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:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
140,768 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 accessories - exterior problems

accessories - exterior problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2002 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #10

Jul 212010


  • 40,000 miles


I have a 2002 Ford Explorer and for the past 5 years that I have owned it, the windshield wipers have been erratic! the front ones will come on whenever they want and alot when the turn signal is used. As of late they come on very often and is very distracting while driving. Today they were so unpredictable that they almost caused an accident with me and my 2 small children in the car.

- South Williamsport , PA, USA

problem #9

Mar 152009


  • 120,000 miles
Back glass breaking upon shutting door, drviers door

- Whitesburg , GA, USA

problem #8

Dec 042009


  • 840,000 miles
We lifted up the rear glass on our 01 Ford Explorer and it completely shattered. The whole back glass is now gone. Ford did a recall but only included 02 - 04 vehicles. They've had almost one million recalls for this particular problem however they said that it doesn't matter because the recall is only for cars made from 02 to 04. This seems somewhat frivolous.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #7

Apr 132009


  • 117,000 miles


I popped open the rear lift gate window of my 2002 Ford Explorer, and as it did not open fully, I pushed it upward slightly out the way. The gate window assembly collapsed, shattered, and fell on my head. Fortunately, I was not injured, but it was unnerving to say the least. Investigating further, I see that this is actually not an uncommon occurrence: something needs to be done, and soon, our somebody is going to get blinded or worse.

- Fredericksburg, VA, USA

problem #6

Feb 272009


  • miles
I open up my back hatch to get my bags out and as I was getting my bags out of the back the window exploded all over me.. class got in my neck and on my back thank god I had a hat on or my face would of got all cut up.. something needs to be done this has happen to many people. There is not reason for this, someone is going to get hurt very bad.. what has to happen someone lose a eye before something is done.. I am not waiting I am getting a lawyer.

- Dixie, WA, USA

problem #5

May 232005


  • 70,000 miles
Crack developed in area below lift gate glass. Now the door ajar light goes on and off, as well as the buzzer. The glass does not shut properly and is inoperable and the area below the glass has completely fallen away.

- Friendswood, TX, USA

problem #4

Apr 042008


  • 82,545 miles


Right below the rear window cracked from window down to the bottom of door. (top half) I thought at first that someone must have tried to break in using a pry bar. Went through the car wash and when I came out I noticed the crack. Pissed me right off..I hate driving damaged cars.. this was not called for..why did it crack?

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #3

May 172008


  • 101,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that after several attempts to open the lift gate she was able to open it, as a result, the hinge broke and the bar that held the glass broke then the glass shattered. As of May 27, 2008, the dealer had not repaired the vehicle. The failure and current mileages were 101,000.

- Linden, MI, USA

problem #2

Jul 232006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
Bought 2002 Explorer in 2003 with 12,000 miles. Servicng dealer replaced transmission and torque converter under warranty @ 32,000 miles after O/D light started flashing. Now needs another transmission @ 54,000 miles. Car has always been serviced, driven lightly, never towed, never abused. Dealer will not pay or help out one bit. Ford knows 2002 Explorer have defective transmissions and rear ends, is ignoring problem, leaving consumer to absorb cost! have also had to replace timing chain tensioner, rear windshield wiper assembly, air conditioning unit under warranty. Front and rear wheel bearings needed replacing- out of warranty. Rear end is making classic "humming" sound that Ford is also ignoring-pinion gears.

- Marcellus, NY, USA

problem #1

Jul 202004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,131 miles
13jan03-rear windshield washer inoperative reinstall rear washer hoses. 5nov03-clicking noise from rear A/C; replace motor assembly temperature blend. 5nov03&13nov03-L/R power mirrors inop; fuse blows; replaced mirror rear view outside sail mount 13nov03-fuel guage inop read 1/2 tank but tank was full; 20nov03-instrument cluster fuel gauge inop; 24nov03-removed and replaced instrument cluster; 18mar04-fuel guage inop & L/R power mirrors inop, fuse blows; could not duplicate problem at this time about fuel guage; tested bce for short, traced to mirror switch, replaced switch and blown fuse; 20 July 04-L/R power mirrors inop; replaced fuse; 20 July 04 - rear winshield washer inop; access washer hose and reconnect; 20 July 04- air conditioner not cooling properly; replaced blower motor for poor operation; motor assembly-heater-A/C blower replaced. 20 July 04 - mechanics broke the drivers door switch cover- 23 July 04 -reordered door panel and replaced drivers door switch cover.

- Hopewell, VA, USA

Not what you are looking for?