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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
94,264 miles
Total Complaints:
39 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace engine (14 reports)
  2. not sure (12 reports)
  3. replaced the timing chain (9 reports)
  4. fix engine and sell (3 reports)
  5. dont buy a ford (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #19

Nov 192009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4X4 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles


The problem two after i payed it off, drive home I started hearing lifter noise, so after I got home I opened the hood . Not hearing anything, I shut it off. that was the late time that engine ran. After having it checked I was told I needed a timing chain. The cost of repairing the problem wasn't worth it, to look for a new motor. That was the craziest thing, I'd ever heard. I've replaced a lot of timing chains, and never heard of a timing chain doing that much damage to an engine, that you need to replace the whole engine. I've owed alot of Ford trucks and cars, and i'll never buy another one. So I went out and got 2010 Toyota, even with the problems with the run away motors. I have a Toyota pick-up I bought used best running truck I ever owed. Ford Motors need to step-up and repair this problem.

- , New Kensington, PA, US

problem #18

Jan 072010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,000 miles

my wife got up that morning to start the truck and it made a loud sound she said, and did not drive the same.i checked under the hood and heard a loud raddling sounds coming from the engine.i am a mechanic,so i knew right away what was going was a bad timing belt and tensioner.i like fords ,but if i got to keep replacing timing belts,i will go buy me a Toyota,the H _ _ _#@ with ford.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #17

Sep 072009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

This one I blame on my wife, she bought the POS just before we met and has nothing but problems with it. Just this past sunday she headed out to go to work and started it, only to find it crunch and shudder then die with no return. Then promptly wakes me up to tell me so. I tried to turn over the motor with a breaker bar NOTHING F@#KING MOVED but the crank bolt is loose now! I have been pricing motors, they go from 2000 and up. I will not buy a salvage motor, due to the chances of it happening again. After reading this section I came to the conclusion that the motor is junk and will install a crate motor, not a ford motor but i guess they are about the same though. I would never buy a F@#CKING FORD EVER. They have already circled the problem and highlighted it in blue!

- , Valley Park, MO, USA

problem #16

Mar 112009

Explorer V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 83,885 miles


After buying this car second hand, it was at the right price for a family of 5 that were in desperate need of a larger car, due to my husbands health we travel alot to the major cities for treatment of his kidney failure, thus a reliable car is needed let alone the fact we live rural and travel to town half an hour to kinder/shop/doctors ect. so when my car made a horrible knock and a clear snapping and unraveling sound and the sudden stop of the motor stuck in the middle of no where with four kids in the car and no mobile service i knew i was in trouble, but that was the easy part since then my mechanic was aware that it was most probably the timing gear so avoided working on it until i abused him, then with the diagnoses of a "buggered engine" i have been left with the choice of paying a car off i can't drive, paying the extra as i have extended warranty that covers $3000 with the quote of $5000-$10,000 to fix, I have virtually had enough and with the extra things that life has sent me to deal with I don't need this right now i need a car that works, not a f*cked up piece of sh*t that i do have... Oh so now i find out that it is a common occurrence with these vehicles, new i should never have bought a f*cking ford!!!

- , Jamieson, VIC, Australia

problem #15

Mar 102009

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

this is my Aunt's truck , and she noticed the problem one morning back in March 2009 while she was driving to work, while sitting at a traffic light she noticed a loud rattling tapping sound so she called me on the phone. and she told me about the problem, and I told her she probably has a blown engine.but when she had the car towed to the repair shop , the guy told her it was the timing chain tensioner..but when he quoted us a price for the part and the labor involved for replacing both sides front and rear, the price came to $2200.00.and to make matters worse he had already taken the engine out of the vehicle. and got STUCK BECAUSE THE MECHANIC COULDN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO REPLACE THE TIMING CHAIN/TENSIONER SET-UP. IT SEEMS FORD MOTOR CO. DIDN'T RELEASE A TECHNICAL SERVICE DATA PROCEDURE FOR HOW TO REPLACE THE TIMING CHAIN ON THOSE VEHICLES TO SERVICE TECHNICIANS OTHER THAN FORD DEALER TECHS. BUT WHEN I FINALLY GOT TO SEE THE ENGINE WITH THE VALVE COVERS OFF AND I LOOKED AT THE TIMING CHAIN SET-UP, AND SAW THAT THE PLASTIC THEY USED FOR THE TENSIONERS, RIGHT AWAY I KNEW THAT EVERY PERSON THAT BOUGHT AN EXPLORER 2002 AND NEWER IS GOING TO HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM. ITS A DESIGN FLAW THAT I FIGURED FORD MOTOR CO. HAD TO ALREADY BE AWARE OF, THEY JUST CHOSE TO DO NOTHING ABOUT IT. I ENDED FINDING AN OLDER V6 ENGINE THAT DIDN'T HAVE THAT PLASTIC TIMING CHAIN/TESIONER SETUP WITH LOW MILES ON IT AND I INSTALLED IT FOR ABOUT THE SAME PRICE IT WOULD HAVE COST FOR THE TIIMING REPAIR, AROUND $2100.00. NOW THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED.

