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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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 1
Average Mileage:
25,013 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 wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #20

Jan 022005


  • 68,000 miles


It started very early after buying the 2002 Ford Explorer...electrical prob..couldn't get veh started...100 miles away from home dealership....towed to closest Ford dealership...fixed; or so we thought. Same thing happened a week later. Home dealership advised us that the other dealership installed the wrong part and it could have caused life-threatening problems....we contacted the other dealership and advised them what our home dealership said...of course the dealership denied this...anyway...home dealership installed new part...veh ok....then wheel bearings had to be replaced in front 1st left side-then right. (this was after the rear end was replaced) boy, was that a major fight with the home dealership! now! the transmission is gone!!!!! isn't there something we can do" Ford has been using defective parts!!!!and now asking for government money??"!!!!Ford should be paying for this!

- Hamptonville, NC, USA

problem #19

Nov 152008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The vehicle has nexen ht SUV OWL tires (na), size 235/70R/16 (na). The vehicle was driven to a local tire shop for inspection and the mechanic stated that the front driver's side tire was defective. The mechanic rebalanced, rotated, and placed four new nexen tires on the vehicle. A week later, the contact noticed that all four tires were making a high pitched noise and also hydroplaned during wet road conditions. The dealer called the mechanic and they stated that they would notify the manufacturer on his behalf. The manufacturer has not yet been notified. The tires have not been replaced. The current mileage was 55,000 and failure mileage was 54,000. Updated 01/09/09. Updated 01/12/09.

- Paradise, CA, USA

problem #18

Mar 312008


  • miles
Problems with this Explorer over my ownership include: -rear glass replaced -front brakes replaced -rear wheel bearings have required replacement, -parking brake issues, -new tires, etc.

- Enfield, CT, USA

problem #17

Mar 212008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Rear end is making a horrible rubbing noise....thought it might be the tires but I just replaced all 4 tires with the same exact tires they come from factory with and still have the problem.

- Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #16

Aug 312007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,200 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The vehicle has Firestone destination, size lep23570R16 xl107T tires (na). While changing lanes at 60 mph, the tires would swerve and shake. He returned the tires from where they were purchased and was informed that the failure could have been due to the alignment. The tire shop mechanic inspected the vehicle and found nothing wrong, however, he rotated the tires. Two days later, the contact's wife was driving the vehicle at approximately 60 mph. She switched lanes and the vehicle began to swerve, causing her to lose control. As a result, the vehicle rolled over twice and landed on its tires. She was not injured and the vehicle was towed. The current and failure mileages were 58,200. Missouri police report. Updated 10/18/07

- Parkville, MO, USA

problem #15

May 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles
After owning for a week and a half, had to have the G ears in the rear end replaced. Later informed that the tires were not evenly worn which was causing the rear end to pop. After replacing the tires, the four wheel drive would not work. The 4 X 4 module and the wiring need to be replaced, costing $1000. That is not including the driver window switch needing to be replaced as well as the window regulator. Now there is an electrical problem coming from the dash. Unable to figure out what it is yet.

- Garfield Heights, OH, USA

problem #14

Jan 012007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


I have a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT with 96,000 miles on it and around 60,000 the noise started. First the front right wheel started to vibrate and then the hub went. While driving my front tire just collapsed. 2nd issue the rear end started to make noise is more like vibraing. And after searching on google, I find that im not the only one with this issue. This is a very expensive issue $1200. Just to start the Ford company is aware of this issue and nothing is being done about it. This is not a joke, this is serious, someone can get hurt. Maybe that's what it will take for the Ford company to resolve the issue, the issue that Ford is aware of. Please help!

- Newburgh, NY, USA

problem #13

Aug 232007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,840 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The vehicle has Goodyear tracker II (na), size P235/70R16 tires. While driving approximately 65 mph, the driver side rear tire blew out and the vehicle began to fishtail. The contact regained control of the vehicle and pulled over. Aaa arrived and changed the tire. The tire has not been inspected. The current and failure mileages were 61,840.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #12

Mar 152006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. He noticed deep worn areas on the tire. The dealer has not inspected the vehicle to determine the cause. The current mileage on the vehicle was 104,000. The contact was unable to provide the tire details. The failure mileage was unavailable.

- Willard, NC, USA

problem #11

Mar 212005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles
Around March 2005 on a spring break, took my 2002 Ford Explorer in about 15 miles out my town, one of the tires, the rubber just separated from the tire, causing the truck to move in different directions, but thank god I was able to steer to the right side of the road since I just started to speed up the vehicle it did not flip the truck, but caused damaged inside the truck where the wheel is located, all because a piece of the rubber separated from the tire. The expense was less than $200 but the drama was priceless, and the kids all were crying.I need information on the recall tires of my truck. Thank you.

