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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,590 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 fuel system problems

fuel system problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #7

May 152012


  • 135,000 miles


As I was driving home from work my fuel gauge went from full to empty and the check gauge light came on then the vehicle died and I lost power steering and the power brakes.

- West Bend, IA, USA

problem #6

Jan 202007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
The middle panel under the glass in the back of the car has cracked. I suspect it was due to cold weather. I have since seen other Explorer with this problem and notice that there are a lot of complaints online about this. In addition, this past summer my shifter snapped off the barrel. I had 4 kids in the car at the time. Ford responded by telling me that I had 75K miles and no warranty and I didn't typically get my car serviced there so they weren't going to be willing to "work with me" to get it resolved. When I told him I had my 'regular' mechanic look at it he said that the labor rate was probably cheaper with him than at Ford. Well - now tell me why I would service my car at a Ford dealership? oh case I get cracks or shifters fall off and maybe they'll 'work with me' on the price. Big incentive. Oh yeah, my fuel gauge doesn't work - another common problem. My previous Explorer (about 10 years back) had the same problem. The guy up the street has an Explorer (2003) and it doesn't work either.

- Hampstead, NH, USA

problem #5

Nov 142004


  • miles
Even with a full tank of gas the gas gauge will go to "0" and the "check gauge" light comes on because the sender assembly unit of the gas gauge does not work. When we took our Explorer to dub miller Ford in rosenberg on Nov. 19th, there had been another 2002 Explorer brought in for the same problem that morning. The part is not available and is on back order. The part cost $76.79 but the labor will be $270! this is a lot of money for us to pay due to an Ford's egineering problem. Are many other 2002 Explorer experiencing the same problems? thanks! shelley and gale towns.

- Richmond, TX, USA

problem #4

Aug 242004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


When the fuel tank was filled up it registered empty twelve hours later. However, fuel tank read full. Vehicle has ran out of gas on more than one occasion. Consumer drove the vehicle to dealer for inspection, and mechanic determined that fuel sending unit needed to be replaced.

- Fontana, CA, USA

problem #3

Jul 202004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,131 miles
13jan03-rear windshield washer inoperative reinstall rear washer hoses. 5nov03-clicking noise from rear A/C; replace motor assembly temperature blend. 5nov03&13nov03-L/R power mirrors inop; fuse blows; replaced mirror rear view outside sail mount 13nov03-fuel guage inop read 1/2 tank but tank was full; 20nov03-instrument cluster fuel gauge inop; 24nov03-removed and replaced instrument cluster; 18mar04-fuel guage inop & L/R power mirrors inop, fuse blows; could not duplicate problem at this time about fuel guage; tested bce for short, traced to mirror switch, replaced switch and blown fuse; 20 July 04-L/R power mirrors inop; replaced fuse; 20 July 04 - rear winshield washer inop; access washer hose and reconnect; 20 July 04- air conditioner not cooling properly; replaced blower motor for poor operation; motor assembly-heater-A/C blower replaced. 20 July 04 - mechanics broke the drivers door switch cover- 23 July 04 -reordered door panel and replaced drivers door switch cover.

- Hopewell, VA, USA

problem #2

Mar 032004


  • 48,000 miles
While driving, the gas gauge would read wrong. This would cause the consumer to not know how much fuel was in the vehicle.

- Broadview, IL, USA

problem #1

Mar 102004


  • miles
While filling up at the gas station the fuel gauge malfunctioned. The fuel tank registered a full tank, but 12 hours later, a false reading occurred. Consumer took the vehicle to the dealer for inspection, and the mechanic replaced the fuel sending unit due to worn out parts.

- Fontana, CA, USA

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