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 3 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #59

Apr 012010


  • 63,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 30 mph, the vehicle suddenly accelerated. She applied both feet to the brake pedal but the rear tires were smoking and the vehicle began spinning out of control until she turned off the ignition to regain control of the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing but the failure could not be duplicated. The VIN was not available. The current and failure mileages were approximately 63,000.

- Port Charlotte, FL, USA

problem #58

Jan 092010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 123,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer cruise control would not release, the car accelerated each time after trying to release the cruise control. I had to ride the brake to stop the car. I shut the racing engine down and tried to restart and found the engine raced as soon as it was started. If we were in traffic, we may have crashed. I stayed calm but thinking about my wife and son driving the car at times, they may not have reacted as I did. This was a very scary and dangerous situation.

- Theodore, AL, USA

problem #57

Aug 062009

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer recall notice the consumer stated the vehicle is in the repair shop for unrelated repairs and has been there since August 2009 due to lack of parts. The consumer received the recall notice regarding the speed control deactivation switch and according to the recall, the vehicle should not be parked near structures as a fire could occur. However, the repair shop informed the consumer that the vehicle could not be lowered or moved because the engine was loose.

- Springfield, OH, USA

problem #56

Aug 232009


  • 125,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer 1. going to full acceleration (pedal to the floor) when passing car or entering highway from side road 2. accelerator pedal stays pressed on the floor even when foot is removed. This happened twice on the last 2 times that the pedal was fully depressed. 3. failure is avoided by not pressing accelerator pedal all the way to the floor.

- Rego Park, NY, USA

problem #55

Dec 152009


  • 228,000 miles
My cars cruise control failed to disengage when I applied the footbrake, pushed the off switch, the gear shift would not move and the key would not turn off. The car was checked by police and when it was tested they were unable to find a fault in the failsafes however they are still suspicious of the vehicle. I had to call police and was in a runaway car on the freeway for 30mins. When I hit a median strip I lost enough speed to be able to use the little braking power I had left, as each time I applied the brakes the engine would accelerate back to the set sped and the brake pedal became hard to push. When I stopped I also pulled the handbrake as ordered by the police over the phone to avoid a headon, the left shoe of the handbrake snapped and the car skidded to a stop. The police disconnected the battery when they did testing. So I've been told any fault codes or faults either with the cruise control or the ECU may now be lost. Ford are claiming this could never happen, but im starting to read on other sites the same things are happening to other people. I could be dead along with alot of other people that day. The police also had issues moving the gear shift that day on my car to get it onto a tow truck, so its not just the driver.

- Maribyrnong, 00, USA

problem #54

Dec 212009


  • 87,264 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While reversing out of his drive-way, the vehicle rapidly accelerated into the garage. The garage was severely damaged. While attempting to exit the garage the vehicle accelerated forward into the neighbors yard, and then knocked over a tree. The vehicle was towed to a local repair facility. The vehicle will be towed to an authorized dealer for inspection. The Ford manufacturer was notified. He was advised that since the warranty expired, no assistance would be provided. The failure mileage was 87,264.

- Marlton, NJ, USA

problem #53

Dec 072009


  • 188,900 miles


I was accelerating away from work and when I attempted to come to a stop I was unable to because of the throttle being stuck in the on position. I was able to stop the vehicle and avoid a collision by shifting into neutral and applying the brakes. The temperature was 5 degrees Fahrenheit. This was the first time I experienced the problem and the throttle cable required replacement.

- Azilda, 00, USA

problem #52

Aug 152007


  • 141,878 miles
Vehicle speed control reactivation problems to Ford truck.

- Stockton, CA, USA

problem #51

Nov 192009

(reported on)

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
Recall notice 09S09 on 2002 Ford Explorer.

- Green Bay, WI, USA

problem #50

Nov 162009


  • 90,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT: Rec'd recall notice about cruise control switch with fire hazard and brake fluid leakage driving or in park. Called dealer 'armstrong Ford in homestead Ford twice. Once sent to voice mail of service manager with no return call. Following day 11/17 spoke with service advisor who stated to call back on fri or mon 11/20 or 11/23 as part was unavailable. I find this unacceptable. In addition I have electrical problems that consistently create shorts with parts or displays in console which this dealer has been unable to resolve thus costing me hundreds of dollars each time. Thank you.

