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.

9.0

really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
$1,114.00
Average Mileage:
123,515 miles
Total Complaints:
20 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (9 reports)
  2. repaired with insert (5 reports)
  3. rethread and install helicoil in cylinder (3 reports)
  4. replace head (2 reports)
  5. replace engine (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #20

May 072016

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 201,015 miles

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

I think if this is a on going issue, than Ford motor company should take care of their customers by fixing this screw up. It's one thing for a mistake to happen which would be fine if the company takes responsibility of the issue. It's a hole different situation if they do nothing about it and leave their returning customers out to dry and by putting the blame on their skill of replacing a simple spark plug.

- , Kingsport, TN, USA

problem #19

Jul 122011

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

blew out the plug at 5 am, on my way to work.Thanks again Ford and your over paid engineers.You sure are quality#1.

- , St.Thomas, ON, Canada

problem #18

May 252011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

was pulling out of a local garage here in my home town (thank God) and all of the sudden I heard a sound from hell. sounded like my engine blew the top off. here the plug blew out. the mechanic told me to sell it after he fixes it because these vehicles are known to blow plugs out because of the heads they put in them.

All in all i have to say that this is the worse vehicle that ever got assembled. This is just 1 of the many problems. The tranny went out and cost me 2700.00 to rebuild. Go foreign!!!!!!!!!

- , Emporium, PA, USA

problem #17

Aug 102011

Explorer Limited Triton 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,105 miles

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

3 CYCLINDER PLUG BLEW. HAD TOWED TO DEALER. DEALER SAID THEY COULD FIX EASILY BY INSTALLING A HELIX COIL ADAPTER & COULD HAVE CAR READY NEXT DAY. DEALER CALLS BACK AND SAYS THEY FIXED IT BUT IT WAS REALLY RUNNING BAD AND THAT THEY WOULD NOT RECOMMEND DRIVING IT. I ASKED WHAT THE SOLUTION WAS AND THEY SAID THEY COULD PULL THE HEAD AND REFINISH IT BUT THAT THEY WOULD NOT RECOMMEND DOING SUCH. I ASKED ABOUT A JASPER AND THEY SAID THEY WOULD NOT RECOMMEND AS JASPER HAS A POOR WARRANTY (12 MONTHS+LIMITED MILEAGE & NO LABOR) WHILE A NEW FORD ENGINE WOULD HAVE 3 YEARS, NO MILEAGE LIMIT & BE WARRENTEED FOR BOTH LABOR AND PARTS. AS I NEEDED THE VEHICLE - AS IT IS I HAD TO RENT A VEHICLE. AFTER GETTING THE VEHICLE BACK AND TALKING WITH SEVERAL OTHER FORD DEALERS - IT WOULD SEEM THAT THERE IS A STRONG POSSIBILITY THAT THE FORD DEALER INSTALLING THE HELIX COIL MAY HAVE DROPPED DEBRIS INTO THE ENGINE - AS NONE OF THE OTHER DEALERS SAID THEY HAVE EVER HAD TO REPLACE AN ENGINE FOR A BLOWN SPARK PLUG. PS: THE PLUGS WERE THE ORIGINALS FROM THE FACTORY. I HAVE TRIED TO WORK WITH THE DEALER TO GET SOME SORT OF REDUCTION IN WHAT I HAD TO PAY BUT THEY HAVE BEEN LESS THAN INTERESTED IN TALKING WITH ME. SO AM TRYING FIGURE OUT WHAT MY NEXT STEP SHOULD BE.ALL ADVISE WOULD BE APPRECIATED AS APPARENTLY THE PLUG BLOWING PROBLEM IS COMMON!

- , Williamson, GA, USA

problem #16

Jun 162011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

after my truck its done being fixed from this spark plug issue, i gonna se what im gonna do probably lawsu ford company not sure yet

- , Springfield, OR, USA

problem #15

Oct 152009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

I blew the spark plugs out of my '02 Ford F-250 twice. Had a buddy fix it the first time with a heliocoil kit from Napa for $20 bucks. It ran fine until another plug blew out. When that happened, I brought it to Paso Robles Ford. They charged me $2300 for two helio coil kits and a tune-up. Ford dealers can kiss my ass.

