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:
65,551 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 (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #11

Jun 092008


  • 114,000 miles


The vehicle is a 2002 Ford Explorer.the rear transfer case bearings wear out prematurely and can seize up while driving on the highway and cause an accident and is due to manufacturer defect.

- Oxford, CT, USA

problem #10

Jul 142008


  • 67,567 miles
My wife's 2002 Ford Explorer had a whine in the rear end since it was new and it continued to get worse with time. At about 55K miles it was so bad that we had to have the entire differential rebuilt at a cost of over $1,000. At 65K miles the engine had begun to make noise and it became much louder rapidly. The entire cam drive (timing chain, sprockets, tensioners) had been ground up. The tensioner pads had 3/8" deep grooves worn into them and there were metal shavings everywhere. The bill this time was almost $1,300. It is interesting that all the parts that were replaced were a different design than the originals. If there was nothing wrong with the original design, why spend the money to change them? of course Ford would not admit that they had a problem with the timing chain for the cams. After the timing chain was fixed there was still a noise so we took it back to the shop that did the work. With a stethoscope the noise was isolated to the bellhousing/torque converter area. We took it to a transmission shop we trust and he thought it was a cracked flex plate because that happens frequently on these vehicles and it causes that kind of noise. The flex plate was fine as was the front pump on the transmission and the starter drive. The only thing left in that area was the torque converter so we replaced that. The noise was still there. He said that the noise had to be coming from the transmission and that would be a $2,000 repair. I've had it with Ford and their "quality is job one" or whatever their current advertising lie is. This car is a lemon and they won't admit to a single thing being wrong with it. Every driveline component has had to be fixed and it only has 67K miles on it. Ford should be ashamed of the way they hang their customers out to dry. Even though I had to identify a particular date below, this car has had major problems since it was new in 2002.

- San Diego , CA, USA

problem #9

Jun 302008


  • 79,000 miles
Rear bearings on 02 Ford Explorer XLS defective.

- Little Marsh, PA, USA

problem #8

Jun 152008

Explorer 4WD

  • 84,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer limited, 4WD, 4.6L - 84,000 miles: Rear differential unit whining/roaring for a few months and getting progressively worse. I have mechanical background and looked at the vehicle on rack with mechanic. Rear differential is obviously very bad and I am lucky I did not take my family on vacation with this problem as if the wheels would have locked at highway speed it could cause serious accident/injury. I have not heard of problems such as these with regular/easy use at such low miles and with proper maintenance (as I have done). I have also replaced left front wheel bearing and am suspicious of right rear wheel bearing, which will be evaluated after repair of rear differential.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #7

May 272008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 27,389 miles
Wheel bearings and rear differential.

- Lindenhurst, IL, USA

problem #6

May 272008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 27,389 miles
Ford Explorer rear differential - replaced 3 X's over 6 years.

- Lindenhurst, IL, USA

problem #5

May 082008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles


I purchased a pre-owned 2002 Ford Explorer at the end of 2007. At the time of purchase, the vehicle had just under 60,000 miles. Around 65,000 I began to hear a high pitched howling sound coming from the rear of the vehicle. I had the noise investigated and had both rear wheel bearings replaced as a result. This did not, however, solve the problem. The noise continued and intensified. Recently, the sound began to be accompanied by a low grinding sound and a definitely perceptible 'dragging' affect. This happened just shy of 80,000 miles. After extensive research, my problem has been re-diagnosed as a rear drive train/axle problem. I have also recently discovered that this is a persistent problem with this make/model, but Ford is refusing to acknowledge/accept responsibility for the problem and the potential safety concerns associated with the rear axle seizing up during normal operation. This link: represents a list of ongoing complaints relative to this particular issue.

- Boonville, MO, USA

problem #4

Jan 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
Replace rear end in 2002 Explorer 2 times. Ford vented the differential with a tube that exits around the rear wheel well. This design allows a lot of water to get into the differential and ruins all the workings. I had it fixed and in less than a year later experienced the same problem - I now have to have the tube reworked as well as fix the bearings again. My mechanic says it is very dangerous!

- Jerome, MI, USA

problem #3

Dec 262005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,200 miles
Rear end started whining while on road trip from nashville to home. Left rear wheel started to wobble and then seized. Vehicle is not drivable.

- Leavittsburg, OH, USA

problem #2

Aug 232005


  • 30,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLS original owner 72,000 miles. Have noticed a whining humming, noise coming from rear of vehicle while driving 50-70 miles per hour. Been doing it since 30,000 miles. Dealer says possible right wheel bearing?

- Fogelsville, PA, USA

problem #1

May 312005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70 miles
Loud thumping noises coming from front end of 2002 Ford Explorer. Ford says they are normal. It didn't do this when we bought it. Also there is a loud whining noise coming from the rear end. Rear end has been replaced onced. Problem disappeared for about 10K miles after it was replaced. Wife is afraid to drive the car as we have three newborn babies.

- Murfreesboro, TN, USA

Not what you are looking for?