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:
24 / 7
Injuries / Deaths:
13 / 0
Average Mileage:
63,242 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #79

Nov 202012


  • 147,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford explored. The contact stated that while driving uphill, the vehicle suddenly emitted a burning odor. The vehicle then stalled without warning as the vehicle proceeded to roll-backward and crashed into a phone pole. The vehicle then crashed into a residential home. The contact sustained injuries to the shoulder and mouth. The front seat passenger sustained lacerations and a bruised tail bone. The person seated in the rear passenger side of the vehicle sustained injuries to the back and lacerations to the feet. The rear driver's side passenger sustained head injuries. A police report was filed of the incident. The manufacturer was contacted and advised that the vehicle was included in NHTSA campaign id number: 09V399000 (vehicle speed control) however, the contact never received notification of the recall. The vehicle was destroyed. The failure and the current mileage was 147,000.

- Revere, MA, USA

problem #78

Aug 252012


  • 175,500 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while traveling 70 mph the vehicle speed suddenly increased up to 90 mph. The contact stated that the brake pedal was very stiff and failed to stop the vehicle. As a result, the contact had to shift into park in order to get the vehicle to stop. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage was 175,550.

- Milwalkee, WI, USA

problem #77

Apr 242012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
Went to back out carport, when gas pedal was push it went to floor and stuck !, auto traveled out drive way circled a field come back and hit tree, after traveling approx 1500 ft more or less, knocked unconscious, broke dentures, neck and back injuries, concussion, total the auto a 2002 Ford Explorer...

- White Plains, KY, USA

problem #76

Mar 232011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles


2002 Ford Explorer transmission died for the second time after I had the dealership replace it, 75,000 miles ago. I am now sitting at 156000 and it is doing the same things again. This gives me such a bad taste toward Ford, and I have been a die hard Ford guy.

- Arcadia, FM, USA

problem #75

Jan 282012


  • 157,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 35 mph, the over-drive warning indicator illuminated on the instrument panel and the vehicle began to unexpectedly increase acceleration. The vehicle failed to slow down even though the brake pedal was engaged several times, as a result the contact loss control and crashed into a tree. The contact was able to drive the vehicle to a safe location. The vehicle had not been towed or repaired for the extensive front end damage. The manufacturer was notified of the unintended acceleration. The approximate failure mileage was 157,000.

- Missouri City , TX, USA

problem #74

Dec 212011


  • 160,000 miles
I am a single mother of 4 driving 55mph in heavy traffic on a 4 lane highway, with my children in the vehicle when the O/D light flashed a few times and then the transmission just stopped working, as though the vehicle was in neutral I coasted safely to a stop thank god. I took it to a Ford service center and they said it was caused by the servo boar"???? never herd of this. It used to be a seperate line that could be replaced now it is built into the transmission and the whole transmission has to be replaced. Is what I was told to me by the certified Ford service man and that there was not a problem with the old style lines but he hears of this often with the newer transmissions. Was this changed just for profit by Ford Motor Company" because with this happening without warning someone could get into an accident and be seriously injured or killed depending on the situation. I am very upset that my family was put in this situation but we got lucky. If we were only lucky enough to have the money to fix it now, it is $2,400 for the new transmission and labor.

- Bardstown, KY, USA

problem #73

Oct 102011

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 140,000 miles


At a stop, began accelerating to enter highway, accelerator pedal became stuck and car continued to accelerate up to 90 mph at full throttle before I shut vehicle off and put it in neutral. Has happened on several occasions, all exactly the same. Vehicle accelerates at full throttle and has to be shut off before an accident occurs. Only way to correct problem is to exit vehicle and push gas pedal several times; start vehicle and see if engine is still at full throttle.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #72

