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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.

6.0

fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
$301.00
Average Mileage:
76,475 miles
Total Complaints:
19 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (13 reports)
  2. unplug connections under seat and clean with contact cleaner (2 reports)
  3. get rid of the connectors and splice the wires (1 reports)
  4. pull on the wire that goes to the seat belt (1 reports)
  5. reconnect seat belt cable harness (1 reports)
  6. replace the switch (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #19

Nov 242012

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,169 miles

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

Ok Same as the other folks on this issue axcept I have a new twist, The air bag light keeps coming on as well as the door ajar alarm and the dome lights come on and it is very annoying. I purchased this vehilce used in 2006 and this problem has just started happening with in the last week or so.

- , Thornton, CO, USA

problem #18

Mar 042013

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

The light is on...it's a minor issue considering all the other things that have gone wrong with this car. Supposedly if you put the seat back to far, the cable under the seat disengages and it's a common problem. I have not fixed it, but the blinking light is annoying.

- , Chardon, OH, USA

problem #17

Oct 012002

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 400 miles

If only I had read the manual from start to finish when I bought the car - I could of returned it. I have been told that my air bags won't work if that light is on. It is scary and I DO NOT feel safe in that car at all.

- , Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #16

Jun 182011

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 163,500 miles

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

Just bought this used and loved it, had to clean extensively and moved the drivers seat all the way back, (now I see that might be a problem) we took it for a ride and the airbag light started sending a code message, 34. Will need to take it to our mechanic but not sure if he works on this or not. We knew it had some problems when we bought it, wheel bearing rear drivers side replaced. We did not do our homework, we are in an economic downturn in our houshold right now!

- , Social Circle, GA, USA

problem #15

May 052003

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,200 miles

The air bag light came on and never goes out. I was told the seatbelt sensor was defective and they replaced it under warranty. The light is still on and after many times back to dealership i was told that the air bag sensor in the bumper was bad but not covered under warranty since it was at 52,000 miles at this time of discovery. I called Ford and they did nothing. it is still on.

- , Liverpool, New York, USA

problem #14

Aug 122010

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,274 miles

Why would I pay to get this fixed when I spent a $100 to get the "door ajar" light off and it came right back on.

- , Gautier, MS, USA

problem #13

Jun 262010

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

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

Even though the airbag light was annoying to look at while I was looking at the instrument panel, it was a very easy fix. A couple of other complaints on here suggest paying for the fix at the dealership. This is not necessary. Under each seat there are different colored connectors. The white one is the airbag sensor connector. Under each seat, disconnect the connector (you will have to pull it off of the bracket that it sits on), cut each wire from the connector. There are 2 wires on each end of the connector. Don't mix them up! Once the wires are disconnected, strip the ends off of each connector and slice each pair together. Basically you're just bypassing the connector. I recommend soldering and shrink wrap, but a couple of wire nuts will work.

By passing the connector, this allows free movement of the wire as the seat moves. The tension that is created by moving the seat, pulls the wires that are in the connector, since they are not long enough, and creates an open circuit that causes the light to come on.

Once you look under the front driver and passenger seats, you'll see how easy this is. It took about a total of 10 minutes to complete. If you want, you can email me for more information. I was surprised this was not a recall since the airbag will not deploy if the light is on.

delegatedabsents@hotmail.com

- , Port Orchard, WA, USA

problem #12

Jan 012008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I've being having my Air Bag light on since 2008, on and off, finally I took my car for inspection with the light on and it didn't pass inspection because is a safety issue. I call the Ford Company to check if they are going to fix the problem since is a safety issue and no wear and tear. They say "No", there is no a recall and my car is more than 50,000 miles it wouldn't be covered by warranty anyways. This is the kind of things that pissed me off, until someone ended dead or something similar like Toyota, mess, they will not do anything about it... Ford Sucksssssss, firs and last Ford I ever would buy..............

- , Gloucester, MA, USA

problem #11

Mar 202010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

Airbag light went on 2 weeks ago. Looked up the complaint here on carcomplaints and read about the fix and it worked. First I checked the drivers seat connection and the light stayed on. Then I tried the passenger side connection and the light went off. What you have to do is simple. Go through the back door behind the passenger seat. Look under the right side, there is 3 different connectors, take the white one on the very right apart by pushing down on the tab at the top and pull it apart. I didn't clean it, I just put it back together and the light went out. I also wiggled the same wires going to the seat belt through the frame on the left side to make sure they weren't binding. This saved me a lot of money by not going to the dealer and them telling me they have to replace a seat belt mechanism for 300 or 400 dollars. I can't believe these dealers charging big bucks for such a simple fix. What a ripoff they are ! ! ! !

- , Wheeling, IL, USA

problem #10

Dec 292009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,975 miles

looking at all the complants Ford should have issued a recall to correct this problem with the air bag light staying on. I had been driving with the light on for over 2 years. I had to have my vehicle inspected and got rejected due to the air bag light staying on. I was told it was my passenger seat belt tensioner and it could be fixed for $250.00. I decided to try disconneting the connections under the passenger seat and cleaning with contact cleaner put them back together and the light went out. I then drove back to the inspection garage and showed them that the air bag light was out and got a pass sticker on my vehicle. I feel this is a BIG safety issue that should be addressed since it means that the air bags will not deplore in an accident. COME ON FORD, admit you screwed up and fix the problem .

