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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.

8.9

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$3,774.00
Average Mileage:
125,848 miles
Total Complaints:
18 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace engine (13 reports)
  2. not sure (4 reports)
  3. rebuild engine (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #18

Nov 242008

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,495 miles

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

Just 1 more sad story of Ford's better idea. The Ford 4.0 L engine is "Modular" by design. My wife was coming home from work when she began to hear a knocking sound. We have always maintained are vehicles well within specs, so I was very surprised to hear the car was knocking. It turned out the passenger side camshaft timing gear had separated and rather than repair the overhead camshaft, it was less expensive to replace the engine. Had this happened on the drivers side it would have been a less expensive repair. The sad thing is, Ford knows of the things, yet never offers to stand behind their products anymore. Screw me once Ford Motor Co., shame on you. Screw me twice Ford Motor Co., shame on me. You can bet you have lost a loyal customer here as a result of this piece of crap you have tried to pass off as an automobile.

- , Louisville, Kentucky, USA

problem #17

Feb 272013

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

The car was running well until one day, it started making this noise. A couple of hours later the engine blew up and I was stuck on the route.

I didn't have a problem with it before. I always change the oil on time and use good oil. I took care of the car very well, but, this still happened.

- , Kearny, NJ, USA

problem #16

Aug 012012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.3L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles

OK, my husband and I bought this 2002 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer edition SUV in May 2012 with 130,000 miles on it. Now as I am writing this it is August 2012! That's right we've had it 3 months! I have put 7000 miles on it and now it's in the shop. We had the oil changed in it 2 days ago and wanted to have the transmission fluid check but you can only do that at the dealership. 2 days later it started making a terrible knocking noise with no warning at all! Never ran hot, gauges were all reading normal, info center never said anything was wrong either. We brought it to the shop and they are telling us we have to buy a whole new engine for it. Can not be repaired!! Just found this out so I'm not sure how much this will cost, but might be better to just buy another vehicle. This is the first Ford we have ever bought and will never buy another one. We take very good care of our vehicles and this is ridiculous!! Many people have mentioned a recall and I AGREE!! Count me in!

- , Beaumont, Texas, USA

problem #15

Oct 012009

Explorer Sport

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

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

the car doesn't run and we have been told it will take about $2,000 to fix.

- , Tustin, CA, USA

problem #14

Nov 012011

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

had my truck diagnosed at the dealership 11/10 ..because every local trustworthy mechanic i'd taken my truck to wouldn't work on it...i just put in a new transmission few months ago because no one told me this transmission was sealed and the transmission oil could only be changed at the dealership....both my front and back drivers side window motors are out....i got a differential leak..... may i go on....all i got to say is if you have these problems please report it to the following site.......let our voices be heard .....maybe we can get this timing tensioner recalled :) do it FILE A COMPLAINT ON THIS POS TRUCK AT https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/

- , Joshua, TX, USA

problem #13

Mar 192011

Explorer LS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

bought new, alot of problems, rear bearings, back glass broke, transmission fluid leak,power window control broke, loud knocking, been told timing chain

- , Clinton, KY, USA

problem #12

Nov 032010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 238,000 miles

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

My engine started to make a knocking noise in Nov. i found out it was the cam shaft motor. still driving it now at 241k. I don't know where you guys find all these problems. Mine has only had brakes tires and an alternator in the 6 years my family has owned it (bought it with 40k) Wouldn't have this problem if my sister hadn't let it go 70k without an oil change. Love this truck, this brand, Very safe. has hit a guardrail and just needed a bumper. buying a fusion and putting a new engine in this after taxes. Family also own a 99 Contour, 97 expedition, 94 explorer, 99 f250, and a 86 mustang.

- , warren, MA, USA

problem #11

Nov 222010

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 162,000 miles

I had just had my truck in the shop for a oil change and new tires i went out the night before and got up the next morning to take my little sister to school and my engine started this loud clanking noise and when i slowed down and came to a stop it felt like it was going to die...i turned around and went straight back home, but i smelt smoke but didn't see any and we started the truck 3-4 times after i got it home everytime the noise got louder...now my truck sits in my drive way in need of a new engine!

- , Newark, OH, USA

problem #10

Oct 012010

Explorer 4.6L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,000 miles

I also think there should be a recall on the motor, due to the issues. No warning lights, no priorer issues. checked the oil found 1qt low, added oil and the knock has gotten worse. If nothing else, they should repair it at no charge. The goverment gave them a buy-out, they should use the money to fix some of the many issues they have with the explorer.

- , Lagrange, KY, USA

problem #9

Jun 282009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

Problems started right away. We've owned the truck for just about 3 years now. Bought it with a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty.

1. Passenger Door completely off track - wouldn't close - covered under warranty. 2. 4X4 failed. Loud creaking noises when turned on 4X4 high - covered under warranty. 3. 1st Spark plug spit out of engine - not covered under warranty. Didn't have Ford replace due to high cost - found effective spark plug rethreader kit at auto part store that worked - total cost to fix $250. 4. Wouldn't stay on - problem with the accelerator - which caused us to drive the truck like a 5 speed, with a foot on the gas and the break at the same time. Found a simple solution - banging a wrench on it worked! Something was junking up in there and needed to be pushed along - however, the shop wanted to charge me about $500 to fix! 5. 2nd Spark plug spit out of engine - not covered under warranty. Didn't have Ford replace due to high cost - found effective spark plug rethreader kit at auto part store that worked - total cost to fix $250. 6. 3rd Spark plug spit out of engine - not covered under warranty. Didn't have Ford replace due to high cost - found effective spark plug rethreader kit at auto part store that worked - total cost to fix $250. 7. 4th Spark plug spit out of engine - not covered under warranty. Didn't have Ford replace due to high cost - found effective spark plug rethreader kit at auto part store that worked - total cost to fix $250. 8. O/D Light started blinking - then trouble switching gears - then trouble going in reverse - transmission failed - not covered by warranty - total cost for a Rebuilt transmission - $1300.00 9. 5th Spark plug spit out of engine - not covered under warranty. Didn't have Ford replace due to high cost - found effective spark plug rethreader kit at auto part store that worked - total cost to fix $250. 10. Rocking noise heard after correcting 5th sparkplug incident. (Currently at 118,000 miles) Found out that Piston Arm was bent and would cost thousands to replace - so, NEW ENGINE (one with 72,000 miles) was purchased. Total cost - $1750.00 (This is currently being worked on)

