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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,239 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

problem #15

Apr 182002

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,535 miles


2002 Ford Explorer eddie bauer 4L V6 auto trans I had my Explorer into the dealer for an oil change last January and they mentioned that my right rear wheel seal was leaking and needed to be changed but not right away. I waited for the next oil change in April and scheduled it in for a wheel seal replacement -- $190. No mention of any problems with the rear end. Not 90 miles later I hear a loud crunching sound and managed to limp back to the dealer to find out that the same right rear hub they just replaced the seal on has a bad bearing/hub. They replaced the hub and bearing at a cost of $899 ($533 parts). Given the Explorer history of problems with the right rear wheel (Firestone blowouts) causing rollover accidents I think Ford would take this problem seriously. If having a tire fail can lead to rollover accidents imagine what happens when you lose the entire wheel!

- Maple Grove, MN, USA

problem #14

Apr 152008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,630 miles
Wheel hub and bearing bad.

- Clinton, PA, USA

problem #13

Jan 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
Replace rear end in 2002 Explorer 2 times. Ford vented the differential with a tube that exits around the rear wheel well. This design allows a lot of water to get into the differential and ruins all the workings. I had it fixed and in less than a year later experienced the same problem - I now have to have the tube reworked as well as fix the bearings again. My mechanic says it is very dangerous!

- Jerome, MI, USA

problem #12

Jan 102008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,750 miles


I currently own a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT. Several months ago (Sept 07), starting hearing a whining or tinning sound coming from the rear. As the weeks/months went by, it starting getting louder and it started sounding like an airplane flying overhead. I took it into the repair shop, mechanic said it was the right rear wheel hub assembly. About $575 to repair. Had the repair done in December 07/January 08. I don't do any towing, the car is mainly used on the weekends. I have 62K mi. On the car, barely even 10K a year. Now, here it is, 2 months later, and the same thing started all over again. Took it to the shop. Now, it's the left rear hub assembly that went bad. Another $575 !! this is a serious problem. My mechanic said the wheels could come off and could cause a serious accident. I have a 7 year old (just turned 7 today), and one on the way !! this car is our main means of transportation for trips and vacations and I cannot risk the lives of my family or the lives of others, if this car fails on the highway. This problem should be labeled as a recall and Ford should have to pay for the repairs.

- Ramsey, NJ, USA

problem #11

Feb 082008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,343 miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer had rear and front howling noises similar to a jet during take off. Also was very unstable at higher speeds. Ford dealership found both rear wheel bearings and rear differential bearings need replacing. They also stated that the rear had such a wobble that it would dangerous to drive in its current condition. Just the rear wheel bearings cost me almost $600. On further investigation they found the front hubs and ring and pinion noisy and also in need of replacement. The total for these repairs is nearing $3000. No wonder Ford is heading into bankruptcy! this vehicle still has well under 100,000 miles, has never towed, plowed or used off-road, all highway mileage. Is this why they say Ford is fix or repair daily? my next vehicle will not be Ford for sure. Ford needs to have these issues recalled and fixed before somebody gets hurt.

- Victor, NY, USA

problem #10

Jan 112007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles
Wheel bearing failures-4 in a 6 month period of time-cost over $1700 too have these repairs-Ford will not help out and there customer service is a joke. I have a child that is always with me and 2 times it could have been bad.

- Milton, DE, USA

problem #9

Apr 102007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


Humming, whining noise coming from rear at interstate driving speeds, especially when accelerating.

- Arlington, TN, USA

problem #8

Apr 062007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I purchased an 2002 Ford Explorer XLT V6 with push-button 4X4. First the rear passenger-side axle and hub broke. This occurred without warning while going down a highway. I was slung into oncomming traffic, but luckily an accident was avoided. I replaced the axle and hub assembly. About one month later the drivers side rear axle began making a humming noise. One day later it made a loud bang and broke. I replaced the axle and hub assembly. Within three weeks it broke again. I replaced it again. It lasted one month. Replaced again. Lasted two days. Replaced the axle/hub assembly for the 4th time. A little over 1 month later it is now making the loud noises. I put the vehicle up on a rack. I was able to slide the wheel in and out and left to right with the slight push of a finger. I have had several mechanics look at the vehicle. They have told me the rear end is not messed up. One mechanic said their may be an issue with the housing but he cannot 'see' anything wrong. I was advised to replace the rear end. Which is estimated at around $1500-$2000. I have already spent upwards of $4000 on axles/hubs/and earlier brake problems.

