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 5 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #22

Apr 252005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles


Experts determined that the right side of the left front drivers seat suffered an electrical fault, resulting in a fire which totaled the vehicle. However, the interior cabin fire was extinguished, preserving the remainder of the seat and adjacent center console burn area. Occupants were able to escape the vehicle and avoid personal injury. A year and a half later, Ford still refuses to accept responsibility for the malfunction, and the case is in litigation.

- Gettysburg, PA, USA

problem #21

Aug 082006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles
Bought my 2002 Ford Explorer new. At 90000 miles, the mileage gauge went out and Ford dealership told me it would cost $600 to repair. My local repair shop told me that this problem is common with Ford Explorer and Expedition of the same year.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #20

Jul 182006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
: the contact stated while attempting to roll down the driver's side front window, the window would not go down and the smell of smoke appeared. The smoke was coming from the console area on the driver's side door. The vehicle was pulled off of the road until the smoke subsided. The dealership has not been notified.

- Lithonia, GA, USA

problem #19

Jun 052005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Automatic door lock system.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #18

Jun 092006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
On or about November 3, 2005, I purchased a break model used Ford Explorer XLT 2002 from norm reeves Honda car dealer in cerritos, ca. The car had 78,000 miles on it at the time of purchase. I signed the papers and took the possession of the car. It has not been more than 2 months that the car started giving me trouble on the pick up of the speed, transmission, gear adjustment, over use of the gas, difficult high altitude driving even after change of gears, air suction into the engine and transmission, accelerator and signs like service engine soon on the front panel, although I have been getting regular lube and tune on the car after every 3000 miles. While driving the, occasionally, the car gives a thundering noise on the tires as if it is dragging itself and running on the road. This makes me fear that my car is not safe for me to drive! the norm reeves Honda super store car dealer knew that the car is defective and they simply wanted to get rid of a used 2002 Ford Explorer XLT vehicle from the fleet as they primarily sell Honda cars and similar vehicles. Despite repeated requests, the norm reeves Honda super store and their sister company Ford of cerritos refused to provide service on the car since I stopped payments on the car loan. Other Ford car dealers have test driven this car and observed the same defects as I have mentioned. My purpose of writing this complaint with the NHTSA is to request the intervention of NHTSA immediately as the questioned vehicle is likely to endanger my life on the local roads and/or on highway/freeways. Due to major defects in the car, I can meet with a serious accident and can be crippled or suffer such pecuniary losses that are irreplaceable and/or I can die also with out any fault of mine. Please recall Firestone tires V. Ford Motor Company case law. Criminal charges against norm reeves Honda, Ford of cerritos and their ceos to follow. Please contact me and the dealers asap. Respectfully submitted, amardeep singh gill.

- Cypress, CA, USA

problem #17

Apr 242006


  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer. Failed transmission, starter, rear wheel bearings, airbag, pinion, electric window. Now loud sounds from rear of car.

- Eden Prairie, MN, USA

problem #16

Jan 262006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


: the contact stated the air bag light intermittently illuminates. The vehicle was seen by a dealer. The service department determined both front seat belts needed to be replaced due to the integrated air bag/seat belt system. The entire front seat belts were replaced accordingly but the air bag light later illuminated. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer. The service department suggested replacing the seat belts again. Updated 3/3/2006 - the consumer has also had to replace the rear washer motor, odometer and has had problems with the automatic door locks.

- Cheshire, CT, USA

problem #15

Feb 132003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLS. At 24,000 miles, transmission would not shift into gear:transmission needed to be rebuilt. At 26,000 miles, load whining heard from rear of vehicle. Brought to dealership on three occasions to complain and was told they "could not duplicate the noise" and "it is how it is supposed to sound". on the third return, I produced seven pages of documented complaints from other owners found on this web site and others. They decided that now they might know what the problem is and replaced the rear differential and drive shaft. Problem was fixed for the next 30,000 miles but is now displaying the same noise and is "clunking" in to drive and reverse. Separate problem with the daylight running lights, they flash like an emergency vehicle till I turn the head lights on. I did not notice till I was pulled over by a sheriff and questioned as to why I had emergency lights installed on my vehicle. On a positive note, I do get through traffic jams a lot faster now.

