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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.

4.3

definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
26,674 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #15

Mar 182008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

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

The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact received a notice for recall number 05S28 for the vehicle speed control: Cruise control in August of 2007. As of March 26, 2008, the part for the recall repair is still unavailable. She feels that this length of time is unlawful. She called the manufacturer and was denied to speak with a supervisor. There had been no failure to date. The powertrain was unknown. The current mileage was 62,000. Updated 04/14/08. Updated 04/11/08

- Van Alstyne, TX, USA

problem #14

Mar 102008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles
Where to start... broken cruise control, headlight switch has a short, driver side passenger window doesn't roll down, trouble going into gear, car suddenly dies at interstate speeds, loud grinding sound from the engine bay (like an electric knife sharpener) that is getting increasingly more frequent, service engine soon light will not go off, brakes squeal and don't stop the vehicle properly, support for the hatch (which is cracked 8 inches or so in two places) doesn't lift hatch completely, and the fuel economy is down to 4-6 mpg in the city. I hate it! I don't feel like my girlfriend is safe driving it, and I think Ford should be forced to make their wrongs into rights!

- Cordova, TN, USA

problem #13

Mar 012008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While traveling on the freeway my cruise control was acting up, it kept turning itself off, and not keeping a set speed. I got it to turn back on and set the speed to 80 mph. After a few minutes it felt like we were going faster than we thought, I looked down and noticed the cruise control had surged from 80mph to 105mph on its own. This really frightened my and I immediately put the brakes on to slow down and turned off the cruise control feature for the remainder of my trip. I had my husband and my three young daughters in the car and was pretty shaken up about how quickly things could have gone terribly wrong and someone or all of us could have been killed if we were to crash because of this incident.

- Enoch, UT, USA

problem #12

Feb 292008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

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

Speed control does not engage even though it shows that it is on, on the dash board. Once engaged after numerous attempts, the speed will then increase on its own.

- Green Cove Springs, FL, USA

problem #11

Nov 162007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,204 miles
Cruise control will not always engage, even when indicator light shows it is on. Initial failures were failure to engage or unexpected disengagement. When it does engage, the speed continually accelerates and does not disengage with brake pedal, must use off button on steering column. All buttons are free. Contacted dealer and manufacturer, and they report no recall on this VIN. Search of NHTSA site shows 3 similar complaints.

- Toms River, NJ, USA

problem #10

Aug 272006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact received a recall notice for the cruise control in August of 2007. He took his vehicle to a local dealer to have the recall repaired and they stated that the parts would be unavailable until November. He called another dealer and they currently do not have any parts as well. He attempted to notify the manufacturer, but was unable to speak with a representative directly. The contact has not had the speed control switch deactivated. There had been no failure to date. The current mileage was 51,000.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #9

Jul 312007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

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

Repeat failure of brake light switch, cruise control won't disengage when brake pedal depressed, an unsafe situation. Also intermittent inability to shift out of park and brake lights not operating.

- Glenview, IL, USA

problem #8

Aug 112005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles
I had just left work with my mother and noticed a smell of burning rubber or wires. We drove for approx. 4 blocks still smelling this. We rolled down the windows thinking it was coming from outside. I even turned off my air conditioning thinking it was pulling the odor in from outside. We then decided we should turn around and go back to my place of employment and have the mechanics check it out. I turned the corner and smoke starting coming out from under the hood. We then pulled over to call our wrecker. The smoke got worse, so we got out of the vehicle and moved away. We then called the fire department. After about 5 minutes flames started coming out from under the hood. Then, there was a small explosion and there was a hole blown in the center of the hood close to the windshield. The flames were then shooting about 6 to 8 ft in the air. The fire department arrived and put the fire out. We have not yet heard if it is a total loss, but I'm sure it is.

- Lebanon, IN, USA

problem #7

Jun 182005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The caller saw an new report on 48 hours about Ford burning up and has concerns about his vehicle. The dealer said to call the manufacturer to see what they say. The manufacturer said there was no recall on it. The consumer felt that this was a major safety issue and Ford should replace the part before anything else happens. The consumer is concerned about the cruise control switch and it's potential to cause a fire.

- East Islip , NY, USA

problem #6

May 012005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer concerns regarding cruise control fires.

- The Villages, FL, USA

problem #5

Jan 082005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

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

The consumer's 2002 Ford Explorer Sport was parked when it suddenly caught on fire.

- La Vergne, TN, USA

problem #4

Feb 192005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,900 miles
When applying the brakes to disengage the cruise control vehicle would speed more instead of disengaging. Disengaged the cruise control using the hand button. Dealer changed the brake lamp switch.

- Blue Bell, PA, USA

problem #3

Dec 062004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 20,000 miles
While the cruise control was set at 72 mph, the vehicle would not decelerate. The consumer pulled over, restarted the vehicle, but the cruise control was still engaged. The vehicle was towed. The dealership was notified, but did not resolve the problem. The vehicle was shut off as the manual suggested in order to reset, but it did not. The consumer said that her husband experienced this problem numerous times.

- Saint Clair Shores, MI, USA

problem #2

Dec 202003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,500 miles
Cruise control, vehicle keeps accelerating after cruise control set button is released also when coast button is pushed vehicle will accelerate. Buttons are free and not sticking. This is an intermittent problem. Almost rearended cars on two occasions. Just bought car and have not had a chance to get to delear.

- Coarsegold, CA, USA

problem #1

Sep 022003

Explorer

  • 12,500 miles
While driving, and after setting the cruise control, vehicle would accelerate beyond the set speed. Problem occurred five times. Manufacturer and the dealer had been informed of the problem.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

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