it to the dealer for diagnosis. It turned out that both the left and right rear axle seals had failed. The vehicle had only 75K miles on it when the leak began. I double checked the recommended service schedule to see if I had missed something but they do not recommend that the rear axle fluid be changed until 150K miles. So this is not a case of owner neglect. After some discussion at the dealer service center they informed me that this repair is fairly common on Explorer, Mountaineer and aviators and that the repair kit has a newly designed seal. If there is a newly designed seal available, this strongly suggests that the original seals are insufficient. This is also proven by the fact that both seals failed, not just one. The cost of the repair was quoted at $490 ($380 of which was labor cost). This is too much to ask a consumer to pay for a part that was under designed and not properly tested prior to being put into production. Therefore, I believe these rear axle seal parts should be recalled and the oem should be forced to reimburse vehicle owners for repair costs. I also noticed that there are tsb's regarding Explorer, Mountaineer, and aviator vehicles that may have been filled with the wrong rear axle fluid at time of production but have no way to get more information on this to see if my vehicle is affected. I would be interested in any information NHTSA may have.

- Canton, MI, USA

problem #12

Mar 152006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

There is a slight leek of differential fluid from the left axle seal. I now have noise at highway speed from rear end. Fluid level has remained good.

- Federal Way, WA, USA

problem #11

May 242006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,527 miles
Brought my car in for a 60,000 mile checkup and was told that my axle seal was leaking and that the ring and pinion gear-rera kit/seals were needed to fix the problem at a cost of $1131.83 plus tax. The advisor said that the seals rotted and then the leakage began and it went down hill from there. This same car had been in earlier this year with what we thought maybe a transmission problem. It was checked and we were told there was no problem but there wasn't any indication of axle leakage problem. I have researched other complaints here and there seems to be about 4-5 other people who have a similar problem and want to know why Ford Motor Company hasn't address this problem with a recall. Thee are a lot of other folks with the same problem expressing it out on fordforum.com. We have owned 4 Explorer and feel very disappointed that we need to spend this kind of money with a car that has only 60,000 miles on it.

- Sunset Beach, NC, USA

problem #10

Sep 012005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles
: the contact stated after having rear axle pinion seal repaired at a local independent repair shop the mechanic noticed the rear suspension coil springs were broken and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was consulted.

- East Aurora, NY, USA

problem #9

Aug 232005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,700 miles
2002 Ford Explorer, eddie bauer 4WD 4.0L; 83K miles, for the second time on vehicle has rear axle seal leak. Rear axle seals and pinion seals replaced at 55K; humming noise/whine from vehicle at cruising speeds. Many similar problems reported online, and Ford tsb's issued, but no recalls. See, for instance: forums.carreview.com/showthread.php?T=93 first repair was over $700 and this one will require rear assembly replacement, in excess of $1200. First repair used 'updated parts' from Ford, supposedly designed to prevent problem recurrence.

- Pittsboro, NC, USA

problem #8

Aug 052005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles
My Ford Explorer rear axke to diff. Seals are leaking oil, and the rear end is very noisy. Ford put new seals in at the cost of $340.64. The day I pickeded up the vehicle they were still leaking 30 miles later with the new designed seals in. I put the 2002 Explorer back in the garage to get the seals changed 6 days later. Sthe rear end is still very noisy, but the seals are not leaking for the time being. I called the Ford 800 number to complain and try to get my money back with no avail.

- Lima, NY, USA

problem #7

Jul 122005

Explorer

  • miles
Rear axle has had recurrent leaks. These were repaired 3 times under warranty. On the fourth occassion the dealer replaced the axle. This was also done under warranty. Problem was firsted noted at just under 30,000 miles. Axle replacement was at 58, ooo miles

- Hartland, VT, USA

problem #6

Nov 102003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
The rear seal on the axle assembly had to be replaced 5 times on the consumers 2002 Ford Explorer. The consumer requested reimbursement.

- Frakes, KY, USA

problem #5

May 112005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
Transmission and rear-end. Sealed transmission was serviced at dealership at 29,000 miles. Since then transmission has a whirr and then a clunk while decelerating back into first gear. Whining noise from rear-end since 12,000 miles. Ford replaced faulty rear-end seal 6 months ago, whining still there. I feel that Ford is stringing me along until warranty expires. Ford knows there are problems but wont fix until part fails completely.

- Park Ridge, IL, USA

problem #4

Nov 032004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
I have owned a 2002 Ford Explorer for 27 months. During that time I have had numerous issues with the auto transmission delaying before engaging into reverse and not smoothly going into forward gears when travelling. The dealer has tuned the transmission 3 times and now at 109,000 hwy miles I need a new tranmission for $3,000 usd. This tranmission has received numerous complaints in the NHTSA database and has almost caused an accident where I hit another car when reverse engaged after 3 seconds. I have already spent in excess of $500 on this transmission and the first maintenance occurred at 32,000 miles. In addition, the axle seals continue to leak after being replaced several times and per my dealer sources are a design flaw. NHTSA needs to get this public before someone gets killed with the transmission issues and have Ford correct their design flaw on the axle.

- Culpeper, VA, USA

problem #3

Aug 012004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 23,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer - rear differential axle seal began leaking at 23,000 miles and was replaced under warranty; started leaking again at 30,000 miles and the rear axle and seals were replaced under warranty; started leaking a third time approx. Eight months later and dealership replaced both axle seals; now 5000 miles later the seals are leaking again and the dealership is telling us they don't know why the seals continue to fail; in addition to the real seals leaking we have had to have the ABS sensors replaced twice, the oxygen sensor once and a seat belt sensor once.

- Buffalo, WV, USA

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