Lucky for us - a very good friend is our mechanic and does the majority of the work for us - with the exception of rebuilding the tranny. He warned us at the beginning to get rid of the truck - but owing so much on it, there was no way to do so. When the tranny was going, we looked into trading it in and the most we could get was about $3000 - considering we owed $7,500 at the time - it was impossible - now, we owe about $6,200 so, it's still not an option. Hopefully with the new engine - we'll be in the clear for a while.

- , Lawrence, MA, USA

problem #8

Apr 222009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

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

Just got the automatic transmission rebuild, not even three months later the engine starts knocking. I believe Ford should recall all 2002 Explorers to take care of this problem. This is unfair since they used a thin metal dish as the tensioner which bends easily and snapped one of the pistons. Don't but a 2002 Explorer.

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #7

Sep 152008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

This is by far the worst vehicle I have ever owned! I have always been a Ford lover but this vehicle has sure changed my mind!! First of all, I had to replace the transmission at 108,000 miles, the the rear hub just a few months later. Shortly after all of this, the engine started knocking. I am only assuming the oil pump was going out and the motor blew!! Blew real bad too. It's going to cost about $4,600 to fix. As soon as I get a motor put in, this Explorer is going down the road! Total Junk!

- , Grantsville, WV, USA

problem #6

Jan 282009

Explorer XLT 4L 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,317 miles

Sounded like a diesel. Just had the transmission replaced about 4 months ago. So took it back to the shop that did the work (not the dealer) and all they could tell me was that it was the engine and not the transmission. The next day on the way to an engine shop (not the dealer) the engine quit and made a grinding sound when cranked. Repair shop said I needed a new engine, but had not opened it up to diagnose the problem. They use Jasper engines with a 3 year 100,000 mile warranty. Quoted me $5,100 to complete the replacement, including the tow bill. I have had to replace both the front and rear wheel bearings, rear springs, air bag switch in the steering column, and now the engine. I have been a "Ford man" since I was grown up enough to have an opinion not anymore. The next vehicle I buy will be a Toyota or Honda. Bail out money, my ass. Let 'em go bankrupt.

- , Rensselaer, Indiana, USA

problem #5

Jan 222009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

All I can say right now is I am really mad. Just got this vehicle and now I can't drive it. Woke up one morning to take my son to school and it started knocking, smelling and would not stay running. Had it looked at and I need a new motor. No warning light, no over heating problems before this. And no Ford for me!

- , Hazel Green, WI, USA

problem #4

Aug 112007

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

worst vehicle a person could own !!!!! I have always owned fords but now I may change

- , Olney, Illinois, USA

problem #3

Feb 272008

Explorer XLT 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

Looking over other issues with this car, had to have front wheel bearing replaced, many annoying electrical problems, including window issues, door sensor defects, airbag sensor, check engine light sensor. Started having transmission slips very early after purchasing. but in the last month we started to hear a engine tick which just got louder and louder and it finally stopped ticking when both camshafts blew and a chain. New engine will cost 5400. I will never buy another Ford.

- , Berea, Ohio, USA

problem #2

Jan 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

Bought a Ford Explorer from new in 02. Car had done 48,000 miles when the engine failed catastrophically. As the engine failed you could hear the sound os metal thrashing round inside. Sounded like it could be a broken timing chain. The vehicle was 6 months out of warranty. Ford agreed to help by paying $1200 towards the cost of a refurb engine. The car is otherwise in A1 condition, so I have little choice but to pay for the rest of the engine replacement. I understand that this item has been a probelm on previous Explorer's where they have eventually agreed to doing recalls. I hate being cynical, but I suspect that Ford know there is a problem here. It is a design problem that is not easily fixed (the part costs about $56, but replacing it involves taking out the engine >$1000. I'm sure they have done their math and know that the failure is unlikely to occur within the warranty period. So they can blow it off with what they regard to be a good will payment. Well I have made it my persoanl mission to never buy a Ford again and to advise everyone I can about the appalling design and poor customer aftercare. In case you wondered about misuse or abuse of the vehicle. This was a typical soccer Mom's car. Nothing heavy- services always completed on time. I hope someday that Ford want to grow back to bein the great manufacturer they once were. Making second rate goods and then p**g off the customers dumb enough to buy them is not the way forward.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #1

Jan 022006

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,458 miles

i have a annoying engine knocking noise in my 2002 Ford explorer XTL,I made an appointment with the dealer to fined out what was wrong I was so upset when the dealer tell me that I need a new engine. I take good care of this car and only have it for 3 years now cost me $5000 for a rebuilt engine, after spending $5000 2 m later the wheel bearing 7 m after the heater stop working transmission start to slip what is going on here. I have a 1993 Volkswagen Jetta for so long and no problems.

- , Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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