- Harold, KY, USA

problem #7

Nov 092006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
A whining sound comes from the front end end of the vehicle, upon first inspection by a mechanic a bad tire was found and blamed on the noise. As it was bearable at highway speeds, we ignored it trusting the diagnosis. We planned on purchasing tires soon and believed the problem would be solved. New tires were purchased and an alignment done and the same sound came from the front end most noticeably 45-65 mph. Now we are told it is a wheel bearing and the cost for the parts alone is $350 not to mention the $55/hr. Labor. We already had the rear end replaced for noise and now we are told that a dangerous situation involving another part of the drivetrain is looming. This is unacceptable and I would hope that Ford would acknowledge the problem that the vehicles have and remedy it. I have heard of this happening to vehicles with far less than my 65,000 miles and these parts were build to last a whole lot longer as they were supposed to be sealed and maintenance-free, instead they fail too often and cost a fortune. I believe this will be my last Ford product if I do not receive some sort of satisfactory response from Ford.

- Durant, OK, USA

problem #6

Mar 152006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,450 miles
Rear end hum and leak back tire was loose due to rear wheel bearings deteriorating, took it apart and bearings fell apart. There was no grease on them. This '02 Explorer has 30,000 miles on it.

- Leonard, MI, USA

problem #5

Jul 212005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,880 miles


Vehicle made increasingly loud noise at right rear wheel area. Sounded like airplane take-off or tunnel sound at rear while driving. Noise increased on wide turning roads as if some kind of pressure exerted on right rear wheel. Thought it might be tire pressure problem. Before having tire checked the vehicle became nearly impossible to drive on a straight-away at 25 mph with serious noise in the rear that sounded like something would fall apart soon. Fortunately I was very close to a auto service center in a 25 mph area. Car could no longer be used. The right rear hub bearing assembly was replaced. The other 3 were checked and were fine. I do not have any of the parts.

- Milford, MI, USA

problem #4

Feb 272005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer and I have only had it one year I got it used from a dealership it was a one owner and in the time that I have had it I have put over $800 worth of work in to it with brakes, hubs, and one auto lock hub the hubs on the drivers side let go one month ago and a week ago the pasenger side rear hub let go it has been siting ever sence thes are very expensiv things to replace and shold not need to be done on avehical that is only three years old.

- Kingsville, OH, USA

problem #3

Jan 152005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The lugs: Bolts on the rear driver's side wheel have broken off twice causing the wheel to come off. The first time was in October 2004 and second time was in January 2005. 1st time I was getting on the expressway and the 2nd time I was just getting off the expressway. This problem has cost me over $2000 in repairs, time lost on my job, but more importantly - it could have cost me my life or the lives of others. When I spoke with a Ford representative, I was told, " sorry" and sent a customer satisfaction survey. I can't believe this has not occurred to others. I am reluctant to even drive this thing anymore but owe too much on it to get rid of it. If nothing is done to make me feel safe in my Explorer, then it will be the last Ford product I will ever own and will encourage everyone I come in contact with to avoid Ford products as well and I'm going to put a sign on the back for everyone to see letting them know that the explorerer is an unsafe vehicle. All I want is peace of mind when driving my vehicle.

- Walton, KY, USA

problem #2

Jan 082004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
I am the fleet manager of the buffalo grove park district and we own four Ford Explorer two of the four a 2002, and a 2003, Explorer 4X4 XLT have had numerous expensive problems such as wheel bearing failures three failures on the 02 Explorer and one on the 03, rear strut failure, seals leaking converter clutch failure, rear axle noise gear whine, clutch pack noise, all these problems on vehicles that are out of warranty by mileage but only a couple two or three years old. This year Jan 04 to Jan 05 3,500 in repairs for these two vehicles, not including the rear axle problems on the 03, this is "not acceptable" P.S. the mileage 72,000 on the 02, and 51,000 on the

- Buffalo Grove, IL, USA

problem #1

Jan 052005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
Multiple wheel bearing failure on 2002 Ford Explorer 4X4, 42,000 miles. Loud noise prompted action before complete failure. Complete failure may have resulted in wheel lock-up and possible crash. Despite complaint and resquest for the repair to be covered given limited mileage, no assistance from Ford Motor Company. Dealer did replace one unit at no charge. Ford provided no assistance. Personal knowledge of another owner with similar problem, had to replace all four wheel bearings. This is certain to become a major safety problem as these cars age if Ford is not held responsible for the defect and forced to take preimptive action to save lives.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

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