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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,128 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

problem #8

Oct 052006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles


Accelerator pedal becomes stuck at time causing high idle speed. I have taken the vehicle to cal worthingtons 4 times in the past complaining of stuck accelerator or excessive idle. The dates were 6/20/02, 12/04/03, 5/23/05, 10/17/05 and now the accelerator is stuck completely at 4000 RPM.

- Eagle River, AK, USA

problem #7

Apr 212005

Explorer 4WD

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer- crashed into doctors office- because of failed throttle body- reported to Ford. One letter received requiring information-no response from Ford since July, car still waiting for inspection, dealer inspections confirms throttle body cable stuck causing car to accelerate on its own and crash--no response from Ford.

- Middletown, NJ, USA

problem #6

Mar 182005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles
Vehicle is a 2002 Ford eddie bauer Explorer. Vehicle was driving on expressway when will changing lanes to pass a slower moving vehicle, our vehicle began to uncontrollibly excellerate and continue to excellerate pushing the car toward speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour. Engine continued to race. An emergency stopping of the vehilce was brought under control after putting car into neutral, applying brakes and getting off of the road. The vehicle had to be towed to westfiled Ford dealer ship where they are inspecting the throddle and other parts estimated cost to repair $400. Have not picked up vehicle yet for full description of problem.

- Western Springs, IL, USA

problem #5

Jan 162005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles


Gas pedal went to the floor, as a result consumer experienced sudden acceleration on its own. Consumer had to turn off the vehicle in order to stop. The vehicle was not in cruise control mode. Dealer said that the throttle cable seized.jb...while making left hand turn through an intersection the gas pedal went to the floor and rpms went to the top. Used both feet on brakes to stop. However, vehicle won't stop. Turned vehicle off in drive, then put it in neutral, rpms lncreased. Turned vehicle off, couldn't put vehicle back into park or pullkey out of ignition. Called aaa to tow vehicle to dealer. It was fixed without charge to consumer because of extended warranty.

- Hamburg, NY, USA

problem #4

Jan 172005

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,250 miles
The consumer was stopped at a light, removed his foot from the brake pedal to go, when the vehicle accelerated to 50 mph. Drove home with brakes applied to slow the vehicle down. The dealer replaced the throttle cable.

- Leonard, MI, USA

problem #3

Dec 162004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles
While driving the vehicle the throttle cable became stuck in the open position causing the vehicle to increase speed to dangerous levels. Application of the brakes did little to slow the vehicle down. Immediately stopped at service station which identifed the problem as the throttle cable, noting the there was an exisiting service bulletin regarding this problem. New parts were ordered and repair was effected - cost approx $200.

- Leesburg, VA, USA

problem #2

Feb 262004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,770 miles
While traveling at about 45 mph, the throttle on my 02 Ford Explorer suddenly would not return to idle. The cruise control was not on at the time. The cause was a plastic sheathing between the throttle cable and the exterior housing of the cable. I believe this material is used for lubrication? the material appeared to pull out of the housing and bunched up inside the driver footwell. When my foot was removed from the pedal, it would not return fully to idle because this tan material bunched up at the base of the housing where the cable comes through the firewall. By cutting the excess material away, I was able to get the pedal to respond properly. The dealer replaced the throttle cable under warranty.

- Cambridge, VT, USA

problem #1

Jan 062003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Throttle cable gots stuck causing vehicle to accelerate without warning. Dealer was notified.

- West Nyack, NY, USA

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