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:
70,500 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

Aug 182008


  • 119,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving 35 mph, the contact heard a grinding noise coming from the front end of the vehicle. He examined the vehicle and noticed that the tire was rubbing against the a frame in the front end of the vehicle. Prior to the failure, the contact noticed that the brakes were taking a longer period of time to stop the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that the cv joint and bearing hubs needed to be replaced. The vehicle has been repaired by the dealer. The current and failure mileages were 119,000.

- Lowell, MA, USA

problem #1

Apr 302003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,000 miles
Noted "clicking" noise when wheel turned at slow speed, assumed cv joints were going bad. However, dealer said that lug nuts were loose, and when tightened the noise stopped. What is notable is that the wheels have never been off, so this condition originated at the factory. Dealer says owner at fault and charged for the repairs. Owner says this a factory defect and a significant safety item and insist it be covered under warranty. At impass.

- Seattle, WA, USA

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