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:
28 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
31 / 1
Average Mileage:
74,798 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 5)

problem #86

Oct 152016


  • miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while the driver was driving at 40 mph, both driver and passenger side air bags deployed without impact. As a result, the vehicle failed to start. The driver sustained left arm injuries and the passenger sustained neck injuries but did not require medical attention. A police report was not filed. The vehicle was pushed by another vehicle to the contacts resident. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #85

May 312016


  • 175,173 miles
On May 31st 2016, I was involve in an automobile accident and at which time my airbag did not deploy..after further evaluation it was determine that my clock spring was insurance estimator/or adjuster stated that the cause of the malfunction was not a result from the accident..then I was told to contact the NHTSA to see if my vehicle was under a recall for this vehicle was in motion on a highway.

- Crescent City, FL, USA

problem #84

Jun 272016


  • 260,000 miles
Drivers side curtain air bag inadvertently deployed while vehicle was in park after the driver had exited the vehicle. The airbag deployed and stuck a child which was seated in the rear seat behind the driver.

- Tamaqua, PA, USA

problem #83

May 062016


  • 168,000 miles


On May 6, 2016 I was driving on interstate 5 between 55-60 mph in the middle lane of heavy traffic when suddenly there was an explosion inside my car. The right/left side airbags deployed without any warning. I was able to get to the shoulder and call aaa. I was towed to the landmark Ford service center.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #82

May 062016


  • 165,000 miles
Both side air bags deployed driving on interstate at 55 mph with no apparent cause. The car was not involved in an accident and there was no other damage to the vehicle.the front air bags did not deploy. I was able to get to the shoulder of the freeway and called roadside assistance to have the care towed. The explosion was quite traumatic and it took me several seconds to realize just what had happened.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #81

Feb 082016


  • miles
Two weeks ago for no reason my air bags deployed while I was driving. I contacted Ford and couldn't get any help from them at all. I was leaving work in Virginia.

- Hyattsville, MD, USA

problem #80

Dec 152015


  • miles


Air bag wiring harness to short : every time you move the seat the air bag light would come on $683 repair service technical service bulletin from Ford no compensation for repairs miles 22,000. Front wheel bearing failure left and right 60,000 miles. Rear spring failure 75000 miles front spring failure 75000 miles. Fuel tank registers 1/4 tank when tank is empty 45000 miles transmission cellinoid failure 28000 miles and 800000 miles heater control module 70000 miles. Intake leak 80000 miles. Rear wheel bearing and axle seals 100,000 miles. Other than that great car. If Ford cared about its customer it would have fixed the transmission problems they had six flaws from day one of production from 1990 ---- why Ford if you had a real transmission it would make up for all the other failure built into this car. You make great real trucks like the F150 other than that your entire fleet is junk.

- Winchester, VA, USA

problem #79

Nov 202015


  • 47,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While pulling into a parking space at a very low rate of speed, the vehicle suddenly experienced unintended acceleration, surged forward, and crashed into a building. During the crash, the front end of the vehicle sustained significant damage; however, the air bags did not deploy. The driver suffered injuries to the left arm and hip, head, and neck. Medical attention was received and a police report was filed. The cause of the failure was not diagnosed. The manufacturer was notified. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 47,000.

- Garfield, NJ, USA

problem #78

Sep 012015


  • 173,000 miles
I financed this vehicle thru 123 auto in homosassa fl citrus county and it has a airbag that is no good and no horn and the transmission was bad the day I bought it and they will not fix so I am currently paying to get it fixed I was told to make a complaint with this office to see if you can help me get something done because it is not right

- Homosassa, FL, USA

problem #77

Oct 072015


  • 240,000 miles
The air bag light came on blinking for no reason and want go off! help please

- Claremont, NC, USA

problem #76

Jul 252015


  • 185,000 miles


Around 1015am on Saturday July 25, 2015, I was in the process of attaching my boat trailer to the hitch. After opening my drivers door several times, checking on the hitch position, I put my vehicle in park, got out, shut the door, and then heard a loud sound that sounded like a gunshot. I turned around and saw that my drivers side curtain airbags had deployed for no reason at all. The left rear seat airbag also deployed. The vehicle was not moving and did not suffer any side impact whatsoever. I believe this is a safety defect due to the hazardous condition that it could create if a driver is driving and it inflates for no reason at all. This could potentially cause the driver to hit another vehicle or go off the road and potentially kill someone. I know of two other cases files on of this same issue.

