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 1 of 6)

problem #102

Jan 042010


  • 74,000 miles


Well the electrical has to do with doors and window controls and locks and driver gaugepanel sensors having never worked properly. The body issue has to do with failed paintand polymercoatjngs along with cracked body panel on rear liftgate.

- Macon, GA, USA

problem #101

Dec 282016


  • 126,000 miles
Door ajar light is always on and alarm goes off constantly from it. Seat belt light is always on even when seat belts are in use. ABS light is always on and off. Always issues with heat and coolant.

- Maspeth, NY, USA

problem #100

Nov 132016


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving various speeds, the door ajar warning indicator illuminated, which caused the door locks to consistently lock and unlock. The failure caused the battery to drain and the security alarm to sound. The dealer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 120,000.

- Wilson, NC, USA

problem #99

Aug 082016


  • 208,000 miles


The door locks lock and unlock all by themselves dozens of times in a row while I am driving. With this the dome light flashes off and on and the door ajar light flashes and the interior chime goes off constantly. All of this happens at the same time. This is a huge and common issue with thousands of forum posts by other owners who have spend countless $$ at mechanic's to no avail. This can cause wrecks at night it is very distracting. Especially the dome light. Why is Ford ignoring this obvious safety design flaw? liability is yours.. there are too many complaints of this same problem for you to claim you are not aware. If someone gets car jacked while locks are freaking out you might get sued. It happens the most if someone is in passenger front seat.

- Gallatin, TN, USA

problem #98

May 172016


  • miles
I just bought my vehicle on 5/17/20 at a lot called grant motors 2744 fowler St fort myers fl, 33901 during the daytime, they keep pushing, and pushing me to buy it took my id to copy we left without my id, had another vehicle I wanted to buy but had to go back to grant to get id, when pete started at us again and keep coming down on price, till my brother told me it was worth it to buy it, so I did, well during the day in bright sunshine you couldn't see the taillights, nor the dashboard lights, and as driving it home turned on radio to listen to it, all's it would do is flicker, wouldn't change stations, wouldn't do nothing at all, and they put a carfax folder on my dash for me to read at home, that is when I seen the info about the recalls and figured it had something to do with my lights outside and in the dash and the stereo not working at all. Them my brother said he wondered why they continued to drop the price to way more then they first asked for as if they new ahead of time the issues and didn't tell us about any of it. So could someone please let me know what is going on, I now have nothing to drive and no money to buy another I'm old raising two grandbabies one with autism, the other with bipolar please help me out. Sitting in walmart parking lot, and in motion to go home family had to stay behind me to get home safely,

- North Fort Myers, FL, USA

problem #97

Feb 112013


  • 30 miles
My power steering stuck caused a wreck!!

- Hot Springs Village, AR, USA

problem #96

Apr 212015


  • miles


My alarm system go off all time I don't know what to do.

- Henning, TN, USA

problem #95

Feb 082016


  • miles
Two weeks ago for no reason my air bags deployed while I was driving. I contacted Ford and couldn't get any help from them at all. I was leaving work in Virginia.

- Hyattsville, MD, USA

problem #94

Feb 112016


  • 130,000 miles
I was driving my Ford on the highway and the next thing I know my feet were really hot and black smoke started coming up. Then the black smoke started coming from the engine and I nearly crashed trying to get to the edge of the highway before the fire took over the whole front of the car. Luckily the fire department was right there for another accident. It was incredibly disturbing experience. Luckily my 3 small children were not in the car.

- Jupiter, FL, USA

problem #93

Dec 292015


  • miles
Both rear coil springs broke. Replaced front and rear wheel bearings replaced ball joints replaced transmission has now failed and is now undependable. May fail with out warning no accidents, any of the above could have resulted in an accident Ford is aware of all of the mentioned problems and refuses to rectify the problems. This is a wide spread problem with all 2002 Ford Explorer.

- Pearisburg, VA, USA

problem #92

Jul 102015


  • 155,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the door ajar warning light illuminated while the doors were closed. As a result, the battery became inoperable due to the failure. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 155,000.