- Marietta, NY, USA

problem #14

Jul 022005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,000 miles
The consumer states 2002 Ford Explorer quit while going 60 mph. Starteds back up. Vehicle was towed to the dealership. This occurred on July 2, 2005. The vehicle had been running fine although consumer took it back after he purchased it to have the idle looked at. He never thought it ran quite right. Dealership stated the pmc, main computer, was the problem. This was replaced but, the manufacturer had to be called to get it programmed correctly. Consumer stated that it looked like they had to try two different computers in the vehicle, and Ford had to be called 3 times.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #13

Jun 272005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,700 miles
Electrical system near left rear wheelwell began clicking for no apparent reason after 42 months and about 37,000 miles of ownership. Constant loud click makes it impractical to drive vehicle or ride in vehicle. Vehicle taken to mechanic who determined it is an electrical failure in the air conditioning system. Mechanic has been unable to fix the problem.

- Alameda, CA, USA

problem #12

Jul 022005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles


Right, rear electric window failed for no apparent reason after owning vehicle for 42 months and 37,000 miles. Window will not rise. Vehicle taken to mechanic for repair.

- Alameda, CA, USA

problem #11

Jun 122004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,364 miles
Vehicle caught on fire because of Ford speed control deactivation switch also called brake pressure switch.I know that they do have a recall on 97-02 Ford Expedition Navigator and F-150, same switch on 97-02 Ford Explorer.

- Far Rockaway, NY, USA

problem #10

Feb 012005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving the automatic door locks would unlock by themselves.

- Pelham, GA, USA

problem #9

Feb 042005

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles
Door ajar light remains on despite all doors being secured. When you engage the door locks from inside the vehicle, the drivers side lock will disengage after a few seconds. When you lock doors from outside the vehicle (with the remote), the chime will beep two times as if there is a door open. Now the interior overhead light remains on. After much investigation the GEM module is defective.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #8

Jul 072004


  • miles
On 9/27/03 it was necessary to replace a faulty sensor on my 2002 Ford Explorer that caused the ABS warning light to activate. The mileage on the vehicle at this time was 15.851. On 02/14/04 at 22966 miles this same sensor had to replaced for the second time. On 07/07/04 at 30479 miles this same sensor was replaced a third time. Having the same item replaced three times in 10 months seems to be more a pattern of faulty design as opposed to coincidence.

- Warren, PA, USA

problem #7

Jul 102004

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
When pulling light or heavy load, vehicle jerks and then stalls out when vehicle apparently tries to shift down or is at speed where vehicle may be near shifting down. Vehicle actually dies and must be restarted by turning off key and then it quickly starts.

- Lisbon, ND, USA

problem #6

May 042004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,300 miles
The vehicle would not shift from park to drive. It turns out that there was an electrical short causing fuses to blow while driving. The fuse that had blown most was the fuse for my brake lights. I was driving without brake lights several times, unknowingly. The first dealership that I took the vehicle had the truck for 3 days and said that the alarm system was causing the short. The alarm system was installed by the selling dealership. I was sent away from the dealership with bigger (higher amp) fuses in my fuse box, a few extra fuses, and the knowledge of how to over-ride the shifter lock if the fuse was blown. After driving the vehicle for approximately two and a half weeks, most of the time without brake lights, I was able to take the it to the dealership that I purchased the vehicle from. This dealership happens to be about 90 miles from my current residence. The other dealership found the real problem. The wiring harness had to be replaced because apparently, some of the wires got too hot, melted the insulation, and fused themselves together. The vehicle was in the shop for 9 days. Ford also claims that I shouldn't worry about any damage that may have been done to the electrical components in my vehicle due to the short and one of the dealerships putting bigger fuses in the fuse box.

- Fox Lake, IL, USA

problem #5

Feb 172004


  • miles
When using the turn signals the consumer noticed that, the turn signals would work intermittently, also the hazards would do the same. The consumer had made contact with the dealer about this issue.

- Englishtown, NJ, USA

problem #4

Apr 122004

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles
The automatic gear shift broke. Could not change gears. Electric windows stopped working both driver and passenger. Air conditioner broke - air conditioner clutch make rubbing noise when engaged.

- Lake Forest, CA, USA

problem #3

Dec 132002

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98 miles
I've owned the vehicle for approx. 10 months. The vehicle hasn't started 7 different times. I've had minor hesitations when accelerating from an idle. The vehicle has felt like it was going to stall several times when coming to a stop or accelerating from a stop. The horn, on occasion, has not made the proper sound. The door locks do not always lock or unlock with the remote. I've had a burning smell eminating from vents with heat on. I've been to the dealership, jim keim Ford, 3+ times, had a diagnostic exam done, had the Ford flight recorder installed to attempt to register problems. Nothing ever found. I've documented everything from the time of the initial problem, just went through the dispute settlement board and have been awarded a refund of money or replacement of vehicle. Document everything and don't give up!!

- Hilliard, OH, USA

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