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:
74,753 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 #4

Feb 102008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer fuel filter replacement fire hazard. Fuel line retaining clips (50 cent part) are only available from Ford in a $200 fuel line assembly. Not using these clips causes to much slack in the fuel line to filter connection. Their intent to rope the consumer into a $200 purchase may cause alternate, read:unsafe solutions by the customer. The feeling is that Ford is extremely negligent in not making these 'locking R-clips' available separately at the dealership parts counter, or in the aftermarket for the replacement of a regular maintenance item. (fuel filter). Ford has been contacted twice regarding this oversight on their part and refuse to offer the clips by themselves.

- Mckeesport, PA, USA

problem #3

Dec 232004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
At 74000 miles our transmission went out completely while we were on vacation! the dealership where we bought the vehicle, said that "we were the only one's who have had this problem" (yeah right!) it cost us $6000 out of our pocket to fix. At 86000 miles the rear window cracked right below the window. Ford and the dealership refuses to fix it. Again, stayton Ford told us that, "we were the only people who have had this particular issue." At around 85000, 95000 and 105000 miles, the rear seals leaked. We were promised each time that they would last "for at least 50000 miles." We were always a few miles away from getting them replaced for free since they're limited warranty is only good for 10000 miles. At 111000 miles the electrical system went "haywire." Even when all of the door and hatch are closed, the dome light continues to go on and off (making it hard to drive at night) because it senses that a "door is a jar." Sometimes, the key pad that's located on the drivers side window sets off the alarm when we push the first number on the key. Totally unreliable vehicle that I'm afraid to drive!

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #2

May 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles
: the contact stated there was a smell of gasoline in and around the vehicle. The smell became progressively worse, and the fuel mileage decreased over time. The vehicle was taken to a private repair shop, where the mechanic determined there was a leak in the fuel line above the tank. The parts were ordered, and the manufacturer was notified. Updated 11/30/06.

- Oxford, IN, USA

problem #1

Apr 302004


  • 20,011 miles
While driving approximately for two hours. The driver stopped at a toll booth. Suddenly white smoke started emitting from under the hood followed black smoke. The vehicle caught fire within seconds and was a total lost. The fire department says the gas line may have melted the manifold.

- Joliet, IL, USA

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