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:
29,594 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

problem #2

Jun 112005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,187 miles


: the contact stated the gear shift detached from the column while trying to put the vehicle in drive. There were no warning indicators prior to the problem. The vehicle was towed to the dealer who replaced the entire steering column. The manufacturer was also alerted of the problem. After the steering column was replaced the key would not fit in the ignition properly and the vehicle has been returned to the dealer for inspection today.

- Oakton, VA, USA

problem #1

Apr 112005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,000 miles
Consumer complained about transmission problems. While driving 65 mph the transmission locked. The vehicle slowed down, operating at a reduced speed, and then the engine suddenly shut off. The car coasted to the side of the road. Consumer inspected vehicle and found nothing. Got back into vehicle about 10 minutes after the occurrence, restarted the vehicle, and drove to a dealership about 5 miles down the road and the car was making funny noises. Dealership said the transmission had a solenoid problem that caused it to lock. Dealer kept car about week and a half. The solenoid valve shift was replaced along with the transmission pan and gasket. This lasted about 2 weeks and again this problem recurred. The transmission did not lock at this time but the transmission slipped. Vehicle is currently at dealer for an ignition problem. The dealer could duplicate the problem, but they do not know what was causing this.

- Downey, CA, USA

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