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 4 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #42

Dec 112008


  • 950,000 miles


Ford Explorer O/D flashing and check transmission coming on it was at the Ford dealer for 3 weeks they said it was my PCM and now they are saying it a wiring problem but my car is doing the same thing it was before I took it to them.

- Detroit, MI, USA

problem #41

Jan 022005


  • 68,000 miles
It started very early after buying the 2002 Ford Explorer...electrical prob..couldn't get veh started...100 miles away from home dealership....towed to closest Ford dealership...fixed; or so we thought. Same thing happened a week later. Home dealership advised us that the other dealership installed the wrong part and it could have caused life-threatening problems....we contacted the other dealership and advised them what our home dealership said...of course the dealership denied this...anyway...home dealership installed new part...veh ok....then wheel bearings had to be replaced in front 1st left side-then right. (this was after the rear end was replaced) boy, was that a major fight with the home dealership! now! the transmission is gone!!!!! isn't there something we can do" Ford has been using defective parts!!!!and now asking for government money??"!!!!Ford should be paying for this!

- Hamptonville, NC, USA

problem #40

Oct 162008


  • 150,000 miles
Battery died on 2002 Ford Explorer. Installed new battery and 4 wheel drive module quit working. Bought new part for $202. Fixed problem with new part. Obviously the realized the defect and refuse to do recall.

- Lisle, NY, USA

problem #39

Aug 092008


  • 110,000 miles


Reading the forums and many people have been having problems with their Explorer 4X4. I have the same problem. Seems like if you disconnect the battery or your battery dies so does your control module for the 4X4. Mine stopped working when that happened. That is when my 4X4 selector switch lights stopped working and my 4X4 was not engaging. Seems like Ford needs to recall this part. I got a new control module and it started working again. Could be dangerous in winter time for this type of vehicle to have no 4X4.

- Wyoming, MI, USA

problem #38

May 122007


  • 955,000 miles
Door ajar constantly on. Interior dome light front and cargo come on and off for minutes at a time. Beeps and chimes sporadically for no given time or reason while driving, stopping, turning or any other action. A distraction to driving; especially dome lights at night and beeps/chimes which can also interfere with radio sound output and attention. Has been in and out of dealer with no result. Have provided other online complaints to service manager regarding same issue with no result.

- Cutler Bay, FL, USA

problem #37

Jun 302008

Explorer 4WD

  • 35,000 miles
Purchased a 2002 Ford exp eddie bauer ed used with 35,000 miles. Transmission had to be repaired within 3 weeks due to 4WD malfunction covered by warranty. Passenger side window motor assembly has been replaced once, and window regulator has been replaced once, and is in need of a second replacement. Took to local dealership and was told window was not meant to be lowered halfway. The rear hatch has also cracked completely down from window to lower panel. Dealership will not acknowledge issues with this occurring, but upon further research have found this to be a common problem with this vehicle make and model. Overdrive light blinks continuously and dealership reports it to be a malfunctioning electrical switch repair cost at around $400. Have continued to drive vehicle, but will no longer drive vehicle after discovering that this is a precursor to transmission failure. May possibly trade-in this vehicle and lose monetary value for private sale. Will not be responsible for selling this vehicle to a private party and risk injury to next owner. Shame on Ford for not taking care of their customers.

- San Angelo, TX, USA

problem #36

Jan 032007


  • 0 miles


My dashboard has digital mileage/ temp and trip....however, since I got the SUV in December of 2007, the cluster that shows that information has not been up. The dealership I bought the SUV from refused to have it fixed and I need to know what I can do without spending alot of money.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #35

Jul 072008


  • miles
Parked my SUV in the driveway after a short trip and the horn began to blow. As I investigated the noise I opened my door to find smoke rolling out uncontrollably. I ran inside to call 911, by the time I hung up the phone my entire truck was engulfed with flames. This just happened today, so I do not know what will be done about it. But this was caused by some defect in the vehicle.

- Perry, MI, USA

problem #34

Jun 072008


  • 129,000 miles
Progressively worse, starting in June 08. Door ajar light comes on randomly when driving, plus the interior lights come on and off (flicker, dangerous if driving at night), bells go on/off, and the doors lock and unlock (never sure which they are). If not driving, the alarm goes off randomly.

- Enumclaw, WA, USA

problem #33

Mar 262008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT, a couple weeks ago I went to open the back lift glass, and the window fell, and combustion in thousands of little pieces, right in my face! I have pictures, anyway I proceeded to take my vehicle to Ford Motor Company in horseheads, NY, they replaced the window due to the explosion, and I have had my truck back there 4 times because they wired it wrong, and they refuse to fix this problem, if my wiring from the back windshield to the dash of my truck does not get fixed I am sorry to say that I will be forced to obtain an attorney for Ford! please help!!!!!!

- Elmira Heights, NY, USA

problem #32

Oct 132007

Explorer 8-cyl

  • miles


Bought the car used in Sept. 2007. A month and a half later, had to replace rear passenger wheel bearing. A month after that, we had to replace the driver side rear wheel bearing. Driver door window motor went a week after the wheel bearings. ABS light is on. Also had to replace two coils in the electrical unit. Put approximately $3,000 into car since purchase in less than eight months.