- Mccarley, MS, USA

problem #91

Jul 012015


  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While at a traffic light, the vehicle stalled without warning. The contact was unable to restart the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for diagnostic testing. The contact was informed that there was an electrical fire in a wiring harness leading to the fuse panel. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified, however, the contact was not offered a remedy for the failure. The failure mileage was unavailable.

- Grand Terrace, CA, USA

problem #90

Jun 172011


  • miles
My gear shift broke as I was putting into gear and it just fell into my hands it broke into two half a piece that should not broke and as I was going somewhere the truck just starting going crazy the lights was flashing on and off the alarms was going of the lights flashin, sometimes in the middle of the night the alarm just goes off on it on we see all this happen and no one is by the truck no cats dogs nothing.

- Columbus, GA, USA

problem #89

Jun 142014


  • miles
Alarm started going off and the back gate door became unlocked without anyone being in or near the SUV Saturday night June 14,2014. It continued off and on every twenty minutes, then ten minutes. This was at night about seven O'clock. It stopped. The next day on Sunday after coming back from a religious meeting it started going off again with an error message stating that the rear back door was open. It was and I didn't open it. I opened and closed every door after using the panic button to stop the alarm. It starts with the lights coming on in the front of the SUV, then the alarm will start beeping very loudly without stopping. This goes on for about a good hour every day since with you going out there to turn it off with the panic button. I did some research to find out what is making this happen and I was amazed and shocked at how many 2002 Ford Explorer and other Ford cars, trucks, and SUVS has this problem. It is a very dangerous problem because no one knows how to stop it and it ends up with you having to leave your doors unlocked to stop the alarm from going off and killing your battery. I have limited resources and I want to know why Ford has not addressed this problem since it affects so many people. I don't wish to die before something is done about this dangerous problem. I don't want my family or me worrying about my safety because if anyone finds out my SUV is unlocked, I could be accosted, or robbed or killed and nothing will be done about it because the auto insurance people say your car has to be locked. Please address this dangerous problem with Ford since no one else seems to care because I know for a fact the Ford people don't. by the way it going on now! thank you.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #88

Jun 122014

Explorer 8-cyl

  • miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer and it has not been wrecked and I had the light that come on in my dash and they said that my seat belt pretentioner was gone in my seat belt.

- Staley, NC, USA

problem #87

Feb 202014


  • 166,000 miles
It is having trouble shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. Engine revs up to and over 4,000rpms and slams into the gears.

- Ringwood , NJ, USA

problem #86

Nov 012011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
I can not drive with all the alarms and locks and overhead light going off and on the whole time I'm driving. It is torture, loud and scary!!!

- Kennesaw, GA, USA

problem #85

Jan 012012


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated the overdrive light illuminated, the rear passenger window cannot be opened and the alarm system engaged on its owns. The contact replaced the drivers door electrical sensor; however, the electrical system failure was not corrected. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 150,000 and the approximate current mileage was 180,000.

- Taylorsville, NC, USA

problem #84

Oct 172013


  • 107,315 miles
The 2002 Ford Explorer has a design flaw such that the rear panel cracks. When moisture gets in it causes electrical problems. The six problems experiences on this Explorer are as follows: 1) false "door ajar" indicator 2) rear window wiper no longer worked 3) dead battery 4) back-up warning signals no longer work 5) rear window can no longer open 6) brake lights won't turn off even after the engine is turned off. We had to disconnect the battery and take it to the dealership the next day.

- Humble, TX, USA

problem #83

Sep 052013


  • 189,294 miles
I bought a used 2002 Ford Explorer in April of this year at a used car lot. It was a beautiful blue SUV in remarkable good condition. I had it four months, and it caught on fire while at a stop sight on my way home from a shopping strip twenty miles from my home. It started smoking and while I was fumbling for my purse to get my cell phone to call for help, it caught fire and bystanders on the thoroughfare pulled me forcefully from the car, and then called the fire department. It was a total loss when the entire hood caught fire and melted. My garage mechanic, who had just seen the car, told me that he could see no reason why it would have caught fire. Can you help me?

- Oklahoma City, OK, USA

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