- , Detroit, MI, USA

problem #14

May 212009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

I've had this truck for over two years and at first loved it. Over the last 12 months i've had some serious problems. Here everything that has gone wrong with it, moon roof leaked, driver side window is starting to die, replaced all wheel bearing,timing belt/tensioner, 6 disc BUILT IN CD player quit working,engine service light has come on numerous times,ABS indicator light is on and has been for 12 months ,but yet no mechanic knows why,4X4 censor replaced,alternator replaced, battery replaced. I know some of these is going to happen to any car or truck regardless (battery,alternator) but wheel bearings ($800) timing belt and tensioner ($1200) and from the looks of this site i should probably start saving for my new transmission that should according to "ford explorer problems" site be next. THANK YOU FORD.... in these extra hard economic times i would just like to extend my thanks to ford and the whole team for there extra attention to quality.

- , Ridgeland, SC, USA

problem #13

Jan 012009

Explorer XT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles


This is one of several problems I've had with this vehicle. I've had no engine trouble up to now, but have had some of the other common trouble with this vehicle (i.e. wheel bearings etc.) Woke up new years day and went out to start my truck and noticed it had a rough idle. It also had a knocking noise coming from the back of the motor after driving a few miles. Took it to Ford dealer paid the $99.00 diagnostic fee and was told the rear timing chain had jumped time. I was given 3 options: Replace front reat timing chains $2500.00 Replace Engine w/used (75k) $2700.00 Replace Engine w/re manufactured $5000.00 w/3yr or 100,000k warranty and of course I could buy a new vehicle and they would give me a $200.00 credit towards the purchase. Of course I don't agree with my local dealers price to fix it and I didn't expect it to be on the low end by taking it to Ford. Still don't know what to do.

It runs fine other than the noise and at idle so it can sit in the drive way until I get some more research done and hopefully find a less expensive way of correcting this issue. Its too bad because I love my truck.

- , Newburyport, MA, USA

problem #12

May 012007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

had the timing chain replaced and now not even a year later the new one is making more noise than the old one. once again no solution from the dealer. This is the biggest piece of crap ever made and the worse mistake i have ever made. I'll was going to buy a new shelby mustang because my first car was a mustang but i'd rather give my money to the Japanese. I am going to buy a Tundra for my everyday driver and and maybe a new skyline when they hit the market.

- , George Town, BWI, Cayman Islands

problem #11

Mar 272007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

Basically Ford Sucks. They acknowledge the problem exists, however refuse to help me out. I wasn't even sticking it to them. I asked them to help with the costs of replacing an engine because they cheeped out on a timing part, and refuse to let anyone know that this is an "issue" that they will fix if your car is under 75,000 miles.

Cost is 6500 to replace the ENGINE not fix it, because ford designs interference engines now. Good job. glad to see we use a 20 cent piece of plastic to ruin a 3500 engine.

- , Boynton Beach, FL, USA

problem #10

Feb 022008

Explorer XLT

  • Manual transmission
  • 75,873 miles

Wake up one morning and out $6500. Car was working fine and then it just freaking blew up

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #9

Feb 022006

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


Hey everyone my name is David and I have posted on here before on other problems that I have had and decided I could add to this one as well.

About a year ago I noticed a rattling noise coming from under the hood and at first thought it was the belt tensioner going bad so I replaced it. Long and behold that wasn't the problem. Yes the tensioner needed to be replaced anyways, but the noise was still there. So I let the engine run and I was listening to it, and determined that it sounded like it was coming from inside the engine, right under that stupid little plastic pillow ford has in there. Anyways I told my car to a friend of mine that used to work for ford and asked him about it and he said it was the Timing Chain Cassette. He also said that ford was going to charge out the butt to fix it. The part alone is $600 and they are going to record 17 service hours. Knowing this I said the heck with it. Now with 190,000 miles on my explorer I know that it really isn't that big of a problem. Yes i still occasionally hear the noise when the engine is cold, but i can deal with it. I think of it as a turbo or something like that when people ask. :) I'll get around to fixing it when i have the money for the part.

I don't waste my time with Ford, I fixed all the problems that I have myself. So If you have questions people, email me and I just might be able to help you.

