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.


fairly significant
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
15,146 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 body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Dec 102004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


This vehicle experienced multiple problems, and the dealer was aware of the problems. Consumer applied the brakes, and the pedal went to the floor. Vehicle swayed from left to right on its own. Consumer was able to maintain control of the vehicle. Also, door rubber panel failed to stay attached to the door. Mechanic determined that the brake problem could not be duplicated, and vehicle was operating as designed. However, the rubber panel was adjusted properly by the mechanic. Consumer informed the mechanic this problem still occurred.

- Visalia, CA, USA

problem #2

May 042004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While opening the rear door hinges broke. Consumer took vehicle to the dealer for inspection, and mechanic determined that the hinges and struts needed to be replaced, and replaced them. However, a few months later while closing the rear door the glass broke. No one was injured. Vehicle was taken back to dealer, and the mechanic replaced the window.

- Kaneohe, HI, USA

problem #1

Aug 192004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,439 miles
The hinges on the rear door popped off and shattered the glass. The glass fell onto the toddler standing by the door. The rear door was defective to the point that it could not be closed.

- Moreno Valley, CA, USA

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