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:
17,500 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #4

May 122006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


My 2002 Explorer is also having the same problems which have been previously noted by other Explorer owners. The whining when reaching 50-60 km/hr, which goes away when you take your foot off the gas, the slipping and shuddering of gears and sometimes passing gear never kicks in, the ABS light comes on (usually after the truck has warmed up and it doesn't seem to happen when the weather is really cold), the ABS is now starting to act up, wherein it randomly activates itself even while on dry pavement and the brakes feel mushy when this happens. Now the locks are randomly not working. I would like to share one instance about the passing, shuddering, slipping was when I was traveling on the highway with my kids, I pulled out to pass, and when I stepped on it the truck shuddered so hard, that my daughter, who was coloring a mother' day card, actually scribbled when it shuddered, if that makes any sense. She was po'd at me asking me why did I do that and now her card was ruined. We have had the transmission in for service and were told nothing was wrong. We had the transmission fluid changed and the truck worked fine for about 2 weeks and then back to the same old problems. My husband and I are seriously considering trading this piece of crap vehicle off and we have decided that it will only be imports from now on. Ford needs to wake up and start fixing all of these problems or they will be finding themselves bankrupt in no time. I was brought up as a kid in Ford; 67 T-bird, Ford ltd, 1/2 ton truck, 3/4 ton truck, 78 Ford T-bird, Ford Taurus, my first car being a Mercury lynx, then a 93 Ford festiva, hubby owned a 93 Ford Ranger 4X4, 98 Windstar, my mom owns a 96 Explorer and so on. My friend just got rid of her 2000 Explorer which she lovingly named her 'Ford exploder'. thanks for listening to my rant and I really hope that with everyone's input that something can be done about this.

- Warman, 00, USA

problem #3

Jun 232004


  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer 1. ABS sensor light came on in March 2003. Took car to Ford dealership and they replaced it. ABS light went out for a short time. Then, Aug, 2003, ABS light came on again. Took into a dealership, they replaced the sensor. ABS light went out. But it came back on again soon afterward. In the meantime, my warranty expires. 2. failure to adequately diagnose this problem in the first place has lead to a bad rear hub assembly. Now I have a repair outside my warranty that should have been taken care of in the first place. 3. Ford refuses to acknowledge responsibility for their faulty problem. They require that I pay for a diagnosis to find out what the problem is. Being that this is related to something that they have a history on during my warranty period, they should be responsible for the repairs and costs.

- Cumberland, MD, USA

problem #2

Aug 012003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
ABS light on. It has been repaired 3 times under warranty and now is on again. The light came on at 43,000 miles.

- Bristol, FL, USA

problem #1

Jul 152003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
Anti-lock brake light comes on and you lose anti-lock brakes. The brake pedal pushes to floor was repaired 4 times already. In addition, the airbag is not operating, 2002 Ford Explorer XLS.

- Morgantown, WV, USA

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