- Cutler Bay, FL, USA

problem #49

Aug 012007


  • 73,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving 35 mph, the vehicle unexpectedly accelerated without the accelerator pedal being depressed. The driver applied maximum pressure to the brake pedal, which slowed down and eventually stopped the vehicle. The dealer stated that the contact would be responsible for the repairs. The vehicle has not yet been repaired. The failure mileage was 73,000 and current mileage was 85,000.

- Cincinatti, OH, USA

problem #48

Jan 232009


  • 98,000 miles
It was an extremely cold day in Wisconsin and my son went into town, while approaching a stop light the gas pedal accelerated. He applied the brakes and it kept on accelerating until he shut the engine off. This happened again on the highway, once again the weather was cold and this time he kept tapping on the accelerator and pulled over and shut the vehicle off. This was a frightening experience, any suggestions to rectify this problem.

- Sparta, WI, USA

problem #47

Oct 312008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,337 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 20 mph and approaching a turning lane, the contact applied pressure to the brakes to slow the vehicle down. The vehicle accelerated on its own and she had to turn the vehicle to the right in order to avoid a rear end crash. The vehicle jumped the curb and the vehicle stopped. An hour later, while exiting the freeway, the vehicle accelerated on its own again. The contact turned off the vehicle in order for it to stop. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer and the manufacturer was not notified. A mechanic informed her to park the vehicle. The cause of the failure could not be determined. The current mileage was 114,450 and failure mileage was 114,337. Updated 11/25/08. Updated 11/25/08.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #46

Feb 122008


  • 32,000 miles
Erratic operation of cruse control.

- Tuckerton, NJ, USA

problem #45

May 312008


  • 45,500 miles
While parking my car between two other cars, I shifted from reverse to forward to adjust my car to the middle of the parking space. I had my foot lightly on the brake so that the idle speed would inch my car forward a little. When I shifted to forward, my car lunged forward 2 to 3 feet. Because my foot was already on the brake, I was able to hit the brake hard. The car stopped within a few inches of the car in front of me.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #44

May 102008


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact received a recall notice for the vehicle speed control. Ever since the vehicle was purchased approximately 1.5 years ago, she has had to tape the rear passenger side door shut to keep it from opening while driving. The failure occurs at speeds of 35 mph or lower. The dealer claimed that they would repair the door at the time of purchase. The recall number was unknown. The failure mileage was 120,000.

- Palmdale, CA, USA

problem #43

May 232008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,761 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving 55 mph and accelerating to 60 mph, the engine suddenly roared and began racing. The contact was unable to stop the vehicle, which caused other vehicles to swerve around her to avoid crashing. She activated the hazard lights and pulled off the road. She attempted to shut off the vehicle, but even with the keys removed from the ignition, the engine still raced for approximately another 30 seconds until it finally stopped. The contact grabbed her children, exited the vehicle, and waited for someone to come pick her up. She later called a tow truck and had the vehicle towed to her house. The vehicle remains at her residence and has not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 51,761. Update 06/10/08

- El Paso, TX, USA

problem #42

Aug 012007

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact received Ford recall notice number 05S28 for the vehicle speed control in August of 2007. The dealer stated that the part will be available in June of 2008. The contact stated that the recall has gone beyond a reasonable amount of time for the repair to performed. There had been no failure to date. The current mileage was 135,000.

- Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #41

Aug 192007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,812 miles
I own a 2002 Ford Ranger XLT pick-up truck. In August of this year, 2007, I received a recall notice for a speed control deactivation switch. Within two weeks I called the local Ford dealership and they requested me to bring the vehicle in. I did, and upon arrival I was told that they did not have the part to fix/comply with the recall. I had a few choice words with the dealership and was told to wait for a call concerning the parts arrival. I waited, waited and waited, and still no call. I have contacted the local Ford place three times since August of 2007. I still, as of November 25, 2007, do not have a repaired truck in accordance with the recall. All of the numbers on the recall sheet point to the local dealership and nothing else. I have no other avenue except this one. I just want my truck repaired for the safety of me and my family. Please assist me in resolving this issue, as safety should be priority one in any auto makers mind. This is my first Ford product and I am not pleased with their capacity to handle such a crisis as a fire within the vehicle. I hope that they understand the magnitude of this and the avenues they have provided show only a false sense of security within all Ford products. Please contact me as soon as possible with help in this area. Thank you in advance.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #40

Oct 132007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While pulling into a gas station slowing to a stop the vehicle suddenly accelerated. Striking the barrier in front of the gas pump. Vehicle was towed to repair shop.

- Chicago, IL, USA

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