Jan 042012


  • 184,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that upon shifting into reverse and applying the accelerator pedal, the pedal depressed to the floor and the vehicle surged backward. The contact lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. A police report was not filed and there were no injuries. Both the dealer and manufacturer were notified and were in the process of assisting the contact with an investigation. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileages were 184,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Santa Claus, IN, USA

problem #71

Dec 172011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
While driving my car to work, I came to a stop sign at the end of my road, like I do every morning. However, on this morning, as I tried to accelerate from a complete stop, my car bogged down which left me in the road for seconds longer then was safe. There was a car speeding around the curve, and my car would not accelerate like it should. Finally, and thank god, it jammed into gear, and me and my one year old son were not injured. Also, on that same day, my car starting skipping while in first gear, which also was a safety hazard because it was jerking so hard, it was hard to keep in under control, plus it also slowed my progression across highly congested areas down, which also put my safety at risk. We took my car to the shop, and the repairman stated that my transmission was having problems with first gear and overdrive. There had been no previous warning or indicators that something was wrong with my transmission until the day of. We had the fluid checked and the engine checked. Nothing was wrong that we could have prevented.

- Webb, AL, USA

problem #70

Jul 262011

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving 55 mph the accelerator pedal would not disengage. The driver attempted to pull the accelerator pedal up with her foot but was unsuccessful brake pedal was depressed and the vehicle slowed down. The driver was able to maneuver the vehicle off of the road and crashed into a few small trees in a wooded area. The driver previously suffered from spinal injuries and experienced back and hip pain. The driver was treated by a doctor for the injuries. A police report was filed. The insurance company had the vehicle towed to an independent repair shop for inspection. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 140,000. Updated 09/21/11 updated 10/05/11

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #69

Jul 122011

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 130,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer-transmission failure-130,000 miles-July 12, 2011 transmission rebuilt at 119,000 miles on Jan. 13, 2010 by a local Ford dealer- both failures consisted of the transmission slipping in and out of gear during normal driving. In heavy traffic this is a very dangerous situation. The vehicle suddenly loses speed and passengers are subject to rear end impact or sudden surges of speed when the transmission slips back into gear, causing a possible rear end impact with another vehicle. In addition, the transmission sticks in one gear and will not shift. Ford Motor Company has been aware of the problems with this type of transmission since 2002. My local dealer says that fmc figures revealed that 30% of vehicles equipped with this transmission experienced failure of some type. However fmc offered very little relief to its customers. I believe that it is time for an immediate forced recall of this transmission.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #68

Apr 242011


  • 59,900 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while driving in reverse and then shifting the gear in park, the vehicle accelerated backward and crashed into a fence. No one was injured but the vehicle sustained minor scratches on the rear passenger and driver sides. Neither the dealer nor the manufacturer was contacted. The failure mileage was 59,900.

- Floyds Knobs, IN, USA

problem #67

Dec 312010


  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle caught on fire while parked outside of his residence. The fire department was called to extinguish the fire but by the time had arrived, the vehicle and the contacts residence were destroyed. There were no injuries. The origin of the fire was deemed as the vehicle speed control. A fire report was available. The vehicle remained in the contacts driveway. The manufacturer was not contacted to report the failure. The failure mileage was 65,000.

- Bennettsville, SC, USA

problem #66

Dec 052010


  • 76,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving 25 mph the engine surged and the vehicle suddenly accelerated. When the brakes were depressed and the gear shifted into neutral the rpms would increase excessively. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who performed a diagnostic test but could not duplicate or determine the cause of failure. The manufacturer stated that there were no recalls or warranties on the vehicle and they offered no additional assistance. The failure mileage was 76,000.

- Provo, UT, USA

problem #65

Dec 262010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
Accelerator pedal was hard to press, RPM remained high 3000 - 4000. Eventually the car would not stop, accelerator was stuck - go was going 70 mph. Had to strut of engine mechanic replace accelerator cable - noted cable was kinked and frayed - very dangerous and that I should report it.

