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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
25,600 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain 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 #5

Jan 112007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles


Wheel bearing failures-4 in a 6 month period of time-cost over $1700 too have these repairs-Ford will not help out and there customer service is a joke. I have a child that is always with me and 2 times it could have been bad.

- Milton, DE, USA

problem #4

Jun 162003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles
Front end of my 2002 Explorer made a "clicking" sound when driving and turning. On June 16 2003, Ford inspected and found both the right and left front axles were defective. They replaced them. On September 4, 2003 the same problem was occurring, Ford again inspected and found the axles put on the vehicle in June were also defective. One year later I am now having the same problem. I took my vehicle in for an oil change and the mechanic said there is a problem with the front axles. There has to be some sort of issue with this part. The potential failure of this part will lead to an accident. My family rides in this vehicle every day, someone is going to get killed.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #3

Mar 242003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,000 miles
The initial problem with the rear-end differential unit was a whining noise which the Ford dealer's service rep. Identified and immediately said it should be replaced. The new rear-end unit did not whine but within 3 1/2 months a vibration started and was returned to the dealer for a total of 6 different occasions to repair or fix this problem. Both the left and right rear axles were also replaced and another rear end differential unit was installed. At each service visit, the dealer's service manager and mechanic were completely involved and were very perplexed at the problem. My Explorer was at the dealer for about 30 days on one service visit and a total of 42 days over the 6 total service visits for this problem. Persistent fluid leaks and a recurring vibration has prompted me to submit a "lemon" letter to Ford.

- Sanford, NC, USA

problem #2

Mar 012003


  • miles
Vehicle purchased new, had a pinion noice in rear differential since purchased. Dealer changed rear differential and a week later it developed a leak due to blown axle seal. Rear differential then developed a noise when accelerating into a turn from a stoped position. Dealer added an additive to rear for limited slip unit. Noise is still there on turns but is very light. All this has occured since purchased new and 14,000 miles.

- Southbury, CT, USA

problem #1

Jul 272002

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Vibration and drone/roar sound at speeds of 64mph and greater. 4 attempts made to repair, problem still exists. Rear end assembly replaced as well as two axle shafts and drive shaft reindexed.

- St Peterburg, FL, USA

Not what you are looking for?