- , Bethel, OH, USA

problem #8

Oct 222007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles

As the original owner of a 2002 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer I've a real problem with it. The vehicle has 59000 miles on it and always maintained. Looks showroom. With no warning the vehicle's timing chain broke and distroyed the engine. Repairs would have been more than a remanufactured engine with a 75000 mile warranty. I cannot believe this would happen at 59000 miles. The Ford garage is of little help other than they gave me a free rental while they replace the engine. They said to write to Ford. Big deal. Anyone know to whom I can send a letter or E-mail. After owning 12 Fords I see no reason to get another at this point. Perhaps they really don't care about market share. Our kids have cars with 100000 to 250000 miles on them(all foreign). Guess that's the answer lacking anything from Ford.

- , West Bend, Wisc, USA

problem #7

Jun 072007

(reported on)

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

Its aggravating that this is apparently a problem in 2002 Ford Explorer since 6 people have written about it just on this site. Why doesn't Ford do something about it? It's not like it is a cheap fix, it cost me $1100.00 to fix a stupid timing chain that cost $54.00 but because you have to remove the engine to fix it you're spending more on labor than on parts.

- , Princeton, LA, USA

problem #6

Aug 142007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

THANKS you guys I had 5 people look at that problem and they thought the noise was the Nylon composite intake manifold that was recalled, now I know what to bitch about to FORD

- , Streamwood, IL, USA

problem #5

Jun 302007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

i have a really annoying engine noise in my 2002 explorer that i thought was "knocking" but now i find out its the timing chain tensioner that ford has known for a long time they had a problem with. my car had about 68,000 miles on it when i first noticed the problem. as a long time ford man (we owned 9 fords over the years) i'm very disappointed to say the least. my local dealer says it will cost $1500.00 to repair this problem.

- , Halethorpe, MD, USA

problem #4

Mar 282007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

Loud engine noise sounds like a knock or rattle at idle and increaszes during acceleration. $70 just to diagnose and then learned I need a new timing chain and tensioners! I've had toyotas and hondas that I replaced them at 100K as preventative only (no noise). This is ridiculous! Am waiting for an estimate on this, but have heard anywhere from $150 to $1,150 to fix. Buyers beware...

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #3

Feb 272007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V-6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,500 miles

Have a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT that I purchased as a 2003 leftover. At about 33000 miles I started hearing a noise that sounded like an engine knock. I needed rear brakes so I made an appointment with the dealer to replace brakes and check out noise from transmission or engine area that sounded like an engine knock while excelerating in 2nd and 3rd gear. Technition indicated that the noise was probably a timing chain tensioner that would cost @ $1000./$1100.00 to fix. I explained that this was not possible because there is only 35500 miles. I'm going to get another opinion and write a letter to Ford! Any other ideas?


- , Norristown, PA, USA

problem #2

Jan 032007

(reported on)

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,000 miles

This is the third time we have replaced the belt due to it squeaking very loudly. I dont know why it's wearing but it's very annoying, maybe the tensioner is bad I don't know. but changing the belt takes care of it for about 20,000 miles. This belt should last for years. This and many other problems is why Toyota will or has surpassed Ford in customer satisfaction and sales, this is my last Ford

- , Beavercreek, OH, USA

problem #1

Jul 132006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • 74,000 miles

So irratated with my Ford!! I have wanted a SUV for a long time, I liked the Ford Explorer particularly, I've had a Ford F150 in the past that was a awsome truck, so I figured I would have good luck with that again. I WAS WRONG!! I bought my Explorer not even 3 wks ago and it is in the shop with rear differential problems and timing chain tensioner problems.... I've read enough on this site and other sites to know that there are LOTS of people with the same problem... Someone said on here that Ford has obviously got a problem with their drive train - this makes the damn thing work, you have problems here, and you are in trouble!! Not only do these problems put your truck out of comission, it puts LOTS of money out of your pocket - obviously I'm not rich, or I would have bought a new Lexus SUV instead of a used Ford. This is the thing, there are no recalls on the drive train, but, from everything I have read, there should be. If you would go to this site and post your complaints, maybe we can get Ford backed into a corner where they have to acknowledge these problems... I know that there are a few people on here that have done this already, but, unfortunately just a few of us can't get much accomplished. Please take 5 min - no more time than it took you to post your problems on here - and go to and place a complaint on their site, if we ALL do this, maybe we can get something done. In the mean time we are all screwed with crappy drive trains that are repeatedly breaking and causing us costly problems!! This sucks, I'm so damn disappointed that I don't know what to do!! Please help me make Ford do something about this!!!

- , Pampa, TX, USA

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