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:
66,456 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 lights problems

lights problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #4

Apr 222007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,503 miles


2002 Ford Explorer caught fire. Consumer stated that the vehicle caught fire while his mother was visiting his sister in a different state. No attempt was made to repair her vehicle and rental cost them $600 out of pocket. Prior to the fire, the consumer asked the mechanic to inspect the vehicle, because warning lights were coming on and going off intermittently. The consumer had a list of documentation relating to electrical issues. The vehicle had to get a jump several times, the vehicle would hesitate when first starting up. The brake lights were stuck, the dealer replaced the brake pedal switch. The cruise control was inoperable so the dealer replaced the brake light switch. The alternator and wheel bearings were replaced.

- Canandaigua, NY, USA

problem #3

Nov 022006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,322 miles
: the contact stated the brake light switch had malfunctioned. The original switch was no longer available. Updated 12/28/06.

- Jamestown, SC, USA

problem #2

Jun 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles
Brake light switch fails to activate until moderate brake pedal foot pressure is applied; resulting in delayed/inadequate brake light activation and difficulty disengaging gear selector from park. Also, speed control will not turn off until pressing hard enough to engage secondary/backup disconnect on speed control. Initial application of brake will result in vehicle attempting to maintain speed, incurring increased throttle application and auto transmission down shifting. Removal and observation of the switch action appears to show the mechanical interface between plunger and contacts results in contacts opening wider in the initial travel of the switch before actually closing, resulting in delayed closing of the switch.

- Minnetonka, MN, USA

problem #1

Sep 242005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
The break lights on my car get stuck on, I have had it happen to me three times, I have taken it to the dealer when I was in pensacola and had to pay to have it seems to be the sensor attached to the break pedal.

- Huntsville, AL, USA

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