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.

10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
42,773 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 #38

Apr 192008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

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

Rear differential and also the transmission. Please do a recall on this before someone dies. You make tons of money off your loyal costumers, now do something for them and fix an obvious problem that mechanics, dealerships and owners of 2002 Ford Explorer know about. Thank you

- San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

problem #37

Feb 062008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 178,000 miles
Ford Explorer 2002 clutch pack in rear diff went out causing rack and pinion to go out. Ford dealer states this is a common problem with this year. Had rear diff rebuilt by dealership with Ford parts and 24,000 miles later the dealership says it needs replaced again. At $1300 to over $1500 each time this is crazy and neither Ford nor the dealership will assist in the cost. After calling Ford customer service my aggravation increased because they refused to acknowledge that this is a problem. Now same problem on our 03 Expedition. If the diff locks up I can only imagine what will happen.

- Mooresville, IN, USA

problem #36

Feb 072008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,606 miles
One of my customers came to me with 53,000 on her 2002 Ford Explorer. The complaint was a mile long. Engine light is on, ABS light is on, speed sensor, A/C probs, rear axle seals are leaking on the irs, poor excuse for a rear axle system in my opinion. A person cant tell if it is the differential or the rear bearings are bad, reading on here I think that they are both bad. Diff is full of metal shavings. I am sorry but if Ford don't start standing behind such a poor excuse for a vehicle, that one one gentlemen on here is going to be right someone is going to get hurt first. Thanks for all the great input on here as a mechanic it means a lot. I am going to loose a big job granted. Unlike other certain places hmmmmmmmmm dealers I care about my customers and value their lives. You should do like I am going to strongly encourage my customer to get rid of this piece of crap. This is why the foreign car manufacturer are kicken our butts because we cant build anything decent and the stand behind it. What's that. That's how we are, we always wait till its too late to do anything until someone gets hurt, like our children. What really pains me is that Ford Motor Co use to be an american icon along with all there competitors in the american market and use to care about keeping a customer for life and keep up on things like customer service and quality, ins co (don't even get me started). The worst part about it is you cant tell me that you should not be able to 100,000 miles without major defects other that normal maintenance. Ok im done. Signed: A guy worried that people cant find us honest mechanics kurt from green bay wi.

- Depere, WI, USA

problem #35

Jan 102008

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving 50 mph, the contact heard a loud noise from what she believed to be the middle of the vehicle. She parked the vehicle for a while and then restarted the engine. The noise went from a loud humming noise to a loud whistling noise. The vehicle became difficult to steer, and began to pull. The contact pulled over and realized that the rear axle on the passenger side failed. The vehicle was towed to her residence because she could not afford the repair. Ford was not notified. There were no recalls available and the vehicle has not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 80,000.

- Princeton, WI, USA

problem #34

Nov 202007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles
I first noticed a grinding when I would turn sharply with my 2002 Ford Explorer. I took it in and it was noted that I needed to have my rear differential rebuilt to replace to ring and pinion gears and clutch packs. After 1 day of having the vehicle I was notified that a bearing had fused to the axle assembly and could result in my rear axle seizing up while driving. The total repair is going to cost $1500.

- Stansbury Park, UT, USA

problem #33

May 072007

Explorer

  • miles
Constant rubbing/grinding sound from rear axle sounding like very loud road noise. Initially had spring kits, but on rear emergency brakes which did not help. Finally, had to have the rear axle assembly rebuilt by a kit that the manufacturer made available through a technical service bulletin, showing they were aware of the problem.

- Mechanicsburg, PA, USA

problem #32

Sep 252006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

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

Vehicle makes a whinning sound from the rear drive shaft when accellarating over 35 mpg.

- Nassau, 00, USA

problem #31

Aug 102006

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
On the back liftgate, the middle body piece has cracked again after being replaced around the Ford symbol. Dealer has replaced once and will not replace again. The axle housing is leaking next to the differential.

- Cheyenne, WY, USA

problem #30

Jul 312006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,595 miles
: the contact stated that there was a roaring noise coming from the vehicle's rear axle. The dealership determined the differential was leaking and there were also metal flakes in the differential.

- Somerset, KY, USA

problem #29

Jul 182006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD rear end troubles, third time having work done on the rear axle and assembly, troubled started at about 40000 and now at 72000 miles. Seals, bearings, rear axle. Humming and whining noise from rear end at both highway speed and city driving. Dealer quoted over the phone could run in excess of $2000 for parts and labor, took it to a local garage spent $1032 dollars for repairs. Replaced with dealer only parts, no savings there. Ford claims no problems with rear end. All indications is the problem will return. I'm not convinced the problem is fixed.

