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:
7 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
88,898 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 (Page 1 of 6)

problem #105

Aug 242016


  • 202,000 miles


The gear shift just broke off while I was putting the car in reverse this is extremely dangerous the car had to be towed but we had to figure out how to shut off the car, since it would not shut off while in reverse. I got another whole steering column put in and within less than 2 months the gear shift broke off again this time the car was in park, but its scary. I have attached two pictures of the two different gear shifts. The piece that keeps breaking looks like its made out of aluminum not steel.

- Jackson, NJ, USA

problem #104

Jul 152016


  • miles
I own a 2002 Ford Explorer, it's our daily driver everything works except the hubs, this truck has never been wrecked, and we find ourselves@ about every 15,000 to 20,000 miles having to replace the wheel bearings and hub assembly's, last night on the way home the driver side front hub started squealing and came apart and we had to have it towed again, I have owned this truck for 3 years, I have had to replace the bearings and hubs brakes 11 times and now I'm going to have to do it again, wow, these parts are really expensive to have no better quality than that, everytime we get it fixed it cost around $1400, it's a nice truck, and everything else works great, no issues, I Transport my family members in this vehicle, and I'm getting tired of fearing for their lives and my own when the wheel hubs break and leave us stranded, it's obviously time for a different vehicle, and I just thought about how many other people drive one of those trucks, and how dangerous that could have been out on the interstate, it's a good thing we were driving 30 mph on a country rd, if we had been in town when it broke again we I thought that the last time this happened too, there definatly is a problem, when the guy at the dealership says that's a very common problem, but unfortunately, all he can do is fix it, or sell me something else, and that that's the issue that those trucks have and that everyday someone is dropping one of to get fixed for the exact same problem, anyway I think it's time to try something else, but this problem needs to be on a recall list because it's just bad business and a safety hazard, and it's problaby already gotten people and families killed, I'm going to fix this thing one more time and give the people that buy it this website info, Ford Motor Company needs to fix this ever occurring problem.

- Rockfeild, KY, USA

problem #103

Feb 092016


  • 153,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While attempting to start the vehicle, the gear shift fractured without warning. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering column failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not at the dealer being repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 153,000.

- Redondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #102

Jan 052016


  • 120,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the shifting lever used to shift gears fractured. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the issue. The failure mileage was 120,000.

- Mesquite, NV, USA

problem #101

Jul 072015


  • 144,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving at approximately 55 mph, the transmission shifted from third gear to fourth gear independently and the vehicle decelerated. The vehicle made an abnormal noise and the engine warning indicator illuminated. The vehicle was driven to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technician stated that the transmission was burned out and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. In addition, the contact stated that while driving approximately 35 mph, a snapping sound emitted from the vehicle and the steering wheel became hard to turn. The failure recurred multiple times. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technician diagnosed that the power steering pump was defective which prevented it from holding the fluid damaging the anti-brakes system. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The approximate failure mileage was 144,000. The VIN was not available.

- Patterson, NJ, USA

problem #100

Dec 312014

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 152,682 miles
After arriving back home from dinner I was putting the car into park. Half way between reverse and park the gear shift arm broke!

- Lavista, NE, USA

problem #99

Dec 092014


  • miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while in reverse, the vehicle accelerated independently. Additionally, the brake pedal was depressed but failed to respond and the steering wheel seized. As a result, the vehicle crashed into trees then went forward independently crashing into shrubs, a fence, and a building. In addition, the air bags failed to deploy and smoke started to emit from the front of the vehicle. A police report was filed. The contact sustained bruise and neck and head injuries that did not require medical attention. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #98

Oct 192014


  • 150,000 miles
The handle to shift the manual transmission from park to reverse broke off at the metal part inside the steering column. This is could have been very dangerous if I was driving! Ford states they no longer produce the part.

- Sonora, CA, USA

problem #97

Dec 162013

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact was attempting to exit the driveway when the steering wheel fractured. The dealer replaced the steering wheel. The manufacturer was notified. The failure mileage was 130,000. Updated 09/05/14 updated 09/11/2014

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #96

Jun 182014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
Shifter lever broke off.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #95

Feb 102014


  • miles


After driving into a parking spot I tried to put the car into park and the gearshift fell. After it fell again I tried once more and it broke completely off. We had to take it to the dealership whom just turned it off and later informed us that they would have to replace the entire steering column which would cost $1700 just because one piece was poorly constructed and made of soft metal. It has been almost a month and now we're being told the part is on back-order so we still have no car. We've read where this has happened to others but yet nothing has been done about this problem by the Ford company.