- Victor, NY, USA

problem #64

May 182004


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that when he depressed the brake pedal, the vehicle suddenly accelerated. The rpms would rise when the failure occurred. Because of the failure, the contact was involved in two accidents. There were no injuries as a result. No police reports were filed. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealership so the dealer could inspect the brakes but the dealer could find nothing wrong. The manufacturer had not been notified. The current mileage was approximately 43,500. The failure mileage was approximately 30,000.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #63

Feb 012010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 105,342 miles
Major transmission problems at 106K miles on my Ford Explorer XLT 4.0L. This was not due to poor maintenance or up keep! shifting into neutral going 75 miles an hr down the freeway, shifting out of place, rough, scary shifts, shimming from the transmission jumping allover the place is just the beginning. After 5 trips to the mechanic, first I did wires, then plugs, then updated computer, full tranny flush and finally had to rebuilt the transmission due to the solenoids in the transmission being defective and faulty per a Ford service manager in owatonna, mn. The service manager informed me that Ford was looking at making it a recall, but it wasn't the top of their priority list and maybe they would eventually get to it! he has seen many of these trucks in the shop with their "busy" transmissions, and the same issues! this was the issue all along..after all of the service appts, and money spent nothing was resolved, until the transmission was rebuilt! $4K later just for the tranny repair! for their faulty defective transmission solenoids! as if the truck didn't already cost enough! and the troubleshooting "bandaids" (which between the tranny, diagnostics, labor etc total well over $5500!!) I contacted Ford after directed to due so my (their) technician and employee of 25 yrs. I read all the posts of duplicate complaints (I see there are several other consumers in my situation!), to inform them of the money I've lost, time incurred into this headache, and all the days I went without a vehicle for my family that I had nothing to do with it was their equipment! that it was their fault! curious about what their compensation was, if any, going to be. Or what they planned on doing about it! and after several service appt, $5500 loss and numerous complaints that Ford is aware of the rep stated basically said oh well! its ur problem not ours!!! lol!

- Faribault, MN, USA

problem #62

Aug 072010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving with the cruise control engaged at approximately 70 mph pressure was applied to the brake pedal and the vehicle surged forward until repeated pressure was applied to that pedal. A pop noise was also heard coming from the passenger side firewall. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where he was informed there was a wire malfunction within the brake pedal switch. The authorized dealer was in the process of installing a new brake pedal switch. The failure and current mileages were 73,000. Updated 10/21/10. Updated 10/25/10

- Corpus Christi, TX, USA

problem #61

Jul 192010


  • 8,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact was driving with the cruise control set to 70 mph when the vehicle abnormally began to accelerate over 80 mph. The contact then depressed the brakes to disengage the cruise control yet the vehicle continued to accelerate. The contact then drove to the shoulder and shut the engine off. When restarting, there was an abnormal increase in engine rpms from 5,000 to 6,000. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The dealer was unable to duplicate the failure but recommended replacing all components of the cruise control mechanism. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 8,000 and the current mileage was 8,200.

- Bridgeport, TX, USA

problem #60

Jan 102010


  • 115,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer transmission failure and uncontrollable accelerator. The transmission had been shifting hard for months but it is considered by Ford to be a "sealed" unit and it is not recommended that the customer maintain the fluid level, so there was nothing I could do. In Jan 2010 the accelerator stuck while entering the freeway and we were out of control, I thought I was going to die and had to turn of the car on the freeway with no shoulder after brushing the guard rail and was subsequently rear ended. The O/D off light began blinking that day and it was tough to reach 60mph. Service engine light came on and I shopped around for diagnostic. Independent trans. Guy said it needs complete rebuild, Ford dlr agrees but for twice the cost. New parts are not available. It makes no sense why this car just started to fail on me like this, I'm the first owner and now its just decided to die and Ford has been no help what so ever. Now I'm looking at a repair that is 80% of the bluebook value. Each mechanic I've brought it to says this problem is endemic to this model/year and there should be a recall. Why would they put in a trans. That cannot be reasonably serviced and maintained and dies just after 100K mi. I have a very difficult time believing this was not planned by Ford and I will never buy their products again! my car is no longer safe enough to drive to the grocery store let alone the freeway. This is a clear case of irresponsible manufacturing practices on Ford part and warrants a recall!

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

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