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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
28,500 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

problem #4

Mar 092007


  • miles


The Ford dealership in guam said I needed a new seat belt retractor and ordered it. That was in March 2007. It is now July 2007. If this is a safety issue then why is it so slow.

- Barrigada, GU, USA

problem #3

Dec 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles
Recently the air bag warning light came on indicating a problem with the air bag system. Also, the driver's seat belt would not retract when the driver exited the vehicle. The onboard computer indicated a code of 33 in memory. This indicated that the mechanism under both front seats was faulty. This problem would have caused the air bags to deploy unnecessarily or not deploy at all. The faulty seat belt retractor would not have prevented the driver from being thrown forward in the event of a collision. The warning light was intermittent at first and eventually stayed on so there was 55,000 miles recorded when I finally took the vehicle to our dealership. The owner's manual revealed that the supplemental restraint system (SRS) is warranted for 5years/50,000 miles, so I realize that it was beyond the warranty period. However, this is my concern and complaint. The SRS is probably the most important safety system in a vehicle and should not require these types of repairs just 6 months and 5,000 miles after the warranty expires. This system should last for the life of a vehicle unless the vehicle is involved in a collision. No one should have to be concerned that their SRS system will fail after the warranty expires. I am not a mechanical engineer, but these parts must not have been manufactured properly. If they were, they would not have failed. As was stated above, this Explorer was totally redesigned and sent to the dealer showrooms prior to the start of the 2002 model year. Were things overlooked or not done properly just to rush this totally redesigned Explorer to the dealer showrooms" if this was the case, should there be a recall for this model year in order to check this problem and ensure there are no safety concerns" the cost of these repairs is the minor issue of my complaint. The major issue is the safety of the driver and passengers. Safety problems with a vehicle will cause serious repercussions for the company.

- Clinton, MD, USA

problem #2

Nov 082006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
: the contact stated the airbag light illuminated without incident. The vehicle was taken to the dealership, where it was determined the front seat belt retractors needed to be replaced.

- Hays, KS, USA

problem #1

Jul 212002

Explorer 4WD

  • miles
The front passenger-side seat belt unit locks up in fully retracted position, rendering it totally unusable.

- Hillsboro, OH, USA

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