- , Madison Heights, VA, USA

problem #9

Aug 072008

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

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

I have a 2002 ford explorer for 3 years. A year after getting my explorer I needed a transmission. Now its been ALMOST a year and the transmission is doing the same thing. My air bag light been on for over 2 years, I had it fixed and it came right back on. The company wanted me to pay again to fix it. HELL NO. My o/d lght blinks off/on. That was so say fixed to when transmission was fixed. YEAH RIGHT* Why it still comes on then. I also have a cracked panel on my rear window. That came out of no where. Then my ball & joints need to be repaired every since I got the explorer. The company I took it to also let me know that they been fixing alot of ball & joint on ford explorers. Ford needs to check on these problems cause we pay our hard earn money for this trucks. But its not like FORD really care. Its not ford problem once we get the suv of troubles (ford explorer). I think thats how ford think. I called the BBB because i'm not trying to spend anymore money on this ford explorer.

- , New Iberia, LA, USA

problem #8

Jan 152003

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,500 miles

This has happened so many times that it does not even bother me as much as it used to. My repair was made back just after buying new. After the warranty ran out they tried to sell me the seat belt tensioner at a cost of around $400.00 plus installation. Told them to shove it that I would just pull the bulb. Can't pull bulb but moved passenger seat and light went out. Cable that goes from under passenger seat is the culprit. Just jiggle it where it goes into seat belt, then restart car. Light is out. Comes on every time seat is moved to another position. Is it any wonder that American car companies are going belly-up.

- , Linden, PA, USA

problem #7

Sep 132007

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

My wonderful Explorer airbag light is on. Still. After the dealership ran tests, I was told that the driver's seatbelt locking mechanism-the thing that stops you from flying out the windshield when in an accident or hit the brakes hard- doesn't work. And oh-so sorry- but it's not covered under the warranty that you are paying for. That seems to happen quite a bit. Grrr.......

- , Clarence Center, NY, USA

problem #6

Jan 012007

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

I bought my 2002 Ford Explorer new. At ~56,000 the Airbag warning light came on. I took it to the dealer (my mechanic said it was a dealer item only). The Ford dealer ran a scan which cost $150. It showed "Needs Pretentioner Repair Kit installed" the cost was $650. I declined service. I looked on the internet and apparently there is a problem with the 2002 Explorer airbag sensor lighting up...

"In July 2001, Ford issued a special service message announcing that some air bagclockspring devices may produce noise when the steering wheel is turned full left or right.Ford was aware that some clocksprings may have been improperly installed.the improper installation may also cause an open circuit and the air bag warning light to illuminate.starting with vehicles produced in September 2001, Ford adding length to the clockspring wire to reduce the likelihood of damage from improper installation."

I called Ford 800 392-3673. The person told me there are other recalls involving the tailgate, but they would do nothing for the Airbag sensor and I would have to shoulder the $650 repair myself.

- , Denver, CO, USA

problem #5

Jun 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

So the airbag light has been flashing/staying on for months. I don't think much of it...figure it's a fuse. When I have the in to replace the wheel bearing/hub prematurely (just like all other 02 explorers) I'm told the airbag wouldn't even work if I was in a crash right now. And with the wheel bearing problem it was very likely that my wheel could have literally fallen off while driving....and then no airbag... great! And this was my car of choice for my kids and I. So apparently Ford made the cable that connects the driver's seat belt to the airbag mechanism too short. They know this, they've had 1000's of explorers with this problem, but no freaking recall to let us know we are in danger. They lost a customer FOR LIFE!

- , Castle Rock, CO, USA

problem #4

Sep 182007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I was told by Ford this light indicated a bad Airbag module. Cost to repair: $600.00. I left the dealership and went to my independent mechanic, he did the repair for $354.00. The light went off and hopefully the airbags work$#@!!!?? Before I left the mechanics parking lot, the light was back on with a different code, this time "failed seat belt harness" My mechanic was lost, he said he had never even heard of that one. He told me it would require a tool to check the seatbelt receptacles and only ford had that tool. Now what??????

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #3

Oct 102007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

Air bag light came on soon after we bought this explorer used, with a warranty. We bought certified used and on the 110 point inspection list, the dealership said they fixed it. So I took it back in and they refused to fix. Flat out refused even at my cost. Next job for Mike Rowe on Dirty Jobs.....Working at a Dealership.

- , Perrysburg, OH, USA

problem #2

Sep 042007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

I have seen a lot of cases of this happening to this model and I can't help but think this is a recall issue.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #1

Jan 092007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

The light for the airbag is also a seatbelt sensor just under the driver seat.... there is a cable harness that runs under the floor to the seat belt. This is connected to the SRS system. The cable is too short. If you move the seat too far back the cable can disconnect alerting the warning light.

However, This deactivates the air bag. Ford issued Bulletin #03103 to dealers on this problem but will not issue a recall.

- , Livermore, CA, USA

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