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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
123,341 miles
Total Complaints:
25 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace engine (12 reports)
  2. not sure (6 reports)
  3. trash it! (5 reports)
  4. purchase rebuilt motor (2 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #25

Apr 052015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


Bought this car new. Maintained it as expected, did not drive it too much (85K miles in 13 years). Out of nowhere the engine self destructs with no apparent explanation or possible prevention. Left our family stranded and poised to pay upwards of 4.5K to get the car working again. Feels like a manufacturing flaw to me. Add ME to the list of people that will never purchase a FORD again - and will advise others to avoid the mistake too.

- , Berkeley, CA, USA

problem #24

Apr 102014

Explorer Eddie Bouer 4.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

This was caused by the inferior plastic used in the timing chain tensors for this model.

- , Salem, MO, USA

problem #23

May 092014

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles

Had to have whole engine replaced due to stupid timing belt. Sucks!!

- , Cheshire, CT, USA

problem #22

May 192014

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles


Bought a Ford Explorer new in 2002. I have changed the oil every 3K miles since new. The vehicle has 118K on it. Driving down the road @ 35mph on Monday and the Engine blows.....Throws a rod through the Block.......Unreal......I am disgusted and WILL NEVER BUY A FORD AGAIN! How does a 4.0L V6 that has been well taken care of throw a rod through the block??????

- , Cary, NC, USA

problem #21

Jun 292012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 179,654 miles

I really loved this truck until valve spring broke in cylinder #2. Dont understand how this happened when i take great care it. Im ocd when it comes to my rides. Now truck just sits cause i have to decide between replacing all springs or get new engine. Use to love fords switcing back to chevy.

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #20

Jul 212009

Explorer XLT 4.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

We have had nothing but problems with the Explorer 4.0 SOHC engines. We have had a 2000, 2001, and 2002, with 2 of the 3 having timing chain issues, resulting in destroyed engines. Have replaced 2 engines and have read nothing but problems with the poorly designed engine! Where a simple head gasket replacement is $1600 due to the cam chains placement (front and rear) requiring complete engine removal and a pain in the ass of a repair and repair bill! This engine isa total failure by FORD, as much as hate to say it. Always been a FORD TRUCK guy, and still running my '96 F250 460ci. But these Explorer 4.0 SOHC are a plain joke, Failure By Ford, and will certainly influence my future vehicle purchases. Feel like I've been SCREWED!

- , Mundelein, IL, USA

problem #19

Aug 142008

Explorer EB

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles


I was driving on highway and the engine put me in a dangerous situation.

- , Bolingbrook, IL, USA

problem #18

Jul 152013

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

2002 ford Explorer, It's just a lemon is all I can say. Going to work after an eye appointment, eyes dialated, wearing shades while it's raining and tooling down the tollway at 70 mph and all of a sudden it felt like I hit a small animal. I knew I didn't, and the loss of power and compression so quickly, and the fluttering / knocking sound I heard certainly didn't mean things were going well under the hood. Was near a Christian Brothers Automotive, and it took them a good 20 minutes of poking around to find where the oil was coming from..... Golfball size hole in the block. Other than running a little rough, even after having it tuned up, there were no signs of anything wrong. Gauges were fine, oil had just been changed...........just happened out of the blue. I asked what could have caused it, and they weren't sure, but it definately wasn't going anywhere. So, after numerous problems with this vehicle I'm just done. Is it worth anything? Does anyone know?

- , Carrollton, TX, USA

problem #17

Jul 102012

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 192,000 miles

I am one of many hundreds who have purchased a Ford Explorer (EXPLODER) & had the engine seize due to Fords inept engineers &/or design flaws!

Back in July my exploder died on my way home from work. I had to tow it to a mechanic & pay them $78 to tell me that the 2002 Ford exploders 4.0L engine is an "Interference" motor & that the engine was destroyed when the timing chain broke.

Up till that point, I'd never heard anything so ridiculous as a broken timing chain/belt destroying a cars engine. However, we live in a new day & age where quality & customer satisfaction take a back seat to corporate profit. So it turns out, after all is said & done, that the only employed member of a single car family of 5 if left without transportation back & forth to work, because a once great multi billion $ company has chosen to ignore a very serious design flaw in their vehicles.

From what I've gathered since the incident, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of Ford explorers that are no longer on the road because of this same exact timing issue.


- , Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #16

Jan 152012

Explorer XL 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

My 2002 Ford Explorer died at 113,000 miles. The rod blew and it was not worth fixing when I found out the engines from that year sucked. I was heart broke over losing a car/truck I had for 10 years and loved. It is so wrong that so many have had this problem and Ford didn't help pay back those that bought a bad apple.

- , Vero Beach, FL, USA

problem #15

Nov 122012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles


Had to have the engine rebuilt. Something failed in one of the cylinders. It was in the shop for 3 weeks. Got it back and the shop screwed something up and it was back in for another 3 weeks while they rebuilt it AGAIN.

- , Chardon, OH, USA

problem #14

Sep 012012

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

I bought this car by Capital Ford in Raleigh. After a week we notice some sparking problem with the car. We took to the dealer and they said this kind of problem happens in 1 in thousands of cars. I think this is a standard answer they give to anybody who has any kind of issues with the new car. They try to fix but never got fixed and finally we got tired and gave up. That time I thought I will never ever buy any FORD car in my life. This is not a major problem.

I have driver 100000 miles to this SUV with all sorts of problem but some how manage. Couple of weeks ago I noticed O/D off light blinking and service required sign came start showing. I suddenly notice that my engine is not changing the gear and jerking when it goes from 2-3 or something. I took to one of mechanic to find out what is going on. He told me that it is a transmission problem and need to be fixed before I get in any major problem.

