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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
82,874 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 fuel system problems

fuel system problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #15

Mar 012016


  • miles


Check engine light came on went to a auto repair shop and was given oem code P0442 (evaporative emission system). The scent of gas was present. I changed the fuel cap and issue still remains. Gas fuel tank vapor vent check valve is defective and must be replaced.

- Queens Village, NY, USA

problem #14

Nov 242015


  • miles
Gas guage registres every now and then - 97% of the time it says check guage -and nothing on the fuel guage then all of a sudden it will work for about 10 min., then it go back to check guage

- Broomfield, CO, USA

problem #13

Apr 142015


  • 119,000 miles
My truck began to shake when I stop at stop signs and lights. The service engine soon light came on and would not go out. I got a code reading, there were many fuel ejection issues. I got a diagnostic test today, and was told it could be the fuel pump. When I put gas in, the gas pump gets stuck inside sometimes. Does not come out smoothly. What is going on?

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #12

Mar 152012


  • miles


Ever since I have owned the vehicle I have never been able to continuously pump a full tank of gas. It takes roughly 25 minutes to get a full tank.

- Dickson City, PA, USA

problem #11

Oct 142014


  • 75,000 miles
When braking vehicle accelerates. Could not stop had to put in N and it stalled before hitting a store front and a second time on the way home at a red light.

- Novi, MI, USA

problem #10

Sep 052014

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • miles
Brought vehicle in Jan 2014. Every since first day brought, had a problem with getting fuel into vehicle without fuel pump clicking as if vehicle is full. This happens at about every fuel station I go to. This is very frustrating. Brought plenty of Ford, but this is the first one that does this. Before I get a few ounces of fuel into the vehicle it will click and continue doing this as long as im trying to put in fuel. Love vehicle but hate it because of this. I read on others having same problem. Can someone please help us all./ this is definite a recall. [xxx] (retired vet / retired U. S. postal svc. ). information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- North Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #9

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

problem #8

Mar 172013


  • 177,156 miles
We were driving down the highway and we heard a clunk and so we pulled over right away and looked and thought it looked like the rear passenger side was sagging but wasn't sure, we drove home and then realized it was def sagging. I took it to the car lot I bought it at and their going to check it all out to see what's going on.. just be looking at it the car lot mechanic said looks like suspension issue as if something broke. Also the check engine light came on and we had it checked out a few times and it appears to have O2 sensor issues located on the exhaust which seems to be a issues with alot of Ford Explorer which makes gas mileage terrible and vehicle stalls out and dies, not to mention the piece of plastic under the rear hatch window that always breaks.

- Fairmont, MN, USA

problem #7

Feb 272013


  • 116,550 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while at an independent mechanic for unrelated repairs he was informed that both fuel tank straps were corroded and had to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 116,550.

- Avon Lake, OH, USA

problem #6

Jan 152013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 157,000 miles
My Ford Explorer has had so many ridiculous problems. This one is extremely inconvenient. The car has trouble shifting gears, it spins from 1st to 2nd gear and then I have to let go of the accelerator for it to shift again, it skips 3rd gear altogether and jerks into fourth after pressing and depressing the accelerator a series of times. Once it's in 4th gear, it doesn't go past 50 mph. My mechanic says his monitor detected a faulty solender and the entire pack has to be replaced, but that may not be the only problem. If that doesn't do the trick (even though it needs to be replaced regardless) he will have to open the transmission and possibly rebuild or replace some of the parts. I have encountered hundreds of other 2002 Ford Explorer owners with the same problem. Aside from this, I have a list of other dangerous issues that this car has had and that has endangered my family's and my life numerous times: - gear shift breaking off the steering column as I shifted from reverse to drive in the middle of a busy intersection. - ignition cylinder/switch breaking - possible spontaneous explosion recall related to the cruise control - rear latch breaking and inability to use the rear latch. - electrical system failure - doors not closing properly & draining the battery - faulty alarm system - faulty temperature gauge and radiator - Ford not allowing customers to buy just the parts needed for replacement and repair and forcing their customers to purchase entire packages only in order to get the necessary parts at extremely high prices. Ford should be incriminated for selling these vehicles knowing full well that they are flooded with life threatening issues to their customers.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #5

Dec 252012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 84,000 miles


The fuel gauge dropped to empty while on a trip left us all stranded in cold!

- Pekin, IL, USA

problem #4

Apr 052012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 69,850 miles
The fuel system has a problem with it. When you go to put gas in it the pumps almost immediately shut off. Something in the fuel system is telling the pump that the tank is full when it is not. It can take 30 minutes to put 10 gallons in the tank.

- Dennis, MA, USA

problem #3

Jan 162012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 97,857 miles
The service engine light came on and I was told there might be a transmission problem. After the service the light was off and I was going again. At 107,000 miles the light came back on and back to the service departmant and they said the #5 ring was having problems I could drive it and it would get worse. It was also mentioned this year Explorer had many transmission issues. Now they want a minimum of $3,500 to fix the SUV and the trade-in is only worth $3,500 dollars. I now have 117,500 miles on it and it shifts hard and goes in reveserves slowly. I have talked to Ford to no avail at all. The say sorry but we can't help with fixing it at all. There is no discounted rate for an issue that is well known on the blogs. This seems to be against the fact that Ford says they have the bext trucks on the road if they think 117,000 miles is enough to replace the transmission. I do not understand the fact they think it is okay to charge that amount for a known issue on the 2002 - 2004 model Explorer. I need help as I can't afford to fix it to trade it in and I don't see putting $3,500 plus into some thing that may only last one day to maybe a year.

- Camby, IN, USA

problem #2

Jun 012009


  • 89,000 miles
While trying to fill the gas tank at the fuel pumps, it takes sometimes up to 20 minutes to completely fill the tank. I can only squeeze the handle on the gas pump hose line slightly yet it keeps shutting off as if the tank is full. I know that it takes nearly 20 gallons to fill my tank yet the nozzle keeps shutting off every 10 - 12 seconds.

- Carmel, IN, USA

problem #1

Mar 102012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 68,400 miles
Fuel gauge off - did not want to start - dealer fixed under warranty, changed fuel pump 20 days later took back again, still had trouble start, bad fuel reading - changed pump again, took back 45 days later, fuel gauge not working - 3 days later, found bad fuel sender card [board] ordering new board as I write this. Common problem with these Explorer gauges sodium buildup on unit due to the crap 10% ethanol added. All being fixed under warranty, thank god! my daughters 2005 Explorer starting to have fuel gauge problems also 69,000 miles.

- Elma, NY, USA

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