- West Bend , WI, USA

problem #28

Jul 232006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles

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

Bought 2002 Explorer in 2003 with 12,000 miles. Servicng dealer replaced transmission and torque converter under warranty @ 32,000 miles after O/D light started flashing. Now needs another transmission @ 54,000 miles. Car has always been serviced, driven lightly, never towed, never abused. Dealer will not pay or help out one bit. Ford knows 2002 Explorer have defective transmissions and rear ends, is ignoring problem, leaving consumer to absorb cost! have also had to replace timing chain tensioner, rear windshield wiper assembly, air conditioning unit under warranty. Front and rear wheel bearings needed replacing- out of warranty. Rear end is making classic "humming" sound that Ford is also ignoring-pinion gears.

- Marcellus, NY, USA

problem #27

Oct 082004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
Repeated rear axle and seal failure, transmission issues.

- St Simons Island, GA, USA

problem #26

Apr 102006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
Three instances of whining noise at 50+ mph and fluid leakage from rear axle seal 2002 Ford Explorer. The first one caused loss of control when accelerating on highway. Difficult to determine since rear transaxle fluid leaks down drive shaft to brake assembly. I noticed significant corrosion of brake assembly where fluid is running into the wheel assembly. Only when leak is significant will fluid drip onto surface below rear axle. Dealer noted Ford engineers are aware of problem but expect the consumer to pay for repairs. First replacement of rear axle seals at 30000 miles; second at 460000 miles and the third at 62000 miles. These seals should last longer. Second instance had vibration when engaging the vehicle in reverse and loud whining noise/ vibration from rear; then fluid leakage. My dealer acknowledges that many Explorer (2002-2005) have this problem and Ford Motor Company engineers are evaluating; as a dealer there is nothing they can do. Ford has not indicated a fix other than to check fluid level, replace rear axle seals, and/or the rear unit. This is a significant hazard since in most cases the vehicle owner will not know there is a pending failure due to the fluid leaking down the rear axle drive shaft toward the brake/wheel assembly. The whining noise will increase as fluid level decreases with risk failure and loss of control. This problem is far more common than reported due to the difficult nature of observation of leakage. One has to crawl under the rear transaxle and carefully inspect the two axle seals to look for signs of corrosion and fluid leakage.

- Hilliards, PA, USA

problem #25

Apr 022006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,950 miles
The rear end on my car was causing a loud humming noise above 40 miles per hour.

- Vernon Hills, IL, USA

problem #24

Apr 092006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
There is a loud howl/whine coming from the rear axle area of our 2002 Ford Explorer. We understand that this has been a common complaint with these vehicles. Our Explorer is out of warranty but since this seems to be an inherent problem with this vehicle we would like for Ford to at least share the cost of repair with us.

- Littleton, NC, USA

problem #23

Nov 172005

Explorer

  • miles
Loud tire roar when I reach speeds over 45 mph. Took it in for service. Dealer noticed the noise but didn't acknowledge how to fix it. Very loud, almost makes you not want drive. The problem is with the engineering of the vehicle.

- Hermitage , TN, USA

problem #22

Nov 222004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer that has had many problems with the rear end. There is a constant leak, on the right side, that can't ever seem to be fixed. The first time I took it in to the dealership they said it was the axle seals and they replaced them. Then it happened again and they said it was my hub which they replaced. It happened again and they said that a groove had been worn in the axle and that was causing the leak. Less then a year later the other side of the rear end is leaking.

- Suwanee, GA, USA

problem #21

Feb 062006

(reported on)

Explorer

  • miles
Ltr fm consumer (ky) re the problems she's had w/the rear end of her 2002 Ford Explorer, want Ford to buy back her vehicle. In the summer of 2003 the consumer heard a whinning noise coming from the rear end. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who noticed oil was leaking from the rear end and replaced the seal. A few months later the noise returned the seal was replaced again. A few months later the noise returned again. The entire rear end had to be replaced. The consumer would like for Ford to buy back the vehicle.

- Frakes, KY, USA

problem #20

Oct 182005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,200 miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer is making a howling sound from the rear end and is leaking fluid, sometimes this fluid reaches the tires and makes contact with the brakes... could this cause them to fail" crash? many people have this same problem, I went to a large parking lot and looked under several Ford Explorer 2002-up 6 out of about 10 had this problem, what is it going to take before Ford fixes the problem, does someone have to die"

- Warner Robins, GA, USA

problem #19

Sep 012005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,900 miles
Roar/whine from rear end @ 40-65 mph. Stops when foot removed from accelerator.

- Burlington, NC, USA

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