- Poquoson, VA, USA

problem #75

Jul 232015


  • 194,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while traveling less than 5 mph, the vehicle's throttle became stuck without warning which caused the vehicle to accelerate to a speed above 40 mph. The vehicle crashed thru a fence and into the rear of a motor home causing the front driver's side tire to fracture. The air bags did not deploy. The contact was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 09V399000 (vehicle speed control). The contact sustained whiplash, neck and back pains from the failure. A police incident report was filed and the vehicle was to be towed to a yard until it would be able to get inspected and diagnosed. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was destroyed. The approximate failure mileage was 194,000.

- Shoemakersville, PA, USA

problem #74

Feb 262015


  • 158,000 miles
While driving on paved highway(clear, dry day) a hissing sound was coming from the steering column. After making a left turn onto another paved highway, the hissing noise increased, then was followed immediately by the spontaneous deployment of the driver's side air bag, prior to any impact. The obstruction of the deployed airbag created a compromised or visionary impairment from my windshield's field of view, causing me to have impact with another vehicle. After impact of first vehicle, the passenger side airbag deployed., then there was a secondary impact with another vehicle. In addition to the airbag braking my nose, two pieces of shrapnel were ejected from the inside of the deployed airbag, one hitting me in the left side mid chest/abdomen, the other to the distal portion of my left forearm. The projected shrapnel tore through a down coat, sweater and two shirts causing injury and 2nd degree burns to my chest/abdomen and forearm. The injuries of the other vehicles inhabitants are unknown at this time.

- Levittown, PA, USA

problem #73

Mar 062015

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
Rear ended semi that suddenly stopped in front of me. Driver's air bag did not deploy but passenger air bag did. No passenger in car. Basically driver air bag did not deploy when it should. Ford should pay! is there any class action law suit for this? first accident with the vehicle. Owned since 2003!

- Minneapolis , MN, USA

problem #72

Nov 072014


  • miles
The contact owned a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving at an unknown speed, another vehicle rear ended the contact's vehicle. The driver side air bag failed to deploy. A police report was filed. The contact sustained unknown minor injuries and the front passenger sustained chest and eyes injuries. Neither set of injuries required medical attention. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown. The VIN was unavailable. Updated 6/11/15

- Roseboro, NC, USA

problem #71

Feb 032015

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 248,368 miles
There was no malfunction. I have a Ford Explorer 2002. I want to know if the front drivers side and front passenger side airbags will work properly. I have searched this database but cannot find anything that is applicable. We (wife and myself) have only this vehicle and w we want to know if it is safe to drive. Please help.

- Biloxi, MS, USA

problem #70

Dec 092014


  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while in reverse, the vehicle accelerated independently. Additionally, the brake pedal was depressed but failed to respond and the steering wheel seized. As a result, the vehicle crashed into trees then went forward independently crashing into shrubs, a fence, and a building. In addition, the air bags failed to deploy and smoke started to emit from the front of the vehicle. A police report was filed. The contact sustained bruise and neck and head injuries that did not require medical attention. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #69

Aug 212014


  • miles
I was in a accident on August 21, 2014. Two or more deer's ran out in front of my 2002 Ford Explorer and I ran off the road hitting a pole. It crushed the whole front end and my airbag never deployed. My truck is a total loss and I did have on my seat belt but the airbag should of deployed.

- Georgia, GA, USA

problem #68

Jun 022014

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
First of all the transmission is starting to slip. When accelerating the car transmission slips when shifting into third gear. Took to dealer and they said they need to repair the transmission. The second problem is that the airbag light came on. I have not been in a accident or anything. It just came on. I read online that if the light is on and I am in an accident the airbags wont deploy. This seems really dangerous and should be cover under warranty.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #67

Jun 122014

Explorer 8-cyl

  • miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer and it has not been wrecked and I had the light that come on in my dash and they said that my seat belt pretentioner was gone in my seat belt.

- Staley, NC, USA

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