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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
78,712 miles
Total Complaints:
6 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace freeze plug (2 reports)
  2. not sure (1 reports)
  3. replace intake manifold (1 reports)
  4. replace radiator (1 reports)
  5. replace tubing (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer cooling system problems

cooling system problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #6

Mar 052013

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles


The car leaks coolant like crazy. Thermostat housing was bad and replaced it thinking that was it. It wasn't and it was still leaking. Probably burning it, but I cant say for sure yet.

- , Findlay, OH, USA

problem #5

Nov 092012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,069 miles

Loss of coolant, thankfully one of the easier-to-get-to freeze plugs, so this one not as costly as it could have been.

- , Brentwood, TN - Tennessee, USA

problem #4

Feb 012011

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

The manifold is made of plastic and a small break in one side on the seal caused the whole thing to be replaced. It should not be made of plastic.

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #3

Jan 052009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles


I had a leak for about a month that seemed to get progressively worse. I finally determined that it was coolant leak and took it to the dealership for further inspection. After charging me $95.00 to diagnose the problem, they came back and told me that the coolant was leaking from a freeze plug, but it was behind the intake and they'd have to tear down the engine to get to it ($395 for labor) after which they would replace the freeze plug (a $7 part) for an additional $107. I also agreed to let them do a coolant flush for $120 since everything was opened up. The problem was fixed, but those *@%&suckers pulled another $700 out of me. More shi#@y Ford engineering. This just adds to the long list of problems I've had with this vehicle.

FORD= Fix Or Repair Daily!!!

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #2

Jan 012006

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I have had many problems with this vehicle - I now call it my FORD EXPLODER

I had it in for a rear end problem and mentioned that I wasn't getting good heat from the heater.

My sons father-in-law whom I trust looked at the radiator and found a defective factory weld but once again - FORD WOULD NOT BACK THEIR PRODUCT.

- , Jerome, MI, USA

problem #1

Mar 192007

(reported on)

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,206 miles

Found puddle of antifreeze on garage floor. The tubing was leaking around the brackets. This has happened twice and once with the air conditioner.

- , Tustin, MI, USA

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