- , Paso Robles, CA, USA

problem #14

Nov 152010

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,000 miles

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

Truck was running great with absolutely no problems until I was driving home fairly late at night and heard a loud popping noise. The engine was so loud I pulled over. No oil pressure at all. Got out to check under the hood and all I could smell was gas. I thought it had something to do with the oil change I had gotten that afternoon. Had to have it towed to a shop. They discovered the #3 spark plug came out of head. They did a re-thread and installed helicoil. Cost me around $430.00 not including the tow! Mechanic said he has done quite a few of these on the same engine.

- , St. Anthony, MN, USA

problem #13

Jul 102010

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

I was in the passenger seat and my 16 year old was driving (with her learner's permit !). As she turned left at a trafffic light across Cobb Parkway, it sounded like the engine exploded !! We both freaked out a little, she turned into a parking lot and jumped out of the driver's seat because she was afraid the car was going to explode ! It was making a terrible thumping noise.......I called our mechanic and he said, "oh, I think I know what it is....you have an Explorer, right?"

Anyway, I had it towed there (this was Saturday around 2:00 and the shop closes at 3:30, so I would have to wait until Monday (today) to find out what was going on. No car, hmmmm. Apparently, a spark plug just blew out of it's socket so I had to pay to have the cyllinder re-threaded, a new spark plug installed and a new cylinder coil pack. In February of this year I paid to have all new spark plugs and another cylinder coil replaced because they said that's the reason my car was skipping. So, it looks like before I'm finished, I'll have 6 more to replace as they pop out of their sockets. (2 down, 6 to go). I was told it was a bad design by Ford.

I don't have time tonight to add all of my complaints, but I've had the transmission re-built, electrical problems, covers falling off the mirrors on the visors, bracket breaking on the small access door to the jack, so many engine things I don't remember them all. Oh, we were stranded at a pumpkin patch one year while on our way home from a camping trip. We were loaded down with 2 kids, a dog, and everything except the kitchen sink, towing a camper and the explorer just wouldn't start. It was a solonoid or something.....whatever. I JUST WANTED A PUMPKIN !!!!

- , Acworth, GA, USA

problem #12

Jun 302010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,000 miles

Bingo, time number two. This time all of the threads are gone and another coil broke. It was the same cylinder (3). The machine shop said head would have to be replaced, engine supposedly has to be pulled to get head off. No dollar figure given on amount to fix. I am not too interested in putting a new set of heads on a POS that has $5000 worth of other drivetrain issues. Ford doesn't want to stand behind their product and that is weak. The CEO made 48+million on stock options so he don't care. I bet he would care if it showed up on his front lawn, or better yet I wouldn't mind getting my cousin Eddie to bend him over while I shove this piece of sh*t up his ass! This is the first Ford I have owned in over 25 years and I promise it is my last.

- , Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #11

Jun 112009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

This was the first time I had heard of the problem. I spent a week researching on what was the best way to fix it. Finally I had it towed to a machine shop and all was good until.........

- , Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #10

Jun 252010

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,000 miles

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

second time sparkplug1 shoots out!Only now it took the threads with it. Way to go ford Im finding out you doing this to the same people you claim to value as American customers yeahF*#KIN right!How do you plan on stayin in business when your breaking the hard working American People!!!

- , Goldendale, WA, USA

problem #9

Jun 242010

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 180,000 miles

I was driving back from a family BBQ with wife n kids n were less then an 1hr away from gettin home when suddenly I heard a popin noise coming from the engine.I had to pull over in the middle of nowhere to see what the noise was.To my surprise I saw that the 1st sparkplug out of its socket n the holder was busted.Luckly a truck driver pull over @around 11pm only cus with the dome light on he seen that there was children inside he claim.We manage to catch enough threds for it to hold till we got home.Im really fed up with this Explorer looks great but built very poorly boo Ford!

