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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 12
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
89,429 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #82

Jul 142013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 140 miles


At approximately 12:30 pm, a brief rain shower began and the windshield wipers failed to operate. After replacement of the wiper motor, and significant troubleshooting, it is likely that the GEM module is defective. There had been several days of light, moderate, and heavy rain preceding this issue, during which the automobile was not driven. After this incident, the door-ajar light stays on, the automatic door locks do not work, and there are other electrical issues.

- Augusta, GA, USA

problem #81

Aug 152012


  • 137,500 miles
The interior lights occasionally flicker when all doors are shut securely. Also the door ajar light will flicker at times as well. The alarm goes off for no reason and usually it is in the middle of the night and I am pretty sure it is related to the door ajar malfunction. There is no way to disable the factory alarm so I have had to leave my car unlocked at night just to keep it from going off and waking up the neighbors. Also we have a crack on the lift gate just below the rear window. You can see this is a common issue by looking at other Explorer around town. I have really enjoyed the Explorer up until now but it does bother me that these two issues are very common yet Ford won't issue a recall to fix these issues.

- Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #80

Jan 152013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 157,000 miles
My Ford Explorer has had so many ridiculous problems. This one is extremely inconvenient. The car has trouble shifting gears, it spins from 1st to 2nd gear and then I have to let go of the accelerator for it to shift again, it skips 3rd gear altogether and jerks into fourth after pressing and depressing the accelerator a series of times. Once it's in 4th gear, it doesn't go past 50 mph. My mechanic says his monitor detected a faulty solender and the entire pack has to be replaced, but that may not be the only problem. If that doesn't do the trick (even though it needs to be replaced regardless) he will have to open the transmission and possibly rebuild or replace some of the parts. I have encountered hundreds of other 2002 Ford Explorer owners with the same problem. Aside from this, I have a list of other dangerous issues that this car has had and that has endangered my family's and my life numerous times: - gear shift breaking off the steering column as I shifted from reverse to drive in the middle of a busy intersection. - ignition cylinder/switch breaking - possible spontaneous explosion recall related to the cruise control - rear latch breaking and inability to use the rear latch. - electrical system failure - doors not closing properly & draining the battery - faulty alarm system - faulty temperature gauge and radiator - Ford not allowing customers to buy just the parts needed for replacement and repair and forcing their customers to purchase entire packages only in order to get the necessary parts at extremely high prices. Ford should be incriminated for selling these vehicles knowing full well that they are flooded with life threatening issues to their customers.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #79

Mar 012012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles


Alarm goes off when set and no one is around, cruise control does not always work, light inside do not turn off and sometimes do not turn on, radio does not turn off when opening the front doors, but will turn off when back doors are opened.

- Longview, WA, USA

problem #78

Nov 242012

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 150,169 miles
While driving down the road my airbag light comes on. On occasion I am just thankful that my air bag has not gone off yet. Also while driving my door ajar light & dome lights come on.

- Thornton, CO, USA

problem #77

Jun 092012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 193,261 miles
Fords taillight/stop switch illuminates the brake lights, is used to disengage the cruise control and is used to enable the operator to be able to put the vehicle into gear once the brake pedal is depressed. Roughly a year ago I had some intermittent issues with trying to disengage the cruise when using the brakes plus I had trouble taking the vehicle out of park without having to step on the brake multiple times. Lastly having a friend follow me home I was told my brakes lights did not always illuminate when I was slowing down or at a complete stop! going back to my local Ford dealer I bought a replacement switch that had instructions to cut the oe's plug off of their harness and to hard wire the new switch in it's place as Ford had experienced some "issues" with those original components. Just 13 mo's later I had the same problem but this time it failed completely so the vehicle was locked in park in my driveway. Having seen recalls on several other Ford and Mercury products for a similar problem and expected Ford to give me a free replacement. However, after entering my VIN # they said there were no recalls but they would reduce their normal price from $93.44 to $76 as their compensation. Contacting my local Napa supplier I bought another switch from them for just $44.49 which resolved my problem for even less money. I returned to the dealer to report my finding and strongly suggested that they contact their Ford rep. As I believe this brake switch issue is a bigger problem then Ford is aware of or has owner up to knowing about. I was actually lucky to have the switch fail at my home as had I been on the road I could very well have been rear-ended due to my brakes lights not coming on. I question if Ford will ever take my warning seriously so I felt obligated to pass this information along to an independent source.

- Lumberton , NJ, USA

problem #76

Feb 012012


  • 130,000 miles


Door ajar light and beeping sensor is always going off, causing the doors to unlock while driving and also causing the inside dome light to turn on and off. Must drive at night without instrument lights, including speedometer, as dome light stays on.