- La Grange, NC, USA

problem #94

Feb 092014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 147,000 miles
Utah I-15 South bound, inside lane next to concrete barrier with tour bus in lane on my right. My vehicle began to drift to the right as I was passing the bus. I corrected by slowly turning the steering wheel to the left; not hard or fast but slowly and evenly. The Explorer (4-door, 2002, XLT) began to whip back and fourth violently. It took me several hundred yards to get the car under control after coming within an inch or two of both the barrier and the bus. This is not the first time the whipping problem has happened. I bought the vehicle four months ago from a private seller. I put new "big-O" bigfoot tires on it and had the front end alignment checked; it was fine. If I hadn't done some fancy driving the vehicle would have rolled (at 80mph) and I probably would have been killed. I am getting rid of the Explorer and never buying another Ford product again.

- Kaysville, UT, USA

problem #93

Dec 172013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 177,772 miles
Yesterday evening, I got into my 2002 Ford Explorer and noticed the gear shift lever was stuck in park. I was unable to shift into reverse in order to back out of the driveway. This morning I figured I would give it another attempt as I needed to head out for work. As I tried again, I simply applied the break, grabbed the shift lever and as I pulled the towards me and began to pull down to shift into reverse the lever completely broke and is now hanging. I did not apply excessive force at any point. No more pressure then I normally do when shifting from park to drive to reverse, etc. I looked up this particular situation via internet and noticed many, many complaints of the same exact description. Hopefully Ford will recognize this issue and issue a part recall.

- Hollister, CA, USA

problem #92

Dec 062013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
As I was driving in snow, I put the car into reverse to go around another car. When I put it back in drive the gear shift handle broke off in my hand. I was stuck in my car unable to shift, if I turned it off I would not have been able to restart the car. I had to sit on the side of the road and figure out how to get it back into gear with my foot on the brakes.

- Redding, CA, USA

problem #91

Aug 092013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 91,000 miles
While moving the shift lever from park to reverse, the lever broke away from the steering column and could not be returned to park position. The vehicle was stuck in reverse, engine running, and brake applied. With the brake applied, the engine was turned off, still in reverse. The key could not be removed until a small wire contact inside the steering column was shorted to the metal in the column. The vehicle had to be dragged onto a tow vehicle and taken to aikins Ford in winder, Georgia. I was told the entire steering column had to be replaced and the part plus labor would be approximately $1500. Aikins ordered the part and is still waiting after discovering that there were 221 steering columns on back order with the after market manufacturer licensed to provide the part. The design of the shift lever included a "pot" metal disk housing that requires the spring behind it to be actuate by pulling the lever forward to change the gear status. The housing snapped in half, leaving the lever dangling by a small wire. Only the fact that the vehicle was not moving averted clear and present danger of an accident. I have requested that the steering column part be returned to me and have very good photos of the vehicle and the actual separation at the break in the column. I will furnish either to your department if and when I get my Explorer back. Now 56 days and still waiting. I believe that it was design flaw to allow a part that requires uniform strength to be a molded piece of "pot" metal and someone may get hurt, if not already in the 221 incidents that Ford is aware of.

- Winder, GA, USA

problem #90

Aug 272013


  • 89,000 miles
August 27,2012. Huaband driving howm from work. Going down hill to traffic light. Car suddenly, with no warning, stalls out completely. Loss of power steering, power brakes.etc. A/S contuinued to work. Engine ligh came on. Wrestled car to verge of road. Turned car off and it restarted on forst try. Stated that the following day as he attempted to pull away from stop sign, car would not initally take gas but then suddenly accelerated ( " I peeled rubber!") recalled that thatsame incident had had happened approx. 2 weeks before at a diffeent stop. Car taken to repair shop, somputer shows no issues. Believe car unsafe to drive if affected with sudden, unexplained stalling with no apparent cause. Bought car as "certified, pre-owned" used car from Ford dealership in Dec. 2012. They have no answer, no suggestions as to problem cause. Internet search shows multiple complaints for this same problem with the Ford Explorer.

- New Fairfield, CT, USA

problem #89

May 092013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 96,562 miles
I had just pulled in to my customers lot and went to put the car in park, as I did the gear shift lever broke off in the steering column and was just dangling. I put the parking brake on as the SUV was rolling, I could not get the keys out. I had to have it towed to interstate Ford in dayton. Oh.

- Centerville, OH, USA

problem #88

Dec 032012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
Pulled into park, went to shift vehicle into park (was fully stopped) and gear shifter broke off. I did not apply any force, just the normal typical action of shifting the gear. Good thing it was in neutral when it snapped. Took rubber seal off of the gear lever arm and the part which the lever arm was attached had totally broken off. The metal was not stripped or twisted but broken. Part #905-104: Column shift repair.

- Longview, TX, USA

problem #87

Jan 162013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 201,000 miles
Pulling in driveway stopped the vehicle going to put it in park shift lever broke off inside of steering column went on internet found 146 complaints as the same thing happened to them on Ford Explorer

- Belle, MO, USA

problem #86

Nov 102012

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 127,875 miles
I just purchased the vehicle in a private sale on 11/09/12 and on 11/10/12 went to shift from park into reverse on a flat surface and my shift lever broke off and I am not able to shift my vehicle.

- Front Royal, VA, USA

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