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:
28,562 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 #8

Sep 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 500 miles


Rear end roar at highway speed and reduced gas mileage.

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #7

Mar 052005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Drivetrain problems (rear differential, front driveshaft, transfer case). 1. rear differential making whining noise. This was worked on twice with the pinion bearings replaced. Differential still making whining noise at first between 55-60 mph and now is making this noise anywhere from 45 - 70 mph. Vehicle was referred to local Ford dealership. Was told that the pinion ring gear needed replacement. Have Ford extended warranty for powertrain, but Ford will not replace parts until they completely fail. They also consider this a update which they will not fix under a recall. 2. front driveshaft causing vibration in front at speeds around 65-70 mph. Ford considers this an update and will not repair under extended warranty until it completely fails. 3. transfer case. Ford mechanic noted that he heard a clunking noise when shifting transmission from park to reverse. Ford has a tsb on this, to update the flange on the rear of the transfer case. Ford considers this an update and will not fix it until it completely fails. The transfer case would need to be drained, refilled, and then reprogrammed again. All these things are listed as covered items in my Ford extended warranty (powertrain), but Ford will not cover them since they consider them updates. They want me to fit the bill of the amount of $2400 this is how Ford is getting by from issuing a recall. I have notified my wv attorney general office, who tried working out something. That is how I received the Ford extended warranty. They could not get any results, so asked me to contact a lawyer and take them to small claims court.

- Ballard, WV, USA

problem #6

Aug 012005

Explorer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles
I am the original owner of a 2002 Ford Explorer. It makes a humming noise when driving at a speed between 30 and 55 mph; additionally the differential leaks as well. The Ford dealer told me it costs around $1,500 to replace. I have heard numerous complaints for other Explorer owners on this very same problem, yet Ford refuses to admit there is anything wrong with the part. I think it is time for a recall.

- Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA

problem #5

May 142005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles


The consumer experienced a clunking noise which the dealer reported originated from the driveshaft. Some of the drive shaft mounting bolts were missing and some were loose. The dealer repaired the moutning bolts. There was no warning of the driveshaft having missing bolts. The consumer felt that the dealer should have replaced the original bolts that had come loose. The consumer also felt that Ford should cover the cost of repairs.

- Sammamish, WA, USA

problem #4

Jun 202004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
Leased new '02 Explorer in Mar 02. Have had a warped driveshaft replaced, clunking noise in rear end area was "normal', and now at 65K miles have to replace entire transmission. Fmc of course claims no responsibility- vehicle isn't under warranty and I should take it up with dealer. Dealer says 3000 dollars to fix. Also had the stalling at highway speeds with speedometer reading between 5 and 95 mph approximately 1 1/2 years ago. Dealer found nothing wrong.

- Fennville, MI, USA

problem #3

Dec 222003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles
Drive shaft on 2002 Ford Explorer with 42,000 miles "is worn out" according to romeo, mi Ford dealership service manager. Previous compaint at 29593 miles to same dealership about loud noise when shifting (while under warranty) "could not be verified" at that time. I believe the drive shaft was defective and should be replaced without any charge.

- Shelby Township, MI, USA

problem #2

Aug 012003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Driveshaft area/rear noise-singing/hum.

- Winston, GA, USA

problem #1

Feb 192002

Explorer 4WD

  • miles
Severe vibration.

- Lake City, MI, USA

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