- Laredo, TX, USA

problem #10

Jun 092006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


On or about November 3, 2005, I purchased a break model used Ford Explorer XLT 2002 from norm reeves Honda car dealer in cerritos, ca. The car had 78,000 miles on it at the time of purchase. I signed the papers and took the possession of the car. It has not been more than 2 months that the car started giving me trouble on the pick up of the speed, transmission, gear adjustment, over use of the gas, difficult high altitude driving even after change of gears, air suction into the engine and transmission, accelerator and signs like service engine soon on the front panel, although I have been getting regular lube and tune on the car after every 3000 miles. While driving the, occasionally, the car gives a thundering noise on the tires as if it is dragging itself and running on the road. This makes me fear that my car is not safe for me to drive! the norm reeves Honda super store car dealer knew that the car is defective and they simply wanted to get rid of a used 2002 Ford Explorer XLT vehicle from the fleet as they primarily sell Honda cars and similar vehicles. Despite repeated requests, the norm reeves Honda super store and their sister company Ford of cerritos refused to provide service on the car since I stopped payments on the car loan. Other Ford car dealers have test driven this car and observed the same defects as I have mentioned. My purpose of writing this complaint with the NHTSA is to request the intervention of NHTSA immediately as the questioned vehicle is likely to endanger my life on the local roads and/or on highway/freeways. Due to major defects in the car, I can meet with a serious accident and can be crippled or suffer such pecuniary losses that are irreplaceable and/or I can die also with out any fault of mine. Please recall Firestone tires V. Ford Motor Company case law. Criminal charges against norm reeves Honda, Ford of cerritos and their ceos to follow. Please contact me and the dealers asap. Respectfully submitted, amardeep singh gill.

- Cypress, CA, USA

problem #9

May 182006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 72,010 miles
Tried to put the vehicle into reverse from park and the column shifter broke off. Vehicle could not be driven and was towed to a transmission business. Cost to repair is $1300. I bought this vehicle in 2004 used. I've had the rear transmission seals, shocks, tires, front window and the entire steering column replaced.

- Sunnyvale, CA, USA

problem #8

Apr 052004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,214 miles
The front and rear tires developed cuts on the side. Vehicle was taken to dealer for replacement tires. Updated

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #7

Feb 092004


  • miles
While driving at an undetermined speed right rear tire fell off the vehicle. Consumer was able to pull off the road, and call for a tow truck. Vehicle was towed to the dealer.

- Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #6

May 022003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
Tire blow out on 2002 Ford Explorer. Ford refused to reimburse the consumer for the tire blow out along with the body damage that occurred due to the incident. The consumer requested reimbursement.

- Pasadena, CA, USA

problem #5

Aug 162003


  • miles
2 of my cousins were involved in a Ford Explorer tire blow out outside of raleigh nc on August 16th. Amal muaraka, a pediatric surgeon was killed instantly and summeet murarka was placed in icu as the non-Bridgestone tire blew out on the Ford Explorer and the vehicle flipped 5 times when the tire blew out. What will it take for the government to act on Ford's malicious deceit. Ford's history is plagued with serious issues such as the pinto that blew up and this time it was the governments inaction and Ford cover-up that prevented my cousin from living a full life at only the age of 33. I can only hope that the government will immediately recall the Ford Explorer line even if it causes serious costs and financial burden to Ford to save lives and prevent so many from the pain of tragedies such as the one that we have experienced. Again - it is my belief that it is the fatal design flaws in the Ford Explorer that caused this wreck and the death of my cousin - he is survived by his wife, and 2 daughters. Please stop Ford from murdering others!!!!

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #4

Mar 072003


  • miles
While driving and with no warning the passenger front tire blew out. Dealer notified.

- Vonore, TN, USA

problem #3

Dec 142002


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Tire pressure in 2002 Explorer still set too low. The door panel on my 2002 Explorer says to inflate front tires to 30 psi, rear 35 psi. While spin balancing I was able to witness the "cupping" of the tire while it was spinning on the machine. This showed uneven wear. This was only on the front tires, which, according to the owners manual and the door panel, needed only 30 psi of air. I called the manufacturer (Goodyear) and they said never go below 35 psi on all four tires. I have 16 inch ap tires. How far is Ford willing to go" smoothness of ride over safety of occupants"

- Ellsworth Afb, SD, USA

problem #2

Sep 272002


  • miles
The tire blew out of the Explorer going 75 mph on a major route in massachuetts. There were no injuries, but I feel I should report this due to 6-month old vehicle with less than 10,000 miles. The conditions that day were very hot, it was about 90 degrees when the tire blew out need to report.

- Westfield, MA, USA

problem #1

Jun 262001

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Whenever vehicle hits a bump it's hard to control, goes all over road. Contacted dealership, but dealer refused to look at vehicle. Consumer has replaced the Michelin tires at their cost, P235/70R16, dot E20291511, vehicle and tires only had 470 miles.

- Pahrump, NV, USA

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