- Brandwyine, MD, USA

problem #75

Mar 202012


  • 160,000 miles
The contact owned a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle was parked at an independent repair shop when it caught on fire. The vehicle was destroyed. The contact was informed that the fire originated due to a wire under the dashboard. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileages were 160,000.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #74

Mar 122012

Explorer 8-cyl

  • miles
Due to a defect, we had to have the transmission replaced (thank god it was still under warranty)...then had to have the door ajar sensor fixed because alarm kept going off for no reason. About two years ago we were abut to go out of town for thanksgiving. I stop at a red light, and then we try to pull off when the light changes and hear the loudest popping noises...we're wondering how in the world did the spark plug pop out with so much force that it also rips the ignition coil...(fast forward to 1yr later, same thing happens while leaving home to go to work). Once again, on March 12, while on my way to work, sitting at a traffic light. Light turns green...I start to pull off and begin hearing a popping noise...wth...not again!!! (this is the third time this has happened in 2 years). Come on Ford...fix the lemons!!!!

- Salisbury, MD, USA

problem #73

Jan 212011

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 97,000 miles
The factory alarm will go off randomly during the night. Have not been able to get this issue worked out with Ford. We have tried several times to get it resolved and each time it is fixed, the issue returns within a few weeks.

- Pembroke Pines , FL, USA

problem #72

Feb 212012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 143,000 miles


None of the windows will work, they were operating properly and just quit. This vehicle is unsafe to drive, in an emergency, (such as a crash). The occupants of the vehicle could become trapped in the vehicle because the windows would not operate. If a fire occurred the results could be tragic. Ford is aware of this problem along with several other problems on this vehicle. Yet they choose not to repair or replace any of the known defective components. My vehicle has a lot of miles on it, but this problem along with other problems on this vehicle happens on lower mileage vehicles also.

- Channahon, IL, USA

problem #71

Oct 102011

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
At a stop, began accelerating to enter highway, accelerator pedal became stuck and car continued to accelerate up to 90 mph at full throttle before I shut vehicle off and put it in neutral. Has happened on several occasions, all exactly the same. Vehicle accelerates at full throttle and has to be shut off before an accident occurs. Only way to correct problem is to exit vehicle and push gas pedal several times; start vehicle and see if engine is still at full throttle.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #70

Jan 022012


  • 122,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer that is in the shop right now with a torn down engine. I went out to start it one morning and it had a hard start then it started ticking. Come to find out it the timing chain. From what I have read online it is a very common complaint and I am really surprised that this truck has not been recalled again for this problem. I am having to pay for something that Ford made a mistake on. The pulley on the truck is plastic, and it is failing. I also have problems with my electrical parts on it. The lights inside will stay on after I turn it off and get out and if I turn on my rear defrost my truck dings and says door ajar..... this truck is awful.

- Locust Grove, GA, USA

problem #69

Dec 022011


  • 120,000 miles
Rear spring cracked at 100,000 mil transmission failed at 120,000 mil body electrical not sealed well and keeps shorting in different places cruise gets stubborn and scared to use it, im afraid of it getting stuck in cruise.

- Woodmere, NY, USA

problem #68

Oct 102011


  • 155,970 miles
The transmission started to slip in may of 2011. I had the transmission serviced and it did not correct the problem. I am unable to check the transmission fluid as it is a sealed unit no dip stick. We drove the vehicle until it no longer moves. The cost to replace the transmission is $2800 plus... there was no reason why this should have happened.

- Rome, NY, USA

problem #67

Jun 302011


  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While parked, the contact noticed flames around the radio console and the dashboard. The fire department reported to the scene and a report was filed. The cause of the fire was determined to be a failure within the radio console wires. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for repairs. The approximate failure mileage was unknown.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #66

Jun 022011

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
Sparkplug was ejected from head while driving. The plug was manufacturer specification and properly installed to the correct torque. Sparkplug hole was damaged and needed to be machined for a new plug. Creates a safety hazard while driving as well as a fire hazard as the empty cylinder forces air/fuel mixture into the engine compartment where ejected spark plug could ignite it.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #65

Jun 092010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
The side curtain airbag spontaneously deployed upon side door closure of a Ford Explorer. The vehicle was sitting after re-fueling. Concurrent with and immediately prior to the deployment of the airbag, the door alarm system was chiming that a door was ajar, and after inspection by a mechanic it was determined that the security/door warning system module has failed. Ford was sent the airbag module for inspection, and has yet to provide the results of the module inspection - after a period of more than 5 months. Further problems persist with the electronic system. The door ajar alarm continues to sound at random intervals, the interior lights flicker on and off at random intervals, and the door locks repeatedly lock and unlock, all of which cause a distracting potential safety hazard while driving.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #64

Oct 102010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 99,350 miles
Heater failed causing windows to "fog" over and decreased ability to see out windshield.

- Millerton, PA, USA

problem #63

Aug 302010


  • 64 miles
Even with a full tank of gas the gas gauge will go to "0" and the "check gauge" light comes on because the sender assembly unit of the gas gauge does not work. There had been another 2002 Explorer brought in for the same problem that morning. The part is not available and is on back order. The part cost $76.79 but the labor will be $270! this is a lot of money for us to pay due to an Ford engineering problem. Are many other 2002 Explorer experiencing the same problems? many times, because the fuel sending unit is corrupted, it will put too much fuel in injectors, which has caused my car to "bog down" especially dangerous at intersections and at hwy entrance ramps.

- Highland Falls, NY, USA

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