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:
23,500 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #2

Feb 152007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles


I just had to replace the gear and pinion assembly, axle differential gear on my 02 Explorer, a very costly repair on a 02, 47K miles vehicle. But the reason why I'm making a complaint is because I found over 100 complaints over the internet for the same year/make vehicle. I talked to a couple of different mechanics that told me that if I didn't notice the noise and replaced the parts, my rear wheels could lock while driving and I could have found myself in a very dangerous accident. So I contacted Ford about it, they responded that they were aware of the problem, but since the NHTSA didn't find this to be a life threatening problem Ford decided not to issue a recall. Possibly locking the rear wheels on a 4X4 vehicle is not life threatening"??? hundreds of consumers with the exact same problem and nothing is being done? if there are no fatal accidents from this problem yet is because people like myself will spend the $1100 to repair the problem before they risk their it worth risking someone dying so Ford can save some money" I'm outraged!.

- Hickory, NC, USA

problem #1

Aug 202003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
My husband and I purchased a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT around mid July/early August 2002. In August of 2003 I notice that my car was experiencing some clunking in the transmission. I don't know the full detail of that problem but they gave me an extra 5 year warrenty on my vehicle. Last year my family and I took a trip to Florida and my car would get this loud roaring sound at 45 miles per hour. When we returned from my trip I called to complain about it. They asked me to bring it to them but they said that it was my tires. My husband replaced the tires hoping that this would resolved the problem. (even before this problem because they requested us too). A week later my husband and I went to Texas and the sound got worse. Upon returning from our trip I was told that it was my axel. My family and I could have been killed because of their mistake. I 've had my front and rear wheel bearings, axel, axel boot, hubs bearings, emergency brake (which they say was split) replaced. I still hear a problem with my transmission but they keep telling me that my car is safe to ride in. I do not feel safe in this vehicle. I've gone to the attorney general, filed a complaint for abitration. My (prepaid) attorney has even sent them two letters advicing them to take this situation seriously. They never replied back to me or my attorney. I'm Ford plan and I really thought that I would be treated with a little more respect. I want them to be responsible and see that they sold me a "lemon". I really need some help. Thank you.

- Versailles, KY, USA

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