- , Goldendale, WA, USA

problem #8

Apr 232010

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

This one pissed me off! I had the spark plug blow out of the head once, taking the coil with it. Finally got another plug to seat in the hole and accept torque. That cost about $80 for a coil. Then, that same plug blew out again, and this time it took the threads with it!!! Ford wants to remove the head and all that for over $2k. You can do this yourself for $350 or so, if you're handy. This is COMMON on the Triton engines of this time. There's a kit out there called a Calvan 38900, and it's a life saver for this problem! You make sure the piston is down and valves closed and DRILL out the old hole. Then you tap the new hole, put in a insert and screw it and the spark plug down in. Slick! Why the Triton engines only grip about 0.25" of the plug threads I will NEVER know, but when it blows, it's pretty startling. I noticed NO RECALL despite the effort to get one established. When I begin to add up all the things I have had to do to patch this Exploder up, I'm getting madder and madder. I won't buy a Ford again.

- , Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #7

Feb 132008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 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 re-threader 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 #6

Mar 062009

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

The Ford Explorer is not what it's cracked up to be...don't buy this vehicle! The engine is defective in that the spark plugs blow out of the engine causing you to buy ignition coils that hold the spark plugs in place. I never heard of or had spark plugs blow out my engines before. All together, 5 spark plugs blew out my 2002 Ford Explorer and it cost me about $3,500 to fix! Ford should have never designed this engine to be defective so that consumers would be forced to spend more money on Ford's auto parts.

What a scam, it's a shame that Ford, an American company, does this to it's own citizens when American families are struggling to take care of their families. Of course, there will be no apology or retribution to the common citizen of the United States, therefore I urge every single American to honk their horns when they pass Ford and maybe they will recall the garbage they sold us!

- , Stamford, CT, USA

problem #5

Jan 122009

Explorer 4wd Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,134 miles

For the second time now my 02 Ford Explorer has blew a spark plug out of the head. About a year ago, the first time it happened, the dealership supposedly replaced the head with a new Ford head. I am now starting to think all they did was put in a healy coil, and charge my warranty for a new head. I have not taken it back to the dealership yet to see what they say but i will soon find out. Seeing as the vehicle no longer has its extended warranty i do not know what i am going to do.

- , Fenton, MI, USA

problem #4

Jun 252007

Explorer Limited 4WD 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,047 miles

I'm on vacation traveling across country from California to the east coast having a great time; until my spark plug is spit out of my engine head. Total pain. I had plans in Vegas to watch some great shows. No such luck....thanks alot Ford.

- , Lemoore, CA, USA

problem #3

Mar 232008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

so im driving back to school from visiting my family in Arizona btw im driving to Colorado. went to get gas turned the car back on drove bout 500 ft and the engine sounded like it was going to fall out. what happened was the treads for the spark plug are pretty much gone. also btw im stuck in Las Vegas new Mexico its been 5 days and sitll not fixed ive missed a week of classes and ford will not do anything about this. they say its a common problem. AND NO RECALL!!! this is sorry for the language but f*cking insane. its this is a regular problem shouldn't there be a recall. this is my second ford product and i will never go back again cant wait till ford is out of business.

- , Merrimack, NH, USA

problem #2

Mar 112008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

I am really upset that I am told by a certified mechanic that the cylinder head spark plug should never just POP out like that and the coil where you thread the spark plug into was incorrectly manufactured. Ford will NOT stand behind this with a recall and tells me too bad, so sad! It will cost me approx. $2000 to replaced the cylinder head and there is no guarantee that the the other side cylinder head will not do the same. These cars should be recalled!! The repair is very expensive leaving me with no transportation and 2 small children in school. Its not wear and tear. Its a non moving part and is FORD's Fault its happened. Stand UP and Behind your product! Bad word of mouth is the worst kind for your business.

- , Waldwick, NJ, USA

problem #1

Nov 242007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

My spark plug blew out on my 2002 Ford Explorer EB 4.6L V8. I replaced it and no more then 30 minutes of driving the plug blew out again. This time I do not believe I have any threads left. Doing Internet searches I found out that this is a known problem and Ford (or NHTSA) will do anything about it. This is an great example of poor customer relations and is a good example of poor management. The Ford dealer offered a $3,000 fix for this. They must be crazy. Their vehicles are becoming easier and easier to produce and becoming more and more expensive. This is unacceptable. I have been a Ford fan for almost my entire driving career - this episode is probably going to make me change my opinion of Ford and their vehicles.

- , Lombard, IL, USA

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