- Elderton, PA, USA

problem #31

Mar 152008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Door ajar light stays on and causes dome lights to flash on and off and chime while driving. Car alarm goes off randomly for no apparent reason. Have talk to Ford they tell me I need to bring it in while this is all happening so they can figure out what's going on. Car never seems to do it at a time I can take it in.

- Puyallup, WA, USA

problem #30

Sep 012007

Explorer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles
At 110,000 miles both rear passenger windows stopped working. A trip to the dealer said both windows needed new cables and it would cost $1,000. Windows won't go up or down.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #29

Apr 222007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,503 miles
2002 Ford Explorer caught fire. Consumer stated that the vehicle caught fire while his mother was visiting his sister in a different state. No attempt was made to repair her vehicle and rental cost them $600 out of pocket. Prior to the fire, the consumer asked the mechanic to inspect the vehicle, because warning lights were coming on and going off intermittently. The consumer had a list of documentation relating to electrical issues. The vehicle had to get a jump several times, the vehicle would hesitate when first starting up. The brake lights were stuck, the dealer replaced the brake pedal switch. The cruise control was inoperable so the dealer replaced the brake light switch. The alternator and wheel bearings were replaced.

- Canandaigua, NY, USA

problem #28

Jun 282007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,200 miles
This 2002 Ford Explorer eddie bauer abruptly stops while driving at any speed without any notice or indication that the ignition will fail to keep the car running. This car has been to two Ford dealerships and one reputable and established independent automotive repair shop. This car was at a Toyota dealership for almost 30 days and this car was returned to me with this potentially fatal defect still undiagnosed. None of the aforementioned dealerships could determine the true underlying problem. At the Toyota dealership a brand new starter was installed because of a no start condition showing no power to the starter and blown fuses for the injectors, fuel pump, and the computer. The same defect showed itself one day later after traveling over 70 miles with no sign of failure.

- Portage, IN, USA

problem #27

Nov 222007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles
On 11/22/2007 my 2002 Ford Explorer burned, it is a total loss. The fire originated inside the center console. Vehicle was running when smoke first appeared, engine was immediately shut off. Flames erupted within 3-5 minutes from the time smoke first appeared.

- Wayzata, MN, USA

problem #26

Oct 172007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 147,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle alarm sounds throughout the night while the vehicle is parked and shut off. While driving, the doors lock and unlock, the ceiling lights flicker on and off, and the door ajar buzzer chimes intermittently. The dealer has not been notified. The current mileage was approximately 150,000 and failure mileage was approximately 147,0000.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #25

May 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles
After owning for a week and a half, had to have the G ears in the rear end replaced. Later informed that the tires were not evenly worn which was causing the rear end to pop. After replacing the tires, the four wheel drive would not work. The 4 X 4 module and the wiring need to be replaced, costing $1000. That is not including the driver window switch needing to be replaced as well as the window regulator. Now there is an electrical problem coming from the dash. Unable to figure out what it is yet.

- Garfield Heights, OH, USA

problem #24

Dec 232004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
At 74000 miles our transmission went out completely while we were on vacation! the dealership where we bought the vehicle, said that "we were the only one's who have had this problem" (yeah right!) it cost us $6000 out of our pocket to fix. At 86000 miles the rear window cracked right below the window. Ford and the dealership refuses to fix it. Again, stayton Ford told us that, "we were the only people who have had this particular issue." At around 85000, 95000 and 105000 miles, the rear seals leaked. We were promised each time that they would last "for at least 50000 miles." We were always a few miles away from getting them replaced for free since they're limited warranty is only good for 10000 miles. At 111000 miles the electrical system went "haywire." Even when all of the door and hatch are closed, the dome light continues to go on and off (making it hard to drive at night) because it senses that a "door is a jar." Sometimes, the key pad that's located on the drivers side window sets off the alarm when we push the first number on the key. Totally unreliable vehicle that I'm afraid to drive!

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #23

Nov 052006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Ongoing shifting and slipping within the transmission. Also a loud shrill at the end of the acceleration. The transmission converter has been replaced multiple times and the transmission leaked out fluid at highway speed. After the repair of a stripped transmission line connector and a pile of glue to fix a broken electrical connector the vehicle was returned to service by the dealership and the warranty company. The converters are "remanufactured" which have been known to fail. The glob of glue on the electrical connector will be reviewed by the state as to the proper repair procedure. A law suit may follow due to separate repairs including a tire with a nail, where a new tire was purchased and a used on was installed (bf goodrich). The tire was also not balanced and was off by 1.5 oz. There was also a gasket removed from the cooling system that caused antifreeze to spill out onto the engine. The cooling system had been serviced two months prior and was never leaking until the day the vehicle was returned. There was also the discovery of the positive electrical harness to the starter having exposed wires due to the oil filter drain housing made of plastic rubbing against the wires. There are three wires exposed and there may be the potential for fire.

- Howell, MI, USA

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