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
Crashes / Fires:
25 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
25 / 0
Average Mileage:
23,734 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #34

Dec 082009


  • 97,701 miles


2002 Ford Explorer air bag did not deploy in crash. Driver stated that a white smoke/powder occurred but the air bag did not deploy during the accident. The air bag warning light is currently light on the dashboard.

- Olathe, KS, USA

problem #33

May 102009

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer limited edition while idling at a stop light, the drivers side front airbag deployed without warning. She had experienced between 5-6 major collisions/crashes with the vehicle and suspects that the failure of the airbags were due to the incidences. The manufacturer did not speculate that the previous crashes caused the airbags to deploy. The manufacturer would not take any liability for the failure, and repairs cost over $3,000. No repairs had been made to the vehicle to date. The failure and current mileages were 131,000. Updated 11/23/09. The rear pinion seal was leaking. Updated 11/24/09

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #32

Jun 232009


  • 48,000 miles
Air bag deployed while vehicle was parked, no impact. Key was turned on to listen to radio while driver was cleaning the cargo area. Vehicle had been in to local Ford dealership twice before with air bag light and steering column spring to be replaced. Vehicle is no longer under warranty, Ford is not wanting to pay for repairs even though' it was under warranty when the first air bag light issue came about. We are now without the vehicle for 4 months, it is not repaired and Ford wants to replace all the air bag components because they do not know what happened or caused the air bag to deploy.

- Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #31

Dec 312008


  • 34,200 miles


2002 Ford Explorer XLS was involved in a front end accident at about 80mph and the airbags did not deploy. As a result the front seat passenger hit her head against the dash broke her jaw and ruptured three vessels in her brain which lead to her having a stroke and lost use of the right side of her body.

- Apo, AE, USA

problem #30

Oct 152008


  • 70,000 miles
Front passenger air bag light went on when my son sat in the seat. Took car to dealer to see if there was a problem. They said something was faulty. Extended warranty won't cover it. Isn't this required by law if it is a defect that the dealer fix it at no charge?

- Antelope, CA, USA

problem #29

Oct 302008


  • 125 miles
2002 Ford Explorer, 125K miles. Airbag warning light stays on. Mechanics diagnosed as a bad pre-seatbelt tensioner contact, mechanic said that moving drivers seat back and forth degrades the contact and would not allow the air bag to function in a crash.

- Oakton, VA, USA

problem #28

Aug 232003


  • 25,000 miles


My daughter was in a collision in 2003 in my 2002 Ford Explorer. I had it only a couple of weeks. The airbag didn't deploy, and now that it is 5 years later, the air bag light stays on, but I have not been in a crash. I took it to the local dealership in houston, but they were of no help!

- Houston, Texas, TX, USA

problem #27

Feb 182007


  • miles
Paint is blistering and chipping on the hood and fender of my 2002 Explorer. ABS light comes on and airbag light stays on.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #26

Aug 202006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,300 miles
There was an accident. Hit another car at about 40 miles an hour and the front drivers and passenger airbags did not deploy. There were two injured. The frame wasn't bent and the engine was okay. What saved the passengers was an add-on bumper guard I had on the front. Truck was towed to a Ford dealership and the service manger said the same thing about the bumper guard.

- Clovis, CA, USA

problem #25

Dec 262005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
Ford Explorer 2002 2 wheel drive was driving at 65 mph on freeway. A car cut off the Ford and anti lock brakes were applied. Brakes locked and driver lost control of SUV. SUV rolled over and off the freeway. Side air bags and front air bags did not deploy.

- Calabasas, CA, USA

problem #24

Nov 172005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles


The contact's vehicle was involved in a frontal impact at highway speed and driver's side airbag did not deploy. The passenger's side airbag deployed. However, there was no occupant in the passenger seat. She was wearing a seat belt. The contact sustained head and neck injuries the vehicle was damaged extensively, especially in front area. A police report was taken at the scene. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer or mechanic. The vehicle was totaled, and the insurance company currently has possession of the vehicle.

- Laguna Beach, CA, USA

problem #23

Oct 032005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,500 miles
The contact's vehicle was involved in a head on collision at 45 mph, . upon impact, no air bags deployed. The vehicle was totaled. The insurance company now has possession of this vehicle. There has been no investigation as to why the air bags did not deploy. He does have photographs of the vehicle. The contact sustained minor scrapes and sore muscles. A police report was taken at the scene. Updated 11/29/2005 -

- Summerville, SC, USA

problem #22

Jun 042005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact was involved in a frontal collision on 6-4-2005 while driving at 55 mph. Upon impact, air bags did not deploy. The occupants were wearing seat belts. SRS light was on prior to the crash. Vehicle was taken to dealer and fixed once because the light was on, and a week later it was replaced, and the light came back on again. Police report and photographs are available for analysis.

- Jasper, AL, USA

problem #21

Mar 172005


  • 23,000 miles
After starting the vehicle driver's air bag deployed. Dealership was notified, but did not resolve the problem.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #20

Jan 102005

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Steering column broke while driving. Consumer applied the brakes, and the pedal went to the floor. Consumer lost control of the vehicle, and it crashed into a guard rail. Upon impact, both air bags failed to deploy. Driver sustained minor injuries, and went to the doctor on her own. Vehicle was towed, and totaled out by the insurance company.

- Centereach, NY, USA

problem #19

Aug 272004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving at 45 mph consumer's vehicle was involved in a front end collision. Upon impact, front and side air bags did not deploy. No warning light appeared prior to the crash. Dealership was notified.

- Kinston, NC, USA

problem #18

Aug 042004

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving 35 mph consumer's vehicle was involved in a frontal collision. Upon impact, both frontal air bags failed to deploy. Driver sustained minor injuries. Vehicle was towed tot he dealer for inspection.

- Middletown, PA, USA

problem #17

May 252004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,123 miles
My daughter and I were involved in an auto accident in my 2002 Ford Explorer when another vehicle pulled out in front of us. I was traveling approximately 60 mph prior to slamming on my brakes. The ems driver estimated impact at 40 mph. My vehicle sustained $6600+ in damages to the front end. Neither the driver nor passenger side airbag deployed. The ems driver and the wrecker said given the damage to the front end of my vehicle the air bags should have deployed. The ems driver also said it was typical of a Ford to have the air bags malfunction. I sustained neck and low back injuries including damage to 4 disc in my spine according to the mri report. My daughter sustained injuries to her right shoulder, radiological testing is scheduled for later this month to determine the cause of her pain and loss of motion. She has also suffered with low back pain. I asked the mechanic responsible for the repairs on my vehicle at the dealership where I bought the vehicle about the air bags and was not given much of an answer. He basically said the damage did not go far enough into the engine area for the sensors to pick up the crash. Given the damage to my front end and the need for replacement of multiple parts under the hood of my car and the injuries sustained I did not find this to be an acceptable answer.

- Katy, TX, USA

problem #16

May 282004


  • 39,000 miles
While driving 55 mph vehicle was involved in a head on collision. Upon impact, dual air bags did nor deploy. No injuries reported.

- Leakesville, MS, USA

problem #15

May 192004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving at 40 mph consumer's vehicle was involved in a front end collision. Upon impact, air bags did not deploy, and no air bag warning light appeared prior to the crash.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

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