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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.

1.0

hardy worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
175,011 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #7

Feb 062008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 178,000 miles

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

Ford Explorer 2002 clutch pack in rear diff went out causing rack and pinion to go out. Ford dealer states this is a common problem with this year. Had rear diff rebuilt by dealership with Ford parts and 24,000 miles later the dealership says it needs replaced again. At $1300 to over $1500 each time this is crazy and neither Ford nor the dealership will assist in the cost. After calling Ford customer service my aggravation increased because they refused to acknowledge that this is a problem. Now same problem on our 03 Expedition. If the diff locks up I can only imagine what will happen.

- Mooresville, IN, USA

problem #6

Jun 132004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the differential failed on his vehicle. The component was replaced in July of 2004. The gears in the differential were wearing out quickly and the differential began to leak fluids out of the pinion seal. The contact heard a howling and groaning sound while driving the vehicle 55 mph. He stated that the gear shift lever locked up on many occasions. The four-wheel drive also locked up in April of 2007 while making a U-turn. The purchase date and failure mileage were unknown. The current mileage was 67,200. The consumer provided repair invoices pertaining to the defect. Updated 09/05/07

- Fulton, MO, USA

problem #5

Mar 092007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 960,000 miles
Car started making humming noise when going 30-45 mph, took to a mechanic who ref me to the dealership to check the transmission and then for transmission flush, still the same issue, I was advised that the tires needed to be replaced, I have 4X4 which requires the same 4 tires or the car will jerk. The brake pedal vibrates, and the 4X4 gauge doesn't work, replaced the component and still the same issue. Any who to make a long story short, now I am hearing a clinking and rubbery sound coming from the rear of the vehicle. I am now forced to take the car in... and of course be charged a ridiculous fee, for them to run diagnostics on the truck to diagnose the issue, and then of course pay for parts and labor.... my next car will be a foreign car.. they break down less, and the cost of maintenance and equivalent or less then the cost of maintaining a good ole' american made Ford vehicle. (Lexus, Kia, and I believe either Mazda or Toyota are owned by Ford.. so steer clear of those brands). Timeline reflects the latest issue, and the amount of previous problems.. amount to many.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #4

Dec 212006

Explorer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

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

I have a 2002 Ford Explorer with 102,000 mile on it. For the past 3 years, once a year, I've had to have the rear end worked on. This last week it started making a whining noise again. I took it in to the dealership this morning and they stated that the ring and pinion needed to be replaced along with the bearings. I just had all that done 11 months ago. They say the warranty is out on it by 4K miles. Again, this is the third time I've had this problem. Every year it seems I have to spend $1500+ on the same issues. After much research, I see that this is a recurring problem in the 2002 Ford Explorer.

- Arlington, TN, USA

problem #3

May 152003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,078 miles
ABS light came on at 19,518 miles, 22,071 miles, and 27,078 miles. More importantly, however, are my issues with the 2002 Explorer rear end. 10/1/03: 27,078 miles ABS light came on, the dealer replaced the assembly. Rear differential was leaking, dealer replaced the seals. 7/28/04: 40,541 miles rear end leaking again. Half shafts were worn. Rear locking diff was slipping. The dealer had to replace both halfshafts, seals, and clutch packs. 9/22/04: 43,203 miles rear axle chattering. Replaced whole rear axle assembly. 2/25/05: 54,960 miles rear diff making more noise. Left rear axle bearing was noisy. Replaced left rear axle hub and assembly. On test drive, the dealer found that the bearing they just installed was bad, so they had to replace it again. 8/11/05: 68,000 miles leaking fluid from rear end. The dealer performed the following maintenance: Replaced diff seals, replaced timing chain, replaced right front hub assembly, replaced ring and pinion, replaced front end tie rods, replaced both lower ball joints, performed front end alignment. All told, I have had my Explorer in the shop at least 10 times. My warranty is about to expire (7,000 more miles) and I'm going to try to get Ford to buy the vehicle back. From what I've heard, this is not an easy process and apparently doesn't happen often with such 'high mileage' vehicles. If they don't buy it back I will be forced to take a huge loss on the vehicle. I will then purchase anything but a Ford.

- Mason, MI, USA

problem #2

Feb 192004

(reported on)

Explorer

  • miles
Consumer's wife felt that vehicle was veering to her right. Dealership found out that pinion bolt was missing.(nar)

- Waverly Hall, GA, USA

problem #1

Oct 232002

(reported on)

Explorer

  • miles
The owner states the truck veers side to side not keeping a straight direction. Truck has been in the shop (8) times for problems with the front end or steering. The parts were replaced from the steering to a complete rack and pinion with defect not corrected. An engineer from Ford has also inspected the truck and has determined that there is no problem. The dealership is insisting that the owner come pick the truck up in the same condition.

- Mcdonough, GA, USA

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