Came home and start researching about the problem and noticed that lots of people have exactly the same problem. I then start looking the recall from FORD and noticed that there is no recall except several tiny problems. I start reading more about this and found lots of very unhappy owner. It is definitely a safety issue and FORD is doing nothing. Government should get involved and force FORD to recall all these SUVs. They are waiting something serious happen before they will take any action. This is a very typical behavior of any major auto maker. I am debating about getting this fix or just junk it so I don't have to deal with FORD name any more. They make such a cheap cars and still in business really surprise me.

- , Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #13

May 112012

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,000 miles

Purchased this new in '02 and really loved the style and comfort of this vehicle, but sadly the durability of it is nothing to recommend.

Just left the fuel station, (glad I only put $40 in), and was traveling at around 30 miles an hour when we heard a horrible thunk then whack, whack, whack. Pulled over immediately, and discovered oil all over the bottom of the engine. Hubby towed me the 20 miles back to our home, and we are now deciding whether to replace with another engine that might blow up on us as well, or just to scrap it and go with a Toyota.

Hubby told me not to get a Ford. We had a prior bad experience when an engine went bad at 57000 in a '98 Ford Pickup, but I was adamant that I had to have an Explorer. (Should have listened to my Honey). He nicknamed it the "Exploder" prophetic & pathetic. Epic Fail Ford!

- , Hopland, CA, USA

problem #12

Feb 092012

Explorer EB 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,070 miles

This one really pisses me off I started my explorer and it made a loud pop noise and like others I thought the freakin engine blew ,only to find out it is a spark plug that blew and caused me some major problems needless to say he** with a ford they can find on road dead all they want but it won't be me in the ford product..THANKS FOR NOTHING FORD MOTOR COMPANY..I use this vehicle for Dr appts and I sure don't need things like this going on ...

- , Naoma, WV, USA

problem #11

Aug 042011

Explorer XLT 4.6L Sohc V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 186,006 miles

click to see larger images

engine failure engine failure engine failure

Oil was changed very frequently (every 3,000-5,000 miles) with conventional 5W-20. Various brands of oil filters were used, Fram, Fram Toughguard, Purolator, STP, Bosch, K&N, Motorcraft. I will only use Motorcraft oil filters in the future because of the drainback valve.

I feel like these engines should last a little longer than 186,000 with good maintenance. Up until this point, this was one of the most reliable vehicles I had ever owned, with very few problems. It sucks that when it finally does have a problem, that it is such a big one.

- , Jefferson, GA, USA

problem #10

Aug 272011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles

Came home from work, shut the explorer off and went inside. Went to go out and would not start. Used my wife's car until I could replace the battery. Monday came, got a battery, replaced it, but still would not start. Finally, after talking to my mechanic and giving me some tips, the car started. Right away I could tell something was wrong. Shut the car off and tried again. A god awful noise was coming from the engine. Again shut it off and called my mechanic. Had it towed, and mechanic also started it up and turned it off. Told me I thru a rod from the timing chains inside the engine (there are 6). So it was either put $3400 up and get a used engine and hope it last me a year or two, or get a piece of crap till my wife's car was paid off. Also had a friend have the same problem and around the same time. (his car had only 59000...mine had 137000). After reading these stories I am sorry I ever wasted my time in getting this fixed. Never again will I buy a Ford

Update from Jan 25, 2012: now my o/d light is flashing...and reading the complaints im screwed again. transmission service now after engine failure...cant win...sick of ford...need to recall these problems and help the people who bought your car or truck...As of right now will never invest in ford again...hope ur guys go belly up for not helping out

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #9

Nov 282009

Explorer XL 4.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles

click to see larger images

engine failure engine failure

At 136,000 miles with Regular oil changes and never over heated the engine with no warning just blew a Rod through the upper Oil Pan and ... It would still Run but not well. It still had lots of oil in pan. Salvage yard told me they get a lot of the 2002 models in with blown engines NEVER but NEVER will I ever purchase a FORD Product again. Rear end replaced under warrenty for making noise and with in 20,000 miles it started again!!

- , Bedford, TX, USA

problem #8

Apr 152005

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,500 miles

Bought 2002 Explorer new in july of 01. Engine began knocking just after warranty expired and finally locked up in 05 on my way to work. I took a chance and bought a rebuilt motor from a place in Arizona off ebay. It came with the oil pan installed, new oil filter, oil, spark plugs, the works. I installed it myself, hit the key and it fired right up and havent had any trouble since. At least not from the engine. Also have replaced the 4x4 module and front wheel bearings. Rears need it too but the fronts needed it worse. Now the transmission is on its way out.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #7

Sep 082010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Well, I'm back with yet another complaint about my 2002 explorer. Like I mentioned before I already invested $1200. in repairs. O/D light was on, service engine light never did go away, and now low oil pressure light went on. While driving home with my four kids the car breaks down!!! Oil dip stick showed FULL yet that light went on and that was the end of it. Oh and right before it gave out it made that jerking, pulling, thing that it's been doing for months now even after the repairs!!!!

- , Immokalee, FL, USA

problem #6

Oct 222009

Explorer XLT 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Oct. 14, 2009 my ford explorer wouldn't start. I took it to the dealer, they replaced the starter explaining that was the problem plus change the fuel filter. While driving to work on the 22nd of October 2009 with no warning the engine dies. I guide it to the shoulder of the freeway get out look under the car after checking under the hood to witness the oil pour out. I assume that the repair shop didn't tighten the casket. I had it towed to the service department at Ford where they replaced the starter. They informed my that the engine had blown for no foreseeable reason. And although I was in the service dept. seven days before did not matter. The manger of the service dept. informed me it would cost more than the car is worth to repair.

- , Culver City, CA, USA

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