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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
54,927 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 - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #10

Nov 062010

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 110,000 miles


Water and melting snow leak into the vehicle onto the dome lights, garage door opener, and sunroof switch and motor due to the sunroof drain hoses becoming clogged or developing holes in them. Water coming in contact with these items can short them out or start a fire.

- Westerville, OH, USA

problem #9

Nov 262010


  • 128,500 miles
I was traveling to mt. Washington, ky. From lorain, Ohio, ( approx. 330 miles). We stopped at the rest are at the halfway mark, between Washington ch, oh. & jeffersonvlle, oh. When we came back out, started the car, & it wouldn't go into reverse. Pushed it out of the parking spot & it wouldn't go in drive either. About 30 miles before, it made some clunking noises & it felt like we had a flat tire. I took it out of cruise control & it drove normally until the rest area. I had to have it towed to Washington courthouse & then back home on Monday, Nov., 29th, (at my own expense). Approximate cost of repair to date was $2969. I had my daughter & 6 yr. Old great granddaughter with me & I feel this could have possibly ended with disastrous results. Ford has known about these faulty transmissions probably from day 1. I'm not trying to just blast Ford, happen to be an employee. I feel they need to man up & take care of this problem before it leads to serious consequences.

- Lorain, OH, USA

problem #8

Feb 012010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 105,342 miles
Major transmission problems at 106K miles on my Ford Explorer XLT 4.0L. This was not due to poor maintenance or up keep! shifting into neutral going 75 miles an hr down the freeway, shifting out of place, rough, scary shifts, shimming from the transmission jumping allover the place is just the beginning. After 5 trips to the mechanic, first I did wires, then plugs, then updated computer, full tranny flush and finally had to rebuilt the transmission due to the solenoids in the transmission being defective and faulty per a Ford service manager in owatonna, mn. The service manager informed me that Ford was looking at making it a recall, but it wasn't the top of their priority list and maybe they would eventually get to it! he has seen many of these trucks in the shop with their "busy" transmissions, and the same issues! this was the issue all along..after all of the service appts, and money spent nothing was resolved, until the transmission was rebuilt! $4K later just for the tranny repair! for their faulty defective transmission solenoids! as if the truck didn't already cost enough! and the troubleshooting "bandaids" (which between the tranny, diagnostics, labor etc total well over $5500!!) I contacted Ford after directed to due so my (their) technician and employee of 25 yrs. I read all the posts of duplicate complaints (I see there are several other consumers in my situation!), to inform them of the money I've lost, time incurred into this headache, and all the days I went without a vehicle for my family that I had nothing to do with it was their equipment! that it was their fault! curious about what their compensation was, if any, going to be. Or what they planned on doing about it! and after several service appt, $5500 loss and numerous complaints that Ford is aware of the rep stated basically said oh well! its ur problem not ours!!! lol!

- Faribault, MN, USA

problem #7

Aug 012009


  • miles


I would like to make a complaint regarding the Ford window regulator. I know that the F150 I believe has had the same complaints. However, I currently own a 2002 Ford Explorer. Both window regulators have broke on my vehicle a week apart. I believe that since so many people are having a problem with their Ford vehicle window regulators that this should be a recall. I know that after a certain year Ford had changed the way power windows worked. Well, now the window cable on both back windows has snaped. I would like to contact Ford to make a complaint and to suggest a recall for the window regulators on the 2002 Ford Explorer. Thank you.

- Centereach, NY, USA

problem #6

Mar 302010


  • 93,000 miles
Blend door in all Ford Explorer causes no heat, icy foggy windshields!!!!

- Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #5

Oct 162009


  • 14,430 miles
I purchased my 2002 Ford Explorer in August 2002. I have been having transmission slippage gear problems since 2003. While driving my 2002 Ford Explorer my transmission will slip without prior warning and just immediately stop accelerating and often completely shuts down. I have had this happen to me since 2003 and have brought it back into the dealer more than three times. Two times they said nothing was found. In March 2004 they finally acknowledged that something was wrong, did a quick flush to the transmission replaced the torque and sent me back out with the problem still occurring. On 10/16/09 now the O/D off light began to blink and once again I brought it back in and now they say I need a new transmission. My vehicle only has 45,000 miles and they are trying to say that this problem is not a safety or manufactures defect!! are you kidding me? I have never driven off road, and with such low mileage, how could this not be a defect. I have luckily avoided several accidents when my vehicle suddenly slips gears, stops accelerating and I have to immediately throw on my hazards, and try to pull off the road immediately!! I researched online and found that nearly 800 others are having the same sort of transmission related problems and have posted them on auto beef. I really need someone to help me and look out for the honest, americans who have brought an amercian car and are being lied to and treated with no customer service or respect. This is exactly why americans are buying foreign made cars!! please help us and recall the transmission, and have the correct people held accountable...the maker, not the buyer.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #4

Nov 202008


  • 52,000 miles


Have engine problem warranty will not cover because dealer put back odometer.

- Waterbury, CT, USA

problem #3

Apr 122004

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles
The automatic gear shift broke. Could not change gears. Electric windows stopped working both driver and passenger. Air conditioner broke - air conditioner clutch make rubbing noise when engaged.

- Lake Forest, CA, USA

problem #2

May 082003


  • miles
The smell of mold is coming out of the A/C. all the dealership did was deodorize the vents. The musty odor persists. I have read that others have the same problem with their 2002 Ford Explorer.

- Boca Raton, FL, USA

problem #1

Jul 152003

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles
Vehicle runs at idle for approximately 20 with ac on either auto or recycled air. The external temperature starts to count down to 50 degrees and stays there until vehicle is traveling again. This causes the auto temp to adjust.

- Graham, NC, USA

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